HC Deb 22 February 1836 vol 31 cc689-725
Sir E. Knatchbull

, previous to the order of the day being proceeded in for the second reading of the Tithes Commutation Bill, wished to suggest to the noble Lord opposite the propriety of postponing the second reading of the Bill.

Sir Robert Inglis

also recommended the postponement.

Lord John Russell

said, that his object was to have the Bill, with the whole of its provisions and amendments, printed before it went into Committee, It would be a fortnight tomorrow since he had stated fully to the House the outline of the measure. He had had a great many reports from different parts of the country, and had received various letters from Somersetshire and other counties, stating the opinions of different classes of people on the measure he had proposed. He did not, therefore, think it could be fairly said that its provisions were wholly unknown, either to the House or the country. He certainly thought sufficient time should be allowed before the House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House on the Bill, He should fix such a time as he thought would be convenient to the House; but should it be considered that the interval he proposed was not long enough, he could have no objection to postpone the Committee to a future day. There was a great deal of business before the House. The Irish Municipal Bill was fixed for Friday, and on Monday the Government were anxious to bring forward the estimates; he, therefore, did think it very desirable that the second reading of the Bill should not be postponed. He wished to make the Bill as complete as possible before it went into Committee; and if there were now a delay of a week or ten days, they must, after the second reading, encounter an additional delay of a fortnight, without any object being gained.

Mr. Benett

thought there was no ground whatever for the postponement which had been suggested. Such of his constituents as he had had the opportunity personally to explain the provisions of the Bill to, at once understood it. He had had a conversation respecting it with one beneficed clergyman, who had stated that he considered its provisions most favourable to the clergy. He (Mr. Benett) was for paying the utmost regard to the interests of the tithe owners; but he rather doubted whether the provisions of the Bill were not more favourable to them than justice demanded.

Colonel Thompson

said, he was in favour of any course which would tend to allow sufficient time for the consideration of this great measure. If the commercial and manufacturing interests have demanded that the commutation of tithe awarded by the Commissioners should be vested entirely in a money-rent, he thought that powerful portion of the community, between whom and the manufacturing interests there certainly was a frequent collision, would have said they were hardly treated, and that it was not altogether fair that the whole weight of that powerful body (the Church) should be thrown on that side which would operate against the agricultural interests. Still the manufacturing interests had a perfect right to demand something in their favour; and what he should suggest would be, whether it would not be possible to decide that there should be an equal division of the point in dispute, i. e., by deciding, in the case of tithes,—that the commutation granted should be half vested in a corn-rent (as proposed by the present Bill), continuing the other half in a money-rent, which, he considered, would be the easy and proper mode of disposing of the question.

Mr. Pemberton

observed, that the dif- ference, as he understood, between hon. Members was not so much respecting the mere principle of the measure, strictly considered, as the extent to which that principle might be carried. In his opinion the Bill did not go far enough; he was, therefore, more a Reformer than the noble Lord; and the question of extent involved the whole principle of the measure. He thought that the time which had elapsed since Saturday was hardly enough for the consideration of a measure so important, and which it was necessary should be examined, with the view of seeing whether it really afforded fair ground for an expectation that under it a commutation of tithes could be effected. By the Bill, as it stood, both parties, if they happened to concur, might avoid commutation, or one, being hostile to the other could insist on commutation. To make commutation voluntary or compulsory ought to be the principle of such a measure; the extent, then, involved the principle; he thought the Bill did not go far enough. They were all agreed that facilities should be given for commutation, but it was most material to inquire what the opinion of the parties interested was to the probable effect of the combination of the voluntary and compulsory regulations in bringing about the commutation of tithes. For these reasons he thought it would be advisable to postpone the second reading until that which really constituted the principle of the Bill was fully known and considered.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

As the hon. and learned Gentleman not only assented to the principle of commutation, but also admitted that the principle was adopted in the Bill, he thought they were in full possession of his authority in favour of the measure. The only practical way of bringing the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument to issue, was by a discussion in Committee, It was impossible to occupy time advantageously in the discussion otherwise than in Committee. Surely every argument which could be adduced in favour of the Bill being printed and circulated throughout the country, was an argument in favour of the second reading, his noble Friend having distinctly stated that his object was to have the Bill printed.

Sir Thomas Freemantle

was for the postponement of the second reading, on the ground that hon. Members had not been able to obtain a sufficient number of copies to send to their constituents. When he said this, he begged it to be under-stood that he had no wish to delay the Bill; being, on the contrary, favourable to its provisions.

Sir Matthew White Ridley

thought there was a necessity for immediately going into a discussion of the Bill. He had received a letter that day, the writer of which expressed an opinion which, though by no means flattering to the noble Lord opposite, as the framer of the Bill, he should state to the House. "The Bill (observed his correspondent) reflected no great credit on its framers; it contained much that was highly objectionable. This would, no doubt, be corrected when the Bill went into Committee; and, therefore, the sooner the principle of it was discussed and disposed of the better." In that opinion he (Sir M. W. Ridley) entirely concurred.

Mr. Goulburn

wished to know whether it was the noble Lord's intention to enter into a discussion of the principle of the Bill at that moment; or whether he wished it to be read a second time merely for the purpose of supplying some omissions in it.

Lord John Russell

was anxious to have the Bill read a second time as soon as possible, as there would be then more time to consider its details with all the attention they deserved. He did not pretend to say, in reply to the objection which had been read by the hon. Baronet opposite, that the language in which the Bill was drawn was strictly in accordance with Parliamentary custom and usage in such cases. The form in which certain provisions of the Bill had been submitted to the House might, no doubt, be altered. He claimed not the merit of being able to draw up Acts of Parliament in strictly technical phraseology, for he knew it was a task of very considerable difficulty, requiring a great deal of practice and experience. In this respect, he doubted not, but that improvements might be effected. Nor did he mean to contend that there were not omissions in the Bill which might be supplied when it went into Committee. But to the principle of the Bill he adhered. Nor was he disposed to consider the propriety of admitting any alterations into its main provisions until it had gone into Committee.

Sir Robert Inglis

wished to know whether, if the Bill were now read a second time, the noble Lord would regard: that second reading as merely pro formâ or was he disposed to think that in permitting it to advance this stage, the House was pledging itself to the principle of the measure? Before resuming his seat, he begged to disclaim being bound by the opinion expressed by the hon. Member near him (Mr. Pemberton); and he wished it might be understood, that in addressing that House, that hon. Member was expressing merely his own opinion, to which those who sat upon the same side with him were in nowise bound.

Lord John Russell

thought it would be an extremely inconvenient practice, if a Bill were read a second time, and it was to be considered that the House had not affirmed its principle. In the present case, if the House permitted the Bill to be read a second time, he should certainly assume that, in doing so, they had affirmed the general principle—that there should be a commutatation of tithe into a rent-charge. But whether the general principle should be carried further—whether that commutation should be compulsory or voluntary—was another question to be decided after farther discussion. It was by no means at variance with the principle of the Bill that the commutation should be wholly compulsory, and it would be for the hon. Member, who thought it ought to be so, to show that, after the House had affirmed the general principle. The hon. Baronet opposite was, no doubt, as well prepared at the present moment to enter into a discussion of the principle of the Bill as he could be if the second reading or the affirmation of its general principle were postponed to some future day, as the "ancient and venerable" arguments with which the hon. Baronet would oppose it, had been for a long period marshalled in the hon. Baronet's mind, and frequently stated to the public.

