Lord John Russell
begged to put question to the right hon. Baronet, as to the course he meant to follow in bringing up the report on the resolution which had been agreed to the other night, on the subject of Tithes in Ireland. He believed there was no disposition to throw any impediment in the way of the introduction of the Bill; but, at the same time, there were some hon. Members on that side of the House who might wish to accompany their vote in that respect with some explanations, in order to let it be understood that they were not pledged by that Resolution to the views of the measure when it might be introduced. As the report could not be brought up early tonight, he hoped some other evening would be set apart for its reception. He also took that opportunity of stating, that his wish was to bring forward the whole question of the appropriation of Irish church, property on Monday next, according to the notice which he had given; and it was also his intention to enforce, on that occasion, the call of the House. He hoped that the right hon. Baronet would not object, for the convenience of all parties, to its being brought forward as a substantive motion.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
was very sorry to observe that the practice was increasing every week, to take the supply days for motions. The time of the House was absorbed with discussions, leaving no day for the transaction of the public business. Still he was very much indisposed to take any course which might be against the general feeling of the House. As far as the day was concerned on which the Motion was to be brought forward, the noble Lord having given notice of it very early in the Session, and as he might insist on his right, an extreme right, which, on public considerations might be productive of inconvenience, and especially as in consequence of the order for the call of the House, many hon. Members must have made their arrangements to meet it, he (Sir R. Peel) would oppose no obstacle to the noble Lord in bringing forward his Motion on Monday. With respect, how- 103 ever, to the mode of bringing it on, he should certainly reserve to himself any advantage which he possessed. But if there was an understanding on the part of the House that the Bill founded on the resolution should not be read a second time till the question of appropriation was disposed of, could there be any objection, not being committed by the resolution, to permit the Bill now to be introduced? The Bill was of the utmost importance. Under present circumstances it was the law of the land that the clergy should repay the instalments of the 1,000,000l., and it was the duty of Government to enforce the demand in conformity with the law. But the clergy replied, "Although you have a claim on me, I have a claim on another party—the occupying tenant—founded in law; enable me to enforce my claims and recover my rights, and then I will repay you." Now, it was a very inconvenient thing for Government to take upon itself a discretionary power, and discharge those payments which they were called on by the law to enforce. He therefore, hoped the House would not interpose any obstacle in the way of the introduction of the Bill; the most convenient course would be to permit the resolution to be brought up now, and the Bill, so far as it could be founded on it, to be introduced, on the understanding that they should not proceed to the second reading, when discussions on its principle might take place, till after Monday next.
Lord John Russell
had no objection to that course. Many Gentlemen, however, could not consent to the Report without expressing their opinions with regard to it. But he had no wish to prevent the Bill from being brought in. He thought that an hour might perhaps be all that would be required for the discussion, if it were taken now.
§ The Report was brought up and read.
§ Mr. Hume
was anxious to see the Bill of the right hon. Baronet, in order to see if anything would be done by it for that unfortunate country. It was with that view that he should support the Resolution for the purpose of enabling the right hon. Baronet to bring in his Bill. There was, however, matter in the Resolutions which he should most strongly object to; for instance, the purchase of land out of commutation money. It was a principle disapproved of by the last Parliament, and would be alike injurious to the clergy and 104 the people if adopted by the present. He could not, therefore, conceive how any hon. Members who supported the measure of the preceding Session could give their support to the measure of this Session. He considered, that there would be no peace in Ireland until the question of appropriation should be satisfactorily settled, and the people relieved from the support of a sinecure Church, in the tenets of which they did not believe. Until that great question was set at rest, all other attempts to settle the subject were mere trifling with it. It was on these grounds that he and those who acted with him deemed it better to forego all immediate opposition to the present Resolution, and waive their intentions respecting it until the whole question should come under consideration on Monday next. The people of England had no question more at heart than the question of Irish tithes; and it was in vain for the Government to suppose that there would be either peace in Ireland or satisfaction in England until it was finally and satisfactorily settled. As the right hon. Baronet had intimated his intention to be merely to bring in the Bill and give its details, not to advance it a single stage further until the discussion of Monday should have terminated, he (Mr. Hume) would, as he had said, waive all opposition at present to the Resolutions, only declaring that he did not regard them as pledging himself to anything, and content himself with entering his protest against the principle of the measure.
§ Mr. Gisborne
put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which we could not catch; in answer to which,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that if the House affirmed the Resolutions his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland would be enabled to bring in the Bill, with the clauses respecting the nonpayment of the instalments due at present by the clergy to the Treasury, and remission of that amount, together with the apportionment of the residue of the million, 370,000l. If the Resolutions were not passed, the Bill would have no ground work. The instalments were now due from the clergy, and the Treasury would be obliged to enforce the repayment if there was any suspension of the Resolutions. He, therefore, thought the best course the House could take was to allow the Resolution to pass. By the Standing Orders, no money could be granted out 105 of Committee, and to grant it in Committee there was due and proper notice required. All the forms in the present instance had been complied with, and, therefore, he should suggest to the House to permit the Resolution to pass. On Wednesday or Thursday the Bill could be introduced in its complete shape and printed for the use of hon. Members.
