HC Deb 12 February 1840 vol 52 cc159-62

Sir E. Knatchbull moved the second reading of the Tithe Commutation Acts Amendment Bill. In this Bill, there were two or three claims which might be modified in the committee. He meant especially those relating to hops and market grounds. He wished to do everything to forward the intentions which the Legislature had in passing the Tithes Commutation Act. And one of his principal objects in the present measure was to prevent tithe from being taken in kind, when the rent charge was fixed, that was to say, between the apportionment and the commutation.

Mr. Divett

was decidedly opposed to the Bill. It would be impossible to dovetail an Act of seventy-four distinct clauses into the several different Acts which had been passed upon this subject, without producing the greatest doubt and confusion. The first Tithe Act was the 6th William 4th, and then there was the Act of the 1st Victoria, which had been followed by others on the same subject. The hon. Baronet said, that his object was to prevent the taking of tithe in kind, between the apportionment and the commutation. Now that might be a very good object, but it would not be attained under the proposed Bill, without great expense and inconvenience, and it would materially stand in the way of the justice of the apportionment. He found, that the expenses of the present Tithe Commission amounted to 60,000l. a year, and he believed, that the present measure would tend considerably to increase that. The right hon. Baronet, in introducing his Bill, had talked of the inconveniences of the present system, and of the great difficulty of collecting tithes. He believed, however, that those difficulties existed only in a very few instances, and that there was a general disposition in the country to enter into voluntary agreements on subjects of the kind. The Tithe Commissioners said they had reason to express their satisfaction at the working of the Bill, and there was therefore no reason to come to the House for its alteration when appeals were of rare occurence, and acquiescence was the general rule. If that was the opinion of the Tithe Commissioners, why allow a Bill of this sort to pass, which would materially alter the Act, and make that which was already extremely difficult to understand, a great deal more difficult. He contended, it was not sufficient for any Member to say the Tithe Commissioners concurred in the Bill. If this were the case, the Bill ought to be introduced under their auspices, and they should have taken upon themselves the responsibility of any changes they thought might be required. One clause only in their report could justify this supposition, though in another place they said, "the hardship of collecting tithe in kind had been strongly pressed upon them." He had no doubt of it; but the time of the House should not be taken up in legislating on individual cases of grievance. He contended, that the intention of the framers of the Bill had been fully carried out, and that there was no occasion for the House again interfering. And having stated what were his objections to the Bill, and knowing that vast alterations must be made in committee, he thought it had better be stopped at the second reading, than allowed to go into Committee, where it would probably pass in a state that would be prejudicial to the interests it affected. He therefore, moved, that the Bill be read that day six months.

Mr. Fox Maule

could assure his hon. Friend, that this Bill had been introduced with the full concurrence of the Tithe Commissioners. When this measure was first proposed to the House, he had referred to the Tithe Commissioners on the subject, and he had this day gone through the Bill with one of those gentlemen, who had told him, speaking not only for himself, but his colleagues—when he said, that the Bill had their entire concurrence, as calculated to relieve them from a great portion of their labours, and to make the operation of the Act much less expensive. The object of this, was to effect a commutation of tithes into a rent-charge, as speedily as possible. It was quite true, that in most cases this had been done on the voluntary principle, but still there were many cases in which the old custom of taking tithes in kind still remained; and unless some measure were taken to remedy this inconvenience, the power conferred by this custom might be exercised most vexatiously. It was quite true, that the clause had been introduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and he did not think, that this measure could have come more effectually before the House if the Tithe Commissioners brought it forward on their own authority. On the contrary, the Tithe Commissioners had said, that they would take advantage of this Bill to introduce certain necessary amendments. His hon. Friend had complained of the great number of amended Bills on this subject; it would be a matter of surprise if such had not been the case, because it would be a wonder if in a great measure, such as that of the Tithe Commutation, they should have been enabled to have introduced a perfect Bill at once. Reserving, therefore, to himself the right of entering into a full explanation of this Bill, clause by clause, in committee, he should vote for its second reading.

