HC Deb 20 July 1840 vol 55 cc837-49

Lord J. Russell moved the Order of the Day for the further consideration of the Report of the Clergy Reserves (Canada) Bill.

Order of the Day read.

On the motion that the House resolve itself into a committee,

Mr. Pakington

had no intention of doing anything which would delay the progress of the bill: on the contrary, he thought that much credit was due to the noble Lord for the course he had pursued in adopting the suggestions which had been made elsewhere. He was still of opinion, however, that the provision to be made for the churches of England and Scotland was not such as they had a right to expect, but still it was much better than the first which had been proposed, or in- deed than any other provision which had been proposed either here or in the province. Besides this, seeing the feeling with which the noble Lord came forward to meet the proposition which had been made, and being anxious to bring this question to a speedy conclusion, and not surfer it to remain as a source of discord, he would not treat the bill with any hostile spirit. He approved of the alteration in the first clause, which limited the sale to a particular number of acres in one year, which would have the effect of securing a firm price, He objected to the second clause, which decided that the proceeds of the land sales should be placed in colonial securities. There was also another point of some importance—namely, it did not appear whether or not the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, who were to be intrusted with the management (and there could be no better trustees), were vested with the power of re-purchasing the lands. He at first entertained doubts as to the propriety of selling the property without making some reserve for the sites of future churches. He now, however, was ready to agree that the whole should be sold, and that the value of the land would increase in proportion to the increasing prosperity of the country. He was, however, desirous that some provision should be made with respect to the power of re-purchasing for the sites of churches. As to the portion granted to the churches of England and Scotland, it should be remembered that there were now in Canada a vast number of people who were at present of no church, but who would probably hereafter come into these communions. There was another clause, the seventh, to which he entertained a strong opinion, but in which he was glad to find that the noble Lord had made material alterations. In the original bill endowments were given to a great variety of sects, and particularly to Roman Catholics, and if it had remained so worded as it at first was, it would have have been highly objectionable. If the House referred to the proceedings upon this subject in the reign of George 3rd, and the language used by Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville, it would be found, that whatever difference of opinion existed upon other points, there could not be the slightest doubt that these reserves were made for Protestant uses. He hoped that the noble Lord might still be induced to insert the word "Protestant," so as to limit the fund to those uses contemplated in the original intent. He had no objection to the general provisions of the measure, but he was desirous that a sound foundation should be laid for that religious instruction in Canada upon which alone must depend the prosperity of the colony.

Mr. Hume

differed altogether from the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House as to the merits of the amendments which had been made in the bill by the noble Lord. He had understood, that the object of the Government by the present bill was to settle this question which had been a source of discord in the colony for the last twenty-five years. He understood from the letter of the noble Lord to the Governor of Canada, that the Government desired to satisfy the wishes of the majority of the people of Upper Canada on this subject, but he feared that some of the provisions that had been recently introduced into it would have anything but this result. He had on three several occasions presented petitions from the House of Assembly of Upper Canada on the subject of clergy reserves, and they protested on each occasion against the lands belonging to the people of that colony being appropriated in any thing like the way proposed in this bill. They however agreed, to prevent jealousies, that the lands in question should be sold, and that the results should be appropriated to the religious and general education of the people of the colony. It was therefore preposterous to expect that they would be satisfied with the mode now provided. Upper Canada, according to the Report on Clergy Reserves which he held in his hand, had repeatedly come to the following resolution:— That it is desirable that the lands commonly called the Clergy Reserves, and the proceeds arising from the sales thereof, be appropriated for the promotion of the religious and moral instruction of the people throughout the province. An address to the same effect had been agreed to by the House of Assembly in the year 1831, and he found that year after year there were resolutions agreed to, all to the same purport, and all declaring against any interference on the part of the British Government. How, then, he asked, could the noble Lord suppose that a settlement like this could tend to the peace or contentment of that country? He objected to the House proceeding with the bill, and when the House went into committee, he meant to propose the omission of this proviso in the fifth clause, and also that the seventh clause be left out.