thought the Bill might be introduced with the clause as to the money grant printed in italics; it would be quite competent for them afterwards to move that clause in the shape of a Resolution in a Committee of the whole House. His opinion was in favour of a remission of the instalments; and he would take the million, superseding as it would the necessity of levying tithes on the people as pro tanto a pacification. In the mean while Government had no option, they must apply to the clergy, and if they were called on they, must have assistance in asserting their own claims. A decision ought to be come to immediately on that subject. He implored the House to recollect how impossible it was that this Bill could tend to promote the peace of Ireland. The principle of the Bill was, that the landlords should be applied to in the first instance. In his opinion, the effect and operation of the Bill would be to shut out all hope of remedy; and with no chance of relief from tithes in one shape or other, what hope could there be of peace? In one point of view the change would prove a change altogether for the worse, for as long as the tithes remained in the hands of the clergy, there were certain small tenements which they by Act of Parliament could not distrain; but unfortunately under the measure of the present Session, as developed to the House by the right hon. Baronet, the tenants of those holdings would be most effectually reached by the landlords when they had become the collectors of the tithes. According to the Bill formerly proposed by the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, those small holding were not made liable, and in that respect, which was a most important point, the present Bill differed from the former. It was a material difference, a decided difference, for the worse. The effect of the proposed measure now under the consideration of the House would be completely to repeal the exemption contemplated by the noble Lord, and at the same time to give the 106 poor occupying tenant nothing in return. The Bill would give the landlords a double right—a right to distrain for the rent and for the rent-charge in lieu of tithes; and thus it became perfectly vain to talk of the tenant experiencing anything like relief. He need scarcely suggest that which must be known to every lawyer, that the landlord might distrain for the rent-charge, and avow for the rent. Having got possession of a certain sum from the tenant in consequence of the distress, he will say, "Now I can put in my pocket sufficient to pay the tithe, you may have back, if you please, what is over that sum, and retain it till you can make up the whole of your rent; but that which I have now received, and which I have exacted from you by means of the power of distraining, I will retain as payment of the rent-charge that has been substituted for tithe, since I am aware that you are more reluctant to pay that demand than the rent itself." Thus (continued the hon. and learned Gentleman) the affair of the payment to the landlord himself, and the payment in lieu of tithes, would be mixed up together, and the landlord, in an abortive effort to establish the claims of the clergy, would deeply endanger his own. The Bill was by no means so well entitled to the appellation of just and humane as was the measure of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire. The former Bill went to protect the lowest class of the tenants, whereas the new measure, if it should uuhappily pass into a law, would have the effect of placing them directly under the lash of the tithe system. The plan was represented as being a project for the comfort and advantage of the poor occupying tenant, but it was a strange sort of advantage which subjected him to that which he was not now paying, and imposed upon him a burthen, which that Bill upon which the measure of the right hon. Baronet was said to be a mighty improvement had completely abolished. He would repeat, that the picture he gave of the probable conduct of the landlord towards the poor holder of a small tenement was no exaggeration—no extravagant colouring of a picture. It had occurred a hundred thousand times, and would of necessity occur again, the landlord, as he before stated, would pocket the amount of the charge when he sued for his own rent, and only give credit to the tenant, at foot of his account for rent, for the difference 107 between the amount of his payment and the sum claimed on account of the rent-charge. Oh! but then the right hon. Baronet told them that pecuniary transactions between the peasant and the parson would be at an end, for that in all time coming the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be the receivers of the fund, and that they would sue the landlord; they might perhaps sue the landlord if they could find him, but he was at liberty to go whithersoever he thought proper, to France if he pleased, he might go to gaol, but wherever he went, the proper tenant would be found, and would be eventually ground till he made the required payments. He only requested the House to look at the sort of argument by which the Bill was sought to be sustained; the Irish peasant was said to be most inveterately averse from payments to a parson, whose religious offices yielded him no benefit; he had a mortal antipathy to pay a single parson, but the moment you set on him a batch of parsons in the shape of an Ecclesiastical Commission, you completely altered the case, and deprived the transaction wholly of its repulsive character. To the Corporation sole the tenant had a most unconquerable objection, but when you gave him an aggregation of about a dozen parsons, throwing in a Bishop or two, he instantly fell in love with them, and declared that that which no consideration under heaven could induce him to yield to the demands of one, he is quite ready to concede to the entreaties of many, and that that which he would rather die than pay to an individual parson, he had not the least objection to hand over to a dozen of them, under the new appellation of Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It was really quite ludicrous and absurd to talk of such a measure as that being equitable and final. A portion, and no small portion either, of one of the finest, most powerful, and best disciplined armies in the world had been employed to collect tithes in Ireland, and had been so employed without success. The army had been resorted too much too, he presumed to their annoyance, and not at all to the public advantage, and did the House suppose, that if necessary to the individual parson, they would be unnecessary to the company of parsons united under the collective character of Ecclesiastical Commissioners? The House might assure itself that the Commissioners would require 108 to call out the army as frequently and as extensively as the parsons had done. Looking at the whole measure then, was he hot justified in saying, that they had not advanced a single inch towards the pacification of Ireland? Would any one acquainted with the condition and character of the Irish people attempt to affirm that the promoters of the measure had even approximated towards the work of pacification? There might, no doubt, be certain Irish landlords attached to the present Administration, who, by congeniality of sentiment and feelings with the parsons might be ready at once to believe, and to assure the House, that there existed every facility for the collection of tithes; but there was not a man living who knew anything of the state of Ireland, and held his mind free from the influence of party prejudices, could for a moment doubt that a resistance to rent would now be identified with the long-established resistance to tithes, and that Whiteboyism and the Rockite system, would in future apply itself to rent, in the same manner as they had in times past offered resistance to the collection of tithes; the pressure of rack-rents, and frequent changes of possession amongst the Irish tenantry, brought their position with the landlord to a state which wanted nothing but that further aggravavation, which the present Bill supplied, to complete the character of its misery. The project of Ministers put the landlord in a double capacity, and created a fresh feud between him and the tenant, adding to his previous unpopular character the additional unpopularity which at all times, but more especially at present, attached to the levier of tithes. It went to complicate the grievance of which the Irish tenant had to complain, and instead of redressing both, or even mitigating either, it stimulated each of them, and imparted a force and violence, of which it might be supposed, that neither was individually susceptible. For all these reasons, then, he did most earnestly protest against the idea of holding out the slightest hope, that a measure like that could have the effect of producing a pacification in Ireland. What possible considerations could be suggested to the minds of the Irish people, which could reconcile them to be treated in a way utterly and totally different from that experienced by the rest of the King's subjects? In England the people paid not tithes to a clergy with whom 109 they had no connexion, for the majority of the English people belonged to the Church. Did the House forget the struggles that even in this country prevailed from the beginning of the reign of James 1st, up to the Revolution, in the attempts to set up the Established Church in Scotland? From the time of the Restoration to that of the Revolution, the bloodshed which ensued arising from the same causes, could not but be recollected; there was then a struggle to identify the people with the Establishment, but it failed, and the result was, that the Government were compelled to accommodate the Establishment to the people. The Scotch nation would not pay for a Church to which they did belong, and the weakness of the English Government compelled it to submit, and adopt, and pay the clergy of the people. Ireland did not require so much—she did not want that England should pay the clergy of the people—she only required that they should go the next stage to that—namely, to set them free from the necessity of paying the clergy of another persuasion. There, therefore, could not be anything final in such a measure; it was nothing but an extreme and intolerable aggravation of an existing evil—it did not answer the expectations excited by the King's Speech, and no more deserved to be regarded in the light of a final measure, than any of those which had been resorted to by various Governments during the last seventy years.
§ Mr. Gisborne
observed, that an attempt had been made to set up a distinction between the Resolution of a Committee of the whole House on the subject of a vote of money and on any other subject, it having been contended, that that alone was binding on the House and on individual Members which related to pecuniary grants. If that doctrine prevailed, he confessed he did not see how they could get out even of that Resolution upon which the intended Bill was proposed to be founded, for it professed to deal, first, with 670,000l., and, secondly, with 330,000l. He believed that it was not necessary to have introduced any Resolution such as had been agreed to on the former night. A simple Motion for leave to bring in the Bill would have been quite sufficient, and more in accordance with the ancient practice. When the late Administration had introduced their Bill, 110 they proposed to do so by a mere Motion for leave; objection was taken to that course, a Select Committee was appointed to ascertain, what was the usual practice, and they reported, that they could not discover whether a Resolution in Committee was necessary or not. On these grounds, however, the Ministry adopted the plan of founding their Bill on a Resolution. He suggested, therefore, that it would be better for the right hon. Baronet to move for leave to bring in a Bill and withdraw his Resolution, giving notice of a Resolution relating to the money clauses.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that if the objection adverted to by the last speaker were taken, he should not persevere in offering to it any opposition. He had only further to observe, that one of the reasons which determined him to proceed by resolution was, that he had not given notice of his intention to introduce a Bill, and he thought the Resolution would best serve the purposes of a notice. Besides that, there was nothing in the Resolution which did not admit of being reconsidered, and there would be time enough for that purpose between that and the 30th of March. He was anxious, he confessed, to have the Bill introduced, and in the hands of Members, for it could not but be satisfactory to them, as it would be to him, that they should be made fully aware of its provisions. It was, he assured the House, by no means a matter of choice that led Ministers to adopt that additional stage in the proceedings. There could be no natural love on the part of Government to additional stages, but he was sure the House would agree with him, that looking to past precedents, and especially to that established in the case of the measure introduced by Lord Althorp—he meant the Irish Church Temporalities Bill—it would have been impossible for him to have done otherwise than propose a Resolution in a Committee of the whole House. Lord Althorp's Bill, as every hon. Member must recollect, had its origin in a Resolution of a Committee of the whole House. Influenced, then, by such considerations, he felt that he could not depart from the course which he had originally prescribed to himself—a course perfectly in accordance with the usages of Parliament, and as he conceived with the obvious convenience of the House, as well of individual Members.
