§ On the motion of Lord John Russell, the House resolved itself into a Committee upon the Tithes (Ireland) Issue of Exchequer Bills.
In the Committee the noble Lord moved,
That Exchequer Bills, to an amount not exceeding the residue of the sum of one million, remaining unappropriated, under an Act of the 3rd and 4th of King William the 4th, cap. 100, and under an Act of the 6th and 7th of his said Majesty, cap. 108, be issued and applied, together with the instalments paid, or which may be paid, under the first-mentioned Act, to the relief of the owners of Compositions for Tithes in Ireland, for the years 1836 and 1837, and that the Commissioners of her Majesty's Treasury be authorised to remit such instalments in certain cases.
§ Mr. Hume
rose to move, that the grant to the Church in Ireland would be highly unjust to the people of England and Scotland, and subversive of those principles on which good government and equal justice could alone be maintained. In 1833, when a loan was proposed to the Irish clergy, under the pretence of procuring peace for Ireland; he opposed that proposition, because he objected to the principle of a price being paid, for the settlement of dissentions in that country, being persuaded that the result would be the contrary. It was said, then, that the burden of tithes being transferred from the occupying tenant to the landlord, the peaceable and quiet payment of the money would be procured. But, after five years' experience, they were in no better condition for securing peace in Ireland than before. In 1835, it was proposed to reduce the Irish church, by abolishing the fifty sinecure benefices, and reducing overpaid livings; and when it was understood that, by this measure, the Church Establishment in Ireland would be rendered more in unison with the feelings of tee people of that country, he did not object to the sacrifice then recommended, in 325 hopes that peace would be thereby secured. But the perversity of the friends of the Irish Church lost that bill. In his opinion, the House was violating the best principles of good government, and was telling the people of Ireland that if they would only resist the law for one or two years, they would have a premium for doing so; but that those who had yielded to the law, and paid their tithes, were to be punished. Was that, he would ask, a sound state of things, and how could those who proposed this grant reconcile their feelings to it? In August, 1833, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, when he moved that any loan to the people of Ireland should not be taken as a grant, was not prepared to state that it should be so, although he agreed to the loan, observing, that a grant would be a premium for the resistance of the law. It was for the right hon. Baronet to settle between the country and himself, if he adopted a different course in the present instance. Upon that occasion the hon. Baronet, (the Member for Oxford,) Sir R. Inglis, agreed with the right hon. Baronet, (the Member for Tamworth), that a premium would be held out for the violation of the law by making a grant.
The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, used the following words:—There is another party whose interests must be considered in the matter, besides the clergy of Ireland; I mean the people of England, who have already paid their own tithes. This sum ought to be paid by the people of Ireland; in what proportion by the landlord and tenant, I will not now stop to discuss; but if this legal charge is to be transferred to the people of England, who have already obeyed the law, it will certainly be holding out a premium to the disobedience of the law." "This principle of escaping from temporary difficulties by votes of money from the public purse, is one which I foresee will involve the country in inextricable confusion.And what said the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford? Why, he used these words:I agree with the right hon. Member for Tamworth, in thinking that the principle of the proposed measure is liable to great objections. We are actually giving a premium to disobedience of the law, and the amount of that reward is proportionate to the success of the resistance. By such a course, do we not hold out an inducement to people to violate the law? Let us not deceive ourselves in this instance, as in every other: the demand and the supply will regulate each other. In 1837 326 and 1838, it will be found, that the new machinery will not work so well as was expected, and another measure will be brought in to relieve the landlord as well as the tenant from the payment of the tithes. By the proposition now submitted, it is proclaimed, that those who have baffled the law for one year shall receive a premium of ten per cent., whilst those who have succeeded in setting it at defiance for two years, shall obtain one of twenty-five per cent. If this is not the moral of the measure, I know not what is.He put it to the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and the hon. Baronet near him, Sir R. Inglis, whether they could consistently support the present resolution, and adhere to the opinions expressed by them in 1833? He did not blame his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell), for the hon. and learned Gentleman held the same language now that he held in 1833. If any advance of money would procure peace for Ireland, he, for one, was prepared to make any advance. But he thought such a course would be making the matter worse, and after the experience of five years, he was astonished that any body could expect a different result. They had already endeavoured to settle the question of tithes in Ireland three different times, and thrice had the bill sent up by that House to the other been rejected. At first they sent up a bill without an appropriation clause, and that was rejected, although he would venture to say, that those who then rejected that bill, had since regretted their so doing. They then sent up a bill with the appropriation clause, and that also had been rejected. He was convinced, that it was only by a better and fairer appropriation of the revenues of the Church of Ireland, that the peace of that country could be secured for any length of time; and as such an appropriation was wanting in this bill, he was quite sure, that the grant of a million would not effect the object they had in view. It was not the payment of tithes, but their appropriation, that had produced so much dissatisfaction in Ireland; and, as the cause of dissatisfaction was not removed, Ireland would be left by this bill precisely in the same situation which she was in at present. Agitation would, after a time, be again general in Ireland, and would produce the same effect. As this grant, therefore, would do no lasting good for Ireland, and as it inflicted a great and present injustice upon the people of Eng- 327 land and Scotland, he felt bound to oppose it to the utmost of his power. He would therefore, move, as an amendment, the following resolution:—That the proposed grant of 640,000l., which had been advanced from the Treasury of the United Kingdom as a loan to the clergy of the Established Church and the lay proprietors of tithes in Ireland, also the additional grants of 100,000l., and of 260,000l., now proposed to be made for the Church of Ireland, making, in the whole, one million sterling, will be highly unjust to the people of England and Scotland, and subversive of those principles on which good government and equal justice can alone be maintained.
§ Mr. Ward
could not allow the discussion to close abruptly upon a question of such vital importance. The House had to choose between two distinct propositions. The first was the plan proposed by the Members of her Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the Members of her Majesty's opposition, for both must take their share of the responsibility, for the settlement of the question, which had been so frequently, and fruitlessly, discussed in Parliament during the last five years. The second was, the amendment proposed by his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, which declared that plan to be based on the principles incompatible with good government and justice. To the Government plan, so developed in the resolution before them, and the additional clauses put into their hands that morning, he objected entirely. It seemed to him to have every fault that a plan could have. Even the terms of it were objectionable, for the resolution talked of the 260,000l. which they were called upon to vote that evening as the unappropriated residue of the million advanced in 1833, whereas he denied that any part of that million had been appropriated. It was an advance to the clergy, a loan, not a gift, and the re-payment, as a matter of right, had never been abandoned. But it was upon much more serious grounds that he objected to the present proposal. First, it was inconsistent with expectations long held out, and pledges solemnly given; secondly, it was certain to prove delusive and ineffectual in its results. He should say little on the score of inconsistency. His opinions were well known. He felt that nothing had ever so shaken the public confidence in public men as the singular and inexplicable changes that had oc- 328 curred on his side of the House upon this Irish tithe question. It was not enough for a Minister to say, that his opinions remained unaltered. There must be some conformity between private conviction and public acts to inspire confidence or command respect. The new principle—the "video meliora proboque—deteriora sequor" principle—would do neither. But he would abandon this part of the subject. It was painful to himself, and unpalatable to others. What was the plan actually before them? Some Gentlemen were surprised at being called upon to concur in the settlement of the tithe arrears by a grant of public money. He was not at all so. He knew this to be inevitable; and then he was blamed for having brought before the House an abstract principle in the instruction to the Committee which he had moved. He was well aware that that abstract principle would assume a practical shape, if his motion were rejected, not at all gratifying to many who voted against him. They now saw the consequences of what they had done, for, instead of an abstract principle; they were called upon for a grant of money to the amount of one million. The fact was, that there were but two modes of settling the tithe question—the one was to adhere to the appropriation principle, the other to invert it. They must either apply Church property to public purposes, and so conciliate the majority of the people of Ireland, who neither belonged to, nor benefited by the establishment, or they must apply public property to Church purposes, and thus, by dint of gilding the pill, induce them to swallow it. There was no use in deceiving themselves. There must be a large reduction in the Irish Church, or there must be large subsidies. The present grant was but the beginning, the first page in a new chapter of Irish estimates, to which their attention would be called periodically. What they did now, they must do again in two or three years at the utmost. They had established the precedent. The arrears of tithes had been twice paid in Ireland already, or would be twice paid, if the present vote were carried, yet, they were as far from a settlement as ever. The 640,000l. advanced in 1833, had settled nothing. The 260,000l. to be advanced now would settle nothing. The Irish Members themselves told them so. They did not attempt to mislead the House. There was not a man amongst them who 329 would get up and say, that any settlement of the tithe question could be bought by any profusion. They went, avowedly, upon a different principle. They said, and very fairly, "if you insist upon keeping up amongst us, as a national Church, a Church which is not our Church, you shall pay for it." This was the language of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. He told the House, the other night—"The plan is not my plan, but your plan; try it by all means—it is an excellent plan for Ireland, but I am not responsible for the issue." This was perfectly fair and manly; but it was not a reason for English and Scotch Members to assent to the plan proposed to them. The fact was, there could be no settlement without a reform, and there was no reform, either present or prospective, given by the present measure; yet it was upon the strength of the reforms to be made in the Church, and of the new appropriation, that the House was called upon in 1835 to do that which it was now asked to assent to without any equivalent. Lord Morpeth expressly stated this:—"But it has been contended by many who sit upon the same side of the House as myself that they were not prepared to consent to so large a free gift on the part of this country to relieve the embarrassments of the Irish clergy, or to prop up the tottering condition of the Irish Church, without receiving as an equivalent such an alteration in the future appropriation of its disposable funds as might be more consistent with the justice of the case—more congenial with the feelings of the country—more conducive to the real object of any settlement—the maintenance of civil and religious peace. Such an altered appropriation we propose to engraft upon our bill; and, on the strength of this, we now come forward and appeal to the generosity of the representatives of the empire at large for confirming this preliminary grant." But what was the course the Government was now pursuing? Without any change or improvement in the Church it proposed an advance of 260,000l., with which an account was to be opened with the Bank of England, bearing the ominous title of Irish tithe arrears. Unless the system were changed, the account when once opened would be closed only on the day of judgment. The Treasury was then to receive memorials, and to investigate 330 them. Defaulters were to be summoned by proclamation to make good their arrears within one month, and subject to a deduction of fifteen per cent, and in case of refusal the most summary process was to be resorted to against them. By this plan the Government took upon itself the odious office of tithe-proctor, while, on the other side, it was to huckster with the clergy for a miserable per centage upon their arrears, in the name of economy and the public interest. Now, he denounced this whole arrangement. He had warred against the system, not against the individual. If the system was good they should uphold it; if bad, change it; but not sacrifice the individual to a system which, in spite of experience, they chose to perpetuate. This had been their course in 1835. Why change it? He was told, that something must be done—settled. No man more desired a settlement of the Irish questions than himself. It would be worth a million to get rid of them, for they stood in the way of all other legislation. But he looked to an honourable, permanent, and satisfactory settlement; and no settlement could be permanent or satisfactory that was not honourable. Should they have such a settlement this Session? The Municipal Bill was, he supposed, included in it. But in what shape would that bill return to them? Were they to accept it with Lord Lyndhurst's amendments, which would simply substitute one oligarchy for that which they were about to do away with? And if the Municipal Bill were rejected, as it ought to be, why should they keep the Tithe Bill? If not both, why have either? The only inducement to assent to a bad Tithe Bill was at an end from the moment they lost the other. He hoped, therefore, that Members would pause before they committed themselves by the vote of that evening. On what possible plea could Scotch Members, who refused the smallest additional endowment to their own Church, however meritorious, lavish 300,000l. on an establishment the existence of which they had declared three years ago to be incompatible with the peace of the empire? How could English Members make such a sacrifice of the expense of their constituents, when their own leader told them that he was persuaded the sacrifice would be ineffectual? It was not the Secretary of the Home Department who was misleading 331 his followers: it was his followers who were misleading him, by not expressing openly their opinions. The noble Lord had pleaded the alleged sense of the House as the excuse for his present motion. He hoped that the vote of that night would convince him that there was but one desire on the liberal side at all events, and that was, to prevent the government from proceeding any further with an experiment which must prove at once costly, useless, and, he feared, discreditable.