Sir R. Inglis

was content to risk his view and opinion of the bill upon one single sentence that had fallen from the hon. Member for Kilkenny,—namely, that the clergy reserves had been granted by Parliament for the support of the Protestant clergy. He would leave the House to judge of the hon. Member's consistency after such an admission as that. The hon. Member had spoken of petitions that had been sent him to present to that House from speakers of the Colonial Assembly in three successive Parliaments. Now, one of these gentlemen was Mr. Bidwell, and he would ask the House whether they were prepared to place much confidence in any thing that proceeded from that gentleman. [Mr. Hume believed him to be as good a man as any in that House.] Let her Majesty's subjects in Canada, and in that House, and in the United States of America know what was the opinion of the hon. Member for Kilkenny on that point. He looked upon this bill with nearly the same feelings as those he entertained when the first discussion took place upon it. He admitted, that the bill had been improved since it was first introduced, but it still contained a great and predominating evil. In the words of the hon. Member for Kilkenny he asserted that the clergy reserves were avowedly granted for the Protestant Church, and he therefore considered it the bounden duty of the British Legislature considering the vested interests at stake not to alienate those vested interests, but to protect and preserve them for the purposes originally intended. He now objected to this bill as strongly as before because he was of opinion that it divested a great corporation of her Majesty's subjects, whom he regarded as the Church of a portion of that property, which had been solemnly awarded them by the Legislature of this country. Unless others set the example, however, he should not fee himself justified in dividing the House again upon the principle of the measure.

House went into Committee.

Upon Clause 1

Sir J. Graham

said, that he wished to know from the noble Lord whether he had any objection to include in this measure the sales of the clergy reserves in the Lower Province?

Lord John Russell

observed, that one reason for the non-insertion of the clergy reserves in Lower Canada was, that there had not been that source of disputes and of very great dissension that there had been in the Upper Province. A bill, too, had been passed for this purpose in the Upper province: and it had not been a matter of dissension in the Lower Province. He did not state this as a reason for not including the clergy reserves of the Lower Province; he only stated it as a reason why it was not originally introduced. Unless the thing could be done by the general concurrence, he should be sorry to embarrass the bill with any such clause.

Sir Charles Grey

stated, that unless the Lower Province was included in this bill, there would be a repetition of the scenes that had taken place in the Upper Province on this subject.

Mr. W. Gladstone

hoped that the noble Lord would include Lower Canada in this bill.

Sir James Graham

desired to see the clergy reserves sold in the shortest possible time, provided that no sacrifice was made of them. As to the Catholic church in Lower Canada, it was already very amply endowed.

Clause amended and agreed to.

On the Second clause,

Mr. Goulburn

said, it was essential that the produce of the sales should be vested in good securities, and he was not aware that there were any means of so doing in Upper Canada. He should propose, therefore, an amendment, based on the precedent of the act of the 7th and 8th of the late King, that the money should be paid over to officers appointed by her Majesty for that purpose, and by them be invested in the public funds of Great Britain.

Sir C. Grey

thought it was exceedingly desirable to ensure the safe keeping of their funds, but disapproved of the proposal to invest them in this country, as so doing would deprive the provinces of all the advantages which that amount of capital lying within its limits must necessarily confer upon a new country. He thought there were plenty of securities in the province in which the funds could be safely invested.

Lord J. Russell

opposed the amendment, which would involve a most unpalateable reflection upon the public securities of Canada. In the bill of 1839, a provision had been included, giving the Governor-general the power to invest these funds either in the securities of the colony, or of this country; and this was one of the few provisions which was objected to by the Colonial Assembly. This showed the feelings which existed in the province on this subject, and he should therefore oppose the re-insertion of such a provision on the present occasion.

Sir J. Graham

said, that the fact of investing these funds in the British funds could not deprive the province of any of the advantages derivable from such an amount of capital, as it was specially provided that all the interest should return to the province. He should be glad to be informed by hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, what securities they would propose to invest these funds in in Upper Canada?