The order of the day for the second reading of the Bill was read, and the question put, that the Bill be read a second time.

Mr. Greene

said, that the parties should not be left to themselves to settle their own disputes as to commutation; the Legislature should seek to frame a regulation calculated to prevent disputes. It would be unjust to have a partial instead of a general commutation in parishes, by which the different holders on lands in the same parish would be placed in different circum- stances with regard to the method of valuing tithes. With respect to the appointment of Tithe Commissioners, he perfectly concurred in the propriety of establishing that provision, in order that an uniformity might be preserved in the system; for if it was a sufficient foundation for the appointment of Poor Law Commissioners, that the administration of the Poor Laws was different in different parishes, that observation applied with even greater force to the case of tithes.

Mr. Lennard

expressed some doubt whether it would not be found necessary to alter that provision of the noble Lord's Bill by which it was proposed to take the average of the last seven years as the basis for the commutation of tithes. Prices had been much higher on the average within the last seven than within the last twenty months, and, therefore, unless it could be. shown that tithes had fallen in a corresponding ratio, or that prices were likely again to rise, it would be unfair to take that average as the standard of valuation. He hoped an inquiry would be instituted into this point, as it would be very unfair that the landowner should be permanently charged with a higher rate of payment on a higher rate of price for the produce of his land than he had received. There was another point to which he wished to advert—namely, the adoption of the two different sums of sixty and seventy-five per cent, as the minimum and maximum. He thought it would be much better to ascertain what was a fair deduction to be made, otherwise the grasping and exacting tithe-owner would be placed in a much better situation than the indulgent and considerate owner of tithes. This Bill was called in the country "the Clergyman's Bill," and there were some provisions in it which fully justified that appellation. The Bill provided, that if the tithe-owner had allowed his tithe to be in arrear two years, he might obtain the whole of those two years' arrears from the party charged with the payment of tithe. Now, this placed the tithe-owner in a better position than the landlord stood in at present, for if a creditor entered upon the land of a tenant and took his goods in execution, the utmost claim which the landlord could make was for one year's rent, but under the provisions of this Bill, if the landlord or any other creditor entered upon the land, the tithe-owner could claim two years' arrears of tithes. If, then, they put the tithe-owner in as good a situation as the landlord with regard to his rent, they would do all that the justice of the case required. He admitted the great importance of having this question settled, but when the House looked at the great responsibility which the landlord was to take upon himself, it became them to be very careful in looking into the details of this Bill. It was very probable that the Corn Laws would soon be repealed, and it was quite obvious, that unless prices were kept up by some other means than those now in operation, the landlord would be placed under very great disadvantages, and therefore they ought to watch this Bill, lest they should be subjected to unfair incumbrances, particularly when the commuted payment for tithes was proposed to be the same, whether agriculture was flourishing or not. He hoped the Bill would not be pressed forward with any undue haste, but that abundance of time would be given for the full consideration of its details.

Mr. Benett

agreed with his hon. Friend, the Member for Maldon, in calling this measure the Clergyman's Bill; but still it was a just and honourable Bill, and was founded on sound principles. He presumed his hon. Friend called this the Clergyman's Bill, because it did justice to the tithe-holder, and it was on this ground he (Mr. Benett) agreed in the propriety of the term. He also agreed with his hon. Friend, that there was something obscure in that part of the Bill which related to taking the amount of tithes at between sixty and seventy-five per cent. of their valuation. He believed that the valuation was to be taken on the gross amount of the average of the last seven years, and twenty-five per cent. was to be remitted for the cost of collection and other incidental expenses. He was sure that all the English surveyors who knew anything of the subject would admit that twenty-five per cent. was rather too low than too high an estimate of the charge of collection. The Bill then would give to the clergy, as well as to the lay-owner of tithes their extreme value, and they probably would, under its operation, receive more than they did at present. As to the variation of fifteen per cent. his hon. Friend should remember that it was quite impossible to be accurate in everything. There were different modes of collecting tithes adopted in different parishes, and consequently there was a great difference in the expenses of the collection, and that varia- tion of fifteen per cent. was to make an allowance for the variation in the cost of collection. Now he, as a landlord, who had nothing to do with the collection of tithes, but much with the payment of them, was quite satisfied with this Bill, for it was, he repeated, a just and honest one. He was, however, of opinion that the commutation should be permanent and compulsory. With respect to the effect and objects of the commutation of tithe, it was designed not to benefit the landlord, but to promote the welfare of the country at large. There were large tracts of waste lands which had hitherto been left unreclaimed solely owing to the injurious operation of the law of tithe, for no man would lay out 20l. upon the improvement of land if he was obliged to pay 5l. for leave to lay it out. He was satisfied with the measure, and in his opinion it ought to be well received by the whole of the country.

Mr. Pemberton

said, that the great object of the measure was to effect with certainty and with unanimity the commutation of tithe for a permanent rent-charge. He thought that the Bill of the noble Lord ought to secure at least this great advantage, but it appeared to him, that so far from finding in this measure any certainty in effecting this object, it would at the end of the five years looked forward to by the Bill, and ten times five years, be quite problematical whether one-half the land subject to tithes would have been at all affected by this Bill. He had stated some time back, that if the principle of compulsion was to be adopted in carrying this measure into execution, it should be the compulsion of the Legislature, and not of individuals. The Bill before the House professed to effect the commutation OF tithes in one or other of three several modes. The first mode was by means of voluntary agreements between the tithe payer and the tithe receiver. The second mode proposed was by agreements entered into by certain proportions of the tithe receivers and the tithe payers, so as to be binding upon the whole. And the third method suggested was by the interposition of the tithe commissioners themselves, in case such interposition should be called for by either of the parties not coming to an agreement amongst themselves. With regard to the proposed voluntary agreement between the tithe owners and the laud owners, the law as it at present stood enabled such parties not only to effect a commutation of tithes for a rent-charge, but, what was still more important, it enabled them to secure an absolute and permanent commutation. So also in the case of incumbents of parishes and other individuals having only a partial interest in tithes, the present law enabled them to make agreements for composition without the aid of the machinery of this Bill, or the expense and trouble of setting that machinery in motion. With regard to the second plan contained in the provisions of this Bill, it ought not to be forgotten, that the right to receive tithes was in many instances divided between the rector and the vicar of the parish; and he (Mr. Pemberton) should be glad to know whether it was the object and intention of the clause for carrying into execution this second portion of the scheme that the rector possessing three-fourths of the tithes should have the power of binding the vicar, who is entitled to one-fourth, and also whether such an agreement so brought about was designed to be binding upon all persons interested in tithes, whether tithe payers or tithe receivers. He did not understand why three-fourths of a body of tithe owners should be allowed by their acts to bind the remaining one-fourth of the same body; but he maintained that if this principle (whether objectionable or not) were asserted at all, it ought to be asserted to the fullest extent, namely, to the carrying tithe commutation against even the wishes, to a certain degree, of both tithe owners and tithe payers. He, however, did not apprehend that the clause to which he now referred was either very important, or that it would be likely to lead either to any great advantage or any decided prejudice, but the clause was followed by another, upon which much reliance had been placed by the noble Lord at the Head of the Home Department, and who had held out the expectation that from its provisions tithes in kind would in a short time have no longer existence. The provision of this clause was, that the Commissioners might interpose at the instance either of the tithe owner or the tithe payer, and it must therefore be assumed that to either the one party or the other the commutation was a matter of interest to be effected. This was, however, in his opinion a most fallacious assumption, especially in those cases where the incumbent tithe owner had already made his own arrangement with the tenants on the land. It could not be denied that there would be a vast number of cases in which, from the age, the infirmities, and from other circumstances, the existing incumbents of parishes would not be willing either to take the trouble, undergo the labour, or incur the expense of endeavouring to effect a permanent arrangement, which arrangement would not come into operation until after death had removed him, or them, from the possibility of deriving any benefit from it. Look again at the multitude of cases which would arise in parishes under lay patronage, where the incumbent was not likely to act against, or to adopt, any course contravening the wishes of his patron, by claiming the provisions of this Bill. Again, in the instances of landowners absent from this country, or of minors, or even of lunatics, and indeed in several other cases it would frequently occur that trustees, guardians and committees would not only hesitate, but decline to interfere and bind their principals; and thus these feelings would, in multitudinous cases, prevent the Bill being carried into execution. Under such circumstances, he begged to ask the House if it were desirable to effect a commutation of tithes in the manner provided by these latter clauses of this Bill. The Bill professed to establish harmony, but he would inquire whether it was possible to devise a measure more calculated to destroy harmony of feeling and produce dissent, than one which gave the power of compelling one reluctant portion of the parties interested to accede to the wishes of the other perhaps smaller portion; and it was proposed by this Bill to establish peace, whereas its provisions afforded the best means of destroying peace. In short the Bill would require some radical alterations in order to make it effective in respect of the objects it professed to have in view, and it was the duty of the State to effect that object in a manner least inconvenient both to the payer and to the receiver of tithes. He admitted that it was desirable that commutation should be effected, but he thought that the system of commutation proposed would be disadvantageous, combining the evils of both the compulsory and voluntary systems, without possessing any of the advantages of either.

