§ MR. W. FAGAN
, in rising to submit to the House the Motion of which he had given notice, said, that he regretted much that after the report of the Select Committee, appointed last Session, so important a Motion was left to a private Member of this House, and that the Government was not prepared to take it up. The result of the inquiry last Session had induced the people of Ireland to look on the tax called ministers' money as virtually abolished, and their unwillingness to pay was tenfold increased. [The hon. Member then proceeded to read three letters he had received since the commencement of this Session, two from the Rev. J. Elmes, the Protestant incumbent of St. John's, in the city of Limerick, and one from a Roman Catholic clergyman, all bearing on the subject in question, and complaining of the difficulties connected with the collection of the tax.] With such strong pressure on the part of a Protestant incumbent deriving his income from the obnoxious tax, independently of still stronger pressure on the part of the Catholics of Ireland, he could not without dereliction of duty refuse to submit his Motion to the House after the Government had declined to take it up. Last year when he brought forward a similar Motion, he ventured to suggest that the substitute for ministers' money would be found in the revenue of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and he endeavoured to show that if the annual sales of perpetuities were reckoned an income, as they ought to be, there would be ample surplus to provide 15,000l. a year 1404 in lieu of their present income, for the incumbents of the eight corporate towns in Ireland that now pay the obnoxious tax. It was a source of gratification to him to find that the report of the Select Committee concurred with him, who was the first to suggest it, that in the ecclesiastical revenues was to be found the fund from which the substitute was to be formed. But before he went into that most important branch of the subject, he was anxious to show how far his statement last Session of the grievous nature of this tax was corroborated by the evidence before the Select Committee. He stated last year that from the very enactment of ministers' money, in the reign of Charles II., it was considered a hateful tax; and he proved that by showing, that amidst all his cares and troubles, James II., his successor, thought it wise policy to abolish it. He showed that from its very partial operation, being confined to eight corporate towns, it was a far more obnoxious impost than vestry cess, and yet vestry cess or church rate was abolished because of its being odious to the Catholic population of Ireland. He showed that it was more unjust than tithes, because tithes rested on the common law, and originated in voluntary assessment for the support of the bishops, the clergy, the repairs of the church, and the maintenance of the poor; while ministers' money was the enactment of a Protestant Parliament passed five years after the Restoration, and imposed on eight Catholic corporate cities, while the Protestant cities were exempt from the tax. He stated also last year that the Protestant clergy who were the recipients of this tax were anxious for its abolition. In this statement he was fully borne out by the evidence before the Select Committee. The Rev. Mr. Elmes, of Limerick, whoso letters he had already read, was examined before that Committee, and he answered to a question by him (Mr. Fagan—Why is the collection so deficient on the now valuation?—Simply for this reason, that I am reluctant to oppress the poor people who owe me the money according to law, and that I could not venture to destrain them, even if I were inclined. I am not inclined to do it, because they are mostly very poor and distressed people. If I were to venture to distrain them, there would be resistance; the law probably would be violated, and disturbance would ensue.Again he is asked—Is it your opinion this tax is exceedingly ob- 1405 noxious to the people?—I am not only of opinion that it is obnoxious, but I know it to be exceedingly obnoxious, and it is not more obnoxious to them than it is to the clergy—it is equally disagreeable to me to exact it, as it is to them to pay it.He is then asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan, who was chairman of the Committee—In considering what substitute you would apply for ministers' money, do you think the Roman Catholic population should be entirely relieved from it?—They should be entirely relieved from it; so far as my own opinion is concerned, and not only the occupying tenant but also the landlord, because the occupying tenant in many instances is merely a person striving to obtain a livelihood for himself and his family; and differing in creed from us as they do in 99 instances out of 100, I consider we are not authorised by anything contained in the sacred Scriptures to levy a tax upon them for the support of our Church.Again he is asked—Does not the same objection apply to the whole Church establishment?—No. I think the tithes differ materially. Tithes are part and parcel of the rating of the land; if the land is free from tithe, the landlord is so much benefited by it, but that is not the case with regard to ministers' money levied on houses.He is then asked—Do you not imagine that houses would set higher if they were relieved from the charge of ministers' money?—I am sure they would not. It may look very well in theory, but it is not true in practice. A tenant takes a house, and he does not consider anything of the poundage leviable on that house.The Reverend James Howie, an incumbent of one of the parishes in Dublin, is asked—Do you conceive ministers' money a very obnoxious impost?—To the great mass of the people I do.Again—When you speak of the great mass of the people, do you refer to the Protestant and to the Catholic population, or exclusively to the Catholic population?—I think I may say in answer to that question, that to the generality of Roman Catholics it is objectionable; and I think I may add, that a great number of Protestants, even those that pay it, feel that a different mode of collection would be very desirable.Again he is asked—Do you mean to say that the Catholics object to the tax itself, and the Protestants to the mode of collecting it?—I do, and I myself think that the present mode of collection is most objectionable; I have not language strong enough to express my objection to it.Again, Sir Henry Meredith, one of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, is asked and answers the following question:—From your knowledge of the city of Dublin, 1406 and of the feelings of the people and the litigations and contentions incident to this tax, do you think it would be desirable to abolish it if some substitute could be found?—No doubt of it; I have been asked, as a friend I may say of the Establishment, and a friend to the Government of the country, to see what substitute could be contrived, and would be very desirable.Do you think that the finding of a substitute would be beneficial to the Church itself?—Indeed I do.By the substitution of rent-charge for tithes and the creation of an ecclesiastical revenue of which you are one of the Commissioners in lieu of vestry cess, the clergy of the Established Church are no longer brought into immediate collision with the mass of the population?—Certainly not, and it is a very happy circumstance for the country.But ministers' money I believe is the only portion of the income of the establishment which creates this unfortunate collision?—I believe so, I am quite satisfied of it.And in that view would it not be most desirable for the sake of the clergy themselves, to abolish the tax?—Yes, they are as anxious for a change as the persons who pay it, and perhaps more so: it would be more satisfactory to them.Thus the clergy themselves and the friends of the Establishment are in favour of the abolition of this tax, though they may differ as to substitute. The evidence given before the Select Committee, as regards the feelings of the Roman Catholics on the subject, is equally strong. Mr. Creane, a Roman Catholic resident of Dublin, is asked by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Captain Jones):—The Committee did not understand you to state your own objections to the ministers' money tax, but to state what you believe to be the objections of others, will you state what is your objection?—My own objection is very strong against paying a Protestant clergyman. Being a Roman Catholic, I object that a Protestant clergyman should have the power by law to come in and seize my property without giving me any value for it, or my giving him any trouble in the service he is bound to perform. I have a very strong impression upon that; but my opinion is, that it would be unjust to the present incumbents, to withdraw from them their income, and to abolish the tax, without giving them something as a substitute.Have you any other objection?—I generally object to paying clergymen at all by any process of law; my own opinion is, that if I wish to give a clergyman anything, that is all I should be called on to do, and not to be compelled to do it. If a Catholic clergyman was empowered by law to come in and seize my property, I would equally object to it.Your objection is to any clergyman of whatever religion he may be, being authorised to demand money from you by law?—It is.Again he is asked—Would its conversion, as you state, into something similar to a like rent-charge, remove the objection to this tax on the part of the Catholic 1407 population of Ireland?—Certainly not. I say it would be a less objectionable mode of collecting the tax, than that which is adopted at present.The hostility to the tax on the part of the Catholic population of Ireland would still exist?—The Roman Catholics feel generally, that they should not be called upon to pay anything towards the support of the Protestant Church.