§ Sir R. Peel
said—Sir, I conceive it is hardly necessary for me to go at any length into this subject, particularly as it has already been fully discussed, and as we have already decided a part of the proposition now advocated by the hon. Gentleman. By a large majority of the House of Commons we have declared that some attempt should be made to settle the Irish tithe question in a way that would not involve the appropriation clause. The hon. Gentleman moved a resolution in opposition to that proposition, but that resolution the House of Commons thought fit to reject by a large majority. I will not go over that ground again, but I think I have a right to assume—notwithstanding the course which the hon. Gentleman has taken, and taken against the wishes of hon. Members on his own side of the House, who are friendly to appropriation as an abstract principle—that it is the opinion of the great majority of this House, seeing the impossibility of carrying the principle of appropriation, that an adjustment of the Irish tithe question ought to be effected without the appropriation clause. So far, then, the noble Lord had the sanction of hon. Members on both sides of the House for endeavouring to bring about some satisfactory arrangement without reference to the principle of appropriation. The hon. Member for Kilkenny commenced his speech by charging other hon. Members of this House with inconsistency; and I confess, Sir, I was not a little surprised when he mentioned the name of the Member for Tamworth as one of those whom he considered as having acted inconsistently. I was, Sir, very much surprised when I heard the hon. Gentleman allude to me, because I think the course which I took in this instance was one which was perfectly consistent. Sir, I think that a public man is not to be 332 charged with inconsistency because he may in one Session find it necessary to depart from that which he may have done in another. It is no doubt right that, as regards all great principles, consistency in public men is highly desirable; but if the hon. Gentleman means that I have been inconsistent with respect to the Irish tithe question—that I have adhered to one course in one Session and adopted a different course in another, where policy, and not principle, was involved, all I can say is, that when I look back to the authority on which the charge against me is preferred, it turns out to be wholly without foundation in fact. Sir, on referring back to the circumstances to which the hon. Member for Kilkenny has alluded, I find, that on the 5th of August, 1833, a proposal was made to the House for the grant of a million of money to the Irish clergy. Well, Sir, what then took place? Why, I find that the House divided, and from what the hon. Gentleman said, I expected to find my name in the same list with that of the hon. Gentleman, but what is the fact? why that the hon. Gentleman voted against the grant of the million, and that I voted in favour of the advance. [Mr. Hume: But you spoke against it.] That is the hon. Gentleman's own conclusion. The question was, that the sum of a million should be advanced for the relief of the Irish clergy, and I voted in support of the grant, and not against it, as appears by the lists of the division. The numbers were—"Ayes 87," and "Noes 54," and I find the name of the Member for Kilkenny among the "Noes," and the name of the Member for Tamworth among the "Ayes," so that according to this evidence I voted for the advance, and therefore cannot now be inconsistent in the course which I have felt it my duty to pursue. It is perfectly true, Sir, I did say at the time, that I had no expectation that any portion of this money would be repaid, and I think if I am not very much mistaken, I also said, that if the advances were to be paid back at all, the Irish people were the parties by whom the payments ought to be made. This, Sir, is the line of conduct which I then adopted, and I will now ask the hon. Member for Kilkenny whether he will tell me that there is the slightest inconsistency between the course I then pursued, and the proposition which I made to this House the other night? The question, 333 however, now is, how are we to deal with the arrears of tithes which have become due? Sir, I assume that the House of Commons are anxious for an adjustment of the tithe question without the appropriation principle, and that we are about to make a change by the conversion of tithes into a rent-charge, which will place the clergy and the lay impropriators on the same footing—which will transfer the demand to the landlord, instead of leaving it, as at present, a charge upon the occupying tenant. I think, Sir, we can make that arrangement prospective, and, providing for the necessary exceptions, it is my belief that the transfer of the liability from the occupying tenant to the landlord will give a reasonable security for the future tranquillity of Ireland. We are bound to meet the question of arrears fairly, and, as I said the other night, I can make a clear distinction between those arrears which are covered by the 640,000l., and those which are not included in that sum. Now, Sir, I do say that it would be utterly unjust to attempt to recover any part of the arrears covered by the 640,000l. after the course you have taken—after bringing in Acts of Parliament, as you have done, remitting altogether the liability of the occupying tenants, as regards those arrears. But what will the consequence of such a course be? Why, that you will enable the parties to enforce the payment of all arrears even previous to 1833. You sanctioned the remission of the arrears in respect of which advances had been made, and yet you now take a course which will compel the clergy and lay impropriators, in order to repay what they have received, to recover how they can, arrears due so long back as five years since. How, I ask you, in common consistency, can you place them in such a position? I say, you cannot. Recollect, that it was with your connivance, if not your sanction, and a feeling that you never meant to call upon them for the instalments, that induced them to abandon their legal remedy with respect to those arrears, and how, then, let me ask you, is it possible for you now to call on them to pay back the money they have received, unless you give them the aid of the military power to enforce the law? Do you think such a course would be advisable, or that if you were to take such a step, you would not incur the risk of a revolution? One thing is certain, 334 and that is, that you would have the whole of the moral sense of the people, not only of Ireland, but of this country, against you. Sir, I, for my own part, feel confident that Parliament never will impose upon the Treasury the ungenerous and unjust task of enforcing the repayment of the money which has been advanced under the Million Act. It is not clear, that as regards the last instalments you can have no remedy. You may insist upon the payment of the quinquennial instalments—you may call upon the clergy to pay back the whole of the advances made to them since 1833—but if you do, what will they say—why, the answer of the clergy will be, "We cannot pay you." True, you may issue a distress against them—you may sequester their livings—but if you were to attempt such a course, depend upon it, you would find so strong a repugnance, on the part of the public to such a proceeding, as would render it impossible for you to execute your own purpose. With respect, therefore, to these arrears having sanctioned the remission, you have no right whatever to assert that they have not been verbally released, and that, too, by your own act. Sir, I now come to the other arrears. With respect to them there are immense and enormous difficulties in the way of any settlement which will be satisfactory to each side of the House, and it is no reflection on any party if they find it all but impossible to solve those difficulties. On the one hand, you leave the arrears in existence, but can you for a single moment doubt, that the recovery of them will be impossible, after you have converted tithes into a rent charge, and that any such attempt must seriously endanger the success of the new system which you are about to adopt. On the other hand, it is contended, that if we do away with the whole of the arrears, we shall be acting unjustly—that we shall be giving a reward to those who resisted the law, at the expense of those who obeyed it; and with good reason it is said, that by such a course we should be telling those parties who had refused obedience to the law that they ought to persevere, because the effect of it would be to prove to them that their resistance has been successful. This is the state of the case, and these are the difficulties which surround it. Sir, there can be no question that the Act of Parliament which has been passed, has been the means of preventing the Irish 335 clergy from receiving that which was their legal right, and it is, therefore, impossible not to feel that the principle is one which is fraught with the utmost danger. I made my proposition in the hope that it would solve the difficulty in which the subject is involved, What I proposed was, that we should advance a definite sum—that if you would give me, say 360,000l. the difference between the 640,000l. and the million, I entertained a hope of being able to bring about a successful adjustment of the tithe question. I proposed that this sum should be placed at the disposal, and under the control of a certain number of unpaid commissioners, and that they should be empowered to negociate with the tithe-owners for the purchase of the whole of the arrears. Of course it would be optional with them to accept the amount offered or not, but if they did accept it, then I proposed, that the Government should succeed to the right of the tithe-owners, and stand in their place. I did not propose, however, to remit any portion of the arrears, but on the contrary, my intention was, that the Government should retain the power in the case of a refractory and contumacious man—of one who, being able, yet refused to pay his tithes; in all such cases, I say, I intended that the Government should retain the power of enforcing whatever arrears might be due; and he great advantage of such an arrangement was, that the party who defied the law would be taught to obey and respect it when he found that resistance to it would be useless. I did not purpose, that any grant of public money should be made, but that the Government should become the purchasers of the arrears at a given value, and then recover as much of them as could consistently be called for. I believe, that my plan would have admitted of an important qualification. I proposed to deal only with two years' arrears. What I intended was, that Government should offer to purchase two years' arrears of tithes, that those who accepted that offer should not enforce the arrears due to them for the previous years, but that those who declined should be left to their legal remedy. I now think it would be better to deal with the subject by an arrangement for the whole of the four years, and not to exclude those who might obtain the offer for the two first years from the benefit to which they would 336 be clearly entitled. Suppose, then, we were to offer for the purchase of the arrears of the first year 40l., the second 50l., the third 60l., and for the fourth 70l., I am obliged to adopt arbitrary sums for the present—I do not know that that would not be better than making an arrangement extending over the whole period, because, in some cases, there might be more than three years' arrears due, and in others only one. Where, however, the parties rejected this offer, I would leave them to their legal remedy. Sir, the plan of her Majesty's Government proceeds upon a very different principle. It is this—that a sum of 260,000l., to which is to be added any sum that may be recovered from the landlord—the amount is uncertain—shall be appropriated in liquidation of the arrears, but then only of those arrears which have accrued due during the two last years. My plan referred to the arrears due by the occupying tenant; but the plan of the noble Lord is restricted to those for which the landlords are liable. In the first place, Sir, I do not know—I can form no opinion whatever as to what the amount of the arrears will be which the noble Lord is likely to receive—all I can rely on is, the 260,000l.; for with respect to the rest, it is altogether doubtful. It may be bad to give the clergy vested interests, but still I should rather vote 360,000l., to be applied in the manner I have pointed out, leaving it to the Treasury to recover what might seem to them to be properly due, than adopt the proposition of the noble Lord. If, I say, the noble Lord will give this 260,000l., and that the ecclesiastical commissioners will pay over the other 100,000l., so that both sums can be placed at the disposal of the commissioners to whom I have alluded, to be applied as the optional principle, I have no doubt whatever that this question will be set at rest; that my whole plan will work well; and that the whole of the tithe-owners will accept any offer that may be made to them for the purchase of the arrears. If, however, the noble Lord will not assent to my plan, because he calculates that the 260,000l. will be sufficient to liquidate the arrears of the last two years, and insure the remission of the whole of the arrears due, and which have not been enforced, owing to an act of Parliament, all I can say is, that I shall vote for his proposition; but in doing so, I have thought it only fair to intimate