§ Mr. Warburton
concurred in the suggestion which had been thrown out respecting the convenience of printing the money portion of the Bill in italics, and then submitting that portion afterwards to a Committee of the whole House.
§ Mr. Feargus O'Connor
wished to make a few observations upon the subject before the House. He really had hoped that such a measure as that then before the House—a measure, the effect of which would be to transfer to the Church something little short of the third part of the lands of Ireland in fee—would have been better considered before it was proposed, and would have been introduced in a manner totally different from that in which it had been submitted to the House. He would make bold to say, that the Bill would altogether fail in attaining the object which its promoters proposed to themselves, though perfectly willing at the same time to give the Bill and its author (the right hon. Baronet opposite) full credit for all that they deserved; but when he looked at it and saw the manner in which it dealt with the loan of the million, he found it impossible to apply to it the language of approbation. One effect of the measure certainly would be most prejudicial as regarded those by whom the arrears to constitute that million had to be paid, and he could of his own knowledge declare, that the smaller the tenement, the more severely would the pressure of the demand bear upon the poor tenants, many of whom paid from 10s. to 18s. a-year for potato gardens of not greater extent than the area of the room in which they were then assembled. One of the greatest faults in the Bill was, its permitting the liability to affect holdings of that very small extent. Did the House suppose it was necessary that he should support the view which he took of this part of the question by reference to positive instances? Was it necessary that he should remind them, that one of the most remarkable murders committed in Ireland, was perpetrated on the person of a clergyman of the Established Church, engaged about that time in the collection of the tithes of the class and description to which he had been just alluding? The odium attaching to the system it was impossible for him by any effort of language to exaggerate. Having attended several tithe meetings in various parts of the country, he had had good opportunities of judging of the feelings and sentiments of 112 the people; and he hesitated not to declare, that they were in a temper most unfit to derive satisfaction from the Bill, and in a condition in all respects incapable of being improved by any one of its provisions. He objected last year to the purchase of land for the use of the clergy, and he should continue to do so, for the effect of it would be, to increase a political influence already too great—to establish small farms in every parish which would be badly cultivated, and to extend the power of political partisanship throughout every district of the country. In his opinion it was vain to attempt to collect tithes; the organization against them was in all respects so complete, that anything of the kind must of necessity prove unsuccessful, for neither by gentle means, nor by force, could it be accomplished. They had certainly been told by the right hon. Baronet, that the conduct of the clergy of the Established Church had been throughout mild and indulgent; and, as a proof of the gentleness and pacific character of their deportment towards the tithe-paying peasantry of Ireland, he was enabled to state that only in thirty or forty instances had he been applied to with requests for the assistance of the military. He confessed he thought thirty or forty instances was doing pretty well in so short a time; but even were the fact so, were it perfectly true, that the conduct of the clergy of the Established Church was in all respects exemplary, still, so long as tithes continued to exist, they would regard with contempt and disdain every effort at conciliation: they would look upon justice as cowardice, and mercy as caprice. He, and those with whom he acted in Parliament, had often been taunted with not bringing forward any specific measures, and their opponents sought to establish a contrast by referring to the measures which they themselves introduced. True it was, they did bring forward many measures, but not one for Ireland. They spent 20,000,000l. on one object alone, by which the negro slaves in the West Indies received the first instalment of Reform. After thus giving away 20,000,000l. in one direction, Ministers affected to say, that they conferred a mighty boon on Ireland, in giving up twenty-two and-a-half per cent on the value of tithes, by which operation there would be grievous injustice towards the payers of tithe, and a benefit to the clergy of nothing short of 113 twice as much as under other circumstances they might have been able to obtain. The people of Ireland were confessedly shrewd and sharp, they were not likely to be imposed on by any thing like the provisions of such a measure as that, and there was no part of it more likely to excite disgust and disdain than the surrender of the million. It was perfectly true, that the clergy of the Established Church were in a most deplorable situation; it was quite certain, that they could not collect the tithes, and that they had been compelled to yield to the direct intimidation, he did not mean physical force, but that moral strength against which they could not make head. The right hon. Baronet might suppose, that he derived substantial support from the parsons, and from their friends; that they helped to keep him and his colleagues in office; but let the right hon. Baronet be cautious how he exposed them to the grasping dispositions of the landlords. There seemed to be some latent feeling of that sort when the advocates of the present measure asked,"What! would you put all the money hitherto paid for tithes into the pockets of the landlords?" To that he should reply, that he would not certainly allow, if he could help it, a robbery of the clergy by the landlords; neither would he be a consenting party to a spoliation of the occupying tenant by the same party. Neither the one nor the other ought to be endured. Although he augured no advantage from the present measure, he was not without hope that beneficial results would ensue from its discussion. The tithe question had been for some time rapidly gaining ground, and one of the first steps which opened the way for that final and irrevocable settlement now not far distant, was the Bill of 1823, introduced by the present Home Secretary, then chief secretary for Ireland; but notwithstanding that measure, if the proposed Bill of the right hon. Baronet became law, a third of the landed property of Ireland would be in the hands of the Church—that, as he conceived, formed a legitimate ground of complaint, and it would be vain to meet that or any other complaint by the remark, that those now filling the Cabinet of the King entertained a stronger disposition to deal fairly by Ireland than those who, being now in opposition, were supposed to entertain no insuperable objection to being called to the councils of the Sovereign. He repeated, that that 114 was not the way of meeting the argument. In reference to the tithe question, there was one observation which naturally suggested itself, it was founded on the extreme unpopularity of the tax; he remembered on a former occasion that mere unpopularity had been admitted as a legitimate ground upon which to urge the repeal of an obnoxious tax. He must be allowed to say, that there never existed a tax more open to the argument founded upon unpopularity than was the impost of tithes. What, he would ask, was the purpose of so pertinaciously adhering to them? Was it expected that Protestant ascendancy could be re-established in Ireland, even at the expense of a civil war, or by means of the most powerful army? They might resort to an army, they might prosecute the people for turbulence or violence, but they never could eradicate from the breasts of the people of Ireland their disinclination to pay tithes. How did the widow Ryan answer in Rathcormac, when questioned as to what influenced the conduct she pursued? Her answer was, that she "did not wish to make a head of herself in the parish;" could anything evince more plainly the sentiment prevailing amongst the peasantry? He entertained no doubt whatever but the right hon. Baronet had fairly and fully reflected upon the course which he had to pursue; no doubt, likewise, that the Reform Act had helped him to infuse no small share of liberality into his measures; had it not been for that Act, a differently constituted House of Commons would have invested him with very different powers, and the course of his policy would have been widely dissimilar from what it was; but with all that, when he looked to the power which the new constitution of the Parliament conferred upon a Minister disposed to liberal measures, he did hope that the right hon. Baronet now at the head of the Government would not permit himself to be too much influenced by his old associations, but would do something substantially useful for Ireland. If the Parliament continued to go on legislating as it had done, agitation must be renewed, and continued. So long as such scenes as that enacted at Rathcormac continued, there could be no peace for the country. When such persons as the widow Ryan were sued, as she had been by Mr. Ryder, for 4l. 16s. of arrears, what hope of peace could there be? In conclusion, the hon. and, 115 learned Gentleman said, that he would resist anything in the shape of tithes being levied upon the Catholic population of Ireland.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
begged the hon. and learned Gentleman not to suppose that it was from any disrespect to him, that he declined entering into a discussion upon the subject. Ample opportunity would be afforded hereafter of considering the whole question; and as the army Estimates were appointed for this evening, he thought it would be imprudent in him to delay them by offering observations upon another matter. One remark, however, he would make in reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman's allusion to the Protestant clergy, and their desire to make use of the military in the collection of tithes. He could assure the House, that he had received a great number of letters from Protestant clergymen, in which they expressed their deep and conscientious repugnance to levying their tithes by military force, and declared, that they had rather remain in their present poverty and misery than resort to violent measures.