[The hon. Member went on to quote the evidence of several other witnesses who were examined before the Committee, all tending to show the great unpopularity of the tax, the objectionable mode of collecting it, and the purpose to which it was applied.] The hon. Member continued. From this evidence it is incontestably established that in every shape and form the Roman Catholics object, and will continue to object, to this tax, on the broad principle that it is unjust to make them pay for the maintenance of the clergy of a Church with which they have no communion. But independently of the hostility existing from that feeling, the tax is highly objectionable from its mode of collection. The mode of valuation is unjust—the mode of distraint is oppressive. Once a house is valued for ministers' money it continues at that valuation while it stands, while no house can be valued over sixty pounds: hence the houses in the old quarters of a city formerly inhabited by the affluent, but now the abode of the humble class, continue at the former high valuation, while the real value of the property may have fallen 50 or 75 per cent, and at the same time the now houses worth 100l. or 120l a year, and inhabited by the rich, cannot be valued above 60l. a year. Then as to distraint, it is evident that the collector can and does distrain without notice, and sell without notice often much below the value of the articles. In reference to the glaring injustice of the valuation, he would quote one or two facts from a return put in by Mr. Flynn, of Cork. Thus the great establishment of Beamish and Crawford of that city, is valued for the poor-rate at 2,225l. a year, and it is charged but 2l. 15s. 4d., ministers' money; while a house belonging to Mr. Simms, formerly valued at or over 60l. for ministers' money, but now at 26l. under the poor-law, pays the same. Messrs. Wise's, whose premises are valued at 870l., pay but 2l. 10s. ministers' money, while a house belonging to Mr. Foley, valued at 32l. to the poor-rate, pays precisely the same: one hundred instances of similar inequalities could be produced. To remove this most monstrous injustice, it is proposed 1408 by those who wish to continue the tax, that there should be periodical valuations of all houses subject to the tax; and to get rid of the oppressive system of distraint, it is proposed to convert the tax into a rent-charge payable by the landlord. But the objection to the tax would still continue, for it appears from the evidence that a great proportion of the house property in these corporate towns belongs to Roman Catholics, and therefore Roman Catholics would still, even under that system, have to pay the tax. But to this it is replied that at the time the Act of Charles the Second was passed, Catholics could hold no property, and therefore any subsequently acquired by them they got subject to that tax. But this argument has no weight, inasmuch as all the new houses year after year built by the Catholics are at once when valued subject to ministers' money. In fact, there is no other course to adopt but total and entire abolition; and the sooner the better for the clergy, for if any amendment of the Municipal Act should declare ministers' money not a tax payable to enable a burgess to be enrolled, then the income of the clergy would fall considerably, for it is the obligation to pay that tax now, to get the municipal franchise, that has increased the last few years the incomes of the clergy in these corporate towns. The abolition of this tax being then imperatively called for, the next question is, where is the substitute to be found? He (Mr. Fagan) was the first to suggest the revenues of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and it was a source of gratification to him that his views, as he had already stated, were adopted in the report of the Committee: that report states as follows:—Your Committee think it incumbent on them to state that an augmentation of the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners may be rendered available as a substitute for ministers' money, and recommend that with that view an amendment of the Church Temporalities Act may be made. Your Committee are aware that the adoption of this income will involve the interposition of a now trust, and the postponement or relinquishment of some of the ulterior objects contemplated by the Church Temporalities Act; but any objection founded on the displacement of the original objects of the Church Temporalities Act, will be more than countervailed by the great advantages which, in a moral, social, and religious view, will arise from the removal of an obstacle to those feelings of unity and good will which it will be essentially conducive to the general interests of the country to encourage between the working Protestant clergy and the great body of the community amongst whom in cities and towns in Ireland their duties are usefully and honourably performed.1409 Again, Dr. Higgins, Dean of Limerick, expresses himself in a letter to the Rev. Mr. Elms to the same effect. It was impossible to have testimony stronger in favour of the substitute which he (Mr. Fagan) was the first to suggest; still it was impossible to deny that there was great difficulty in the matter, because there was in point of fact no surplus in the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners applicable to any purpose; and those objects to which such surplus was by Act of Parliament to be applied had in consequence never been carried out. But he would endeavour to show that this arose from three causes: first, because the annual sales of perpetuities are not considered as income of late years, and expended as income; secondly, because of the discouragement to the owners of bishops' leases to purchase the perpetuity; and, thirdly, because of the debt due to Government. He would touch on those three points separately. In the early operation of the Church Temporalities Act the funds derived from the sales of perpetuities were considered as income, and expended as such—and there was nothing in the Act of Parliament to prevent this application of the fund. On the contrary, the law considered it as income. In the year 1844, however, Lord Heytesbury directed that it should be capitalised, and the interest only applied to the annual expenditure, except for the payment of the Government debt. Now, when it is considered that the value of the perpetuities was estimated by the Commissioners at 1,200,000l. sterling, of which only 523,170l. has been yet received, leaving 676,830l. to be yet received, supposing all leases to be so converted; and when it is further considered that 15,000l. is about the annual receipts, there can be no feasible objection to allow a fund so very large, and coming in so slowly, to be treated as income if the public interest required it; at all events until the incomes of the Bishops of Armagh, Derry, Clogher, came in, and until by the falling in of the suppressed livings and the increase of the tax on avoided livings, the revenues of the Commissioners sufficiently augmented to enable them to meet the additional demand in lieu of ministers' money, namely, about 15,000l. a year. He, therefore, maintained that the receipts from the sales of perpetuities should, as formerly, be included in the income of the Commissioners. Of late these sales have considerably diminished. This may be caused 1410 by the unfortunate condition of the country; but, independently of this, he maintained that it arose from the little encouragement given to tenants to purchase. Of late a new mode of estimating the value of the perpetuities has been adopted under directions of the law officers. Formerly it was what is called the diocesan value of the land was sold. Now, it is the bonâ fide value of the inheritance, estimated by the ordinary rules for ascertaining the annual value of land. The diocesan value of rent a solvent tenant could give under advantageous circumstances. The diocesan value is obtained by adding the annual fine payable, to the rent: this fine is one-fifth the rent, and the rent is exceedingly below the annual value. When, therefore, this diocesan value or rent was multiplied by twenty for the value of the fee-simple, it came to a much smaller sum than the real annual value multiplied by twenty. Therefore, under this last mode of estimating the purchase-money, the tenant has to pay considerably more than under the old system—and, consequently, there is much discouragement of late to purchase. Now, it is clearly the interest of the Commissioners to induce purchases, for every purchase increases their funds. For example, take the arch-diocese of Dublin—if there were no purchase of perpetuities in that diocese, the Commissioners would not receive a farthing. If, on the contrary, the tenants were, by a large bonus, induced to purchase, the Commissioners would get the amount. If there were no purchases, no person would be the gainer—if there were purchases, the revenues of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be benefited. It is, therefore, the public interest to encourage purchasers—he would, therefore, if he were allowed to bring in a Bill, give a bonus of seven per cent deduction from the purchase-money, instead of four per cent, the present bonus, in order to encourage the holders of bishops' leases to convert them into perpetuities. This would vastly increase the funds of the Commissioners. Again, the provisions of the Act 4th and 5th William IV., respecting under-tenants, enabling them to purchase without the sanction of the first or chief tenant, could never be carried out, from the difficulty of ascertaining the under tenant's interest without concurrence of the first tenant. This tended to diminish the amount of sales; to remedy this, the Commissioners had prepared a clause amending the law 1411 in that regard, and that clause he had adopted in his Bill. There was another reason why the purchase of perpetuities should be encouraged. It appears now to be the law that the tenant holding under the Ecclesiastical Commissioners need not come in every year and renew paying his annual fine—he may now, it seems, come in on the last year of his lease, and paying the same fine as he would on the first year, he gets a renewal of his lease—whereas if he went on the last year of his lease to the bishop, he would have to pay an enormous sum for the renewal. This will considerably reduce the income of the Ecclesiastical Commmissioners; and, therefore, it is the more necessary to encourage purchases of the perpetuity. He proposed, however, in his Bill to remedy that evil. He would now come to the debt due to Government. There was originally 100,000l. borrowed; of this, 97,000l, for principal and interest, was repaid, leaving 40,000l. still due. Now, of this 100,000l, over 48,000l went in lieu of the arrears due of vestry cess when the Church Temporalities Act passed, and which the Commissioners had to meet. It is, therefore, not requiring too much to ask the Government to abandon this debt, in order to facilitate the settlement of ministers' money. If, then, he repeated, the annual sales of perpetuities were reckoned income—if greater encouragement were given to tenants to become purchasers—and if the Government debt were forgiven—he maintained there would be found ample funds to meet the amount of ministers' money, without waiting-for the future increase contingent on the death of three bishops, and the avoidance of livings liable to the payment of the tax. Supposing, then, the perpetuity was found to yield 15,000l a year income, and the debt to be forgiven, he would show how the receipts and expenditure of the Commissioners stood. He took the accounts from Mr. Quin's and Mr. Williams' returns. First, he would take the receipts:—
From suppressed bishoprics £50,267 —Suspended bonefices 15,574 —Tax on benefices 8,784 —Bishop of Derry 4,162 —Interest on mortgages 2,618 —Mines 402 £81,807 To which add the annual sales of perpetuities, which may be set down at 15,000 Receipts £96,807
—which, taken from 96,807l., left 15,966l. surplus, after meeting the ordinary expenditure of the Commissioners. There was, therefore, nothing to deter the House from making the attempt to get rid of an odious tax—odious both to the receiver and the payer. It was, it was true, but of trifling amount; but it carried with it much of principle, and if adopted by the House, it would show a disposition to legislate in a just spirit for Ireland. All he asked for was to enable him to bring in his Bill, and the House would then he able to judge how far it met the case. It might be considered in the disasters of the present times that a miserable 15,000l. a year was not worth thinking about. But that was not so; there was so much of religious feeling mixed up with it, it would be hailed as a boon by the whole of Ireland. [Here an hon. Member moved that the House be counted; forty Members, however, being present, Mr. Fagan proceeded.] He would entreat the House not lightly to reject the Motion of which he had given notice; and apologising for so long a trespass on its attention, would now conclude.