to 337 him the objections which I entertain against his scheme. We know, in fact, nothing about what amount of arrears can be recovered, and what cannot; and, therefore, when I am told, that a certain sum is to be advanced, and that, whether the parties accept it or not, their claims are to cease, and they are to be deprived of their legal remedy, I feel I own great difficulty in assenting to such a proposal, and the more especially without knowing the extent of the sacrifice which they are to be called on to make. It is not possible, I should think, Sir, that this House will ever pass an Act of Parliament depriving parties of a legal remedy without a fair equivalent in the shape of compensation. That would, indeed, be a most dangerous principle to lay down; and yet it is neither more nor less than the proposition which the noble Lord has made; for though he has provided for the two last years, he means that no advance shall be made in respect of the first two years. The parties, therefore, to whom arrears may be due for the first two years, are to go absolutely uncompensated. Their rights were to be sacrificed because, as regarded them, they were not to be entitled to a single shilling compensation. This, I must say, is a principle both unjust and dangerous. Take, for instance, the case of the widow of a clergyman whose husband died in 1836, and who had a claim for arrears of tithes accruing during the years 1834 and 1835. The proposal of the noble Lord only went to the years 1836 and 1837; and, therefore, the noble Lord would have them say to a person so circumstanced, "Oh, you cannot expect any part of the 260,000l., because we have declared that only the arrears of 1836 and 1837 have been included in our arrangement." This poor woman, then, was to be told, that she need expect nothing—that she must forego her claim, and that because you have thought proper to commit an act of injustice, she is to be divested of her legal right to recover that which is due to her. Now, Sir, I must say, that this does appear to me to be a great and wanton violation of principle; and that it is perfectly monstrous to say, that a remission shall take place without compensating the parties for the sacrifice you require them to make. It is, in short, offering a premium to those who resist the law, and that is a principle so dangerous, that I hope it will not be persisted in. 338 I feel convinced, Sir, that such a mode of settling this question cannot prove satisfactory. There is a material difference between the course which I pointed out, and that taken by the noble Lord; and on consideration, I must say, that I give a decided preference to my own arrangement. If the forms of the House permit it, I certainly shall feel it my duty to take the sense of the House on the question as to which of the two plans ought to be adopted; and if I were called on to say, in lieu of the 360,000l. to be applied according to the per centage which my arrangement proposes, whether I would leave things as they are, or consent to a law being passed which would deprive the clergy of their right to recover their tithes, though no doubt the noble Lord's arrangement would be a pecuniary benefit to them, yet, thinking the proposal so dangerous a one, I would not hesitate to declare, that I would prefer permitting the law to remain as it is, and trust to Government to see it enforced. In fact, Sir, I would rather the bill remained as it originally stood, than accept so limited a proposition as this. While, however, I say this, I beg to state, that I give my cordial assent to those parts of the bill which relate to the conversion of tithe into a rent-charge, subject to a diminution of 25l. per cent.; but then it is to be understood by this, that I am not to be bound by this offer beyond the present Session. With respect, Sir, to the 640,000l., I admit the justice of releasing so much of the arrears as are covered by that sum; but as far as the arrears that are not covered by that sum are concerned, I must repeat, that I prefer my own plan to that of the noble Lord, because I think it better calculated to a satisfactory result. Supposing that the House will reject my plan, I am obliged to resort to the application of the 260,000l., as proposed by the noble Lord; but instead of compelling others to remit their legal claims, without proper compensation, I would prefer leaving the law as it is, to such a compromise. I think it right to intimate to the noble Lord, what are my objections to his arrangement.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, unpleasant as might be the declaration to a House fatigued by the length of its sittings, and protracted as those proceedings must appear, inasmuch as they happened to be so unproductive, still it appeared to him, that every Member of that House who felt it 339 to be his duty to oppose this resolution ought not to be restrained from so doing by any apprehension, that such a course might be found inconvenient; especially because the noble Lord stated, on a former occasion, that one of the main inducements which the Government had to sanction this resolution was to be found in the universality of its reception. The noble Lord stated, that whatever were his own opinions—and he was not reserved in their statement—yet, when he called to mind, that the leader of the great party opposite was the first to suggest this course, and that a party scarcely subordinate to that of the right hon. Baronet in power, though something less in numbers—he meant, that of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin—had also sanctioned it through the sentiments of its leader, and that there was scarcely a whisper of discontent from any part of the House, he (Lord John Russell) knew no principle more sound or constitutional than to recognise the voice of the people, so unanimously expressed through their Representatives, as the basis of sound legislation. He only wished the noble Lord would pursue the same course on intimations less open to suspicion; but he must say, that it was inconvenient, and that inconvenience was aggravated by the extreme difficulty, he would say the impossibility, of confining their views within as narrow a compass as even the greatest kindness could sanction—when the whole of our Irish policy must be opened in the discussion—to have, within a few days of the close of the Session, after five years of unproductive legislation, the present motion forced on their attention. There was an old adage, and a somewhat vulgar one, but still he thought, that her Majesty's Ministers were now entitled to the benefit of it—it was, that "We should give the devil his due." And he must say, that her Majesty's Ministers were not the authors of the mischief; because, though the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had, he would not say contrived—because nothing was more easy to the right hon. Baronet than to complicate and mystify, as there was no one who could, when he chose, render a subject more clear and intelligible—to win the assent and gain the sanction of the Government to a proposition, from the palpable consequences of which he himself seemed, by his speech that night, to meditate a re- 340 treat. And it was impossible to listen to the statement of the right hon. Baronet without feeling that, instead of arriving by this measure at the consummation of all things the most to be desired—the permanent adjustment of Irish differences—this formed but the preface to a book of difficulties. For what was the proposition? That a sum of 260,000l., the alleged balance of the million loan, should be placed in the hands of unpaid, and, to a great degree irresponsible, commissioners, to be doled out to those persons whose tithes were in arrear for the years 1836 and 1837, at the same time, that it is intimated, that some allowance should be made for those who had arrears remaining unpaid for the years 1834 and 1835. That advertisement must bring before the commission, whoever composed it and wherever it sat, pretty much the same accounts as resulted from the advertisement which was announced in the year 1833, and which proclaimed to all persons, lay and ecclesiastical, who had arrears of tithes due for the years 1831, 1832, and 1833, however contingent or doubtful their demands, and whatever unsettled accounts there might be between debtor and creditor, that they should bring in every claim they could, because the House of Commons, in the fruition of its benevolence, had issued a million of money to be scrambled for in the city of Dublin. And what was the result of that proclamation? Why, that something more than a million of money was required, not in pounds only, but often to the uttermost farthing. Noble Lords, right reverend deans, and right reverend fathers in God, all sent in claims, some for one year, some for two years, and some for three years, amounting, in many instances, to pence and farthings. Well, then, when all that could be heaped into the bureau of that commission was so expended, was there any fair ground for supposing, that it would be otherwise in the present case? Why, the amount to be met must be much larger, and for the very reason assigned by the right hon. Baronet, because up to 1833, there might have been the impression, that agitation might do mischief to the object of the parties who resisted tithes; and, at all events, it only tended to keep alive the hope, that it would ultitimately prove triumphant; but since that year an intimation had been given from the highest quarter, that all tithes were to 341 be extinguished, and, accordingly, no tithes had been paid. If, therefore, in the years 1831, 1832, and 1833, they found a million of tithes in arrear, was there any thing unjust in the inference, that for the years 1835, 1836, 1837, and 1838, they would have ultimately to vote, as a provision for arrears, a million and a half? He said, 1838 for this reason, because as they were now legislating precisely at the same period as that at which they had provided in 1833 for the arrears of that year, it was not too much to suppose that, as they had taken credit for arrears in the former period, before they were due, they would pursue the same course now when the circumstances were similar. He saw, that the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), who might be considered an epitome of Irish affairs, appeared to doubt his statement; but he had taken the trouble to go through the speeches which were made at that period—he did not allude to the noble Lord's, because he had derived too much profit from that to consider its perusal a trouble, though he could not say so much of others—and he challenged any hon. Gentleman to dispute the accuracy of his statement. He therefore maintained, that a million of money was granted to pay the arrears of tithes for the years 1831, 1832, and 1833, which proposition had been submitted in the year 1833. If, then, the tithes of 1833 were provided for, in point of fact, before they were due, because it had been declared by statute, that tithes should be collected once every year, and that in the month of November, he asked the right hon. Baronet when, in the month of August 1833, they gratuitously anticipated the arrears for that year, at a time when their granting them at all might be construed into a reward of treason and resistance, on what principle did he refuse to make provision for the arrears of the present year now, when during almost every Session since the former period, a proclamation had gone forth, that tithes in Ireland should cease for ever. Why did he dwell on this point? Because he was anxious to protect the Government from falling into the pit, which their opponents were digging for them. Now let them mark for what object the 260,000l. was to be paid. To pacify Ireland, to settle the ever restless question of tithes—a purchase for which England could not pay too high a price, because it arrested the progress of legislation by forcing 342 every thing to be done piecemeal, and nothing well. There was, he repeated, no sum—as far as a great principle could be settled by vulgar payment—too great to secure so great a good. That was the assumption on which they now proceeded; and they showed their commiseration for Ireland after the true John Bull fashion, by suffering their pockets to be picked for its benefit. Well, let them see whether next Session there would not be a motion made on the other side, not by those who stood in the fearful position of prominent responsibility, but by the numerous attachés who floated round that bench, and who acted on secret instructions, for returns of all applications made for tithe arrears during the years 1836 and 1837. On which somebody would rise and ask, "would it not be better, as we are coming to a comprehensive settlement of this great question, to include the arrears of 1834 and 1835?" The intimation would be thankfully received, justice, it would be said, prompted it, and it would be immediately complied with. What must be the result? Why, that if in 1833 the arrears amounted to a million of money, they must, in the present case, far exceed that sum. If 260,000l. was the whole amount of arrears of tithes out of two millions and a half, spreading over four years, then tithes were more easily collected in Ireland than in England, and it was a gross misstatement to say, that Ireland was in that volcanic state, of which they had lately heard so much. If that statement was true, away with the doctrine, that they could not collect tithes! If it was false were they prepared to meet the result? What was it they aimed at? If they did not forego the claim to all arrears of tithes the canker must remain in the heart of the State: the disease might be diverted, but the leprosy would inevitably break out, unless the source of the disease were removed. I any Gentleman on that side or the other—for he did not know which side to call that of the Government—were to propound a measure so broad as this, that from the year 1831 up to the present time, tithes should be extinguished by an advance of money commensurate with the demands for arrears, however monstrous such a proposition might be, it would at least be intelligible; and if the sum proposed would attain its object, it would not be too large. But the present proposal came on the Government, as on the coun- 343 try, with infinite surprise. Not a word was said, or attempted to be said, by Ministers in vindication of the resolution, except the expression of their conviction, that it would not produce the result which some anticipated from it. