The Order of the Day was read for calling the attention of the House to the Irish Tithe Question; and on the Motion of Lord Morpeth, the following Resolutions of the 7th of April were read:—
That any surplus revenue of the present 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.
That it is the opinion of this House, that no measure upon tithes in Ireland can lead to a satisfactory and final adjustment which does not embody the principle contained in the foregoing Resolutions.
§ Lord Morpeth
It may well be conceded to me, in rising to bring forward a Motion, professing to have for its object the settlement of Irish Tithes, and the future regulation of the Irish Church Establishment, that to bespeak the usual, and more than usual, indulgence and forbearance of the House is not to use mere words of course, or to preface my speech with an unmeaning common-place. For, when I recall, and when the House remembers, in the first place, the inherent difficulties and complexities of the subject itself, the numerous experiments through which it has wandered, and the various aspects which it has, from time to time, assumed, when we consider, further, the industry, the perseverance, and the ability, which have, from so many quarters, been sucessively brought to bear upon it, but which, great and laudable as they have 1320 been, have all, hitherto, successively failed in accomplishing at least the main part of the object at which they all have aimed—the satisfactory and final adjustment of the Question at issue—well may I find my present endeavour arduous, and the prospect it presents to me almost appalling.
I know, indeed, that as I have assumed the responsibility of taking the important office which I now have the honour to hold, I have almost put myself out of condition to plead that at a time when it had necessarily accumulated considerable arrears, I found myself with but very inadequate means of preparation, called upon at once to grapple with perhaps the most difficult question of state policy that ever presented itself, and upon which I have not ever happened previously to take any material part. There is indeed one consideration that alone tends to lighten this pressure of difficulty, which I gather from all retrospect of the subject, and this is, that for the first time, it devolves upon me to suggest a solution of the Tithe Question, accompanied by the assertion of a principle based, as it seems to me, on grounds of most just policy, of most honest conciliation,—such as I believe to be almost indispensable to reconcile the parties concerned—in other words the nation at large—to the embarrassments and sacrifices which any settlement must in some degree entail. At all events although the view which I myself take, and which I am thus the humble organ of submitting to the House on this momentous topic, cannot fail to encounter very decided—in many quarters very conscientious—in some, perhaps, very vehement, opposition; still I may venture to hope that my very abstinence from the discussions which have marked the previous progress of the question may back my request that it should now be received with all possible calmness and temper, and that I may allow myself to think that with all its difficulties, I inherit none of its animosities.
With respect to the form of my proceeding, after the best consideration I have been able to bestow upon it, and some consultation with those whose opinions are entitled to have weight in the matter, I have felt myself warranted in moving for leave to bring in a Bill, without previously going into a Committee of the whole House.
1321 The Motion of which I have given notice, as may be collected from its terms, embraces two leading heads—the settlement of the Tithe Question, and the future regulation of the Irish Church Establishment. With respect, first, to the settlement of the Tithe Question, I think that the precedent of the Tithe Composition Act, introduced in 1823, by the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, and of the Bill for the Commutation of English Tithes, introduced by Lord Althorp in 1833, are sufficient to justify me in pursuing a similar course. There are, however, one or two regulations which I shall propose ultimately to embody in the Bill, for which I must ask the sanction of a Committee of the whole House previously to introducing them in the Committee on the Bill. With respect to the second head—the future regulation of the Irish Church Establishment, and its revenues—I have thought that the Resolutions moved in this Session by my noble Friend, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and adopted by the House, which, with this view, have been read to-night at the Table will furnish adequate authority for the proposition which I intend to submit.
The subject has been so much and so recently before the House, that a very brief statement indeed will be sufficient to explain to hon. Members the position which it at present occupies; as I proceed, too, to state the particulars of the Measure which I am about to introduce, and thus, necessarily, as it were, to put them into some sort, not so much of contrast as comparison, with the particulars of the two previous Measures, the one introduced by Mr. Littleton, and after undergoing considerable alterations, finally sent up to the House of Lords in the late Parliament; the other announced by the right hon. and gallant Member for; Launceston in the present, I find, that notwithstanding all that warmth of discussion and heat of feeling which have arisen, there is so much real similarity; and agreement in all the propositions that come before the House, that the chief part of this branch of my subject will be pretty nearly achieved by marking such prominent points of difference as do occur while I go on. It would hardly be necessary to inform any person who had given any portion of his attention to these topics, that the composition for tithe in Ireland, 1322 which, under the Act of Mr. Goulburn, was voluntary, temporary, and renewable, was made, under the Act of Lord Stanley, compulsory and perpetual, subject only to a periodical re-valuation according to the price of corn. This composition is now complete and fixed, or, in the technical phrase, applotted, upon every piece of land liable to the payment of tithe, Ecclesiastical or lay, in Ireland. The amount of the whole composition, according to the latest returns which have been made out, is, I believe, 665,000l., of which 555,000l. is for Ecclesiastical, 110,000l. for lay tithe. Now the opening proposition of this Measure is that in which both the previous Measures—the Bills of both Governments, as well as the opinion of every person who has spoken written, or thought, upon the subject, have uniformly concurred—that composition for tithe throughout Ireland should wholly cease and determine. The reasons which make this an Act not so much of expedient as of necessary policy, are so obvious in themselves and have received such copious illustration both from all that has been said within these walls, and from all that has been done, and is doing, without them, that I feel it would be worse than superfluous to add another word on this part of the subject. But before we arrive at a proper provision for the future, there comes across us that which is not the least difficult and thorny branch of the whole matter—the chapter of arrears. What is the state of the arrears? It will be in the recollection of the House that the liberality of a former Parliament granted the sum of 1,000,000l. subject to the understanding that it was to be repaid, for payment of the tithes due for the year 1833, and for the outstanding arrears of tithes for the years 1832 and 1831. Of this sum, I understand that about 637,000l. has already been advanced. But the whole million, was thus appropriated to the temporary relief of the tithe-owners, and every one who chose to apply for it received his portion, subject to a prescribed deduction. Those who did not choose to avail themselves of it were left to the ordinary legal modes of recovery; in aid of which the use of the civil and military force was never withheld, and was sometimes applied with very unfortunate effect. The Bill sent up to the House of Lords last year, allowed the yet unexpended residue of the million to meet the then remaining amount of ar- 1323 rears, and it enacted the repayment of the whole advances actually made under the Million Act by instalments, and on and after the 1st of November, 1835, for five successive years from the landlords, in addition to the yearly amount of rent charge to which, by that Bill, they were to become subject. The loss of that Bill brings a new feature into the case—the arrears of tithe for the year 1834, which, I much apprehend, include a large proportion of the whole amount payable. With what provisions the right hon. and gallant Member opposite was prepared to meet the arrears I am not able accurately to pronounce, as, by no fault, undoubtedly, of his (that responsibility rests elsewhere), he had not the opportunity of introducing his Bill. I collect from his statement that he intended to apply the unappropriated residue of the million to the payment of the arrears of 1834; I do not remember or find that he took notice of any previous arrears, and he expressed his apprehension, which I believe to be too well founded in fact, that for the arrears of 1834 alone, the sum in question would be greatly inadequate. The right hon. Gentleman also intended to remit the quinquennial instalments of the sums advanced upon the Million Act. Now with the arrears of 1831, 1832, and 1833, we do not propose to interfere. The means of relief were tendered to the acceptance of the tithe-owners—the legal modes of recovery were at their disposal—we, therefore, think it fair to leave them to the consequences of their own option. But, at the same time, in equal fairness, we do not think ourselves warranted to interrupt any suits now pending, however desirable we must consider it, were it in our power, to remove at once, and for ever, every vestige of those ancient grounds of irritation and collision. How then do we meet the arrears of 1834, which rest on very different grounds, inasmuch, as in the first place, no relief has been proffered, and, in the next, one branch of the Legislature had gone beyond merely talking of the extinction of tithes, and had enacted the final determination of all Tithe Compositions? To meet the arrears, then, of 1834, which we subject to a deduction of twenty-five per cent, we find for it, that in many parts of Ireland, especially in the northern and more Protestant districts, several landlords, under the provision of Stanley's Act, hare of themselves volun-1324 tarily undertaken to pay to the clergy the tithe accruing to them, subject to a bonus of fifteen per cent. I believe 102,087l, of the composition for tithe have been thus undertaken for. Those landlords, so undertaking, we keep to the observance of their own liability. Will it be said, that we are acting unfairly towards them in giving an advantage over them to those who have not taken any step to discharge their liabilities? It is true that we wish to exempt, both prospectively and retrospectively, the occupying tenant from all future payment of tithe; but we empower the Privy Council to levy any arrears which have become due from the year 1834, from those persons who have permanent estates in the land, upon whom the liability had already, by law, devolved. We calculate the amount thus to be recovered will be between sixty and seventy thousand pounds. Hence, while in this respect we do so far connive at a non-fulfilment of legal engagements in the person of the occupying tenant, yet, in the instance of the generally wealthier and more solvent, proprietor, (who is more likely, too, to be a Protestant) we at least give no preference to those who have not discharged their legal obligations, over those who have either obeyed, or have undertaken to obey, the law. For any remainder of the arrears of 1834, which these provisions may fail to satisfy, we shall ask leave to employ such portions as may be necessary of the residue of the million; and, following the example of the right hon. and gallant Member, we shall endeavour to obtain the sanction of a Committee of the whole House for the remission of the instalments of the sums advanced under the Million Act. I do not pretend wholly to justify this course. The repayment of the sum was certainly promised, and, I feel assured, as certainly contemplated by those who proposed its advance. But after, what every day tends to convince me more and more was the unfortunate rejection of the Tithe Bill of last year—after the admission made in the House of Lords, even before that rejection, by Lord Melbourne, then Prime Minister, of the slight chance he foresaw of the sum being actually repaid—after the positive announcement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, then Secretary for Ireland, that he intended to propose the absolute remission of the repayment—I believe that almost every one 1325 has begun to be convinced that this million has, in fact, long been gone past recovery; that it is wholly out of the question to recover it from, still in a great measure, I fear, a destitute and impoverished clergy, except by involving them, and co-operating with them, in those means of military interference, and sanguinary collision, which, besides all their graver consequences, have already signalized their unfitness for their immediate object by levying the amount of 12,000l. at the cost of 28,000l. But it has been contended by many who sit on the same side of the House with myself, that they were not prepared to consent to so large a free gift on the part of this country, to relieve the embarrassments of the Irish clergy, or to prop up the tottering condition of the Irish Church, without receiving, as an equivalent, such an alteration in the appropriation of its future disposable funds, as might be more consistent with the justice of the case; more congenial with the feelings of the country; more conducive to the real object of any settlement—the maintenance of civil and religious peace. Such an altered appropriation we propose to engraft on our Bill; and on the strength of this we now come forward and appeal to the generosity of the Representatives of the empire at large for confirming this preliminary grant, in order that we may not only adjust the pressing exigencies of the case, but address ourselves with more facility and freedom to the remedial arrangements which follow.