The Solicitor-General

observed that the real question now before the House was, whether or not the provisions of the bill now under consideration were calcu- lated to effect its scope and object. From the argument and reasoning in this respect of his hon. and learned Friend who had just sat down, he felt himself under the necessity of wholly and entirely differing. In treating upon this question, it was necessary to look at the history of measures which for this same object had been previously introduced to the judgment find consideration of the legislature. The measures brought forward in the Sessions of 1833 and 1834 had failed under circumstances to which it was not necessary further to allude. Those measures were followed by the Bill introduced last Session by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, the objection to which was, that if passed it would have been still-born, and proved a complete dead letter in the Statute Book. It was a measure merely permissive—it was left wholly to the voluntary feeling of parties interested in tithes. The measure itself had a sort of obscurity which would make individuals prefer the present evils to the care of its doubtful provision. Every person likely to be affected by such a measure as that—a measure which did not enforce immediate commutation, but tacitly, as it were, held out an intimation that if it were not acted upon some other more compulsory measure must follow it—would rather take his chance of being compelled by some subsequent measure than immediately avail himself of that. It therefore became the duty of any person introducing a measure in the present day for the commutation of tithes to make the commutation either wholly voluntary or compulsory on the parties. As, however, the principles of this Bill would in all probability be misunderstood, it would be perhaps desirable that he (the Solicitor-General) should very shortly state the objects it proposed to effect. In the first place it was clear that the first step to be taken in framing such a Bill must be to afford parties agreeing to a commutation the means of carrying it into effect. That, accordingly, was the first object of this Bill, He (the Solicitor-General) had listened with great deference to what had fallen from hon. Members on the other side on this subject, and he could not see what possible danger there could be in allowing to parties agreeing between themselves to commute tithe, the means of carrying the commutation into effect, provided certain necessary precautions were taken. The hon. Member for Lancaster had made an objection of which he (the Solicitor-General) confessed he could not see the importance. It was said that the consequence of this facility to persons desirous of effecting a commutation would be so to confuse the boundaries of properties as to make it extremely doubtful what land was or was not subjected to a commutation. But this appeared to him (the Solicitor-General) to be an objection to the present system also, and one which could not well be obviated. It was one already in operation. Then what was the next step to be taken by the framers of a Commutation Bill? Why, to afford the means of effecting the commutation in cases where the majority of a parish desired it in opposition to the minority. This was upon a principle so universally recognised, that of the larger portion of a community governing the smaller, that there could be no doubt of its justice; and it seemed to him (the Solicitor-General) that the mode proposed, in this instance, by the Bill was the most reasonable that could possibly be suggested. There was yet one step further to which the proposes of this measure proposed to go. It was that if either of two parties desired a commutation, the other being averse to it, then that the party so desiring it should have the right to compel the other to come into the arrangement, due care being taken that the matter was fairly conducted. This was the general principle on which the Bill was constructed. Now it certainly did appear to him that his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Pemberton) was somewhat inconsistent in his argument on this point of the Bill. His hon. and learned Friend had actually intimated his intention of opposing the second reading, not because the Bill went too far in this respect, but because it did not go far enough. His hon. and learned Friend must allow him to contrast with his opinion that of the hon. Member for Wiltshire, who had had a thirty years' experience of the operation of tithe, and who had stated that the mode here proposed was a just and equitable mode, and one, moreover, which would meet with a general acquiescence. Thus it would be seen that he differed materially from his hon. and learned Friend in the view which he had taken of this measure. He next came to the observations of the hon. Member for Maldon. The hon. Member seemed to have fallen into an error when he objected that the effect of taking the average of the last seven years would be to arrive at too high an amount, as the price of corn during those years would be found to be higher than if an average of the last twenty years had been taken. It appeared to him (the Solicitor-General) that the hon. Member was mistaken in this view, for, taking the average of that seven years, it would be found that if during the first part of the time the prices were high, during the latter part of the time the prices were low, and the average therefore would be as fair an average as any that could be had. The question of the number of years was one of detail, and consequently one for the Committee—the principle of average would be the same. The hon. Member had another objection, which was, that the amount of the commutation should be calculated on the amount of rent actually paid, not on the amount agreed to be paid, without allowing for that which was thrown off; but the hon. Member would find that there was a corrective power in other clauses of the Bill which made it unnecessary to answer the objection. The principle of average was that on which the commutation would be calculated, and by it the proportion of each tithe payer would be regulated. There was one objection which had been repeatedly urged by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, which was, that it was perfectly monstrous to ask the clergy to accept 60l. where they were entitled to claim 100l. It appeared to him (the Solicitor-general) that this objection proceeded from the right hon. Gentleman not having sufficiently considered the nature of the right of the clergyman to the 100l. Was not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the only condition upon which the soil was generally made to yield produce enough to make the 100l. one tenth of the whole, was that the clergyman should actually take a less sum than that which would nominally be due to him? This principle was, in point of fact, actually in operation in most of the estates in the kingdom, and, if that were the case, it did away with the injustice of asking the clergyman to take a less sum than that to which he was nominally entitled. These appeared to him to have been the main objections to the ill, and they certainly appeared to himo be objections to the details entirely, and not to the principle. It was beyond the power of legislation at once to meet all the objections which could be raised to a measure, or at once to provide a certain and universal remedy, by positive enactment, for every anomaly which might have existed; it was enough if the measure grappled boldly with the main question. This the present measure was as fair a one as could be drawn, and he therefore hoped to see the motion for the second reading pass unanimously.