Mr. Goulburn

doubted if this bill would effect what the hon. Gentleman expected. It appeared to him that the clauses in question would affect merely a small number of cases. By the proposed arrangement, when a parish made an agreement substituting a rent charge for tithes, any landholder might render himself security for the payment of the charge on the whole parish. If the landlord were the proprietor of the whole parish, it might be worth his while to do so, but if he were not, it was improbable that he would take the chance of recovering the amount from the other landholders. The delay now existing in carrying forward the operation of the act, arose between the agreement and the apportionment, and the apportionment was delayed from petty squabbles among the landholder as to little expenses, and the only way in which these squabbles could be terminated, was by the pressure upon the parties of the inconveniences of the present system. He much feared little good would result from giving facilities for further delay. There were other clauses of great importance, which he had not had time fully to consider—one giving power to the Commissioners to fix boundaries. On the whole, if the amendment were pressed, he feared he must vote for it; but he would rather not vote against the bill till some future stage.

Sir R. Inglis

deprecated proceeding with the second reading of the bill, considering that it had only been printed six days. He was of opinion that time ought to be allowed for considering the bill, but as that was refused, he should vote, if called upon, with the hon. Member for Exeter, that the bill should be read a second time that day six months.

Sir Edward Sugden

objected to the powers that had been added to the bill by the Tithe Commissioners. What he would therefore propose was, that the bill should be referred to a committee upstairs, where the whole subject could be considered with more deliberation than in that House. If that were agreed to, probably the hon Member for Exeter would withdraw his motion.

Sir E. Knatchbull

was quite ready to accede to the proposition of a Select Committee. He hoped the hon. Member for Exeter would allow the bill to be read a second time, in order that it might be sent to a Committee up-stairs.

Mr. Divett

would persevere in his amendment.

The House divided on the original question:—Ayes 77; Noes 21: Majority 56.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Hughes, W. B.
Baines, E. Johnstone, H.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Kirk, P.
Barnard, E. G. Litton, E.
Blackburne, I. Lockhart, A. M.
Blake, M. J. Lowther, J. H.
Bodkin, J. J. Lushington, rt. hn. S.
Boldero, H. G. Macaulay, rt. hn. T.B.
Bolling, W. Mackenzie, T.
Bowes, J. Mackenzie, W. F.
Broadley, H. Miles, W.
Clerk, Sir G. O'Brien, W. S.
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Packe, C. W.
Darby, G. Pakington, J. S.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Palmer, G.
Egerton, W. T. Parker, R. T.
Fleetwood, Sir P. H. Perceval, Colonel
Fort, J. Pigot, D. R.
Gillon, W. D. Polhill, F.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Pringle, A.
Gore, O. J. R. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Round, J.
Grant, hon. Colonel Rushbrooke, Colonel
Grant, hon. F. W. Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.
Greene, T. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir C. Sheppard, T.
Grimsditch, T. Steuart, R.
Hamilton, Lord C. Style, Sir C.
Hardinge,rt.hn.Sir H. Sugden, rt. hn. Sir E.
Hastie, A. Sutton.hn.J.H.T.M.
Heneage, G. W. Vere, Sir C. B.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Verney, Sir H.
Hill, Lord A. M. C. Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R.H.
Hodgson, R. Waddington, H. S.
Holmes, W. Walker, R.
Hope, hon. C. White, A.
Hope, G. W. Williams, W. A.
Winnington, Sir T. E. Knatchbull, rt. hon.
Winnington, H. J. Sir E.
Young, Sir W. Maule, hon. F.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, Major Lushington, C.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. M'Leod, R.
Bagge, W. Martin, J.
Bellew, R. M. Pechell, Captain
Bewes, T. Salwey, Colonel
Blair, J. Thornley, T.
Brotherton, J. Vigors, N. A.
Dennistoun, J. Warburton, H.
Duncombe, hon. A. Yates, J. A.
Ewart, W. TELLERS.
Hector, C. J. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Divelt, E.

Bill read a second time.