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell), in the clear statement which he made on a former night, so much at variance with the conclusion at which he arrived, objected to the proposition of the right hon. Baronet on three distinct grounds: first, that no account was given of what was required; secondly, that it was not proved, that it would bring about a satisfactory settlement; and, thirdly that it was a bad precedent to reward the disobedient, and neglect those who had observed the law. Now, as to the second point, he thought an unjust stigma was cast on the Representatives from Ireland, when it was supposed, that they would eagerly sanction any proposition which gave money. He for one did not understand, that justice for Ireland which was based on injustice to England. Nor could he suppose, that the Representatives of Ireland, would be guilty of such low and filthy meanness as to intimate their readiness to take money, simply because it was offered to them. They might as well say, that it was the act of an honest man, if a turnpike-keeper had kept a half sovereign instead of a sixpence, and when he was detected, pleaded as an excuse, that he was not asked for change. That was a species of vulgar legislation against which he protested, and to which he was sure the Irish Representatives would not be found willing to subscribe. But it was asked, "Are you prepared to arm the clergyman, the lay impropriator, the Government, or whoever else purchases the arrears, with free powers to enforce the repayment?" His answer was, they had never tried the power which they already possessed. In the year 1833 it was expressly provided, that the money advanced by way of loan should be repaid by five annual instalments, beginning on the 1st of November, 1834, and the tithes were recoverable in the same way as rent was. If the landlord who received the money asked, would he resort to his tenants to collect the arrears? That was his consideration; but we, the people of England, had precisely the same remedies against those who borrowed the money, and against their estates, as the landlord himself for his rent against his tenants; because the act expressly provided, that 344 tithes should be extinguished, meaning by that, there should be no longer a tedious, expensive, and intricate process for their recovery, but that they should be considered in the nature of a judgment recovered, and as a lien on the land, to be enforced as a landlord exacts his rent from the tenant. But then it was asked, "Would you enforce these claims against the miserable starving pennyless tenants of Ireland. Would you throw them into a state of rebellion, arm soldiers instead of appointing sheriffs, and give them cannon instead of precepts?" No such thing. He asked the noble Lord at the head of the government of Ireland, whether he ever applied for any money due since the year 1834? He knew very well he was addressing many Gentlemen who had received this money; and he was also perfectly aware, that the principle of the measure, was one which many English Members, would be glad to have carried into operation in this country; because it would be a very convenient thing if landlords and tithe owners not finding their demands supplied with the promptitude which their wants suggested, were to have some device for clearing off their arrears by way of a loan, to be repaid in five instalments, and then, by a juggling between all parties, agreed to be remitted altogether. He therefore admitted, that he was addressing an unwilling audience; but that should not prevent him from saying, that the people of this country were almost sick with the cry of justice to Ireland, when it was found to resolve itself into this—that they should pay their tithes and rent (for that would be the next demand) to the landlords of Ireland. He maintained, that this money was obtained under false pretences and he would prove it. He had extracts from the speeches of Mr. Littleton and Lord Althorp, when the subject of the loan was first brought under notice. He was performing a very painful duty, but he should discharge it. When this subject was proposed to the House in the year 1833, an intelligible intimation was thrown out, that if the money was advanced, it would not be repaid—a fear that was justified by past experience. Lord Althorp then observed, that he was willing to put the question on the issue whether the loan would be recovered or not; and if he were not satisfied, that there was a reasonable probability of its being restored, he 345 thought the bill ought to be rejected. He did not know whether it was necessary to follow up that statement by a correspondent declaration. At the same time it was important to find, that this was the opinion, not of an individual, but of the Government. Mr. Littleton said, "that it had been suggested, that it would not be possible to realize the rent-charge, but he assured the committee, that he never would have been induced to support the proposition if he had not been convinced, that it was not only practicable but easy to realize the amount." Then he maintained, that unless a strong and resistless case of justice and policy were made out by which the Government could call on the guardians of the public purse to make a retrospective and, coupled with the observations made on the other side, a still greater prospective sacrifice, Ministers ought not to call on that House to sanction the present proposal. But if they were prepared to adopt a more plausible plan it ought not to be extorted from them in an incidental way. It should be part of their policy, part of their commendable policy, part of their enviable policy, to come down and propose a scheme, at whatever sacrifice, which they looked upon as of incalculable benefit to the peace of Ireland, and to the security of the British empire. But they caught with eagerness at a plan promulgated in a sort of under-toned murmur from the other side and because it was not received with clamorous opposition from this side gave their approval to it as the unanimous resolution of the House. What did the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) state on Monday? After a Cabinet deliberation he declared, that though prepared to a certain extent to accede to the proposition of the right hon. Baronet—just to the extent, that did mischief, without effecting any good except to give dissatisfaction to both countries—he believed, that the money forgiven was just so much thrown away. It was suggested, by the noble Lord, however, that it would be the means of purchasing peace for Ireland. To whom did he appeal for confirmation of that delightful assurance? Why he turned to the Representatives of Ireland he turned to the Representative of all Ireland. And what did he say? Why this "We are ready to take your money, if it was double the amount, and we should have no objection if the charges were 346 double the amount, provided they were defrayed for the benefit of our country at your expense"—this is practical justice to Ireland—but when you fancy, that you purchase peace, do not suppose, that we are to be insulted. We are ready to take your money, but we want to be disburdened of a Church of hideous magnitude, not as to duties, but in point of resources, and from which we dissent in doctrine, discipline, and worship, and we shall never be satisfied, give us what you may; a million this year, or two the next, advancing by millions as your cowardice increases until you have stripped the Church of its gorgeous revenues and placed it on such a footing as is consistent with the rights of "free people in matters of religion." What did they (the Opposition), who in the last quarter of a century had brought Ireland to the threshold of rebellion, who had fertilized the soil with the blood of her sons, believe, that now, when she felt her great power, she was to be bribed by a few instalments, and the addition of some arrears? Was this British legislation? was this the school of statesmen? Were they to be told, that no man was fit to govern this country but one of large possessions, of sounding titles, and hereditary connections? and that those who had common understandings and fair attainments were unfit to enter the Cabinet of great men, who, let them do what they would, let them make what blunder they might, found an easy remedy in the State bribery which now seemed to be considered a panacea for all evils? Why not come at once to the sources of the grievances which afflicted Ireland, distracted both countries, and interrupted the useful flow of quiet and valuable legislation? It was because they would keep up—but with all their efforts they could not long succeed—a Protestant Church with only 600,000 members within its bosom, whilst those who profess an opposite and different faith amounted to nearly 8,000,000. That was a gross monstrosity which could not long exist. When the loan was demanded warm eulogiums were pronounced on those who were to become the recipients and who, as in the case of the silver medals in the temple the other day, were to snatch some part of the prize to be scrambled for by the little dukelings. There was no chord of our sympathies which was not touched, and which did 347 not vibrate to the touch; we were assured by the right hon. the Recorder for Dublin that their last garments were pawned, and a person who had written to that right hon. and learned Gentleman, gave, as the only reason why he had not changed his last note, that it was borrowed. In this way was our sober discretion assailed, so, that the Government had to interfere for the purpose of restricting the advance to a million. And who were these poor labourers of the Gospel? He should be told by those friends of the Church—the much villified Church, who were on the opposite side, that in every parish was to be found a pastoral labourer not inculcating the duties of religion more by his eloquence in the pulpit than by the quiet illustrations of christian charity in his conduct, and considering it his first duty to preserve the glimmering light of the Protestant faith in this benighted land, and thus lead men from the wayward path of error to the truths and consolations of Christianity. From these strains of eloquence it was not too much to infer that these Gentlemen who were such benefactors resided amongst their parishioners, and had each due to them about 120l. a-year. But was it said of the 1,260 persons whose names were put down in the return only 460 were resident clergymen? Who were the other people? Many of them Peers of the realm, with their 30,000l. and 40,000l. a-year—many of them large landed proprietors, with their 10,000l. and 20,000l. a-year: all these persons had taken advantage of the advance of 1,000,000l. and yet the money returned did not amount to 4,000l. The fact was, that no attempt had been made on the part of the government to recover any portion of this money. If any such attempt had been made, what reason on earth was there why 300,000l. or 400,000l. should not have been recovered? He repeated that it was most disgraceful and scandalous, first, under false pretences, to obtain this money and then under another pretence to keep it. He maintained, too, that this prodigal expenditure of the money of the people of England would not give peace to Ireland, but would merely serve to foster discontent and encourage resistance to the law. The first principle of a good Government was to assert and maintain the sovereignty of the law. The effect of the proposition now submitted to the House was to give a bonus to those 348 who resisted the law. Such a course of proceeding might be worthy of a House which was mistakenly called a reformed House of Commons, but it was totally inconsistent with the first principles of wisdom and justice.
§ Mr. W. S. O'Brien
supported the original resolutions, and contended, that from everything that had occurred on the subject of Irish tithes since the advance of the million, the people of Ireland were led to believe that the tithe arrears would be given up. If that expectation were now disappointed, the greatest excitement and discontent would prevail in Ireland. Would it not be placing the Irish clergy in an exceedingly disagreeable position to send them now to collect arrears so long due, and the collection of which was so little expected? He thought the additional grant of 260,000l. beyond the 640,000l. already advanced would have the effect of putting an end to any further litigation on the subject of tithes. If the clergy gave up all claims to arrears, they would then start on a new system, in which they would no longer come into collision with the Catholic population, but have their claims on the owner of the land.