Sir Robert Inglis

As the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down and the hon. and learned Member who had preceded him. in the debate, had-severally alluded to him in the course of their observations, he felt himself bound to trespass for a very few minutes on the attention of the House. His noble Friend had said that he desired to maintain the ancient and venerable rights of the Church. He thought those rights as venerable as law, and as ancient as justice, and he hoped ultimately to have the support of all those in the country whose opinions he respected, even though he might now stand alone in those extreme opinions which were attributed to him. The hon. and learned Member had said that he was in error in complaining that the clergy should be called on to receive 60l., when they were entitled to 100l. He maintained, however, that such a proposition was unjust. The hon. and learned Member had said, that it was only owing to the clergy taking less than the sum they were nominally entitled to that the amount of produce, which produced that nominal sum, was yielded; but he would ask the hon. and learned Member into whose pocket he proposed that the difference should go? Whether he intended that the amount should go to the landlord or to the cultivators? Every legal contract entered into for the payment or commutation of tithe went on the supposition that the Church was entitled to one-tenth of the produce, and by what right was it that this principle was now proposed to be set aside? He objected to this measure because it was compulsory, and because it proposed to be immutable. They had no more right to deprive the clergy of their right to tithe than they would have to deprive him of his ground-rents. He might be told that in the cases of Canal Bills private property was sacrificed to the public good; but he would reply that in those cases the owners of property had their claims decided on by a Jury well-chosen, and prepared to give them the full amount of its value, not to deprive them of nearly one-third of it. If in the case of private property the Legislature would not lend itself to an act of spoliation, why do so in a case where the property of the public was concerned? This was his objection to the principle of the Bill—he should state his objections to the details on a future occasion. There was one suggestion, however, which he would make to the noble Lord, as regarded the mode in which the commutation was to be effected. Would it not be better, instead of arriving at once at a fixed amount or average of previous years, to make the commutation depend on a progressive calculation, alterable and renewable from year to year?

An hon. Member

said, that the right hon. Baronet seemed to have omitted from his calculation the expenses of collection, which frequently amounted to from 25 to 40 per cent. ["No, no."] Those who were not practically acquainted with the subject might perhaps say "no," but the fact would be found to be as he had said. It appeared to him that the real grievance of tithe had not been stated to the House. The evil was, that a person who had not laid out a single farthing in the cultivation of the land should be entitled to come in and claim the tenth of its produce—that one-tenth frequently amounting to the whole profits of cultivation. Let the House suppose the case to be that of the manufacturer—let a manufacturer expend an immense sum on the erection of machinery and the purchase of stock, and then be liable to the clergyman for one-tenth part of his manufactured goods; how would he be able to bring his goods to market? In France tithes had been entirely swept away. In Spain they were going very fast. In Austria, too, they were beginning to go. But in this country the landlords and cultivators were willing to compromise the matter on fair and equitable terms. Still, when they were granting the clergy a permanent annuity on the land, they, the landowners expected that some liberal allowance would be made; and, indeed, unless some such liberal allowance were made, the landed interest never would be satisfied with any measure of commutation. He intended when the Bill went into Committee to propose a reduction in the average on the seven years. He was satisfied that imposing a rent charge would have the effect of increasing the value of tithe property. Instead of twenty-four or twenty-five years as much as twenty-seven or twenty-eight years' purchase would be obtained for it as soon as it became permanently fixed on the land, on account of the additional security that would be given: and, therefore, he must say, the Bill was in this respect highly advantageous to the tithe-owner. He wished that the question of redemption had been left out of consideration altogether, and it was his intention, when they got into Committee, to propose an Amendment, for the purpose of preventing any redemption of the commutation to be effected under this measure.

Sir Edward Knatchbull

hardly knew how to address himself to what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who bad just sat down. Those who were hurt least cried out the most, and this he believed to be the case with the hon. Gentleman. Now, it was his (Sir Edward Knatchbull's) wish, and, he trusted, the desire of every hon. Member in that House, to give to the clergy their full rights. To do justice to the clergy must, he felt persuaded, be the object which all parties had in view. But while they did this, while they gave the tithe-owner that which was his due, surely it was not unreasonable that they should, at the same time, afford some relief to the landlords. He would not go into any lengthened discussion of the details of this measure on the present occasion, as it was not, as he before expressed, his intention to offer any opposition to the second reading. He should reserve what he had to say until he had an opportunity of communicating with his constituents on the subject, because he thought it only right that, before any objections were raised against the Bill, the feelings of that part of the constituency which would be chiefly affected by its provisions with respect to it should be ascertained. There were, however, one or two points which were left untouched by the measure, to which he wished to call the attention of the noble Lord. In the Bill there did not appear to be any provision made for the payment of tithes in case of the death or removal to another parish of the incumbent shortly before the tithes becoming due. He was aware that the present law was defective in this respect, but he also knew that many instances of hardship occurred in consequence of the in ability of parties entitled to them to recover tithes under such circumstances. But the defect was one which could easily be remedied. He would only call the attention of the noble Lord to one other point. It was proposed that the average should be taken according to the value of the last seven years. This he knew to be a matter of detail, but still he hoped the noble Lord would take care that the difference between land in tillage and pasture land in regard to tithes should be fairly considered, and that no greater pressure would be placed on one species of land than on another. He had risen merely for the purpose of calling the attention of the noble Lord to these two points, but before he sat down he wished to make a single remark on what had been said about the 100l. to which the clergyman was staled to be entitled. Although, legally speaking, the clergyman had a right to 100l. yet actually he rarely received more than 75l. The latter amount he would still get under this Bill, and, that being the case, the objection to the measure on that head seemed to be un tenable.

Mr. Jervis

said, that from the manner in which some hon. Gentlemen had discussed the measure, it would seem as if there was not a general demand throughout the country for a commutation of tithes. He, however, knew that there was a great outcry in all quarters for an alteration of the tithe system, and all he regretted was that there were a great many tithes—those that created most vexation—which this Bill did not touch. He alluded to personal tithes, the tithes on mills, and mixed tithes. They were all aware of the difficulty of collecting the tithes on calves, milk, eggs, and other articles of that description; and yet, notwithstanding this Bill, all such tithes would be still payable. The tithes on fish and fishing he considered an unjust impost, because it was not only not founded on the common law, owing its origin solely to custom, but amounted to a tax upon labour. The same might be said of the tithe upon mills. He next must say, that the additional charge of 15s. proposed to be imposed on every acre of land devoted to the cultivation of hops was highly objectionable, and would in fact operate as a most unfair increase of taxation on those who had expended large capitals in preparing their farms for the production of this particular article. In the parts of the country with which he was best acquainted—Kent or Worcestershire, for instance—he believed that no farmer grew more than a given quantity of hops in any one year. The tithes on wood formed another subject which deserved consideration, and, for his part, he believed, that, unless all small tithes were got rid of for a corn-rent, the measure would not give satisfaction to the country.