Having thus dealt with all that appertains to the past, I now arrive at our proposed arrangements for the future. In common with the Bill of the Government of last year, and the proposal of the late Government of this year, we convert the present composition for tithe into an annual rent-charge, payable, as in the previous cases, by the owner of the first estate of inheritance, or other equivalent estate to be defined in the Bill, equal, in the present case, to seven-tenths of the amount of composition, or 70l. in every 100l. The proposal of the late Government made the rent charge equal to three-fourths, or 75l. in the 100l. I need not apologize to the Irish landowners, at least, for the diminution. The Bill of last year made the rent-charge equal only to three-fifths, or 60l. in the 100l.; but then it charged seventeen and a-half per cent first, on the Consolidated Fund, then on 1326 the Perpetuity Purchase Fund, and made no remission of the million. The landlord will, of course, concede the amount of this bonus to all the intermediate tenants down to the occupier of the land. He will be entitled to recover, as so much additional rent, from the leaseholder under him, the amount, and not more than the amount, of the rent-charge fixed upon himself. But though we make the rent-charge payable by the landowner 70l. instead of 75l. per cent as proposed by the late Government, we do not quite mulct the existing clerical incumbent in the same degree; we charge the cost of collection, which we rate at sixpence in the pound, on the tithe-owner, inasmuch as we transfer from him all its risk and trouble. The net amount, therefore, which would naturally fall to the tithe-owner, under the arrangement which I have stated, would be 68l. 5s. on every 100l. of composition. But we think that here it is allowable to make a distinction between not only the future and existing clerical incumbent, but also between the lay tithe-owner, who has no duties to perform in return, and generally has other sources of income, and the clergy now in possession, who have, or are assumed to have, duties exceeding all others in importance to discharge; and who are but in too many cases, from the circumstances of the few last years, reduced at this period to a state of severe distress and privation, not brought on them, still less deserved, by any demerits of their own (in most instances I believe it is quite the reverse), but by that oblique retribution which generally, sooner or later, involves in the penalties of a vicious system, even its most unoffending instruments. We, therefore, allow to all existing clerical incumbents five per cent more on the composition, which comes to 73l. 5s.on every 100l. of the existing amount of composition; falling, altogether, it is true, 4l. 5s. per cent below the Bill of last year, for the rejection of which they have not to charge the members of the present Government, but coming up, with only the trifling deduction of the cost of collection, to the amount proposed by the late Government. This additional charge, temporary, not permanent like that of last year, of five per cent, not of seventeen and a-half per cent, like that of last year, we fix upon the Perpetuity Purchase Fund; of which, considering the order of men to 1327 whom it is to be applied, and the object which it is intended to serve, that of producing a final settlement of the Tithe Question, and thus giving repose to the clergy and the Church, it can hardly be deemed an unappropriate or unecclesiastical use; and I rejoice to think that this view receives countenance from the statement made by my right hon. and gallant predecessor in introducing the Tithe Bill of the late Government, inasmuch as if, during the process of the investment of the redemption money for which that Bill was to provide, any loss of interest should have been sustained, the present incumbents were during their lives to have had the annual income of 751. guaranteed to them; and this indemnification was to have been charged on the Perpetuity Purchase Fund. The two appropriations are therefore identical in principle. I am not aware that they would have been very different in amount, unless indeed that for some little time, probably, the charge on the Fund proposed by the right hon. Gentleman would have run much a-head of mine.
The machinery of the Bill, by which these provisions are to be carried into effect, is so nearly similar to that of last year, that it will not require any detailed notice on the present occasion. The rent-charges are made payable to the Crown, and are put under the management of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. As far as I can collect the intention of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, he intended the incumbent to receive the rent charges himself from the head landlord, and, if it should not have been paid when due, he was to apply to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who were to have recourse to a Crown process to obtain it; an arrangement which I humbly submit might tend to involve Ecclesiastical persons and bodies in the recurrence of disputes and altercations, and in the purely secular province of the whole matter, to a far greater extent than I can think expedient or creditable, We also propose to allow under certain circumstances, a power of revision, and revaluation of the existing tithe compositions. I certainly should have very much desired to have closed the whole question at once; but, upon hearing the number, as well as urgency, of the complaints that are made, some, I think, proceeding from those who yield to none in good will and friendship to the 1328 Church—many of them alleging strong instances of fact in corroboration, it did appear that it would be most difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile the Irish people to any settlement that did not include some such power; and our care must be to adopt such just and fair precautions as, on the one hand, will insure the dealing with real and solid matter of complaint, as in the case of promissory notes from insolvent parties, or adjudications by tribunals before which the parties did not appear; and, on the other hand, will be a security against the revision being frivolously, capriciously, or groundlessly resorted to. After they have been once decided, the rent-charge will, thenceforward, be only subject to variation as the compositions are how in reference to the price of corn at stated periods. The provisions of Lord Tenterden's Act for the Limitation of the Suits are likewise extended to Ireland, as in the Bill of last year.
These, then, are the principal provisions of the present Bill, as far as regards the immediate settlement of the property in tithe, and the interests of the existing incumbents. I recommend them to the favour of the House, not, assuredly, because they obviate all difficulty, and steer clear of all objection—the very nature of the question, and the actual circumstances of the time make that impossible—make every thing, we can select a choice between the counteracting embarrassments which beset the attempt to do the utmost practicable good to all parties, with the least avoidable unfairness to any. We encounter the disadvantage too, of running counter to that specific and favourite project which almost every one who takes an interest upon so important and extensive a subject will have been sure to set his own heart upon. One is for an entire new valuation, and general Land-tax, to which the chief objection, I conceive, is the necessary consumption of time, and the employment of a new machinery; another, and a large party, too, I am aware, in this House, is bent on redemption. This part of the Bill of last year, after much trial and discussion, was resisted by the late House of Commons. I do not think it would find much favour in the present; and I cannot at all see how it could be carried into effect without, a sensible additional loss to the clergy. Still I do recommend this scheme to the 1329 House as liberal in the foremost place to the existing clergy, to whom it remits the liability for the repayment of a very large sum of money that has been advanced, and secures a payment for the time to come, and from and after a certain day in such year, with a running interest until discharged, subject to deduction certainly, but guaranteed to them beyond the chance of failure, and without any trouble or risk of collection—as satisfactory to the occupying tenant, from whom it removes all the vexation incident both to the payment, and, among well-disposed persons, even to the resistance of an obnoxious impost—as conducive to the real interests of the landlord, to whom, besides all the indirect advantages that would flow from the comparative tranquillization of the country, it gives, as to the land of which he is owner, a direct bonus of thirty per cent—as calculated to find acceptance with the great body of the nation, especially when coupled with that fairer and more equitable adjustment of Ecclesiastical Revenues, which we hope ultimately to establish, of which we here seek to lay the foundation; and which I will now address myself to submit briefly to the notice of the House.
