§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."1071
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that he approached the discussion of this subject with the deepest conviction of the truth and justice of the course he was about to advocate, and under serious apprehensions that he might be unable to Lay before the House with the force due to it the merits of the case on which they had to decide; but he should be followed by others who could make ample amends for any deficiency he might labour under, and all he asked of the House on both sides was, that they would attend to the arguments which would be submitted to them. So far as he was concerned, he relied exclusively on what he believed to be the real merits of the question, and he wished no hon. Member to go into the same lobby as himself who was convinced of the truth and justice of the case, He desired to assure the Government and the House that he deeply regretted the necessity of resisting that stage of the Bill. In the present state of feeling in Canada on this subject, he thought it would have been most desirable that it should not have been made the ground of any thing like party purposes. He was very sorry that his sense of duty compelled him now to resist the progress of this Bill, and he must express the deep disappointment he felt that it had beep laid on the table of the House in its present shape. After the extraordinary circumstances which marked the debate on the introduction of this Bill, he must say he had had hopes it would have been offered to them now in a different form. He thought he was justified in applying the word "extraordinary" to those circumstances. Let him remind the House who were the speakers who took part in the debate. The Bill was introduced by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. F. Peel); the next speaker was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. V. Smith); and the third was the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell). Now what was the language which those hon. Members held? He asked the oldest Member of that House if he could call to mind a case in which a Member of Her Majesty's Government, bringing forward a measure on their behalf, admitted at the close of his speech that the Bill he introduced was calculated to shake public confidence in all religious endowments?
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
said, he 1072 must beg to correct the right hon. Gentleman. What he had said on the introduction of the measure was, that it was calculated to shake the confidence felt by the clergy at present supported out of the fund, in the stability of the appropriation of this fund for religious purposes.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he must of course accept any explanation, of the language used by any hon. Member, but he had taken a note of the hon. Member's words, and that note was con-firmed by the reports in the newspapers, next day. The language of the hon. Member was commented on by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford the same evening; and though, as he said before, he was willing to take the explanation of the hon. Member, even on that explanation he must say he thought a Bill was never before introduced with such a statement. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Notting ham (Mr. V. Smith) had also spoken on a former occasion, and with perfect frank ness had repudiated the idea that this Bill only transferred to the Legislature of the Colony the power of altering the disposition of these reserves, and did not in fact, alter that disposition. The right hon. Gentleman declared most frankly that if the power were given up to the Canadian Legislature the disposition of the property would assuredly be altered, for they most certainly would secularise it. Then came the speech of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), who said in substance that the necessity for the measure was a subject of regret to the Government, and that he doubted the wisdom of the proposal. "It was not wise to revive: this subject," said the noble Lord On a former occasion; but he added that even were that the opinion of the Governments there were paramount reasons for urging the measure forward. Now it was not for him (Sir J. Pakington) to comparer the past inexperienced Government with the practised men who now sat on the sat opposite benches; but this he could say with confidence, that the late Governments did not commence their career by an apology for the indiscretion of their own speeches, nor have prefaced the introduce the of measures first submitted to Parliament by such a declaration as that which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Peel). Sincerely and solemnly as he 1073 (Sir J. Pakington) recognised the honour of taking part in the Government of this country, he would rather forego that honour altogether, than be a party to a measure which required such an apology as that urged by the hon. Gentleman on the introduction of this Bill. But what was the language which he (Sir J. Pakington) had held on that occasion with reference to the Bill? Why, he implored the noble Lord to reflect upon his own Act of 1840; to pause before he decided on the shape which this Bill was to assume, and he begged the noble Lord to consider whether the Crown and the Legislature of this country were not bound to consult and respect the rights of the two Churches of England and Scotland. When he found that the Bill as laid on the table, made no reservation of any kind, but that it exhibited an abandonment of a duty which he held to be imperatively binding on the Government of this country, and a delegation to the Colonial Legislature to deal absolutely in the matter as they should deem fit, he confessed he felt compelled to oppose the further progress of the measure. So unwilling, however, was he to resist the Bill in this stage, that he would waive further resistance to it if the noble Lord would give a pledge that in Committee such amendments should be introduced as would have the effect of guarding the disposal of these reserves, and of fairly protecting the rights of the Church of England and the equitable rights of the Church of Scotland. The broad principle at issue on this question was the principle of religious endowment or of secularisation. If the noble Lord would make no such pledge as that he had desired, he (Sir J. Pakington) was called upon to decide, uncertain as to the results of the Committee, whether he could give his consent to the second reading of the Bill as it stood. According to the forms of the House the Bill must be resisted upon the second reading directly, or not at all; and, if he had no hope of seeing the amendments he wished for introduced in Committee, he had no alternative but to resist the second reading now. In doing so, if the House would favour him with their attention, he would state as fairly and as briefly as he could the arguments involved in the question. The issue was, in fact, a narrow one. It was simply this:—On his side it was contended, and he was prepared to contend, that these endowments had been appropriated by a suc- 1074 cession of Parliaments in this country to the support of the Protestant Church in Canada, and to the worship of God in that country according to the Protestant form; that that appropriation was ultimately confirmed and developed, but not made by the Act of 1840; and that it was not open to the Government or the Parliament now to depart from the appropriation so made without a breach of the national faith—and he was afraid he might go so far as to say, without committing a national sin. He did not believe any hon. Gentleman opposite would dispute either the fact or the solemnity of the guarantee on the part of this country; but he was met with the argument that, grave and solemn as might have been the terms of that guarantee, the right of self-government in our Colonies was paramount, and that that consideration overruled the force of all the appropriations to which he had alluded. This was a fair statement of the point at issue, and he should endeavour to show that, however important—he might almost say, sacred—as that principle of self-government was, it did not apply to this case. Before proceeding to that one main argument, however, he begged permission to clear the ground by adverting to two other points which had been brought forward in the course of former debates—arguments which the House would no doubt hear again. The first of these was the point that this Bill was not one for the secularisation of the clergy reserves, but only to transfer the power of dealing with them to the local legislature, and that, therefore, it was a Bill which this House, consistently with its obligations, might and ought to pass. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman cheered that observation; but so untenable, however, did this argument appear to him, that he should not have glanced at it had it not been for the pain with which he had listened to what he might call the plausible fallacies on this subject which he had heard from the lips of a Bishop of the Church of England on a former evening in another place. A Roman Catholic gentleman had said to him, after the delivery of that speech, that he did not think it had been possible for any bishop of any Church to make such a speech. He (Sir J. Pakington) entirely concurred in the opinion of that Roman Catholic gentleman; and he would not further dwell upon a speech to which he had listened with the deepest pain, except to say that he thought there 1075 was no ground for the supposition of that right rev. Prelate, and those who thought with him, that the House might safely send this property to be dealt with by the Canadian Legislature, and that, consistently with the obligations of this country, that power might be safely granted without committing a breach of our obligations. As he had said before, this idea had been dwelt upon even with ridicule by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. V. Smith). But he would turn to the official language on this subject. It bad been remarked that two divisions had taken place in the Canadian Government upon the question, and that a Motion for the secularisation of the clergy reserves was lost by very large majorities. Undoubtedly that was true, and the reason for that might be perfectly well understood. It did not suit the policy of the Canadian Legislature at once to declare that they were going to secularise the reserves; but what did Mr. Hincks say, in the letter addressed to him (Sir J. Pakington) last spring? That letter was a very able one, and was written in a very candid spirit in support of the claims of the Canadian Legislature to the Bill; but Mr. Hincks said candidly that he would not conceal from Her Majesty's Government the strong feeling which existed throughout the Colony in favour of the secularisation of the reserves. But he would appeal also to an expression used by Dr. Rolph, who was now a Commissioner of Crown Lands in Canada, and a Member of the Canadian Government. That Gentleman, in a speech delivered on the 24th of September, 1852, had used this language:—If we said at once that we desired to secularise the reserves, our request might be rejected on that ground alone. If we did not say so, we had reason to expect the support of Earl Grey in the House of Lords.Now, this language coming from a Member of the Canadian Government, might throw some light upon the majorities which had been obtained against the proposal for secularisation. But even if the argument that the Canadian Legislature might deal honestly with the two Churches in their legislation with regard to those reserves, was seriously urged, no such belief on the part of any hon. Member served as the slightest excuse for deserting their duty; this House would, nevertheless, be guilty of a breach of trust by adopting the course now proposed. Such desertion would involve a breach of trust which Parliament was not at liberty 1076 to commit. Now, having disposed of one ground, he would proceed to the next. The noble Lord, in his speech on a former evening, had referred to language which the noble Lord said he (Sir J. Pakington) had used in a despatch sent out to Canada in the course of last summer, The noble Lord contended that such language was inconsistent with the views which he (Sir J. Pakington) was now proclaiming with regard to the sacredness with which those reserves should be appropriated to religious uses. In another place other Members of the Government had pressed the same argument, and elevated it into importance, on the ground, he supposed, that, as their case was but slight, they were only too ready to catch at anything which might be construed in their favour. Now, he contended that his language on that occasion could not be turned against him in any such way. He receded from nothing he had written in that despatch, to the language of which he completely adhered, and the full spirit of which he was willing to carry out. He thought it would be admitted that he had always approached this subject in a fair spirit towards Canada, and that his language had been the language of conciliation. The passage in his despatch which had been referred to was this:—They (Her Majesty's Government) think it may possibly be desirable, on account of the changes which may be effected in the character of the population through extensive immigration or other causes, that the distribution in question should from time to time be reconsidered. Any proposal of such a nature Her Majesty's Government would be willing to entertain.That was the whole of the passage to which the noble Lord referred, and of which he had endeavoured to make use. Now, he must advert to the fact that the Canadian Government, in sending their second Address to the Crown on this subject, had appeared to have misconceived his language. In their petition of last October, again praying for the Bill now before the House, they had applied this language to his expression:—We are confirmed in this hope by the suggestion in the despatch of the right hon. Sir John Pakington, that your Majesty's Ministers are prepared to recommend amendments in the Imperial Clergy Reserves Act.The House would see that he bad never made any such statement; he had never said that they were prepared to recommend amendments in the Act of 1840. The language he had used was, that the Government 1077 did not deny the possibility that a revision of the subject might be necessary, and that they were willing to entertain proposals of such a nature. The feeling upon which he wrote these words was, that in some respect, without question, the exact details of the appropriation of 1840 were not satisfactory; but that was not all. He believed the noble Lord would not have drawn up the Bill of 1840 as he had done if he had foreseen the unhappy event which had occurred a year afterwards—he alluded to the rupture in the Church of Scotland. The appropriation to the Church of Scotland had been made with relation to the then existing numbers; but within two years, he believed he was correct in saying that more than one-half its members in Canada had separated from that Church, and the remainder of these Presbyterians, not differing in doctrine and discipline, or in any but trifling and hardly perceptible points, from those from whom they seceded, were left without any provision out of this grant. Again, he had never approved of that arrangement which left three-sixths of the undisposed reserves at the disposal of the Governor in Council. That provision was, he considered, an unsatisfactory one, and an accumulating balance of something like 20,000l. was going on from year to year quite unappropriated; the whole of which, he contended, ought at this moment to have been used and to be available for the dissemination of religious knowledge and instruction. Looking to these circumstances, he had been willing to admit—as the matter was urged upon the Government by the local Legislature—that though he thought it unadvisable to disturb the Act of 1840 grounds did exist for the redistribution of this property. He would go further and say that, provided a guarantee could be given that they would guard the fair and just rights of the Protestant Churches of Canada, he was willing so to shape this Bill as to allow the Legislature of Canada to redistribute this property. He would now deal with that which was the real question before the House—namely, what was the obligation, on the one hand, and what was the answer on the other. He would not, in so doing, trouble the House by any extended remarks upon the history of this question, but he would only remind them of the vast length of time over which these appropriations were spread, and of their continued devotion to one sacred aim. In 1774, only fourteen years after the date of the conquest, the 1078 first Quebec Act was passed, and under that Act the rights of the Roman Catholic clergy to their dues and tithes were fully recognised; but it was the pleasure of Parliament at the same time to recognise the rights of the Protestant Church in that country; and the clergy, like those of the Romish Church, were allowed to collect tithes from those of their own denomination. In 1791 the 31st Geo. III. was passed, by which the tithes, as far as the Protestants were concerned, were virtually repealed, and one-seventh of the land was set apart in lieu of those tithes, in order to support the Protestant worship in the colony. The next important Act was that of 1827, allowing these reserves to be sold; and this Act completely recognised the endowments of the Protestant Church, FOR some years afterwards the Legislature of the upper province—and this was, he would remind the House, an Upper Canada question—[Sir W. MOLESWORTH: Oh, oh!] He did not understand the groan of the right hon. Baronet; and he must repeat that this was an Upper Canadian question, for, although it was true there was a small portion of these reserves in Lower Canada, which was Roman Catholic, the great bulk of them was in the upper province, whose inhabitants were mostly