The Committee divided on the question that the words be added.—Ayes 28; Noes 58: Majority 30.

List of the AYES.
Blair, J. Kemble, H.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Knight, H. G.
Bruges, W. H. L. Neeld, J.
Darby, G. Nicholl, J.
D'Israeli, B. Palmer, R.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Perceval, Colonel
Eliot, Lord Ponsonhy, C.
Estcourt, T. Pusey, P,
Fremantle, Sir T. Sandon, Viscount
Goulburn, rt. hon. H, Thompson, Mr. Aid.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Vere, Sir C. B.
Grimsditch, T. Wyndham, W.
Hodgson, R.
Hope, G. W. TELLERS.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Gladstone, T.
Irton, S. Pakington, S.
List of the NOES.
Adam, A. Hawes, B.
Baines, E. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Hodges, T. L.
Basset, J. Hume, J.
Bowes, J. Hutt, W.
Bridgeman, H. Langdale, hon. C.
Childers, J. W. Loch, J.
Clay, W. Lushington, C.
Currie, R. Lushington, rt. hn. S.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Maule, hon. F.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Morpeth, Viscount
Finch, F. Muntz, G. F.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir C. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Palmerston, Viscount Stanley, hon E. J.
Parker, J. Stock, Dr.
Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H. Style, Sir C.
Pechell, Captain Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Tufnell, H.
Philips, M. Verney, Sir H.
Price, Sir R. Wakley, T.
Rawdon, Col. J. D. Warburton, H.
Rice, E. R. Ward, H. G.
Russell, Lord J. Williams, W.
Rutherfurd, rt. hon. A. Wood, G. W.
Salwey, Col. Wrightson, W. B.
Sanford, E. A. Wyse, T.
Seale, Sir J. H. TELLERS.
Seymour, Lord Gordon, R.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L. Smith, V.

Clause agreed to.

On Clause six,

Mr. Hawes

said, that, as this clause related to the office of treasurer to be appointed under this act, he was desirous of making a few observations to the House, in consequence of the papers which had been laid upon the table of the House. The committee would see by the succeeding clause, that the consolidated fund of Great Britain and Ireland was made liable for any deficiency when the sum in the hands of the treasurer, derived from the sale of the clergy reserves, was below 7,500l. This country was called upon to guarantee this amount, as a fund for the payment of the Canadian clergy. This rendered it important that trustworthy officers should be appointed for the reception and distribution of the funds to be so derived. Now it appeared to him that nothing was more probable than that the Bishop of Toronto might be one of the officers to be appointed under this act to receive and pay the sum in question. This he protested against—for who was the Bishop of Toronto? Let the papers before the House answer this question. From these papers it appeared that he was the president of King's College; In the course of the year 1839, Sir George Arthur instituted an inquiry into the management of the college, and it came out that the bishop had been drawing for many years his salary (250l. per annum) for doing nothing. Sir George Arthur, considering that this college was not likely to come into operation, stopped the salary. Some further enquiries, it appears, were made by the Assembly, when it appeared that the bishop, the president of the college, had borrowed from the funds of the college, for his private purposes, about 5,500l. on the security of various notes-of-hand, more than half of which— six out of eleven—were overdue and unpaid. The Governor-general most properly demanded an explanation from the bishop, who, in answer to the chief-secretary's letter, dated February 3rd, 1840, admitted the fact, and described the transaction, in his letter of the 10th of February, as a common money transaction of the most simple kind. After the receipt of this letter, the Governor-general (through his chief-secretary) replied, on the 15th of February, that he did not deem it a simple money transaction, but that—and these were his words—the employment of the funds of a public trust, by one of the trustees, for his own advantage, was a proceeding which, in his opinion, was highly objectionable. Now, had he (Mr. Hawes) designated this transaction, he should have rather termed it one of a disgraceful nature—as something very closely approaching peculation. But passing that by, discreditable as it was to all parties concerned, it was stated, in the letter of Dr. Boys, the bursar (February 11, 1840), that the council had sanctioned this proceeding. Upon further investigation, however, Dr. Boys writes another letter to the Governor-general, who, it appears, had pretty good information, and as vigorous a determination to inquire into the transaction, that there was no minute of council or authority for the transaction. Now he, (Mr. Hawes) contended, that he was fully justified in demanding a clear explanation from the noble Lord, as to who were to be appointed officers under this clause. To the bishop he objected. To the president of a college, who could thus misapply trust funds for education, he felt called upon emphatically to object. There was no doubt of the transaction. Sir George Arthur begins — the Governor-general and the Assembly continue the inquiry—the bishop denies nothing, and only palliates it as a simple money transaction of an ordinary kind. Unless he was fully assured that this right rev. Prelate was relieved from the duty of watching over the pecuniary interests of the Church, he should move a proviso at the end of the clause to exclude him specifically, and take the sense of the House. For a Prelate, in his position too as president and trustee of the college, so to act, was highly reprehensible, and demanded exposure.

