§ Viscount Morpeth
moved the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee on the Tithes and Church (Ireland) Bill.
§ Sir Robert Peel
addressed the House as follows:
Sir—I rise for the purpose of moving the instructions of which I have given notice, to the Committee upon the Bill relating to the Church of Ireland, instructions to the effect that the Bill be divided into two parts, in order that the House may have an opportunity of giving a separate consideration to that part of the Bill which provides for the recovery of tithes, and for the realization of property justly belonging to the Church and that part of it which establishes a new distribution of Church property, and its application to other than Ecclesiastical purposes. I rise oppressed with a deep anxiety, partly arising from the vast importance of the subject on which I am about to address you, and partly from an apprehension that I may not be able to do justice to my own conviction, to my own deep impression, that, if reason and justice shall prevail, the House will never consent to the appropriation of Church property that is now contemplated. Believing that ray conviction is grounded, not on feeling or prejudice, but upon the force of demonstration which it is impossible to resist—I am oppressed with the natural anxiety which accompanies the fear, lest, through some defect of statement, some omission or obscurity in the argument, that assent of the mind which ought to follow clear and conclusive reasoning, may be withheld, and lest the advocate, through the unskilful use of the instruments at his command may fail in bringing home to others that conviction which presses upon his own mind with irresistible force.
791 I well know that there exist great impediments to my success—that there are great and numerous obstacles in the way of that for which I have to contend. In the first place, I have to contend against that prejudice which it is difficult to overcome—that prejudice which arises from repeated exaggerations as to the amount of the Church property—exaggerations which have been made with such confidence—which have been reiterated so often and from so early a period—that it is now difficult to remove the impression they have made on the public mind.
In addition to that obstacle with which I have to contend from the effect of repeated exaggeration, is another and an equally powerful one. We have adopted a resolution, based on the erroneous estimate, and proposed and carried expressly with a view to a party triumph. The victory has been gained—the Government has been overthrown—the irrevocable pledge has been given. What hope is there now that the Irish Church will have a fair hearing, and that there will be candour and justice enough virtually to rescind the Resolution, which decided that the property ought to be alienated and applied to other purposes. What hope is there, that the tardy correction of notorious error, the establishment of the unsuspected truth, on evidence which cannot be shaken will prevail against those barriers which will be raised by the force of habit, by the effect of long-continued assent to exaggeration and mistatement—and, above all, by the false pride and false shame, which will forbid the revocation of the hasty pledge which has been publicly given by a powerful and victorious party?
I will in the first place state the principles upon which I shall conduct my argument. I waive the discussion for the present of some of the most important grounds on which the inalienability of Church property has been on former occasions maintained. I do not abandon them. I admit their full force; but I select another ground, because, if I can establish it, I ought to compel the acquiescence and assent of those who are most opposed to me. I do not, therefore, bring forward the general principle of the sacredness of property, or the special confirmation of that property in the case of the Church in Ireland by the Act of Union. I waive any reference to the Bill for the relief of the Roman Catholic disabilities and the decla- 792 rations it imposed,—I take your own tests—I combat with your own instruments—I rely on your own evidence—I stand within the circle which you have drawn around me—and, without transgressing its narrow limits, I will attempt to prove to you, that, on your own admistions and your own principles, you have no surplus of Church property to dispose of, and that the pretence of this Bill, that there is such a surplus, is a dishonest one.
In approaching this question, it is my desire to take nothing for granted, but to establish every conclusion which I shall draw from premises which cannot be questioned. And first, as to the fact and the extent of exaggeration. I have met it in every form and in every degree—in pamphlets, in conversation, in speeches—varying from errors of small amount to an error of millions. I have read a letter of a late Roman Catholic Prelate—one of high reputation in his own country, and who was supposed to possess peculiar information on the subject on which he wrote. I allude to the late Dr. Doyle. That right rev. Prelate, in a letter addressed to Lord Farnham, made this statement as to the revenues of the Established Church in Ireland, and also as to the numbers of those Protestants in communion with that Church for whose religious instruction those revenues were destined: "Can your Lordship, laying your hand on your breast, appeal to your conscience or honour and then say that the Irish Church Establishment requires no reform? It is impossible that you could, my Lord, beause it is monstrous to think that an annual income amounting to several millions sterling should be appropriated, in such a country as Ireland, to the maintenance of the pastors of less than one-thirtieth part of the population."
Here then was an Irishman, a Roman Catholic Prelate, estimating, in a work, by the publication of which he challenged that contradiction which he never received—estimating the Church revenues of Ireland at several millions, and the Protestants, for whose religious instruction those millions were expended, at about 260,000. Can one be surprised, then, that the writer of that statement should have characterized the Church of Ireland in these words?—"A man of reflection, living in Ireland, and coolly observing the workings of the Church Establishment, would seek for some likeness to it only 793 among the priests of Juggernaut, who sacrifice the poor naked human victims to their impure and detestable idols." Into the same errors, members of the legislature (themselves also members of the Church) have fallen. I find that the hon. Member for Middlesex, in introducing, on the 6th of May, 1824, a measure relating to the Established Church in Ireland, made statements respecting that Church, the numbers in commuuion with it, and the amount of its revenues, which shewed his total want of accurate information on the subject. I say this, not as imputing blame to the hon. Member for wilful misstatement, for no doubt the hon. Member thought he was stating what was correct, but I now mention it because I am attempting to show, and if possible to remove, the obstacles which exist, to a fair, dispassionate, and unprejudiced consideration of this question, from the very grossly exaggerated accounts which have already gone forth to the public respecting it. On the occasion to which I allude, the hon. Member for Middlesex estimated the number of Protestants belonging to the Established Church in Ireland at 500,000. He said, that he had taken great pains to ascertain the revenues of the Irish Church, and these he estimated at 3,200,000l. His statement was, that "according to the best calculation which he had been able to make, there were Church lands, which, if rented out as other lands were, would let for 2,500,000l. There were 14,000,000 of acres in Ireland, of which the clergy held two-elevenths, and, taking Wake-field's proportions, and the average value of property in the different counties, it amounted to that sum."*"Adding to the 2,600,000l. the average sum produced by 1,289 benefices at 500l. a-year each, the appointments would make a sum of 3,200,000l,"† The hon. Member added—"The comparison in Ireland was now one Protestant to fourteen Catholics. It might be one Protestant to forty, fifty, or sixty Catholics; and while this diminution clearly showed the worthlessness and inutility of the Church Establishment would any man be so hardy as to insist that that Establishment ought to be preserved at an expense of nearly 3,000,000l. sterling?" In later times, however, in discussions on the Irish*Hansard (new series) vol. xi, p. 543.†Ibid, p. 547.794 Church, the extent of exaggeration has been somewhat diminished. When the hon. Member for St. Alban's brought forward his motion in the course of last year, he materially reduced the extravagant estimates of Dr. Doyle, and of the Member for Middlesex, but still he greatly overrated the revenues of the Church in Ireland, and underrated the number of those who professed its doctrines. In his motion on the property of the Irish Church on the 27th of May, 1834, the hon. Member for St. Alban's (Mr. Ward) said—"If, in lieu of adopting the averages which returns sent me would authorize me in taking, I assume Wakefield's average of one to fourteen, I cannot fairly be accused of any design to diminish the number of the Episcopalian Protestants below their real amount. This would give 600,000 in all as the number of those for whose exclusive benefit the present establishment is kept up. And what is the cost of that establishment? The glebe lands, together with the bishop's lands, the Ecclesiastical Corporations, and the returns of tithes, will make a total of 937,456l. as the yearly revenue actually received by the Irish Church.*" The motion of the hon. Member for St. Alban's on that occasion was seconded by the hon. Member for London (Mr. Grote,) who said—"My hon. Friend stated, that the expense of the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland is 900,000l. annually; the number of Protestants of the Church of England (in Ireland) is not more than 600,000: the charge of the whole establishment, therefore, is not less than 1l. 10s. per head."† Thus, then, in the course of the last year, it had been assumed that the revenues of the Church in Ireland were 937,000l., and that the number of Protestants did not exceed six hundred thousand.
When a noble Lord (Althorp), at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer, brought the subject forward in 1833, he fairly admitted the great extent to which exaggeration had been carried on the subject. In his speech on that occasion, the noble Lord said, "I can say, conscientiously, that greater exaggeration has prevailed upon this subject than has prevailed upon any other political topic that I recollect. Before I looked more narrowly into the question myself, I had*Hansard (third series) vol. xxiii. p. 1383.† Ibid. p. 1398.795 greatly exaggerated to my own mind the amount of the revenues of the Irish Church Establishment."—"One great and very prevalent exaggeration relates to the revenues of the Bishops. I shall surprise the House when I mention, that the net amount of all their revenues is only 130,000l. a-year."—"I think, therefore, that I shall be justified in stating that all the revenues of the Church of Ireland applicable to the support of the ministers of that Church do not exceed 800,000l. I have gone into this detail," said Lord Althorp, "and have pressed it upon the attention of the House, in consequence of the exaggerations which prevail upon the subject, and which render it impossible for Gentlemen to come to a just consideration of this question without knowing the facts upon which it rests."* I give you the same caution that Lord Althorp did. I ask you to ascertain the facts before you form your conclusions; and it is the more necessary that I should repeat the caution, for Lord Althorp's own estimates were erroneous like those of his predecessors. I despair of removing the effect which has been made by these repeated misstatements. I may correct the error, but I cannot efface the impression which it has made. There may be a reluctant assent to the correctness of my remarks, a tardy admission of past mistakes; but the prejudices against the Church will remain. The misrepresentation has had its effect. It has been repeated within these walls so often, that it is regarded as incontrovertible. It was brought back in petitions from the country; and we have mistaken the echo of our own delusions for new and confirmatory evidence of their truth. If, however, I shall make it appear that this Church, which is said to possess several millions, does not own property to the amount of one-tenth of that which she is said to hold, if I can make it clear and indisputable, that, instead of only 260,000 persons belonging to her communion in Ireland, according to the statement of Dr. Doyle, the number of Protestants connected with the Church of Ireland is 860,000, if this should be shown from the latest and most authentic accounts, I would ask hon. Members to renounce their own admitted error and to acknowledge the truth.
Superadded to the difficulty which I*Hansard (third series) vol. xv, p. 566–7.796 have mentioned from the prejudices arising from oft-repeated exaggerated statements, there is another and not less powerful one in the Resolution decidedly hostile to the Established Church of Ireland, adopted by this House for party purposes, and under the influence of party feelings and prejudices. I will not argue the question with reference to any feelings of this kind. I will not argue it on any other ground than that of the force of evidence and reason; and let me add, that if the House resigns itself to the influences of a powerful party united against the Irish Church for purposes to which false delicacy or false shame may make them disposed to adhere, I admit that I have no chance for the success of my Motion; but if the House will struggle against the impression produced by erroneous statements, if I have to deal only with men of ingenuous minds, on whom I can hope to impress the conviction which so strongly weighs on my own mind, I have no doubt that I shall be able to carry my Motion by a large majority.
The Bill states in its preamble, that "whereas it is just and necessary for the establishment of peace and good order in Ireland, and conducive to religion and morality, that after adequate provision made for the spiritual wants of the members of the Established Church, the surplus income of such parishes shall be applied to the moral and religious education of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion." Here then is first a fact assumed, and next a principle asserted. It is assumed that there is a surplus revenue, after adequate provision made for the spiritual wants of the members of the Established Church, and next the principle is asserted that that surplus should be applied for purposes other than Ecclesiastical.
Now, before we can satisfactorily decide what are the spiritual wants of the Established Church, and what therefore can constitute a surplus, it is necessary to bear in mind the principles and provisions of an Act which was passed so lately as the year 1833, which was brought in by the Government of Lord Grey, and was intended to effect important and substantial reforms in the Irish Church. It was generally known by the name of the Church Temporalities Act. By this Act, ten out of the twenty-two bishoprics of Ireland were suppressed, provision was 797 made for the extinction of sinecure dignities, and for the suppression of benefices in places wherein divine worship had not been performed for the period of three years preceding. A large proportion of the revenue thus obtained was applied as a substitute for the Church-cess in Ireland, that is to say, the Church took upon itself a charge for repairing and building churches, which had up to that period been borne by the proprietor and occupier of land. Lord Grey gave a summary of the Bill to the following effect. He estimated the amount of the Church-cess at 60,000l. a-year. Another object of the fund which would be created by the Bill was the augmentation of small livings. The House of Commons had, by a separate Resolution, declared, that those clergymen whose parishes produced to them a maintenance of less than 200l. a-year should have their incomes raised to that amount out of the Church funds, that being the lowest which it was considered a clergyman ought to have who had the charge of a parish. He believed that the Resolution passed unanimously. It was true, the hon. Member for Middlesex growled a faint opposition to it; but he did not divide on the subject. The hon. Member had, however, afterwards candidly and manfully admitted in debate, that he thought 300l. a-year was not too much for the incumbent of a parish, actively engaged in the performance of parochial duties. The noble Lord (Grey) estimated, that the sum required for the augmentation of small livings would be about 46,500l. a-year. The sum required for the building of new churches was estimated at 20,000l., and that for the purchase and improvement of glebes at 10,000l., making the total charge on the Church Temporalities' Fund to be 136,500l. Now, to meet this charge, the noble Lord estimated that there would be 40,000l. a-year, as the interest of a capital of 1,000,000l., which he expected would be realised by the sale of bishops' lands. The produce of the suppressed bishoprics was estimated at 50,780l. The tax on the remaining bishoprics was calculated to produce 4,600l. The tax on the incumbents of the several livings in Ireland, and the funds to be derived from suppressed sinecures, were taken at 42,000l. per annum; the repayments on account of glebe-houses for fifteen years were estimated at about 8,000l. The total charge on the fund was taken, as I have before 798 observed, at 136,500l., and its ultimate annual produce was calculated by Lord Grey at about 155,000l. Recollect that this was the fund, the only fund, out of which certain great objects, then declared to be of the utmost importance to the efficiency and stability of the Church, were to be provided for. From this fund, and from this alone, churches were to be repaired, small livings to be increased, glebe-houses to be built. On the faith of these assurances, we were called upon to relinquish the vestry-cess, and to consent to the suppression of ten bishoprics.
Now, what is the present condition of the funds under this Church Temporalities' Act, and how are they affected by this Bill? It will be found, that instead of the sum of 155,000l., the actual amount of revenue received by the Commissioners under the Church Temporalities' Bill will not exceed 29,127l. Now it will appear from the papers to which I have referred, that the sum required for repairs of churches throughout Ireland amounts annually to 25,000l. Other expenses connected with the performance of divine service, formerly defrayed by the vestry cess, amount to 34,412l. In consequence of the vestry-cess not having been paid, many churches have gone so much out of repair, as to require a greater sum to put them in repair than they would have done had the repairs been made as soon as required. The expenses of the Commissioners, including salaries to Commissioners, clerks, agents, architects, and stationery, are 10,000l. So that here is an annual expenditure of 69,412l. to be charged on a present annual income of 29,127l. It is true the Commissioners have done that which is frequent with Irish Commissioners—they have realised a debt. A loan of 100,000l. has been advanced by the Treasury to the Commissioners, of which sum 46,000l. has been received, and of that sum 45,688l. has been applied to pay the vestry-cess pf 1833 and the arrears of the cess of 1832 and 1831; and this, be it remembered, without making any provision for the building of churches, without making any provision for the augmentation of small livings, without making any provision for another important object of the Church Temporalities' Fund—the purchase and improvement of glebes. A calculation has been made as to the period when the fund will be productive, so as to be equal to the permanent expenditure of the Commission- 799 ers, and the answer to the inquiry on this point is, "If the permanent income of 83,440l., as set forth by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, is to be the only income certainly forthcoming, the annual funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will never equal their contemplated expenditure, but, on the contrary, fall short of the same by an immediate and perpetual annuity of 3,446l., or an immediate capital of 86,173l. Assuming that the doubtful income of 22,000l. from the tax on incumbents should be paid, the period when the funds would meet the yearly expenditure would be less than eighteen years, that is to say, in February, 1853. The period when the fund would reach its maximum would be in thirty-seven years and a half, or the 1st of August, 1873. The debt on the fund likely to be realised by the accumulation of the yearly deficit until the income may be equal to the expenditure is 412,382l. The time required to pay off such debt after it shall have attained its maximum will be twenty years from February, 1853, being from and after the 1st of August next thirty-seven years and a-half." But this answer proceeded on the supposition that the 100,000l. advanced by the Treasury to the Commissioners on the Perpetuity Fund would be paid off on the 1st of August next from the first proceeds of the Perpetuity Fund. I have not heard that any such payment is likely to be made by the 1st of August, and I see, from the despairing nod given by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he has no expectation that such will be the case; and yet, with this knowledge, with the knowledge that it would take thirty-seven years and a-half before the fund would be productive, the noble Lord saddles it with five per cent. immediate payment on the present amount of tithes to each clergyman who shall sustain a loss by the operation of the present Bill.
The statements which I have just read will expose the miserable expedients of the Bill. The clergy appear to have a lien on a fund which might be, if every thing went on prosperously, in a condition to pay in about forty years. But the fund itself is at an end. The revenue to be realised under the former Bill is annihilated by this. The income from suppressed dignities is applied to another purpose. The tax on incomes above 300l. will become almost unproductive, for incomes are, at the discretion of the Lord-Lieutenant, to 800 be reduced to 300l. The plain truth is, that the fund under the Church Temporalities' Bill will not meet the charges which heretofore fell on the vestry-cess, and that the promised provision for building churches and glebe-houses, and for increasing small livings, is at an end. So much for the bearing of the present measure on that which was described as a comprehensive scheme of Church Reform in Ireland, which was hailed with shouts of applause only two years since, as effectually correcting the abuses, and at the same time supplying the acknowledged deficiencies of the Church!