Protestant. For a long series of years, then, this question had become a question of party conflict, There were constant disputes about the mode of dealing with this property, until at length the troubles of 1838 came on, Afterwards the desire on the part of the noble Lord to unite these provinces was made known, and it was felt that the settlement of this reserve question was essential before this union took place. The Legislature of Upper Canada in 1839 expressed a desire that the Crown should deal with, and dispose of, these reserves, and they passed an Act vesting them in the Crown. When the Act, however, came over, the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would not advise that the assent of the Crown should be given to it, and he left it to the province to decide in what manner these reserves should be disposed of. The right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Molesworth) probably fancied that this was an admission that the right to deal with these reserves was in the Canadian Parliament; but he must remind him that it was the Legislature of Upper Canada that was to deal with these reserves, and that it was a very different thing to leave the united Canadian Parliament to deal with these re- 1079 serves in the upper province. In 1840 the Legislature sent over an Act reserving the property for religious purposes, dividing the greater portion between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, and giving the rest to other denominations, The opinion of the Judges was against the legality of that Act; and subsequently, in the same year, the Act of 1840 was passed, the provisions of which were identical with the measure which had passed the Canadian Parliament, except as regarded the alterations necessary in consequence of the opinions of the Judges. Up to that time these reserves had been devoted to the Protestant religion; and he challenged disproof when he said that this country was bound by the most sacred obligations to respect that arrangement so far as its Principle was concerned—namely, the dedication of this property to religious uses, and that this Parliament was not at liberty, except by a tyrannical exercise of power, to divert this property from those religious uses. He wished now to examine the real value of the grounds taken up by the Government—that the right of self-control Was paramount to the obligations not to interfere with the Act of 1840. And here let him inquire, in passing, whether the present Bill did not itself violate this very principle of self-government? The answer of the Government would no doubt be that the Parliament of Canada had itself suggested the second clause, which insured the rights now enjoyed by private individuals. To pretend that a sense of justice allowed them to plunder the Church, and then to say that they would be careful to maintain the rights of A and B, was a perversion of a sense of justice upon which he need not insist. But then Government ought to have drawn this Bill without their second clause, if they wished to carry out the principle of the sacredness of local self-control, and trusted to the Canadian Parliament to carry out its due regard for vested interests. He claimed for the late Government—and he did not say it boastingly—that they had as great a regard for this principle of self-control as could justly be claimed by any Government, whether that of the noble. Lord (Lord John Russell), Lord Melbourne, or any other that he remembered. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) upon several occasions distinctly violated this principle, upon the ground that there were Imperial considerations which overruled the acknowledged right of local self-government. The Legislature of 1080 New Brunswick in 1848 passed a law giving a bounty upon the cultivation of hemp his was disallowed by the noble Lord's Government, and the colonists remonstrated with Earl Grey upon this infraction of the principle of self-control. The Vagrant Act passed by the Legislature of New South Wales, in 1850, appeared to relate to a subject exclusively of local interest; but Earl Grey said it would bear hardly upon persons sent out with tickets of leave, and refused to advise the Crown to give its assent to the Bill. More recently the inhabitants of Prince Edward's Island desired to have a bounty for their fisheries, to protect them against the encroachments of American fishermen. The Government also in this case violated their principle. The last instance which he would mention was the case of New South Wales, refer-ring to what occurred there last year. It was in the year 1850 that Earl Grey yielded to the desire of the Canadians to deal with this land question; for recollect that the question was a land question—a limited land question, dealing as it did with a very small portion of land, and with land which never was theirs—with land which was reserved by the Crown for a particular purpose. And how did the noble Lord opposite, the Member for the City of Lon-don, deal with the question, for of course he was mixed up with the acts of Earl Grey? Why, Earl Grey, although he conceded the prayer of the people of Canada to deal with the reserved lands in 1850 and 1851, refused the prayer of the New South Wales Legislature to deal with their land! But it was said that the late advisers of Her Majesty had overruled the decision of Earl Grey. That was quite true, because they had respect for the rights of the Colonies, and because they could not agree with the conclusion of that noble Lord that Imperial considerations were of a paramount nature—and that brought him to the opinion expressed only last week, when this same discussion was under discussion; and he hoped the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) would favour him with his particular attention. He understood the noble Lord to nod assent to the position which he (Sir. J. Pakington) then advanced, namely, that the yielding of the lands to the Colonies was a question of policy at the time, but that undoubtedly it was not a question of right—that the right to the colonial land was in the Crown until it was formally made over to the Colony, Now that brought him to the main substance of the 1081 argument, to the argument founded on the right of the Colonies to self-government, because the House would remember, if it had read the petition sent over by the Colonial Legislature, that that Legislature had demanded these reserves as a matter of right. Now, he maintained that the question really very much turned upon the point whether or not that argument of self-government was so paramount that it ought to overrule the sacred dedication of this property? He denied that the Legislature of Canada ever had, or ever did, acquire a right over the lands. The right was in the Crown, and it was a right of the same nature as that for which Earl Grey contended in the case of New South Wales. That noble Lord contended then that it was a mere question of policy; that the right belonged to the Crown, and he thought that it would be unwise in the Crown to surrender it. But when Earl Grey had used such language in the case of New South Wales, he (Sir J. Pakington) was at a loss to see upon what principle it could be contended that there was a right now in the Canadian Legislature to deal with these reserves, which had never been given up by the Crown, but which were, on the contrary, distinctly disposed of for the purposes by the Act of 1840. He maintained, then, that they had no right over the lands; that the right remained with the Crown, and that if the Crown were to surrender that right, it could only be on the ground of policy. But, supposing that this principle of self-government involved the concession of the reserved lands to the colonists, he would still ask, were not the arrangements entered into between the two provinces at the time of the union conclusive against such a concession? He saw that a noble Duke in another place—now at the head of the Colonial Administration—had taken exception to the language which he (Sir J. Pakington) had held upon this subject on a former occasion. Now, the language which he held and the statement which he advanced was this; that the arrangements made in the year 1840 were made with a view to the union; that they could not be fairly departed from; that, in fact, they were arrangements made previous to the union; and that the Colouial Legislature must abide by the compact which was then made. But the noble Duke contended, the Act of Union passed early in the Session, while the Clergy Reserves Act passed towards the end of the Session of 1840. 1082 Now, he (Sir J. Pakington) was prepared to contend that the legislation on both subjects was most closely most intimately, connected. The measure was urged by the late Lord Sydenham, and it was passed with special reference to the union of the two countries. Here were the words of Lord Sydenham, used when writing to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), then Colonial Secretary, in his letter, dated January 22nd, 1840:—That there is no subject of such vital importance to the peace and tranquillity of the province as the clergy reserves; that there is none, with reference to the future union of the two provinces which it is more necessary to deterimine without delay; that it has been for many years the source of all the troubles in the province, the never-failing watchword at the hustings, the perpetual spring of discord, strife, and hatred; that to leave this question undetermined would be to put an end to all hope of re-establishing tranquil-lity within the province; but to establish the union without settlement of it, and to transfer the decision to the united legislature would be to add to the sources of discord which then prevailed in Lower Canada an entirely new element of strife, for among the various evils by which Lower Canada has been visited, one and one only, perhaps the greatest of all, has been wanting—religious dissension; that he was satisfied that the value of arriving at a settlement could not be over-estimated; and that, strong as these feelings might have been, the immense advantage of haying the question finally withdrawn from the sources of popular discussion and dispute would reconcile all parties to it.Now, he thought that no one could hear that despatch read without being compelled to admit that it was written with an especial reference to the coming union; arid that Lord Sydenham held it to be, not only of importance, but of first-rate and paramount importance, that the question of the clergy reserves should be settled before the union of the two provinces took place. He would now show the House what was the language which the noble Lord the Member for the City of London held on the occasion, as demonstrating the light in which he viewed the question. The noble Lord said—He would ask the House, was it not most desirable to prevent this question being brought before the united legislature, and decided in a manner opposed to the views which Parliament was known to entertain.He believed it was unnecessary to trouble the House with any further extracts, for he imagined that no one could dispute that M former debates the noble Lord had used the same argument; namely, that the Bill was passed with an especial reference to the union. And if that Bill was consented 1083 to, if it received the sanction of the authorities at home, and if it was accepted in Canada as a preliminary, and as an essential preliminary, to the union, he maintained that it was neither wise, prudent, nor consistent with fair dealing, to disturb such an arrangement. Indeed, upon this subject he thought that he might appeal to the statements which he had heard reiterated in that House with regard to a subject discussed only the other day, namely, the grant to the College of Maynooth. He had heard it constantly argued on both sides of the House, whether or not that grant was made subject to a compact formed before the time of the Union. And if he was not much mistaken, he had heard the greatest opponents of that grant allow, that if the faith of Parliament previous to the passing of the Act of Union was pledged to the maintenance of the grant, they would yield before such compact, and confess that the grant could not now be withdrawn. Now, the same argument applied to the case of Canada, and the United Legislature could not deal, or indeed could not wish to deal, with a state of things subsisting before the Union. He could not, then, believe that the Government would deny that the question of the clergy reserves involved Imperial considerations of the highest and most binding character. He would next ask the House to turn its Attention to the policy of these concessions; and the first point which he would touch upon under this head, was one which he thought must come home to the feelings, hot only of every man in that House, but throughout the country, and it was a consideration to which he invited and entreated their most deliberate consideration. It was simply this: if the Protestant people of Upper Canada, instead of being as loyal a people as ever lived under the Crown of England—if they had forfeited their allegiance—if they had annexed themselves to the United States, the reserves would have been respected. He was sure that no Gentleman on either side of the House would deny that that was a most grave and serious aspect of the question. Many hon. Members might have read a pamphlet published on this subject by Archdeacon Bethune, whose archdeaconry lay in Upper Canada. Now, in that pamphlet the rev. gentleman said, that in the case of Trinity Church, New York, and other religious property in the State of Vermont, endowments made before the time of the revolution were respected by the Government of 1084 the United States. Being very much struck with that statement, but without for one moment calling in question the intentional inaccuracy of the archdeacon, yet feeling that the utmost delicacy ought to be preserved in speaking of occurrences in other countries, and being afraid lest some mistake might have crept inadvertently into the statement, he made it his duty to communicate with a gentleman—an American gentleman—at present in London, who was conversant with the laws of the United States, and competent to afford the fullest information upon such a subject as the present; and though he did not feel at liberty to publicly mention the name of the gentleman to whom he referred, yet he could assure the House that he was a person of the highest authority upon the affairs of the United States, while at the same time he was quite ready to communicate his name in private, either to the noble Lord or any other Gentleman who might care to know it. Having called upon this gentleman, and having submitted to him an outline of the discussions which were anticipated on this subject, he (Sir J. Pakington) asked him whether the representation which he had read was correct— namely, that if the Canadas were annexed to the United States, that that Government would respect these Protestant endowments. Now the House will mark the answer which he received; it was this:—"You may rely upon it," said his informant, "that if the Canadas Were annexed to the United States, these endowments would be regarded with respect." Holding this statement to be so grave a one, and to bear so closely upon the subject under discussion, he asked the gentleman to be good enough to write down the statement. But he (Sir J. Pakington) put to him this further question—"Suppose that the Legislature of the States were to seize these reserves?" His answer was, that the Supreme Courts would overrule the States Legislature, and that it would restore the property. He held now in his hand the letter to which he had alluded, and he was sure the House would permit him to read it. It ran thus:—I have seen the debate of last evening in the House of Lords, as published in the morning papers. The remarks of the Earl of Derby are, no doubt, perfectly correct—that Church endowments made previously to the revolution have been held sacred in the United States. A question seems to have been agitated whether a new distribution might not be made of Canadian reserves, without' disturbing the original grant. 