§ Mr. Grote
was anxious to take the first opportunity of entering his strenuous protest against the large additional charge which the noble Lord's proposition would introduce into the Irish Tithe Bill as regarded the people of England, and that, too, without the prospect or pretence of securing any permanent advantage to Ireland. It was not his intention to have taken part in any discussion that might have arisen upon the Tithe Bill, because he had, in fact, ceased to take any interest in that measure after the abandonment of the principle of appropriation; but the proposition now made by the noble Lord appeared to him to be at once so monstrous and so mischievous that he could not abstain from saying a few words in opposition to it. He confessed, that the right hon. Baronet appeared to him to have most completely vindicated his consistency against the attack of the hon. Member for Kilkenny and he thought that the right hon. Baronet might well be pardoned if he indulged a triumphant feeling when he found the proposition made by him in 1835 so eagerly adopted by the Government in 1838. He recollected the remarks of the right hon. Baronet in 1834, referring to the then intended measure of 349 the Government of that day, that of all the vulgar errors of a Government, that of trying to solve every difficulty in which it might find itself by dipping its hands into the pockets of the public was the meanest and most contemptible, and was always indicative of great weakness in the Government which had recourse to it. Never was that remark more applicable than to the measure now before the House. The Government found a difficulty in carrying out a tithe measure, and they tried to get rid of that difficulty by a fresh demand on the pockets of the people. But would that demand, if carried, get rid of the whole difficulty? He rather thought the greater part of it would still remain. The clergy might relinquish their claim to the arrears due to them; but these arrears would not be extinguished. The Government might still claim them. Had the advance of 640,000l. produced a remission of the arrears? The clergyman might still claim, unless his claim was barred by the act of the Legislature. By what process of reasoning was it that the Government arrived at the conclusion that because 640,000l. of English money had been given to Ireland for purposes which had not been obtained, therefore 260,000l. more was to be given without the prospect of arriving at a more satisfactory result? He thought it would have been more becoming on the part of the Government, when they found that there was little hope of recovering the 640,000l. which had been advanced, to come forward and state the fact to Parliament, express regret at the error into which they had fallen, and take care that the remainder, the difference between the 1,000,000l. and the 640,000l. should be saved to the people of England. It did not appear that any of the difficulties which surrounded the question of tithes in Ireland would be removed by the additional sum of money which it was now proposed to pay out of the English treasury. He did not hesitate to state, therefore, that he considered the grant most improvident and impolitic. When he found that, in addition to the discredit of leaving out the appropriation clause, a large sum of money was to be paid under this bill out of the pockets of the people of England, he was bound to declare, that since he had had the honour of a seat in the House no proposition had ever been submitted to it to which he felt a more unqualified opposition, or against which he felt it his duty 350 to protest in a stronger or more energetic manner.
§ Sir Robert Peel
, begged to observe that he did not propose to deprive any man of his legal remedy for the recovery of tithe; nor did he propose to extinguish any tithe whatever.
§ Lord John Russell
, referring to the objections which had been raised by some of the hon. Gentlemen who sat on that side of the House, admitted that very great difficulties must be encountered in any attempt that might be made to settle this question; but he certainly was not prepared, like those hon. Gentlemen, to say that he considered it discreditable to apply his mind in the best way he could to the difficulties of Ireland in the year 1838—to attempt the best solution he could find of those difficulties—and to look to the peace and prosperity of Ireland as his chief guide with respect to this question. Instead, therefore, of applying himself to the objections which had been raised by the hon. Gentleman who sat near him, he should rather direct himself to the observations which had been made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam worth. The plan originally supported by the Government proposed to commute the tithe composition into a rent-charge, at a certain per centage, and to leave any future payment upon that foundation. It was said and said undoubtedly with great truth, that if the question were left in that situation, there would be not only much difficulty, but an absolute deterioration of property on the one hand; and, that there would be objections, if not resistance, to the payment of the rent-charge on the other; and it was proposed, in order to avoid those evils, that the arrears of which 640,000l. had already been met, should be paid out of an advance made from the Treasury. Now, the way in which the right hon. Baronet proposed to give the money so paid out of the Treasury, was this: that it should be left optional to the clergyman to receive any further sum that might be advanced; that if he (the clergyman) would not receive the sum proposed, then his claim for arrears might be put into full force; if he did receive the sum proposed, that then his claim should not be extinguished, but, that the Go- 351 vernment, who became the purchasers, should have full power to enforce it, if they thought proper so to do. Now, his (Lord J. Russell's) opinion was this, that if the House really determined to make a sacrifice of public money, that sacrifice ought to be made in such a way as to give the best security against a recurrence of the contests which had taken place upon the subject of arrears. But what would be the case if the plan of the right hon. Gentleman were to be adopted? Suppose, in that case, an attempt were made to enforce the payment of tithe, and the attempt were to be defeated, and the clergyman should consider his claim desperate, he would, of course, immediately apply to the Government. By satisfying his claim would you or would you not be giving that premium to resistance which had been so strongly objected to? Undoubtedly, it would as much, if not more, than any plan by which they might extinguish all the arrears of tithes at once. But the right hon. Gentleman further stated, that he would still keep up the claim, but that it should be on the part of Government; he would make the debt due to the Government, which they might enforce. But if the Government were to attempt to enforce the payment, would they not incur all those difficulties which the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, (Lord Stanley) incurred in the attempt to enforce them by his measure of 1832? Would they not meet with the same collisions and with the like resistance on the part of those, who for three or four years, had successfully resisted the payment of them, especially if the new claim were to be enforced by aid of the police and the military in the name of the Government? If, therefore, the plan of the right hon. Gentleman were to be adopted, they would, on the one hand, be making a sacrifice by the grant, so much objected to, of the public money of the United Kingdom, in order to satisfy the tithe-owner, while, on the other hand, they would not be producing that state of peace and tranquillity in the country, which was the only justification for making any proposition at all on the subject. Then, with regard to those clergymen, who, thinking that they had a probable chance of recovering seventy or eighty per cent. of their tithe, whereas, by the right hon. Gentleman's plan, they would only receive fifty per cent., should refuse receiving the arrears 352 from the Government, in that case the right hon. Gentleman would be keeping up the contest for payment of the arrears, not indeed, between the Government and the tithe-payer; but between the clergy and the tithe-payer: therefore, in that respect also they would not be obtaining that peace and tranquillity which, he said again, would be the only justification for adopting any plan at all. It was for these reasons, that Government had come down, in compliance with what he believed to be the sense of the majority of that House, to propose a grant of this nature. They thought it should be a grant that would put an end to the right of demanding these arrears; while the mode of collection for the future should be peaceful, and one by which no risk of collision would be incurred. He certainly did not consider himself either justified, by himself, or in the name of his hon. Friends near him, in proposing a grant of the public money in the way in which the right hon. Gentleman thought it ought to be granted—that of making it optional with the parties to receive it or not. At the same time he confessed, that what the right hon. Gentleman had stated with regard to his view respecting the clauses which he (Lord John Russell) had proposed, was perfectly fair on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, and entirely in conformity with what he had stated the first night this question was discussed. With respect to that point, he and the right hon. Gentleman were at issue. He (Lord John Russell) did not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman retained his opinions; but neither could he recede from the opinions which he entertained on that subject. The hon. Member for Southwark, who had made a very able speech on this occasion, had made one mis-statement. He stated, that the Government only went to a certain extent with the plan originally proposed, and which would create dissatisfaction in Ireland without satisfying those who were proposing a somewhat similar plan on the other side. On the contrary, he thought the plan proposed by the Government, so far as the peace of Ireland was concerned, went not to the same, but to a greater extent than that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. It might be be said, indeed, that the Government plan went to extinguish the right of property in the arrears perpetually, whereas the other plan did not; but, with regard 353 to the extent of settling past arrears of tithes, it did so more entirely than the plan of the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Southwark also stated, no doubt, ably and eloquently, many objections that existed against the Government plan, as indeed he also objected to the appropriation clauses. But he (Lord John Russell) would observe, that to the hon. Gentleman, with his abilities, and not holding himself responsible for any plan or proposition that might be adopted, it was by no means difficult, considering the complicated state of affairs in Ireland, and the passions that existed there on one side and on the other, to point out objections to any plan which might be proposed by those who were responsible for its adoption, he, at the same time, not only holding himself free from the obligation of proposing any plan, but, as it would appear, if the plan immediately in contemplation were rejected, being utterly indifferent as to what would be the consequence of that rejection, whether any other plan were to be substituted for it or not. He certainly could not but admire the ability of the hon. Gentleman; but Government would act with great imprudence if they were to follow his advice. Whatever might be the view of the hon. Gentleman on this question, the fair view that ought to be taken of it was in what way could they come to a practical conclusion upon the subject. It might be the practical conclusion proposed by the Government, or the plan proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth or the plan proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin; but that the House ought to come to some practical conclusion, and endeavour to make some settlement which at least for a time might improve the condition of affairs in Ireland, was, he thought, a most obvious duty on their part. The hon. Member for London (Mr. Grote) had quoted with great commendation the speech of the right hon. Baronet in 1834, in which he said, "that of all the expedients of a Government, the most vulgar expedient was that of dipping their hands in the public purse." No doubt the right hon. Baronet did make that statement, and which had been so popular in that House; but, for his part, he did not observe, when the right hon. Baronet held the strings of the public purse, that his conduct was quite in conformity with his own proposition; for he 354 (Lord John Russell) remembered, when the right hon. Baronet was at the head of the Government, one plan proposed by him, with regard to Ireland, was, that the whole million should be given for the satisfaction of tithe arrears; that with regard to Scotland he proposed that a large sum should be granted for the behoof and benefit of the Scottish Church; and that with regard to England he proposed that a large sum should be given, either from the consolidated fund or by a grant of supply, for the relief of the county-rates. Therefore he had a right to say, that the practice of the right hon. Baronet when in power, was not quite in accordance with the principle he had himself laid down the preceding year. Admitting then, that there might be objections fairly urged against the plan now brought forward by the Government, yet, upon the whole, seeing the evils that would arise from the collection of these arrears, those evils having been stated very powerfully, and he had no doubt no less truly, by the representatives of Ireland, he did conceive that an equivalent good might be obtained by the sacrifice of this amount of the public money sufficient to justify the proposed proceeding. The hon. Member for Sheffield, holding language similar to that used by the hon. Member for London, had said, indeed, that they could have no hope of settling these Irish questions satisfactorily; that having given up the appropriation clauses, it was not likely that they should obtain a good municipal bill; that they were going, on in a hopeless course; and that it would be better to give up the attempt altogether for the present. Now, he did not agree with the hon. Member. No doubt it was a very easy course to recommend, the giving up the Tithe Bill on the ground that they could not obtain all they required, or the rejecting the Municipal Bill, when it should be returned to them by the other House of Parliament, on the ground that it was not that which had been originally proposed. But he did not see that which he thought he ought to see before he could agree with the hon. Gentleman, namely, that he should be able either the next year, or the following year, to say, that he could promise to carry measures for Ireland, that would be more beneficial than those he should reject in the present year. He thought he was bound to consider, both with respect to this bill and with respect 355 to any other measures relating to Ireland, what were those measures which they were likely to be able to carry, and would the effect of them be the improvement of the present condition of the affairs of Ireland. If it would, if they would improve that country, if they would not be making things worse, nor even leaving them in their present bad state, he certainly for one should consider himself entitled to adopt and to assist in such legislation. He did not think it would be his duty to carry on the contest either in the House of Commons, or between that I-louse and the other House of Parliament, with respect to measures relating to Ireland, unless he saw, that by some means or other he was likely to improve by delay the condition of the affairs of that country, or the measures which he should be able thereafter to carry. He had no doubt, indeed, that he differed with the hon. Member for Sheffield on this point; he had no doubt that the hon. Member for London would consider the course he (Lord John Russell) thus took a wrong one. But it did seem to him that for persons engaged in governing a country, their first duty was, to consider the situation and the interests of that country; and it was their duty even to bear personal reproach if, by so bearing reproach, the condition of that country might be improved, than that, by shrinking back in order not to incur reproach, the condition of the country might be made worse. Having that opinion of his duty, rather than entertaining the view taken by his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, he should endeavour to the utmost of his power to improve the measures which had been brought forward, and while putting them in the best practical shape, he should endeavour to reconcile himself to their adoption, rather than seek for reasons that might justify their rejection.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, the hon. Member for Southwark, taunts us with inconsistency in this matter. I objected to the original grant; I was overruled; the grant was made, or at least, to the extent of 640,000l. Over and over again the clergy were told not to try to collect their arrears; the under secretary for Ireland wrote to them to suspend any proceedings for that purpose; and two acts of Parliament in successive years suspended their obligation to make repayment to the Government. You now depreciate the tenure of their property; you 356 disparage it in every way: you render it all but impossible that they should recover it. A man, who objected to the original grant, may now therefore, very consistently say, that the case is so altered, that though he would never have made the original grant, yet when the repayment has been made impossible,—not by any default of the debtor, but by the act of the creditor, the Government,—he will not try to enforce that repayment. Thisis my case.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, if the measure of Government offered any reasonable prospect of affecting either a permanent settlement of the tithe question, or even a lengthened truce upon the subject, then the Government would be justified in proposing the present plan; but when he saw that by the course now adopted a premium was held out for disobedience to the law—when he saw, that the arrears of tithes were to be excused to those who owed them—he thought he perceived in such a course of proceeding the certainty that tithes in future would no longer be paid. Taking this view of the subject, he considered that both parties, Conservatives and Whigs, in that House were not dealing sincerely with the question, and had only been playing with it. When he supported the appropriation clauses in 1835 he did so, not meaning the appropriation of a surplus which was to be no surplus, but he meant the appropriation of a real and tangible surplus out of the present revenue of the Church to the great public object of the general education of the people. He thought by the adoption of the appropriation principle there was a reasonable security given, that a certain portion of the revenue might be secured for the Church, while a tangible surplus would be secured for other great public purposes. But between the appropriation of a surplus which was no surplus at all and the abandonment of the appropriation principle he really did not consider that that there was a pin to choose. But the House having arrived at this conclusion, and having given a premium to resistance to the payment of tithes, and thereby putting an end to the payment of tithes for all time to come, he would say, that the tithe revenues for the clergy was, in fact, abandoned. This being the case, he would at once tell the public so. Let the Government say, "If you mean to support the clergy of the Church in Ireland, you must put the charge for their support 357 in the budget;" and then the people of England might be plainly asked whether they were willing to grant a vote for the support of the Irish clergy. That would be dealing fairly with the people of England. What he accused both the Government and the hon. Gentleman opposite of was, that they knew that this measure would afford no security for tithe in Ireland; that it would not be a permanent settlement, but that they blinked the question. No; they would not come to the admission that the revenue for the Protestant church in Ireland must be abandoned; they were therefore willing to adopt this measure as a temporary expedient.