In approaching this part of the subject I know we must abide the double risk of shocking what I consider the untenable positions of one party, and of falling probably short of what I may also think the too high-flown expectations of another; inasmuch, as we both deny the inviolability of Church property, and yet are determined to maintain the existence, and add, we hope, to the efficiency of the Established Church even in Ireland. We have to deal with a state of things there, which, in the present state of public opinion, would have precluded any sane man from dreaming to found in that country, if every thing had now to begin afresh, a Protestant Episcopal Church, yet, finding it there, with its long prescription, interwoven with so much of the every-day working of our civil policy, we are not prepared to uproot its foundations, or destroy its framework. At the same time I feel so sensibly the anomalous and precarious grounds on which it now, upon the clearest evidence, is found to rest, that of nothing am I more convinced than that, if you refuse to modify it, you will find it beyond the power of man, at least, to preserve it.
1330 I am aware that a strong, perhaps, to some extent a reasonable objection is felt to the exact specification of numbers, when any result supposed likely to be acceptable to other parties, especially in a loose and turbulent state of society, would ensue upon the precise number falling short of the fixed point. We endeavour, therefore, as much as possible, to avoid the exact specification of numbers; and in the one instance, where we find it necessary, if, at least, we are prepared to do anything towards correcting these glaring disproportions which exist in many parts of Ireland between the pay and the duties of clerical incumbents, we have happily the means of making the reference to numbers retrospective instead of prospective. We must fix some point below which the appointment to the vacant benefice is to be suspended. If we will not do this, we do nothing at all.—If we will not do this, we still determine to keep up livings without cures, clergymen without flocks, pay without work; the worst gains of the sinecurist, on the worst plea of the bigot. There is now upon the Table of the House the Report of the Commissioners of Public Instruction, who in pursuance of the directions given to them, have furnished a census of the population of Ireland, specifying the respective proportions of the different religious denominations. Now I certainly cannot pretend to claim for this work, or for any work of such a nature, especially when completed within so limited a period, the merit of perfect and undeviating accuracy, but I contend that as far as the circumstances permitted, the Report has been framed in such a manner as to make it as accurate and authentic as any document of such a character could pretend to be. The House will observe that the census of 1831 is taken as the basis of the present census. The census of 1831 was not framed with any expectation of its being used for the purpose of ascertaining the relative proportions of the different religious denominations in Ireland, and cannot be consequently liable to any imputation of partiality on that score. The enumerators by whom that census was made, were appointed by the Magistrates for the different counties, who were not persons likely to entertain any very violent, or subversive views. Those enumerators were ordered on this occasion to communicate with the ministers of all religious persuasions; the clergy 1331 in the Established Church were especially requested to assist them, and the Ministers belonging to all the different bodies were invited to prepare distinct censuses of their own. In many instances this assistance was afforded to the enumerators, especially, I am happy to say, by the clergy of the Established Church, who, in some cases, visited themselves every house in their parishes. The list, which was verified on oath, was left fourteen days open for public inspection. After it had so remained open, the Commissioners visited the different parishes, and then held public sittings of inquiry, at which the ministers of every religious persuasion were invited to attend, for the purpose of giving in their district censuses; and every one was at liberty to tender evidence, which was taken in the face of the assembled parish. If there was likely to be any very marked inaccuracy in the enumeration of the numbers of the different denominations, it would most probably occur in the census of a large population, where some difficulty might be found in ascertaining and fixing the precise number. In the census of Belfast, for instance, which contains a population of 67,000 and odd inhabitants, and 17,000 members of the Established Church, the mistake was more likely to occur, than in the midst of a population among whom no Protestants, or but very few, were to be found; because if, in the latter case, any Protestant had been overlooked in the enumeration, if it had been asserted and recorded that nothing like a Protestant was in existence there, was it likely that he would abstain from coming forward, pointing out the falsity of the return, and removing the slur which he would conceive was thus attempted to be cast upon his parish. I contend, then, that this Report, on the whole, is entitled to be considered as authentic and accurate, for the purposes at which it aims, as any document of such a nature can be. I will not enter, here, into any minute dissection of its contents, for which other opportunities may occur; and, for the object of a general statement, it will be sufficient to mention general results. The whole population of Ireland is stated to be 7,943,940 persons. Of this total the number of members of the Established (Church is 852,064 persons; of Presbyterians 642,356; of other Protestant Dissenters 21,808; and of Roman Catholics 6,4557,712—or, putting the cal- 1332 culation in another form, the number of members of the Established Church is 852,064 persons, while the total number of Dissenters from the Established Church is 7,091,876 persons. The distribution of the members of the Established Church is nearly as disproportioned as their total amount. It is well known that they are to be found in the greatest numbers in the northern province of Ulster; and, not to enumerate more than one or two instances of the great disproportion that prevails in their distribution throughout Ireland, I find, adopting the authority of a book which, I believe, is entitled to great weight on such subjects, "Beaufort's Ecclesiastical Map of Ireland," that, in the diocese of Dromore, there are 264 members of the Established Church to every thousand acres; in the diocese of Tuam but about eight members of the Established Church to every thousand acres. In the diocese of Clogher the members of the Establishment are as twenty-six to one hundred of the whole population; while, in the diocese of Kilfenora, the proportion is less than one hundred, many nearly parallel cases might be quoted. Now with what provision do we propose to meet these glaring instances of disproportion, both in the total amount, and in the relative distribution, of the members of the Established Church? We shall ask the House to give its authority for the suspension of the presentation or appointment to any vacant benefice, in which it appears, upon the face of this Report, that the number of Protestants does not exceed fifty. We do not, however, even apply this limitation so strictly that if circumstances should have been materially changed in the interval, there should be no power of preventing the rigorous enforcement of the rule. The appointment is to be suspended, upon the vacancy, by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in whom we think that the superintendence of all these matters will be most properly vested; unless the Lord-lieutenant in council should otherwise direct. But will it be asked whether we are prepared to leave all those parishes in Ireland, in which the number of members of the Established Church does not exceed fifty, entirely without any means and opportunities of spiritual instruction, or public worship? I have never, either here or elsewhere, previously or to night, dissembled my adherence to the principle of 1333 a religious establishment, and, therefore, in introducing a measure which is to regulate the future constitution of a religious establishment now in existence, and in endeavouring to adapt it to the state of society in which it is found, while I will not hang back, or shrink, from any limitation of its privileges, or diminution of its revenues, which seem to be prescribed by the circumstances of the case, and a sense of fairness and justice towards other parties; while I will be scared by no names of confiscation, spoliation, and sacrilege, when I think myself justified, on the plainest grounds of policy and truth; I yet cannot but derive satisfaction, as a Protestant and a Churchman, wherever I feel that I may combine, without prejudice to the just and equal rights of all, any special mark of adherence either to the faith which I profess, or the form of establishment to which I belong. I take, then, the strongest case, though by no means a solitary instance in Ireland—I take a parish in which there is no glebe-house, no church, no churchman; and even in this spot, supposing a member of the Established Church should come to reside there, or even a casual passer-by should chance to require the performance of a religious duty, even in this spot he shall find that the Legislature of his country has provided some one on whom he, the solitary resident, or casual stranger, may be authorized to call for the ministrations or the consolations of his religion. At the same time we do not affect to make this provision do more than just comply with the principle which leaves no foot of the State's dominions without the pale of the State's religion; a principle which, I am sorry to add, is not in operation in many districts of Ireland, which do not come within the operation of this Bill. The amount of provision, however, we endeavour to proportion to the extent of service. I need not say, that, in such a case, it would be very scanty. In a parish without glebe-house, church, or churchman, we consign the care of souls, which, I believe, is a correct, though it sounds a contradictory, expression, to the care of the minister of some adjoining parish, to be named by the Bishop, at an additional stipend of not more than 5l. a-year.