Expenditure in Church requisites £34,792 Mr. Quin estimates annual repairs, church fences, and painting, at 28,366l. The average for five years to 1847 was but 16,000l. Allow the average of the two sums for the annual expenditure for these purposes, and it will give 22,183 Rebuilding of churches 6,634 Bishop of Kildare 100 Interest on building his palace 688 Stipends paid to Dublin curates 1,902 Ditto to Vicar Choral 3,689 Augmentation of small livings 962 Diocesan schoolmasters 132 Salaries 6,516 Incidentals 2,975 Other expenses 268 Amount of expenditure £80,841
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That this House will To-morrow resolve itself into a Committee, to take into consideration the Law relating to the Rate or Tax called Ministers' Money in Ireland, with the view to the repeal of so much thereof as relates to the said Rate or Tax; and further, to take into consideration the Act 3 and 4 Will. IV., c. 114, called the Church Temporalities Act, for the purpose of amending the same, so as to provide thereby a substitute out of the revenues of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as a provision for Protestant Ministers in certain corporate towns in Ireland, in lieu of the annual sums now received by them under and by virtue of the Act 17 and 18 Car. II., c. 7.
§ MR. GROGAN
, in opposing the Motion, 1413 said, the question before them essentially was this—that a strong encouragement was held out to assail the provision made for the support of Protestant ministers in the towns subjected to the operation of the Act, the total amount of whose income annually was about 15,000l. The real truth of the matter was, every one was unwilling to pay anything which they could avoid. Because the Government had some time ago, with a view to establishing peace in the country, abolished a portion of the property of the Established Church, the House was now called upon to leave the entire of the seven or eight corporate towns referred to without any provision for their clergymen. The hon. Gentleman for the city of Cork had said that he did not wish to leave the ministers in those towns without support; but he (Mr. Grogan) defied the hon. Member to find surplus funds to do what he said. The report which had been made by the Committee was based on a simple sophistry. Everybody admitted that there were grievances and inequalities in the tax in question, which it would be desirable to do away with. Yet some of the witnesses who had been examined before the Committee had said that those grievances ought not to be removed, because the tax might be then made perpetual, whereas they did not wish to pay at all. Another witness had stated that he preferred ministers' money to any other impost of that kind. Now, he (Mr. Grogan) maintained, that so far from the Established Church in Ireland being damaged by the evidence given before, or the report made by, that Committee, the contrary was the result; and he defied any one reading the blue book to come to the same conclusion as the hon. Member opposite. It was by no means the fact that any fund existed which could be applied to the purpose suggested by the hon. Gentleman. The whole view taken by the Committee in their report was to the effect that the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commission were now adequate to the expenditure, and that there might be a large prospective increase; and, consequently, the House might, if it thought proper, apply the same for the sustentation of Protestant ministers in those corporate towns. Now, he confessed, he could not find out from what testimony the Committee could come to the conclusion that the existing income of the Ecclesiastical Commission was equal to its expenditure. Why, some of those examined had told the Committee that the 1414 funds at the disposal of the Commission were 6,000l per annum below the necessary demands of the trusts under their control. [The hon. Member here referred at some length to the evidence given by some of the witnesses before the Committee, to show that so inadequate were the funds under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commission, that many churches were locked up in consequence of their ruinous state, and that others were only repaired by degrees because of the smallness and insufficiency of the funds.] [An Hon. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] Those might laugh who thought it well to pull churches down; but they who wished to keep them up thought it was a more serious and important matter. The whole weight of the evidence went to show that the funds in the hands of the Commissioners were totally unable to meet the demands upon them; and yet the Committee had come to a resolution that those funds were adequate to the expenditure. On the contrary, it had been shown that the means were not one-half sufficient for the objects for which they were required; and yet the hon. Gentleman opposite came forward to demand that these funds should be appropriated to other purposes. The augmentation of small livings was one of the requirements which the Commissioners had to discharge, yet this they had been unable to do to any extent of consequence. One witness had made a statement before the Committee to the effect that the probable amount of the sum per annum required for the objects of the Commission for the next five years would be 36,743?. Now, there had been a deficiency of 6,000l. a year mentioned; and how, then, could the hon. Member opposite find the surplus he proposed to supply the place of ministers' money? He (Mr. Grogan) did not mean to deny, as he had before said, that there were inequalities and grievances attending the working of the law, which he should be desirous of rectifying. He fully admitted that an improved and corrected valuation would be very advisable and necessary. It had been acknowledged on all hands that the rights of the clergy with respect to that tax had seldom been improperly enforced; and that the great majority of Protestant ministers had abstained from putting the law arbitrarily into execution. Under all the circumstances of the case, he thought he could say that the hon. Gentleman should not, or ought not, attempt to do away with that 1415 tax, until he could provide funds to substitute for it adequately. The real object of the hon. Member for the city of Cork was not, as he believed, to remove evils and grievances Which every one admitted, but was of a totally different character; and, under these circumstances, he felt bound to offer his decided opposition to the Motion.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
thought that this was a question which deserved consideration wholly irrespective of blue books or documents. It was a question which it became not only Irish but English Members to consider, and therefore he trusted it would be taken up in the broad spirit of religious liberty, not argued in the pettifogging spirit of an attorney's clerk. When the hon. and learned Member for the city of Dublin had read the blue book—and he believed the hon. and learned Member had read it nearly through—he should not have omitted one fact which it contained, and that was, that while eight Roman Catholic towns in the south of Ireland paid ministers' money, the Protestant north was wholly exempt from its operation. Why? Because when the Act was revised in the reign of Queen Anne, it was known that the Protestant Dissenters would not submit to the impost; but the Catholics of the south having been completely ground down, and their very natures demoralised, this chain was hung round their necks as an additional means of attaching them to the Established Church. He was surprised that the Irish Catholics condescended to come to that House to ask for a removal of the tax. Had he been in their place he would have agitated elsewhere, and in such a voice as would compel the Ministry and the people of England to consent to its removal. It was no answer to say, that the amount in dispute was only 100,000l. What was the amount against which John Hampden had struggled? There was one portion of the report, from which, as an English Member, he felt bound to dissent, and that was the paragraph in which their old friend the Consolidated Fund was called on to provide a substitute. It seemed as if that was the pool of Bethesda, in which all these Irish cripples were dipped. For his part, he would abolish the impost at once, and without any substitute. Ireland was a Roman Catholic country, especially the south, and on what pretence could they in the nineteenth century call for provision for Protestant pastors from a Catholic people? At that moment there was in one 1416 of the southern towns a clergyman, who was a convert from the Roman Catholic Church, preaching the most violent sectarian sermons. He (Mr. Osborne) had himself heard him call the people vagabonds from the pulpit, and yet this gentleman's parish was a recipient of ministers' money. The hon. and learned Member for the city of Dublin accused those who supported this Motion of a design to annihilate the Protestant Church in Ireland. Well, certainly, if the Protestant Church were merely a thing of pounds, shillings, and pence, the sooner it went the better. But he had a stronger faith in the durability of the Protestant Church than had the hon. and learned Member for the city of Dublin. He believed that if the congregational system which he advocated were adopted, the Established Church would assume an expansive character, to which it could never aspire under the present system. The reason why he supported this Motion was, because he looked upon it as the first step towards a reform of that system which he held to be a disgrace to the civilised world. It was a step in the direction to which Her Majesty's present Ministers had shown so strong an inclination in 1835; but which, from that day down to the present, they had scrupulously avoided. The time of the House had latterly been taken up in passing Habeas Corpus Suspension and Treason Felony Acts; but why had there been no Bill brought in to remove this crying grievance? One of the most illustrious Roman Catholics of the present day, the right hon. Member for Dungarvan, had drawn up the report of the Ministers' Money Committee; that report had been acquiesced in by a majority of the Committee; and if it was not to be a mere mockery, it should be immediately followed by a Bill. All he should further say was, that if neither Government, nor any Catholic Member brought forward the question of the grievances arising out of the Church Establishment in Ireland, he pledged himself to do so at an early day, and he could not give a greater proof of his sincerity than by giving his vote in favour of the present Motion.