said, that after the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Bridport, he was anxious to, explain shortly the ground on which he concurred in the present proposition, and also in the general course which was proposed to be taken during the present session upon the subject of Irish affairs. The hon. Gentleman had stated the reasons that induced him to vote in 1835 in favour of the appropriation of the surplus property of the Irish Church; and said that his views were, in the first place, that a part of the revenue of the Irish Church would continue applicable to the support of the clergy, but that for the purpose of preserving that portion from the hostility of the people in that country there should be a different appropriation of the remainder, namely, that a real surplus should be applied to purposes of general public utility. He entirely concurred with the hon. Gentleman in those views. Those were the views which had induced him also to support those resolutions. He believed at that time, and he believed now, that the resistance which had been made to the payment of tithes in Ireland had arisen, not merely from the vexatious mode in which the impost was collected, but also from the natural hostility of the people to the purposes for which they were applied. He believed, that it was natural that a large population differing from the establishment should feel hostile to the application of the whole sum levied from the property of Ireland to support a Church, the doctrines of which were professed by only a small minority of the people, He felt that that was an objection which, if he were in their situation, he himself, should have most strongly 358 entertained; and therefore, he was not surprised that they also should feel it. He believed, when the right hon. Member for Launceston, while Secretary for Ireland brought forward his measure to remedy the evils which were then felt in Ireland from the difficulty of collecting tithes, that it would necessarily fail, and for this reason, that it was directed against the symptoms only of the disease, instead of the disease itself. He remembered when Lord Stanley, in 1832, brought forward his tithe bill, that the noble Lord devised all the powers which he thought the most stringent, and framed it with all the ingenuity he possessed, and in a manner which he thought most certain to accomplish his object. He also remembered, that on that occasion the noble Lord was told by an hon. Friend who was no longer a Member of the House—Mr. Brownlow—that his measure would fail, because it was the purpose for which tithes were collected, and not the mode of collecting them, that constituted the evil. He believed, that in 1835, he saw the realization of that prophecy. He therefore voted most earnestly for the resolutions which were at that time adopted; and he afterwards concurred in the measure founded upon those resolutions. The hon. Member for Bridport had said, that that measure had only produced a sham and a delusion. Now, he had never disguised from himself that the principle upon which that measure was founded would have led to measures larger and more extensive than those that were afterwards proposed to the House. He was perfectly sensible that if the Irish people had insisted for that which, in his opinion, was their clear and undoubted right, they might have demanded more than the Government or the Legislature intended to give them. But he believed, that it was with the Irish people not merely a question of substantial interests but a feeling of wounded pride, and irritated honour. They felt themselves committed upon this subject. and required to have some assurance that they, the people, and not merely the Church, were the first object of regard to the Government. It was not merely a diminution of 50,000l. of the Church revenues in Ireland, or the mere application from that source, rather than from the consolidated fund, of a sum of money to the purposes of general education, which in his view, was important. He con- 359 sidered that a sum derived from this particular source would tend to soothe the wounded feelings of the Irish; and that if such a measure would not produce a final settlement of the question, it would at least produce so long an interval of tranquillity that men's minds would hereafter, when they came to consider the subject, be far more disposed calmly to come to some rational arrangement. He believed, therefore, that this proposition afforded the best chance for the preservation of the Irish establishment. He did not disguise from himself that that establishment stood upon grounds altogether unlike that of the establishment in England or in Scotland; but he believed, that if they could get rid of the immediate bitterness of the dispute, and if they could postpone the struggle as to whether the establishment should exist in Ireland or not, the inherent truth of the doctrines professed by that establishment would gradually work their way. He believed, that if the Church itself were reformed, and if that unfortunate secular spirit, and that undue regard for worldly wealth, which it grieved him to see so much displayed in so many of those disputes, were corrected, those causes which now prevented the diffusion of Protestantism in Ireland would be removed, and the Church itself become greatly purified and enlarged. The Church in Ireland might be less wealthy, indeed, but it would be permanently based upon the same grounds as the Church in England, and with the same permanent benefit to that country. Those were his views. But perceiving during these debates for three years past that men's minds had got much irritated upon this subject, the effect he formerly anticipated from a grant of 56,000l. it would be perfectly visionary to suppose could now be realized. He foresaw, and he deeply deplored it, that a far more difficult, a far larger question with respect to the Irish establishment would come some day or other to be agitated in that House. It was this which gave real importance to what was termed the appropriation clauses. At the same time, while he saw the difficulty, still the mode of collecting tithe in Ireland might perhaps in many respects, be mitigated. He found it was the general wish of the representatives of Ireland that something should be done at least to mitigate the evils of collection, if at a future period a final arrangement with regard to the appropriation 360 principle should not admit of adjustment. For these reasons he thought that without in the slightest degree abandoning any opinion he had previously entertained, it was open to him at present to waive insisting upon the appropriation of any specific sum from the revenues of the Irish Church to the purposes of general education. At the same time he believed that even the mere fact of carrying the resolutions of 1835 had not been without its advantage. He believed, that the certainty of the House of Commons having sympathised with the people of Ireland upon this great subject had produced a most useful effect in that country; and he also believed, that, merely with the regard to the collection of tithes, those resolutions had not been without their advantage. He likewise believed, that if they had persevered in the attempt to collect tithes, with the recorded determination of the British House of Commons that the property of the Irish Church should continue permanently undiminished, whatever the opinion of the Irish people might have been—whether they had put the charge upon the landlord, or had taken any other course—the resistance to, and the struggle against, the payment would have continued, and that they would have had less collections than had actually taken place, because he could not help feeling, that on a question of this kind he must necessarily entertain a very strong opinion. If the House of Commons, being the great governing power over the affairs of this empire, were committed against the people of Ireland upon this subject, it necessarily would produce a struggle which would be incompatible with any notions of a really free and constitutional Government. The very term constitutional Government" implied a Government carried on in conformity with the deliberate opinions of the great majority of the people. If they were in this country to attempt to apply the rule of maintaining any, even the most valued, institution against the wishes of the people, they would all readily perceive how absurd the attempt would be. If the people of England were to employ all their constitutional powers and privileges, such as the right of returning Members to that House, and the right of petitioning in support of any measure on which they had set their hearts, the House of Commons knew well that the people must succeed, and that to carry on the Government in opposition to their 361 wishes would be altogether impracticable. But it was thought in Ireland that the case was different. This question of the Irish Church had always, in his mind, derived great importance from this circumstance, that it was practically putting the House of Commons in a position which made it impossible for them while the evils of that Church were allowed to remain, fairly and fully to carry out the principles of constitutional liberty. If the Government were to avow a determination to pursue a line of conduct entirely adverse to the wishes and feelings of the great body of the Irish people, and if that people were determined to use their powers and privileges in opposition to that Government, a state of things must necessarily arise which could only lead to endless mischief and confusion. Therefore it was, that he said even though no practical legislative measures flowed from the resolution of 1835, this practical good had, nevertheless, resulted from them, that the passing of those resolutions had shown to the people of Ireland that the British House of Commons sympathised with them upon a subject in which they took the deepest interest. He would apply these views to the immediate question before the House—the granting of a sum of money to meet the deficiencies in the arrears, which were now due for tithes. He agreed with the hon. Member behind him, that there was a great fault somewhere with regard to this measure. Hon. Members opposite would lay the fault on hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House, for not placing at an earlier period the liability of payment on the landlord; whilst he, on the contrary, would attribute the fault to the Gentlemen opposite for not having adopted those measures which in his conscience he believed to be necessary for the settlement of the Church question. Admitting, however, that the fault lay somewhere, things were now in such a position that they could not act in any manner without laying their plan open to well-founded objections. He admitted fully that he had the strongest objection to this grant of the public money; at the same time it was clear that the state of opinion and of parties in this country was such as to prevent any extensive reform at present in the Church of Ireland, and he must, therefore, consider what chance was the best for the time of proving successful; and he thought that, for the chance 362 of a successful issue the adjournment of the great differences for a period was desirable. [Hear, hear!] He was glad to find by the cheers of the right hon. Baronet, that the right hon. Baronet thought that he was stating no new doctrine. He allowed, that by the present measure the great question of tithes in Ireland would not be settled, but only adjourned; he was not sanguine of the success of any such recipe whilst the Irish people felt and were sensible of the state of their country, whilst they felt the hardship of maintaining a Church which was in some districts alienated from ninety-five per cent, of the people. In the course of human nature it seemed clear that causes did exist which would bring forward the subject in a different shape at some time or the other; he sincerely hoped, however, that this might be put off for a considerable period, and, therefore, he regarded every day's delay of great importance. He believed, that the real obstacle to a permanent settlement of this question was the extensive prejudice with regard to it which at present prevailed in this country; and he had the strongest confidence that, as truth always ultimately prevailed, each day would diminish the objections now entertained towards a settlement, and that they would ere long come to the discussion of this question with altered feelings and under more favourable circumstances. He believed, that it would cease to be so much mixed up with party, and that all persons, in a more temperate spirit, would come to a settlement which would be more favourable to all. Therefore it was, that he was prepared to support the tithe measure then before the House, and the vote of the public money that evening. Many hon. Members might think that he had spoken too frankly upon this subject; but it was due to himself candidly to lay before the House his views and opinions; that if, hereafter, he should be called upon to act upon them, he might not then be reproached with having now disguised them.