* In* "The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are directed, in the case of the suspension of a clerk to any benefice, in which divine service has not been celebrated for the three years1334 which case we indulgently depart from the proper rule that, where there is no duty there shall be no pay. I understand that, by the Church Temporalities' Act, introduced by my noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were, in certain cases, empowered to assign the stipend of 4l. per annum; this was not specified distinctly in the Bill, but such a stipend has been actually assigned; so we improve in liberality as we go on. In the case where there are any members of the Established Church—where there is but one—where there is any number below that which has occasioned the suspension of the benefice, the care of souls is either to be committed, as in the case where there is no member of the Establishment, to the ministry of some adjoining parish; or, if it should appear to the Board of Ecclesiastical Commissioners that, by such means, adequate provision was not likely to be made for the spiritual wants of the parish, a separate curate is to be appointed, with the consent and approbation of the Lord-lieutenant in Council; and it is to be specially enacted, that wherever there is now a church, and a resident officiating minister there shall always be, in future, a separate curate. With respect to the payment—where the cure is put into the hands of a neighbouring minister, the stipend, avoiding the exact specification of numbers, is to be proportioned to the duty to be performed; being in no case less than 10l., or more than 51. according to the judgement of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, acting under the same approbation and consent. Where a separate curate is appointed, his salary is not to exceed 75l.; he will be permitted to occupy the glebe-house, should there bepreceding the 1st February, 1833, to appoint to the incumbent or officiating minister of the parish adjoining such suspended benefice, such moderate stipend as they, associated with the Bishop of the diocese, shall think fit in consideration of the occasional Ecclesiastical duties he may have to perform in such suspended benefice." See Sect: 117, 3 and 4 Will. 4, chap: 37.By the first Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, ordered to be printed by the House of Commons, 31st March, 1835, they state, that stipends varying from four to twenty-five pounds yearly have been appointed to the incumbents or officiating ministers of the parishes adjoining those benefices which have been suspended under the Act,1335 one, if he so wishes, and undertakes to keep it in repair, and is also to have whatever portion of the glebe-land may be thought proper, not exceeding the annual value of 25l.* The Ecclesiastical Commissioners may let the glebe-house, unless the curate or officiating minister desires to occupy it; and may also let the glebe-lands, or such portion of them as shall not be allotted to him. They are to pay off all charges for buildings, dilapidations, &c, on suppressed benefices; and will, in the same manner, be entitled to receive all those dues that fall in. They are, in these respects, to hold the place of a single clergyman who might have succeeded to the living. Provision is to be made that, in every parish where the cure of souls is committed to a neighbouring minister, if his own church is not so situated as to afford sufficient accommodation for the members of the establishment in the annexed parish—and also in every parish where a separate curate is appointed, if there is no church or chapel—a suitable place of public worship shall be built or provided; the cost being suited to the probable extent of the congregation;—if to be built, not to exceed the sum of 100l.; if to be provided, or hired, not exceeding 51l. per annum.† Little, indeed, may be thought of these places of public worship, to be provided at so modest a cost. I admit they are not such as would have suited the palmy days of vestry cess—of architectural churches, and parish-paid organs; yet, for the accommodation of some ten or twenty persons, in the midst of a large population who are to derive no benefit* So that in such cases the income of the curate arising from tithes and glebe-land will amount to 100l. per annum, in a parish where the number of members of the Established Church does not exceed fifty, with the use of the glebe-house, subject to no other charge than that of keeping it in repair—and he will receive this stipend exclusive of any sum for any adjoining parish, the cure of which may be committed to him in case there are not more than fifty members of the Established Church in such adjoining parish.† Where there is no church in a suspended parish, it is intended that the school-house shall be used for the purposes of divine worship; or that a room in the glebe-house, if any, shall be set apart for the purpose; or if neither of these accommodations can be afforded, that a place of worship be erected at a cost of 100l.; or a room hired at a rent of 15l. pounds per annum.1336 from them, I trust they may answer all the purposesOf such plain roofs as piety can raise;And only vocal to their Maker's praise.It is enacted that wherever the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are about to provide for the spiritual wants of a parish, or to apply any money in building, or providing, a place of worship, the Archbishop of the province, and the Bishop of the diocese shall be associated with them, as Commissioners, pro hâc vice. In the case which will very frequently happen, of one of these parishes, in which the number of members of the Established Church does not exceed fifty, forming part of an union with other parishes, it will be enacted, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, subject to the approbation and consent of the Lord-lieutenant in council, are either to disunite from the union the parish in question, and deal with it as with a separate suppressed benefice under this Act; or, if they shall think fit to continue the Union to direct that the incumbent is to receive such part of the income of that particular parish as would have fallen to his share as a neighbouring minister or a separate curate, under the provisions which I have detailed, in case the parish had not formed part of an union. If the Church and glebe house of the union should be in this parish, the Commissioners will be empowered to make such special provision for their use and occupation, as may seem to them most fitting. Further, upon every future vacancy of a benefice, the annual value of which, after allowing for the deduction on the amount of composition effected by this Bill, as well as for the tax on benefices, proposed by the Church Temporalities' Act, shall exceed 300l., the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will be required to report to the Lord-Lieutenant, the circumstances of such benefice, and the extent of the Ecclesiastical duty, whereupon the Lord-lieutenant in council will be authorized to reduce the income in all cases when it should appear to them to exceed the requirements of the case; provided that the reduction never brings the income below 300l. A year. Now, with respect to the livings at the disposal of the Crown, and the Bishops, the right will hardly be denied to Parliament, provided it seems to them to be for the good of the country, and the Church, to deal with them at once. But it will suggest itself that lay or private advowsons stand on a 1337 different footing. With what degree of violence the hon. Member for St. Andrew's was prepared to deal with lay patronage in Scotland, the House was, unfortunately, prevented from fully ascertaining; but I feel it to be most desirable, in endeavouring to effect a great settlement of this nature, to shew as scrupulous a regard as possible to all claims bearing on the nature of private property, and we shall therefore introduce special provisions for enabling the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to indemnify the owners of lay advowsons which come under the operation of this Bill, by borrowing money on the security of the fund, to be established from the various sources I have mentioned. We propose to call this the reserve fund, and it will be applicable, in the first place, to the payment of stipends, or salaries, assigned to the ministers or curates interested with the cure of souls in the suppressed benefices, to the payment of the charges on such parishes,—to the provision of chapels, or places of worship, and other like purposes mentioned. After all such purposes shall have been satisfied, in just accordance, I conceive, with the Resolution of my noble Friend, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, all the further sums that accrue in each year will be applied by the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland to the religious and moral instruction of all classes of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion. As to the propriety of diverting the revenues of the Church to any but Ecclesiastical purposes, and the propriety of applying them to the religious and moral education of the whole ' body of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion, I feel there are points which it is quite out of my present province to labour; they have been already entertained, debated, and decided by this House; and it is in consequence of that decision that I now submit this whole measure to their consideration. I have already adverted to the objection which has been expressed in some quarters on account of apprehended peril to the safety, nay, to the lives of the existing clerical incumbents. I cannot, for my part, anticipate, that results so horrible could be brought about by any such ardent zeal for education, coupled with such a ruthless propensity to crime as this, in my view, rather morbid alarm pre-supposes; and let it be observed that, although the wants 1338 of the district from which the funds are drawn, will, of course, be primarily and mainly consulted, nothing makes it imperative to apply them within the actual bounds of the benefice become vacant; and, also, this Government, and, I make no doubt, all succeeding Governments, will still be prepared to call on the liberality of Parliament not to stint or starve the objects of popular education in Ireland, during the unavoidable scantiness of means which must prevail in the infancy of our Reserve Fund, and through the lives of existing incumbents.
But, I may be asked, as the Resolution, to which the House has agreed, states that the spiritual wants of the members of the Established Church should be fully provided for in the first instance, and as the funds at present in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners do not by any means yet meet those Ecclesiastical purposes to which they are assigned, are we at liberty to apply any surplus which arises under this Act, to the purposes of general education, the fund for the Ecclesiastical purposes being still inadequate? I think we are clearly so entitled. Beyond the five per cent on the composition for tithe which we charge on the Perpetuity Purchase Fund, for the benefit of the existing clergy, and which comes under the tithe settlement, and not under the appropriation branch of this Bill, I believe we shall hardly make any trespass, beyond, at least, what we repay, upon the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It is true they are in debt at present; it will take some time for them to redeem it; but still, eventually, they will be in possession of a surplus. With that surplus we now in no way propose to deal; we leave that to the disposal of future Parliaments, when the moment for their interference shall have arrived. We leave it just as it would have been left by the late Government; but under this Bill we propose certain fresh modifications and curtailments of which the state of the Established Church seems to us to admit; we first do what we think necessary duly to provide for the spiritual wants of the members of the Established Church; and it is the remaining surplus, thus created, which we deem ourselves at liberty to apply at once to the object designated in the Resolution, the religious and moral instruction of the entire Irish people.