I will now consider the operation and effect of this Bill upon the general revenues of the Church, and prove the extent to which they will be reduced by it. Never was that mathematical process, the process of exhaustion, applied with greater ingenuity, or with greater success. There are three separate modes, all working simultaneously, by which the Church revenue will be affected by this Bill. First, there is to be at once a deduction of thirty per cent. from the present amount of tithe composition. Secondly, there is to be a power to re-open the compositions entered into, and fixed in amount either by arbitration or by voluntary consent of parties. This power is to be exercised, not by the Lord-lieutenant in Council, but at the discretion of three gentlemen sitting at Whitehall, the Commissioners of Land Revenue, under whom the Lord-lieutenant is to act as a mere subordinate and ministerial agent. It is true there may be some few special cases in which the composition ought to be re-opened—there may be some instances (I think they will be very rare instances) of fraud, or collusion, or gross error—if there be any such cases, a special remedy, with proper guards and securities against the abuse of it, might be provided. By this Bill, however, the decision is placed in the hands of three Commissioners of Woods and Forests and on that decision every composition may be re-opened. What will be the consequent position of the clergy of Ireland? Each incumbent may be called on to defend, not only his own temporary interest, but the permanent interest of the Church, in the amount of tithe composition. The present incumbent very probably has not been a party to the composition. There may have been two or three intervening incumbencies, the evidence 801 may have been destroyed, the persons able to give parole evidence may be dead, the composition may have been effected, in the first instance, without minute valuation, through amicable compromise between the parties. And yet the unfortunate clergyman is by this Bill to be called on to defend the composition, upon the ground of his own existing interest during his life in the receipt of tithes; that is to say, the clergyman, who has been unable during late years to collect any tithe at all, is to defend compositions for tithe entered into fourteen or fifteen years ago, and in respect to which compositions he is possessed of no evidence. What, let me remind the House, is the tribunal before whom these compositions are to be reopened? Three barristers, three at the very least, are to preside over the investigation. The composition may be reopened separately in each parish of a union. In each, the charge of defending it on the part of the Church may be thrown on the incumbent. The barristers are to determine what portion of the expense incurred by their inquiries is to fall on him; and thus the clergyman, who has received nothing for the last three or four years, whose family may be actually starving, is to be visited with the triple curse of a visit from three barristers, at five guineas a-day each, besides their expenses, for the purpose of opening a composition under which he has recovered nothing. Now, I will take the case of a clergyman who, with a nominal income of 150l. or 200l. per annum, has not realized one shilling of his tithe for the last three or four years, and ask the House to conceive for one moment his feelings, when he sees a barouche and four, containing three barristers at five guineas a day each, drive up to his door for the purpose of re-opening a composition into which his predecessor had entered, and from which he has realized nothing. Let the House imagine the feelings of that man who, unable to realize one farthing of the stipend to which he is entitled, under a composition to which he was no party, is thus to bear the burden of an inquiry respecting which he possesses no information and no evidence. To what extent the re-opening of the compositions may proceed, it is impossible for me to calculate. It is equally impossible for me to calculate how far it will tend to diminish the income and revenues of the Irish Protestant Church; but surely it is 802 most vexatious and unjust thus to encourage parishes to open the compositions to which they have in most cases been voluntary parties—or which have been arranged through the intervention of disinterested arbitrators. In short, the measure is in this respect fraught with greater injustice and individual hardship, than any measure I ever remember to have been submitted to the Legislature. This is the second battery which the noble Lord opposite (Lord Morpeth) has directed against the revenues of the Irish Church.
The third is the substitution of a new corn average for that which formed the standard of the compositions now existing. It is necessary that I should shortly state to the House the principles of those compositions. They were first provided for in the Bill which was brought in by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Goulburn) and which passed in 1823. That Bill was amended in 1824, and by that measure an option was given to make the composition for tithes to endure for twenty-one years, and, in conformity with the Bill of my right hon. Friend, most compositions have been effected for the term of twenty-one years. Consequently the composition under those Bills, if made from 1824 to 1831 inclusive, for the period of twenty-one years, would extend to the years 1845 or 1852 inclusive, and could not be open to revision in the intermediate time. The Bill of my right hon. Friend was succeeded by that of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, (Lord Stanley) by the provisions of which it was made compulsory, in cases where compositions had not been entered into under the former Bill, that they should be made. The Bill of the noble Lord did not at all disturb the compositions which had been effected for the term of twenty-one years under Mr. Goulburn's Bill. If under that Bill they had been entered into for that or for shorter periods, the contract, whatever it was, was to endure. Lord Stanley's Bill compelled a composition, in every uncompounded parish, making the new and compulsory composition variable every seven years, but assuming, as the standard which was to regulate the first composition, the average price of corn for the seven years preceding November 1830. The compositions under Lord Stanley's Bill were effected in the course of 1833 and 1834, and as they are invariable for seven years, they ought to endure of course until 1840 803 and 1841. Now, this Bill provides, in lieu of the standard adopted respectively in Mr. Goulburn's and Lord Stanley's Bills, that a new average of prices shall be taken; in short, that a principle shall be applied differing from that which has met with the consent of all parties. And what is the average now proposed?—that of the prices for the last seven years preceding the date of the present Bill. It is notorious both to the House and the country, that corn is now much lower in price than it was at the period when the average of each of the former Bills was taken. So far as I have been enabled to ascertain those averages, I believe them to be correct when thus stated:—The average prices for the seven years, ending the 1st of November, 1821, (that taken by Mr. Goulburn) was of wheat, 1s. 15s. 10½d., oats, 13s. 11¾d. For the seven years ending the 1st of November, 1830, that adopted by the noble Lord, (Stanley) the average prices were, wheat, 1l. 12s. 0½d., oats, 13s. The present average prices which will be brought into operation are—wheat, 1l. 10s. 1½d.; oats, 11s. 8¾d. Now, the effect of adopting these averages in lieu of the standard which guided the preceding measures will be, if my estimate be correct, to diminish the amount of the composition about sixteen per cent, or one-sixth of the whole; and this reduction is to be added to the three-tenths to which I have already alluded.
I have thus attempted to explain to the House the triple process by which the Church in Ireland is to be relieved of superfluous wealth:—First, the deduction of thirty per cent., a simple, intelligible, and definite deduction. Secondly, the reopening of compositions, the precise effect of which it is impossible to calculate. Thirdly, the substitution of a new standard of corn averages, in lieu of those which at present rule the tithe compositions. I will now apply practically the machinery of the Bill, and consider its operation, first upon a given amount,—say 100l. of tithe composition,—then upon a living of the nominal value of 600l.—then upon the general mass of Church revenue derivable from tithe. And first I will take its effect upon 100l. of tithe composition. In the first place, there will be the reduction of three-tenths, and thus under the first battery of the noble Lord, the 100l. tithe composition is reduced to 70l. at once. To what extent it will further be reduced 804 by the expenses of three barristers at five guineas per day each, I cannot acquaint the House, but still a farther reduction may be made by re-opening the composition. I have, however, reduced the 100l. to 70l. The forcible substitution of new corn averages will effect a further reduction of at least one-sixth, amounting upon the original 100l. tithe composition to 11l. 10s., so that the 100l. is melted down to 58l. 10s. This is the sum which the Commissioners of Woods and Forests are to realize, but they are empowered to charge the clergyman 6d. in the pound for the expenses of the collection, which will be 1l. 9s., so that in the end the 100l. tithe composition is reduced to 57l. 1s., independently of the expenses consequent upon opening the composition.
I now take the case of a living of the nominal value of 600l. per annum. Deducting the three-tenths, the living of the nominal value of 600l. will be reduced to 420l.; and, if my calculation is correct, a further reduction of one-sixth, or 70l. must be the consequence of the new corn averages. This will further cut down the nominal living of 600l. per annum to 350l. From this a further demand of 6d. in the pound for the expenses of collection, amounting to 8l. 15s. will be made, again reducing the nominal living of 600l. per annum to 341l. 5s. Is this all? Oh, no. The unhappy incumbent, who thus sees his 600l. a-year dwindled down to 341l. 5s. is visited with another deduction from another quarter. He is subjected to a new demand of two and a half per cent. as an income tax, under the Church Temporalities' Bill, which finally reduces the nominal living of 600l. a-year, to the sum of 332l. 15s. Now, if the incumbent of such a living should, with a view to a future provision for his family, have insured his life, supposing he pays 40l. a-year for that purpose, and 75l. for a curate to assist him in the discharge of his duties to the flock intrusted to his pastoral care—supposing too, he has to pay an instalment for the glebe-house—I leave the House to judge of the condition of this man and his family, and of the mockery and cruel insult of taunting him with his superfluous wealth. The only doubt which can arise on this statement is, whether or not I have overrated the extent of the deduction which I have contended is to be made in respect of the new corn averages; but even if I am in error, I think I may fairly set against any 805 miscalculation on that head the expenses which will result from the proposed reopening of the composition for tithes.
I have now shown the House, that by the ingenious process embodied in this Bill, an ecclesiastical living will be reduced to little more than one-half its nominal amount, and I now proceed to consider the effect which this measure will have upon the revenues generally of the Irish Protestant Church. This consideration is most important, because, before a supposed surplus is applied, it is desirable to ascertain what is the actual revenue of the Church. I have taken the pains to ascertain what is the real amount of the gross composition for clerical tithes in Ireland, payable to parochial incumbents. The noble Lord opposite, (Lord Morpeth) in his calculation included the lay tithes, or, in other words, the tithes payable to lay impropriators, not with a view of producing error I admit; but I will not encumber the question by adverting on this occasion to lay tithes, which for the present purposes shall be excluded from consideration. I am now dealing only with Church property, and the effects upon it which the machinery of this Bill may in future produce. Tithes received by the bishops have also been included by the noble Lord, when they ought to have been excluded from this calculation, for the bishop's tithes are provided for in the Church Temporalities' Bill. In the same way I shall omit from consideration the tithes due to deans and chapters, because those tithes are applied to the repairs of the cathedrals, unless they are held with benefices, and in the latter case they become subject to the operation of the present Bill. From the best calculation I can make from a revision of the whole of the parishes from which returns have been made, the total amount of tithes payable to parochial clergy, excluding bishops, deans and chapters, and vicars choral, is 507,367l. That is the whole amount of tithes payable to the parochial clergy of Ireland, and before it is thought of applying a presumed surplus to other than Ecclesiastical purposes, it will be well to consider what will be the effect of the Bill upon the revenues of the Church. By a reduction of three-tenths, viz. 152,700l. from 507,000l. the amount will be brought down to 354,667l. The expense of collection at the rate of sixpence in the pound, amounting to 8,872l. is further to be 806 deducted, which brings down the gross receipt of tithes by the clergy to 345,795l. I am unable to estimate the extent of the further reduction which must result from the re-opening of the compositions: but taking, as in the former calculations, one-sixth as the consequence of the new corn averages, that sixth, amounting to 57,632l., will, by the ingenious process of exhaustion provided in this Bill, produce this result—viz., that, instead of the amount of Irish parochial tithe being 507,367l., its net amount will be only 288,163l.,
In this stage of my observations it will be well for me to pause a moment for the purpose of comparing the amount to which I have thus practically reduced the Irish parochial tithe with the estimate of indefinite millions assumed by Dr. Doyle, or the more moderate calculation of the total of church property made by the hon. Member for Middlesex, who, upon the closest approximation, stated the amount to be 3,200,000l. Have I not been justified in lamenting the effect of such extraordinary exaggerations, and in earnestly entreating the House to be upon its guard against the force of early and erroneous impressions? To the sum of 288,163l., the tithe revenue of the Irish clergy, it is only fair that I should add the amount received by them as ministers' money, and the value of the glebes. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) stated the value of the glebes to be about 65,000l.; but I believe their value is not overrated at 76,778l., which, with 12,838l., the amount of ministers' money, will make a total revenue derivable by the Irish clergy from every source, of only 377,779l.
The total amount of future revenue being thus ascertained, I will now consider the present condition of the Church in Ireland, and the amount requisite for its maintenance. In discussing this subject, the House has now the advantage, which it did not possess when it pledged itself to the resolution of appropriation, of the Report which the Commissioners have made in immediate reference to this point. I have done all I could to prevail upon the House to postpone that resolution until this Report was furnished. The House had, however, pledged itself that there was a surplus before they had received the Report showing the actual condition of the Irish Church. It appears, from the Report presented by the Commissioners appointed 807 by the present Government, that there are in Ireland 1,385 benefices—of these 264 contain fewer than fifty Protestants. The House will perceive that a material distinction is to be drawn between benefices and parishes. Benefices may consist of one or many parishes, and of these it appears from the Report that there are 2,405 in Ireland, though there are only 1,385 benefices. Now, as I have already stated, I wish to argue this question on the narrow grounds which his Majesty's Government have themselves afforded me; I wish to discuss this measure on the principles assumed by the King's Government itself, admitting, for the sake of argument, those principles to be correct, and that my own views are erroneous. I take this course solely for this reason, that I can afford to make the concession, and, having made it, I can show that the Ministers are, on their own principles, and with their own admissions, bound to accede to my Motion. Arguing from their own evidence, I can show that there is no surplus to distribute, and, according to their own principles, therefore, they are bound not to sanction any alienation of the revenues of the Irish Church. I will assume that, in the present state of the Church in Ireland, and due regard being had to the special circumstances of that country, the Church revenues ought to bear the whole charge of the Establishment—not only the maintenance of the ministers, but the expense of building new places of worship, and every other expense connected with the performance of divine worship, according to the doctrines of the Church. From the Report it appears that there are 1,121 benefices in Ireland, in each of which there are more than fifty Protestants. Divide the amount of tithes amongst them, and the average of tithes appropriated to these benefices will amount to 256l. per annum. But these unions of parishes are in many cases a great evil, and they ought to be severed. That principle has been recognized by Lord Plunkett, by Sir John Newport, and by all who have contended most strenuously for the improvement of the Church. The unions were made partly on account of the abolition of agistment tithe, partly from want of places of worship, or residences for ministers; and the first claim, in case of a new distribution of Church revenue, is on the part of those parishes in which a respectable congregation can 808 be found, and which are now inconveniently and improvidently united to others. Taking, then, the parishes instead of benefices, what appears in the Report? The number of parishes in Ireland is stated to be 2,405, and of these 860 contain fewer than fifty Protestants. I consider the provisions of this Bill, in respect to those 860 parishes in no other light than as a blow fatal to the Irish Church. But here, again, assuming that the noble Lord is right, and that I am wrong—assuming that, in a parish where there are fewer than fifty Protestants, you are at liberty to deal with it as this Bill doth deal with it—still, deducting 860 from 2,405, there are 1,545 separate parishes in Ireland, in each of which there is a greater number than fifty Protestants. Allotting to each of the parishes a separate minister, adopting the principles of this Bill, that where there are fifty Protestants, there the spiritual services of a Protestant resident minister shall not be withdrawn, what is the provision you can make from tithes to each of those incumbents? On the average of this whole, it does not exceed 180l. to each. But there are 961 benefices in Ireland with more than 100 Protestant Members of the Established Church in each. The noble Lord intimates that he was not aware of that. Be it so: but, then, who was it that entered into the resolution, pledging the House to the alienation of Church property, even before his own Report was presented? That Report may convict hon. Gentlemen on my side of the House of want of foresight in obstructing the inquiry, in preventing the ascertainment of a fact so important as that to which I have just referred, namely, that there are 961 benefices in Ireland, each with a Protestant population of more than 100 Members; but it will convict hon. Gentlemen opposite of deliberate error, if they persist in adhering to their Resolution after that Report has been placed in their possession. There are 961 benefices in Ireland, with more than 100 Protestant members of the Established Church in each. I proclaim that fact. There are 1,165 benefices in Ireland, with a church in each, and with two churches in some. There are 1,383 churches of the Establishment existing at present in Ireland. Now, according to the principles of the noble Lord, wherever there is a church in any parish in Ireland, there also there is to be a minister; and 809 wherever there is a minister, the noble Lord has declared himself ready to allot to that minister an independent stipend. Now, if the noble Lord is prepared to allot 220l. a-year for the maintenance of each church in Ireland, I will make bold to tell him, that, instead of having a surplus to dispose of, he will find that he will have a deficiency to supply. I will take the benefices of Ireland with the number of Protestants therein, varying of course in amount in each. I will discard from my calculation the parishes whose revenues the noble Lord is prepared to confiscate to the amount of 860, but still, for whose spiritual instruction the noble Lord intends to make some provision, reducing, therefore, to that extent (I believe nearly 30,000l.), the total amount of available revenue. For my present purpose I will assume that the principle of the noble Lord is correct, and I will attempt to show, that upon that principle he ought not to refuse his acquiescence in my present requisition. There are 670 benefices in Ireland, with Protestants of the Established Church varying in number from fifty to 500. There are 209 benefices in Ireland, with Protestants of the Established Church varying in number from 500 to 1,000. There are 242 benefices in Ireland containing more than 1,000 Protestants of the Established Church. I have thus divided the benefices in Ireland into three classes, varying with the extent of the Protestant population. Now, I want no clerical sinecures in Ireland, I want no gross inequality, wholly disproportioned to actual duty, between the incomes of parochial clergy. But I do contend for such gradations in the amount of revenue as are justified by variations in the expenses of living, in the demands for charity, in the extent of duty for such gradations, as would hold out an encouragement to exertion on the part of those who are less amply provided for, and enable the Protestant minister to maintain his station in society. In populous places, like the cities of Dublin, Cork, and Belfast, there ought to be livings amply provided with means for the support of the Protestant ministers of the Established Church. If there are not such livings,—if the minister of the Protestant Established Church is not enabled to maintain his independence and respectability of station as compared with his equals in life, then the House will, in my 810 opinion, not only be degrading the man, but also inflicting irreparable injury upon the Establishment itself.