§ Mr. Divett
, as an English Member, protested against the 1,000,000l. alluded to being taken out of the pockets of the English people, which it would appear was intended to be effected by means of a coalition between certain parties of English and Irish Members. He thought, that this sum ought to be paid out of the property of the Established Church.
§ Sir Samuel Whalley
also protested against the 1,000,00l. being paid out of the pockets of the English people, and suggested to the right hon. Baronet, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Bill might be brought in without the money clauses in the first instance, while these clauses might, at the same time, be printed and laid before the House, so that both together might be actually under their contemplation.
§ Mr. Sheil
thought it quite impossible that the arrear of tithe ever could be raised; and that the entire 1,000,000l. should be given up. When hon. Members complained of this sacrifice of 1,000,000l. to Ireland, he begged to remind them of the great sums which had been expended in the advantages derivable from which Ireland had no share, as, for example, in the 1,500,000l. granted for building churches in England, the sum granted for the Caledonian Canal, and for the works in the 116 Canadas. He declared that, without the appropriation, Ministers must fail—without it they never could tranquillize the country.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
hoped the House would not prejudge the question of appropriation, and deprecated the present discussion as highly inconvenient. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated some instances in which public grants of money had been made without Ireland's participating in the benefit; but there were several others which he might also have cited. For instance, 250,000l. had been appropriated for the purpose of dealing with church-rates in England; but as church-rates had been already abolished in Ireland, it was quite clear that country could not, under any circumstances, derive advantage from the expenditure. Many votes, too, might be proposed for the relief of the landed interest, from which Ireland would have no benefit. He, therefore, put it to them, that it would be unfair to prejudice the question by premature discussion, or to raise objections to the relieving Irish agriculture.
§ Mr. Barron
remarked, that the changes which had taken place in the opinions and conduct of hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial Benches were wonderful in the extreme. He found, in a publication called the Mirror of Parliament, a fatal objection to the Bill. He had therein read expressions of the right hon. Baronet in the last year which were totally in opposition to the measure. In a speech of the right hon. Baronet, delivered on the 30th of July, 1834, it was stated, that the House ought not to accede to the Motion until it was perfectly satisfied Government had vindicated the law by showing that the collection could be made; and the right hon. Baronet asked, until this was done, was it just to force the collection on the landlords of Ireland? Now he (Mr. Barron) asked the right hon. Baronet and the gallant officer, if the law had been vindicated in Ireland? Had they been able to vindicate the law, and to enforce the collection? The very circumstance of their now proposing the resolution proved that they had not. The very foundation of it was, that they placed the collection on the landlord. And this they did notwithstanding the deliberate and distinct declaration of the right hon. Baronet. But there was also another charge, and that was on the part of the right hon. and 117 learned Gentleman (Mr. Shaw) who sat immediately behind the right hon. Baronet. On the same occasion that right hon. Judge had declared, "All I maintain is, that, unless the authority of the law be restored by the collection of tithes, the necessity for which has been so strongly stated by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, the landlords will not, and cannot, in justice, be forced to take this payment on themselves." But now observe how great a change of opinion had come upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman with his change of place. He now supported this measure, although he had before spoken against one which was acknowledged to be in its principle quite similar. The truth was, that the right hon. Gentleman and his party had rejected the former Bill—that was to say, had rejected it through the agency of their friends in the House of Lords, though it was a measure which would have satisfied the people of Ireland; and now they came forward to ask the people of Ireland to pay 1,000,000l. for that rejection. He maintained that the people would have been satisfied with that measure, coming, as it did, from a paternal Government—a Government in which they could have confidence. He was convinced the people of Ireland would have paid their tithes if that measure had been suffered to pass. And he contended that the persons who had rejected the Bill were answerable for the massacre at Rathcormac and all the other bloody scenes which had recently occurred in Ireland. Yes, he would repeat, that these frightful atrocities, these revolting massacres, had been the result of that heedless, that factious opposition which had been offered to that measure. Never, he said, had there been exhibited by public men such a base dereliction of duty and proper feeling as had been displayed by the present Government—such a vile factious course of proceeding; and it was an insult to the understanding of the people of Ireland to invite them to place confidence in such an Administration. It was, he repeated, an insult to an intelligent body of men to ask them to place confidence in any portion of the association upon the Treasury Benches. They had adopted the measures of the late Government—the Dissenters' Marriage Bill, this very Tithe Bill, and were now endeavouring to pass them off as their own. This very Bill was taken from the late Govern- 118 ment, and yet the right hon. Baronet and the gallant Secretary had the modesty to claim credit for it as their peculiar work. Well might the late Administration say to them, while they thus robbed them of their honours—Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honores!Sic vos non vobis nidificatis aves!The Members of the Government had, in fact, abandoned every principle they had ever professed. They had been guilty of a dereliction of every duty. There was only one way of possibly accounting for their having thus abandoned every principle, and that was their base desire of holding office—their sordid anxiety for lucre.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, that, having been alluded to by the hon. Gentleman as a person who had forfeited principles for place, he begged to observe, that he was not aware of any elevation to place which had attended his removal from the opposite side of the House to that on which he then sat, nor had he deserted any principle which he had formerly professed. On the subject to which the hon. Member had particularly alluded, his opinions had not suffered the slightest change; and, with great respect to that hon. Gentleman, he must be allowed to say, that he (Mr Barron) did not seem to know anything at all about the measure on which he had been speaking so energetically. He had been evidently confounding in his mind the first Tithe Bill of the late Administration with their second Tithe Bill; and obviously he was equally ignorant of the principles and details of both, as he was of those of the present measure. The present Bill was like the first Bill, with a slight difference, which went in favour of the occupying tenant, and was against the landlord. It was not similar to—it was extremely unlike—the second Bill, which was the Bill in the hon. Gentleman's mind, and that to which he had alluded. And as for himself, he (Mr. Shaw) had repeated essentially the observations this year which he had made before. He had re-stated in the substance what he had said about throwing the payment on the landlord, but did not think that he should be justified in opposing the Bill, in consequence of feeling the objection to particular provisions of it which he entertained.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
, who spoke amidst much noise and confusion, was understood to say, that, after the very coarse invective 119 on himself and his right hon. Friend, and the other Members of the Government, in which the hon. Member opposite had been pleased to indulge, perhaps he might be permitted to say a few words. The hon. Member had imputed base motives to them. He had accused them of abandoning every principle for the base desire of holding office. And he thought they would not be justified at present in sitting down silently tinder such an imputation, although it might be supposed they could well suffer to pass unnoticed accusations preferred against them in such a strain of vulgar insolence. [Cries of "Chair!" and "Order!"] Sir Henry Hardinge made some further observations, which could not be heard from the noise in the House, and then resumed his seat.