1339 But will it be thought that when we speak of parishes without churches or churchmen, or with but tens and twenties, out of the whole population, we are but counting shadows, and making a great outcry over one or two extreme instances, and that this Reserve Fund will in fact have no feeders to supply it? I call the
|DIOCESES.||No. of Parishes without any Protestants.||Number of Parities, containing in Number, Protestants less than||Total No. of Parishes containing none, or less than 5o Protestants.|
|6.||Ardfert and Aghadoe||7||13||12||7||7||6||52|
|19.||Clonfert and Kilmacduagh||7||6||8||5||4||3||33|
|21.||Killala and Achonry||2||2||5||2||2||1||14|
The consequence will be that the funds, which, in all these parishes, are wholly devoted to the maintenance of what I must consider a superfluous portion of the Established Church, because it is devoted to the maintenance of sinecurists and absentees, will also in some measure be applied to the benefit of the overwhelming majority of persons belonging to other persuasions, now wholly unprovided by the State with the means of religious, or
* Of parishes there are stated to be at present, in Ireland, about 2,405; and of benefices, composed either of single parishes, or of unions of parishes, or parts of parishes, there are about 1,385 in number;—so that although one or more parishes in an union will be suspended, still the benefice itself may continue although in a modified and reduced shape, as regards the amount of income. Of unions of parishes there are 478, which form the principal portion of the benefices affected by the contemplated provisions.
attention of those who are so ready to sneer at our giving only 5l. to a neighbouring clergyman, for doing the duty in parishes where there is no duty to be done, to the statement of the numbers of parishes which come under the operation of this Bill:—
§ of any, instruction; who will thus be acknowledged as entitled to share with their fellow-countrymen in that access to religious and moral education, which a paternal Government ought not to refuse to any class of its subjects. I have also had an account made up, as far as it could be calculated, upon the amount of the Reserve Fund likely to accrue under this Bill, from the parishes which it would affect. This account does not include 1341 any sums to be derived from the reduction of benefices above 300l. a-year in value, because as the amount of that reduction is to be discretionary, and proportionate, it would of course be hardly possible to
|DIOCESES.||Gross Amount of Reserved Fund arising from Parishes.||Total Amount of Reserved Fund.|
|In Royal or Ecclesiastical Patronage, after existing interests.||In Lay Patronage, after existing interests, and indemnification of Patrons.|
|19.||Clonfert and Kilmacduagh||512||17||4||267||12||8|
|21.||Killala and Achonry||800||12||10||nil|
|Exclusive of glebe lands.|
§ I think that the mere statement of facts contained in these enumerations must make an impression beyond the compass of any declamation to reach; and that all the arts of diction cannot come up to this bare arithmetic.
It will be remembered that, in the Debates on the Church Temporalities' Act, we heard much of the expansive force of Protestantism, and I am glad so far to
* The principle upon which this calculation has been formed is as follows:—From the existing amounts of composition, 30l. per cent has been, in the first place, dedcted as contemplated by the Bill;—and, after allowing a sum of 5l. per parish, for those parishes in which there are not any Protestants, an average stipend of 25l. per parish for those in which there are less than fifty Protestants, without Church or glebe house; as also an average stipend of 65l. per parish for those in which there are less than fifty Protestants, but having either a Church or glebe house, the surplus, as above stated, will arise in each diocese from and after the cessation of existing interests.
form an estimate sufficiently exact; nor, for the same reason, does it include any sums to be derived from the letting of glebe houses and glebe lands:—
§ find, in the shape of corroboration to that expression, that the Report of the Commissioners of public instruction states the numbers of many of the- Protestant and Church of England congregations in Ireland to be on the increase. We have not been inattentive to this branch of the consideration, and we provide that, if, at any subsequent time, the number of members of the Established Church should increase 1343 in such a manner as that the arrangements adopted under this Act should be found, in the judgment of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, inadequate to the spiritual wants of the parish, they are specially to report the circumstances to the Lord-lieutenant in council, and to submit at the same time the proposition which they may think called for by the circumstances of the case. If the Lord-lieutenant in council should approve of this Report and proposition, they are to be laid before Parliament; and, after the expiration of six months from that period, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners may carry their proposition into effect, unless Parliament shall have otherwise directed.
§ I believe that the Bill only contains, further, two or three Clauses for the purpose of amending, filling up, and extending, some portions of the Church Temporalities' Act, but as they are only framed with the view to act in the obvious spirit, and fulfil the evident intentions of this Act, I need hardly enter into any detail of them at present; they mainly provide that the property of minor canons and vicars choral should be vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, subject to provisions for existing interests, and the discharge of actual duties. The tithes dis-appropriated from dignities in case of vicarages, or other cures, being specially endowed, may be carried to the general account of the same Commissioners; and the tenants of Bishops, instead of paying down the purchase-money for perpetuities, may give a mortgage, at a reduced interest, payable within a limited period. I ought, perhaps, to add, that any additional sums arising out of these provisions, being subsidiary to the operation of the Church Temporalities' Act, will, conformably with the principle to which I before adverted, be applied to the general fund under the administration of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the purposes of that Act.
§ I have now gone through the main provisions of the Measure which I have the honour to submit to the House. It comprises many heads; it covers much ground; it touches important principles; and, therefore, I know that, in its progress, it must expect to encounter many assailants, perhaps from many quarters.
§ I believe the settlement of the Tithe Question to be as indispensable to a suffering clergy, as I think a fresh appro- 1344 priation is called for by a superabundant establishment; and, therefore, I think the Bill rightly and fairly connects and couples them together. I also am pleased to think that while the Bill does not shrink from grappling openly and boldly with the question of appropriation—while it assails all sinecures, in spite of any prescriptions, I believe, in my conscience, that its tendency will be to give to Protestants themselves—to that very Church, which it may probably be represented merely as an attempt to rob, defraud, and pillage, sources of strength and vitality which have been long dried up before: and it is hardly fanciful to hope, that in many parishes where the untended flock has hitherto been unconscious of the ministrations, and even of the existence, of their pluralist or absentee incumbent, it may, for the first time, cause "the sound of a church-going bell" to be heard. Such advantages however, invaluable as they would be in my eyes, I admit to be almost incidental to the main object of the measure, which is, that when you are calling upon the country to ratify and secure, at considerable cost and sacrifice, the future maintenance of a Church Establishment, which alone ought to exist on the plea of the national good, you are called upon to give to it that decent conformity with the tenure of its existence, and with the extent of its duties, as may render it an object of unforced esteem, and respectful forbearance, instead of an unfailing source of contemptuous reproach and angry resistance. If the proposition I am now making is calculated, in the slightest degree, to operate against the interests of truth and real religion, no one more heartily desires its failure. It is with the most confident wishes for its success that I now move for "leave to bring in a Bill for the better regulation of Ecclesiastical Revenues, and the promotion of Religious and Moral Education in Ireland."
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, that at that late hour, he should best consult the wishes of the House by pursuing the course adopted by the noble Lord (the Secretary of State for the Home Department) towards the Bill introduced by him (Sir Henry Hardinge), when he did not oppose the Resolution on the introduction of the Bill, on the understanding, that no Member by not opposing the Resolution, lent himself to the principle or the details of the measure. He should, 1345 therefore, offer no opposition to the Motion of the noble Lord, reserving to himself the right to offer every possible opposition to the principle and the details of the Bill hereafter. When the principle of appropriation was avowed, and it was proposed to apply the property of the Church to other than Ecclesiastical purposes, he felt it his duty to declare, that his objections to such a measure were as insuperable as ever, and that he would never be a party to the adoption of a principle so full of mischief and danger. The statement of the noble Lord embraced two heads, the Question of the settlement of Tithes, and that of regulating the property of the Church; and as far as he could follow the statement of the noble Lord, so far as the clergy were concerned, the plan of regulation proposed by the noble Lord was infinitely worse than any idea he (Sir Henry Hardinge) could have formed of the measure. The noble Lord had truly said, that the Bill would have many enemies; it was calculated to please only one tail. When the measure was known throughout the country, no doubt the noble Lord's anticipation would be fulfilled. He was confident that the Bill would not pass that House; at any rate that it would not become an Act of the Legislature. He was aware that in saying this he exposed the other branch of the Legislature to the imputation of the consequences of rejecting the measure of last year; but he appealed to the House, whether the rejection of that Bill was not justified by the fact, that in the Bill of last year the landlords had forty per cent; in this Bill only thirty per cent? He granted that it was better for the clergy; but was not a justification of the rejection of the Bill to be found in this statement? He intreated and implored the noble Lord, when he talked of there being no pay where there was no work, since there was to be so large a sacrifice on the part of Government and the country, to take out of the Bill the miserable stipend to a clergyman of 5l. a-year to relieve his measure from the ridicule of granting to a labouring clergyman 5l. a-year for the performance of religious duty. All the objections he had ever had to the principle of appropriation of the noble Lord (the Secretary of State for the Home Department) applied to this measure. But when he heard that the number of Protestants in a parish, to make it one of the suspended parishes, was to be below 1346 fifty, he must say, that this principle would be productive of the greatest danger in Ireland. Suppose a parish contained fifty-five Protestants; if, by means of emigration, cholera, natural death, or assassination, the number was brought down to forty-nine, was this parish, under the system of the Act, to be suspended?