Now, take the three classes of benefices to which I have referred—assume that you are at liberty to apportion the revenue of the spiritual Church, according to some rule, having reference to the extent of duty and the number of Protestant inhabitants—will any man propose a more moderate allowance than that of 200l. a-year to the 670 benefices of the first class, 300l. a-year to the 209 benefices of the second class, and 400l. a-year to the 242 benefices of the third class? The demand on the revenues of the Irish Church for that extremely low and moderate scale of support would amount to 293,500l. whereas the revenue derivable from tithes in Ireland is only 288,000l. as I have already clearly proved. I trust that the House will observe that this calculation is made on the number of benefices, not of parishes. Besides this, I have made no provision for curates; and yet in all benefices where there is a Protestant population of more than 1,000 persons belonging to the Established Church, there must probably be one curate. On the other hand, it is true that I have not taken into account the glebe lands, but have considered only the revenue from tithe as available for the maintenance of the parochial clergy. But against the value of the glebe place the deductions to be made from tithe, on account of the charge for religious service in 860 suppressed parishes—on account of the re-opening of compositions—on account of the necessary provision for curates—on account of the difference between any estimate of Irish revenues, and the actual net sum realized; and I do not believe that the revenue derivable from glebes will more than supply the deficit, or will, therefore, disturb my calculations. Again, if I take, as I am entitled to take, parishes instead of benefices, the average allotment to each minister must be materially reduced.
I may be asked why I have assumed 200l. as the minimum in the scale of allowance to be made to parochial ministers? My answer is, not on any vague assumption of my own, but on the acts and recorded declarations of the authors and supporters of the present Bill. The estimate is theirs, not mine. I may think 200l. (as I do think it) a very insufficient 811 provision—but I am arguing throughout on the principles of my opponents, and claiming their support of my proposal on those principles. The Church Temporalities' Bill assumes that 200l. a-year is the lowest sum which ought to be paid as a stipend to any clergyman who has the care, not of a benefice, but of a parish. I find that opinion confirmed by all the authorities which I have been enabled to consult upon the subject. I find, first of all, that Lord Hatherton, then Mr. Littleton, Secretary for Ireland, entertained this opinion:—"I concur," said he, "in the opinion expressed by my right hon. Friend, that 200l. per annum is not too large a sum for the support of a clergyman of the Established Church. If the Protestant religion is to be maintained in Ireland at all, its ministers must be placed in the condition of gentlemen. From the representations which have been made to me, I believe that many clergymen of the Established Church in Ireland are, at the present moment, removed but in a short degree from the necessity of begging for their daily subsistence." Dr. Lushington, and there could be no higher authority, also said on the same occasion,—"I fully recognize the principle that Parliament may deal with any surplus of Church property which may exist after the necessities of the Church have been provided for; but the first and most sacred of our duties is to provide for the support of the ministers of the Church; and I apprehend that no man, who is not. prepared to say that the Protestant Establishment in Ireland ought to be levelled to the ground, will stand up in this House and say that 200l. per annum is too much for a Protestant minister to receive." I am now going to appeal to the authority of a Roman Catholic Gentleman, Mr. Finn, the Member for the county of Kilkenny. "It is evident," said he, "that a man to be a curate,"—and here I will observe, that I am not now speaking, as Mr. Finn then was, of curates acting under the control of their rectors, and looking forward to future elevation in the Church as an inducement to perform their spiritual functions for a time for a very moderate compensation; I am speaking of the provision to be made for an independent minister, who ought to be placed, according to the noble Lord, in every parish where there is a church, or where there is a population of fifty Protestants—Mr. 812 Finn, I repeat, said,—"It is evident that a man to be a curate must be as well educated as the rich diocesan, and, having been myself educated at Trinity College, I can speak to the fact. I have always said, that it was disgraceful that a clergyman should receive a salary of only 75l. The Protestant curates, who do the duty of the superior clergy, are infamously paid, while the Roman Catholic curates are much better paid, and more comfortably provided for. It is well known, that, in the counties of Kilkenny and Carlow, the Roman Catholic peasantry have actually given relief to the Protestant curates, many of whom are placed in situations in which they are frequently obliged to do that which they would otherwise shrink from doing, but which they are compelled to do, in consequence of the miserable sums they receive for their services." Can you have more convincing evidence, more conclusive testimony than this, proceeding as it does from a Roman Catholic Gentleman residing in Ireland, who tells you, that, because there is not a sufficient maintenance for the clergymen of the Established Church, such is the force of sympathy and generous compassion for their distresses, that the Roman Catholic peasantry themselves contribute to their relief, in order to avoid the scandal of a starving ministry, though professing another creed? With a view, then, of preventing the Protestant clergy of the Established Church of Ireland from being obliged to do that which they would otherwise shrink from doing, and with a view of relieving the Roman Catholic peasantry from the necessity of contributing alms to the support of clergy in whose creed they do not believe,—I cite the authority of Mr. Finn as conclusive evidence, that the House ought to provide, not a superfluous, but a decent and becoming maintenance for the ministers of the Established Church. The last authority which I shall cite is the most recent—it is the authority of the hon. and learned Attorney-General for Ireland—Mr. Perrin. Speaking of livings, of which the incumbents reside in England, drawing the amount of their tithes from their parishes, in Ireland, and allotting only 75l. a-year to their curates, Mr. Perrin said, and in that assertion I fully agree with him, that this evil of non-residence must be redressed. Not one word have I said—not one word will I 813 say—in vindication of that system. I would correct it, not only for the future, but also for the present. I would insist on the right of Parliament to require from any clergyman who receives 700l. a-year, or indeed any sum, from a parish as its incumbent, no matter what were the conditions on which he received the living, the immediate personal superintendance of the parish, and the immediate personal discharge of his spiritual duties. I do not contest the principle which the hon. and learned Attorney-General for Ireland thus laid down; on the contrary, I admit it most fully and unequivocally. But what said the hon. and learned Gentleman?—"I am not one of those who would withdraw anything from the incomes of the working clergy on the contrary, I would seek to place those members of that body in a situation more becoming their sacred calling, by giving every actual incumbent not less than 200l. or 250l. per annum."*
Now, have I not proved, not upon vague reasonings, not upon general assumptions, but as I have said that I would, out of the admissions of the noble Lord and his supporters, that the House ought to allot to ministers in benefices where there is a Church, or where there is a congregation of more than fifty Protestants of the Established Church, at the very least, 200l. or 250l. a-year as the minimum of stipend. We hear the Scotch Church constantly spoken of. I have no objection to adopt its principle in this respect, for I find that inequality in the value of benefices prevails in Scotland. Though the Scotch Church is poorer than that of England and Ireland, yet the principle of the inequality of parochial stipends is admitted in it. I apprehend that the ministers of the Church of Scotland residing in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other populous towns, having greater expenses to meet than those ministers who reside in villages in more remote parts of the country, receive stipends, in many cases double and treble those allotted to the ministers of rural parishes. I believe that there are livings in the Church of Scotland, which produce to their incumbents not less than 800l. or 1,000l. a-year. In the case of the living of North Leith, papers have recently been laid on the Table of the House, which prove that the average receipts of*Hansard, (third series) vol. xxvii. p. 931.814 the minister for the last three years was 670l. a-year. I understand, that in Edinburgh there are eighteen clergymen, each with an income varying from 500l. to 600l. a-year. In Greenock, the minister has above 800l. a-year. In the country parishes, be it remembered that glebe-houses are provided for the residence of the ministers of the Church of Scotland. In North Leith, the minister, in addition to his 670l. a-year, has 60l. a-year allowed him in lieu of a house. In Scotland, these glebe-houses are kept in repair at the expense of the Church. I say that in Ireland you ought to adopt a corresponding principle. I further say, that if you take 200l. or 250l. a-year as the minimum of stipend to be paid to the ministers of country parishes with a population of fifty Protestant members of the Established Church, it is clear that you must, when you come to provide for a minister in a large town, like Dublin, Cork, and Belfast, place him in a condition above the privations, I might say the temptations, of poverty, if you expect him to exercise the legitimate influence of his station. You must fix his income on the principle which is adopted in the large towns of Scotland, and provide him with a maintenance becoming the station he has to occupy. If you adopt 200l. or 250l. a-year as the minimum of stipend, and determine to give a liberal salary to the ministers of the Established Church whom you place in the parishes of populous towns in Ireland, again I say, would the conclusion come upon you with resistless force, that, in carrying your intentions into effect, you would not have a surplus to dispose of, but a deficiency to supply.
I shall postpone the consideration of many points involved in this Bill—for I am not discussing its principle, but endeavouring to show that the Bill ought to be divided. I think that there is so much doubt respecting the possession of a surplus to appropriate, that the House ought not to assert a principle which, if asserted, would naturally lead the people of Ireland to entertain extravagant expectations which must be disappointed. Can any proposition be more clear than this—that the existence of the surplus should be clearly ascertained before that surplus is appropriated? Can the truth of it be denied, by the most eager advocates for the right of alienation, in the event of a surplus?
815 To them my present argument is addressed. I want to convince them that, assuming their principle to be a correct one, there is no pretence for its practical application in this case. How does the noble Lord gain his surplus? By sequestrating the revenues of 860 parishes, which the noble Lord facetiously calls the feeders of his reserve. I have been hitherto assuming that the noble Lord has these 860 parishes to deal with. Their revenues constitute his reserve. But I will now show by what means, and at the expense of what injustice, this miserable reserve is procured. In many parts of the West of Ireland, there are parishes which do not contain fifty Protestant members of the Established Church, but which are united together in one benefice. In many of these united parishes there are more than 100,—aye, than 200 or 300, members of the Established Church. The parish church is frequently in the centre of the Union, within a tolerably convenient distance of each of the parishes, which, by their conjoint contributions, provide a salary for their minister, often not exceeding 200l. or 300l. a-year. The noble Lord finds that in some of the parishes belonging to the Union, taken separately, there are not fifty members of the Established Church; and then proceeds on the principle that he can sequestrate the revenue of all the parishes composing the Union; because, though there are 200, or perhaps 300 members of the Established Church in the benefice, there are not fifty Protestants of the Established Church in each separate parish composing it. Now, I should rather have expected from the House a reprobation of the practice of forming parishes into Unions. I should rather have expected that our present object would be to sever unions, and to provide each parish with an independent minister. The noble Lord, however, declares, that he will sequester the revenues of all these parishes, and render them one and all the feeders of his reserve. Now, I will show by one or two instances the injustice of this system of sequestration. There is a union of three parishes, making the benefice of Collon, consisting of the parishes of Collon, Mosstown, and Dromyn. What, I ask, would be the practical effect of making the reserve fund feed on the Union of Collon? In that union there are 848 Protestants of the Established Church. In the parish of Collon there 816 are 760 Protestants; in the parish of Mosstown, forty-eight; and in that of Dromyn, forty. Now, as this union consists of three parishes, and as two of those three parishes have fewer than fifty members of the Established Church, the noble Lord proposes to sequester the proceeds of the two parishes, and leave the minister of Collon to enjoy himself in luxurious ease, on the untouched revenues of Collon, which has 760 members of the Established Church, but though Collon has 760 members of the Established Church, it so happens that Collon produces no income at all. Collon, I repeat, has no income. Mosstown has at present an income from tithe composition to the amount of 248l. a-year, and Dromyn to the amount of 204l. a-year. The nominal amount of the present tithe composition is 452l. a-year. The noble Lord's blow of thirty per cent will reduce that amount to 317l. a-year, leaving the minister of Collon subject to the tax imposed by the Church Temporalities' Bill, and with spiritual duties to perform to 848 Protestants resident within his union. Surely this would be deduction enough. "But no," says the noble Lord, "I want feeders for my reserve fund. I will therefore take the revenues of the productive parishes, and leave the incumbent of Collon, with heavy duties, but no income." There are at least forty other instances of this kind. I will take another, in the south of Ireland, in the diocese of Ross. The union of Kilgarriffe consists of three parishes—the parish of Kilgarriffe, the parish of Dysart, and the parish of Island. The Church of the Union is in the parish of Kilgarriffe. There are two clergymen resident in the union. The average attendance at the church is five hundred persons. It appears by the Report, that the congregation is increasing. The amount of the income of this union, which contains 1,123 members of the Established Church, is by the tithe composition returns, 510l. a-year. When this is reduced by the noble Lord's plan by 153l. the residue of 357l. is the gross amount of the receipts on which two ministers of the Established Church are to be maintained in this union. The various other deductions will reduce it to 300l. The noble Lord proposes to separate from the union the two parishes of Dysart and Island, because Dysart contains only eight, and Island not more than forty-eight members of the Established Church. Now 817 the income of Dysart is 36l. a-year, and that of Island is 260l. a-year. The noble Lord, therefore, subtracts 295l. from the present income, and leaves the residue, subject to various deductions, as a fit maintenance for the Protestant pastor of Kilgarriffe. I will take another instance from a county town—Dundalk. The benefice of Dundalk is the union of the parishes of Dundalk and Castletown. The members of the Established Church residing in that town amount to 1,447. Castletown contains only fourteen members of the Established Church, but it contributes 200l. out of the 210l. which forms the income of the reverend incumbent of the benefice. There being only fourteen members of the Established Church now resident in Castletown, the noble Lord proposes to sequester the income of that parish, and to leave the minister of Dundalk, with a flock of more than 1,430 persons, and the proceeds of one single acre of glebe, which produces just 10l. a-year. Such is the manner in which the noble Lord realizes a surplus. Such is the manner in which he provides the "feeders" of his reserve fund.
I trust that I have now said enough to show that there are grounds for calling upon the House to pause before it proceeds further,—to pause before it gives a pledge, which it must either redeem, to the inevitable injury of the Established Church in Ireland, or which, if unredeemed, would leave the House open to the imputation of having excited hopes of which it had reason to doubt the fulfilment. The Bill professes to consult the true interests of the Established Church in Ireland. What are the true interests of that Church? They do not consist in the allotment of 5l. or 20l. in this or that parish for the performance of spiritual duties on a particular exigency. No, in those interests, properly understood, are involved considerations political, moral, and religious, as important a any ever submitted to the superintendence of a Christian Legislature. I admit, on the one hand, that the true interests of the Established Church are not promoted by the defence of sinecures, by the retention of pluralities, by the existence of gross inequalities in the revenues of its ministers. I admit that principle most fully, and I am prepared to enter immediately into the consideration of the means by which the Established Church, without reference to political ends, with- 818 out regard to personal interests, looking only to the permanent support of the Church itself, and the great objects for which it was instituted, can be best maintained. But neither on the other hand are the true interests of the Established Church consulted by relying on the extravagant zeal, or the superhuman virtues, of the ministers who discharge its functions. You cannot consult the true interests of the Established Church without alloting to its ministers, in cases where spiritual duties are to be performed, a decent and becoming maintenance. You exact from the minister of the Established Church great moral duties, you exact from him great intellectual acquirements, you exact from him an expensive course of education, you interdict him from all secular pursuits. You require from him the devotion of his whole time to his spiritual calling. You do not, indeed, compel him to resign the relations and the cares of domestic life. You want none of the influence which vows of celibacy confer. You tell him he may marry. You tell him that if he inculcates, by the practical force of example, those great principles which he is bound to enforce by his doctrines, he is not a worse member of society, he is not a less efficient member of the Church. You tell him to confirm the claim of his station to the respect of his parishioners by setting them an example in every relation of domestic life. If you require these qualifications from the minister of the Established Church; if you do not discourage him from forming connexions which entail unavoidable expenses; if you tell him that marriage is honourable; if you encourage him to contract it; to call in aid of his spiritual authority the example and influence of his domestic virtues—then, according to every principle of justice, according to every principle of common sense, it is neither right nor decent to subject him to the dependence, the anxieties, the privations, the temptations, of poverty. It is not right for his sake, it is not right for yours, it is not right for the sake of the Established Church, it is not right for the sake of the Roman Catholic population, over whom he is to exercise the influence, at least of character and conduct, to exhibit the minister of the Establishment in a degraded and humiliated condition. On the influence to be exercised by ministers of the Established Church over the Ro- 819 man Catholic population, on the importance of placing those ministers in a state of comfort and independence, I can appeal to high authority. "I will ask," said this high authority, "whether another important effect will not be produced by this measure?" The measure to which this high authority alluded was one which proposed to place in every parish of Ireland a minister of the Church of England in the possession of a competent stipend: "I allude," said he, "to the effect which it will produce on the Catholic population of Ireland, connected as that population is with the respectability of the Protestant Church in that country. If any improvement is to be effected in the condition of Ireland, it must be effected through the instrumentality of the Church, through the residence of a parochial clergy. I consider the permanent residence of a Protestant clergyman on his living to be most beneficial in its results. I speak not from any personal observation of my own, I speak on the authority of those who have long considered this question: and I can assure the House that the utility of having a Protestant minister permanently resident among his flock, even though he may not be the minister of religion to the majority of his parish, will be beyond all calculation. The Protestant clergyman will be to his parish a minister of peace, for he will by his station and his constant residence have constant opportunities of conciliating their good will, by sympathizing in their cares and distresses, and by doing them a variety of good offices. If we strip the Protestant parochial clergy of all those causes of irritation which exist as to the exaction of tithes; if we relieve the Establishment from the odium attached to it in consequence of the collection of vestry cess; if we are enabled to do this, and to place in every parish in Ireland men of independence as parochial priests, we shall establish a firm link of connexion between the Protestant clergy and the Catholic population, which will be found most advantageous to the Established Church, and which will lead to the welfare and happiness of the people of Ireland." Those were the opinions, I trust and believe they continue to be the opinions, of a great landed proprietor in Ireland, who now holds a conspicuous situation in the Councils of the Crown. They were the opinions of the Marquess of Lansdowne, who 820 thought that the interests of all classes of his Majesty's subjects in Ireland, Protestant and Roman Catholic, would be promoted by spreading over the face of it a body of resident Protestant clergymen, and by securing to each and all of them a respectable stipend. I believe that those opinions are correct and just. I believe that if you consult the true interests of the Establishment, which even by this Bill and by its authors is admitted to have the first claims upon its own revenues, you will, after correcting every abuse, and redressing every grievance, apply its revenues in that mode which is best suited to promote its efficiency.