§ Mr. Barron
said, that if the gallant Officer alluded to him, he treated his observations with the utmost contempt. He threw back the gallant officer's imputation with scorn.
Lord John Russell
rose to order. He said, that the hon. Member (Mr. Barron) had alluded only to the political conduct of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and could not have intended to offer them any personal offence. He suggested that the hon. Gentleman should explain.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
I am at all times, Sir, ready to give the House any explanation in my power, when it appears to me that they require it. I have, therefore, no hesitation in saying, that when I was charged with bringing forward a measure merely through a base love of holding office, and when it was stated that, in introducing that measure, I acted upon different principles from those which guided me on former occasions, I say I should be unworthy of standing in the position in which I have the honour to be placed, or, indeed, of any position in this House, if I did not meet the invective which was pronounced against me by declaring it to be most unfounded and untrue. I might have used, perhaps, a word different from "untrue." At the same time, when such motives are attributed to me, as one of his Majesty's Ministers, I feel it incumbent on me to repel the insinuation with indignation.
§ Mr. Barron
arose amid renewed cries of "order, order!" and said with much vehemence, "I can only say, that I believe in my conscience what I have said to be true."
§ The Speaker
said, that freedom of debate was never more secure than when the discussion of the debates in this House were conducted with temper and decorum, and, was never in greater danger than when hon. Members permitted themselves to use expressions which they might have reason afterwards to repent. From the course which the discussion had taken he regretted, he took blame to himself, for not having interfered sooner, and called the hon. Member to order at the moment, for using expressions that a gentleman ought not to have used. But he was fearful of giving more importance to the matter by interfering, than it, perhaps, deserved. He now felt bound to say, that any Member, who said, that any man acted basely, or from base motives, used an expression which he ought not to have used, and that hon. Member should recollect that, in doing so, he offended not only against the individual Member whom he so improperly assailed, but also committed a grave offence against the House. He was sure, that hon. Member, having so offended, would discharge his duty by apologizing for the offensive expressions he had used.
§ Mr. Barron
So far as the House is concerned, I have no hesitation in giving the fullest apology. With respect to the expression which I made use of, I can only say, that I never spoke of individuals; but if any individual thought fit to take it to himself, I have no apology to offer.
§ Mr. Goring
On the part of my constituents, I have no hesitation in saying, that the political conduct of the hon. Gentlemen opposite (on the Treasury bench) exhibits a gross dereliction of principle, and is disreputable and dishonourable. [Cries of "Order, order!" and cheers.]
§ The Speaker
was understood to require a more ample and satisfactory apology from the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Barron
said, that conceiving that the honour of every Member was best placed in the hands of the Speaker, he would, under his directions, retract the expressions he had used, and apologize for having used them.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, that conceiving the explanation of the hon. Member to be satisfactory, understanding that it was meant to be perfectly satisfactory, he would at once express his regret at his warmth of his expressions,
said, that divesting what had been said by the hon. Member (Mr. Barron) of all offence and all personality, he would not shrink from declaring that he entirely concurred in the opinion of the present Government, which was held by that hon. Member. He had no disposition to use any expression which could be personally offensive, but as he had taken opportunities of adverting to the public political conduct of his Majesty's present Ministry, on the hustings and elsewhere, and as what occurred here might lead to a conclusion out of doors that they (the Opposition Members) shrunk in the House from expressions used there and elsewhere, and as he found that a kind of bravado was used on the other side, he felt it necessary to avow there, and to repeat, if necessary, all that he had said elsewhere, as to the public conduct of the Members of his Majesty's Government, and, he must say, that the right hon. and gallant Officer (Sir Henry Hardinge) had more than once taken the course of endeavouring to intimidate, to which he had just referred. There, for instance, was the case of Lord Londonderry's mission, which was before the House the other evening, and when not one word was said against that noble Lord, that could by implication be considered personally offensive, the right hon. and gallant Officer stated, that if anything had been said against that noble Lord, he should have felt it his duty to notice it, and this, too, when it could not be supposed that the right hon. and gallant Officer was excited by the heat of debate, for it was after the debate on that subject was over, and when the right hon. and gallant Officer was quite cool.
An Hon. Member
rose to order. He would appeal to the Chair, and ask whether the course which the hon. and gallant Officer was pursuing, had anything whatever to do with the subject of debate before the House.
§ Mr. Williams Wynn
wished to say, as an appeal to the "order" of the House had been made, that it was decidedly contrary to the first order of the House to refer to words used in a former debate. He would contend, that if words spoken in debate were to be referred to, they must be questioned on the night they were used; but if not on that night, it could not be questioned after, and he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair if this were not so.
§ The Speaker
said, that the rule, as laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, was in strict conformity with the rules of the House, and he anxiously wished that the practice of the House was in strict conformity with that rule; but it was well known that it was the common practice of the House to refer to previous debates, and to opinions delivered in them. This was the practice; but if particular words of former debates were referred to, it would not be regular.
said, that the reference to previous debates, was a matter of daily occurrence. He would not go out of his way, or refer to any other subject. He referred to a case in point, which occurred a few days ago. On that occasion, the right hon. and gallant Officer did refer to what took place in a previous debate, and was allowed to do so without interruption, by those hon. Members opposite, who were now so loud in calling "order." Those assertors of Reform on the other (the Ministerial) side, had said, that if any one had said anything against the character of Lord Londonderry, they would have felt it necessary to notice it. ["Order!"]>
§ Sir Henry Hardinge rose to explain. [Cries of "Order."]