§ Lord Morpeth
observed, that the calculation was retrospective. The measure would only operate on those parishes in which, according to the Report on the Table, the number of the Protestants did not exceed fifty.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
Where then was the justice of the arrangement, if it was merely retrospective. Where was the justice of fixing the number retrospectively at fifty. But he should not enter into the details. The Bill was of a character which he would undertake to say, when it was known in the country, would be found to have exceeded the worst predictions of the worst enemies of the Church, and it never would become an Act of the Legislature.
§ Mr. Hume
hoped that the noble Lord would not be alarmed. It was quite absurd to say at the present day, that a Church should not be suited to the wants of the people. A line must be drawn, and his Majesty's Government had attempted to draw a line. Looking to the principle of the noble Lord, he thought no measure could be more equitable. If the right hon. Gentleman quarrelled with the 5l., and thought it ought not to be given, where there was no duty done, he would agree with him to strike it off. But he did not look at it in that light. Parliament was right to require that some provision should be made. There was no fear that the measure would not pass this House; the Bill, he hoped, would pass both Houses of Parliament, and they were not the friends of Parliament who said otherwise. Let those who refused the last Bill refuse this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman's means of knowing the sentiments of the people might be better than his; but Gentlemen lived each in his own sphere, and limited their inquiries to their own society. He was one of those who looked to Government as the means of promoting the happiness of the many, and it was in that light he viewed the present measure. There was only one part of it he could not support—that was the proposed grant 1347 of 1,000,000l. The Church had ample means to pay this money; the House should not give it up unconditionally. The right hon. Gentleman, he repeated, was mistaken as to the manner in which his proposition would be received. He was confident that in its spirit and principle it would be received by the whole country with exultation and gratitude.
§ Mr. Shaw
could not allow the Bill to be introduced without entering his warmest and most earnest protest against it. The question involved in it was of the most vital importance, and which, if not speedily settled, would leave no security for property. The state in which the Irish Clergy were placed was such as he would not harrow the feelings of the House by describing. If Government had properly asserted the dignity of the law four years ago in Ireland, the settlement of this question would not be a matter of such difficulty. If they had proceeded with the same vigour with which they appeared to undertake this Bill, circumstances in Ireland would now bear a different aspect. The law had been asserted in Ireland, and order had been restored; but when Lord Althorp announced that no further tithes should be collected, the police, who on one day had put up one notice, were the next day to be seen putting up another of a different tendency, and the authority of the law was at an end. There was one point which he was desirous of impressing upon the House; namely, that the Clergy of Ireland, whatever might be their suffering, were a body of men whose integrity was not to be corrupted; and he would tell the noble Lord that nothing could induce them to forego their paramount duty, or abandon the work for which they had been appointed. They would accept of no personal or temporary relief at the expense of any principle which to them appeared subversive of the Established Church in Ireland. They never could forget the language of the dignified Prelate who presided at a meeting held some time since in Ireland, and who, in stating the sentiments of the clergy of that country, said that they were prepared to sacrifice every personal consideration, even life itself, for the preservation of the Church. The time was now come when the question was to be decided whether there should or should not be an Established Church. If there was to be no Establishment, let the determination be fairly and 1348 plainly stated; and let not the House or the country be deluded by this Appropriation Clause, and the Clergy of Ireland insulted and mocked by the noble Lord's 5l. provision. The object of this Bill was to set a fine upon the heads of Protestants and to hold out an obvious inducement to their reduction, and eventually their extirpation, by means of tumult and outrage which he could not stop to detail. Would the noble Lord stand up in his place, and say that his Bill would not have this effect? The noble Lord said that his measure was purely retrospective. But if the noble Lord attempted to quiet himself or the House with such a notion, he was under a sad delusion. The noble Lord proposed to do away with the duties and the stipend of the Protestant clergyman in every parish which did not contain fifty Protestant souls. What would the noble Lord do, however, when, some short time hence, parishes which now contained fifty-one or upwards of Protestants were reduced below that number, by what means he need not say? When that came to pass, as it inevitably would come to pass, would not the noble Lord find himself urged on by the same pressing necessity which now actuated him to sweep away those parishes also? It was quite puerile to talk of this Bill operating only retrospectively; its baneful operation would be worked forward until the whole Protestant Establishment in Ireland was undermined, and the religion left unprotected in the country. If it was the noble Lord's intention to destroy the Protestant Church in Ireland, let him do so in a more noble, a more manly, a more honest, and a more humane manner than the one he now proposed to adopt. Let him bring in a Bill expressly and directly for the abolition of the Irish Church, and not let the extinction of the Church depend upon the extinction of its members and adherents. He would not longer detain the House upon the principles involved in this Bill, He had already said, that he did not propose to offer any opposition to it in its present stage; but he gave the noble Lord notice that it was his determination, in all its subsequent stages, whenever it might be brought forward, to give it his most determined opposition. Before he sat down, he wished to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair, relative to the regularity of the course the noble Lord had adopted on the present occasion. 1349 He wished to put it to the noble Lord and to the House, whether it was customary to bring forward a Motion upon a grave and important matter of religion or finance in any other way than before a Committee of the whole House. He certainly had understood that it had been the intention of the noble Lord to take up the Resolution passed by a Committee of the whole House in an earlier part of the Session, relating to the appropriation of Church-property; and upon that Resolution to found a Motion for leave to bring in a Bill upon the subject. The noble Lord had not done so, however; and what he wanted to be informed of was, whether the noble Lord was strictly in order in the course he had pursued?
§ Lord Morpeth
was understood to say that he had precedents in the case of the Irish Tithe Bill, and also in that of the English Tithe Bill of 1832, to warrant the course he had pursued that night.
§ Mr. Charles A. Walker
would not have said one word but for the observations which had been made from the opposite side of the House. But as a Protestant Member, he begged to return his best and warmest thanks to the noble Lord, and to his Majesty's Ministers, for bringing in a measure which would not injure the Protestant religion, but must materially serve it. He believed that, looking to past experience, Protestantism in Ireland would diminish, and that Church would cease to be the Established Church. He thanked the Government for this measure, which he hailed as a boon to the people of Ireland, because, if any thing could christianise the Church, it was a measure like this. Hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House seemed to claim to themselves the exclusive representation of the Protestants of Ireland; but he would say, that he and others on that (the Ministerial) aide were the persons who really represented the Protestants of Ireland, though they did not represent the Orange faction. If that measure, or one of equal efficiency, were postponed, the collection of tithes in Ireland as well as the Church itself would be gone for ever. It had been stated, that the plan on which the noble Lord proceeded was altogether inapplicable to the state of Ireland; but he (Mr. Walker) knew a case in his own neighbourhood in which the clergyman of one parish received the sum of 4l. a-year, for doing duty in the next parish, in which there was no church.
rose for the purpose of expressing a hope, as upon the present occasion there seemed not to be the smallest disposition on the part of the House to throw any impediment in the way of the introduction of the Bill, that hon. Members would not continue a discussion which might prevent a fuller discussion hereafter, but delay their observations till the proper time came, which would afford the opportunity of entering fully into the debate. When that time arrived, as his noble Friend very well knew, he should be prepared to express his opinion on this Bill, and on the subject of the Appropriation more especially. He need not tell his noble Friend that he should give it every possible opposition in his power. He well knew the courage of his noble Friend and those with whom he was associated in bringing forward this measure, but he confessed that the boldness of the measure and its details did far exceed his most fearful anticipations. First of all, entering his protest against the Appropriation part of the Bill in principle—against almost every detail in reference to the Appropriation—also against the principle of doing away with the practicability of redemption—and, almost as much as any, against the power to re-open composition, which could not now after so many years be safely reopened—hewishedtoaskforexplanationon one or two points upon which he did not know whether or not he had accurately understood his noble Friend. First whether his noble Friend meant, that for the sum, such as it might be, which was in future to be appropriated to the clergy, the State was to make itself liable, without deduction, whatever its power might be of collection or to appropriate?