I regret that I have troubled the House at such length. I have tried to fulfil the promise which I gave the House at the commencement of my address. I have attempted to rely on the force of argument and of evidence. I have not borne in mind that the last time on which this question was discussed, it was selected as the arena on which a great political contest was to be decided. I have not brought to the present discussion any feelings of personal mortification or of disappointed ambition, connected with political defeat. I have not mixed up with it private interests or party motives. I have not attempted to gain strength by appeals to passion or to prejudice. I have not decried the religious creed of those who differ from me on the most important topics for human consideration. I have attempted to rest my case on the paramount and undoubted claim which the Established Church has upon the justice of Parliament to protect her at least in the continued possession of her own property—so long as that property is not more than sufficient for her own legitimate wants. You may take one of three courses with regard to this question. You may assert the unquestioned right of the Established Church to her remaining property. You may profess your readiness to correct every abuse in that Church, and to redress every grievance connected with the levy of tithe. Having done this, if you are satisfied that the revenues of the Church are not more than sufficient for the legitimate purposes of an Established Church, of a Church which you mean to maintain and defend as the Established Church—you have a perfect right—you, I mean, who contend most strenuously for the power of alienation in case of a surplus—you have a per- 821 fect right to resist alienation in the present case with such evidence and such information before you. You have the right to declare, that, having made a great deduction from the revenues of the Church by the Temporalities' Bill—having thrown all the onus of supporting the Church on the funds of the Establishment—having relieved the Roman Catholic population from what they considered the obnoxious and odious payment of Church cess—having released the public revenue from every claim for building new churches—having liberated the occupying tenant from direct contribution to funds paid to a clergy from whom he derives no spiritual consolation—having given to the landlords a bonus of three-tenths, or rather of five-tenths, when every deduction shall have been made—after doing all this—after making all these concessions—here you will take your stand and steadily insist on the application of the whole of what is left to the interests, the well-considered interests, of the Established Church. This is one course. There is a second, pregnant indeed, with fatal consequences, a most rash, most unwise, most impolitic, but still an intelligible and consistent course. You may pronounce that the Roman Catholic religion ought to be established in Ireland. You may say—"We can struggle no longer against the force of events and of overpowering numbers; we will go the whole length which is demanded from us, and will establish the Roman Catholic religion on the ruins and at the expense of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland." There is a third course—the course recommended by the Government—which is intermediate between the two others. It neither maintains manfully the principle of the Protestant Establishment, nor does it recognise openly the claims of the Roman Catholic Church to direct participation in Ecclesiastical revenues. It professes, indeed, to maintain the Church as at present established; but infuses a slow and certain poison, which will ensure it; ultimate destruction. I say to his Majesty's Ministers—"If you mean to maintain the Protestant Church in Ireland, openly avow the principle, and consistently act on it—if you feel satisfied that its revenues are not more than sufficient to provide for the decent maintenance of the Ministers of the Church, announce the fact, and the public mind will be set at rest on the sub- 822 ject. The course you are now taking towards the Church of Ireland is simulated protection, but real hostility. You are destroying the independence, the respectability, and the usefulness of the Protestant clergy, by making them mere stipendiaries of the Government, and by holding them out to the people as intercepting the rights of the poor, and the blessings of education and knowledge, by the selfish retention of funds which are the property, not of the Church, but of the community at large. You place them in a most invidious position, in the position most calculated to involve them in personal odium, most calculated to paralyze every exertion on their part to diffuse the just influence of the Protestant religion. You exhibit them not in the light of ministers of an Established Church, receiving an independent maintenance from revenues to which they have an unquestionable right, but in that of usurpers and intruders, every shilling of whose stipend is an encroachment upon the reserved fund.
Against this course, not less fatal in its ultimate results to the permanence and stability of the Established Church than one of more direct and avowed hostility, I enter my decided protest, and I call, not only on those who agree with me in general principles, but on those who demanded information as to the condition of the Church, who required evidence as to the extent of its spiritual wants, the amount of its revenues, and the number of its members, to judge from that information, and to decide on that evidence. If they will do so, if they will efface erroneous impressions founded on misstatement and exaggeration, if they will refuse to be bound by resolutions, entered into in the absence of that information and that evidence of which they are now possessed, I have not a doubt that, in pursuance of their own principles, in conformity with their own recorded declarations and admissions, they must accede to the justice of the motion with which I shall now conclude. The right hon. Bart, concluded by moving, "That it be an instruction to the Committee to divide the Bill into two Bills."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
then moved, "That the Resolution entered into by the House on the 4th of April, be read by the Clerk of the House." The Resolution was accordingly read as follows:—"That any surplus revenue of the present 823 Church Establishment in Ireland, not required for the spiritual care of its Members, be applied to the moral and religious education of all classes of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion, providing for the resumption of such surplus, or of any such part of it as may be required by an increase in the number of the members of the Established Church. Resolved, that it is the opinion of this House, that no measure upon the subject of tithes in Ireland can lead to a satisfactory and final adjustment which does not embody the principles contained in the foregoing resolution." The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded. If the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down felt it necessary to bespeak the indulgence of the House while declaring, no doubt with entire sincerity, his strong feeling of the importance of the subject, and the difficulty he experienced in approaching it, the House would readily conceive that the difficulty which he felt in defending the course proposed by the Ministers from the attack of the right hon. Baronet must be much greater. He assured the right hon. Gentleman and the House that in fervent and sincere attachment to the Protestant Church he yielded to no man, and that he was as ready to come forward as a defender of that Church against any supposed attack upon it as the right hon. Baronet himself. But he differed from the right hon. Gentleman in the conviction he had expressed of the danger of the Irish Church, arising out of the principle adopted by Ministers, and he wished to see whether the facts of the case did not justify him in differing wholly (as he undoubtedly did) from the conclusion of the right hon. Baronet, and of adopting an opposite conclusion. Long as it had been his fortune to be a Member of the House, he never recollected a proposition such as that of the right hon. Gentleman, coupled with such opinions and arguments as he avowed. The right hon. Baronet made a speech which warranted Gentlemen in taking one of two courses—either to reject the principle of the Bill on the question of its second reading, or else, adopting a portion of the principle, to accompany the authors of the measure in Committee, for the purpose of modifying some of the details of a Bill unopposed on the second reading. Now, admitting the whole of the right hon. Baronet's argument in its full force, and assuming that the Bill was indeed calculated to do 824 the mischief which the right hon. Gentleman supposed, and open to all the objections he had so powerfully urged, all he could say was, that with the right hon. Gentleman's opinions he would have died sooner than have acquiesced in the second reading of the Bill. He would never have sought for advantageous modes of creating a division; but if his sentiments were such as the right hon. Gentleman professed on the subject, he repeated he would have died in his place rather than have acquiesced in the principle of the measure. He asked the House to allow him to exhibit some of the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman had condescended to use against the Bill, and which, if well founded, should lead the House at once to rescind the Resolution read by the Clerk at the Table. He would take one as a sample of the arguments adduced by the right hon. Gentleman, and one which had produced the strongest impression; at least it would show how the right hon. Baronet had dealt with the case, and with what, he would not say suspicion, but caution, the right hon. Baronet's arguments ought to be received. Was there any one of those arguments which made a greater impression, which was more loudly cheered, and which appeared more conclusive, than that which regarded the division of the union of parishes? The right hon. Gentleman quoted the cases of Duldalk, Collon, and Kilgarriffe, which, if the enactments of the Bill were carried into effect, would be deprived of all income, unquestionably contrary to the intention of the framers of the Bill, and of the gentlemen who had supported the resolution on which it was founded. The right hon. Gentleman said there were three parishes forming a union, one of which (Mosstown) contained forty-eight Protestants, another (Dromyn) forty, and the third (Collon) 760, and that Moss-town and Dromyn alone afforded any revenue to the incumbent, while Collon, which contained a large number of Protestants, supplied no part of his income. Now, said the right hon. Gentleman, neither Mosstown nor Dromyn containing fifty Protestants, they fell within the suppression clause, which would consequently leave the minister to the parish of Collon, which contained 760 Protestants, and it would deprive him of all revenue. That statement was loudly cheered, and that result, said the right hon. Baronet, was equally opposed to justice 825 and the profession of the Ministers. Now, let him call the attention of the gentlemen who cheered that statement to the 70th Clause: did that Clause render it imperative to break up unions? Not at all. It enacted, "that if any parish or parishes in which it shall appear that the members of the Established Church do not exceed fifty shall be united to any other parish or parishes, it shall and may be lawful for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on the next avoidance of such union, to disunite and separate such parish or parishes from the other parish or parishes to which the same shall be then united, in whatsoever manner such union may have been effected." Who were the persons to effect the arrangement? The Ecclesiastical Commissioners. And did the right hon. Baronet inform the House that the Bill left it in their power in such cases as the one he had quoted, to make what arrangements they thought fit? [Sir R. Peel: Look at the 71st and 58th Clauses.] He would look at those clauses, he would conceal nothing. He was dealing with the 71st and 58th, as well as the 70th Clause. It was perfectly true, that if the Union should be maintained under the 71st Clause, the income of the next incumbent was to be subject to such reduction as the Lord-lieutenant should direct, and that by the 58th clause it was provided, that on the next vacancy of the benefice of any parish, in which there was not more than 50 Protestants, such benefice might be sequestered.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
That was quite another agument. The right hon. Gentleman's first statement was founded on the assumed destitution of the rector of Collon, left in possession of a large Protestant congregation and a merely nominal benefice. Now, no one contemplated the result to which the right hon. Gentleman pointed. No one could suppose a reserve fund where there was no surplus revenue; neither could any one suppose that a reserved fund was to be created from the union of Collon, without allowing the rector of Collon in the first place a sufficient income for his decent support. It was perfectly true by the 71st Clause their might be a revision of the determination of the Ecclesiastical Com- 826 missioners by the Lord-lieutenant in council, but the right hon. Gentleman, who complained of another Clause because it did not contain such a power, could scarcely object to an appeal to the Lord-Lieutenant. The 58th Clause provided that in any parish in which there were not more than fifty members of the Established Church, the church might be sequestered. [Sir R. Peel: The words are—"shall be deemed to be sequestered."]—Very well. "Shall be sequestered." Yet, he undertook to say, that the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman adverted to were fully met by provisions cautiously inserted in the Bill for the purpose. If, however, those provisions were inefficient—if they did not fulfil the intentions of their framers, was that an argument for the right hon. Gentleman's motion?—or was it not rather a reason for going into Committee to modify the provisions? The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the Clauses relative to a revision and opening of tithe compositions, and he was not surprised to find that part of the Bill excite the right hon. Baronet's attention, for it must be conceded to the right hon. Gentleman that it certainly behoved Parliament to take care how it varied contracts between individuals; but the right hon. Baronet agreed with him in thinking that there existed cases in which it was just and necessary to make a revision of compositions. This, however, was a point not to be determined by dividing the Bill into two parts,—a proposition, by the way, which seemed to be brought forward rather in relation to dividing the House than to anything else. It might be imagined, from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that a general power of re-opening the compositions was given without any safeguards, for the right hon. Baronet had not stated any of the conditions on which such compositions could be re-opened. The right hon. Baronet had avoided alluding to anything which could interfere with the sweep of his argument or diminish the impression he wished to make on the House. He avoided telling the House that the Government had limited actions under this Bill, to the shortest possible time. He avoided mentioning that no appeal was allowed after the expiration of six weeks. He avoided mentioning that the strictest rules were prescribed to all Barristers to be employed under the Bill, beyond which 827 they could not possibly travel; nay, he even avoided stating, that in all cases where the difference was no more than one-fifth, the decision must always be in favour of the Church. He did not state that no appeal could be entertained unless a majority—not a numerical majority—but a majority of the property of the parish concurred in the appeal. The right hon. Baronet had, therefore, alarmed the House by arguing against a case which could have no existence. The right hon. Baronet had stated frankly, and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thanked him for the admission, that there ought to be some power of appeal. He would state a case that occurred in the north of Ireland, which forcibly showed that necessity. It had been agreed among parties that a certain sum, say 500l. should be paid to the clergyman in lieu of tithes; and on the supposition that the parish contained a certain number of acres this sum was allotted at so much per acre. It was found however upon measuring the parish that it contained a considerably greater number of acres than had been supposed, and the consequence was, that the amount of tithe paid to the clergyman, each person paying at the rate settled, was considerably greater than had been agreed upon. Now that was a case in which the power of appeal and of opening up the compositions was necessary. But how could this or any other objection raised by the right hon. Baronet to this Bill be removed by the instruction which he had moved to the Committee. How could his object be answered by making two bills instead of one. The right hon. Baronet said, that he wished to remove the difficulties which stood in the way of the progress of this Bill, but he believed that the greatest difficulty which the right hon. Baronet found, was the resolution which had been come to by the House. The right hon. Baronet impugned the resolution come to by the House, because he did not know the result of the inquiries by the Commissioners. He rejoiced, therefore, to find that the right hon. Baronet had become a convert to their Commission. The denunciations with which that Commission was assailed by the right hon. Baronet and his friends on its being first issued, were scarcely less eloquent, and certainly not less alarming, than those with which he now assailed the present measure; and he sincerely prayed that they might prove equally untrue, 828 They were told that the numbering of the people by the Commission would cause the overthrow of the Church, and that the Government would be held responsible for its effects. They were told that it would lead to murder and to bloodshed. Was it then true that the Commission had led to murder and bloodshed. No such thing, and the right hon. Baronet had actually referred to it as an authority for the Church, and had proved it as being res prima salutis, though it was issued, not by the Tory Church, but by the Whigs. The right hon. Baronet, he must say, was evidently intent upon the commission of murder, but it was the murder of this Bill. He would ask the House what was the meaning of the resolution to which the House had come, and what was the meaning of the motion which had been brought forward by the right hon. Baronet that night? The right hon. Baronet had spoken of the process of exhaustion. He had spoken of the 30 per cent. as peculiar to this Bill; but in his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) opinion, the right hon. Baronet had himself made a pretty good beginning in the process of exhaustion; and to the degree which the present Government had gone further than the right hon. Baronet's Government had gone, he held them responsible, but no further. He was sure that the clergy of Ireland would be better off under the present Bill than under that introduced by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. Would a clergyman not prefer having the amount of his income secured to him as it was secured by this Bill, the Government undertaking the responsibility of its payment, to any mode which could be devised by which the responsibility of payment should be thrown either upon the landlord or tenant? He had no doubt but the payment secured by the present Bill, would be considered in the market the better article, and would fetch the better price. The right hon. Gentleman said, Ministers were wrong in providing for anything out of the Perpetuity Fund, which would be entirely exhausted. But the right hon. Baronet himself had proposed, that there should be a redemption of tithe, and knowing that he could not procure the clergy their former amount of their income, he had proposed an augmentation out of this fund, as his Majesty's Ministers now proposed. But he must inform the House, that he had made a calculation, and that 829 he found that in every case a larger charge was to be provided for by the proposition of the right hon. Baronet, than by the proposition of the Ministers. Then, with regard to the Church Temporalities' Bill, he was not willing, at that time, to enter upon the discussion of it; but he would say, that he still adhered to its justice and expediency. He would recommend its defence, if defence were necessary, to the care of his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley). He must, however, remind the House that Bill was called the Church Robberies' Bill; and it was prophesied that it would cause the annihilation of the Protestant Church, for they were told that the moment a diocese came under the operation of that Bill, there would be no peace for the Bishops. That clamour had now been discontinued; but he would say, that whatever objections might be found with that Bill, there was nothing in it which was not previously to be found in the statute law of the country. As to the Bill then under consideration, it promoted the payment of the stipends to the clergy, and it provided for those clergymen who were not otherwise provided for. And here he would beg to remark, that the right hon. Baronet had omitted in the course of his speech, to mention several other considerations which were necessary to be remembered in the discussion of this Bill. Were there no such things as arrears due by the clergy? Was there no such matter as the million sterling which had been advanced by the people of England through their Representatives! Were these matters so worthless, that the right hon. Baronet on taking objections to every clause, and taking objections to every principle involved in it, thought them totally unworthy of notice. Were they unworthy of notice among all the strong arguments which he had made use of in order to reach so weak a conclusion? The right hon. Baronet excluded all those considerations, and any person hearing the right hon. Baronet's speech, would be inclined to think, that the clergy had nothing further to do with this Bill, than in as far as it affected the payment of their tithes. But the Bill made an adequate provision for the Protestant Church, though in conformity with the terms of the Resolution proposed at the commencement of the Session, and which they were not disposed to abandon, and which he trusted the 830 House would adhere to—it also provided' that if there appeared to be any surplus, that should be devoted to the moral and religious education of the great body of the people. That Resolution had received the repeated sanction of the House, and what had passed since to induce the House to alter its opinion on the subject? Was that Resolution agreed to without discussion? Had it been adopted without weighing well the consequences of the course they had resolved to pursue? Had it been carelessly opposed by the right hon. Gentleman, or by the great party of which he was at once the leader and ornament. If ever there was a question weighed in all its consequences—considered in all its bearings—or narrowly scrutinized in regard to the facts on which it rested, it was that Resolution introduced by his noble Friend in a Committee of the whole House, adopted by that Committee—reported to the House—argued and agreed to by the majority of Members, and which afterwards received in another form the sanction of the House. The Resolution connected the surrender of the million sterling, with providing a fund for the education of the people; and he trusted that the House would hold that connexion to be indissoluble. He hoped that what he had said, would be sufficient on this part of the argument. He would now put it to the House, whether another argument adduced by the right hon. Gentleman, was quite relevant to the question before the House. The right hon. Gentleman had appealed to the Report of the Commissioners, not only in defence of the Protestant Establishment, but also in defence of his own arguments. He was well aware that the Commissioners' Report contained no attack on the Established Church; but he was not so certain that it would be found to support the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to a number of statements that had been made on former occasions with respect to the number of Protestants in Ireland. He had referred to the calculations made by Dr. Doyle and other authorities on the subject, who had asserted that there was not more than 240 or 250,000 Protestants in Ireland, and to the hon. Member for Middlesex who had stated the number to be about 500,000. The right hon. Gentleman had made reference to these assertions, in order to show that the number 831 of Protestants bad been greatly underrated, as it appeared from the Report of the Commissioners, that there were 850,000 members of the Establishment. Dr. Doyle had certainly underrated the number of Protestants in Ireland, when he said that there were not more than 250,000; but, on the other hand, Mr. Leslie Foster repeatedly asserted, that the Protestants were one-fourth of the whole population. The opinion, however, of Dr. Doyle or Mr. Leslie Foster, or any other controversialist, had nothing to do with the question or affected the facts of the case. Now, what were the facts of the case. It appeared, from the terms of the Report, that there were 852,000 members of the Established Church in Ireland, and 660,000 Presbyterians and Dissenters, making together about 1,500,000. He rejoiced, that the Report had corrected the errors of Dr. Doyle; but he must say, in the