HC Deb 15 May 1840 vol 54 cc120-1
Mr. Shaw rose

, in pursuance of the notice he had given, to put a question to the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, relative to the million fund applicable to the arrears of tithe due to the Irish clergy. That sum had been granted in 1833 by what was commonly called the million act, and about 640,000l. was drawn by the titheowners under the provisions of that act. Of the residue of the million, 100,000l. was advanced in 1836 to the Board of Works in Ireland, under the 6th and 7th William 4th, c. 108, and in 1838, upon the passing of the 1st and 2nd Victoria (the rent-charge act), the balance of 260,000l. was directed to be applied to the payment of the arrears of tithe compositions; the first Minister of the Crown, at the same time, stating in his place in Parliament, that from a calculation he had made, the titheowners would receive 70 per cent, of their arrears. The noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) was aware, that so far from 70, they were not likely to receive 30 per cent., and that they had been long waiting for the last miserable dividend of 2s. in the pound to make up even that 30 per cent. Under these circumstances, he (Mr. Shaw) requested the noble Lord to state explicitly whether the clergy of Ireland might entertain the reasonable hope, that the 100,000l. thus subtracted from the 1,000,000l. granted for their use would be, by any means the Government might think fit to adopt, restored to its original purpose? And it would be the more reasonable and just, as he (Mr. Shaw) understood that a similar sum which had been lent to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and which was, in some sort, the consideration of the advance of the 100,000l. to the Board of Works, was in the course of repayment.

Viscount Morpeth

said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had stated most correctly the various enactments which had been passed by the Legislature in relation to the relief of the Irish clergy, and he had also correctly stated, that under those statutes the sum of 640,000l. had been paid to them for arrears due in the years 1832, 1833, and 1834. That was, indeed, the whole amount which had then been demanded, and it was not in the power of the Government now to issue any more money for the relief of the Irish clergy. In the year 1836, the sum of 100,000l. raised by the issue of Exchequer bills, and which had been previously lent to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to meet the arrears of vestry cess, consequent upon the passing of the Church Temporalities Bill, had been applied to the promotion of public works in Ireland, and by the Tithe Commutation Act of 1838, the sum of 260,000l. had been applied to the relief of the clergy for arrears due in the years 1835, 1836, and 1837. The 34th clause of that statute distinctly limited the sum to 260,000l. and consequently it was not in the power of the Government to apply a single farthing further to the relief of the Irish clergy, and it certainly was not the intention of her Majesty's Government to call upon Parliament to make any further grant in aid of the Irish clergy. With respect to the other part of the question put by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, he (Lord Morpeth) had to reply, that he did not believe any part of the sum of 100,000l. lent to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had yet been repaid, though frequent calls for it had been made by the Treasury; he believed, however, that an arrangement had been effected, by which the whole of that sum would be effectually secured to the public.

House in Committee of Ways and Means.

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