§ Lord Morpeth
said, that his noble Friend had understood him correctly in taking that in the affirmative.
then wished to know how far back his noble Friend meant to go with the power of collection?—next, from whom he purposed the collection should be made? he understood the noble Lord to say from the landlord. He knew the practical difficulty there would be in that, for he had considered the subject well, but did the noble Lord propose that the collection should be from the landlord at the head of the scale, or from the person immediately above the occupying tenant, and then so go on ascending in the scale? He asked that, in reference to those who 1351 were between the head landlord and the tenant, and whose interests might be most materially affected by the measure. -A third question was with regard to the parishes, for his noble Friend had first stated there were about 840 parishes that would come within the operation of that provision of the Bill by which, there not being fifty Protestants within each of them, the clergyman would be deprived of the income derived from those parishes. His noble Friend had said parishes, and had not said benefices; and this difficulty would arise under his noble Friend's Bill—for he apprehended the suspension would be compulsory; if the Protestant population did not amount to a certain number, this case might and would arise; a clergyman might be in possession of three parishes, one of which contained a large Protestant population, but which might actually fail in producing any income; the two others might contain a very small proportion of Protestants, and a numerous body of Roman Catholics; and for the very reason that they paid a considerable amount in tithes, and did not contain many Protestants, they had been added to the other parish, which contained a large body of Protestants, but few Catholics, and yielded no revenue; would the operation of the noble Lord's Bill not be, that in such a case, the clergyman, losing the income derived from the two parishes which were competent to pay, and did pay, would be left with a large body of Protestant parishioners, and absolutely deprived of any income from his living whatever? He hoped the noble Lord would be able to contradict the supposition that this would be the effect; if not, he would commit by his Bill a very gross injustice. The last question was, whether the whole produce of those 840 parishes—whether all the pecuniary advantages he proposed to derive from this suspension, was the miserable sum of 58.000l. a-year? He thought his noble Friend had said so, but he could hardly believe that, for the inducement of 58,000l. a-year his noble Friend would for so small, so pitiful a consideration, venture upon the discussion and argument of so great and so hazardous a principle. He only rose for the purpose of asking for these explanations, and of expressing a hope that the discussion at present wonld not be prolonged, reserving to himself the right of comment hereafter on every detail and 1352 every part of this Bill. He must say, with respect to a Bill of this description, and so violent a Bill, he had never seen one introduced to that House in so moderate a manner. His noble Friend's speech was temperate, calm, and perfectly proper throughout in its tone and manner. He only wished the substance of the speech and of the measure had been as gratifying to him as was the tone of his noble Friend in introducing it.
§ Lord Morpeth
said, he would very briefly answers the questions put to him by his noble Friend. In answer to the first question, he did not propose a revision of all agreements with reference to the commutation of tithes, but still some of them were open to revision. He believed he would secure the object they had in view without involving himself in any of the difficulties anticipated by his noble Friend. In answer to the second question, he proposed to recover from the head landlord, and if they did not succeed they would descend till they got to the occupying tenant.
hoped the noble Lord would pardon his interruption by asking upon that whether, supposing the head landlord discharged the tithes, he being then entitled to recover it from the intermediate person, it was intended he should be liable to the payment, which by no covenant he had before been liable to, and that he should afterwards have thrown upon him the trouble and expense of recovering it without any indemnification?
§ Lord Morpeth
said, they should come upon the immediate occupying tenant, the amount being deducted from the rent. He had certainly distinctly said, that the suspending powers of this Bill applied not to benefices, but to parishes. With reference to the case which had been put by his noble Friend of the three parishes, in pursuance with the principle of the Bill, they would certainly think themselves authorized to declare, that in any parish where there was not a sufficient number of Protestants, the emoluments arising from that parish should cease, except in certain cases, where they might deem it right to make a special provision that the suspension should not take place; if the Lord-lieutenant, for instance, should withhold his consent to it, in such cases. 58,000l. was not all that was expected to arise from this system. There was a sum which would arise from the glebe 1353 houses and glebe lands, and the reductions of incomes in those parishes in which the net annual value exceeded 300l. a-year. 58.000l. a-year, however, was all they could calculate upon at present as standing to the account of the commissioners of national education. The whole of the other income would not be realized as savings, because they would not only have to pay out of it ministers for labouring among their flocks, but also, where there were not churches, to provide suitable places of worship.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that on account of the advanced period of the night, he should not detain the House many minutes. As he wished to see this Bill in a printed form, he should abstain from entering into any observation on its details. The Bill, he apprehended, in two important elements of it, was nearly conformable in principle to the Bill which was introduced by his right hon. Friend. As far as regarded the remission of the million, which had been advanced, he entirely concurred in the provisions of the Bill. He believed the difficulty of recovering the arrear of tithes would now be so great that there was nothing to be done but to remit that amount; not, however, to the clergy, not to the Established Church, but to the landlords. It was not that it was to be remitted to the Church, but to the landlords of Ireland; because it would be a mockery to call on the clergy for repayment without giving them the means of recovering it again from the occupying tenants. He hoped, therefore, the fact would not be mistaken. The remission was a bonus to those by whom it must have been repaid. With respect to the bonus or remission of thirty per cent, whether it should be twenty-five or thirty per cent, there was no material difference of the principle between this and the Bill brought in by his right hon. Friend. He should, therefore, not say a word on that. On other points he differed most materially from the noble Lord. The noble Lord abandoned altogether the principle of redemption; he took away the opportunity of abolishing annual payments in lieu of tithes, by giving an equivalent in land, in so far that he made the clergy of the Church pensioners on Government, instead of being entitled to permanent incomes from their parishes, and, in that respect, he thought the Bill disadvantageous as compared with the Bill of his right 1354 hon. Friend. As to the principle of opening the composition, he must hear the principle detailed on which that opening was to take place, before he stated the full extent of his objections. He could conceive the possibility of its being so extremely limited that in one or two extreme cases it might be admissible, but the difficulty he knew it would occasion, and the injustice it would work in many cases, where evidence of the value was destroyed, would be so great that he must have the conclusive proof of some great practical convenience to be obtained, and some great benefit to be achieved by it, before he could give his consent to the opening of those compositions which took place with the voluntary consent of all parties. With respect to the detail part of the Bill, in which the noble Lord introduced his new principle of distribution, even if he agreed with the noble Lord as to the general principle of the Bill, if there was no great difference of opinion between them on the question of appropriation, he must say, he never could believe that the wit and ingenuity of any man could have devised so ill a mode of carrying his intention into execution. If selecting a number a parish, and fifty were the number at which curtailment were to take place as a principle, the mode in which the noble Lord proposed to execute his own intention, appeared to him to be open to insuperable objections. He could not but think that the noble Lord's proposal to allot to any clergyman of the Established Church who had obtained an education, and acquired habits fitting him for the duties he had to discharge, to allot to him, with a family to support, 65l. a-year, appeared to be an allotment utterly inadequate for the performance of such duties. He might have mistaken the noble Lord, but he understood him to say, 65l., although originally he said 751. a-year. In those cases where, admitting the Protestants to be very small, they were yet sufficient to justify having a separate curate, in his opinion an allotment of any such stipend as 75l. a-year was equally injurious to the interests of he individual as to the Establishment itself. It was no answer on the part of the noble Lord to say, that he could show instances now where curates received only 75l. a-year. That was no answer, because whenever the subject had been considered, and when the necessity of a fresh distribution 1355 of the revenues of the Church and a fresh appropriation had been admitted, providing for Ecclesiastical purposes, one of the great advantages always expected to be derived from those new distributions was to correct those anomalies, and to give to the clergyman that which would be at least sufficient for the maintenance of himself and his family. And he had heard the hon. Gentleman who sat near to him on his left hand (Mr. Hume) himself maintain this principle, that whenever in Ireland it was necessary to maintain an in-dependant clergyman, he would contend that that man was fairly entitled to 300l. a-year. He was not now contending so much for the individual, because he had an option to exercise, but for the interests of his flock and the general interests of the Established Church. If they were to have any clergy in any part of Ireland, it was for the interests of Ireland, for the interests of the Protestants, nay, for the interests of the Roman Catholic population, that they should be men possessing those general attainments that would afford that guarantee of character for which 300l. a-year was little enough. To station an educated clergyman in some remote part of Ireland, to deprive him of the advantages of society, and to allot to him the sum which had been mentioned, would be utterly unworthy of the character of the British Legislature. It was competent for the noble Lord to