presence of many Catholic gentlemen, whose opinions he had not the slightest wish to wound, that he wished Mr. Leslie Foster had been correct, with respect to the number of Protestants. They must, however, take the correct view of the case; and it was important to consider, how were these Protestants distributed over Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had excluded this important consideration from his argument, but had spoken as if the 850,000 members of the Church were equally distributed over the country, and as if the wants of the several parishes throughout the country were commensurate one with the other. If that were the case there might be less necessity to meddle with the Establishment; but of these 850,000 Protestants 517,000 belonged to the province of Armagh. The right hon. Gentleman never adverted to this, but spoke as if they were distributed over the whole face of the country, and argued as if the circumstances were the same in each case. The fact was, that the very large proportion of the Protestants resided in two of the ecclesiastical provinces—namely, Armagh and Dublin. It appeared that the number of the members of the Church in the province of Armagh was 517,000, and of Presbyterians 638,000. The number of members of the Church in the province of Dublin was 177,000, and of Presbyterians 2,517—making 694,000 members of the Established Church, and 640,517 Presbyterians. The whole number of Protest- 832 ants, therefore, was 1,334,517. In the whole of Ireland there were 852,000 members of the Establishment, and 642,000 Presbyterians; making together 1,494,000. By deducting the number of Protestants in the provinces of Armagh and Dublin, there would remain 150,473 for the total number of Protestants in the provinces of Armagh and Tuam. The number of Catholics in these provinces were—Cashel, 2,220,000; Tuam, 1,188,000; together, 3,408,000. This was another element the right hon. Gentleman should have taken into his calculation. He should have mentioned to the House in regard to the different circumstances of these provinces, and in consideration of them the right hon. Gentleman must be prepared to agree to make a new appropriation of Church revenues in the ecclesiastical provinces of Cashel and Tuam, or he must come to the determination to take the excess of revenue which he found in those provinces, and expend the whole of it in the other two provinces. The latter was not the way to give peace and happiness to Ireland, nor would the right hon. Baronet conciliate the population of that country by drawing revenue from one part of it to be spent in another, for the support of an Establishment from which the vast majority of the people dissented. If such a principle were established, let the House consider to what result it might lead. The Church in England and Ireland is an Established Church; and supposing the population of Ireland should become entirely Roman Catholic, then those who now advocate the transferring of ecclesiastical revenue from one part of the country to another, will be obliged, in consistency, to go the length of asserting, as the Churches of England and Ireland were united, that they are at liberty to withdraw the whole of the revenues of the Church from Ireland for the purpose of expending them in England. He contended, that if the principle he was combating was maintained, this result would be a logical deduction. He put this point to show, that the course the Government had pursued was not so improper as the right hon. Gentleman wished to make it appear; and to prove that it was material to take into consideration the manner in which the members of the different persuasions are distributed in Ireland. The proportion of the members of the Established Church to the whole mass of the 833 population in Ireland was 10.7-10ths per cent. In the province of Armagh, the members of the Church were 16½ percent.; of the population in Dublin, 14.9-10ths percent.; in Cashel 4 percent.; and in Tuam 3.6-10ths per cent. The Roman Catholics in Armagh were 62½ per cent.; in Dublin 85 per cent.; in Cashel 95 per cent.; and in Tuam 96 per cent, of the whole population. In the diocese of Connor they formed 26½ per cent. of the population, and in Kilfenora not less than 99½ per cent. If the principle, however, contended for by Gentlemen opposite was lo be admitted, they must afford the same measure of Church instruction in Tuam, where the members of the Establishment only formed 4 per cent. of the population, as in Armagh, where they amounted to more than 16 per cent. Whether this was consistent with the principle of common sense he would not detain the House to inquire; but certainly it ought not to be left out of consideration. The right hon. Baronet had not referred to those parts of the documentary evidence which were illustrative of his argument, and he would follow the right hon. Gentleman's example, and in doing so he would refer to one diocese. Those who had heard the right hon. Baronet, if they knew nothing else of the measure, might reasonably believe that the supporters of the Bill were anxious to suppress the whole Establishment; for the right hon. Baronet did not show how much the circumstances of one part of the country differed from those of another. The diocese to which he intended to refer was a small one, and now annexed to the Archbishopric of Dublin, and afforded a model of the state of the Church in this part of Ireland. The diocese of Emly contained a population of 98,000; the numbers of the members of the Established Church were 1,246, or 1¼ per cent. of the whole population. They have fifteen places of worship, and thirty-one clergymen. There are forty-two parishes in the diocese, and seventeen benefices. In one benefice there is one member of the Establishment; in three there are less than twenty. In only four do they exceed 100, and in only one do they exceed 200. The average amount of tithe-compositions for each parish in this diocese exceeded 210l. The total amount for these 1,246 Protestants exceeded 7,000l. Not satisfied with this state of the Church in the diocese, Parliamentary bounties had been granted 834 to it, and the Board of First Fruits, in the course of a few years, had expended in this diocese, containing 1,240 Protestants, with an ecclesiastical revenue of upwards of 7,000l. per annum, a sum of not less than 5,670l. on churches and glebe-houses, and had advanced as a loan a further sum of 4,370l. He would ask, whether these facts ought not to be considered by the House. But he would go a little further, and take the case of forty-one benefices in which there was not a single Protestant, either man, woman, or child, and yet, unless those benefices should come under the operation of the Clause in the Church Temporalities' Act, provision would be made for religious instruction in them on the same scale as if the whole of the inhabitants were Protestants, and lived in the most Protestant part of England. That, surely, was not a state of things which any man who wished well to the Protestant Church could desire to see continued. There were, moreover, ninety-nine benefices, containing from one to twenty members of the Establishment; one hundred and twenty-four containing from twenty to fifty; and one hundred and sixty containing from fifty to one hundred members of the Church. Thus, it appeared that there were one-hundred and twenty-four benefices, each containing less than fifty members of the Establishment, or four hundred and twenty-four containing less than one hundred members of the Church. The Government, however, did not propose to abandon these parishes, but they were anxious to make provision for the religious instruction of the Protestants in them. The right hon. Baronet had dwelt at great length on the hardship of giving 5l. to a clergyman of a parish for attending to the spiritual wants of an adjoining parish, in which there were but few Protestants. Were they then to adhere to the principle, that where there were no Protestants in parishes Protestant clergymen should still be paid as if there were large congregations? When Ministers proposed to provide the 5l. per annum under the circumstances stated in the Bill, his right hon. Friend said, that it was an insult to the Irish clergy. He trusted that Gentlemen would not take the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman for granted, but would allow him to read an extract from the Report of the Commissioners appointed under the Bill of his noble Friend opposite. These Commissioners 835 were two Archbishops, two clergymen of the Establishment, and one layman; and almost contemporaneously with the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman there was received a Report from those five Ecclesiastical Commissioners with reference to five benefices. The Report was in the following words:—and he begged the attention of the House to it—"With respect to the particulars of information obtained with reference to these five benefices, all of which were collative, it appeared that the Churches in all of them were in ruins—that there was no glebe-house in any, and that the only glebe-lands in them were ten acres in Carne, and four in Ardskeagh; that there were no Protestants permanently residing in Carne or in Ardskeagh, while in Croghan there were only nine, and in Liscleary and Seskenan about thirty in each; and that the gross income of the five benefices amounted to the total sum of about 405l. 13s. 6d. per annum. In no case did it appear that the spiritual wants of any of these benefices at present required that a distinct curate, or officiating minister should be specially licensed for the performance of the ecclesiastical duties in one parish alone, and consequently the cure of souls, and all and every the occasional duties within the benefices so remaining unfilled, have been committed to the incumbents, or officiating ministers, of adjoining parishes, who have been nominated and appointed by the respective diocesans at stipends varying from 4l. to 25l. yearly."—The Report was signed by Richard Dublin, R. Cashel, F. Sadleir, J. C. Erik, and W. C. Quin. The provision it was proposed to make under this Bill was framed to avoid difficulties which might otherwise arise, if the course to be adopted by the Commissioners under the Bill was left to their discretion; and in making those provisions the Ministry had adopted the recommendation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners he had quoted. If they had not, however, had the authority of this Report how much would they have been taunted respecting this allowance of 5l. per annum to a clergyman for attending to the spiritual wants of an adjoining parish to his own, in which there were but few Protestants. Those, however, who had formerly sneered at the five-pound parson-battery must now resort to some other jibes, and adopt other arguments, somewhat better founded in fact than such poor jibes. It had been said that 836 a great book was a great evil; but he hoped he might be permitted to read a few more extracts from the great book furnished by the Commissioners for Public Instruction in Ireland. He would take the case of ten benefices in Ireland, and show the circumstances in which they were placed. In the first, there were four members of the Establishment, and the amount of tithes paid was 440l. per annum; in the second, there were three Protestants, and the tithes were 335l.; in the third, fourteen Protestants, and 600l. tithes; in the fourth, seventeen Protestants, and 559l. tithes; in the fifth, twenty Protestants, and 506l. tithes; in the sixth, nineteen Protestants, and 809l. tithes; in the seventh, twenty Protestants, and 784l. tithes; in the eighth, twenty-three Protestants, and 612l. tithes; in the ninth, twelve Protestants, and 484l. tithes; and in the tenth, there were eight members of the Church, and the tithes were 500l. a-year. Thus, in the whole of these ten parishes, there were one hundred and forty-four members of the Establishment, and the annual income of the incumbents of them amount to 5,629l. Again, he found the following results taken from fifty benefices selected from fifteen dioceses in the four provinces. The number of the members of the Church was five hundred and twenty-five; the number of benefices fifty; the number of resident clergy eleven; non-resident clergy thirty-nine; in forty-two benefices there were churches, and in eight there were no churches. The amount of tithes collected in these parishes was 13,300l. per annum. These were some of the facts which were not capable of contradiction, and which would induce the House to adhere to the resolution which had before been adopted, even for the sake of the Protestants themselves. The argument which he derived from the facts he had stated was, that the continuance of the present state of things tended to distract and ultimately to destroy the country. The right hon. Gentleman came down now and said that he wished to get rid of pluralities, to put a stop to non-residence, and that he was against the continuance of any abuses in connexion with the Church. But how did he show this? The right hon. Gentleman seemed now to discover for the first time that these things existed. They certainly did exist, but not in that aggravated shape in which they were formerly to be met with. He 837 admitted that the disorders of the Church did not exist in the same aggravated shape now as they did in former times; but how long was it since the right hon. Gentleman, and those who sat with him, had discovered the existence of those grievous incongruities? How many months was it since this new light had broken on the right hon. Gentleman? He had no doubt but that the right hon. Gentleman spoke from a conviction of the truth of what he was saying. There was, however, much pleasure in the novelty of hearing such things from the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. The right hon. Baronet had said that the resolution which had led to the introduction of the present Bill was brought forward for party purposes; but if they were to be taunted there with maintaining the principle of that Resolution for party purposes, he had a right to ask which of the two parties in that house were the best entitled to appeal to the country on the subject. If there were any men more responsible than others for the confusion in which the affairs of the Irish Church were at present involved, it was the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite. What had been their conduct when questions had been brought forward which deeply touched on this subject and affected the peace of Ireland? If there was one question which distracted the country more than another, it was the continuation of a vestry cess, which was justly considered a most unfair tax on the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman knew full well that that tax was regarded by the people of Ireland as much more vexatious than tithes. It was regarded by them as most oppressive and unjust, to be compelled to take money from their pockets to contribute directly towards the maintenance of a religion in which they felt no interest, and which was repugnant to their feelings. The continuance of this obnoxious tax occasioned the parish vestry to be made the constant source of violent party and political discussion; and some of the most powerful political battles contested by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had been the vestry-meetings in the city he now represented. These were the arenas where Protestants and Catholics met in hostile array, and where the most bitter and hostile feelings were excited. Attempts had repeatedly been made to put an end to this state of things; but they had constantly been told that to abolish the vestry 838 cess would be nothing less than the destruction of the Irish Church. Those connected with him had come forward, year after year, demanding that the system should be got rid of, and that the charge for vestry cess should be defrayed from some other source. They had demanded that the amount should be paid out of the first fruits; but who, he would ask, had opposed this? He repeated emphatically, who had opposed this proposition? [Mr. Jackson: "Lord Plunkett;"] There was a French proverb which said, that the absent were always in the wrong; he could only say that his anxious wish was that his noble Friend who had just been alluded to had been present, to afford a vindication of his conduct, which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) knew he could give. But who was the Irish Secretary at the time? Who then were in office, and held the helm of power? Was it not those very gentlemen who had, after a lapse of years, consented, when they could no longer prevent it, to afford a reluctant relief to the complaining people of Ireland? They had assented when they could no longer withhold it, and at a time, too, when the mischief had been done, when the whole population had been irritated and rendered hostile, by multiplied vexations, to the Church of Ireland. He had no hesitation in saying that those measures of reluctant reform which had been extorted from right hon. Gentlemen opposite came so late as to be almost as great evils as the abuses they were meant to remedy. Were not many attempts made to improve the state of the Irish Church since the Union, and how until recently had such attempts been met? The present Government were charged with asking too much, and with going too far, but if they delayed to grant what was now demanded, they would soon find that too little. Attempts had been successively made since the Union to produce some ameliorations, but they were always unsuccessful. All applications relative to a commutation of tithes were opposed year after year. His right, hon. Friend, the Paymaster of the Forces (Sir H. Parnell) had brought forward a motion for several years to take the tithes off potatoes; but his application had been constantly refused. His right hon. Friend had then exerted himself to promote a commutation of tithes, and after several years' exertion, and it appeared obvious 839 that some change must take place in the system, the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge came forward with his Bill for this object, inadequate as it was. Further measures had become necessary, but they had constantly been delayed until they lost half their value and efficacy. He had no doubt, after the sanction the House had given to the Resolution proposed by his noble Friend that they would go into Committee on this Bill. It seemed to be the opinion of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that for the purpose of calming the troubled waters of agitation, and giving support to the Established Church in Ireland, there was nothing like Parliamentary votes, and he held in his hand an account of monies granted to the Irish Church since 1801 to 1823. If they referred to those votes, they would find that, from 1801 to 1807, 4,615l. a year was voted; in 1808 and 1809, 9,230l. a year; from 1810 to 1815, not less than 55,384l. a year; from 1817 to 1821, 27.692l. a year; and in the years 1822 and 1823, 9,230l. a year. In thirty years 595,377l. had been expended on the Irish Church since the year 1800, independent of its income, and taking into account the money that had been advanced in addition, not less than 920,900l. had been granted for this purpose. The people of England could scarcely be expected to consent to the non-payment of the money advanced to the Irish Clergy, unless they saw that the question was likely to be settled in a satisfactory manner. The right hon. Gentleman had dwelt at very great length in one part of his speech on figures and calculations, with a view to show that there would be no surplus revenue at all. The right hon. Baronet had endeavoured to prove this by stating that if 200l. a year was given to each clergyman, and this was multiplied by the number of parishes in the country, such a sum would be required that no surplus could by possibility accrue. Now there was this difference between him and the right hon.Gentleman—he was not disposed to give a clergyman 200l. a year when there was no flock. He was not disposed to establish clergymen with an income of 200l. a year, when he had been told by the Commissioners to whom he had alluded, and two of whom were Protestant archbishops, that there were thirty Protestant clergymen who had been satisfied with getting 25l. a year for 840 attending to the spiritual wants of Protestants in adjoining parishes to their own. They had the authority of the Commissioners for making a moderate allowance to the clergymen of the adjoining parishes, to do the duty in those parishes where there were few Protestants, and thus they would be enabled to dispense with a resident clergyman in such parishes. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, in assigning an income of 200l. per annum to clergymen of every parish, did not adopt a course consistent with the principles of the Bill. But suppose that the right hon. Gentleman was correct in his statements, what reason had he given to induce the House to divide the Bill into two parts? When the Bill went into Committee, it would be open to him to object to the particular Clauses of which he disapproved. But the object of the right hon. Baronet's proposition was obvious. Notwithstanding that, the House had decided, after long debates, that the question of appropriation was connected with the concession of the million embodied in the Bill. The right hon. Baronet now called on the House to sever the two propositions, either for no purpose at all, or for the purpose of passing that portion of the Bill relating to the concession of the million and the settlement of the Tithe Question, and of throwing out the other portion of the measure relating to appropriation. If the right hon. Gentleman wished the House to retrace its steps, would it not have been much more decent if the right hon. Gentleman had come down and at once asked them to rescind the resolution they had sanctioned in so many forms? This, however, he had not done, but merely came forward with a proposition to divide the Bill into two parts, that the one part might be disposed of without touching on the other. There was one more extract to which he would take the liberty of calling the attention of the House. The passage itself was so important that it might well warrant him in so doing, without reference to the high authority from which it was derived. He referred to Knox's Remains, and the extract was taken from vol. 1. p. 48. The date was June, 1816. This writer said—"How are the two churches one, except in the arbitrarious, unpractical position of the articles of Union? In political matters, union between the countries being substantiated by effective arrangements; in 841 the Ecclesiastical instance it consists solely in a gratuitous assertion, to which every circumstance in both Churches gives self-evident contradiction. To lay stress upon this asserted unity, therefore, as a reason for including both Churches in all measures of Ecclesiastical legislation is worthy of a statesman who thinks that multiplying schools and distributing tracts will cure the long-rooted and long-rankling malady of this mysteriously afflicted and miserably ill-managed country. The argument of the right hon. Baronet was equally applicable to the English as to the Irish Church; but the condition of the two countries was essentially different; and because it was so, he dissented from the argument of the right hon. Baronet, and must discuss this question with reference to the peculiar condition of Ireland, not on general but on peculiar principles. "I will say, Sir, concluded the right hon. Gentleman, let those hon. Gentlemen who wish to retrace their steps support this Resolution, but let those who think that the former decision to which the House came was founded in justice, reiterate their opinion by negativing this Resolution. By so doing they will not preclude themselves from examining hereafter the details of the measure, or from inquiring whether there is or is not a surplus to be appropriated. I protest against any question of detail being entered upon. I now, myself, am ready to argue it, but I at once declare that I will not do so on the present occasion, because I will not give the right hon. Baronet the advantage of joining issue with me on that part of the Question, and then calling on the House to divide with him on the general principle. We will contend with the right hon. Baronet in the Committee as to the details, but we will not, I repeat, be driven to give him the advantage of a debate on the details before we get into Committee. The more straightforward course would have been for the House to have been called on to rescind its former resolution. And if any hon. Gentleman thinks he can vote for the present Resolution without rescinding the former one, let him call to his recollection the cheers with which the announcement was received by the hon. Gentlemen upon the opposite benches, that it was intended to negative one par of this Bill and to carry the other part The right hon. Baronet has not in effect notwithstanding the appearances to the 842 contrary, grappled with the question of figures; nor have I; because I say that this is not the right place to go into them. The right hon. Gentleman argued one proposition, and asked the House to divide on another. I am prepared, and will go into all the facts of the case, when we get into the Committee, after having negatived this Resolution, which I trust the House will do; but I will not allow what was a Parliamentary minority on a former occasion, to be converted into a majority now, by a little slight-of-hand and legerdemain dexterity, such as moving a Resolution which is apparently one thing, though most unquestionably it means another. I say I will not, under these circumstances, give to the hon. Gentlemen opposite the advantage of a discussion on the details one single hour before the time arrives for entering upon such a discussion in due course, and according to Parliamentary usage.