§ SIR G. GREY
regretted very much that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex had addressed the House in a spirit very different from that which pervaded the speech of the hon. Member for the city of Cork, and in a very different spirit from that in which the Committee, whose 1417 report he had so much eulogised, had dealt with the subject. The hon. Gentleman had stated as the ground for supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork, that he wished to see the Protestant Church abolished. [Mr. OSBORNE: Not in the first instance.] Well, ultimately abolished, saving the rights of the existing incumbents; and he said that he considered the abolition of ministers' money to be the avant courier, as he called it, of the ultimate result to which he looked forward. He had said that he would, consequently, vote for the Motion, without seeking to find any other source from which the clergymen whose salaries continued to be payable from this fund, would derive subsistence. To show that that was not the spirit in which the report of the Committee was drawn up by his right hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan, he would read the concluding paragraph:—Your Committee think it right to add, that in the event of any substitute being provided for ministers' money, they do not coincide in one of the views taken by the Dean of Limerick regarding the reduction of the incomes of the clergy in the cities and towns corporate of Ireland; for they do not consider their incomes in general to be more than commensurate with their functions—where no pretence for the imputation of sine-curism can be found; and your Committee think that they cannot conclude this report more appropriately than by a citation from the evidence of the Rev. Mr. O'Sullivan—who has officiated as Roman Catholic curate for upwards of sixteen years in Cork—and who in answer to the question whether it was the wish of the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Cork that the clergy of the Established Church in that city should be fully paid for the duties which they performed—answered 'No doubt; 'and added that from his experience for the last several years as secretary to the Relief Committee of Cork, he could state that there had been such a cordial feeling between the clergy of both churches—they had acted so well and so zealously together—that if this cause of irritation were removed, a very beneficial change would take place.This was also the opinion of the Rev. Mr. O'Sullivan, a Roman Catholic clergyman of the city of Cork, who gave the following evidence on this point:—The inhabitants of Cork, I presume, would think that the clergy of the Established Church, who have duties to perform, should not be deprived of their livelihood?—On the contrary, I think that the general impression among the respectable classes of Roman Catholics in Cork, and, indeed, generally, is, that any arrangement which would take from the present incumbents their full amount of subsistence, becoming their rank as clergymen and gentlemen, would be unjust.And you say that it is the wish of the Roman Catholic inhabitants that the clergy of the Established Church in Cork should be paid fully for the duties they perform?—No doubt; and as I know 1418 that my examination must be a short one, I hope I do not intrude on the Committee, in saying that, from experience for the last several years, as secretary to the Relief Committee of Cork, there has been such a cordial feeling between the clergy of both churches, they have acted so well and so zealously together, that I do believe, that if this cause of irritation were removed in cities, a very beneficial change would be produced upon the face and surface of society.What the Committee recommended then, was, not that the clergy should cease to receive any remuneration for their duties, but that a substitute should be provided for a mode of payment which was felt to be a grievance not less by the clergyman who received it, than the people who paid it. He agreed with much that had been said with respect to the objectionable nature of the present mode of payment. The same system existed also in some parts of Scotland, where an inquiry had been lately instituted into the subject, and where the mode of payment had been found open to similar objections to the one then under consideration—not arising from difference of religious creed so much as from the mode in which the Act of Parliament operated. With reference to ministers' money he was not prepared to dispute the truth of what was stated by the Committee, that—This source of livelihood is an object of dislike to the clergy, by whom it is most painfully collected from the reluctant and the poor; several clergymen have been examined in the course of this inquiry, all of whom concur in the expression of a strong desire on their own part, and on the part of the clergy, that some substitute for ministers' money may be provided.But the difficulty which he (Sir Gr. Grey) felt in consenting to the present Motion—setting aside altogether the ground alleged by the hon. Member for Middlesex for his vote, which he believed would induce hon. Members to vote against the Motion rather than otherwise—his difficulty was that he saw no certain substitute that could be provided for the existing system. It was hypothetically stated in the report, that there were certain funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which would at some future time be available as a substitute; but the report was cautiously worded. They stated their belief "that the existing income of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is adequate to their actual expenditure." They did not deny that their present expenditure was a proper expenditure; but they anticipated for the future such an increase of the funds in the hands of the Commissioners as to enable 1419 them to place an additional charge upon them. But this was not the case at present; and, therefore, he could see no immediate Substitute that could be provided for the existing tax. He observed that the Consolidated Fund was looked to as a substitute—not, certainly, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan—who drew up the report, but by some of the witnesses who were examined. The Dean of Limerick, in a letter which was given in the report, suggested that the burden should be placed upon the Church Temporalities Act; but the Rev. Mr. Elmes, the rector of St. John's parish, Limerick, dissented from that opinion, and thought that it ought to be placed upon the Consolidated Fund. If it should afterwards appear that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had ample funds in their hands for the accomplishment of the objects for which they were appointed, and that a surplus remained, he could not help thinking that that surplus would be appropriately applied to the removal of this grievance; but as, in the meantime, no definite substitute could be provided, he would, without placing a direct negative upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork, move the previous question as an Amendment.
§ MR. GRATTAN
had been born a Protestant, bred a Protestant, and very likely would die a Protestant. But he protested against the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin as wretched abortions. A worse defence of a bad system he had never heard, either from a lawyer or a Member of Parliament. The real question was, whether an injustice was to continue to be perpetrated on a body of un-offending men? Here was an impost not levied on the north, and demanded from the south of Ireland. He contended, that there was no service whatever done for this money. It had been stated in evidence, that in 1833 there were in Ireland fifty churches in which for the previous three years no service had been performed. What a mockery was it to attempt to uphold such a system! The question was, whether 6,000,000 of men were to be called upon to pay for a mock Establishment? In one parish with which be was acquainted, in his own county, there was a Protestant church with grass growing in the doorway, its windows broken, and mould strewed over its floor—it was, in fact, in a state of complete dilapidation. And why? Because there were no Protestants to attend it. In another parish there was but one Protes- 1420 tant; he had two wives, and they killed him. Yet the Protestant clergyman of this parish, all the inhabitants of which were Catholic, except the two wives—and he did not know whether they were Protestant or Catholic—drew an income of 400l. a year; towards which he, as the owner of property in the parish, had to contribute. And for what? To save the soul of this single Protestant, which was not worth saving after all. He would maintain and uphold the Establishment, not by such means as these, but by moral principle, Christian feeling, and universal charity. What must be the feelings of our Catholic fellow-subjects when they were told by a Protestant bishop that the national schools, wherein Catholic children were taught in their own creed, were the suggestion of the devil. He could assure them such statements were not passed over unobserved by the Catholics, nor were they forgotten. And what was the condition of the Catholics at this moment in many of those parishes from which Protestant rectors were drawing large stipends to spend in Bath or elsewhere? Why, when they went to pray, they were reduced to the necessity of praying in stables instead of in chapels. Catholic ladies were reduced to the necessity of kneeling in the mud of Protestant stables—in the stalls of Protestant horses. How any one could be found to defend so detestable a system was to him astonishing. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary said, he was surprised at the words of the hon. Member for Middlesex. He ought rather to rejoice that they were only words. What would the right hon. Baronet say, when those words ripened into deeds; and when the Treasury bench would no longer be able to provide the means of defence against a whole people, roused to desperation by their injustice and neglect? It had been said, that the Catholics were cowards—he believed that there was much of water in their blood, for if they had the blood which ran through Protestant veins, they never would have submitted so long to the oppression and tyranny they had endured. Did they think it would satisfy the Catholic people, who were forced to pay this odious impost, to tell them that there was no fund in the hands of the Commissioners out of which those Protestant clergymen could be paid? He would advise them to make peace with the Catholics of Ireland by doing them justice. The time might come when they might not have the power to do so. Let 1421 them remember that the Protestant Church lived by the sufferance of the Catholics; and in consideration of what the Establishment had taken from the Catholic Church, he would suggest that a million at least should be given to the Catholic clergy, whose devotion to the spiritual welfare of their flocks, visiting and consoling the sick in the midst of typhus and other contagious diseases, formed a marked contrast to the conduct of some of the Protestant clergy, who had absolutely refused to visit the sick poor because typhus prevailed. He was not one of those who wished to strip the Protestant Church of its possessions, but to strip it of its vices and its errors, and to allow it to stand on its own pure foundation and in its beautiful simplicity; nor did he think it would be in the least endangered by taking from its own resources the paltry sum necessary for the payment of these its own clergymen; but the enforcement of which from the Catholics was an injustice and an insult to them.
§ SIR J. YOUNG
observed, that the hon. Gentleman who last spoke had expressed a desire to place the truth before the House; but in doing so he seemed to have forgotten what Miss Edgeworth had said: that he who exaggerated truth or painted it in false colours, was a traitor to the cause of truth. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had quoted the recommendation of the Committee; but the House should be aware that that report was carried by a majority of five against a minority of four. Therefore, whatever weight was due to that report—and he admitted that it was considerable—the opinion of the minority should not wholly be thrown aside. The great difficulty was to find a substitute for the tax they proposed to abolish. That it was a grievance to the Protestant clergyman to receive his stipend in this way, especially when the claim was resisted and had to be enforced, as well as it was to the Catholic to pay it, was admitted; but no other source out of which such stipend could be provided had been found. The second report of the Committee stated that ministers' money was not a charge on the person, but on the property, and formed part of the property of the Established Church; and it did not appear to them that any reason had been shown for relieving the owners who had come into possession of their property subject to this impost from the charge. If it were to be given up, it would, like the 25 per cent which had 1422 been surrendered under the Tithe Commutation Act, go into the landlord's pocket. [Mr. GRATTAN: They have not had a penny of it.] The second report further suggested that a power of redemption should be given, and a fund thus created; but it condemned the proposition for taking the money from the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, on the ground that those funds were placed in their hands for certain specific purposes and trusts; and until those trusts were completed, any diversion of any part of the money to other objects would be a breach of faith. Another proposition that was made before the Committee was, that a new valuation of the property in the towns should be made, and that the rate should be levied on such revaluation for the ministers' money, for the payment of the Roman Catholic clergy, and for other purposes. That probably was as fair a suggestion as had been put forward. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary said, that the Consolidated Fund was alluded to as the means of providing the fund; but in the second report the allusion to the Consolidated Fund was made as being the only means by which the landlords who were liable could hope to shift their burden to other shoulders. He (Sir J. Young) had voted against that proposition; and with regard to the present Motion, looking upon it, as the right hon. Baronet had said, as an avant courier to an attack on the Protestant Church Establishment of Ireland generally, he thought the Government were right in the course they took. Within a few years the Protestant clergy of Ireland had surrendered one-third of their property, and no wise Government would reopen the question.