1085 That is quite distinct from the question of the validity of the grants themselves. I have no doubt of their being sustained in their integrity. They would be regarded as contracts, subject as such to no violation by the State legislation or otherwise. I have thus probably covered the whole ground of the inquiry which you did me the honour to make yesterday. Canadian reserves would be in no danger, if within the United States, unless the proposed alteration should be within the scope of the original grant.Now, he could not touch upon this branch of the subject without asking the noble Lord opposite whether this state of things did not suggest a ground for the most serious consideration in dealing with the subject? Let him remind the noble Lord—and he would forgive his (Sir J. Pakington's) appealing generally to him on account of the prominent part which he took in the transactions on the subject under Lord Melbourne's Administration—of the events which occurred at that critical period; let him bring him back to the policy adopted at the time of the union of the two provinces. He (Sir J. Pakington) was one of those who took a very warm though a very humble part in the discussion at that time, and strongly remonstrated against the measure. Notwithstanding the opinions of Pitt—notwithstanding the opinions of Burke—in opposition to the judgment of the Duke of Wellington, the noble Lord opposite persevered in uniting the two provinces. He (Sir J. Pakington) would not then stop to consider whether or not that was a wise policy; but this he would ask, whether or not we do not behold in this Act the fruits of those bad consequences which he, for one, had ventured to predict? He believed that we did, though he would not then pause to discuss the question. He would, however, ask the noble Lord to recollect how the union of the two provinces had been completed after a long and painful struggle. Soon after the accession of Her present Majesty a rebellion broke out in Canada. And by whom was it quelled? Why, by the loyal people of Upper Canada. And who were these people of Upper Canada? He spoke with no disparagement of other colonial subjects of the Crown, when he said that throughout the wide circuit of the Queen's dominions there was not a body of men so loyal or so devoted as they. They were the descendants of those loyal subjects of the British Crown in the United States who, after the Revolution and rupture between the United States and the Home Government, left the Republic—left the homes 1086 wherein they had lived—on account of their attachment to British institutions, and settled in Upper Canada, where, as Protestants, connected with the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, a population had grown up as loyal and as devoted to England as ever breathed. That loyal population had shed their blood and risked their property, in order to subdue the insurrection of 1838. But what was done, when the two provinces were united? Why, the Home Government, disregarding the well-known feeling and affection against the union which existed in Upper Canada—actuated by mere motives of policy, which might have been wise or unwise, absolutely threw over these loyal men. Notwithstanding the important service the Upper Canadians had recently rendered to the British Crown, you disregarded all their remonstrances, and outraged their feelings, by uniting them with a province widely differing from them in laws, in language, and religion. That was the first blow to the loyal feeling of Upper Canada. The next blow was the Rebellion Losses Bill—a Bill fresh in the recollection of hon. Gentlemen opposite—indeed, there was one right hon. Gentleman opposite who entertained the very strongest feelings on the subject. He should not stop again to consider whether there were paramount considerations of policy which justified the Canadian Parliament in passing that Rebellion Losses Bill, or whether there were considerations which justified the Government of the noble Lord. But this he would say—and he said it without fear of contradiction—that the noble Lord was fully aware that if ever there was an Act which wounded the feelings, which shook the loyalty of men, it was the Act which his Government sanctioned on the subject of the "Rebellion Losses." He was slow to believe—indeed he did not believe—that any large portion of the population of Upper Canada were shaken in their allegiance to the British Crown, though the Bill deeply wounded their feelings; and from the date of the passing of that Bill there were many persons who began to talk of annexation. But he would ask the noble Lord, was it wise or was it prudent again to wound their feelings, to wound them in the tenderest part—to show ourselves regardless of the most solemn obligations—to show ourselves prepared to assail that religion which they love—to deprive that religion of the support assur- 1087 ed to it by the most imposing guarantees? He would repeat, was it wise, was it prudent, was it the act of a paternal Government in the face of the facts which he had detailed to them respecting the laws of the United States, to show to these loyal subjects of the British Crown, attached as they were to their religion and to its means of support, that the monarchy of England should disregard and repudiate those obligations which the American Republic was willing to recognise and respect. Let the House and the Government pause. If he were to give expression to the feeling which prompted the course the Government was taking, it would be in this form:—"We can refuse this concession to New Brunswick and Prince Edward's Island; but Canada is strong since the union of the provinces; the majority demand concession, and therefore they must have it." The policy was as erroneous as the Act itself was unjust. He believed, however, the real principle at work was, that they were making concessions to the demands of the majority. But they might depend upon it that that was a policy which would alienate a great part of the Canadian population. If you want to retain Canada in connexion with the Crown of England you must increase her attachment to the Crown and institutions of England. Depend upon it that the party whom they were now aggrieving were the party whom they ought to trust to to maintain that connexion, and not to those who were urging them on to this breach of national faith. And here he wished to do justice to the efforts—to the conscientious efforts—to the never-failing efforts of the Church of England in Canada. Let it not be supposed that the clergy were solely dependent upon these funds. No such thing. The Protestants of Canada had made the most noble efforts to sustain the Church; but the principle on which the reserves were distributed was simply to aid local exertions. And so far as regarded that portion of the province where the population was dense and the congregations large, the inhabitants were in a position to exert themselves, and they did exert themselves in behalf of the Church. But he would remind the House that there were parts of Canada where the pioneers of civilisation as they advanced into the wilderness were poor in circumstances, and thinly scattered over the country. Then it was that the travelling missionary had to go about from township to township collecting congregations where 1088 he could; and where the population was too widely dispersed for the assembling of congregations, bearing the ministrations of religion from house to house. And how henceforward were these poor clergymen to be supported if this fund were endangered? Why, they were committing a power to the hands of the Legislature of Canada, which, if they availed themselves of it, must put an end to such ministrations of religion. Nor did his remarks apply solely to the case of Upper Canada—they applied with equal force to the situation of the lower province. He had that day seen that most excellent and venerable prelate the Bishop of Quebec, and he stated to him that the Church of England in Lower Canada was as poor as any Church in the world, and that it was surrounded by the Church of Rome, flourishing in wealth and in pomp. Now, small as the provision for that Church already was, he believed that if these reserves were withdrawn, that it would be utterly impossible to provide even for those small ministrations to which he had alluded. There was one other view to which he entreated the attention of the House: to the view which he could not help feeling was taken by the Roman Catholics of Lower Canada on this subject. Notwithstanding that the Roman Catholic Members from Lower Canada, he was sorry to say, had swelled the late divisions—an evil, let him observe, which had been foreseen before the union of the provinces, and which was intended to have been averted—notwithstanding that, there were grounds upon which he must believe that the Roman Catholic population in general must be indisposed to the Bill now before the House: for he must think that, professing as they did in common with Protestants the great doctrines of Christianity, and endowed as they were with great wealth, receiving tithes to the amount of 100,000l. for the support of their Church, which was blessed, as he must admit, with an order of most holy priesthood, and endowed, as they were, so amply, he did not believe that the Roman Catholic population of Lower Canada would desire to deprive their fellow-Christians in the other province of the small pittance that was awarded to them. ["Hear, hear!"] He perfectly understood that cheer, and he translated it thus: it asked him, did he consider it likely that the Roman Catholics, with these large endowments of their own at stake, would join in any attempt to deprive the 1089 Protestants of their property? But he maintained that he had no right to rest upon such grounds; for he was unable to say what amount of excitement might prevail—seeing to what extent party feeling had gone in the recent divisions, which were actually carried by the votes of the Roman Catholic Members. [An Hon. MEMBER: No!] He would beg that hon. Gentleman's pardon, but he would refer him to the first division—and which was the most important one—on which occasion the number of Roman Catholics who voted in the majority exceeded the majority by which the measure was carried; and, therefore, he had a right to say that it was carried by Roman Catholic votes, and that it was the Roman Catholic votes that gave the complexion to the vote which it bore. Looking, then, to past experience, he would warn the House, on the authority of Lord Sydenham, not to sow the seeds of a possible struggle by passing such a measure as this. Another reason for thinking that the Roman Catholics could not be anxious for the passing of the Bill was, that should it become law they would feel that their own endowments might be placed in jeopardy by some unlooked-for combination. Since the Act of 1840 religious peace had prevailed in Canada; but pass this Bill and the spirit of discord would again animate men's minds. He would say, "God forbid that such a state of things should arise!" He implored the House to bear in mind the words of the petition from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, presented by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis), and to which the signature of the Archbishop of Canterbury was attached, which called upon them, as they respected Him in whose hands were the destinies of nations, and by whose approbation and favour alone their welfare could be secured, to see that they disregarded not that justice which He had commanded or the interests of that religion of which He was the author. He thanked the House for the patience with which it had listened to him. It had been his wish to approach the discussion of the question with no extreme views. He would not object to intrust the colonial legislature with power to make a fresh distribution of the property, provided due security were taken for the interests of the Protestant religion. But, if the noble Lord persevered in forcing on Parliament this Bill as 1090 it now stood—if he thought proper to abandon the sacred trust that had devolved upon them by the Act of 1840, then he had no alternative as to the course which he should take. He was bound by the most solemn obligations to resist the measure to the utmost, and to denounce it as alike impolitic and unrighteous.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR WILLIAM MOLESWORTH
Sir, the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) who has just addressed the House, commenced his speech by deprecating the treating of this Bill as a party measure. I cordially concur with the right hon. Baronet in that deprecation, because this Bill raises two questions of the utmost importance, which ought not to be decided under the influence of party spirit. The first of these questions is the great and fundamental one of the colonial policy of the British Empire—namely, whether it ought to be a rule of our Colonial Government that all questions which affect exclusively the local interests of a colony possessing representative institutions, should be dealt with by the local Legislature. If this rule be assumed to be a sound one, then the next question is, whether it should now be applied to the greatest of England's colonial dependencies, with a population of nearly 2,000,000 of inhabitants—whether it ought now to be applied to Canada with reference to the question of the clergy reserves?
The object of this Bill is to apply this rule to Canada. The right hon. Baronet seemed to have some difficulty in understanding the intentions of the framers of this Bill. Their intentions are to transfer to the Legislature of Canada the power of dealing with the clergy reserves, irrespective altogether of the mode or manner in which that Legislature may think proper to deal with those reserves. In my opinion the questions, whether the Legislature of Canada ought or ought not to maintain the present application of the proceeds of the clergy reserves—whether it ought or ought not to secularise those reserves, are questions for the Canadian and not for the Imperial Parliament to debate. I shall, therefore, not follow the example of the right hon. Baronet, the greater portion 1091 of whose speech was not addressed to the real question at issue, whether we should transfer to the colonial Legislature the power of dealing with the clergy reserves, but merely expressed his opinions as to the manner in which the Canadian Legislature would exercise such a power.
Sir, the right hon. Baronet has admitted over and over again to-night, that the rule of colonial polity which I have just mentioned, is a sound general rule; and the right hon. Baronet cannot deny that the question, how the proceeds of that portion of the lands of Canada which are called the "Clergy Reserves," should he disposed of, is one which affects exclusively the people of Canada. But the right hon. Baronet has asserted that the question of the clergy reserves should be treated as an exception to the general rule that local questions should be dealt with by the local Parliament of a colony. The reasons which have been assigned by the right hon. Baronet for making this exception may. I think, be reduced to two chief ones: first, that the question of the clergy reserves is essentially an Upper Canadian and Protestant question; secondly, that the Act of 1840 was intended to be a final settlement of this question. With the permission of the House, I will consider each of these arguments separately.
First, the right hon. Baronet has repeatedly affirmed that the question of the clergy reserves is essentially an Upper Canadian question, upon which the representatives of Upper Canada were as nearly as possible equally divided, and that the majority who carried the Resolutions which the House of Assembly passed last September in favour of a Bill similar to that now before the House had consisted in a large proportion of Roman Catholic members of the lower province, whose religion had been amply and munificently endowed. Thence the right hon. Baronet had inferred that the Roman Catholic members ought not to have power to legislate on questions affecting the endowments of Protestants, and that such questions should be dealt with in accordance with the wishes of the Protestants alone.
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech, and in his despatches, had laid great stress on the circumstance of the Roman Catholic religion in Canada being munificently endowed. Now, it is by no means correct to say that the Roman Catholic religion is munificently endowed 1092 in Canada. The landed endowments referred to by the right hon. Baronet are not, strictly speaking, the property of the Roman Catholic clergy, nor are they applicable in any considerable degree to the support of religious worship in Canada, but are chiefly applicable to educational and charitable uses, or to the conversion of the Indian tribes. They belong to corporations which existed before the conquest of Canada. They were mostly obtained by gift, bequest, or purchase. A small portion only was granted by the French Crown. By the capitulation of Montreal in 1760, it was stipulated that this property should be preserved to its possessors; but this stipulation was not confirmed by the treaty of 1763, nor by any Act of Parliament, and the Act of 1774 set it aside altogether. Therefore, there is at present no statutory provision which would prevent the Canadian Legislature from dealing with this property in any way it might think proper. In Lower Canada the Roman Catholic clergy are now supported, as they were supported before the conquest, by tithes and other dues, which have much more of the character of voluntary contributions than of legal dues. For no person in Canada can now be required to pay tithes unless he voluntarily professes the Roman Catholic religion; and if a man in Lower Canada ceases to be a Roman Catholic, or sells his lands to a Protestant, the priest loses his tithes; because tithes were not secured to the Roman Catholic clergy by the capitulation of Montreal, but their payment was made to depend upon the will and pleasure of the British Crown, That pleasure was signified in 1774, in the first Act for the government of Canada. That Act evidently proceeded on the principle of religious equality between Christian sects, for it provided that the Roman Catholic clergy might receive tithes only from Roman Catholics, and that Protestants should pay tithes for the support of a Protestant clergy. In Lower Canada tithes have been regularly paid by Roman Catholics; they are moderate in amount, having been reduced from one-tenth to one-thirteenth, and finally to one-twentysixth of the cereal crops. In Upper Canada, on the contrary, tithes have never been paid, either by Roman Catholics or Protestants, though as legally due as in the lower province; and the Roman Catholics, who have become a numerous body—nearly as numerous as the members of the Church of 1093 England, and thrice as numerous as the members of the Church of Scotland—have neither tithes nor landed endowments, as in the lower province, nor any statutory provision for the support of their clergy. I must also call the attention of the House to the fact, that the Legislatures of both the Canadas had power under the Constitutional Act of 1791, and the united Legislature has power under the Constitutional Act of 1840, to abolish the payment of tithes; and that power was exercised with reference to Protestant tithes by the Legislature of Upper Canada in an Act which received the Royal assent in 1823. These facts prove that the right hon. Baronet was inaccurate when he said, that the Roman Catholic religion is munificently endowed in Canada; and they also prove that the Legislature of Canada has the same power at present over the endowments of the Roman Catholic clergy as it would have over the endowments of the Protestant clergy if this Bill were to become law. Therefore the principle of religious equality require that this Bill should become law.