amend that part of the Bill, and he did hope, that if the House should come to the consideration of this measure in detail, and this part of the Bill remained, he did hope the noble Lord would find a very general and concurrent opinion on the part of the House, that any such allotment as 65l. a-year to a minister of the Church of England, exercising the cure of souls, was utterly inadequate. As to the great principle of appropriation of the Church revenues to other purposes than those strictly Ecclesiastical, and connected with the Church establishment, he could only say, that his mind remained unaltered, and to that he should offer his most strenuous opposition. At the same time, if the noble Lord would take a proper view of the interests of the Church, it would not be difficult for him to see that he would have, in point of fact, no surplus to appropriate; that was to say, if the clergymen were merely to have a decent maintenance for the discharge of their duties as ministers of the 1356 Church of England, even admitting the propriety of deductions in certain cases in large towns, there could be no difficulty in showing that there would remain no surplus for the noble Lord to appropriate. If the noble Lord was about to open the composition, and if he would admit this principle, that even where there was a single Protestant, or where there was only a casual congregation, still it was the duty of the Legislature to make provision for the performance of religious service; and if he would admit that other principle, that where there was a clergyman permanently established, he should be able to maintain his family in decent and becoming competency, it would not be difficult to show that they were fighting about a shadow, and that there would actually be no surplus to deal with. If that were the case, if they were to gain nothing by this principle beyond insuring discord, why, he asked, should it now be asserted? Did the noble Lord really believe, that with all his extravagant calculations about 50,000l. which would accrue from the suspended benefices—did the noble Lord really believe, that after meeting all the contingencies and the debts accumulated on the Perpetuity Fund.—after taking all those incidents of deduction into consideration, did he really believe that any surplus would be found to exist. [Lord Morpeth: The Bill does not touch the Perpetuity Fund.] Yes, but there was a debt upon it which must be paid off. After making his deduction of 30 per cent on the present amount of tithes—after making every allowance which he should find practically necessary in realizing his rent-charge—after having opened composition—after having provided for the new Churches, and the new glebe-houses he was about to build—after providing for the augmentation of the curates' salaries in the new parishes—the noble Lord might depend on it he might save himself the trouble of providing in detail for the appropriation of his surplus. The noble Lord's calculations were erroneous, and there would actually be no 50,000l. to distribute. Let them make a fresh distribution of the Church Revenues—let them do away with the allotments of 5l. where there was no Protestant congregation, instead of 65l. to the curate—let them allot 250l. to enable a man, in decency, to maintain his family, and the noble Lord would have no surplus to appropriate for secular pur- 1357 poses. Let them maintain the principle of an establishment. Let them provide for its adequate maintenance. Let them secure it by doing away with all pluralities—by doing away with all sinecures, in the sense in which that word was used. Let them plant in every parish in Ireland a clergyman to perform his sacred functions, and allow him a fair and becoming maintenance, and while there would be no surplus to appropriate, there would be no quarrel to foment and maintain on account of it.
§ Lord John Russell
said, the right hon. Baronet had observed, that he would not enter on the present occasion into any of the details of the measure, yet in a small compass he had alluded to many details. In order to save time, he would not say a word with respect to that part of the measure which related to tithes. On a future occasion there would be sufficient opportunity to compare that part of it with the measure of last year, which failed in the other House, and with the subsequent proposition of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He must, however, be allowed to make a few observations with respect to the hardships which it was said the present Bill would occasion to the clergy of Ireland. With respect, then, to the allotment of 5l., which had been described as an insult to the establishment, he would only quote a passage from a report which he held in his hand, signed by two of the Irish Archbishops and three Commissioners, two of whom were appointed by the Government, and the other by the Primate, and who therefore must all be sufficiently attached to the interests of that Church. In pursuance of the 116th Section of the Irish Church Temporalities' Act, they had five benefices to dispose of, in two of which there was no Protestant, in one only nine, and in the other two only thirty; on consideration, however, of the circumstances, they had not thought proper to suppress them altogether, and they therefore appointed an officiating curate with from 4l. to 25l. a-year. That, therefore, which had been described as an insult to the Church of Ireland, because it would be unbecoming in any clergyman to accept of it, had actually been approved, recommended, and adopted by the diocesan of the Church of Ireland in more than one instance. But it was said that it was equally inadequate that the gum of 75l. a-year should be allotted to 1358 the curates to be appointed to parishes coming under the purview of the Act. The great complaint was this, which the right hon. Gentleman did not mention, that where there were heavy duties to perform, and at the same time a large income to be received, that large income was received by one man, while the heavy duties were left to another, with a very small stipend. He would give a single instance, for the purpose of showing that the operation of the Act would not be at all injurious to that class who performed the duties. The case was no imaginary one, but was communicated to him by a curate of the Established Church. His statement was shortly this—There were four parishes in which he and a labouring curate performed the whole duties. The congregation consisted of about 200. The sum received from the benefice, when the tithes were regularly paid, was 2,000l. a-year, and they had done the duties for two years at a sum of 75l. each. If those parishes were to come under the operation of the Bill, the effect would be, that there being some Protestants in each of them, the curates would receive 150l. each; still leaving a considerable surplus of income, even after all the deductions made by the Bill; but instead of its being devoted to the support of some distant clergyman who did not visit or superintend the parish, it would go to the benefit of the parochial population, who would be instructed, guided, and educated, by the funds which were originally drawn from them. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) said, he must always protest against that principle; and so did his noble Friend, the Member for Lancashire, as he (Lord Stanley) had always done. His noble Friend put the case of three parishes united together, two of them containing a considerable number of Protestants, but not producing sufficient income for the clergyman; but luckily it happened, the neighbouring parish contained a vast number of Catholics, and hardly any Protestants, and therefore they should draw from the Catholics the means of educating and comforting the Protestants. Now it was that very system which the right hon. gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) wished to maintain, but against which he (Lord John Russell) must always protest. He did not, and never should, think it right, that the great mass of the population in the South of Ireland should be made to 1359 contribute in the shape of tithe, or in any other shape, not for their own advantage, but for the sake of supporting a Church Establishment, to which they are conscientiously and religiously opposed. Nor was it sufficient to tell him that the Church wanted support, or that its funds might be useful in some other quarter. That, he maintained, was not the purpose of tithes. It was intended that tithes should go to the benefit of the county and district from which they were drawn, in the spiritual and moral instruction of the people. Bad as the system was at present, it would be still worse if they drew the whole of the tithes from the south of Ireland, and transferred the income to the more Protestant and rich part of the country, so that the Church Establishment might be supported in those parts at the expense of the poorer and more Catholic population. But the right hon. Gentleman said, that, after all, there would be no surplus. No doubt if the Ministers proceeded on the right hon. Gentleman's principles, there would be no surplus. But according to the principles which they had adopted in the Bill, taking the Income from more than 800 parishes in which there was no sufficient number of Protestants to form a congregation, they would find a surplus which, whether great or small in amount, would show that they were prepared to say that the moral and religious instruction of the great mass of the people of Ireland was an object which they had at heart—an object to which the Church revenues should be applied; and that, hereafter, while they gave that support which they considered adequate, and provided those means which were required for the spiritual instruction of the 1360 Protestants, the 6,500,000 Catholics enumerated by the Commissioners in their Report were regarded as worthy the paternal regard of a gracious Sovereign, and the superintending benevolence of the British Parliament. The present was undoubtedly a Bill complicated and difficult in its details; and he believed it was impossible to frame a measure to which plausible, and even reasonable objections might not be urged. But treating as it did of so intricate a subject, he would resort from all its details to the novel, and yet he believed sound principle on which it was founded; for that he believed was the first time that a Bill had ever been proposed to Parliament on such a subject, which went on equal principles towards the whole population of Ireland. He felt it deserved support, and he was ready to encounter all the obloquy which could be heaped on it upon that ground.
wished to know whether in the numerous instances in which from four to five parishes were united, having a considerable Protestant congregation, though none of them, to the amount of fifty, and a regular incumbent, that incumbent should be superseded, and the produce applied to the funds they were about to raise?
§ Lord Morpeth
was understood to say, that those cases would certainly come under the operation of the Act, unless the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland thought circumstances justified the contrary. With respect to the other details of the Bill, he hoped hon. Members would forbear canvassing them till the measure was before the House.
§ Leave was given to bring in the Bill.
§ END OF VOL. XXVIII.—THIRD SERIES, AND OF THIRD VOL. OF SESS. 1835.