Mr. Hodges

defended the measure. He considered the additional charge of 15s. an acre on land employed in the growth of hops a reasonable proposition. Without some such payment he did not think that anything like fair competition could be maintained among the hop-growers.

Mr. Goulburn

said, that it was not his intention to go at any length into the details of this measure, but only to advert to particular points. It was his desire, and he was satisfied it was the anxious wish of the noble Lord opposite, and of every other Member of that House, that whatever was done for effecting a commutation of tithes should be done in an amicable spirit. He fully concurred with the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Solicitor-General, that there were almost interminable difficulties in the way of effecting any satisfactory arrangement of this question, and it was because of those difficulties that he felt it to be essential that the commutation should be voluntary, for by a voluntary commutation alone could they relieve themselves from the difficulties which lay in the way of anything like a just settlement of every case of tithes. The hon. Member for Chester had pointed out several omissions in this Bill, and enumerated the tithes which he conceived ought to be got rid of. The great advantage of voluntary commutation was, that by means of it all these intricate questions could be easily settled, although, they could not be arranged by any compulsory system which they might adopt. All such tithes as those on fish, fishing, mills, and, in different parts of the country, houses, could be more readily commuted by agreement between the parties themselves than in any other way; but, for his part, he did not believe it possible that the noble Lord could make any general compulsory arrangement which would meet the particular circumstances of every case. It was for this and other reasons, which were not necessary now to be noticed, that he had been disposed to try the experiment of voluntary commutation before he resorted to compulsory measures. The noble Lord, however, said that he meant to adopt the voluntary system. What, did the noble Lord mean to tell the House that any experiment could be tried in the short space of six months from the passing of the Bill, or that in six months any experiment could be fairly tried on such a subject? Now, what could possibly be known of a measure six months after it had passed? Or, even supposing that every provision of the noble Lord's Bill were known, was it not likely that no commutations would be effected until the compulsory part of it was brought to an issue? With respect to the additional duty proposed to be laid on lands employed for the cultivation of hops, all he need say was, to express his concurrence in what had fallen from the hon. member for Kent. It was no more than just that those who expended large capitals in the production of hops should be adequately protected. If the noble Lord had said that no additional tithe should be imposed on lands brought into hop cultivation, what effect would that have had? Why, it would have enabled the land paying the limited tithe, by converting it to the growth of hops, to be brought into unfair competition with the land paying the larger tithe in which a large capital had been invested for the purpose of raising from it this particular produce. There were only one or two other points to which he would call the attention of the noble Lord, and respecting which no provision seemed to have been made in the framing of this Bill. It appeared to him that the noble Lord had not contemplated, when the subject was under his consideration, the case of a rector and a vicar receiving tithes from a particular parish. There was a complete omission as to this case in the noble Lord's Bill. No arrangement had been made as to the rights of the rector and vicar hereafter, although the noble Lord ought to have known that it frequently happened that the tithe of one particular produce in a parish, belonged to the rector, and of another to the vicar. He should like to know, therefore, whether it was the intention of the noble Lord that the land should pay the rector's charge as an additional tax? He cited this as one of many things which did not seem to have entered into the noble Lord's contemplation when he framed this Bill. He did not think that House would suffer one man to be injured for the benefit of another; yet what were they called on to do? Why to defraud the tithe-owner for the purpose of making a contract with, another party, who alone was to receive the advantage. He thought the noble Lord would be required to review his Bill, in order to guard against such inaccuracies. He did not know exactly from the Bill, how it was intended to commute the tithe, in each parish, That, however, was an important question, and he should like to know whether the same commutation would apply to all the lands in a parish, or only to a part, according to the proportionate value of the tithes. These, however, and other omissions, he trusted the noble Lord would be able to supply before the Bill got into Committee. With respect to the principle of the measure, it was not his intention to offer any opposition to the second reading; for he was now, as he always had been, friendly to any plan by which so desirable an object as a just commutation of tithes was likely to be effected. His belief was, that by far the wisest course would be to give a fair trial to voluntary commutation, because that alone was calculated to meet the difficulties in the great variety of cases likely to arise. On that head he would now offer no objection, but would conclude by reserving to himself the right of opposing the measure in any way he should think fit during its progress in any of the other stages.

Mr. Harvey

said, that the Bill involved two principles—one relating to the commutation of tithes, and the other to appropriation. So far as the commutation of tithes was concerned, there was but one feeling, either in that House or in the country. It had long been the opinion of the people out of doors that a commutation of tithes ought to take place, and it was only within the walls of that House that any thing like tardiness on the subject had been exhibited. There could be no doubt that it was most important to have tithes commuted into a money payment. That was a point conceded by all parties; for so far as the principle of commutation was concerned they were all agreed. The question respecting the proposed appropriation was, however, a much more important one, and on that subject there was no unanimity to be found anywhere so perfect as in that House. There was there what he might call a marvellous unanimity existing, because, in point of fact, the question of appropriation involved what he considered a most unjustifiable concession to the landed interest of this country. Tithes in their present form certainly should be changed. That was palpable, as would be proved by the fact that the value of land which was tithe-free was much greater than that of land which was rot, although the land might be as good in the one case as the other. This was a fact that was well known. Land, then, that was tithe-free was more valuable than land that was subject to tithe; but what, he asked, was the proposition made to them by the noble Lord's Bill? Why, they were conferring on the landlord an advantage, by doing that which would render his property more valuable. Now he should like to know in what way the tenantry, the occupier of the land, the yeomen of England, were to be benefitted by the proposed measure. To be sure they were told that the interests of these parties and the landlord were identical—that they represented only one person; but while they gave the landlord an advantage in some instances of forty per cent, and in others twenty-five per cent, he was wholly at a loss to conceive what the benefit was, that they intended to confer on the tenant by the - arrangement. What advantage, he asked, did the occupying tenant derive under this Bill? If the tithe was taken away, would not the landlord be free to let his ground for the full value? Where was the benefit, then, to the occupying tenant? They had a right to deal with tithes as public property, and for the benefit of the public at large. They should take care that great public principles were not sacrificed to the ad vancement of personal interests. In any arrangement that they should come to on this subject, they should recollect that they were the trustees of this property for the community at large, and that they should legislate for the benefit of all, and not for the advantage of any particular class. If, in the settlement of the tithe question in Ireland, they had felt it necessary to have an appropriation of some part of the Church revenues for the instruction and moral benefit of the people, why should they not do the same in England? Let the people derive some benefit from the settlement of this question; and let it not be promulgated through the country that this House was legislating' on a great question for the advancement of private and personal interests. He had no hesitation to declare his conviction that this measure would be a most unpopular measure, and would be received with any thing but satisfaction by the country. With respect to that part of the Bill which deducted from twenty-five to forty per cent from the clergyman, he certainly did not approve of taking such a sum from the clergyman. The ground alleged was, that the clergyman, under the proposed plan, would be saved the expenses of collection, and have additional security. The expense of collection bore no just proportion to this reduction. Why, he would venture to state, that throughout the entire county of Essex the tithe was in no instance taken in kind, but was paid to the clergyman in money, The clergyman either had the tithe collected in money from the tithe-payers, or had the large tenant to collect it for him. He ventured to say, that he did not think that the expense of collection could much exceed five per cent, and he certainly thought that it was most unfair to subject the clergyman to such an injury as to make so large a deduction from his income. He certainly did not want to manifest any extraordinary affectation of sympathy for the clergy. He certainly had no hesitation to say, that for the clergy he entertained respect, and he thought, that to a certain extent, their rights should be respected. So far as regarded the existing clergy, he had no objection that, so long as they remained, they should be allowed to preserve all that belonged to them. However, with the same frankness, he would avow, that he sincerely hoped that the time would come when they would have no church at all. He repeated, that in the measure before the House there was a perfect sacrifice of public principles to personal interests, and he foresaw that it would prove alike injurious to the church and unsatisfactory to the country. He did not profess himself to be a friend to the Church; but he would repeat, that, in the ungenerous sense of the term at least, he did not wish to be considered its enemy. Although much opinion had been expressed that evening on the subject of the measure before the House, it appeared to him that the measure did not appear to be well understood, and he certainly thought that the more discussion it received the better. He was of opinion that this measure would determine who were the friends of the people and who were not. He intended that night to take the sense of the House upon the objections which he felt bound to offer to this Bill. He would ask, was it to be expected that the people would consider as in any way beneficial to them, a measure which would go to put 4,000,000l. a-year into the hands of the landlords of the country, without the least regard to the advantage of the great bulk of the people, to whom a portion of those tidies were originally devoted? Whatever there was venerable in the character of tithes was associated with their antiquity. It was only in their antiquity that their true history, and the nature and objects of their original institution was to be found. Those tithes had been diverted from their original purposes, and a large portion of them became the prey of the usurpations of lay impropriators. Let it not then be said, that in that House those who had large and extensive personal interests involved, had endeavoured, as far as they could, to shield their own possessions. He trusted, in conclusion, that in any settlement of this question they should legislate with a just sense of the interests of those for whose advantage a large portion of those tithes was originally intended.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