said, he trusted that the House, considering those he represented, would not consider him guilty of intrusion in rising at that period of the debate to offer a few observations on the question before the House. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Rice), however dexterous his defence might have been, certainly did not grapple with the substance of the question; and, in the course of his speech, had answered to a great extent many of the objections which be himself had urged. His right hon. Friend had asked why the Bill should be divided; he would say, in answer, that he desired to divide the Bill, because he did not wish to throw out that part of it which referred to the support of the clergy; while to the other portion of it—he meant that which was intended for the destruction of the Established Church—he had an insuperable objection. He would ask the House whether they were prepared to legislate on the subject, whether there was a surplus or not? If his right hon. Friend, the Member for Tam-worth, had clearly demonstrated that no surplus existed—and that he had done so most clearly, no man could doubts—then his (Mr. Lefroy's) friends had done right in moving it as an instruction to the Committee to divide the Bill, and had thereby given the House an opportunity of retracing its steps, and re-considering an act which was contrary to justice. Now, if his right hon. Friend had established that no surplus existed, was he to be told, 843 that because the House carried a resolution in the absence of all information, it was not right and proper that they should hare an opportunity afforded them of dissem-barrassing themselves of that rash and inconsiderate vote. There was another circumstance which in his opinion justified his right hon. Friend in calling upon the House to divide this Bill, and that was the very resolution itself on which this Bill was said to be founded. For what was the nature of that resolution? It affirmed, that all the surplus revenue of the present Church Establishment in Ireland, which was not required for the spiritual wants of its members, should be applied to the moral and religious education of all classes; and thus, of course, it implied, that if there were no surplus, no alienation of any part of the property of the Church was to take place. Consequently, if it were now demonstrated that there was no surplus, the House, not having pledged itself unconditionally, was at perfect liberty to divide this Bill, and reject that portion of it which is founded on the supposition of the existence of a surplus. His right hon. Friend had been charged with a want of candour, in stating that the measure was imperative in its operation upon parishes, with less than fifty Protestants, which constituted parts of unions, such as Collon and Kilgarriffe. His right hon. Friend made no such statement; he simply stated, that parishes so situated would come under its operation. However, that it was intended to make the Bill imperative in its operations, though discretionary in its terms, was plain, from two circumstances: the one, that when the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley), asked the Secretary for Ireland, upon the introduction of the Bill, whether such was his intention, he plainly stated it to be so, and admitted that parishes, with less than fifty members of the Establishment, forming parts of unions, would be liable to sequestration, and the other, that the noble Lord himself had included in his 860 parishes to be sequestered, all parishes so circumstanced. But what of that? Suppose the power only to be discretionary in regard to any one of these parishes, was he to be told that it was no infringement of the rights of property—that it was no infliction of injury upon the Church to place this discretionary power in the hands of Commissioners, to be appointed by every Government—either by 844 his Majesty's present Ministers, or by others, who might, if possible, go beyond them in hostility to the Church. Such a power was, in its very nature destructive of the sacred rights of property—property could not exist with such a power, because the owner of it could not be secure of possessing it for one hour. Then it was said by the right hon. (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) although he was forced to admit that parishes circumstanced like Collon and Kilgarriffe, were included in the 860 to be sequestered, it was merely for the purpose of making up a surplus; but that it was not to be supposed that the spiritual wants of the inhabitants, could be supplied out of other funds. But from whence, might he ask, were other funds to be obtained? By the provisions of the Bill, the incomes of all parishes were to be reduced to 300l. a year, and the balances remaining over and above that amount, were to be carried to what is called the Reserve Fund, but this and every other fund were already appropriated by the Bill to specific purposes. Then from what source, he asked, was it that the deficiency existing in Collon and Kilgarriffe, and other parishes similarly situated, was to be supplied? It was obvious that there was no fund which could be so applied; and that consequently these parishes when they come under the operations of this Bill, must remain in the state described by his right hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman had made certain statements relative to the Protestant population in different parts of Ireland, and said that a large proportion to the entire number, he thought to the amount of 500,000, was confined to the dioceses of Armagh and Dublin. Really, the extent of the population had nothing to do with the question of the existence or non-existence of a surplus, and that, be it remembered, was the main question on which the house had to decide. Admitting, however, that the principal part of the Protestant population of Ireland was to be found in those dioceses, he called to recollection that in those dioceses also, and particularly in that of Armagh, were to be found the largest endowments of the Church. The noble Lord, had, however, provided for reducing the income of all these great livings in Armagh to 300l. a year, and the excess was to be carried to the reserve fund for the benefit of the people of the South of Ireland. Then what provision was to be made for that 845 enormous population of nearly 500,000 of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke as the number of members of the Establishment in the dioceses of Armagh and Dublin? There was none at all. Then why did the noble Lord take from them the provision already existing; why did he subject to a reduction of 300l. the incomes of the larger benefices in these provinces, without making provision for the smaller in point of income, although in some of them the Protestant population of the Establishment exceeded 4,000? The right hon. Gentleman instanced benefices in the south in which the Protestant population was very scanty, and the provision for the clergymen very large. He (Mr. Lefroy) admitted that such might be found; but on the other hand, he could adduce the inverse case of livings in which the Protestant population was immense, and the provisions for the clergymen very small—in which, indeed, the population was as much beyond the income as, in the instances brought by the right hon. Gentleman, the income was beyond the population. There were in all Ireland 103 livings, in which the population exceeds at the lowest 2,000, at the highest 5,000; of these no less than 30 would be reduced under the operation of the Clause for taking off 30 per cent. to less than 300l.—some of them so low as 79l.—some;to 150l.—some to 178l.—some to 250l.—and none will amount to 300l.; although in every one of them the population of the Established Church exceeds 2,000, and in most 3,000 and in some even 4,000. It appeared that in all these parishes there were Churches—in some a second place of worship—in most of them a curate was kept, in some two—in some no glebe-house, so that the clergyman was at the expense of renting a house. He asked, then, on what principle of justice or expediency was it that these parishes were to be placed in this condition, in order that the property of the Church might be applied for the education of Roman Catholics or Dissenters. What was the admitted principle of the measure? That no surplus should be appropriated until adequate provision shall have been made for the spiritual wants of the members of the Established Church. And what were those spiritual wants? Could they be less than these—a reasonable provision for the maintenance of a clergyman—a residence for him and a place of worship? Surely, in the understanding of 846 every man of sense, these must be admitted to be spiritual wants of the members of the Establishment which ought to be provided for; and was the House to be told, that an income of from 79l. to 260l. a year afforded an adequate provision for the maintenance of the incumbent in such parishes as he had mentioned? Then look at the state of things as regarded churches at this moment. There was at present a deficiency of 200 churches, and that would of course, be increased when the large unions were broken up. The benefices to be preserved were now 1121, and when broken up, they would form no fewer than 1545 parishes. In all then, there would be but 1338 churches, leaving a deficiency of 424. Then, again, there were 196 other places of worship: and did not the existence of these, which had been provided either at the expense of the parishes, or by the clergyman, sufficiently demonstrate the necessity of additional churches. He would call the attention of the House to the nature of some of these places of worship. From the description given by the Commissioners it appeared, that some of them were school-houses, some farm-houses, some the market-house, some the clergyman's house, the petty sessions-house, the court-house, a room occasionally, and in two or three instances, a coach-house. Yes, it did appear that in some places a coach-house was actually used as a place of worship in addition to the church, or as a substitute for a church where there was none; and were they to be told that this was accommodation good enough for the worship of Protestants? He admitted, indeed, that their Worship did not require costly temples—its purity and accordance with the Scriptures were its best passport to Heaven; but he trusted the times were not to be brought back, when the pure worshippers were obliged to hide themselves in dens and caves of the earth. In fifty-two of these parishes requiring a church, the Protestant population of the Established Church exceeded 500. In thirty, they were 1,000; in sixteen above 2,000; in eleven above 3,000.He had taken an opportunity of learning from the architect of the Commissioners, the average amount of accommodation of the existing country Churches in Ireland; and from the letter which he received from him, he found that throughout the dioceses of Armagh and Dublin, the average accommodation of the country churches 847 was about 450 persons, and that in other parts about 250. On the whole, therefore, the average accommodation did not exceed 350. Now, in the places to which he had referred, the population exceeded 500 persons. The architect went on to state:—"I must add, that very great inconvenience is felt in several places for want of sufficient accommodation; and in the circuit I am now making, I have had more than twenty applications for additions to the churches I have inspected, and am at this time preparing several plans for enlargements, to be executed by private subscriptions. The Ecclesiastical Comsioners are most desirous to give aid for the purpose, but the funds at their disposal are quite inadequate to meet the demands for repairs alone; and there are several churches, nearly in ruins, where there is not means to rebuild, which will be of the most serious injury to the Establishment, as the people are driven to other places of worship." He had the stronger claim to a provision for this branch of the spiritual wants of the Establishment from the statement put forth by the Commissioners, who declared that they were not able to provide for the erection of churches in parishes where they were needed. They stated in their Report, now on the Table, that "In connexion with the subject of churches, the Commissioners cannot but express the satisfaction they feel in having to report to your Excellency that many applications have been made to them for aid for the erection of additional churches, it appearing that the accommodation at present subsisting in those districts or parishes from which the applications have been received are quite insufficient for the congregations of the Established Church—and while the Commissioners have to mention that in many cases the parties have expressed their willingness to contribute, or cause to be contributed, certain proportions of the expenses of building, in some cases amounting to a fifth, in some to a half, and in others to three-fourths of the expenses requisite for the purpose, they cannot but regret that as their surplus funds alone are applicable to the objects now under consideration, they could hold out no immediate prospect of the applications in question being favourably entertained at present. The Board have, however, given every assurance in their power, that, as soon as there shall be any available fund 848 for such purposes, these applications shall receive the earliest consideration—and they are fully satisfied, from the inquiries which have been made at this office, that had they been enabled to hold out any present encouragement to the building of churches, the applications on this subject would have been under such circumstances far more numerous than those they have now to refer to." His right hon. Friend had referred to the time which must elapse before the fund placed at the disposal of the Commissioners could be clear of debt, if ever—and that statement put beyond all reasonable hope the probability of it being nearer than about forty years—with a greater probability that it might never be so. He would ask then, why, in the mean time, were the surplus revenues of the Established Church to be applied for the purpose of educating those who were not members of the Established religion. He would ask the noble Lord, why the Bill should be so seemingly careful in some instances, and so heedless in others? Why, he would ask, should the noble Lord refuse to have a church built where there was a population of 1,000 Protestants, and provide for one of his places of worship at a modest cost of 100l., where there were less than fifty. He only desired that the noble Lord might apply his principle to every part of the Establishment, but this he would not do. But the secret history of his not doing so was this—that were the noble Lord to act on the principle laid down by him (Mr. Lefroy), this imaginary sum would not be forthcoming. There were, as he had already stated, fifty-two parishes requiring churches, thirty in which the population exceeded 1,000, and eleven where the population exceeded 3,000. With these facts staring them in the face, with so many instances of parishes where the spiritual wants of the Protestant population were not provided for; he called upon those who respected the Resolution which, on a former occasion, had been passed in that House, not to vote for the application of an imaginary surplus until the spiritual wants of the Establishment were provided for by a sufficient number of places for worship, and an adequate provision for the clergy. There was another matter which demanded a place under the head of spiritual wants—namely, glebe-houses. Much had been said of non-residence; and he would, by no means, vindicate the 849 absence of an incumbent, or advocate payment where no duty was performed; but, where there were no glebe-houses, residence could not so well be expected? He agreed with his right hon. Friend, Sir Robert Peel, that all abuses should be instantly put an end to; but this was not a Bill to promote residence; it was not a Bill to promote in any way the spiritual welfare of the Church. It abstracted, in some places, the great bulk of the property of the Church, while in others it doled out a miserable pittance, in lieu of what it pillaged. It appeared that there were 535 benefices without glebe-houses. In 386 of these, it was proposed that the Establishment should be kept up, and yet it was not proposed that a glebe-house should be built in any one of them. The Commissioners state, that they are unable from want of funds to provide glebe-houses. The Commissioners state "very many applications have also been made from incumbents of parishes for aid, either to build glebe-houses, or to augment poor livings; these, we also regret to say, from the cause already mentioned with reference to our surplus funds, have met with no better success, however desirable it would be, that glebes and residences should be provided for all the parochial clergy; as without them, their utility and beneficial influence, more particularly to poor districts, are considerably diminished." Here was the testimony of the Commissioners of their inability to build either Churches or glebe-houses; and was the House to be told that the funds of the Established Church were to be appropriated to Roman Catholic purposes, whilst these wants of the Establishment were left unprovided? If that regard for the Established Church which was professed had been really felt, Government would not have overlooked such a circumstance, but would have taken measures to remedy such an evil. He had shown with respect to the Churches—he had shown with respect to glebe-houses, that if provision were made for the spiritual wants in the 1,545 parishes that were to be maintained, so far from any surplus existing, there would be a deficiency. His right hon. Friend (Sir Robert Peel) had already proved that, making a provision of 200l. a year for each clergyman, there would remain no surplus; but even supposing the calculation of his right hon. Friend could be reduced, (although he 850 contended that it could not), these provisions for glebe-houses and churches, which necessarily came under the head of spiritual wants, would sufficiently show hat there could be no surplus. The board of first fruits, which used to assist in the building of glebe-houses, had been abolished. The vestry cess was paid out of the funds of the Established Church, and, in addition to these circumstances, the present Bill reduced the income of every clergyman three-tenths of its present amount. When the House, therefore, came to contemplate the provisions of the Bill, they could not but view it as a matter of delusion to those who imagined there would be a surplus, while to the Church, t must be considered as a measure of the grossest injustice and hardship. What was the case of those clergymen, who upon the faith of receiving their regular income, had taken upon themselves the responsibility of building glebe-houses, or the payment of annuities charged on their livings? He had a letter in his hand, one of several he had received, from clergymen in Ireland, to which he begged leave shortly to refer. When the writer of the letter entered upon his living, it produced 900l. a-year. At that period a glebe-house was built upon it, which cost 1,800l. Subsequently, the living was reduced from 900l. to 525l. by composition, and yet he was called upon to pay the same instalments upon the money obtained to build his glebe-house, as when his income was actually 900l. a-year. The Bill before the House proposed to reduce three-tenths, and he would ask with what justice could the clergyman be called upon to pay the same instalments as when his living was three times the amount at which it would stand under this Bill? How, he would ask, would it be possible for him to pay the remaining instalments due for the building of his glebe-house, with his income so reduced. He would say, that there was no spoliator who would give himself time to reflect on the injustice and hardship which this Bill was calculated to inflict on the Church, that would not be shocked and ashamed of such a measure as this. There was one topic more upon which he felt it necessary to trouble the House. He had hitherto confined himself to the 1121 benefices which were to be maintained, and he should now apply himself to those benefices which were to be sequestered.