§ MR. CALLAGHAN
was one of the Members of the Committee which sat upon this subject, and must remind the House that every one of the clergymen of the Established Church who were examined before it spoke against the tax. This odious impost was chiefly levied in those districts where the Catholic vastly preponderated over the Protestant population, which made its collection the more grievous and hateful to the former. The Catholics did not pay it willingly, and they never would pay it willingly. The hon. Member for Meath had given some ludicrous instances of the state in which Irish parishes were. At the risk of causing the House to laugh, he would mention another. He was once asked by two of his friends, clergymen, 1423 who were going to a visitation, to lend them a backgammon box in order to beguile the journey. He lent the box, and asked them in return to ascertain whether or no it was the fact, whether, as was rumoured, there were only six Protestant parishioners in a certain parish, a parish in which the opposition to this tax originated. The Government made the inquiry, and it turned out that there were only six Protestants, and that the two churchwardens were with child. It was explained in this way—that as there were only six Protestants, the clerk's wife and the sexton's wife were appointed churchwardens, and they were in the family way. He would not trespass further on the attention of the House than again to protest against this tax, and also against the system of tithes, under which the great body of the Irish people would never rest contented. They were badges of servitude—standing monuments of injustice—and the sooner they were abolished the better.
§ MR. KERSHAW
also protested against the tax as unjust and oppressive, and at the same time expressed his regret that the subject had been treated with so much levity by the House. He agreed with those who thought the Protestant Established Church in Ireland a nuisance in that country. ["Oh! oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen might say "Oh !" but he averred that that Protestant Church in Ireland had not fulfilled its mission. He thought the application of the voluntary principle would be much better for the Irish Protestant Church, and for religion generally. As long as he had a scat in that House, he would protest against the crying injustice of the majority of the people of Ireland being obliged to pay for the Church of the minority. The voluntary principle had been tried in England, and tried with success, even amongst members of the Church of England, for he was happy to say that in many instances churches in connexion with the Established Church were conducted upon the voluntary principle, and that those churches were the most prosperous in the country. If that were the case, the sooner the contention for mere pelf was abandoned the better. For his own part he desired nothing more than that religion should be excluded from the debates in that House, and thought the adoption of the voluntary principle generally would tend to the promotion of religion, and the restoration of tranquillity.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
agreed with the hon. Member for Stockport in thinking 1424 that such discussions did not tend to raise the House of Commons in the estimation of the country. He rejoiced, however, to say that the observations to which he referred came from the other side exclusively of the House. He denied most emphatically that the Irish Church had been wanting in its duty. During the distress in Ireland, he had heard Roman Catholics avow, that of all those who exerted themselves in the cause of humanity, and made sacrifices for the alleviation of their sinking fellow-countrymen, the clergy of the Established Church stood foremost. It appeared strange, to say the least of it, that a Motion like that, for the purpose of alienating the property of the Established Church, was made by an Irish Roman Catholic, considering the oath which he had taken. What was that oath? It was this:—I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property within this realm as established by law; and I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment as settled by law within this realm; and I do solemnly swear that I never will exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled, to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in the United Kingdom; and I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain ordinary sense of the words of the oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever. So help me God.Now, if there was any meaning in the plain sense of words, by their acceptation of these terms in the oath Roman Catholic Members had taken at the table of the House, they had precluded themselves from attempting to weaken or disturb the Established Church of Ireland by alienation of its funds or otherwise: but he was sorry to say, the House had the testimony of three hon. Members—the hen. Members for Middlesex, Meath, and Cavan—that this Motion was a direct attack on the Church established in Ireland. He could not understand how hon. Members who had taken the oath which he had just read, could reconcile it to their consciences to support this Motion. The only explanation of this was to be found in the fact, that by the Roman canon law oaths were not held obligatory which were contrary to the decisions of, or adverse to, the interests of the Church of Rome; and that Roman Catholic Members of that House, who took part in such proceedings as the present, considered themselves absolved, by their religion, from the obligation of the oaths 1425 they had taken on entering this House. He had stated this before in the House; and certain Roman Catholic Members had questioned the authority on which he did so; he would, therefore, now quote some of these authorities. In the edition of the Canon Law, published with the approval of the Roman Catholic Consistory of Saxony in 1839, he found it asserted by Popes of Rome—That the Kingly power is subject to the Pontificial—that the Pope has a right to depose Sovereigns, to dispose of their kingdoms and absolve subjects from their allegiance—that all oaths to the prejudice of the Church of Rome are null and void—and that Romish ecclesiastics may resist their Sovereigns for the good of their Church, and even for their own private advantage.On oaths of allegiance it was said—'The apostolic authority altogether cancels illicit oaths.…as the Lord says by the prophet (Isaiah lviii. 6).'The Roman Pontiff absolves from the oath of allegiance, when he deposes any from their authority.'—Gregory IX., Decret. 11, pars. C. xv. 2 vi. p. 647.With respect to the deposition of sovereigns and the oaths of subjects and soldiers, it was said (p. 648)—The Pontificial authority absolves from the oath of allegiance.The following ancient precedent is then cited:—The Roman Pontiff, Zachariah, deposed the King of the Franks, not so much for his evil deeds, as because he was not serviceable to his own power, and raised to the throne, in his place, Pepin, the father of Charlemagne, and absolved all the Franks from the oath of allegiance which they had taken." "The same is done frequently (auctoritate frequenti) by the Holy Church, when it releases soldiers from the obligation of their oaths.On the subject of oaths of allegiance to excommunicate persons, he found the following passage (p. 648):—No one owes allegiance to any excommunicate persons before they are reconciled to the Holy See.The Pope proceeds to forbid such allegiance to be paid:—'No oaths are to be kept if they are against the interest of the Church of Rome." Oaths which are against the interest of the Church are not to be called oaths, but perjuries.' Decret. Greg. IX., lib. 11. tit. xxiv. cap. 27 (vol. ii. p. 358).The following sentences would show that the oaths of allegiance taken by ecclesiastics to temporal sovereigns were considered illicit and void:—Ecclesiastics not having temporalities from laics are not bound to take oaths of allegiance to them. Certain laics contrive to usurp too much on the Divine right, when they compel ecclesias- 1426 tics receiving no temporalities for them to take oaths of allegiance; but since, according to the apostle (Rom. xiv.4) every one stands or falls to his own master, we prohibit such ecclesiastics from any such violence." We declare that you are not bound by your oaths of allegiance to your princes, but that you may resist freely even your prince himself in defence of the rights and honour of the Church, and even of your own private advantage.In the xvi. canon of the Third Council of Lateran, it is affirmed that those oaths are not to be called oaths, but perjuries rather, which are contrary to the advantage of the Church. Bishop Doyle says (Appendix to Irish Education Report, p. 794)—The Third Lateran Council is one of the General Councils of the Roman Catholic Church.In the 27th chapter of the Council it is affirmed that all who are in any way bound to heretics, should consider themselves absolved from all fidelity and obedience due to them as long as they persist in their iniquity. Archbishop Murray admitted that the Council of Constance was general, and Roman Catholics profess that they receive without doubt what the canons of the general councils declare; and one of the decrees of the Council of Constance is, "that faith is not to be kept with heretics to the prejudice of the Church." He thought this sufficient to show that there were some Roman Catholics, at least, who would not think themselves bound by any oaths contrary to the interests of their church. He deeply regretted that the hon. Member who had made this Motion, and who was a Roman Catholic, had not left it to some equally determined opponent of the Irish Church, such as the hon. Member for Middlesex. He could not have found any one more zealous enemy of the Established Church than that hon. Member, nor a more determined opponent, as far as his weak voice could go, than the individual who then addressed them.
The EARL of ARUNDEL
and SURREY said, that the oaths about which the hon. Gentleman had been speaking, from the keeping of which Roman Catholics were absolved, were only those which it would be unlawful to keep—such, for instance, as if a man were to swear to kill another man, he would be absolved from the oath, and forbidden absolutely to keep it. Roman Catholics were forbidden to take oaths to do anything which was unlawful; but if they happened to take them, they were forbidden to keep them. However, the question was one which had 1427 nothing to do with the subject under discussion. Hon. Members interpreted the oaths they took according to their own consciences; and he had been informed by a Protestant Member of the House (whoso name he was not at liberty then to divulge, the matter having been spoken of merely in private conversation) that he took precisely the same view of the oath as the right hon. Member for Dungarvan. That fact was sufficient to illustrate the difference of opinion that existed. With regard to the charge of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, as to the not keeping faith with heretics, it was one which had been so often answered and denied, that it required no further reply. There was no foundation whatsoever for it. Roman Catholics were bound to keep faith with heretics. He did not intend to go into the question under discussion further than to say, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of Cork, who had introduced it, said that he did not wish to deprive the Protestant clergy of their incomes; and, as far as he (the Earl of Arundel) had understood, all the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken in that debate against the Irish Church were themselves Protestants.