was understood to say, that he must protest against the observations which had been made respecting the measure before the House. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the measure went to sacrifice all other interests to the advantage of the landlord. That doctrine had been often enunciated in that House, that any deduction from the amount of tithes was for the benefit of the landlord; but he must say, that in the observations which the hon. Member had thought fit to offer on the measure before the House a more un can did statement of the principle of any Bill had never been put forward. The hon. Member had said that this was a measure for the exclusive advantage of the landlords. It was quite clear, however, that the hon. Gentleman had considered the measure with very little attention, and certainly not with his usual ability. There was no such thing in the Bill as valuation in the first instance. The valuation was to be determined by the valuation for the previous seven years. One of the principles of the Bill was, that if any individual felt that he was overcharged, or that he was called, on to pay more than he considered the value of his tithes, in such case any person so circumstanced would have the right to apply to the Commissioners for a new valuation. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to contend that this part of the measure was perfectly free from objections, and was so framed as to be conducive to the mutual interests both of the tithe owner and the tithe payer. He explained the machinery of this portion of the measure, and endeavoured to maintain that the principle on which it was founded was one not only perfectly free from objections, but entitled to the fullest approval both of the House and the country. The hon. Member for Southwark had inveighed against the measure as one in which the interests of the landlords were alone consulted, and at the same time he asked what benefit did the occupying tenant, the tithe-payer, derive from this measure? Bui, he would ask, in reply, did not the tenant derive more advantage than the landlord? What did the landlord gain? The tenant would be merely called on to pay the amount of his rentcharge; the benefit of the reductions would go entirely into the pockets of the tenant, and the landlord would not derive the advantage of a single farthing during the term of the existing tenant's lease. Nothing could be more unfounded injustice than the condemnatory manner in which the hon. Gentleman had spoken of this part, of the Bill. But if any advantages were held out to the landlord could there be any thing unreasonable in that? Let them consider the increased responsibility which the landlord undertook. Let them consider the situation in which this Bill would place him. The landlord would, under the operation of this Bill, stand in the situation of a person liable to be distrained for the payment of the tithes. The tenant would no longer be liable to be applied to for the payment of this charge, and the clergyman would have the great advantage of the security afforded him by the liability of the landlord. There was this additional consideration, that the landlord was likely to lose in the payment of the tithe; for he was bound to pay the full amount of whatever demand the clergyman became entitled to, and he might not perhaps be able to collect that amount from the tenant. With respect to the deductions of twenty-five or forty per cent., he considered that as the clergyman would have increased security, and would receive his money without trouble or expense, it was but reasonable that some deductions should be made. He believed that would be admitted on all hands. Wherever the valuation was not considered to be fair, the Commissioners would have a right to make a new valuation, and the amount of the reduction would vary from twenty-five, to forty per cent., in proportion to the difficulty that might be found in collecting the arrears. He considered that the Bill would be satisfactory to all parties, and have a fair and just regard for the preservation, upon a fair basis, of all the various interests concerned. The principles of this Bill had been most clearly and satisfactorily explained in the admirable speech of his noble Friend, in which be showed the superiority of this Bill to any Bill that had ever before been brought forward on the subject. There was one point, however, which bad not been mentioned, namely, that there was to be a personal agreement, as well as a periodical agreement, as to the amount of commutation. The Bill enacted, that if any person found fault with his valuation, and thought that he was overcharged, he would have a right to appeal. The great object of the framers of the Bill was, to do injustice to no person. The measure, in his opinion, was fair and honest towards all parties concerned, and was by far the best and fairest measure that had ever been proposed for the commutation of tithes. It would be advantageous to the tithe-owner—it would be advantageous to the landlord and to the tenant. The great advantage to the tenant would be, that there, would no longer be a tax upon his industry and capital. At present the tenant could not place increased capital in the improvement of his land, but it became liable to have a portion of the increased produce taken for the payment of tithes. That would be the case no longer, and the tenant would thus be released from a very annoying and disadvantageous impost. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to contend that this measure, if carried, would be of the greatest possible advantage to the country. He referred to the fact that no tithe-system existed in Scotland, and he attributed a great portion of the prosperity of Scotland to that circumstance, and he expressed a confident expectation that the measure before the House would, in its beneficial operation, vindicate itself, from the objections urged against it, and confer the most extensive and valuable benefits upon the country.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that the House were to consider whether there had been such a primâ facie case made out in favour of the principle of the Bill as would warrant them in permitting it to be read a second time. Its leading principle was, that in certain circumstances compulsion might be admitted. To that he did not object, provided it was arranged upon principles perfectly just and equitable towards both the landowner and the tenant. In the course of the Bill's progress through the Committee, the hon. Gentleman opposite would have the power of fulfilling the declaration he had made, and of moving an Amendment to the effect that one-tenth of the gross produce should in every case be taken from the occupying tenant, since it appeared that nothing less would satisfy him—that no deduction from the amount of the sum which in strictness of law the occupying tenant should pay would satisfy him. The hon. Gentleman also proposed that a portion should be set apart for public purposes; but, even with that appropriation, he doubted whether the measure would give satisfaction to the occupying tenant. He had listened to the lucid speech of his Majesty's Solicitor-General, but he could not say, that the argument it contained was so conclusive to his mind as to induce him to join in the unqualified panegyric passed on the Bill by the hon. Gentleman, He would, however, give his consent to the second reading of the Bill; when it reached the Committee, he should facilitate, by any suggestions which occurred to him, the passing of the Bill, upon principles which should appear to him fair and reasonable. The argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Harvey) was fatal to any attempt at a commutation of tithes upon any principle whatever, and he must say he never heard reflections mere unjust than those thrown out by the hon. Member against the landowners who had seats in that House, merely because they were willing to consider the subject freely, with a view to attempt a satisfactory settlement of this intricate question. As to whether 75 or 60 per cent, were a proper sum to adopt as a maximum or minimum, he would give no opinion whatever, and, should he see grounds for coming to a different conclusion, it would be perfectly competent for him to propose the adoption of any other sum in Committee. The hon. and learned Member opposite (the Solicitor-General) had stated that the Bill included the two principles of voluntary agreement and compulsion, and seemed surprised that any objection should be taken against a measure which combined both. Now, there might be cases in which voluntary agreement might be proper, and cases in which compulsory agreement might be proper; but it did not follow that a Bill which united both should receive unqualified assent. The hon. Gentleman said, that the Bill which he had formerly proposed must fail upon this account—that the prospect of voluntary settlement held out by it was so vague, that it must necessarily prevent the question from