HC Deb 30 July 1845 vol 82 cc1234-6

House resolved itself into Committee of Supply.

On the Motion that 80,300l. be voted to defray the Superannuation of Persons formerly employed in the Civil Departments of the Government,

Mr. Hume

appealed to the right hon. Baronet as a man of peace, and not a man of war, to know what had been done with respect to the formation of harbours of refuge.

Sir R. Peel

said, that a Committee had been appointed to investigate this subject, and their investigation would be continued during the recess. He thought the House and the country were much indebted to the hon. Member for Montrose for having called the attention of the Government to the subject.

Mr. Philip Howard

had formed one of a deputation which waited on the right hon. Baronet urging the necessity of converting Douglas, in the Isle of Man, into a harbour of refuge; and to effect that object, the authorities of the island were ready to devote a portion of their revenues, if they were supported in that project by the Government. The celebrated Paul Jones had, almost within memory, burnt St. Mary's Isle, threatened Whitehaven, and scoured those seas with impunity, showing, in the event of war with America or France, the necessity of a well-protected seaboard. To the strictly defensive policy of constructing harbours of refuge, the Queen's Government should apply its early and best attention; and the claim of the Manxmen was full worthy of attention.

On the Question, that a sum of 11,800l. be granted for the Polish Refugees, and distressed Spaniards,

Mr. J. Abel Smith

said, it might not be out of place for him here to remark upon the news that had that day reached the City of another disastrous fire in Quebec, by which 1,300 houses were burned to the ground, and several thousands of persons had been reduced to total destitution and to great suffering. He wished to ask whether Government contemplated to alleviate in any way the distress of these poor people?

Sir R. Peel

said, the news had reached him only this morning, and he had heard it with the utmost regret, that another and an equally serious calamity had fallen on the city of Quebec. On the former occasion Government had done all in their power for the sufferers; and he was sure that now similar care and sympathy would be shown. The people of the country had shown great sympathy with the sufferers, and thinking as he did that Parliament should show its sympathy also, before the Supply was completely gone through, he promised to propose a Vote for the purpose.

Sir Howard Douglas

wished to state some particulars relative to the late fire in Quebec, which had just reached him. The first fire took place on the 28th of May, and destroyed 1,600 houses; and, the second, on the 28th of June, and destroyed 1,300 houses. The extent of the calamity could be best ascertained by comparing the amount of loss with the numbers of the population. Quebec was a town containing 35,000 inhabitants, and the loss occasioned by the two fires amounted to 1,250,000l. From this it would appear that the calamity was greater in proportion than the great fire of London. He trusted that the liberality of this country would not be appealed to in vain for the relief of the sufferers.

Vote agreed to.

On the Question that the sum of 35,630l. be granted for Nonconforming and other Ministers in Ireland,

Mr. Sharman Crawford

said, that it was his intention to take the sense of the House upon this Vote. He was an advo- cate of the voluntary principle, and he therefore felt it his duty to oppose this grant of money for the support of religious ministers. The grant had been progressively increasing; it went on increasing from year to year, and was likely, if not opposed, to go on increasing; and he therefore felt it his duty, as an advocate of the voluntary system, to oppose it. There was a portion of this sum which was to be applied for the benefit of clergymen's widows, and to that part he had no objection; nor would he, in case the Vote were discontinued, object to an arrangement for the benefit of those ministers at present in the enjoyment of those allowances, taking care to prevent a perpetual recurrence of such a Vote as this, to which he was entirely opposed on principle. He would, therefore, move that the sum voted for this purpose be reduced to 366l.

Mr. Williams

supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rochdale. He was opposed to votes of public money for the support of religious ministers of any denomination.

Mr. Hindley

said, that there was much difference of opinion as to the propriety of accepting grants of public money amongst the Dissenters. The Presbyterians in Ireland were generally in favour of such grants, and there was, therefore, no inconsistency in their accepting this Vote; but the Independents and Baptists were opposed to such grants.

Mr. Hume

thought that they ought not to divide on this Motion until they had a statement from the Government as to whether it was prepared to promise such an arrangement as would prevent the Vote of this sum after a given time.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

could not obtain the support of the hon. Gentleman opposite by giving any assurance that the Vote would be discontinued after a particular period.

The Committee divided on the Question, that a sum not exceeding 366l. be granted:—Ayes 13; Noes 71: Majority 58.

Original Question agreed to.