Sir George Grey

said that, under no clause of the bill could any such appoint- ment take place, as an examination of the clauses to come would show. The receiver-general of the province would alone receive the proceeds of the sales of land. He thought therefore that the proviso was unnecessary. He did not mean to enter into the question which had been brought forward; he only rose to assure his hon. Friend that his proviso was not called for, even admitting all the facts of the case against the bishop as stated.

Mr. Hume

concurred with the hon. Member for Lambeth. No money had ever been expended in the province of Upper Canada, connected with church affairs, but what had passed through the hands of the Bishop of Toronto.

Sir Charles Grey

defended the conduct of the bishop. He had always borne the character of a man of the most stubborn integrity.

Mr. Pakington

regretted the transaction, and said that he had read the documents in question with the greatest surprise. He thought it premature to form an opinion; he should suspend his judgment. He thought the Governor-general ought not to have transmitted the statement without the knowledge of the bishop.

Mr. Gladstone

said, that the hon. Member for Lambeth had indulged in taunts and sarcasms against the bishop. He was not justified in the attack he had made. He was himself susceptible enough when attacked, as he could testify; he should be cautious, therefore, before he assailed others, to know the whole case. He had rarely heard a more severe speech than that of the hon. Member for Lambeth delivered in that House. He would not go so far as to call on the House for a sentence of acquittal for that rev. gentleman, but he must say that he thought it premature to come to any judgment on his conduct, more especially on the ex parte statements which had been read by the hon. Member for Lambeth. The conduct of Governor Thomson in sending home such statements was most reprehensible and unjust. It was his duty to have instituted an inquiry in a case like the present, and he ought to have called on the bishop for his defence. As this had not been done, the conduct of the Governor was highly reprehensible.

Mr. Warburton

said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had blamed the hon. Member for Lambeth for his having accused the Bishop of Toronto, but the hon. Member himself had not been slow in preferring accusations against the conduct of Governor Thomson.

Mr. V. Smith

said, the hon. Member for Newark had designated the question raised by the hon. Member for Lambeth as premature. Now, he (Mr. Smith) did not think it premature, but he certainly considered it a little inopportune. The imagination of the hon. Member had been singularly fertile in supposing, that the conduct of the Bishop of Toronto had any connexion whatever with the sixth clause of this bill. It was a perfectly gratuitous supposition. But he (Mr. Smith) should not have troubled the committee with one word if the hon. Member for Newcastle had not thought proper to blame the Governor-general of Canada for sending home the despatch containing the result of his inquiry into the case of the Bishop of Toronto to the Colonial-office. For what could the hon. Gentleman blame the Governor-general? It was his duty to inquire into the transaction, and to disclose it to the Government at home. If his despatch had never been produced, there would have been a very loud and clamorous complaint made. He thought his hon. Friend had acted most properly in this transaction.