being speedily set at rest. Now, he had said nothing whatever against the ultimate adoption of the principle of compulsion; but what he did say was this,—he thought when they came to apply that principle, the experience they would have then gained, by the previous attempts to effect a voluntary agreement would suggest better principles of compulsion than they could at first lay down. He believed, the peculiarities of various parishes, with respect to tithe, to be so great, that it was difficult to prescribe in what cases the principle of compulsion could be with advantage applied; but expecting, as he had expected, that there would be many cases of voluntary agreement under the Bill which he had introduced, if he did not define at first the principle of compulsion to which he meant to have recourse, it was because he thought that they might afterwards discover those principles which would be most consistent with equity, and most suit the infinite variety of complicated cases they would have to consider. The noble Lord said, that this Bill first allowed a voluntary agreement, at the option of the parties interested, and then, in the event of that alternative being rejected, made the commutation compulsory. Now, could the noble Lord show him any case in which there could be a voluntary agreement under this Bill? The compulsory principle was to come into operation at the end of six months. Certainly this arrangement would favour one of the two parties, the tithe-owner or the tithe-payer. Why should either seek to come to a voluntary agreement when he knew that in six months another principle would be en- forced which would be attended with results much more profitable to him? How very improbable, then, that the voluntary principle would be adopted in precisely the same terms as those laid down by the Bill. If a compulsory settlement were effected, one party would be benefitted at the expense of the other; how, then, could they be expected to consent to a voluntary settlement? So far from the compulsory principle being likely to lead to a satisfactory adjustment, if the principle to be eventually applied were uncertain, that very uncertainty would be much more likely to lead to a voluntary adjustment in the mean time. The next proposal which the Bill made was, that there should be parochial agreements, and that the consent of a certain proportion of the tithe-holders should bind the rest. In his opinion this was the best part of the Bill. That failing, the main principle of the Bill, that of compulsion, was next to be applied. This part of the Bill, though far the most important one, he did not exactly understand. He thought the object of the noble Lord had been to provide some principle by which, ultimately, the payment of tithe would be abolished. But that object it was impossible the present measure should effect. The Bill did not, strictly speaking, apply compulsion. After six months have elapsed, the Commissioners would not be entitled to proceed, unless there should be an application from some party in the parish. Should this not be made, the tithes would remain precisely upon their present footing. He confessed he thought the noble Lord meant, that upon an application from a certain number of inhabitants, possessing the greater part of the tithe property, the Commissioners should be authorised to proceed to the valuation of the tithe upon whatever principles they might agree to adopt. But the plan of the Bill was this:—After the expiration of six months, if no voluntary agreement, and no parochial agreement, in consequence of the decision of the majority, should be effected, the powers of the Commissioners would then come into operation. And in what manner? Any landowner might write to the Commissioners and require, not a compulsion for the whole parish, but a compulsory arrangement for his individual holding in it. The parish might consist of 10,000 acres, and any man holding a single acre might apply for a compulsion to it. So that, though he admitted he was supposing an extreme case, it might be that this principle of compulsion might be applied only to a single acre. Supposing half the parish agreed in applying to the Commissioners, in that case the principle of compulsion might be employed with effect. There might be proprietors in a parish whose land, now subject to a corn tithe, had not been arable for the last six or seven years. The tithe-owner would then apply to the Commissioners to have the compulsory principle applied, and would select the cases in which it would be for his interest to obtain it. But what confusion and disputes would arise from these applications of individual landholders! It would be infinitely better, if the noble Lord had determined what proportion of the holders of land interested in tithe should have had the power of obtaining from the Commissioners the application of the compulsory principle to the parish. But the case of selecting individual landholders, and applying it to each, did appear to him to be introducing into each parish an anomaly in tithe, and he feared, that instead of reconciling conflicting opinions, it would lead to greater animosities than before, In every instance in which the award of the Commissioners was objected to—in every case there must be a valuation of tithe, a just principle in itself; but did the noble Lord consider what the difficulty would be in the great majority of cases of compulsion? How could the gross amount of tithe paid within the last seven years be discovered? If it had not been paid in kind, there might be a record; but where this had been the custom, he did not see how they could proceed to determine its gross value for that period. In order to form a just valuation, the Commissioners must know the nature of the crop of every year, the produce of the land; and if their decision were not in conformity with justice, their award must necessarily produce great dissatisfaction in the parties subject to it. In every case where the award was not satisfactory he did not see how the noble Lord proposed to ascertain the value of the tithe on an acre of land during the last seven years. These were the principal doubts he entertained with respect to the measure before the House, which might be removed on further application and further inquiry, but of which, some hon. Member? having already alluded to them, he had not yet heard any satisfactory solution. He advised the noble Lord not to be too sanguine that his measure would meet with universal approbation. The extreme difficulty there was in coming to a satisfactory settlement of this question induced them to receive with favour any attempt to overcome these obstacles made in the spirit of fairness. The measure before them had at first appeared to him exceedingly plausible, but when he came to examine it minutely, defects presented themselves that had escaped a more cursory observation. For instance, with regard to the power of levying tithe in kind for non-payment of tithe, as the landowner possesses the right of distress for nonpayment of rent, since the former right was not affected by this Bill, the liberty of levying tithes in kind might be continued for a long series of years. The Bill had, in the course of the debate, been denounced by some hon. Members as the Clergyman's Bill, by others as the Landowners', and he confessed he heard the first objection with much more satisfaction. He did hope that no Bill would receive the assent of that House which did not render full justice, in every particular, to the rights of the clergy. It would be not only inconsistent with justice, but also detrimental to the honour and character of Parliament, if this Bill passed without containing some such provision as that which he had just recommended. Considering our peculiar situation as landlords, and also considering that the parties interested are the clergy, who have no direct representatives amongst us, it is required, no less by a due sense of our own interests than by a proper regard to the protection of the rights and privileges of the clergy, that we should not appear to sanction any principle which we are not satisfied is consistent with justice. To require the whole 100 per cent, for the Church would be an insuperable bar to any-commutation whatever. He had no hesitation in declaring that a fair deduction from the nominal amount of tithe must be made, for it was evident that to exact the whole 100 per cent, would be unjust both to the landlord and to the occupying tenant. He did not wish to have it understood thereby that he meant to agree entirely to the proportion fixed by the noble Lord. As he said before, he would not oppose any objection to the principle of the measure, but would hold himself at liberty to modify it hereafter, as might seem most desirable to his sense of justice; for the main consideration by which he was actuated was a desire to satisfy the Church and the country that, in attempting the commutation of tithe, the House did not intend in any way to affect the interests of the clergy.