§ Mr. Hawes
said, that he was glad to hear the speech of the noble Lord, for he rejoiced that there was one Member of the Cabinet who consistently adhered to his declared opinions, and who maintained them for the same reasons which he had supported them. The question then before the House was, whether they were to force a Church upon the people of Ireland, and 363 whether they were to grant a million of money for the purpose of adjourning the question. The noble Lord had distinctly stated, that the grant was to be made only for the purpose of adjourning the question; and he (Mr. Hawes) would appeal to the English Members and to the Scotch Members, whether they would consent to this grant for the purpose of adjourning the consideration of the difficulties into which the Peers had brought the Irish Church at the instigation of her clergy. It was impossible that for such purposes they could agree to this grant of the public money. He wished to retain the respect which he had ever felt for the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and he, therefore, regretted the course which he had now taken. He could never forget the great and important services which that noble Lord had rendered to the country and to the cause of reform, but in this instance he had to choose between the policy of the noble Lord's Government and his duty as a Member of that House, and he could not hesitate as to his line of conduct. He and his friends wished to make provision for the general education of the Irish people; but now they were told that Church was to be maintained for its own purposes and not for the good of the people. They were distinctly told, also, that although the Irish would take the English money, they would not cease to agitate for the annihilation of tithes; he confessed, however, that he could not agree in the morality of the hon. and learned Member, who had stated this. The hon. Member said, that the Irish would take the money, but that it would fail in the effect which it was intended to produce. Now he did not understand such a policy; he did not think that it was a course which they ought to pursue; they would not, by so doing, stop the tithe agitation; and he should, therefore, in every stage, give his opposition to this, if it were agreed to, the most profligate measure which was ever adopted. It was only by the aid of a large military force that the Irish Church was now upheld, and he must say, that he considered a Church thus supported not to be the Church of Christ, but the Church of bayonets. He understood from the noble Lord that the policy of the Government was to be changed—that the Irish policy was to be more pliable than it hitherto had been—and he much regretted it; he thought 364 that on the appropriation clause he was struggling for a principle which, when engrafted on the minds of the people, would have led to some practical result; and, therefore, he regretted that the noble Lord had not upon the present occasion adopted an honest and straightforward course of policy. He thought, that the Irish Church ought to be pared down to what by the resolution of the House had been declared fit, the "spiritual wants of the Irish Protestants;" he would not be satisfied till that was done; and he was sure that if the Irish were actuated by similar feelings to those of the people of this country, they would not rest contented till this was accomplished. He hoped, however, that he had misunderstood the noble Lord, for anxious as he was and ever had been to support the noble Lord and her Majesty's Government, he could not support them merely as one party struggling against another; he would support them only when they were really striving for a clear and practical course of Government, from which the people of this country might derive clear, practical, and intelligible advantages.
§ Lord John Russell
bore testimony to the honourable and disinterested support of the hon. Member and his friends; but he had not adopted, upon the present occasion, any new course, for the question, as he had all along stated, was, whether he should introduce the appropriation clause into the bill, when there was no probability of the bill, with this addition, becoming the law of the land; and he could not, therefore, see why the hon. Member had used towards him such harsh expressions, especially when the hon. Baronet, the Member for Devon, had brought forward his motion, and had given him (Lord John Russell) not only an opportunity of again stating his opinions, but the House the power of re-affirming the principle of appropriation.
§ Mr. Langdale
thought, that a fund ought not to be appropriated to the landlords, in which there was something, in his opinion, of a sacred character. It had always been his opinion, that when a settlement of this question, which was desirable, should be adopted, the spiritual wants of the people of Ireland should be supplied; but when they were amply provided for, he was anxious that the residue should be preserved for the public for some useful purpose. Now, it appeared clear to 365 him, that it was an appropriation to pay to the landlord 25l. per cent.; and he would say, it was an infinitely worse appropriation than to apply the same amount for the purposes of education, or to any other charitable purposes. He was anxious to preserve the fund, but, at the same time, he was anxious for a final settlement; and it was, because the present proposition would not effect such a settlement, because it would only temporarily heal a wound, which would afterwards break out worse, and because he believed it would not accomplish an object, which he, for one, thought it most desirable to accomplish, and for which, if it could be accomplished, he would be most willing to increase a grant, that he opposed the present motion.
§ Sir B. Hall
fully concurred, in what had fallen from the two hon. Members who had preceded him, and having recorded his vote in the year 1833, when a similar resolution was before the House, against the grant of money to the clergy of Ireland, he should vote with them on the present occasion, as no argument had been advanced, and no reasons assigned why a different course should be pursued now. The noble Lord, as stated by his hon. Friend near him, had taunted some hon. Members who took a course adverse to the Government for not having expressed their objections to the grant before that evening. He must say, that he did not consider that it was very wise or very considerate, on the part of the noble Lord, to do so. He must have known, that many Members were now n the House who formed part of the Parliament of 1833; and it might naturally be supposed, that those who voted in the minority then, would take the same view of the matter now, that they did at that period. Circumstances remained the same, excepting that the people were placed in rather a worse position, because, instead of a loan of one million, they were now called upon to give up positively about 740,000l., and to make another grant of the remainder of the million. But what opportunity had been afforded to make any objections? The plan was first proposed by the Gentlemen opposite on Saturday; it was agreed to by the noble Lord on the Treasury-bench, and that evening was fixed for the discussion. The earliest possible moment had been taken by them to explain their sentiments, and 366 there was no ground for the taunt of the noble Lord below him. He rejoiced at hearing the speech of the noble Lord, the Secretary at War; he was glad that the opinions entertained in that respect were not merely entertained by the noble Lord as a Member of the Government, but that they would be placed upon record, and he trusted the time would soon arrive when those opinions would be acted upon, and form part of the policy of a Government. The policy pursued now was of a very questionable nature, and the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had given great cause for alarm in the latter part of his speech; for he had intimated that he should adapt his course to such measures as he thought would be carried; but he hoped that the noble Lord would never give up his own opinions in deference to those of his opponents. Independent of the present resolutions, a bill had been passed in that House, whereby a municipal franchise had been granted to the people of Ireland—it was well known, that great alterations had been made in another place, and it would be too bad, if, when hon. Members had given their support to Government for the lower franchise, if they should be called upon to support the bill in its altered form according to the views of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. As regarding the present grant of money, he considered it unnecessary. It was another instalment they were called upon to make, and he believed many more would follow; and seeing no change in the position of circumstances, and retaining the same sentiments as those he recorded upon a former occasion, he should vote against the resolutions.
§ Mr. C. P. Villiers
would not have risen upon the present occasion, if the Liberal Members had not been charged by the noble Lord with not expressing their opinions. He did not dread the reproaches of the noble Lord, nor the expressions of hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he was somewhat alarmed lest those who sent him to that House, or if any body of his countrymen should call upon him to explain any vote which he might give, if it were not in support of the amendment of his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny. In common with many English Members, he felt, that a great debt was due to Ireland for the manner in which we had long misgoverned her; and if the noble Lord had held out any hope, that this grant would make any improvement, or form 367 any permanent basis for a settlement, there was not a man in the House who would not have been willing to grant a much larger sum. But in the total absence of any kind of hope on this ground, he would vote with his hon. Friend against this unjust appropriation of the public money. The noble Lord had said, that the great object was, to have a practieal settlement; but this was, in his (Mr. Villiers's) opinion, a practical question; because, if it were not practical, and if he did not hope to derive benefit from it, he could not support it. If the vote had been proposed on the ground that that people were too poor, and that the occupying tenants could not pay the amount, the noble Lord might come forward with a good plea to relieve them from the amount; but if it were proposed on the ground, that the people did not object to the amount, but to the distribution, what became of the plea? The whole question turned upon this—had any hon. Member ventured to state, that the destination was not what was objected to? And when that was the ground for resisting the payment of the arrears which were due, be would ask, whether England ought to be called upon to pay them? The bill in no way provided for the better management or disposition of the tithes, and therefore he objected to it. And what answer could they give to the people of England why they voted away the 260,000l., in addition to the 640,000l. already lent, without a prospect of benefiting Ireland, or of relieving her from any of her grievances? Was not every species of reform in England stopped for the want of money? Was not the education of the people—was not a better means of internal communication—was not an uniform rate of post—all stopped because they could not spare 100,000l.? And yet they were now called upon to vote away a larger amount of the public money for a useless purpose—a purpose which, if he were called upon, he would describe as one for encouraging in one party resistance to all reform in the Irish Church, and others to disobey the law. What! were they to tell the Irish, that they were to suffer nothing for resisting the law, and for refusing the payment of tithes? What a moral would they be thus inculcating; what encouragement were they giving to persons to stand in the way of reform! The Dissenters in England objected to the 368 payment of church rates, but what would Members say, if Ireland were called upon to pay the church rates of England? What would they say, if, instead of seeking to repeal the law, the English Dissenters had refused to pay church rates, and had called upon Ireland to pay their debts? Was not this an illustration precisely in point? He had not beard any Irish Member state what he had understood, that some had avowed, that they were ready to take the English money, and still to agitate for the abolition of tithes. He did not believe, that this was the general feeling in Ireland. Such was not a morality which any one could defend. When they considered what the Dissenters in England had done under the same circumstances, he did not believe, that there was such a difference between the morality of an English Dissenter and of an Irish Catholic as to lead to such a different course of action. The English Dissenters had been offered to have the church rates charged upon the consolidated fund, but they had said, that they would not allow of this: they insisted, that church rates should be altogether abolished. But, if they had adopted the suggestion which had been made, they might have taken the money from the public fund, and still have continued to agitate for the abolition of the rates. And he was sure, that the English people would consider it a dangerous and serious violation of the security of property, and of the principles of justice, if they sanctioned this arbitrary resistance to the law.