Mr. Gladstone

denied most distinctly that he had made any charge against the Governor-general of Canada for having instituted an inquiry into the transaction On the contrary, he had declared that it was the Governor-general's duty to make the most rigorous investigation into the whole matter; but the blame which he threw upon the Governor-general was for not having given notice to the Bishop of Toronto that he intended to make the transaction a subject of inquiry.

Mr. V. Smith

admitted that the hon. Gentleman did say that it was the duty of the Governor-general to inquire into the transaction; but he understood the hon. Gentleman also to say, that the Governor-general ought not to have sent the result of the inquiry home to the Colonial-office.

Mr. Ward

said, that the alleged severity of the speech of his hon. Friend, the Member for Lambeth, consisted in a remarkably clear statement of facts, and in quotations from the letters of the Bishop of Toronto himself, whose explanations had the misfortune of aggravating the charge which they were meant to repel. As to the inquiry instituted by the Governor-general, he was bound to make it. It would have been a gross dereliction of his duty if he had not done so—and it appeared to have been conducted with perfect fairness to the parties concerned. Every opportunity for explanation was afforded them, and if they did not make good use of it, it must be ascribed to the stubborn character of the facts.

Mr. Hawes

said, that notwithstanding the somewhat angry reply of the hon. Member for Newark, he considered himself perfectly justified in bringing the question before the House. Every word he uttered was founded upon the papers laid on the Table of the House by the Secretary for the Colonies, which contained statements of facts upon the authority of the Governor-general of Canada. It appeared by these papers, that the Bishop of Toronto had borrowed trust funds for private purposes, and that the bursar of the college was a defaulter, in the first instance, of no less than 13,000l., 6,000l. of which still remained unpaid. No wonder the bursar should be a defaulter, with such an example before him. The uncalled-for display of displeasure on the part of the hon. Member for Newark he could manage to bear, inasmuch as no one single item of the statement he had made had been impugned. He had exaggerated nothing—mis-stated nothing— and if he had failed, in stating the case, to censure severely the conduct of the right rev. Prelate, he should have failed in his duty. The speech of the hon. Gentleman in defence of the bishop, and in censure of the Governor-general, would, in all probability lead to further investigation, [Hear, hear, from Mr. Gladstone,] and, perhaps, the result would elicit anything but the cheers of the hon. Gentleman.

Clause agreed to.

On Clause 8, which guarantees the payment of 9,800l. to the Churches of England and Scotland,

Mr. Hume

stated his objections to the clause. He had heard no reason assigned for rendering the consolidated fund of this country liable to the payment of a sum which there were ample means in the colony to meet. He should take the sense of the Committee against the clause.

The Committee divided on the question, that the clause stand part of the bill:—Ayes 46; Noes 9: Majority 37.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Admiral Langdale, hon. C.
Baldwin, C. B. Morpeth, Viscount
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Nicholl, J.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Clay, W. Pakington, J. S.
Darby, G. Parker, R. T.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Dunbar, G. Perceval, Colonel
Estcourt, T Price, Sir R.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Rawdon, Colonel
Fremantle, Sir T. Rice, E. H.
Gladstone, W. E. Russell, Lord J.
Gordon, R. Sanford, E. A.
Goulburn, rt. hn. H. Sheil, rt. hn. R. L.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Sibthorp, Colonel
Grey, rt. hn. Sir C. Smith, R, V.
Grey, rt. hn. Sir G. Stanley, hon. E. J.
Hobbouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Stock, Dr.
Hodges, T. L. Townley, R. G.
Hodgson, R. Tufnell, H.
Hollond, R. Verney, Sir H.
Hope, G. W.
Inglis, Sir R. H. TELLERS.
Irton, S. Maule, hon. F.
Jones, Captain Parker, J.
List of the NOES.
Baines, E. Warburton, H.
Hawes, B. Ward, H. G.
Lushington, rt. hn. S. Williams, W.
Pechell, Captain TELLERS.
Salwey, Colonel Hume, J.
Thornley, T. Lushington, C.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses also agreed to. House resumed.