I will, however, assume, for the sake of argument, that the Roman Catholic religion is munificently endowed in Canada; yet that fact would not warrant the conclusion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) that the Roman Catholic Members ought not to have power to legislate on the question of the clergy reserves; for, by an exact parity of reason, it might be argued that the members of the Church of England in this House ought not to have power to legislate on any question affecting the Roman Catholic religion, or any other religion less munificently endowed than the Church of England; and that all questions affecting the Roman Catholic religion and its endowments in this country, as for instance the endowment of Maynooth, should be dealt with in accordance with the wishes of the Roman Catholics alone.
But I will suppose again, for the sake of argument, with the right hon. Baronet, that the question of the clergy reserves ought to be dealt with in accordance with the wishes of the Protestants of Canada atone; then it would be dealt with in the manner proposed by this Bill. For it was quite a mistake on the part of the right hon. Baronet to assert that the majority of the Canadian House of Assembly who carried the Resolutions of last September, had consisted, in a large proportion, of Roman Catholic Members. That majority con- 1094 sisted, in an almost equal proportion, of Protestants and Roman Catholics. I hare carefully analysed those division lists (which are the only real tests of the opinions of Members), and I have ascertained that of the eighty-four Members of the House of Assembly fifty-four are Protestants, and only thirty are Roman Catholics. With so decided a majority of Protestants—equivalent to an absolute majority of 187 Members in this House—it is evident that no measure could be carried in opposition to the wishes of the Protestants, as a body; and I find that, on every Resolution which had reference to the merits of the question whether the Imperial Parliament ought to transfer to the local Legislature the power of dealing with the clergy reserves, the decided majority of the Protestant Members was in favour of such a transfer being made. For instance, on the 14th of September last, a Motion was made in the House of Assembly to the effect, "That the people of Canada concurred in the Act of 1840 as a final settlement of the question of the clergy reserves." That question was rejected by fifty votes against a minority of eighteen—and of the majority, one-half, or twenty-five votes, were Protestants. Again, the same day another Motion was made—"That this House deprecates in the strongest manner any attempt to bring back the question of the clergy reserves to this province for future legislation." This Motion was rejected by fifty-one to seventeen, and of the majority twenty-six were Protestants. On the 17th of September last the Resolutions of Mr. Hincks, which I will now read, were carried:—That an Address should be presented to the Crown, deeply regretting that Sir John Pakington was not prepared to bring in a Bill to repeal the Imperial Act of 1840. That the great mass of the people of Canada will ever maintain the principles recognised by Earl Grey, that the question of the clergy reserves is one so exclusively affecting the people of Canada, that its decision ought not to be withdrawn from the provincial Legislature. That the refusal on the part of the Imperial Parliament to comply with the just demands of the Canadian people on a matter exclusively affecting their own interests, will be viewed as a, violation of their constitutional rights, and will lead to deep and widespread disaffection. That the opinions of the people of Canada and their representatives on this subject are unaltered and unalterable. That the House of Assembly, in, thus giving expression to the public opinion of the country, is actuated by the strongest feelings of loyalty, and by a sincere desire to prevent the lamentable consequences of a difference of opinion between the imperial and provincial Parliaments on a question on which very strong feelings are 1095 known to prevail among the people of this province.There were several divisions on these Resolutions, all of which were carried by at least fifty-two votes, against a minority never exceeding twenty-two. Of the majority, twenty-six were Protestants; of the minority twenty were Protestants. Therefore the absolute majority of Protestant Members was equivalent to an absolute majority of seventy-seven Members in a House as numerous as that which decided the fate of the late Administration, or equivalent to four times the absolute majority that overthrew the Government of Lord Derby, and by so doing saved the colonial empire of Great Britain in North America:—for I am convinced that if the right hon. Baronet the late Secretary of State for the Colonies had been able, as a Minister of the Crown, to persuade Parliament to adopt his views on the subject of the clergy reserves, that empire would have speedily crumbled into dust. When I heard the right hon. Baronet declare, in reply to a question which I put to him in last December, that it was the intention of Her Majesty's late Ministers to break the pledge which their predecessors had given to the Legislature of Canada, and to deny to that Legislature the power of dealing with the exclusively local question of the clergy reserves, a painful vision of the past crossed my mind. I thought of the year 1833, of a young and reckless man, whom high rank, extraordinary powers, and surpassing eloquence, had then raised to the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies—I remembered that he had presumed to address the Assembly of Lower Canada in language which that Assembly had justly denounced as inconsiderate and unconstitutional, as insolent and insulting. That language had embittered an unhappy conflict, which terminated in a rebellion that cost this country many millions of money. I feared much that twenty years had not matured the judgment of this man, who had become Prime Minister of England—that, actuated by old feelings, he was bent upon renewing an old conflict, but with a new and more powerful Assembly, and that the result would be a worse catastrophe. Therefore, for the sake of the Colonial Empire of Great Britain in North America, I rejoiced most sincerely at his downfall.
The right hon. Baronet has affirmed over and over again that the question of the clergy reserves is essentially an Upper 1096 Canadian one, and thence inferred that it ought to be dealt with in accordance with the wishes of the Members of Upper Ca-nada alone. It is, however, a mistake on-the part of the right hon. Baronet to say that this question is essentially an Upper Canadian one. Lord Durham declared in his report of 1839, that it equally concerned the people of the two Canadas; and so it does in principle, for it affects the whole of Canada, with the exception of that portion which had become private property before 1791. The extent of the clergy reserves is, however, greater in Upper than in Lower Canada, because Upper Canada was settled at a later period than Lower Canada. The system of clergy reserves was created in 1791, for the support of a Protestant clergy. The first statutory provision for that purpose in Canada was made in 1774. The Act of that year, proceeding upon the principle of religious equality, intended that the clergy of every denomination of Christians should be supported by tithes; for it provided that the Roman Catholic clergy should receive tithes only from Roman Catholics, and that Protestants should pay tithes for the support of a Protestant clergy. This provision for the support of a Protestant clergy proved to be trifling in amount. The great majority of the in habitants of Canada were at that time Catholics; the Protestants were few in number, widely scattered, and unwilling to pay tithes. This provision consequently appeared insufficient to the Government of 1791, and they determined to make further provision for the support of a Protestant clergy after a system which was said to be in existence in the State of Pennsylvania; and they did so when they passed the first Constitutional Act of Canada-namely, the 31st of Geo. III., c. 31. That Act divided Canada into two provinces, gave to each province representative institutions, and enacted that whenever any land in Canada should hereafter be granted by the Crown, there should be made an allotment for the support of a Protestant clergy, which should be equal in amount to one-seventh of the land so granted. The same Act provided that the Legislatures of the Canada should have power to vary or repeal the provisions of the Constitutional Act respecting the allotment of land, and also to abolish tithes, subject, however, to the restriction that all local Acts for an of these purposes should be reserved for the Royal Assent, and laid before both 1097 Houses of Parliament; and that the Royal Assent should not be given, if within a certain period of time either House of Parliament should address the Crown to withhold its assent. By this Act one-eighth—not one-seventh, as the right hon. Baronet said—of the land of Canada which had not teen granted before 1791 ought to have been reserved for the support of a Protestant clergy; but much more than the legal one-eighth was reserved for that purpose. According to Lord Durham's report, instead of one-eighth, in Lower Canada one-fifth, and in Upper Canada one-seventh, were set apart for the support of a Protestant elergy. By this manifest violation of the law the actual amount of the clergy reserves was made to exceed the statutory amount by about 227,000 acres in the lower province, and about 300,000 acres in the upper province; and the Canadian public was wronged to the amount of about 120,000l. in Lower Canada, and 160,000l. in Upper Canada.
The area of the clergy reserves has exceeded 3,300,000 acres. To show how utterly wrong was the statement of the right hon. Baronet that this question is essentially an Upper Canadian one, I need only call the attention of the House to a return which has just been presented, which shows that in Lower Canada the area has exceeded 900,000 acres, of which above 500,000 acres are still unsold, and About 2,400,000 acres were in the upper province. In both provinces the clergy reserves have produced economical evils of the greatest magnitude; they consisted for the most part of lots of 200 acres each, scattered at regular intervals over the face of the townships. For a long period of time they were uncultivated and inalienable. The Canada Committee of 1828 gave a striking description of them—"as so many portions of reserved wilderness, which had done more than any other circumstance to retard the improvement of the colony, intervening, as they did, between the occupations of actual settlers, who had no means of cutting through the woods and morasses which separated them from their neighbours.Without doubt the framers of the Constitutional Act expected that as the land granted to settlers was improved and cultivated, the adjoining portions reserved for the clergy would yield a rent which would make an ample fund for the maintenance of a Protestant clergy. But the Canadian Committee stated, that the one part reseved for the clergy had done much more 1098 to diminish the value of the six other parts, granted to settlers, than the improvement and cultivation of the six parts had done to increase the value of the one reserved part. For many years the revenue from the large estates of the clergy was small and irregularly paid. In 1826 the gross produce of the revenue from the clergy estate of 488,000 acres was only 250l. These facts, I think, must satisfy the House of the incorrectness of the statement that the question of the clergy reserves is essentially an Upper Canadian one. It is true that, before the reunion of the Canadas, that question did not produce the same degree of excitement in the lower province as in the upper province, because questions of graver political importance occupied the minds of the people of Lower Canada, and distracted their attention from the question of the clergy reserves. But since the reunion the British and Protestant members from Lower Canada have united with their colleagues of the upper province in demanding a repeal of the Act of 1840.
But, Sir, if I were, for the sake of argument to assume, with the right hon. Baronet, that the question of the clergy reserves is essentially an Upper Canadian question, that fact would not warrant the conclusion that the representatives of Lower Canada ought not to have power to legislate upon this subject, and that it ought to be dealt with in accordance with the wishes of the people of Upper Canada alone. For, if such a conclusion were valid upon such grounds, a similar chain of reasoning would prove that the representatives of one part of this country ought not to legislate on any question affecting any other part of this country; for instance, that the Members for Middlesex ought not to legislate on questions affecting Surrey, nor English Members on Irish questions; and that all Irish questions ought to be dealt with in accordance with the wishes of Irish Members alone. Such a chain of reasoning would lead not only to the immediate separation of the Canadas, and to the repeal of the union between England, Ireland, and Scotland, but to the breaking up of this Empire into the minutest fragments, and would make representative government impossible both in this country and in Canada; for all representative government is based upon the will of the majority overruling the will of the minority, and the interests of the minority yielding to the in- 1099 terests of the majority. But I will assume, for the sake of argument, that this question ought to be dealt with in accordance with the wishes of the people of Upper Canada alone; then I maintain it would be dealt with in the manner proposed by this Bill. For it was a mistake, as I have previously stated, in the right hon. Baronet to assert that the representatives of Upper Canada were, as nearly as possible, equally divided upon the question of the clergy reserves. In making this assertion, I think that the right hon. Baronet must have confounded together two distinct questions, which were debated nearly simultaneously last September in the House of Assembly. The one was a real question, the other was a party question. The real question was, whether an Address should be presented to the Crown, praying that the Imperial Parliament would transfer to the local Legislature the power of dealing with the question of the clergy reserves. The party question was whether, before the House of Assembly decided the real question, the local Government ought to state its views on the subject of the final disposal of the proceeds of the clergy reserves, in the event of Parliament making the transfer in question. On the party question the Upper Canadian members were as nearly as possible equally divided; but on all the Resolutions which had reference to the real question, several of which I have just read, there was a decided majority of the Upper Canadian members in favour of Parliament transferring to the local Legislature the power of dealing with the question of the clergy reserves. That majority was never less than nineteen for, to fifteen against; giving an absolute majority equivalent to sixty-nine in a house of 591 members.
