Mr. R. Stuart
brought up the Report on the Tithe Compositions (Ireland) Bill.
§ On the motion that it be agreed to,
, after complaining of the unequal operation which a certain clause in the Bill would have upon those who had paid up their instalments under the Million Act, proposed, as a remedy, the insertion of these words in the clause—"in respect of any such instalments which said party may have received."
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that he had been exposed to two very different attacks on account of this Bill. The hon. Member for Bridport said last evening that it was intended by this Bill to abandon all claims to the instalments granted under the Million Act, and now the gallant Officer opposite declared that the measure would lead to oppressive and vexatious proceedings. The gallant Member apprehended that this Bill would render it necessary for the clergy in Ireland to proceed for the recovery of their tithes by writs of rebellion where they were not obliged to do so at present—namely, in the north of Ireland. Now nothing could be further from his intentions than to produce such a result by this measure; in fact, his intention was quite the reverse. One of the objects which he had in view, certainly was the recovery of the instalments from the landlords. It surely would not be said that the Protestant landlords of Ireland were so indifferent to the support of their Church there, that they would not pay these instalments without having writs of rebellion issued against them? Such at all events, could not be the case in the imstance of the Protestant landlords of the north of Ireland The hon. and gallant officer represented one of the northern counties, he was aware that in those counties tithes were, generally speaking, cheerfully paid and he must know that there would exist no difficulty there either as respected the 1213 recovery of the tithe or of the instalments. He meant to say, that there would be no difficulty as far as the gentry of the country were concerned. He thought the gentry should be made to pay them. The introduction of this amendment would be fatal to the Bill, and if so it was the opinion of the law officers of the Crown that the Crown would be under the necessity of directing proceedings to be taken in all cases without exception. The hon. Gentleman must have seen, from the experience of the former Bill, that there was no desire on the part of the Government to press on parties severely. He believed there had not been a single distraint under that Bill. He would therefore not allow the introduction of an amendment into this Act which would deprive the Government of all discretion, and render it compulsory upon it to take proceedings in all cases to compel these payments from the Protestant landlords of Ireland. The amount to be recovered was 250,000l. tithes, 100,000l. of which had been paid by the landlords of Ireland in a given number of parishes. He had a right to recover all, undoubtedly subject to whatever arrangement should be made as to the whole question of tithes in Ireland, if they should ever be able to effect such a settlement. The hon. Gentleman would find that the Tithe Bill which had passed that House in the present Session had actually provided for the abandonment of these claims, subject to the repayment of the instalments. This Bill was in favour of the Church, and the loss of it would have the effect, as he had already stated, of withdrawing from the Government all discretion as to the taking of proceedings. He trusted therefore that the hon. Gentleman would not press it.
§ The amendment negatived. Report agreed to. Bill to be read a third time.