§ The Speaker
said, that the proper time for explanation for one hon. Member was, when the Member addressing the House, had concluded. He must now say, that the House had completely lost sight of the question before them, and he put it to the good sense of hon. Members, whether they ought not to return to that question.
was at a loss to know the cause of the interruption he had experienced. He had risen to explain, and looking to the transactions of the last two or three days, he would say, that it behoved those who looked to their characters, and who were in the habit of expressing themselves as to the conduct of public men, not to shrink from an avowal of those opinions, and so far from accusing hon. Members at his, (the Opposition) side of the House, of irregularity, in referring to their public conduct, he thought that Ministers ought to thank them for their forbearance. He thought the conduct of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite (Sir Robert Peel and Sir Henry Hardinge) was most extraordinary, for he would assert that their conduct as public men, exhibited a most flagitious instance of dereliction of public principle. He should be glad to 123 know to what party the right hon. Baronet and some of his Friends could appeal for support, if they looked back to the transactions of the last seven or eight years? Was it of that party which sat immediately behind him, that the right hon. Baronet could ask for confidence? Was it of those who had resisted all the claims of the Dissenters, that he sought for this confidence and support? Why, he (Colonel Evans) would ask, had not the right hon. Baronet gone out of the House in disgust because he was beaten on the Motion respecting the Dissenters, and did he not come back again in a few days and consent to the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts? Had not the House seen him in August last voting against the very Bill on (Irish tithes) which he now made his own? He did not know to what section of any party the right hon. Baronet and his Friends could look for support. There might, perhaps, be the expediency men, those who turned round, and who were ready to deal with any, and every question, on the principle of expediency, not of course for the sake of office, it would be personally offensive to entertain such a notion, but there were some hon. Members who came over to particular questions on the ground of expediency. He thought it a deplorable circumstance, that the country should have confidence in the present Government. But their days were now numbered. The country had seen their modicum of Reform; and what was it? They proposed first some change as to the marriage of Dissenters, but good sense should have conceded this long before. Did that, however, touch upon the emoluments of the high Church party? What else were these proposed Reforms? They were nothing. He would not trespass further on the time of the House. He would repeat, that with the exception of two or three expressions unguardedly used, there was nothing said on that (the Opposition) side of the House, from the avowal of which they were disposed to shrink. On the contrary, they were prepared to assert, that his Majesty's present Ministers had taken office on grounds discreditable to, and destructive of, public character.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
rose to explain. The hon. and gallant Officer had assumed what he supposed him to have said with respect to Lord Londonderry. Now, what he had said, was, that if any expressions 124 had been thrown out against the honour of his noble Friend, he should have felt it his duty to vindicate him. Those, as nearly as he recollected, were the words he used, and he would put it to the House whether, from his near connexion with that noble Lord, and his long association with him in his military career, he was not bound to vindicate the honour of his noble Friend, if it had been attacked; and he was sure the hon. and gallant Officer, from his own high sense of honour, would be the last to object to such a course. The hon. and gallant Officer accused him of dereliction of public principle. He did not object to the use of those words on public grounds. No doubt, that was the hon. and gallant Officer's opinion, but if the hon. and gallant Officer attached any base or personal motives to the course he had pursued, he should then feel it his duty to resent it.
The right hon. and gallant Officer had said, that the words he used on the occasion referred to, were, that if the honour of his noble Friend had been attacked, he should have felt it his duty to vindicate it. He (Colonel Evans) was sitting down in the House at the time, and he owned that the words, as they struck his ear, were not like those which the right hon. and gallant Officer said he had used; but having said, that the right hon. and gallant Officer had used them, he could not doubt that they were the exact words; but as to the rest of the right hon. and gallant Officer's remarks, he must protest against the course which the right hon. Gentleman had taken. He had not attributed any personal or unworthy motives to the right hon. and gallant Officer, and yet the right hon. and gallant Officer said, that "if he had, he would have resented it." Every one who knew the high character of the right hon. and gallant Officer, could have no doubt of his personal valour, but he could assure him, that the disposition to which he alluded, afforded no proof of it.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
asked, whether his previous conduct had shown any disposition to repel charges not made? What he had said, was, that he would understand charges in a political sense when so made, but that he would notice only those which personally attributed unworthy motives to him in his public conduct. The hon. and gallant Officer (Colonel Evans), had himself too high a sense of 125 honour to make any charge of the kind, unless he could prove it, or not to repel it if made against him.
§ Sir Edward Knatchbull
begged, after the attack which had been made on his Majesty's Ministers, to call the attention of the House to the state of the debate. He was sure that he spoke the sense of a large majority of the House, when he said, that the interposition which had been most properly made by the Chair, ought to have put an end to the discussion, and brought the House back to the actual question before it. They (the Government) had no disposition to make hostile charges; and he hoped that those which had been made, would not be carried further. They were before the House with the measures which they had introduced, and they wished to carry on the business of the country; but if it was impeded, the fault would not rest with them. He knew the disposition of a large number of the Gentlemen opposite towards the Government; but he also knew the firm position which they (the Ministers) occupied in the confidence of the House, and the still more firm position which they occupied in the confidence of the country, and by those they were prepared to abide.
An Hon. Member
asid that, he took some of the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster to apply to him. That hon. and gallant Member, and others at his side of the House, had spoken of the inconsistency of Members at his (the Ministerial) side; and one ground of that charge was the different votes given with respect to "appropriation:" but hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they carried their memories back, would find that many of them were more inconsistent than his Majesty's Ministers could possibly be. Did hon. Members forget what had been said by a right hon. Gentleman who had been a Member of the late Government? On the discussion of the Catholic Question, the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, then the Member for Colchester (Mr. Harvey)—and having mentioned that hon. Member's name, he felt it due to him and due to himself to take the opportunity, which he gladly embraced, of doing him justice. [A Member: the hon. Member for Southwark is not present.]
The Hon. Member
said, that he would take another opportunity of doing the hon. and learned Member for Southwark justice. But to proceed; when the Ca- 126 tholic Question was under discussion, the hon. and learned Member for Southwark said that he looked not to the immediate consequences of the passing of that measure, he looked to its remote consequences, he looked forward to the time when they might reach the overgrown revenues of the Church. Well, how was that received? How had it been met by the right hon. Gentleman now the Member for Cambridge (Mr. S. Rice)? That right hon. Gentleman had said that, if he thought the passing of the Catholic question could have the effect of touching one shilling of the revenues of the Church, he would be one of the first to oppose it. Why, after this, he thought the right hon. Gentleman would consent to die in the last ditch rather than consent to any appropriation of the Church revenues.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
After the course which this debate has taken, notwithstanding, at a previous period of the evening, questions were put to me to which I gave answers, not expecting that any discussion would ensue, but taking it for grauted, that we should come to an early decision on the subject, and that the public and political conduct of Government would not be called in question, the House will probably not insist on the rigid rule of order, and preclude me, because I then spoke, from making a few observations on what has fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. I understood the hon. and gallant Member in the latter part of his speech to declare, that while he asserted his right to condemn in as strong terms as he pleased, the public conduct of Ministers, he by no means intended to indulge in any personal or offensive allusions to them. Now, Sir, although I think, that if in the heat of debate, expressions should be used reflecting on the honour of any individual Member, it is highly proper, for the satisfaction of the persons using such expressions, as well as for the satisfaction of the persons towards whom they are used, and for the satisfaction of the House, that an opportunity should be given for disclaiming all intention of offence. I, at the same time, fully admit the right of any Member of this House to question, to the fullest extent, the conduct of Members of his Majesty's Government as public men. I now speak, then, with reference to the construction which I believe the hon. and gallant Member put 127 upon his own words. I am sure that he would not—his character is too well established—go as close to the wind as possible for the purpose of indirectly conveying a personal imputation. I therefore do the hon. and gallant Officer the justice of believing that, strong as his expressions were, they were directed against the public, and not against the personal, character of those whom he assailed. Having stated this, I come to the point. It is certainly of great importance to a public man to have an opportunity of vindicating with calmness the course which his sense of public duty has prescribed to him. I do confidently assert, then, that I do not think that the charges which the hon. and gallant Officer has brought against me as a public man, have the slightest shadow of foundation. Whether or not I undertook to discharge the duties of the office which I have the honour to hold from motives of ambition, from the love of power, or for the sake of anything that power can give, is a question which I will leave entirely untouched—it is a question which the House will decide as it may think fit. But I come to that much more important question, whether if, in the course which I have taken while I have been engaged in the discharge of those duties, I have done anything that should justly subject me to the charges which the hon. and gallant Officer has advanced against me? But, first, I will advert to some of the observations which were made by the hon. Member for Waterford. That hon. Member referred to certain expressions which he said, I used last year, indicating my opinion of the danger and inexpediency of applying to the public purse to solve difficulties in the administration of Government. Sir, I did use those expressions. For I felt, when it was first proposed to advance a million to the Protestant clergy of Ireland, that there was no probability that the money would ever be returned. The hon. Member for Waterford says, that I advised the advance of that million. That was not the case. I advised the enforcing of the law. The enforcing of the law has been tried; and it has been found impracticable to collect the tithes. Under such circumstances, does the hon. Member for Waterford think it inconsistent with our public duty to advise the giving up of the million, rather than the adoption of a course which would involve the certainty of many scenes 128 such as that which recently occurred. I did not advise the advance, because I thought it would never be repaid. The advance was made; and now, when I find that it cannot be repaid, what shadow of inconsistency is there in my advising that the demand for the repayment should be remitted. I now come to the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. He says, our days are numbered. He says, that we have given so little satisfaction to the country, that we have shown so little a modicum of Reform, that public opinion must declare against us. Now, how does the hon. and gallant Officer reconcile this with his other charge, that we have adopted all the principles of our predecessors?