Another reason assigned the other night by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) why this Bill should not pass was, that the representatives of the largest constituencies in Upper Canada were against it. I scarcely expected to hear so ultra-Radical an argument from the representative of the infinitesimally small constituency of Droitwich. I will not in any way deny its force, but only the fact. I have had a careful analysis made of the population of the constituencies of Upper Canada, according to the census of 1851, and I find that the population of the constituencies represented by the nineteen Upper Canadian members who regularly voted for Mr. Hincks's 1100 Resolutions, those on the real question amounted to 478,000; while those of the fifteen Upper Canadian members who voted against them amounted only to 340,000. The absolute majority of the Upper Canadian population in favour of Mr. Hincks's Resolutions, as indicated by the votes of their representatives, was 138,000. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON intimated dissent.] The right Baronet questions my statements. They are founded upon the division lists printed in the returns before the House, and upon the census of Canada for 1851. I ask him, is there any better test of the opinions of a people than the votes of their representatives in Parliament assembled. The right hon. Baronet says that he was informed that the opinions of the absent Members were different from those of the Members who voted. I am assured of the contrary; and the right hon. Baronet's statements have been generally so incorrect, that I cannot place any reliance upon his authorities. I should also state that in the British and Protestant portion of Lower Canada—namely, the eastern townships, the population of the six constituencies whose members voted for Mr. Hincks's resolutions was 78,000; that of the one constituency whose members voted against them was only 16,000. What better test could they have of the popular feeling on the subject? He asserted that if they took those who voted, and those who did not, there was a large majority represented whose known opinions were in favour of Mr. Hincks's Motion, which had a similar object to the Bill now under consideration. Sir, the other chief argument which the right hon. Baronet has urged against this Bill—and it constituted the great argument of his embryo despatch—was, that after a long period of agitation the Legislature of Upper Canada had, in 1840, assented to a Bill for the settlement of the clergy reserves question; that it would have received the Royal Assent but for an insuperable legal obstacle, in consequence of which Parliamentary interference became necessary; that an Act was accordingly passed in the same year, 1840; that it was similar In principle to, though differing in detail from, the Bill of the Legislature of Upper Canada, and that this Act was accepted as a final settlement of the question of the clergy reserves both by Canada and this country. Now I deny that the Act of 1840 was similar in principle to the Bill of the Legislature of Upper Canada. I deny, 1101 also, that the Act of 1840 was accepted in Canada as a final settlement of the question of the clergy reserves; and that it was not, and could not have been, so accepted a very short history of the agitation of that question will show. The agitation of the question how the proceeds of the clergy reserves ought to be disposed of commenced about the year 1819. About that period a question was raised in Upper Canada whether tithes ought to be paid to the clergy of the Church of England. The Legislature of Upper Canada held that the Imperial Parliament, in making provision for a Protestant clergy out of the public lands, could not have intended that tithes should be paid; and a provincial Act was passed abolishing the payment of tithes by Protestants, which received the Royal Assent in 1823. During the discussion of that Act the famous question was raised as to the precise meaning of the term "a Protestant clergy, which was used in the Constitutional Act of 1791. A Member of the Legislature affirmed that it was as applicable to the clergy of the Church of Scotland as to those of the Church of England. This opinion was readily adopted by the Members of the Church of Scotland in Upper Canada. They petitioned the Colonial Office and Parliament for a share of the clergy reserves, and their petitions were backed by the House of Assembly in an Address to the Crown. On the other band, the clergy of the Church of England bestirred themselves to resist the demands of the Church of Scotland, and addressed the Crown and both Houses of Parliament, stating that the words "Protestant clergy" could not be extended further than the Church of England without producing the greatest confusion; for they asked—after passing that Church, where would this meaning terminate? Congregationalists, Seceders, Irish Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Moravians, Universalists, would undoubtedly prefer their claims, as they were each more numerous than the Presbyterians in communion with the Kirk of Scotland, and, should such claims be rejected, these sectaries would consider themselves greatly aggrieved by the refusal of what they would never have dreamt of asking had not so trifling a fraction of the population of this flourishing province as the two congregations in communion with the Kirk of Scotland succeeded in obtaining the same object.The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis) affirmed the other night that even the most ignorant and Radical Member of the 1102 House could hardly deny that the words "a Protestant clergy," as used in the Acts of 1774 and 1791, meant only the clergy of one particular Church, namely, the Church of England. Laying claim, as I presume to do, to the honourable name of a Radical—a name borne by Bentham, Ricardo, Mill, Grote, and other eminent thinkers, whose economical doctrines are generally recognised as true by reflecting men, and have been adopted by the people of this country—I do take the liberty of denying that the words in question meant only the clergy of the Church of England, and I do so on good authority. In 1819 Lord Bathurst, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, obtained the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown as to the meaning of the words "a Protestant clergy." That opinion was not made known in Canada till about 1829. It was—That though the provisions made by the 31st of George III. for the support and maintenance of a Protestant clergy were not confined solely to the clergy of the Church of England, but might be extended also to the clergy of the Church of Scotland (if there were any such settled in Canada), yet that they did not extend to dissenting ministers.This opinion was, however, partly right and partly wrong; for in 1840, in consequence of a Motion in the House of Lords, a question was put to the Judges of England as to the precise meaning of the term "a Protestant clergy," and all the Judges, with the exception of two, met, and they unanimously decided that the words "Protestant clergy" did include other clergy than those of the Church of England; that the clergy of the Established Church of Scotland did constitute one instance of such other Protestant clergy; and that, although they specified no other Church than the Protestant Church of Scotland, they did not thereby intend that, besides that Church, the ministers of other Churches might not be included under the term "Protestant clergy." This decision showed that in the opinion of the Judges of England (who, if they were Radicals, could hardly be called ignorant ones, even by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford), the claim of the Church of England to an exclusive property in the clergy reserves was not valid; that the claim of the Church of Scotland to a share of that property Was valid, and that the claims of the Nonconformist clergy might also be valid. This decision appears to have been in conformity 1103 with the intentions of the framers of the Constitutional Act, for the present Lord Harrowby stated to the Canada Committee of 1828 thatLord Grenville, who had constructed the system of the clergy reserves, had told him that it was a good deal derived from information with regard to the system pursued in the state of Pennsylvania, and that the distinction of a 'Protestant clergy' was meant to provide for any clergy that was not Roman Catholic.In fact, this was the sense in which the term "Protestant clergy" was generally used in North America, as signifying the Nonconformist clergy as well as clergy of the Church of England. It was certainly so used in the Quebec Act of 1774, for that Act evidently proceeded upon the principle of religious equality, providing that the clergy of every Christian sect should be supported by tithes; the Roman Catholic clergy by Roman Catholic tithes, the Protestant clergy by Protestant tithes.
These facts show that the people of Upper Canada had good reason for affirming that the clergy reserves ought not to be appropriated exclusively for the benefit of one denomination of Protestants; and the representatives of Upper Canada came to the conclusion, partly on the grounds of religious equality, partly because tithes had never been paid in Upper Canada to the Roman Catholic clergy, and partly because the Roman Catholics had no statutory provision for their clergy in Upper Canada, that the clergy reserves should be applied for the equal benefit of every Christian sect, and that the best mode of accomplishing this object would be to sell the reserves and to apply their proceeds to purposes of general education. From the year 1826 to 1839, in four different Parliaments, on fourteen distinct occasions, the House of Assembly of Upper Canada declared by large majorities its opinion that the clergy reserves ought to be sold, and their proceeds applied to purposes of general education. It passed various Bills and Resolutions to that effect, each of which was rejected by the Legislative Council, which was, as everybody knew, an anti-popular body of nominees, consisting chiefly of a faction well known by the name of "the Family Compact." During this period two Royal Commissions were issued to inquire into the grievances of the people of Canada, and both Commissions reported on the subject of the clergy reserves in accordance with the views of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada. First, Lord Gosford reported in 1837, that— 1104The only effectual cure for evils occasioned by the clergy reserves was to adopt some mode of making them available to all religious sects; but there would be many difficulties in defining religious sects, and in allotting the proportions to be given to each. Our opinion would therefore be in favour of applying the proceeds of the clergy reserves to purposes of general education.Secondly, Lord Durham reported, in 1839, thatThe result of any determination on the part of the British Government or Legislature to give, one sect a predominance or superiority, would be but to endanger the loss of the colony; that it was important that question should be so settled; at to give satisfaction to the majority of the people of the two Canadas, whom it equally concerns; that he knew of no mode of doing this but by repealing all provisions in the Imperial Acts relating to the clegy reserves, leaving them to the disposal of the local legislature, and acquiescing in whatever decision it may adopt.Now, this is the object of the present proposal of the Government. During the same period every Secretary of State for the Colonies under whose consideration the question of the clergy reserves was brought, declared his opinion that it was a local question, which ought, at least in the first instance, to be dealt with by the local Legislature. First, in 1832, the Earl of Ripon, in reply to several Resolutions of the House of Assembly of UpperCanada—declaring that the Imperial Parliament ought to pass an Act for the sale of the clergy reserves, and to empower the local Legislature to apply the proceeds to purposes of general education—invited the Legislature of Upper Canada to exercise the powers given to it under the Constitutional Act to vary or repeal the provisions of the Constitutional Act relating to the clergy reserves. In consequence of this invitation the representatives of the people endeavoured to exercise these powers, but their efforts were defeated by the nominees of the Legislative-Council. Secondly, in 1835 Lord Glenelg refused to comply with the prayer of an Address to the Crown from the Legislative Council, in which "the Family Compact" prayed, in opposition to the wishes of the representatives of the people, that the Imperial Parliament should undertake the settlement of the question of clergy re-serves. Lord Glenelg refused for two reasons:—1. Because Parliamentary legislation on any subject of exclusively internal concern in any colony possessing a representative assembly is, as a general rule, unconstitutional. 2. Because the authors of the Constitutional Act had declared the question of clergy reserves to be one in regard to which the initiative is expressly reserved and 1105 recognised as falling within the peculiar province and special cognisance of the local legislature.In 1839, my noble Friend the Member for the City of London refused the assent of the Crown to a Bill of the Legislature of Upper Canada, which provided that the clergy preserves should be sold, and which delegated to the Imperial Parliament the duty of appropriating the proceeds for religious purposes. My noble Friend refused to accept for Parliament the delegated office, partly because he asserted "that the provincial Legislature could bring to the decision of this question an extent of accurate information as to the wants and general opinions of society in that country in which Parliament was unavoidably deficient." The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) has made specific reference in his unsent despatch to the Act of 1839, as showing a desire on the part of the people of Upper Canada that the Imperial Parliament should undertake the settlement of the question of the clergy reserves. As this was the only occasion that I know of—on which the House of Assembly of Upper Canada had consented to ask Parliament to settle the question of the disposal of the clergy reserves, I must state that this Bill was passed by the fourteenth and last Parliament of Upper Canada, and that the House of Assembly of that Parliament did not represent the people of Upper Canada; for Lord Durham stated, in his Report, that at the general election in a number of instances the elections were carried in favour of the Government by the unscrupulous exercise of the influence of the Government; and Sir Francis Head, who was then Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, boasted that he had added forty-supporters of the Government to the House of Assembly, consisting of sixty-two Members; yet even in this packed House of Assembly, so strong was the popular feeling on the subject of the clergy reserves, that Sir Francis Head failed in settling that question according to his wishes. In 1839, however, when Sir George Arthur was Lieutenant Governor, the House of Assembly, by the casting vote of the Speaker, did pass a Bill, which provided that the clergy reserves should be sold, and that their proceeds should be appropriated by the Provincial Legislature for education and religion. This Bill, therefore, retained to the local Legislature the power to dispose of the proceeds of the clergy reserves; but the Legislative Council struck out the words "Provincial Legislature," and inserted the 1106 words "Imperial Parliament," and thus delegated to the Imperial Parliament the disposal of the proceeds of the clergy reserves. The Bill so amended was carried at a late hour of the last night before a prorogation, by a majority of one in the House of Assembly. This was the only occasion I know of in which the House of Assembly of Upper Canada consented to ask Parliament to settle the question of the disposal of the proceeds of the clergy reserves.
I now come to the Bill which the Legislature of Upper Canada passed in 1840, and which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich has described as being similar in principle to the Imperial Act of the same year. At that period the late Lord Sydenham was Governor-in-Chief of Canada. He was very anxious that the question of the clergy reserves should be settled before the reunion of the Canadas. To accomplish this he exerted to the utmost his great ability and Parliamentary tact; he submitted to the Legislature the draught of a Bill, which was, in substance, carried through the House of Assembly, by the smallest majority. It provided that one-half of the clergy reserves should be divided between the Churches of England and Scotland, in proportion to the number of their members, and that the other half should be divided between the other denominations of Christians, in proportion also to the number of their members. That Bill was therefore based nearly upon the principle of religious equality between Christian sects. Lord Sydenham was very anxious that it should become law. He declared that—It would not be possible to obtain such favourable terms for the Established Church or for religious instruction in any future Assembly of Canada; that even to this Bill insuperable objections were entertained in Upper Canada; that for many years the representatives of the people had uniformly refused to assent to an appropriation of the clergy reserve fund for religious purposes; that on fourteen different occasions they had recorded their opinion that it ought to be applied to education or general purposes; and that their assent to such a measure as this could never again be looked for.Unfortunately it was not in the power of the Government to give the Royal Assent to this Bill. As soon as it was laid before Parliament it was vehemently denounced in both Houses—in this House, by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich and his friends. In the other House it was attacked by a right rev. Prelate, famed for his legal lore, and for a litigious spirit 1107 which makes him the pest of his diocese. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
rose to order. A particular individual in the other House of Parliament had been described by the right hon. Gentleman as "the pest of his diocese." Whoever might be so described was a Member of the other House of Legislature, whose proceedings were not properly subject to revision in the House of Commons.