did not think, he said, that he had ever heard a more unfounded attack upon the people of Ireland than that which had just been made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. He might be mistaken in entertaining such an opinion respecting that attack, as he was a party in the cause. Yet he thought, that he could satisfy every reasonable person, that the whole of the attack of the hon. Member, even according to that hon. Member's own principles, was utterly unfounded. That hon. Member had said, that the people of Ireland had as much right to call upon the English people to pay their tithes, as the English people would have to call upon the people of Ireland to pay the church rates, which the Dissenters of England refused to pay. Why, the people of Ireland did not insist upon the people of England paying church 369 rates, and therefore it would be most unjust to charge them with the payment of church rates; but the people of England, on the other hand, insisted upon the people of Ireland supporting the Protestant church in Ireland. He appealed to hon. Gentlemen on the other side, whether the people of England had not sent a great majority of Members there pledged to support the Protestant church in Ireland. He thought they were wrong in doing so. Hon. Gentlemen opposite thought, that the English people were right. There was no disputing the fact. Then what did it come to? The people of England sent their Representatives there to insist, that an overwhelming majority of Irishmen—that 6,500,000 men should pay tithes for the benefit merely of 800,000 persons. Was not this the fact—the admitted fact? And ought not, then, the people of England to pay for that? He turned then as to the morality of the thing, and asked his hon. Friend what morality or what justice could there be in the people of England sending a majority of Members there to secure, that the Church of the few should be supported by the many, and then refusing, when they were called upon, to pay for that which they themselves had wished for. The Church of the few in Ireland was an English luxury at the expense of Ireland, and it was only fair, that a little of the expense should now be borne by England. He then turned round upon them, and asked them if the people of Ireland were strong enough to maintain the Catholic Church in this country, and to appropriate to it all the revenues, tithes, and wealth now possessed by the Established Church—if the Irish were strong enough to do this, and to send bayonets to this country to uphold the Church, as the hon. Member for Lambeth had called the Irish establishment "the Church of bayonets"—and if they made the English Protestants pay tithes to the Roman Catholics, they being the one-sixteenth of the population of' England—then he said, that nothing could be more just than that the people of Ireland should pay for compelling the people of England to contribute to the Church of the minority. Without meaning any personal disrespect to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, he must say, that he regarded with infinite scorn the argument which went to show, that the English would not pay for that which they thought it was good for the Irish to pay. 370 But it was also said the English would willingly contribute if the cure were to be radical, but they would not pay for a partial cure. They could not answer for the event. He did not tell them, that it would be a radical cure; but, then, would they not contribute some portion of their wealth, when they were about to soften and ameliorate the evil that oppressed the country. The history of the transaction appeared to be totally forgotten. Both Tories and Whigs agreed, that the system could not go on in Ireland. Both agreed, that there must be an alteration. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir H. Hardinge) had brought in a bill on the subject. By that it would be found, that a diminution of tithes to the amount of 25 per cent. was sanctioned by the right hon. Baronet. They might talk of injustice if thy pleased, but injustice to that extent had been sanctioned by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The present Government then accedes to that proposition. They said, that things could not remain as they were. If they refused the experiment, that was now about to be made, he asked them if they thought, that things could remain as they were? The right things Baronet had proposed, that the arrears should be provided for. Now, for the first time, a bill had been proposed without providing for arrears. He asked them if it would be right to have those arrears unprovided for. He could understand their opposing the Government bill altogether; but then he could not understand their opposing the only means, and the only emollient to such a measure, which gave it a chance of succeeding, or could soften its harshness and asperity. The enormous grievance of the tithe system was, that it compelled the nine-tenths to pay for the support of the Church of the one-tenth. That was the evil, that the original sin, that the original injustice; and it was to that they ought to apply the proper remedies. Seven millions of Catholics and Dissenters paid for the Church of one million—nay, not for so many, as the members of the Established Church did not exceed 800,000. They might so far degrade the Irish, that they could extinguish their resistance for a time, as they had done, when they had abominably violated the treaty of Limerick, which an hon. Baronet ventured to defend in that House, but shrunk from its defence elsewhere, After 1759 not less than seventy- 371 four capital felonies had been placed on the statute book for resistance to tithes. For the forty years following, during the Irish Parliament, the resistance to tithes continued, and now for thirty-eight years since the Union, it had been persevered in. It had lulled for a time. They might attempt to put it down by brute force, but it would rise again, Both sides were agreed, that they ought to put an end to the existing state of things. At least they ought now to attempt the experiment; but how were they to go on with it, if they were to leave the arrears to be collected. In that case it would be impossible for them to succeed, and he did not say they would succeed, even if they paid the arrears; for the original injustice remained. The noble Lord (Howick) had spoken of the superior force and truth of Protestantism. He differed with the noble Lord as to that superiority; but then what chance had truth in making its way with the people, when it was only known, to them, as the cause of every oppression and every injustice they endured. They could not have corporations for Ireland, because they were not members of the Church; and then there was the holy alliance of corporation abuses and the truth of Protestantism. They could not defile Protestantism more than they had done, by representing it as a bayonet Church, as a taxing Church, as an exclusive Church, and as the excuse for every abuse continuing in Ireland. They who supported such a system were the apostles of anti-protestantism. He had risen merely for the purpose of protesting against the doctrine that it was to be said, that there was any immorality in their looking for that money which gave the only chance of settling the question, or of promoting conciliation. When hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House taunted Government with not following out the appropriation principle, he asked, what chance would the Ministry have of pushing the principle further than that House? No delusion, in his opinion, could be greater than that which would tell the people of Ireland, that the Ministry could carry the appropriation principle. He desired, that the present experiment should be made fairly. It might be said, that a large sum was asked for; but if not granted, would they not have to pay a larger sum for the maintenance of the army and artillery in Ireland? They must have a system of force, or of conciliation; and 372 that of conciliation would require the smaller sacrifice from them. Were they determined by force to compel the people of Ireland to submit to the exaction in its present form? He hoped not. Were they prepared to refuse the bill? He did not think so. Were they resolved upon refusing the grant? He did not suppose so; but then, if they had faith in their own nostrum, and to make the experiment by conciliation, at length they ought to do so, and for the first time in Ireland.
§ The Committee divided on the original motion:—Ayes 170; Noes 61: Majority 109.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adam, Admiral||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Fitzgibbon, Colonel|
|Archbold, R.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Baillie, Colonel||French, F.|
|Baker, E.||Gibson, T.|
|Bannerman, E.||Gladstone, W. E.|
|Baring, H. B.||Gordon, R.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Goulburn, H.|
|Barrington, Lord||Graham, Sir J.|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Grant, F. W.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Grey, Sir C.|
|Blair, J.||Grey, Sir G.|
|Blennerhassett, A.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Brabazon, Lord||Grimston, Lord|
|Bradshaw, J.||Grimston, hon. E.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Hardinge, Sir. H.|
|Broadley, H.||Henniker, Lord|
|Brownrigg, S,||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Hillsborough, Earl of|
|Bryan, G.||Hobhouse, Sir J.|
|Burrell, Sir C.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Campbell, Sir H.||Hodgson, R.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Cavendish, C.||Hope, G. W.|
|Chetwynd, Major||Hotham, Lord|
|Childers, J. W.||Howick, Lord|
|Clayton, Sir W.||Hurst, R. H.|
|Clements, Lord||Hurt, F.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Hutton, R.|
|Corry, hon. H.||Ingestrie, Viscount|
|Cowper, W. F.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Crawley, S.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Curry, W.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Jones, T.|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||Kemble, H.|
|De Horsey, S. H.||Kerrison, Sir E.|
|Dick, Q.||Kinnaird, hon. A.|
|Douglas, Sir C.||Knight, H. G.|
|Duffield, T.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Dunbar, G.||Labouchere, H.|
|East, J. B.||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Lefroy, T,|
|Egerton, W. T.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Ellis, J.||Loch, J.|
|Estcourt, T.||Lockhart, A. M.|
|Evans, G.||Lowther, Lord|
|Farnham, E. B.||Lowther, J. H|
|Lygon, hon. Gen.||Rose, Sir G.|
|Mackenzie, T.||Round, J.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Rushbrooke, R.|
|Macleod, R.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Macnamara, Major||Russell, Lord C.|
|Maher, J.||Scarlett, hon. J. Y.|
|Martin, T. B.||Seymour, Lord|
|Maule, hon. F.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Sheppard, T.|
|Monypenny, T.||Sibthorpe, Colonel|
|Morpeth, Lord||Sinclair, Sir G.|
|Murray, J. A.||Smith, R. V.|
|Nicholl, J.||Somers, J. P.|
|O'Brien, W. S.||Stanley, Lord|
|O'Connell, D.||Stewart, J.|
|O'Connell, J.||Sturt, H. C.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Sugden, Sir E.|
|O'Connell, M.||Teignmouth, Lord|
|O'Ferrall, R. M.||Tennant, J. E.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Thomas, Colonel H.|
|Pakington, J. S.||Thomson, C. P.|
|Parker, J.||Trench, Sir F.|
|Parker, M.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Parker, R. T.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Parnell, Sir H.||Verner, Colonel|
|Peel, Sir R.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Pendarves, E.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Perceval, Colonel||Westenra, J. C.|
|Philips, G. R.||White, A.|
|Phillpots, J.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Polhill, F.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Power, J.||Wood, C.|
|Pusey, P.||Wood, Colonel T.|
|Rice, right hon. T. S.||Wood, T.|
|Rich, H.||Young, J.|
|Roche, E. B.||TELLERS.|
|Roche, Sir D.||Steuart, R.|
|Rolfe, Sir R. M.||Stanley, E. J.|
|List of the NOES|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Bentinck, Lord W.||Hector, C. J.|
|Blake, M. J.||Hill, Lord A. M.|
|Blake, W. J.||Hindley, C.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Horsman, E.|
|Bowes, J.||Hutt, W.|
|Brodie, W. B.||James, W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Jervis, S.|
|Browne, R. D.||Langdale, hon. C.|
|Chalmers, P.||Leader, J. T.|
|Clay, W.||Lushington, C.|
|Collins, W.||Martin, J.|
|Craig, W. G.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Currie, R.||Morris, D.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Muskett, G. A.|
|Divett, E.||Pattison, J.|
|Duckworth, S.||Pechell, Captain|
|Dundas, F.||Philips, M.|
|Easthope, J.||Ponsonby, C. F.|
|Fielden, J.||Pryme, G.|
|Finch, F.||Pryse, P.|
|Grote, G.||Salwey, Colonel|
|Hall, Sir B.||Strutt, E.|
|Handley, A.||Style, Sir C.|
|Hastie, A.||Thornely, T.|
|Hawes, B.||Turner, E.|
|Villiers, C. P.||Wood, Sir M.|
|Wallace, R.||Wood, G. W.|
|Warburton, H.||Worsley, Lord|
|Ward, H. G.||TELLERS.|
|Williams, W.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Williams, W. A.||Hume, J.|
§ House resumed.