851 A great deal had been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and great stress had been laid by him upon the fact—and it was urged as a gross instance of the disgraceful state of the Irish Church—that there were forty-one benefices in which there were no Protestants. He (Mr. Lefroy) admitted, that according to the Report there was not a single Protestant in these forty-one benefices. These benefices were composed of 155 parishes—the total income of which amounted to 8,847l., giving an average of 57l. a-year to each parish, for maintaining in these parishes the plant of the established religion; and that was the mighty sum—and these were the great sinecurists and the extravagant endowments which the noble Lord proposed to do away with. Of the rest of the 715 parishes which were to be sequestered, there were 161 in which there was a Church, a glebe, or both. The noble Lord proposed that in all such benefices having Churches or glebe houses, the income should be reduced to a standard of 100l. Now, the total amount of the incomes of the 715 benefices he had just mentioned was 72,480l., giving an average of 102l.; so that on 160 of those parishes the noble Lord would effect a contemptible saving of 2l. a-year, and no more. With respect to the benefices not having Churches, the noble Lord proposed, that the duty of the cure of souls should devolve upon the clergymen of neighbouring parishes—a process of great difficulty; and that the clergyman should receive from 10l. to 50l. So sweeping was the noble Lord's Bill in its operation that in many dioceses it would take away nearly all the existing benefices. In that case how could the business of religion possibly be done? The noble Lord in the first place proceeded to do away with all benefices in parishes where there was not sufficient duty to occupy the clergyman.—Then how could the noble Lord afterwards propose to add the duties of other parishes to the labours of a rector who had already enough to do in his own? He would ask what right the noble Lord had thus to encumber the clergyman of the Church of England with more duties and more responsibility than they were competent to bear?—This was a system of pluralism of the very worst description. Independently of the policy of removing so large a number of reverend and benevolent men, front dis- 852 tricts where their presence was most wanted, he put it to the noble Lord whether it were just or right to force men, whether they were willing or not, to take such responsibility upon themselves?—if he forces this duty upon them, will he not furnish the lazy and the indolent with an excuse for neglect, and how will this be in accordance with the tender feelings he expressed for the well being of the Church? He had another objection to urge with respect to the smaller parishes, where there were some Protestants existing, and from which it was proposed to withdraw the clergyman. It was not a like case as if a clergyman were to be withdrawn from parishes in England. In Ireland we have a rival Church Establishment, and the non-maintenance of the Protestant Establishment in those parishes is the establishing de facto the Roman Catholic religion there. By withdrawing the Protestant clergyman from these parishes you leave a small flock unprotected, and without any spiritual advice or consolation—you leave them open to all those attacks from a Church which makes a work of merit of proselytism; and, above all, you establish the Roman Catholic religion within them at the same moment you destroy the Established religion; and although you do not openly avow such to be your intention, you establish the Roman Catholic religion as effectually—nay, more so, by passing this Bill, than if you came forward and openly avowed that which you now seek to do by covert means. He said, more effectually, because if a Bill were introduced upon the avowed principle of making the Roman Catholic religion the established religion in Ireland, men would be on their guard—whereas now people are deluded by the notion that the duties of the parish would be performed by the rector of the adjoining parish, and that no real danger was therefore to be apprehended. His right hon. Friend (Sir Robert Peel) had proved to a demonstration, how inadequately the existing clergy, even as the parishes were to stand by the Bill would be provided for, if the funds of the Established Church should be applied to other purposes than providing for the spiritual wants of that Church. According to the calculations of his right hon. Friend the Church funds would not give on an average more than 225l. annually to each beneficed clergyman, and out of this sum the curates 853 were to be paid. He (Mr. Lefroy) asked could the spiritual wants of the Established Church be provided for if 58,000l. were applied for the education of Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics? But in truth the sum would not be applied for the education of the Dissenters, because they would have no share in that system of education which had been provided by the board. The Synod of Ulster had already stated that they would have nothing to do with the system; and, therefore, it was in effect appropriating the revenues of the Church exclusively for the education of the Roman Catholics. He did not object to the educating of the Roman Catholics—on the contrary, he would, with all his heart, concur in a vote of public money, if properly applied to that purpose; but his present remarks went merely to show the inadequacy of the other system, and to guard the nation from being deluded into the idea that the board imparted a united system of education in Ireland. There were two other topics to which he did not intend to do more than advert, but which presented themselves very forcibly to his mind—one was the Union, and the other the Coronation Oath. He believed in his conscience, that the appropriation of the revenues of the Church in the way proposed by the Bill, would be a violation of both. He thought, however, that the ground upon which his right hon. Friend had rested his objection was so perfectly conclusive, and so much in accordance with the principles of common sense and justice, that he should prefer resting his opposition on the perfect demonstration, that no surplus really existed, to urging other topics which presented themselves to his mind. In truth, he felt the demonstration to be so clear, that he felt quite indifferent as to the vote the House might come to, except for its own credit sake, conscious as he was that it would never be carried into effect by the other branches of the Legislature or the nation at large. From the case that had been made out, it was utterly impossible for any man, whose mind was not warped by prejudice, to sanction by his concurrence a vote, into which the House had been trepanned in the absence of information—and now that they had before them the necessary information, he called upon them in the spirit of that vote to which they agreed, not to appropriate any portion of the 854 revenues of the Church if there be not a surplus after supplying the spiritual wants of the Church; and he called upon every Member present to put his hand upon his heart, as a man of honour, and in a spirit of justice and fair dealing, and say whether there would remain an adequate provision for the spiritual wants of the Church, after a sum of 58,000l. per annum had been taken from it and appropriated to other purposes than those of the Established Church.
said, he had on a former occasion voted for the resolution on which this Bill was founded, for appropriating the surplus revenues of the Irish Church to purposes of education; and having since become acquainted with the information which had been lately made public upon the subject, he did entertain a most unhesitating conviction that the vote to which he had then come was a just and a right vote. The arguments adduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite had not effected any change in his opinion. While thus assenting to the general principle of the measure, he fully agreed with the right hon. Baronet, that in some points of detail it was necessary to introduce some alterations into it. He asked the House whether it was consistent with common sense, reason, or justice, that after the measures of Catholic Emancipation and Reform were granted, which placed all classes on an equality in the enjoyment of political rights, the Established Church should remain in the same position as that which it occupied before these measures were proposed. He approved of the present measure, because he considered it in many essential particulars calculated to improve the state of the Irish Church. He thought that one of the principles which the speech of the right hon. Baronet involved, he meant that by which the suppression of four or five hundred livings might be effected for the purpose of having the revenues derived from them appropriated to the support of the clergy in other remote parishes—exceedingly fallacious. The principle of appropriation adopted in the present measure was less objectionable than that proposed by the right hon. Baronet, and it followed as a matter of course on the propriety of suppressing some benefices that the revenue should be appropriated by the State. He concurred fully in the con- 855 stitutional principle, that great questions of peace, war, finance, and legislation should be decided by a majority in the joint Legislature of the country; but he could not understand how the Repeal of the Union could be refused on the one hand, and a total disinclination to attend to the just claims of the Roman Catholics manifested on the other. It was almost unnecessary for him to remind the House of the advantages which were lost by the rejection of the Bill of last Session. The Duke of Wellington chose to throw out that Bill; and in consequence, the people of this country had to pay the sum of 400,000l. for the delay which had taken place in the bringing forward any measure for the adjustment of the question beside the 600,000l. already relinquished. He happened at the time, when that Bill was rejected, to be in Ireland and in the company of a Protestant clergyman, who was, amongst several interested in the decision of the question, the only person who expressed no regret at the fate of that Bill. The expression which he used was to this effect: "I am sure the Duke of Wellington would never propose the rejection of this measure unless he were prepared to give us another million for our maintenance during the winter, unless he do this, he will not have given us any thing like a complete restitution of our rights" Such was the consequence of the rejection of the Bill of last Session. He ardently hoped that so far from the majority which affirmed the principle of appropriation being at all diminished, that it would now be considerably increased. When speaking of the majority which would in all probability sanction the measure now proposed, he trusted that he should not be considered guilty of any breach of confidence, when he stated that an hon. Member had said to him that day, "Though I voted in the minority with the right hon. Baronet on a late occasion, I have now satisfied myself, from the examination of the Report, that this Bill is so excellent a bargain for the clergy of my own Church, that nothing shall induce me to give my vote against it." He should only say, in conclusion, that he had supported the Administration of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) on public grounds, until the question relative to the Irish Church came under the consideration of the House; and he was aware that exactly in proportion as his 856 views on other questions approximated to or were identified with those of the right hon. Baronet, so would be the asperity and censure with which his course on this question would be viewed. He did not however regret the conduct which he had pursued. Whether he were right or wrong in the course which he had then taken, it was not for him to say; but of this he was sure, that his choice was determined by nothing but a deep-felt conscientious conviction. If he had ever had any doubt as to the propriety of the part which he had taken on that occasion, it would be removed by the approbation with which the House had received his account of it. He felt bound upon every ground of expediency and justice to give the proposed measure his full and entire approbation.
§ Mr. George F. Young
after stating, that when the question of appropriation was first introduced he took the same view of the inconvenience and impropriety of adopting an abstract principle as that expressed by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Spencer) and that he did not consider that the question was placed in a different light by the proposal of the resolution of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in March last, proceeded to say, that he now felt himself placed in a different position, for the abstract principle of the resolution was now embodied in the substantive proposition to be enforced by the Bill. He had never approved of the principle that in no instance whatever was the Legislature justified in diverting what were termed Ecclesiastical revenues from strictly Ecclesiastical purposes. It was certainly a matter for grave consideration when that departure should be made; but when he looked at the state of Ireland, and the circumstances developed in the Report of the Commissioners—circumstances which were somewhat exaggerated on previous occasions but which were now proved to exist to a great extent—he could not hesitate one instant in declaring that he should vote against the proposition of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. The right hon. Baronet had certainly made a most able speech in introducing his amendment—able he meant so far as it afforded an eminent specimen of intellectual gladiatorship, but extremely defective as a calm and dispassionate appeal to the reason and common sense of the House. He was persuaded that many 857 alterations of a very beneficial nature might be effected in this Bill, before it came out of Committee; but his firm belief was, that the adoption of its main principles would serve as a real bond of union between England and Ireland, and put an end to those unhappy divisions and animosities by which that country had been so long distracted.
§ Mr. Fitzstephen French
had not risen for the purpose of trespassing at any length on the attention of the House. He would willingly have contented himself with giving a silent vote upon that occasion, had not the statement of the right hon. Baronet opposite, as to the income of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the impossibility of their meeting the charge of five per cent, on the tithe composition for the present incumbents in the Protestant Church, rendered it imperative on him to present himself to their notice. The right hon. Baronet told the House—and, speaking from the document he held in his hand, told them correctly—the present annual income of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners amounted to 30,000l. There had lately been an increase to that sum of 7,000l. a-year, by the death of the Bishop of Ferns; but taking it at 30,000l., the demand on them amounted to 70,000l. showing a deficiency of 40,000l. a-year; but that was independent of the produce of the perpetuity fund, to which he but briefly alluded, merely mentioning the sum total received under that head since the passing of the Act 3rd William 4th. The right hon. Baronet had not told the House—he probably was not aware of what he then told them—that the cause of the deficiency of this fund was to be attributed solely to the Commissioners stamping an imaginary value on the perpetuities, a value which rendered it impossible for the tenants of the Church lands consistent with their interest, to avail themselves of that provision of the Bill which enabled them to convert their leaseholds into fee-farms. The right hon. Baronet had not told the House that out of 1,900 and odd tenants, but thirty-two had expressed any willingness to come under the proposed arrangements—that fifty-seven, after the prices had been fixed by the Commissioners, had declined purchasing, on the ground of the exorbitance of the demand; but let these perpetuities be disposed of at their marketable value, and he confidently asserted, and he was 858 prepared, should it be necessary, to justify in Committee the correctness of his assertion, by figures, that this fund would be ample to cover, not only the present deficiency but the future charges, until such time as the Commissioners would be enabled, according to their own Report, to meet from other sources all demands that might be brought against them. As he was on his feet, with the permission of the House, he would run over as briefly, as rapidly, as he could, the principal provisions of the measure now before the House. The right hon. Baronet had failed in proving what he considered to be essential in establishing the expediency of a division of the Bill at present before them—the existence of a single principle of which the majority of the House did not approve of—first the conversion of the tithe composition into rent-charges, payable by the landlords; it had received the sanction of the late Parliament, was adopted by the late Government, and eulogised by the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. French), however, would say, it was a charge nothing but necessity could justify, although he admitted the present circumstances of Ireland rendered it imperative. The principle of suspending the appointment to some livings, and curtailing the incomes of others, after the death of the present incumbents, had already been admitted in the Church Temporalities' Act; it was, therefore, merely a question of detail how far that principle was to be carried into effect in the present measure, as to opening and revising the compositions, guarded as it was against anything vexatious, by the necessity of the sanction of the Commissioners of the woods and forests being obtained before an inquiry into the composition of any parish could be entered into, he confessed he was unable to discover the slightest objection, whether these compositions had been voluntary under Mr. Goulburn's Act, or compulsory under the Act of 1832; the justice of it, to a certain extent in the latter case had been admitted, but it was disputed in the former. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to assert it was consistent with the principles of justice to convert an agreement for a term of years, without the consent of all parties, into one for ever—not taking into consideration the fall of prices, or any other circumstances which might have diminished the value of the tenancy? It was a principle which, if 859 applied to rents, he doubted much whether the farmers of England could ever be convinced of its justice. The fact was, the House had now to decide between two adverse principles of Government in Ireland: whether religious ascendancy was to be the principle of government there, or whether a system of legislation without reference to religious belief was to be adopted. Of the effects of the one, they had the experience of three centuries of rebellion and massacre—of civil war and confiscation; and although the principles of the other had latterly made great progress, he felt that it required the passing of this Act to establish it in its integrity. As to the right of appropriation, he considered it to be the very basis of the Established Church of England. How, he would ask, was it possible that the temporal authority of the State could be exercised in a manner more absolute and complete than it was by the Parliament and Crown of England, in the process of their reformation in its different stages, under Henry 8th, Edward 6th, and Elizabeth, in the first year of her reign? Abroad they found the same power exercised by the State in Germany, the cradle of the Reformation; in Sweden, in Denmark, in the States of Holland, where they threw off the yoke of the Spaniard. What, then, was the inference? Was it not that the dominion of the State over the temporalities of the Church was not only the established law of England, but of every other Protestant State in Europe. He did not mean to assert that the adverse principle was now put forward here for the first time; it had been long since asserted and disproved. In the reign of James 1st, Selden, in his History of Tithe, quoted the capitularies of Charlemagne, as the earliest title to that property; and showed, in that case, that the dominion of the State could not be disputed. He was brought, it was true, by the authority of the King and Church, to renounce that opinion; and to confess the right to tithe was a right divine; but the renunciation of that great lawyer loses its weight, when we consider it was made under the terror, and in the presence, of the High Commission Court. He would confine himself to reminding them that this right of appropriation had been exercised in Scotland, at the Revolution of 1688, when Episcopacy was set aside, and the Presbytery established by King William, acting 860 in concert with the States of Scotland, and endowing the Presbyterian Kirk with the revenues of the Episcopal Church. It might be said the States were Presbyterian, and that William was a Calvinist. Let them recollect, however, that appropriation was confirmed in the Act of Union by the Parliament and Crown of England. And who was then the Sovereign on the throne? Queen Anne, that High Church Princess, who has been termed the nursing mother of the Church of England. He would not detain the House by a description of its effects upon Scotland—her manufactories at Glasgow and Paisley, her agriculture on the best principle of practical and abstract knowledge spoke for themselves. But let them for a moment suppose the statesmen of that day, in place of acting, as he had stated, had refused to recognize the religion of the great mass of the people, and had planted the foot of a hostile Church on the neck of the Scotch Presbyterians, he would not venture to sketch an imaginary picture of what the State of Scotland would be. He would simply ask the House to look at the present state of Ireland. There had been another objection brought forward to the appropriation of Supplies to the purposes of Catholic education. He did not know if it was worthy of notice. It was the same which had been urged some nights since against the grant to Maynooth—that, as Protestants, the House could not conscientiously contribute, either directly or indirectly, to the support of a religion whose doctrines they believed to be erroneous. He respected conscience when it claimed for itself liberty and protection; but he did not hold in equal respect that conscience which would chain and bind other men of different feelings, on the intolerant, irrational, and, he would add, barbarous grounds of their being mistaken or idolatrous. But for a moment admitting the argument, he denied that, by an appropriation of the supplies to the purposes of Catholic and Protestant worship, they would be thereby promoting error; on the contrary, he maintained, that by placing error and truth in the same arena, on perfectly equal terms, they were strongly promoting the triumph of the latter. Milton said, though all the kinds of doctrines be let loose to play on the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously to misdoubt her strength; who ever knew 861 truth put to the route in a fair and open encounter? But, at all events, this objection of intolerant consciences and practical scruple came too late—it had been renounced long since; it was renounced when the Legislature first tolerated the free and open exercise of Catholic worship—it was renounced by an Act still more wise, manly, and direct, that which gave the most important of all political privilege, the elective franchise, to Roman Catholics; it was cut down and eradicated, root and branch, when the great Charter of religious liberty, Catholic Emancipation, was granted, an Act which would hand down the name of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, with imperishable honour to the latest posterity, when the petty squabbles of party and the petty defamations of faction were lost in oblivion. If, however, the spirit of intolerance had not been destroyed—if, though overthrown, it still survived, he would only say, it was not the spirit of wisdom, it was not the spirit of the age, nor was it, he was confident, the spirit of the majority of that House; it was the spirit of the seventeenth century, which, under the name and mask of Religion, had been so long the bane of Ireland, which was summed up in that brief catechism of persecution sent forth in 1618, bearing the respectable signature of Archbishop Usher—in which it was declared that the religion of the Papists was false and idolatrous—that their church was apostatical, and that to give them toleration was a grievous sin. It was not the spirit contained in the words of one whose name was authority to both sides of the House, Edmund Burke—"to follow, not to force, the public inclination—to give a direction, a form, a specific sanction, a technical dress to the general sense of the community, was the true end of legislation." Thus spoke that great, that eminent statesman, and he felt it would be mockery, was he to seriously put it to the House whether they would consider this measure in the spirit of Archbishop Usher and the seventeenth century, or of Edmund Burke and the nineteenth century. He would no longer detain the House—he feared at that late hour he had already trespassed on their patience, and would conclude by assuring them, in the part he had taken, and was about to take on this Question, on which, although it deeply affected the interests, the feelings, nay, he 862 might say, the passions of the large Catholic constituency he had the honour to represent, also deeply affected the interest of the Established Church, to which he was attached by education, by onvici and by close domestic relations. He was neither urged on by the spirit of party, nor influenced by feelings of faction; he sought alike for the tranquillity of Ireland and the security of the Protestant Church, and he was ready to take any steps consistent with the public principles to secure two so desirable objects.