§ SIR WILLIAM MOLESWORTH
The hon. Baronet ought to have given this lecture before. He ought to have interrupted the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington) when he referred in no very courteous terms to another individual, also a right reverend Member of the other House. I do assert, however, that the right rev. Prelate I alluded to has shown that spirit both by his conduct upon the Bill of 1840, and by his conduct upon the Bill now before the House. That right rev. Prelate raised a question as to the power of the Legislature of Upper Canada to pass the Bill of 1840, and carried a proposition, in another place, against the Government, in favour of that question being put to the Judges. The question was put to the Judges, and they unanimously decided that the Legislature of Upper Canada had not authority to pass the Bill in question. This decision was in opposition to the opinion which had been expressed by the Lord Chancellor in the debate on the right rev. Prelate's Motion. It showed that for at least twenty years every Governor-in-Cliief of Canada, every Lieutenant Governor, Legislative Council, and House of Assembly in Upper Canada, and every Secretary of State for the Colonies, had been in error respecting the powers which the Canadian Legislature possessed under the Constitutional Act. The result of this decision was, that the assent of the Crown could not be given to the Bill of the Legislature of Upper Canada, and Imperial legislation became necessary. Then there were three measures, either of which the Government might have proposed. First, it might have proposed a measure similar to that now before the House, which would have enabled the Canadian Legislature to deal with the question of the clergy reserves. Such a measure would have been in accordance with the principles of colonial policy, that local questions should be dealt with by local legislatures; but in 1840 the true principles of colonial policy were not sufficiently recognised to enable 1108 the Government to overcome the hostility which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich and his friends showed their intention to offer to any measure which might occasion any considerable alteration in the distribution of the proceeds of the clergy reserves. Since then a great change has taken place in public opinion on the subject of colonial government. That change was brought about in no small degree by the discussions with regard to the Canadian rebellion, and by the report on Canada, which makes the name of Lord Durham justly renowned. That Report was written with the assistance of two men of great abilities, who will ever be remembered as colonial reformers—I mean Mr. Gibbon Wakefield and my late friend Mr. Charles Buller;—to them, more than to any other two persons this country is indebted for sound views of colonial policy with respect both to Canada and Australasia, and on the subject of transportation. Those views have been gradually adopted by most of the statesmen of the day—by my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) who, in 1840, was the first really liberal Secretary of State for the Colonies; by Earl Grey, whose government of Canada was deserving of all praise; and even the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) has, in some respects, been a not unworthy pupil of the school of colonial reform. Though he sounded the other night the trumpet of his renown as Colonial Secretary with a somewhat stentorian blast, yet it must be admitted that he deserves credit for his opinions with regard to Australia, and his intentions with reference to transportation. On the subject, however, of Canada, his mind is still immersed in Stygian darkness, and his conduct shows that he has not yet mastered the elements of colonial policy—that he is, in fact, still the same man who in 1840 did his best to prevent a proper settlement of the question of the clergy reserves.
§ SIR WILLIAM MOLESWORTH
I know you did, but you and your friends resisted and defeated the first measure which was proposed by my noble Friend, and to which I will now refer. I said there were three courses which the Government might have proposed to pursue in 1840. The first I have already mentioned; the second would have been to introduce the same Bill as that which had received the assent of the Legislature of 1109 Upper Canada. This course would also have been unobjectionable in principle, and it was the course which my noble Friend first proposed to adopt. For he stated in his place in this House, that he wished to bring in a Bill as nearly as possible the same as that to which he was reluctantly compelled to refuse the Royal Assent; but my noble Friend was compelled to abandon this course by the opposition of the right hon. Baronet and his Friends. Therefore the only remaining course was for my noble Friend to take the least bad Bill which the Opposition would permit him to carry; and my noble Friend stated in his place that a compromise had been made between the Government and the representatives of the Church of England and the friends of the Church of Scotland. The result was, the Act of 1840. That Act provided that the proceeds of the clergy reserves sold before 1840 should be divided into three equal parts—two of which should be for the Church of England, and one for the Church of Scotland. It also provided that the proceeds of the clergy reserves sold after 1840 should be divided into six equal parts, two of which should be for the Church of England, one for the Church of Scotland, and the remainder should he applied by the Government for the purposes of public worship and religious education. I estimate, if this Act were to continue in force, and the clergy reserves were to be sold at the same rate as they were sold at before 1840, two-fifths of their proceeds would belong-to the Church of England, one-fifth to the Church of Scotland, and the remainder would be applicable for the support of public worship and religious education.
A return has just been presented of the amount of the clergy reserve fund since 1840, and its distribution under the Act of 1840. I have compared that return with the census of the population of Canada in 1851. I find that in Upper Canada the population in 1851 was 952,000, and that the total amount of the proceeds of the clergy reserve fund since 1840 has been 271,000l.; that the members of the Church of England were 223,000, or less than one-fourth of the population, and that they have received 148,000l., or more than half of the clergy reserve fund; that the members of the Church of Scotland were 58,000, or less than one-sixteenth of the population, and they have received 64,000l., or about one-fourth of the clergy reserve fund; that the members of the Church of 1110 Rome (who have neither tithes nor other endowments in Upper Canada) were 168,000, or more than one-sixth of the population, and they have only received 20,000l., or about one-thirteenth of the clergy reserve fund; and that the remaining denominations of Christians amount in number to 441,000, or to more than four-ninths of the population, and that they have only received 18,000l., or about one-fifteenth of the clergy reserve fund.
I find that in Lower Canada in 1851, the population was 890,000, and that the amount of the clergy reserve fund, since 1840, has been 32,000l.; that the members of the Church of England were 45,000, and that they have received 22,000l.; and that the members of the Church of Scotland were 4,000, and that they have received 9,000l. These facts show that the principle of the Act of 1840 was to favour the Churches of England and Scotland in Canada. It was therefore contrary to the principle of the Constitutional Act of 1791, which drew no distinction between the various denominations of a Protestant clergy. It was also contrary to the principle of the Bill of 1840 of the Legislature of Upper Canada, which divided the proceeds of the clergy reserves nearly equally between the various denominations of Christians. It was therefore an attempt to settle the question of the clergy reserves by a compromise; not between conflicting and contending parties in Canada, who were deeply and directly interested in the question, but between parties in this House, whose interest in this question was only remote and imaginary. In fact, it was a compromise made in opposition to the wishes and feelings of the people of Canada, in order to gratify the idiosyncracies of a portion of the Imperial Parliament, which consisted of the right hon. Baronet and his friends. This cannot be denied; for my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) himself in 1840 declared that he did not consider it a good measure, but only a less evil than leaving the question of the clergy reserves unsettled at that moment. When the Act of 1840 reached Canada, Lord Sydenham strongly condemned it. He declared—That the proportion allotted to the Church of England was monstrous, and was grounded upon claims either wholly without foundation, or upon a complete perversion of previous Acts of Parliament; and that the proportion set apart for purposes connected with parties not belonging to either of these two Churches was miserable.1111 Lastly, the House of Assembly emphatically denied that the Act of 1840 was ever accepted by the people of Canada as a final settlement of the question of the clergy reserves; for, on the 14th of September last, a Motion declaring that the people of Canada had concurred in the final settlement of: that question by the Act of 1840 was rejected by a majority of fifty against a minority of eighteen. Of that majority twenty-five were Protestants, and twenty Upper Canadian members. Of the minority eighteen were Protestants, and fourteen Upper Canadian members. Therefore, the absolute majority of Protestant and Upper Canadian members was equivalent to absolute majorities of from 90 to 100 in a house of 591 members. I find that the persons who first attempted to upset this settlement of 1840 were the members of the Church party themselves. In 1846 they sought to carry a Resolution for an Address to the Crown, that the proceeds of the clergy reserves might be divided, apportioned, and conveyed to themselves and other denominations recognised by the Act of 1840. They obtained a Committee of the House of Assembly, but the House refused to adopt the Report of that Committee.
Sir, I will, however, suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Act of 1840 was considered by the people of Upper Canada as a settlement of the question of the clergy reserves. I ask—have not the people of Upper Canada a right to change their mind upon the subject? Is the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) entitled to a monopoly of the privilege of changing opinion? Has he not changed his opinion since last year? What did the right hon. Baronet say last year? In his despatch of the 22nd of April last he abandoned the position that the Act of 1840 was a final measure. He declared that—It might possibly be desirable that the distribution of the proceeds of the clergy reserves should from time to time be reconsidered, and that any proposals of such a nature Her Majesty's Government would be willing to entertain.If the right hon. Baronet still holds this opinion, then the only question at issue between us is, by whom ought the Act of 1840 to be from time to time reconsidered and altered? By the Imperial Parliament or by the colonial Legislature? The right hon. Baronet would say by the Imperial Parliament. But why should Parliament undertake so difficult and thankless a task? 1112 It can only alter that Act in one of two, ways, either in accordance with, or in opposition to, the wishes of the people of Canada. I will consider each alteration, First, I will suppose that Parliament would desire, to alter the Act of 1840 in accordance with the wishes of the Canadian people), In order to do so, it would have first to as-certain their wishes. Now, there is only one constitutional mode of ascertaining the wishes of the people of a colony which has representative institutions, and that is to ascertain the wishes of the representatives, of the people in provincial Parliament assembled; for the Imperial Parliament can not admit that petitions, however numerously signed by persons however respect able, can prove that the opinions of the people of a Colony are in opposition to those expressed by their representatives in provincial Parliament assembled. There fore, if the Imperial Parliament desire to legislate on this matter in accordance with the wishes of the people of Canada, it would have first to ascertain the precise measure which the Canadian Legislature would pass if it had power, and Parliament would then convert that measure into an Imperial Act. It is evident, however, that the simplest mode of accomplishing this result would be to empower the Canadian Legislature to alter the Act of 1840. Therefore, the only valid reason which can be assigned why the Imperial Parliament should undertake the difficult and thankless task of from time to time reconsidering and altering the Act of 1840 is, that it might be the duty of Parliament to alter that Act, in opposition to the wishes of the Canadian: people. I do not deny that there are cases in which it might be the duty of the Imperial Parliament to legislate in opposition to the wishes and interests of the inhabitants of a part of the Empire; but the only cases of that description which I can imagine, are those in which the interests of the part conflict with those of the whole Empire, and in which therefore the interests of the part must be sacrificed to the interests of the whole. Now, do the interests of the British Empire demand that the Imperial Parliament should legislate on the subject of the clergy reserves in opposition to the wishes of the Canadian people? Or, in other words, is that question an Imperial or a local one?
Sir, I have shown, that from 1791 to the present moment every authority on colonial matters has declared his opinion that the question of the clergy reserves is a local 1113 one, which ought, at least in the first instance, to be decided by the local legislature. I have also shown that each successive authority has declared that opinion with more emphasis than his predecessor. In fact, there has been a steady progress of opinion on this subject. That progress of opinion has been the necessary consequence of the progress of the principle of religious equality. In former days it was held to be the duty of the State to encourage one form of the Christian faith, and to discourage every other form. That opinion cannot now be maintained, because all Christian sects are now admitted on equal terms into this House. Therefore, it must be acknowledged that the State is now not entitled to interfere with the religious faith of its subjects in this country, or to attempt to induce or compel them to adopt one form of Christianity in preference to another; and, if so, then, à fortiori, the State is not entitled to interfere with the religious faith of its subjects in the Colonies, or to attempt to induce or compel them to adopt, support, or maintain one form of Christian worship in preference to another; and, therefore, all questions affecting the religious faith of our colonists, or the mode in which their faith shall be maintained—in short, all questions respecting religious endowments in our Colonies, are local and not Imperial questions, which ought to be dealt with by the local and not by the Imperial Parliament.