§ MR. HUME
disapproved altogether of the expressions about this being an attack upon the Church. If, to endeavour to remove an abuse and to destroy an injustice, were to make an attack upon the Church, then indeed the Motion under consideration was an attack, and he had often made such attacks. But it was surprising how the opinions of hon. Gentlemen changed upon the question. It was a gross and grievous injustice that a tax for the support of the Protestant clergy should be levied upon the Roman Catholics in those eight corporate towns in the south of Ireland. It was most unwarrantable. But he begged the House to observe the changes in opinion that had taken place regarding it. On the 3rd of July, 1844, a precisely similar Motion was brought forward in the House, and it was supported by the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Bellew) a Gentleman who was certainly not one likely to pull down the Church. Upon the same occasion, Lord Stanley, who was then a Member of the Government, stated that the question was one which had seriously occupied the attention of the Government; and although they had not as yet determined upon the nature of the measure they would adopt, yet he hoped shortly to be enabled to submit one that would be satis- 1428 factory. Yet, to hear hon. Gentlemen rising and attacking his hon. Friends near him for advocating the principle of a measure which Lord Stanley declared had occupied his favourable attention and that of the Government of which he was a Member, was to him most surprising, if anything could surprise him. Why should hon. Gentlemen refuse to go into Committee upon the question? Why should the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary have moved the previous question, when those about him had formerly supported Motions—yes, and intended it seriously—precisely similar to that moved by his hon. Friend the Member for the city of Cork? Why should the Government refuse to abolish this tax of 15,000l., when they had previously abolished charges to the amount of 76,000l.? The Established Church in Ireland was a perpetual cause of excitement, of difference, and of ill feeling. And, indeed, he had to complain of a similar injustice in Scotland to that under discussion; for in Edinburgh and Montrose ministers' money was collected, and great differences were excited thereby. But so long as they had the Church of the minority supported by the majority, it was impossible to expect peace or quiet in Ireland. He thought his hon. Friend the Member for the city of Cork had done right in bringing; forward the Motion. He had done so in a speech which had given not the slightest cause of offence to any one, and he (Mr. Hume) should give him his most cordial support.
§ MR. NAPIER
Sir, the hon. Member for Montrose has told the House that there would be no peace for Ireland until the Protestant Church was levelled; and yet that hon. Member was loud in his demand for religious liberty. But on what principle of religious liberty did the hon. Member deny to them—the Protestants of Ireland—that which he claimed for himself? He (Mr. Napier) was ready to admit that if the religious rights of any man were unfairly interfered with, the party had a right to complain; and it was in exact conformity with that principle that he demanded for the Church to which he himself belonged the privilege of retaining the property which was justly her own. In arguing the question of property, he found that a general fallacy prevailed. The plea generally was, that the property of the individual was taxed; that, in fact, a personal charge was made, to support the Established Church. The hon. Member for 1429 Middlesex had fallen into an historical mistake in stating that a tax which had been submitted to by the south of Ireland had been repudiated by the north. In the case before the House, the charge had been imposed in the reign of Charles II., after the settlement of the Ulster plantation; and it was done with a view to encourage commercial settlers from England. In the south, various privileges were extended to those who settled in towns, and provision was made for the creation of corporations and the erection and maintenance of churches. The Church's title to the income now under consideration arose out of the arrangements thus made, and was as good as the title by which any landlord held his land. The present possessors of the property, liable to the charge, took possession with the charge upon it, and they had no right to call it a burden, and to demand to be relieved from it. Mr. O'Flynn, one of the witnesses examined before the Select Committee, had plainly stated that it was against the conscience of a Roman Catholic to pay such a charge in favour of a Protestant clergyman, even supposing he had acquired his property subject to that charge. Such a position was contrary, not only to justice, but to common sense, and to the very existence of property at all. That was a position which might be applied by any individual the charge being one upon property—and not upon the person. He asked any one of common sense, then, that being the case, what would be the effect of abolishing it, and whom would it relieve? The owners of a large portion of the property in towns were Protestants, and if they removed this charge, it was the owners that would be benefited; and he asked what conscientious principle, what point of religious liberty, would be advanced by such a course? He admitted that in the details there might be defects; but if the clergy had to go to the tenants and they paid the charge, they had a right to deduct it from their landlords. He admitted that it might be better to make the charge on the landowners in the first instance, and if it could be so arranged, and the clergy only received three-fourths of their present amount, it would be beneficial, as it would go far to prevent the creation of religious animosity by the collection. He heard a number of city Members speak against this charge, but only one county Member; and he held in his hands the words of one of Ireland's bright- 1430 est ornaments and gifted sons on this subject. The late Mr. Grattan had, almost with his dying words, expressed his determination to support the rights of the Established Church, while advocating the extension of religious liberty. That Gentleman had drawn up a series of resolutions, to the effect that it was desirable that a Committee should be appointed, with a view of relieving Her Majesty's subjects from religious disabilities in a manner consistent with a due regard to the maintaining inviolate the rights of the Established Church, and the principles of the 5th Article of the Act of Union. He might also quote the opinion of an English Roman Catholic, that, the Legislature having settled the matter, and appointed certain charges to be made on property, no individual had a right to complain or interfere with the arrangement. Unless they maintained the principle of property, as established by the Legislature, there would be no security for any institution of the country. He re-collected the time when nine-tenths of the tithe were paid by Protestants; and when it was consented that that impost should be commuted for a rent charge, if a Roman Catholic took the property it was subject to that charge. He always thought it right that the question should be discussed on principle, and he was glad to hear the noble Lord at the head of the Government express his determination to maintain the Church on principle, when he stated that it must be so maintained, not merely as a Church, but as a great national establishment. He (Mr. Napier) had never defended the Church except as a Christian establishment, founded on the word of God; and he would be obliged to any hon. Member who, in a spirit of real reform, could point out where it could be improved so as to enable it better to perform its mission. From what he knew of the Church of Ireland, he believed it was distinguished by fidelity, usefulness, and every quality which was calculated to give to its disciples the solace of religion, and prove to them a blessing. Now, with regard to the question of the Church, it was admitted that if the clergy discharged their duties usefully and properly, they ought to be paid, and if they were to be paid, he supposed it would also be admitted that the labourer was worthy of his hire. If, then, this was a charge upon property, why should it he taken away? He considered that there was no reason for any alteration in that respect; and Dr. 1431 West, of Dublin, was of opinion that the charge was purely made upon property, though he suggested that there might be a new valuation, as in the case of other rates. The only other question raised in this discussion was relative to the Church Temporalities Act, which laid down certain principles for their government, and of which it had been said that as the Legislature had created those principles, the Legislature might get rid of them and substitute any other—the professed object of the investigation which was proposed being to see whether there was any surplus beyond what was required for the maintenance of the Church. With regard to the Church Temporalities Act, he warned hon. Gentlemen that it was a dangerous subject to open. If they looked at the 5th Article of the Act of Union, and at the Catholic Emancipation Act, they would see that legislation on the subject ought not to be interfered with. If hon. Gentlemen opened this subject, he warned them that it must lead to the Maynooth grant being questioned on that (the Opposition) side of the House. They should take care how the question was opened, as there were parties on that side of the House, who valued truth as much as it was professed to value religious liberty on the other. With regard to the Church Temporalities Act, it removed the first-fruits, which were originally imposed as an annual tax upon benefices, and the vestry cess for repairing churches, because it was more a personal tax than one upon property, into the hands of the Commissioners. The trusts created by that Act, however, could not be discharged, because there were not sufficient funds for the purpose. He had heard one hon. Member say that the number of churches were more than sufficient; but in the diocese of Cork there were forty schools with congregations sufficiently large for churches, but the Commissioners had no funds to build them. In the diocese of Down, the late bishop had consecrated forty new churches. He did not at all believe that the Roman Catholics were generally desirous of having any alteration with regard to the Church; and he could tell the hon. Member for Meath, who had spoken on the subject, that the Roman Catholic proprietors, on a rate being made, had refused to allow one penny to be deducted from the clergy. It was sometimes stated in that House that the church property amounted to an immense sum; but he thought hon. Members ought to inform themselves better 1432 upon the subject before they made those general and sweeping assertions. The question was asked, were they at liberty, under present circumstances, to make any alteration by which this charge should be taken off the owners of property? He was perfectly willing to remove any real grievances that existed, but he was not prepared to make the present charge upon property the subject of legislation. He asked the House what was the real principle they were advocating. He had heard one hon. Member, with a great deal of zeal, and, he had no doubt, with a great deal of sincerity, state that he was in favour of the voluntary principle, and that he never should be satisfied until the Established Church in Ireland was put down. Now, as he (Mr. Napier) understood the voluntary principle, it was that no one had a right to interfere with the religion of another; and if that were the case, what right had the hon. Member to interfere with regard to the Established Church? An hon. Gentleman said that the Protestant Church in Ireland possessed a revenue of 1,000,000l. He defied him to prove that from authentic documents. He maintained that the funds of that Church belonged to the right of succession, and he defied any party to show good reason why it should be alienated. They held the Protestant Church to be the true and right Church; and while it wanted not the property of others, it had a right to have this secured to it which was originally granted by Act of Parliament. If they carried out the principle of the Church Temporalities Act, they would see that there was no pretext for this measure. A census was taken of the population in 1831, and they had all the materials at that period for coming to a right conclusion upon the subject. Under that Act it was provided that no benefice under 300l a year could be taxed, and small benefices were to be augmented until they reached 200l. a year. The entire income of the Protestant parochial clergy only amounted to an average of 170l. a year, and 600 persons formed the average number of the congregation. No substitute was offered for this provision, and it would be an injustice, therefore, to agree to the Motion.