HC Deb 07 April 1846 vol 85 cc673-4

said, it might be in the recollection of hon. Members that towards the close of last Session, he had brought under the attention of the House a point connected with the management of the Ecclesiastical Commission for Ireland, which he had thought required the consideration of Government—namely, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had the power of selling the Church lands. He conceived that the capital derived from the sale of those lands ought to be invested in the funds, and the interest accruing thereon disposed of by the Commissioners, and not the capital itself. He regretted to say that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had taken a different view; and up to the 1st of August, 1843, lands had been sold by them to the value of 422,000l. The whole of that sum was gone, spent, and lost for ever to the Church, and the State as the guardian and trustee of that property. The question that he wished to put to the right hon. Gentleman was that of which he had given notice, namely, "whether it were the intention of the Government to take any steps in order to restrain the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland from expending the capital sums derived from the sale of Church lands, in defraying the annual current charges of the Commission?"


said, the hon. Gentleman, in putting his question, had referred to the Correspondence which he had had the honour of laying on the Table of the House, towards the close of last Session, which had taken place between the Lord Lieutenant and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland. From that correspondence it would appear what was the opinion of the Government with respect to the right construction of the Act to which the hon. Gentleman had referred. The Lord Lieutenant had expressed in very strong terms to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that it was inexpedient to expend the capital arising from the sale of the property, but that it ought to be be invested, and the interest accruing on it only expended. Since that correspondence, a further communication had taken place between the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and he was happy to inform the hon. Member, that in the course of the present year the Commissioners had announced their intention of confining the expenditure to the interest only, and that they would would not expend the capital. More than that, the Ecclesiastical Commission were in debt some 60,000l.; but he was happy to state, that they last week announced their intention of liquidating 10,000l. of it.