It was said, however, by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) that if we transferred to the Legislature of Canada the power of dealing with this question, it would disendow the Church of England in Canada, and secularise those reserves; and that such a disendowment would be a violation of the principle of property, and a sin to which, by passing this Bill, we should give our sanction. I deny this conclusion; for I contend the principle of property requires no more than that the reasonable expectations, or the rights of existing persons to a property, should be respected, or not disturbed without compensation. Now, this Bill provides that existing interests shall be respected, and does so at the especial request of the Canadian Legislature. What more can be required? The principle of property does not require that the unformed expectations and non-existing rights of uncreated persons should be respected. On the contrary, our law abhors perpetuities, as opposed to the nature of things. It 1114 forbids a man to entail his estate beyond a very limited extent: it seizes a portion of certain kinds of property as they pass from generation to generation. Upon precisely the same principle that a man ought not to have power to entail his estate for ever, the State ought not to entail any portion of the public estate in perpetuity; and therefore provided that existing interests are respected, the State is not bound to respect an endowment by any obligation arising out of the principle of property, but only on the grounds of the public utility of the endowment, or of the inexpediency of disturbing it. Therefore, if this Bill passes, the Canadian Legislature may secularise the clergy reserves, if they think fit to do so, without violating any principle of property, provided that it respects existing interests. It should be remembered, also, that if this Bill passes, the Canadian Legislature will only acquire the same power over Protestant endowments as it at present has over Roman Catholic ones. How the Canadian Legislature would act, I cannot pretend to say, nor will I attempt to determine. I will only express my strong opinion that the longer you delay giving to the Canadian Legislature power to deal with this exclusively local question, the more certain you may be of the ultimate disendowment of the Church of England in Canada. The right hon. Baronet seemed to think that the secularising of the clergy reserves would be very injurious to the Church of England in Canada. I perfectly disagree with him. I should be sorry to support any measure which, in my calm judgment, I should think would be injurious to the Church of England, because individually I prefer the doctrines and discipline of the Church of England to those of any other religious denomination. But there is so strong a feeling throughout North America against religious endowments by the State, and in favour of the voluntary system, that the fact of the Church of England being endowed makes it an object of suspicion and jealousy, and does it far more harm than it derives good from its share of the clergy reserves.
I will only refer to one other argument which has been urged against this Bill by the right hon. Baronet. That argument was, that the friendly feelings which had sprung up since the reunion of the Canadas between the British and French population would be liable to be disturbed; and there would be danger of the revival of animos- 1115 ity and discontent among the inhabitants of Upper Canada, if they were now to be deprived of the fund for the support of religious worship which they had so long derived from the proceeds of the clergy reserves. To this I answer, that all experience shows that there is no surer mode of engendering animosity with a colony—no more certain way of begetting hatred of a mother country—no speedier process for inspiring colonists with disaffection and disloyalty, than for the Imperial State to league itself with the minority of the inhabitants of a colony to defeat the wishes of a majority with regard to a strictly local question. Now, if you reject this Bill, you will league yourselves with the minority of the inhabitants of Canada—with the minority of the Protestant portion of the population of Canada—with the minority of the Upper Canada section of that province, in order to defeat the wishes of three different majorities.
I have now examined, and endeavoured to reply to, the chief arguments which have been urged against this Bill by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich I will therefore conclude with repeating, that the real question, stripped of all matters foreign to it, which the House has now to decide, is—will you adopt, as the rule of your colonial polity, that all questions affecting exclusively the local interests of a Colony which possesses representative institutions shall be decided by the local Legislature? That rule should, in my opinion, be the axiom from which your whole system of colonial government should be deduced. The strict adherence to it would more than anything else strengthen and render permanent your vast Colonial Empire. I therefore entreat you now to apply it to the greatest of your dependencies by assenting to the second reading of this Bill.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
* It is an old observation, Mr. Speaker, that when any wrong, fraud, or crime is to be perpetrated by a Sovereign, a nation, or a mob, some high-sounding phrase, some specious pretext will not be wanting to cover or to palliate it: torrents of innocent blood have been shed in the name of liberty, and Lord George Gordon, and the noble Lord the Member of the City of London, found it easy to raise a sacrilegious mob in the name of pure and undefiled religion; and so now, Sir, have Her Majesty's Conservative Government introduced one of the most unjust and unwise of legal robberies 1116 under the specious title of a concession to the principle of religious equality. Those, Sir, are strong expressions. I am sorry I cannot retract or modify them. Give me leave, on the contrary, to justify their use. The measure is essentially unjust, and the slightest glance at the past history of these Clergy Reserves, given in such detail by the right hon. Baronet Sir W. Molesworth, will prove that my proposition is just and sound. Who ventures to doubt for a moment that the power which acquired these lands originally, had the moral and legal right to dispose of them? Was it Canadian wealth, or force of arms—was it the power or influence of the ancestors of Messrs. Hineks and Papineau, and the majority of the present House of Assembly that acquired these lands? By no means: it was the Sovereign and the Empire of Great Britain, who either conquered or purchased them. Is there, then, any pretext for saying that George III. in recommending, and the Imperial Parliament in sanctioning, the original grant of these lands for religious purposes, were exceeding their rightful powers, or disposing of property that did not belong to them? I do not see in any, even of Mr. Hincks'd speeches, such an allegation. If, then, that point be conceded—if the original disposition of the proceeds of these lands was sound and valid in law and public morality, how, can you now, by ex post facto legislation, proceed to confiscate these lands without committing a gross injustice? For the present, Sir, I pretermit all reference to the obvious and fatal results of this measure, and confine myself to considering the pleas which are set up in defence of its justice; so far as I know they are two: one drawn from certain words in the Act of 1791; the other, on which the right hon. Baronet Sir W. Molesworth, who preceded me, mainly relied—the colonial right of self-government. It is contended then by the Act of '91, a power was reserved to the Canadian Legislature to "vary or repeal" the provisions respecting the allotment or appropriation of these lands; but, Sir, the House will not forget, I trust, that the opinion of the Judges in 1840, distinctly established that the powers given by the Act of 1791 to the local Legislature, "to vary or repeal," applied only to prospective legislation; and that the application of the Clergy Reserve Fund could not at all be retrospectively affected by the Canadian Legislature; and the Judges illustrate their dictum by a reference that ought 1117 to be pregnant with meaning to a Government that was conservative of anything. But after the language of the right hon. Baronet on the whole subject, more especially that towards the close of his speech, which must assuredly have sounded strangely in the ear of the right hon. Gentleman who sits beside him as a Colleague (Mr. Gladstone), we shall perhaps be told that the Government no longer wish to be regarded as a Conservative Administration. It would be very instructive to hear whether that right hon. Gentleman concurs in the characteristic course designated as the proper rule of the Government by the consistent Radical who now sits on the Ministerial bench. The Judges, Sir, refer to the Statute of Wills, "the provisions of which," they say, "might be varied or repealed without affecting the devises of land already made under it." But this measure of the Government recognises no such distinction, and is, therefore, opposed to the opinion of the Judges, and sins against the rights of property. The power then given by the Act of 1791 to the Colonial Legislature "to vary or repeal" being only prospective, the Canadian Parliament is entitled to legislate only with regard to the portion of reserve lands which remains unappropriated—a quantity so small, that the local Legislature would probably feel little grateful for the power to deal with it. But, granting whatever weight you please to those words, I contend that Act was overridden by the Act of 1840, a measure which the Legislature of Upper Canada had itself sought from the Imperial Legislature; which had been proposed to that Imperial Parliament in language the most emphatic, by the noble Lord, then our Colonial Minister; which had received the solemn sanction of Judges; which had been declared in its very preamble to be the final settlement of the matter; and which, on being transmitted from the Imperial Parliament to Canada, was received there by the general population with satisfaction. Yet this Act, so solemly ratified, the House is now called upon to repeal and annul. I contend, therefore, that no weight can be attached to the argument derived from those words in the Act of 1791; and I now come to deal with the other plea set up to vindicate the justice of this Bill, a plea well epitomised in the Duke of Newcastle's despatch as "the right of dealing as they" (the people of Canada) "may think proper with matters of strictly domestic interest." I yield to no man in the sincere desire to 1118 see our North American provinces rise up into self-depending, integral portions of our empire; but once concede to the Colonial Legislatures the power of deciding what is and what is not matter of purely domestic interest, then our colonies will be colonies of our empire no longer. Every Constitution that has been sent out to our colonies contains a reservation of certain subjects on which the Colonial Legislatures are not to legislate; but once leave it to the Colonial Legislatures to determine for themselves what are purely matters of domestic legislation, with which, according to the doctrine of the present advisers of the Crown, the Imperial Parliament is not to meddle, and the control of the Imperial Parliament over our colonies is for ever extinguished. Suppose another fishery dispute, and England, for Imperial purposes and on Imperial grounds, takes a course hostile to the wishes, perhaps temporarily injurious to the interests, of Canada, and that the Canadian Legislature resolve that the relations between our North American provinces and the United States were purely a matter of local interest, what would the right hon. Gentleman say? Would you, who now lay down this unerring rule of action, venture to depart from it on so momentous an occasion? If you claim the right of deciding what are and what are not matters of strictly domestic interests, then, I say, you only postpone the day of conflict, you but weaken your own cause, and prepare your own inevitable defeat. What, after sacrificing property so solemnly granted, so long enjoyed, devoted to such sacred purposes, so interwoven with the Imperial legislation of generations, is there any attribute of royalty for which you will contend, or for which you will venture to say you hope to contend successfully? But, if you tell me, retaining the right of deciding what are matters of purely colonial interest, we defend this measure as dealing with a strictly Canadian subject, then do I join issue with you, and say, assuredly, this present matter is not one of purely domestic concern to the Provincial Legislature. The question how the property involved had been first obtained has already been answered. Next, it may be safely affirmed, that the appeal now made by the Canadian Legislature, and the response afforded by the proposed measure, of themselves prove that these parties do not consider the matter in itself one of domestic concern. Thirdly, I ask, who 1119 are the recipients of the fund? The bishops and clergy of the United Church of England and Ireland in Canada, within the metropolitan province of Canterbury. Again, by whom is the fund managed? By persons living in Canada, and subject to the control of the Canadian Legislature? No, but by a society in this country, whose management of the miserable pittance is above all praise, From the petition of that society, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which was earlier in the evening presented by the senior Member for the University of Oxford, I will read a paragraph which I earnestly recommend to the attention of every member of the Church of England—among whom I truly rejoiced to hear the right hon. Baronet this evening number himself. The petitioners stated—That there are in the said province of Canada many thousands of poor members of the United Church of England and Ireland, who, being scattered over that extensive province, could not without some assistance provide for themselves and their children the regular ministration of a resident clergy; that the number of such persons is every year increased by the arrival of emigrants from this country, most of whom are of the poorer class; and that such emigration has been encouraged by various Acts of Parliament and by Her Majesty's Government, and has gone forward of late years on a scale very much larger than it ever did before; that the society has, so far as lay in its power, and not without crippling its missionary efforts in the dependencies of the Empire, endeavoured to supply the deficiencies of the said endowment out of the funds entrusted to it by charitable persons in this country; but that, notwithstanding all its efforts, there are many districts, the inhabitants of which can seldom, if ever, be visited by any minister of religion; and that, on a census taken some time ago, many thousand persons actually returned themselves as not belonging to any religious communion at all.Well, then, Sir, I say that these clergy reserves so obtained, so dedicated, so guaranteed, and so administered, must be regarded as one of the established institutions of the Empire, and that this measure for their confiscation is essentially unjust. Hitherto I have been considering the question solely on the abstract ground of justice: allow me now to give my reasons for believing that it affords no exception from Lord Shaftesbury's memorable dictum, that what is morally wrong, cannot be politically right. The right hon. Baronet affirmed that the large preponderance of opinion in the Upper Province, as represented by the House of Assembly, was in favour of the measure; but so far as could be judged from the old census—the only 1120 census to which I have access—it would appear that the preponderance of opinion was, on the contrary, against the measure; the members who were against the proposal representing a population of 409,037, while the members who were in favour of the measure represented only 384,052, while in the new Parliament the members favourable to the clergy reserves are 20 against 17 only, in the old Parliament; but, more than this, the four gentlemen most notorious for their hostility to the reserves, lost their seats, and the population of the constituencies gained by the supporters of the reserves amounted to 196,277, against a population of only 55,482 of constituencies gained by their opponents. I am indebted for these figures to the pamphlet of Archdeacon Bethune, and I think they show that, as far as the Upper Province is concerned, there is at any rate no overwhelming feeling in favour of this measure; while no one doubts that a great weight of property and respectability in Upper Canada is in favour of these reserves. Allow me, then, to call your attention to what must follow their confiscation. Half the population of Upper Canada, who had seen this property set apart for the maintenance of their clergy, and for the instruction of their children, will be called upon to submit to its being confiscated and secularised by the vote, not of persons of their own persuasion, but by the vote of the Roman Catholic members of the Lower Province; and they will see, simultaneously with that confiscation, the Church of Rome, in the Lower Province, maintained in all its splendid endowments, which the justice of former English Sovereigns, no less than the enduring justice of every English Parliament, had permitted that Church to continue to enjoy. What must be the inevitable