said, that he had never charged this Government with adopting every principle of the preceding Government; quite the reverse. He had never thought that the Dissenters' Bill, even when brought in by the late Government, was a measure of Reform for which they could claim any great merit.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
The charge, then, of the hon. and gallant Member against me, amounts to this:—"The right hon. Baronet always opposed the great measures of his predecessors, and he does so still." It is a strange way of charging me with inconsistency, to say, that I am pursuing the same course in office that I did when in opposition. "You oppose the liberal measures of your predecessors, you have brought in my modicum of Reform," says the hon. and gallant Member, "and the country therefore rejects you; your measures and politics are not sufficiently liberal for the spirit of the age, and your hours are numbered." This may be a perfectly good accusation; but how is it consistent with that other, earnestly insisted upon, that, for the sake of place, I have adopted the principles of my predecessors; that I have submitted extensive Reforms to the House, for the purpose of retaining the emoluments or distinctions of office? So much for the general principles of the Government. Now with respect to this particular measure, regarding tithes in Ireland. I have heard charges made against me with respect to the course I have pursued on the question of commutation of tithes in Ireland, which can only be founded in utter ignorance—for I should rather attribute them to ignorance, than intentional misrepresentation—of 129 what my conduct really has been on that question. How stand the facts? A Bill was brought into this House at an early period of last Session, by the late Government, providing for the arrangement of the Tithe Question. That Bill imposed, in the first instance, a land-tax, which was to endure for five years, at the end of which period it was to be laid upon the landlord as a rent-charge: that rent-charge was redeemable, and the redemption money was to be invested in land. The amount, the payment of which by that Bill was imposed upon the landlord, was, I believe, 77½ per cent, of the tithe. That Bill I supported. The right hon. Gentleman, the late Secretary for Ireland, will acknowledge that he had support in the passing of that Bill. I come into power; I bring in a Bill in my turn for the settlement of the Irish Tithe Question; and what are its principles? It imposes the payment of 75 per cent, upon the landlord immediately; it provides for the redemption of the rent-charge so imposed; for the investment of the money thus realized in land; and that tithe-property shall be strictly reserved for Ecclesiastical purposes. Now, I ask, whether it be possible, in the vicissitudes to which human affairs are subject, to suppose a case of less inconsistency, than my supporting the first measure I have described, and originating the second? The hon. Gentleman may object to me if he pleases, that I do not consent to devote Ecclesiastical property to secular purposes; that I place a rent-charge upon landlords, and other things; but if he looks to the Bill brought in by the late Government, to the principle of which I did not object, I defy him to show that there is any inconsistency in my submitting the present measure to Parliament. But throughout the whole of this discussion, the original Bill brought in by the late Government, has been confounded with the measure which subsequently received the assent of this House. It may be said that I opposed the latter; some hon. Gentlemen may suppose that I was a party to some organized plan in the House of Lords to throw it out. Sir, the House of Lords determined on their own course, and I was no party to any combination in that House. I saw the Bill modified by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin; I saw the Government oppose his modifications, but he was successful in making 130 them, and the Government afterwards permitted it to pass. What was the language I then held? I place full confidence in the declarations made of absence of intention to give me personal offence, but the charges against my political character are serious, and it is politically that I propose to select them. On the 30th of July, the day referred to by the hon. Member for Waterford, I said that "I felt great objection to ever attempting to decide upon such an important question at that extremely late period of the Session. It cannot be denied that the goodwill of the landlords is most essential, and unless the Legislature have their goodwill, it will be impossible to make the alteration a benefit. For the change to be efficacious, too, the provision must be compulsory; and then comes the question, how can we, with justice or with propriety, impose such a responsibility on the landlord, without giving him any notice of our intentions? I do not believe that there are at present a sufficient number of Irish landlords in the metropolis to form a fair representation of the general feeling of that body. I throw out these remarks merely as suggestions; but if the proposition be resolved upon, something must, in justice to the landlords, be done by Government, with reference to the arrears. There has now been two years of intermission in the collection of tithes in Ireland; and, however the question may now be shrunk from, the time must come when the law must be vindicated." A little lower down comes the sentence referred to by the hon. Member. I then said, "I decidedly think that it is for the benefit of all parties concerned, that the landlord should take upon himself the payment of tithe, to the release of the occupying tenant; but I would also take good care to encourage, as much as possible, the principle of redemption. That appears to me the just, and best, or only way, of really settling the question. I do not think, however, after the Session we have had, we can hope to consider, with any good effect, a Bill for such an object, in the month of August. At present, the vindication of the law ought to be the first object, and when we have taught persons, who have refused a legal payment, that the law is paramount, then we may well call upon the landlord to take the post which would at once be beneficial to the community and himself. At the same 131 time, I must say, that I despair of the question being settled satisfactorily, by any scheme in which redemption is not included; and still more do I despair of being able to come to any settlement of the question, while the great majority of Irish landlords are out of town." These were the expressions I made use of, not objecting to the original Bill, but to the principle of the Bill, as modified by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. Now, I appeal to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, to say, whether, in submitting to Parliament a measure I like, that forms a valid ground for charging me with inconsistency. So much for the question of tithe. With respect to the other measures—but really, Sir, I do not think I ought now to trouble the House with any detail respecting other measures. I shall reserve what I have to say in my defence respecting them, when they come before us. I will only at present observe, with respect to the Dissenters' Marriage Bill, that I did not object to the principle of the Bill brought forward by the noble Lord, the Member for Devon. Its principle I therefore adopted; but was it not my duty, as a Minister of the Crown, to attempt to make the Bill as satisfactory in its details as I could, consulting the feelings of the Dissenters, as far as was consistent with the interests of the Church. I ask hon. Gentlemen not to deal in vague general charges, but to tell me what is the particular measure which I, as a Member of the Government, have introduced, or have given notice of my intention to bring in, that is inconsistent with the course I have pursued since the meeting of the Reformed Parliament. But, Sir, I do not think myself—being the responsible Minister of the Crown—bound to look out for every speech I have made, in order to accommodate my course to those speeches, and relieve myself from the charge of inconsistency. Having undertaken the task, I feel it to be a public duty to look to the circumstances of the country, and abandon all minor personal considerations, in considering the measures necessary to meet those circumstances. But rather than listen to vague charges of inconsistency, and dereliction of principle, I should like to hear some specific measure stated, which justifies the charges brought against me. I am conscious that in the task I have undertaken, I am not acting with the view of gratifying personal ambition, 132 or from any desire for the advantages or emoluments of office. I did not seek the office I hold, by any factious attempts to thwart the late Government. I did not enter into an alliance with those who entertained the extreme opinion of the side of the House on which I sat. I am stating merely a fact with respect to myself, and mean no insidious reflection on any man, for I can appeal to those who are now my political opponents, for the truth of what I say, that I did not attempt to gain power, or thwart their proceedings, by factious combinations with men, whose opinions went beyond mine. Opportunities for so doing, did present themselves, but I never took advantage of them. Looking to the circumstances which accompanied my taking office, I was determined, feeling it my duty to accept it, and having accepted it, to make every constitutional effort for maintaining myself in it, and I shall continue to do so, in spite of the charges of inconsistency which may be brought against me. Sir, I rely upon the purity of my own motives. I shall attempt to shape my course upon principles which will be likely to give most satisfaction to the country; but I never will consent to hold office one hour beyond the period when I think I can hold it consistently with the interests of the Crown, and with the honour of a public man.