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, that there were two things perfectly clear in the speech delivered by the hon. and learned Member who had just addressed the House: first, that he was a sincere defender of the Protestant Church as by law established; and, 1433 secondly, that he was an excellent special pleader. But, although the hon. and learned Member had made a most ingenious speech, he did not think that the magnates of the Church would be much obliged to him when they heard the defence which he had made for them. The hon. and learned Member had commenced by saying, let them keep what they had, and take nothing from them. He would have the hon. and learned Member to recollect that the enormous revenues of the Protestant Church once belonged to the Catholic Church of England and Ireland, and that they were taken by force from them, and the spoliation had been sanctioned by subsequent Acts of Parliament. The hon. Member for the city of Cork had not proposed to spoliate the Church; he had proposed to transfer the charge of 15,000l. to some other fund; it was not his wish to deprive the Protestant Church of a single penny. He (Mr. Reynolds) did not quite go with him to that extent; he was prepared to protect, by every means in his power, the interest of the present incumbents, but he was not prepared to perpetuate what he would call the spoliation of the people. Dublin, the city which he had the honour to represent, contributed 11,000l. out of the 15,000l. raised in Ireland for ministers' money, Cork 2,000l.; and the remainder of the sum was spread over six towns in the provinces of Leinster and Munster. His constituents had therefore a double right to complain of the injustice of this imposition. Four-fifths of the population of Dublin were compelled to pay for the support of a religion which they repudiated, and yet the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin had called that no grievance. The hon. Member for Warwickshire had raked up some old and obsolete Orders in Council, that might have done very well for an Exeter Hall speech, but were not suited for this House; and he had spoken of the oaths imposed upon Catholic Members of this House, putting what he (Mr. Reynolds) considered a very erroneous construction upon them. He represented a constituency consisting of all religious denominations, and denied that he was sent there because he was a Catholic; he stood there as a representative of the people, and had duties to perform as such. He took the oath conscientiously, and was yet prepared to curtail the temporalities of the Irish Protestant Church; he would go further, and declare himself prepared, with a 1434 clear conscience, to vote for its total abolition, if he believed the necessities of the State required it. ["Oh, oh!"] He would repeat the declaration; and unless they could convince him—which he thought it would be very difficult to do—[Cries of"Hear, hear!"] They should allow him to finish his sentence—unless they could convince him that ministers' money formed part of the Protestant religion, he would vote with a perfectly clear conscience for its total abolition. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin had said this was a tax upon the house, and not upon the man; but this was only a distinction without a difference; for if he (Mr. Reynolds) bought a plot of ground in Dublin, and built a house upon it, the Protestant rector could compel him to pay Is in the pound upon 60l., for the cure of souls. Now, he being a Catholic, the tax could not be for the cure of his soul, for he did not think the Protestant doctor the best doctor, and therefore did not seek his assistance. This reminded him of the old story of Dean Swift and the old Dublin barber, Timothy O'Brien. The dean's collector could not persuade Timothy, do all that he could, to pay the tax towards his reverence's income, the obstinate barber maintaining that he got no value, being a Catholic, and therefore would not pay it. Timothy, however, was sent for by the reverend dean, and told, that it was his own fault that he received no value for his money, because the church doors were always open to him, and he might avail himself of its services if he chose. Timothy said, "Is that the doctrine?" and being answered by his reverence in the affirmative, then paid. The worthy shaver, however, acting upon the precedent laid down by his reverence, a few days after sent in a bill to the deanery for 3l. 10s, (being the same amount as he had paid for ministers' money) for dressing his reverence's wig and shaving him for the last throe years. The dean, astonished at receiving such a demand, seeing that his own servant both shaved him regularly and dressed his wig, sent for the barber, who coolly explained that it was true he had never actually performed any shaving or dressing for his reverence, but still that was purely his own fault, because his shop was always open for him to come and be shaved whenever he required it. The dean at once recognised the force of the shrewd barber's retort, returned the ministers' money, and never sent his collector to 1435 levy ministers' money from him again. Now, it would be well if the House would follow the example of the worthy dean upon this question, and give to Catholics that exemption from the tax to which they had a fair claim, as they did not receive any value for their money. The Committee which sat upon this question last year made a very milk-and-water sort of report. He (Mr. Reynolds) was a Member of it, and had proposed an Amendment to the effect that the exaction of ministers' money in Ireland was regarded as a serious grievance by Catholics and Protestant Dissenters; and that a Bill ought to be introduced to abolish this tax, and charge the Ecclesistical Commissioners' fund with the sum annually raised in the towns now subject to this impost. However, the Committee, by a majority of one, rejected this suggestion; his right hon. Friend the Master of the Mint, who was Chairman of the Committee, and a Catholic, kneeling at the same altar with him (Mr. Reynolds), giving his casting vote against him. It could not surely be said, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners could not afford to pay this money; their income was not less in permanent and casual receipts than 118,000l. a year. The returns showed that, during the last twelve years they had received 1,629,000l., and spent 1,628,000l.; and it was not at all very clear to him, that if their income were six times as much, they would not spend it all, and still leave themselves without a balance in hand. How did they appropriate this money? 992,000l. of this 1,629,000l. had been laid out within the twelve years upon church requisites, rebuilding, and repairs; incidents of offices, 19,436l.; salaries, 86,260?.; law costs and payments, 21,808l.; and bibles (the smallest sum of all seemed to be spent in the distribution of bibles), 3,174l. The charge for salaries was 12¾ per cent upon the gross total receipts. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin had charged him (Mr. Reynolds) with stating the income of the Irish Established Church to be one million, and said himself that it was not more than 600,000l. Now he (Mr. Reynolds) found that the tithe-rent charge exceeded half a million, and that the bishops' lands and glebe lands amounted to 730,000 acres; so that it occurred to him that if the income of the establishment in Ireland was not a million, it ought at all events to be very near it. But, even taking the hon. and learned Gentleman's 1436 own admission, that it was 600,000l.—[Mr. NAPIER was hero understood to deny that he had made any such admission]—here in Ireland, the poorest country in the world, and the most Catholic country in all Europe, they had a Church having only 700,000 of a population, possessed of an annual income of no less than 600,000l. exclusive of the bishop and glebe land; whilst, on the other hand, there were 6½ millions of Catholic population, and as many Presbyterians and other Protestant Dissenters as belonged to the Establishment, supporting their own religion in almost every instance by their own voluntary contributions. As a Catholic, he had to thank the hon. Member for Middlesex for his declarations regarding the Irish Established Church. He (Mr. Reynolds) still regarded the temporalities of that Church as a brand and mark of degradation upon his Catholic fellow-countrymen; and he believed, as an Irishman and a Catholic, that he would never be really emancipated so long as that plague-spot was allowed to exist in Ireland. He would tell the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite that he was not aware of what was brewing for him. He must prepare himself for a most extensive agitation against the temporalities of that Church; for he would tell the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite that the Catholics of Ireland would never cease agitating until the Irish Church temporalities were entirely abolished. Why should any hon. Gentleman censure him for declaring these to be his sentiments? He would give hon. Gentlemen opposite the benefit of any advantage they could derive from this declaration; for he would tell them that he should consider himself unworthy of the name of a freeman if he tamely submitted to a monster injustice that would not be tolerated a moment in any other part of the civilised globe. Now, they had to govern Ireland by an army of 40,000 troops, together with no less than 14,000 of a constabulary force; but let them only remove the Irish Established Church, and they would have no need to keep up any such expensive means of coercion. Would the Protestant Gentlemen of England submit to support a Catholic Establishment? He would bring the matter home to their bosoms. He would ask if a Catholic collector walked into the house of a Protestant, and demanded 5l. for the support of the Catholic priesthood, what would be the result? It was not clear to him that the collector would not get more kicks than 1437 halfpence. Measure for measure he said. If allegiance was wanted from Irishmen—allegiance based on the broad feeling of affection—the attempt to force the Protestant Church on Ireland would not be continued. This was a section of that Church. He called on the Premier, in the name of his Catholic fellow-citizens, to raise his voice in favour of the Catholic people of Ireland, and help to emancipate them from this intolerable insult. A number of respectable Protestant clergymen were examined before the Committee, all of whom declared they wished for a change in the system of ministers' money; and many wished it altogether abolished. They said it was an unpleasant mode of collecting their subsistence, and he firmly believed the majority of those who obtained benefit from this ministers' money would be in favour of change. He hoped the Administration would do something to show the Catholic people of Ireland that they were not thus to be continually insulted.