Lord John Russell

congratulated the House that the discussion on this Bill had been managed with great fairness by all who had taken a share in it. He could assure hon. Members that the Bill had been framed by himself and his colleagues in the same spirit in which it had been hitherto discussed. Some hon. Gentlemen might say, like his hon. Friend, the Member for Wiltshire that the Bill was a Clergyman's Bill, although, being just, he did not mean to object to it on that score. Others might say, like the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, that it was a Landlord's Bill, and therefore gave undue advantage to that portion of the community. He could assure the House that the Bill had been framed without any bias to either of those parties; that it had been drawn up in its present shape in order to produce a fair settlement of a question which was the cause of much dissension and evil; that it had been intended, on the one hand, to secure to the clergy a fair income proportional to what they had a right to claim as due to their rights and position in the country, and, on the other, to free both the landlord and the occupying tenant from a burden which was grievous to those who were anxious to employ their skill and capital on the land. Having framed the Bill in this view, he was not surprised to find that the objections urged against the Bill from different quarters of the House were so various and contradictory to each other. His hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, objected to the Bill as being compulsory. The hon. and learned Member for Ripon objected to the Bill because it was not compulsory enough. One hon. Gentleman considered it too favourable to the tithe-owner, another considered it too favourable to the tithe-payer. Thus, as might naturally be expected from the Bill being drawn up without any bias, it was opposed by the extreme parties on both sides—a proof, as he contended, that those who had steered a middle course between them had devised a measure which ultimately would be satisfactory to all parties. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had not objected to the former-part of the Bill, which established a voluntary commutation of tithe; nor to the latter part of it, by which three-fourths of the tithe-owners might agree with three-fourths of the tithe-payers, so as to make an arrangement compulsory upon the rest of the parish. But the right hon. Baronet had stated more than once that the advantages would be greater if the commutation were made voluntary at first, and afterwards, if voluntary commutations were not made, introduce a Bill to make compulsory commutations. Now, his expectations differed much from those of the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet was obliged to admit that we could not remain long—that was for many years—without corning to a compulsory commutation. The question, therefore, was, not whether a Bill should be introduced authorising voluntary commutation and leaving ail parties in the belief that no other commutation would be effected, but whether they should pass a Bill for the voluntary commutation of tithes, leaving all parties to presume that a compulsory commutation would follow,—so leaving it to one party to say, "the rights of the church are such, that a larger sum than is now paid will be due to it," and to the other to allege, "What is now paid to the church is too much, and a reduction in the amount of the payment must be made." In proposing a Bill for voluntary commutation, under such circumstances, they would find that both parties would be unwilling to make voluntary commutations, and would reserve themselves for a later Bill, in the hope that a compulsory commutation would be more favourable to their interests. In such a state of things, though some instances of voluntary commutation might happen, he was far from thinking that they would be sufficiently numerous to serve as a guide to the country in making a compulsory commutation. He thought that such instances of voluntary commutation would be rare and singular—that they would only occur where the parties were on amicable terms with each other—where either the owner or occupier of the soil was ready to grant more than the tithe-owner received at present, or where the tithe-owner received less than his due from the farmers of his parish. Under such circumstances he must contend, that if there were a voluntary commutation, it would not supply anything like a safe guide to direct us in making a compulsory commutation for the whole country. The right hon. Baronet had also said, that there would be great difficulty when we came to make a compulsory commutation in finding a value for the tithe of every acre in the kingdom. His (Lord J. Russell's) feeling was, that the power of making a voluntary commutation, coupled with the prospect of being obliged to submit to a compulsory commutation if a voluntary one were not made, would lead the parties to make fair terms with each other. If they would not, then there would be meetings of three-fourths of the tithe-owners with three-fourths of the tithe-payers to make arrangements, and where those arrangements were made satisfactorily they would be binding on the whole parish. He thought that to such meetings the voluntary commutations made between individual tithe-payers and the tithe-owners would form some guide as to the value of the tithe. He thought it necessary, nevertheless, that in any Bill for accomplishing a compulsory commutation of tithes there should be a provision providing for a just and equitable valuation of the tithe, and he had accordingly inserted in this Bill such a provision, which he trusted would prove satisfactory. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Kent had thrown out two observations, which were well deserving of attention. He would apply his consideration to the two cases which the right hon. Baronet had mentioned, and would see whether some provision could not be devised to meet them. With respect to the observation made by the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge respecting the claims of rectors and vicars, he thought it applied very strongly to the case of hops. Some provision he thought might be framed to meet that case. The hon. and learned Member for Chester had found fault with the Bill, because it contained no provision for a commutation of those tithes which did not arise from land, as for fish, milk, &c. The difficulty rested in this case upon the fact, that the parties to whom these payments were made were not always sufficiently known. With respect to the objections which had been made upon this occasion, as upon other previous occasions, by his hon. Friend, the Member for the University of Oxford—objections in which no one had concurred save the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, with whom his hon. Friend had had a great but unusual accord of opinion—he must say, that his boa. Friend had not stated the case fairly when he represented the owner of tithes as having a right to the whole tenth of the produce of the land without any deduction. One very obvious reason why the tithe-owner ought not to have a right to the whole tenth was, that the person who paid the tenth of the produce was not obliged to cultivate his land as the tithe-owner pleased. On the contrary, if his tithe were valued at too high a rate, he might escape from the difficulty by changing the cultivation of the land, so that tithe might either be paid to another person or not paid at all. He would illustrate what he meant on this subject by a short statement of a fact. A friend of his paid for a certain number of years a fixed sum for tithes to the Dean and Chapter of Norwich. At last the Dean and Chapter took it into their heads, that they were entitled to a larger sum, and demanded it from his friend. He thought that they asked much more than they were fairly entitled to, and in consequence refused payment of it. They persisted in their demand, and the result was that his friend changed the cultivation of his land. He planted every acre of it, to the great amusement of the neighbourhood, and no tithe had been paid on it for the last twenty-one years. Here was a clear proof that the clergyman had no actual right to the whole tenth of the produce of the land. When, therefore, he said that in some cases 60 per cent. only should be taken, he was not alluding to those cases merely where there had been leniency shown by the tithe-owner, but also to those cases in which the cultivation might, and perhaps would, be changed, so as to affect the income derivable from tithes. He would not enter further into the details of the Bill at present. In the Committee he would meet any suggestions that might be made to him, and discuss them with the utmost fairness. From the manner in which this discussion had been, conducted, he was rejoiced to find that that there was at last some prospect of settling this important question, and that the House was most anxious to lend itself fairly and impartially to a satisfactory arrangement of it. For his own part, he thought that it would be much better to enact a Bill which was fair and impartial to all parties, even with some errors, than to go on for two or three years longer without accomplishing any settlement of it at all.

The Bill was read a second time.