§ Mr. Walter
said, he was anxious to state the grounds of the vote which he intended to give on the present Question. As it seemed to be admitted on all hands that there would be no general surplus to give away, a difficulty which he might have otherwise felt was removed. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke second in the debate had imputed the blame of some of the disturbances in Ireland to two of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite to him. Whether these imputations were just or unjust, he knew not; but other causes he thought might be assigned, in which both parties participated; and to the evils springing from which causes this Bill offered no remedy. To those causes he should chiefly apply himself. Ever since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, the incessant subject of its attention had been the state of Ireland. That their attention had been unprofitably bestowed was but too clear, for Ireland was still in as unsettled a state as ever it was; nor did he believe, if this Bill were carried into effect exactly as its authors had drawn it, that it would produce the great object professed, or intended, of placing that country in a state of permanent comfort and tranquillity. It had been said, that those who had not much personal acquaintance with Ireland were incompetent to judge of its wants, or of the remedies to be applied to its distresses; but if so, what had been the use of so many Committees and Commissions on the state of Ireland? Certainly not to inform those who knew it already, but to supply the deficiency of information under which those who had never been there laboured; and if they might look back to the several Reports of those Committees, what would they find assigned as the never-ceasing cause of troubles, but the penury of the great body of the people? It would be tedious to go through the 863 various Reports of the Select Committees on the State of Ireland; but the most cursory glance would convince any one that the real causes of the tumults and distractions there were to be found, not in the want of education, but in the want of bread. In an examination of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, in the year 1825, before a Committee of the House of Commons, he found this evidence:—"The state of the lower orders in my observation is such, that it is astonishing to me how they preserve health, and, above all, how they preserve cheerfulness, under the total privation of anything like comfort, and the existence of a state of things that the inferior animals would scarcely endure, and which they do not endure in this country." The hon. and learned Member continued—"The parts of Ireland that I am best acquainted with are the counties of Clare, Limerick, Kerry, and Cork. * * * The food of the lower classes, except on the sea-coast, consists of potatoes and water during the greater part of the year; potatoes and sour milk during another part. * * * They almost always suffer great distress in that season of the year which takes place between the going out of the old potatoes and the coming in of the new. There is no statute provision with respect to the potatoe; and then if the peasant begins to dig his potatoes, he is completely at the mercy of the tithe-owner. It is right to say that he is in general not very harshly dealt with where the clergyman has the tithes himself; but when they are in the hands of laymen, and frequently persons of the same persuasion with himself, he is very badly dealt with. * * * Not one out of twenty is employed—that is, there is nothing like constant work for that number." The evidence given before the different Committees which sat in 1830 and 1832, coincided in stating, as a cause of turbulence, that one-fourth of the population were out of employment; and made the House fully sensible of the shocking condition of that part of it which was fortunate enough to find employment. He begged the House would hear what Dr. Doyle told the Committee of 1830, of the conduct of landlords towards tenants whom they had ejected, or the process of what is called "clearing the land." "It would be impossible (said that rev. person) for language to convey an idea of the state of distress to which the ejected 864 tenantry have been reduced, or of the disease and misery, and even vice, which they have propagated in the towns wherein they have settled. They have been obliged to resort to theft, and to all manner of vice and iniquity to procure subsistence; but what is, perhaps, the most painful of all, 'a vast number of them have perished from want.'" * * * "The other day a gentleman ejected a few tenants (eight or ten families), some of whom sought an asylum with the neighbouring tenantry on the estate, and it was stated to me, upon unquestionable authority, that the landlord prevented those other tenants from affording to the ejected people that asylum. They then wandered about for some days or weeks, till another gentleman in the neighbourhood, of a very humane disposition, afforded them some temporary accommodation. If the family have a little furniture, or a cow, or a horse, they sell the latter, and come into the small towns. After a short time their little capital is expended, and they become dependent upon the charities of the town: they next give up their house, and take a room, but at present many of them are obliged to take, not a room, but what they call a corner, in some house. In all the suburbs of our towns there are cabins, having no loft, of suppose twenty feet long by twelve wide, with a partition in the centre. Now, four of these wretched families are sometimes accommodated in one small apartment of that cabin, and three families in the other. Then their beds are merely a little straw, strewed at night upon the floor. In these abodes of misery disease is often produced by extreme want; disease wastes the people, for they have no food or comforts to restore them; they die in a little time. I have known a lane, with a small district adjoining, in the town in which I live, to have been peopled by about thirty or forty families, who came from the country, and I think that in the course of twelve months there were not ten families of the thirty surviving; the bulk of them had died." He would only read one further extract. It was from Bishop Doyle's pastoral letter, written in 1832. He says—"Rackrents, ejection from lands or houses, as well as employment, are things which laws cannot easily control. There is but one legal remedy for those evils; let no man deceive you; there is but one remedy for them, and that remedy is a legal provision for the poor. This is a truth as cer- 865 tain as the rising of to-morrow's sun." Now what he should ask upon the subject of this evidence was, whether anything had been done to remedy the evils therein stated? The giving seats in the British Parliament to the gentry, though a wise measure—what relief had it furnished to the suffering peasantry? None whatever: they rioted before what was called the Catholic Relief Bill—they rioted before the Reform Bill—they had rioted since; and nothing, it appeared, was to be done for them this Session, notwithstanding the affecting representations which had been made to the House. Till this state of things was redressed, no peace could be expected in that country; and he should look upon all other measures, whether recommended by the Government or by Gentlemen from that part of the kingdom, neglecting a provision for the poor, as having in reality other objects besides the public happiness in view. The second great desideratum for Ireland was unquestionably a legal provision for the ministers of that Church, which, though not established—and never, he hoped, to be established, in any part of the United Kingdom—was still that of a large numerical majority of the people of Ireland. Attach the Catholic priesthood to the state, however unadviseable would be their incorporation with it, and a fresh and powerful hold is at once obtained over the affections of the whole Catholic community. Great reserve had been affected by some upon this important point; but the opinions of the most celebrated statesmen in this country had been in favour of the suggestion. Mr. Pitt said, in his celebrated letter to the father of his present Majesty," That with respect to the Catholics of Ireland, another most important additional security, and one of which the effect would continually increase, might be provided by gradually attaching the Popish clergy to the Government, and for this purpose making them dependent for a part of their provision (under proper regulations) on the state; and by also subjecting them to superintendence and control." His letter was written in the year 1801. The evidence of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, in 1825, was precisely to the same effect. It would be extremely wrong (said that learned Gentleman) in the Government to give the Catholic clergy any part of the revenue of the present Church establishment; but "he thought a wise Government would preserve the fidelity and 866 attachment of the Catholic clergy by what he would call the golden link—by pecuniary provision." If the leading men of the present day could be induced to join their efforts in carrying these two important measures, he (Mr. Walter) believed that peace would follow them. They at least applied to the existing grievances; and every thing else that had been done, or was professed, applied to theoretic or imaginary ones. Most reasonable men must concur in these two measures, because they were supported by reason and evidence. It was sufficient to say, against, the plan for secularizing Church property, that it shocked the feelings or prejudices of vast numbers of the most pious and respectable people in the realm; especially as the produce, if any resulted, was not to be applied to the relief of famine, which was the crying grievance, but to the diffusion of knowledge, which was of no use to a starving population. If he thought the present measure would tranquillize Ireland, he should cheerfully vote for it; but being convinced that it would not—that many of its provisions did not apply to those evils which had been assigned by the most intelligent men as the real causes of disturbance, he should vote for the division of the Bill into two parts, that the good might be retained, and the objectionable laid aside.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, that how far he should be able to agree with the hon. Member who had just sat down in recommending the introduction of poor laws into Ireland, or a select provision for the Roman Catholics, he would not stop at present to inquire, but would endeavour to confine himself more immediately to the subject directly before the House. His right hon. Friend who had moved this instruction to the Committee had anticipated every point that could bear on the question except one, and though it might be presumptuous on his part to suppose himself capable of making an addition to that right hon. Gentleman's speech, yet he should at once proceed to bring it under consideration. He believed there had been a great misapprehension as regarded the proportions of the Protestant and Catholic populations, and the state in which those proportions bore to each other at present, as compared with former times. As regarded his own views, it did not signify whether there were ten or 100 persons in any given parish of one or the other persuasion, but it was important as to the opposition that was to be offered to those 867 who held a different opinion to himself, because then the argument of those who contended that the religion of the numerical majority ought to be the religion of the country would fail. For the information of those whose opinions differed from his, he begged to call the attention of the House to the statement which he had to make as to the gradual progress of Protestantism in Ireland. Two centuries ago, the whole number of Protestants in Ireland was not considered to amount to more than one-sixth of the gross population. Hume stated, that at that period the Protestants, including all classes of Dissenters, did not amount to more than one-sixth of the whole population. What was the proportion which the Protestants, exclusively in communion with the Established Church, now bore to the gross population? He believed it might be very fairly reckoned at one-sixth of the whole population of the country. There might be an error in this Return it was true, but he felt assured the Return was not overstated from other documents which he had had opportunity of consulting. Upon the whole of these documents, produced at the two different periods, he thought no man could doubt that there was a great increase in the number of professors of the Established Church in Ireland, whilst there was no increase in the proportion of the growing population of Ireland in professors of the Catholic religion. Now, he feared the effect of this Bill of the noble Lord would be, that it would lead not only to check the increase but actually to the extinction of Protestantism in Ireland; for if this Bill had been passed some twenty or thirty years ago, that particular part of it which places the lowest limit to a parish which shall have a curacy, or cure of souls, to parishes which have fifty resident Protestants within it, many parishes which would, even under this Bill, still retain pastoral care, would have been deprived of it by such a regulation as this. If the noble Lord's present proposition of limiting the supply of churches to parishes containing more than fifty Protestants had been in operation some years ago, many a Protestant population that now existed would never have been found at all. [Great noise and confusion.]
§ Captain Forester
rose to order. He wished to call the attention of the Speaker to the conduct of the hon. Member for Youghal, who sat behind him, which was 868 highly indecent. [Great confusion, amidst which Mr. J. O'Connell rose from the cross-bench, at the foot of the House, where he had been sitting, and took a seat on the neutral bench next the floor]. This was not the first time he had observed the hon. Member creating great disturbance in the House, and which he certainly could not allow to pass any longer unnoticed.
§ The Speaker
said, if any hon. Member had reason to complain of the conduct of another hon. Member, it was undoubtedly competent for the hon. Member who suffered the inconvenience to complain of it. He could not help taking this opportunity of saying, that many hon. Members who had spoken in the course of these debates had had occasion to complain of the increasing tendency on the part of some other hon. Members to afford interruption, which must be as discreditable to hon. Members who made the interruption as it must be injurious to the character of that House. He hoped, therefore, that after this admonition the debates would be allowed to proceed with that propriety which was due, and without a repetition of that interruption which had been too often afforded.
§ Captain Forester
was quite satisfied with having called the attention of the Chair to the subject.
§ Mr. John O'Connell
said, that unaccustomed as he was to address the House, after this very unexpected attack on him, he could not but feel in a state of considerable embarrassment. He must, however, say, that he thought it rather extraordinary that his conduct should have been thus brought before the House on this occasion. He had been in the House since 1832, and he had never either intruded himself on it in one way or another, nor had his conduct ever before been brought into question. Thus much he would say, that in what the hon. Member had said in stating, in his attack upon him, that his interruption to the debates was more than that of others, he afforded him the opportunity of saying, that what that hon. Member had said was not the fact.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fitzsimon
rose amidst much confusion, and said that he never trespassed on that House. [Cries of "Order, order"—"Chair, chair"—"Question, question."]
§ The Speaker
said that it was incumbent on all hon. Members to observe that de- 869 corum which was due to the proceedings of that House.
§ The Speaker
said, that if the hon. Members who had taken a part in the present interruption of the proceedings of the House should proceed further with that interruption, he should feel it to be his duty to call the attention of the House to their conduct. Expressions had already been made use of which had made considerable impression. One hon. Member had said, that the conduct of another hon. Member had been indecent; the latter had said, that what the former had stated was not the fact. These were strong expressions, and such as ought not to be used or allowed in that House; therefore he had no doubt the hon. Gentlemen who had used such expressions would at once explain themselves.
§ Mr. Forester
said, that he did not in the least intend to hurt the feelings of the hon. Member for Youghal, or to say anything offensive. Far be it from him to have had any such intention. He should be exceedingly sorry to have it supposed that he could have had such an intention, therefore he withdrew the expression he had made use of.
§ The Speaker
wished to draw the hon. Member for Youghal's attention to this, that in giving the contradiction he had given to the statement of the hon. Member for Wenlock, he had said that what that hon. Member had stated was not the fact. The hon. Member must feel that that was a mode of conveying what he wished to express in language that could not be allowed to pass in that House without observation. The hon. Member for Wenlock had subsequently said, that if he had used an expression calculated to hurt the feelings of the hon. Member for Youghal, he withdrew that expression, therefore the hon. Member for Youghal would no doubt feel the propriety of withdrawing his expression.
§ Mr. John O'Connell
said, that after the explanation which had been given, he had no hesitation in saying he regretted having used the expression referred to.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
resumed, but owing to the very great noise and confusion that continued to prevail throughout the House scarcely one word could be heard. He was quite confident that the increase of 870 the Protestant population in Ireland had been in a much greater proportion of late years than that of the Roman Catholics, whereas if the noble Lord's Bill had been passed long since, that increase would not have taken place, nor would there have been the resident Protestant clergy throughout Ireland there now was. Upon the whole, he should feel himself bound to support the Motion of his right hon. Friend.
§ Debate adjourned.