§ MR. G. A. HAMILTON
could assure the House it was not his intention, at that late hour, to occupy their time for more than a few minutes; and he rose merely for the purpose of setting the House right with regard to some most extraordinary statements of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the income of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was 120,000l. a year. Now, by the return in his (Mr. Hamilton's) hand, in the appendix to the report on ministers' money, page 286, the Commissioners themselves, who were the best authority, estimate their present income at precisely 71,574l. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the income of the Established Church in Ireland was a million; and when questioned by his (Mr. Hamilton's) hon. Colleague on the subject, the hon. Member had endeavoured to make up that amount by estimating the value of the lands belonging to the bishoprics. Exaggerations were common in that House with reference to the property of the Established Church—but he could scarcely persuade himself that the hon. Member for the city of Dublin, when he made that statement, must not have been aware that under the Church Temporalities Acts in Ireland, the tenants of the bishops' estates have acquired, or have the right of acquiring, a perpetuity in their lands; so that the Church, in point of fact, receives only a rent-charge or head-rent from them. The lands, therefore, and their value, become the property of the 1438 tenant. The real state of the case is as follows:—The income of the parochial clergy at the present time is about 369,000l. a year, subject to heavy deductions for ecclesiastical tax and poor-rate: that of the bishops, about 57,000l.; that of the dignitaries, deans, &c., about 20,000l.; and that of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as he had stated, about 71,000l.; and this property of the parochial clergy, if divided amongst them, would give an income of about 170l. to each clergyman, as already stated by his hon. Colleague. He would add, that he could not felicitate the right hon. Gentleman the Master of the Mint on the result which had followed from the adoption of his report. He was sure he must have heard the speeches to-night in reference to the Church in Ireland, and sentiments expressed on his own side of the House, in which he and his Colleagues could not concur. He alluded particularly to the speeches of the hon. Members for the city of Dublin and Meath. For his own part he was glad those hon. Members had spoken out. It was better the Protestants of England and of Ireland should know what were the real objects and designs of the party to which those hon. Members belonged. He lamented that there should have been any such manifestations of warmth of feeling, but it could not be said that it originated on his side of the House. [Mr. J. O'CONNELL: The hon. Member for North Warwickshire.] He said his hon. Friend (Mr. Newdegate) was forced into it by the speech of the hon. Member for Middlesex. He approved of the course the Government had taken in moving the previous question. There were objections to the system of ministers' money in Ireland, as he had always admitted, and he should be ready at any time to assist in remedying them.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
said, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire had brought forward the most offensive topic possible to the Catholics, for the charge was involved in his words of tampering with the oaths taken by the Catholic Members. The hon. Member for Middlesex's proposition was a fair subject for discussion—the other was not. They could not pretend to say that the present question had reference to the Protestant Establishment. The fairest way was to speak out at once, and to say that a Protestant Establishment among a Catholic people was a nuisance. Now, with respect to the oath. On the last occasion, when this 1439 topic came before the House, he had warned them that bad blood and ill-feeling would be created. He had felt it to be so, and he had announced himself as ready to return his public charge into his constituents' hands rather than be supposed to act in any way against the oath he had taken. But the House had shrunk from giving the oath that interpretation. The hon. Gentleman who had devised the Bill—who adopted and identified himself with the form of words taken by the Catholic Members, had refused to give that interpretation to the oath, and said hon. Members were each to judge for themselves. He had looked to the oath. There were two parts in it; when taken, the Catholic Member said he would not exercise any privilege—he would not, in fact, do anything—to subvert the Protestant Church. Now, if those words stood alone, they would be very strong, and Catholic Members could not fairly do anything to subvert the Protestant Establishment. But when did Catholic Members bring forward a measure to totally subvert the Protestant Establishment? All they did was to attempt to modify that Establishment. ["Oh, oh!"] He would tell lawyers who were in that House to look to the context—"to subvert the Protestant Establishment, as established by law." Now, what law had settled, law could unsettle. They were there to make laws, and, if necessary, to alter or repeal laws. The Protestant Church had already been altered by law, and was no longer the same Protestant Church as established by law. He did not propose to alter the Church, but he would not come into that house with his hands tied. He had never proposed to subvert the Protestant Establishment, whether that establishment rightfully or wrongfully existed. He would not deprive his Protestant fellow-subjects of what they had so long enjoyed by law. But he wanted to know whether the Protestant religion meant money? If so, he granted them at once the whole argument. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire had come to the verge of charging Catholic Members with tampering with their oath. Now, the hon. Member himself had sworn that no foreign Power or prelate had any spiritual power in these kingdoms. Did he not know that a foreign Power had spiritual jurisdiction in these kingdoms? He (Mr. J. O'Connell) confessed it—he was the Pope's spiritual subject, and all Irish Catholics were the spiritual subjects of the Pope. The Pope had spiritual 1440 jurisdiction in these kingdoms, and yet the hon. Member had sworn he had not. He regretted that the Motion was brought forward in the shape it was before the House, because it was clear that there was to be no compromise on the other side; therefore it would have been better to have simply moved the abrogation of the tax, in which he would have been countenanced by not only Protestant Dissenters, but many members of the Church itself.
§ SIR J. TYRELL
said, that hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House were going the wrong way to settle these differences by bandying charges of bigotry and intolerance against those who did not agree with them in religious belief. Members in that House attached to the Protestant religion were charged with quoting the opinions of bigoted authorities in support of their views. But he would refer to the opinions held by an authority to whom he presumed hon. Gentlemen opposite would not presume to object—he meant Mr. Macaulay, lately one of the most eloquent and able Members of the Whig Cabinet. The hon. Baronet proceeded to road an extract, in which Mr. Macaulay stated that there was amongst the English a strong conviction that a Roman Catholic, where the interests of his religion were concerned, considered himself freed from all the ordinary rules of morality; and that, in order to avert scandal or injury to his Church, he was justified in violating those rules of morality. He also quoted from Mr. Whiteside's book on Italy, from which it appeared that whilst the learned gentleman was in Italy, he ascertained that Pope Pius IX. would not permit any persons happening to reside in Italy or Rome to make allusion to a future state on the tombstones, but confined them to a mere reference to the virtues of the deceased. He gave these extracts, he said, for the benefit of those hon. Gentlemen who would destroy the Protestant Church in Ireland. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen might pretend that they only intended the abolition of the temporalities of that Church, but he believed their designs went much farther. At all events, the way to bring about a little more harmony on these matters was not by making charges of bigotry against those who sat on his (Sir J. Tyrell's) side of the House. He deprecated such discussions, as they only tended to raise dissensions. If any substitute could be found for the impost, he would be happy to support any measure that would render 1441 the support of the Church more harmonious; but he could not agree to the abolition of the temporalities of the Church altogether,
§ Whereupon Previous Question put—" That that Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 44; Noes 72: Majority 28.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||O'Brien, T.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||O'Connell, J.|
|Blake, M. J.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Brotherton, J.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Callaghan, D.||Osborne, R.|
|Cowan, C.||Pearson, C.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Pilkington, J.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Power, N.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Raphael, A.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.||Scholefield, W.|
|Duncan, G.||Scully, F.|
|Fox, W. J.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Grattan, H.||Sullivan, M.|
|Greene, J.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Hastie, A.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Heywood, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Heyworth, L.||Thornely, T.|
|Hume, J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Kershaw, J.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Lawless, hon. C.||Wyld, J.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Moore, G. H.||Fagan, W.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Reynolds, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Hawes, B.|
|Alexander, N.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Henley, J. W.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Baring, T.||Hope, A.|
|Bourke, R. S.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Boyd, J.||Keppel, hon. G. T.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Carter, J. B.||Lockhart, W.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. G.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Christy, S.||Napier, J.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Ogle, S. C. H|
|Deedes, W.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Dick, Q.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Duncuft, J.||Parker, J.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Patten, J. W.|
|Dundas, G.||Rich, H.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Edwards, H.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Stafford, A.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Townley, R. G.|
|Forbes, W.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Vesey, hon, T.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Grogan, E.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Hale, R. B.||Wilson, J.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.||Young, Sir J.|
|Hill, Lord M.||Grey, R. W.|
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.