§ Mr. Barron
begged to say one word in explanation. The right hon. Baronet had misrepresented what he had said. He stated that the principle of the measure now before the House was, to place the burden of the tithes on the landlord. He then quoted the words employed by the right hon. Baronet last year, and showed that the circumstances of Ireland were in no way changed, except in the opposition to tithes having become greater, since the right hon. Baronet made his observations upon the very principle which was now at stake before the House—viz., that it was impossible, in the language of the right hon. Baronet, to fix the payment of tithes upon the landlord until the law had been vindicated. That the right hon. Baronet had not explained, but, with his usual dexterity, he had wandered into a variety of matters unconnected with the charge.
§ Mr. Barron
No; and that only proves that it is as bad to place the burden upon the landlord now as it was then.
said, he was bound to acknowledge that the right hon. Baronet had well defended himself from the charge of inconsistency on this particular measure, which he, (Colonel Evans) never looked upon as a very great reform; but the right hon. Baronet had only succeeded by throwing overboard all his colleagues and supporters.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
was understood, amidst loud cries of "Order!" to say that that was not correct.
§ Mr. Littleton
hoped his right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would give him credit when he said that no individual could be less prone than himself to impute to him motives of action not founded on principles of the highest honour. He had had the honour of being in some degree privately acquainted with the right hon. Baronet—for many years they had acted in each other's presence, and sometimes in concert, and he had never noticed any thing that could lead him to suppose the right hon. Baronet pursued any but the most honourable conduct; but he must take the liberty of reminding the right hon. Baronet of what he appeared on this occasion to have altogether forgotten, viz., that he had colleagues in the Cabinet. He knew, and so did all the world, the extreme caution with which, during the last Session of Parliament, his right hon. Friend expressed himself on most public questions; and upon none did he express himself with greater caution than upon the Irish tithe Question. But, nevertheless his right hon. Friend was undoubtedly associated with gentlemen in this and the other House of Parliament—the latter especially—the justification of whose consistency would be extremely difficult, and any attempt at which the House would not, he was certain, hear from his right hon. Friend. But to deal fairly and frankly with his right hon. Friend, he must tell him that his conduct with respect to this very Bill did not stand quite clear from the charge of inconsistency. Like the right hon. and learned Recorder, the Member for the University of Dublin, sitting behind him, his right hon. friend contended that the measure proposed by the present chief Secretary for Ireland resembled greatly, in its principal features, the Bill submitted to this House in February last. But the right hon. and learned Recorder added, and so, he believed, did the right hon. the Chancellor 134 of the Exchequer, that there was one feature in which this measure did not resemble that of last year, namely, the imposition of a rent-charge immediately. But was that the only feature in which it did not resemble the measure of last August, when the Bill assumed its final shape. The Perpetuity Fund, was that a feature of the first or of the last measure? Undoubtedly that of the last. He was not perfectly sure whether the right hon. Baronet objected to the introduction of that feature, but he believed that he objected to the application of that fund to the secular purposes to which it was undoubtedly to be open; and he was sure that the right hon. Recorder inveighed against the principle of securalizing Church property in terms the most severe that language could supply. Now how could he stand up as he did the other night to argue that there was no secularization in the Bill before them, because the money was to be paid to the clergyman in the first instance, whereas last Session it was to be paid first to the Treasury, and afterwards by the Treasury to the clergyman, as if the relief of the landlord was not the main object of both measures? Never was there a grosser inconsistency than that the right hon. and learned Recorder was guilty of in opposing the measure of last Session, and in now supporting the Bill presented to them by his Majesty's Government. His right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on this, as on other occasions, when speaking upon this subject, always alluded to the measure as it appeared in the month of August last, as the measure of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. But he could not allow it to assume that character; not because he should be at all ashamed of adopting any measure suggested by that hon. Gentleman, if he believed its principles to be good; but because to give the Bill that character would not be consistent with the truth. He was aware that part of the alterations made in the Bill were suggested by the hon. and learned Member, in a speech he made in bringing forward a Motion on the night previous to those alterations being announced; but the hon. and learned Gentleman only echoed sentiments anteriorly expressed by other Irish Members. In fact, the alterations made in the Bill were the result of representations made by two large and numerous deputations of Irish Members, in which were included the prin- 135 cipal representatives of the landed interest in Ireland, and those immediately connected with the Government. Among them were Lords Clements and Acheson; and he might say, that if there were one individual more than another to whom credit was due, and he thought that credit was due to him, it was to the noble Lord the Member for Meath. The Bill was not accommodated to the wishes of the Hon. and learned Member for Dublin, any more than to those of thirty or forty other Irish Members. He did not wish to prolong the discussion on this subject; and would only add, that as it was his duty last year as chief Secretary for Ireland to bring forward the Government measure upon this subject, he should consider it a point of honour to stand by the representatives of the landowners of Ireland and endeavour to attain for them terms not less advantageous than those which would have been afforded them by the Bill of last year.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said that, his right hon. Friend assumed him to have approved of the Bill of August last year; but he objected to it. He did not object to the Bill of February; and he would venture to say that if the Bill of February had been presented to the House of Lords, his impression was that it would have been passed. The Bill which his colleagues in the House of Lords rejected was the Bill of August last, which contained no redemption clause and admitted 40 per cent. [Mr. Littleton: You forget the Perpetuity Fund.] He would not enter into any explanation upon that point. All he wished to show at present was, that his colleagues in the House of Lords were acting last year in conformity with his own objections; but as he had already stated he did not join in any attempt to get up a party against the Bill in the Lords.
The resolution was read a second time, and agreed to.