result of such a state of things? They would fill the people of Upper Canada with feelings of grief and dissatisfaction, at seeing those from whom the injury they were suffering mainly come, retaining their church property and the whole of their ecclesiastical endowments; and do hon. Members suppose that it is consistent with human nature for men, under such circumstances, to stand still and calmly submit to so unrighteous a despoilment? The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, seemed to think it probable that the people of Upper Canada would attack the property of the Roman Catholic Church in the Lower Province. If any person doubts that that will be the case, let me 1121 refer to the memorial presented to Her Majesty in 1850, upon that subject. That memorial was drawn up by no partisan demagogue; it expressed the feelings of no trader for popularity, but it was prepared by men eminent for their social position, for their moral worth, and for their influence over the religious feelings of the Protestant population of Upper Canada. The memorialists represented to Her Majesty that the fact of several members of the Roman Catholic communion in the Legislative Assembly, voting for the alienation of the property of the Church of England, would have the effect of provoking and exasperating religious divisions and animosities in the Upper Province, and of creating, at no distant period, a movement which it would be impossible to restrain for alienating the ecclesiastical property held by Roman Catholics in Lower Canada. What, then, becomes of your message of peace? It is an incentive to war—to the worst of wars—a war of religion. Indeed, the Under Secretary of State the other night, and to-night the right hon. Gentleman, had taken some pains to show that this Bill would only be a measure of religious equality, and that there was nothing in the present state of the law which prevented the alienation, by the Canadian Parliament, of the property of the Roman Catholic Church in the Lower Province. With all due submission, I cannot look with satisfaction at the prospect which the right hon. Gentleman held out. It never can be a happy state of things, that in order to remedy one act of injustice, they should perpetrate another; or, in order to compensate the Upper Province, they should confiscate the endowments of the Roman Catholics in the Lower Province. But allow me to suggest an inquiry into the accuracy of this representation. Is it true and correct to Bay that if we pass this Bill in its present shape we shall place the Church of Rome, the Church of Scotland, and the Church of England in Canada upon a footing of religious equality, as far as legislative interference with their property is concerned? The Bill undoubtedly proposes to give full and plenary power to the Legislature of Canada to deal with the clergy reserves, with one reservation. Every Act passed by the Canadian Parliament on this subject must be subject to the conditions of the 35th, 37th, and 38th sections of the 3 & 4 Vict., c. 35. Therefore to understand the powers conferred by the Bill on 1122 the Canadian Legislature, it is necessary to refer to the 37th section of the Act of 3 & 4 Vict., c. 35. By that section it was enacted—That whenever any Bill which has been passed by the Legislative Council and Assembly of the Province of Canada shall be presented for Her Majesty's assent to the Governor of the said Province, such Governor shall declare, according to his discretion, but subject, nevertheless, to the provisions contained in this Act, that he assents to such Bill in Her Majesty's name, or that he withholds Her Majesty's assent, or that be reserves such Bill for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure thereon.Well, then, are all the sections of that Act imported into this Bill by this reference to its provisions in the 37th section? If so, the 42nd section of course is; but what is the effect of this 42nd section? Why, it is enacted, that whenever any Bill should have passed the Colonial Legislature to vary any of the provisions then in force, contained in the 14th Geo. III., chap. 83—Respecting the accustomed dues and rights of the clergy of the Church of Rome, or to vary or repeal any provisions respecting the allotment and appropriation of lands for the support of the Protestant clergy within the province of Canada, or respecting the constituting, erecting, or endowing of parsonages or rectories within the province of Canada, &c, every such Bill shall, previously to any declaration of Her Majesty's assent thereto, be laid before both Houses of Parliament; and that it shall not be lawful for Her Majesty to signify her assent to any such Bill until thirty days after the same shall have been laid before the said Houses, or to assent to any such Bill in case either House of Parliament shall, within the said thirty days, address Her Majesty to withhold Her assent from any such Bill.Now, as the 37th section of the Act of 1840, which recognises the 42nd section which I have just quoted is imported into the Bill, I want to know if the 42nd section does not become a part of the measure? If so, then it is clear, that the Government, so far from giving to the Canadian Legislature the free control and management of these Clergy Reserves, does no such thing, hut compels every measure passed by that Legislature to be laid before the Imperial Parliament, and to be subject to the refusal of the Royal assent by an Address from either of the Houses of the Imperial Parliament. If this be so, what becomes of all those fine sounding phrases about respecting colonial rights, and of placing colonial legislation upon the only true principle of colonial self-government? Why, if the Bill bears the construction which I believe it might be held legally to bear, the whole proceeding is a 1123 sham, a delusion, and a fraud; and the Legislature of Canada will find that they are just as subject to the veto and control of the Imperial Parliament after the passing of this Bill as they are at present. But if on the other hand the 42nd clause is not included in this reference to the 37th, and nothing hut the veto through the Secretary of State (never intended to be used), is to be retained, then it is clear that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was not correct; and that while you are reserving to the Church of Rome all the protection and safeguards which the 42nd clause of the Act of 1840 gave to that Church, you are expressly taking away that protection from the property of the Church of England. Is this religious equality? Is this teaching the members of various religious communities in Canada to live in peace and harmony together? The House will allow me most respectfully to ask by whose vote will this measure be carried, if carried at all it is to be I believe, whichever way they may solve the question, the result, the inevitable result, will be the same. If the Canadian Parliament have the same power to deal with Roman Catholic property, as under this Bill they will have to deal with the Clergy Reserves, they will he forced to do so: for it is vain to suppose that the aggrieved Protestants of Upper Canada will admit the fine-drawn distinction of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Roman Catholic endowments are mainly for charitable and educational, not Church, purposes; or, if, as I rather suspect, this Bill retains for the Roman Catholic Church safeguards and protection, which it takes away from the endowments of the Churches of England and Scotland, it then, Sir, becomes our duty, still more the duty of the Government, and still more that of every Roman Catholic Gentleman who votes for the Bill, either so to amend it as to place all religious endowments equally at the mercy of the Canadian Parliament, or to pass another measure which shall have that effect. By whose vote, then, is this measure to be passed? There cannot be a reasonable doubt, that if passed at all, it will be by the votes of those Gentlemen who represent Roman Catholic constituencies, and who are themselves members of the Roman Catholic Church. I have no right to advise those hon. Gentlemen, still less the inclination to dictate to them; but I trust, with the utmost respect, I may be permitted to recall to their recollection the words which, spoken a week ago by my 1124 noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn, were cheered by the Gentlemen I now address. My noble Friend, speaking to those immediately behind and around him, said: "If the endowment of Maynooth be taken away, I tremble for the Established Church of Ireland." I venture to say, confiscate the Clergy Reserves in Upper Canada, and I shall tremble for the Roman Catholic Church endowments in Lower Canada. But more, if those Clergy Reserves should, by means of the votes of the Roman Catholic Members of that House, be confiscated, I know not by what argument from principle you can sustain Maynooth. Pleading its origin, its sustentation by successive Sovereigns, Ministers, and Parliaments, urging the known intention of the Legislature in 1845, year by year with increased difficulty the statesmen in this House have prevented its disendowment; pass this measure, and you remove every such plea for the future. Was Maynooth established by George III? So were the Clergy Reserves. Is something alleged about a compact to maintain Maynooth at the time of the Union? The Clergy Reserves were finally settled at the Union of the two provinces, and the Union itself regarded as contingent upon that final settlement. Was it the intention of Parliament in 1845 to perpetuate Maynooth? Who doubts what was the intention of the Legislature in 1840? By this act of confiscation you will involve the two provinces in a war of religious opinion, embittered and exasperated as that war must necessarily be by a sense of injustice on the part of the people of Upper Canada, and the injury and wrong which would be perpetrated upon them; and all these risks and hazards we are to run; and all these evils are to be inflicted upon the colony in the name of religious equality, and out of regard for the rights of the Colonial Legislature. Better far than this, if you really believe it to he necessary to acknowledge the virtual independence of Canada, recall your Governor General, call back your Army, call home your fleet, and let Canada, if she be so minded, establish her independence and cast off her character as a colony, or seek refuge in the extended arms of the United States. There, at least, the peaceable inhabitants of Upper Canada will find their property secure, and their ecclesiastical establishment respected; there, at least, the highest depositaries of power, the guardians of privileges and maintainers of law, will vindicate the rights of the weak against the encroachments of 1125 the strong; and there the poor struggling Church of Canada will And that defence, that protection, and that justice, which she Bow sues for, and which, if this measure passes, she will have sued for in vain from the High Court of Parliament of once Imperial England.
§ MR. GRANVILLE E. VERNON
said, it was under a consciousness of no slight difficulty that he rose, for the first time, after the noble Lord the Member for Colchester, whose honest feelings no man could respect more than himself, to endeavour feebly to advocate a cause which had been already so ably advocated by an unquestionable champion in the person of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. It appeared to him that the sole issue they had to try was this: when they had given to Canada constitutional rights and a provincial Parliament, were they or were they not to respect those rights, and adhere to the spirit of their own engagements? He would not enter into a detailed history of the Act of 1791; but he concurred with the opinion, though not with the argument founded on it, of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis) that it was the intention of the Legislature to endow a Protestant clergy according to the faith and discipline of the Established Church. He believed, looking at the provision for rectories and for the episcopacy in the provinces, that it was the intention of the Legislature to erect and endow an Established Church in Canada. It was fortunate for the Colonies that the word Protestant was used, a term so vague that it was possible for the Law Officers of the day to enable the Scotch Established Church to share also in that endowment. He openly professed the opinion that a National Established Church was a national blessing; but he was not so little wise as to think that a National Church could be forced on such a people as the Canadians. Such an attempt would have been unwise, impolitic, and impossible. What had been the state of the Colony? These waste lands were for many years, as they had been told, and as they all knew, the theme of constant contention. Year after-year the Provincial Assembly and the Legislative Council were at issue as to the disposition of these reserves. In 1839, wearied out, as it were, by this long continued struggle, they came to some sort of agreement, and an attempt was made to pass an Act, which, for legal reasons, 1126 could not receive the Royal sanction. In 1840 the fresh constitution was given to Canada, and an arrangement was made as to the reserve lands. Then was effected what was called the settlement of 1840. There were equity and justice, no doubt, in the scope of the provisions of that settlement; but he confessed he thought there was little of wisdom and little of political foresight, in the Act of 1840. There was little of wisdom in that legislation which was to override the constitutional provisions of the Act of 1791. There was little of fore sight in that legislation which endeavoured to impose finality where finality was impossible. He could not hope to emulate the eloquent language of a right rev. Prelate, who had been spoken of in terms which he regretted to hear, especially from the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington), for whom he entertained sincere respect; but he confessed that he wondered at the boldness of those who could so arraign the very decrees of Providence as to see permanence and finality in human legislation. The noble Lord who had just spoken had dwelt at some length on the Act of 1840 superseding that of 1791. No doubt they acted as a sort of umpire when called on to interfere, and, under the pressure of circumstances, thought it desirable to legislate in England. They did override the constitutional provision of 1791, and that error was what they were this evening to undo. They were about to retrace their steps, and to go back to the wisdom of their ancestors—at least, to the wisdom of their ancestors of 1791. He regretted the reopening of this question. He believed that the settlement of 1840 was fair and equitable. But he could not wonder—it was impossible to wonder—looking at the circumstances, or even at the origin of that settlement, that it bad not proved satisfactory. What were the facts? It met with great opposition here. It was a compromise, and where there was a compromise, unless it was founded upon a positive principle, it was not very likely to be stable. The speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) this evening seemed to him to differ a little from his speech on a recent occasion. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to throw on the Roman Catholics of Canada all the blame, or most of the odium, of the opposition which had been raised against the Act of 1840. Now, he (Mr. Vernon) maintained that it was not from the Roman Catholics that this opposition to the settlement of 1840 had proceeded. He 1127 maintained that it was from the Free Church of Scotland, owing to the unhappy disruption of that Church, that the opposition had proceeded; it was the Protestant Dissenters and Wesleyans who kindled and kept up this flame. It was said that at all risks they must keep to the original settlement. It was said that they must keep up a dominant Church; in short, maintain it at all hazards. Were they prepared then, he would ask, to increase their armaments? Were they prepared to send soldiers to Canada? The colonists had been turned by good government from rebels into loyal subjects, and would they now make them rebels again? He trusted not. Of this he was perfectly sure, that if they did not repeal this Act of 1840, they would more endanger the endowments of the Church of England in that colony than by any other stop they could take. He thought there was evidence of some security to the existing property of the Church in the mutual rivalry of sects. God forbid that he should hold out anything like a threat to the Roman Catholics! but he said to them, on principles of common justice, and on principles sometimes more powerful, of self-interest, they should act fairly and justly in the matter. An analogy had been drawn between this case and the case of the Established Church of Ireland. That was tender ground to touch upon, and he would only touch upon it very lightly. But he must be allowed to Say he saw no analogy whatever between a Church resting on long prescription and sanctioned by the Legislature of the country in which it was placed, and a Church founded in such an exceptional way as this Church in Canada was intended to be founded, and which never had been sanctioned by any legislative authority in the Colony. When that Established Church should be touched, or attempted to be touched—when onslaughts should be made upon it—he should be ready to raise his humble voice in its support, and to do his utmost to defend it from open and avowed animosity on the one hand, and from bigoted and intolerant zealotry on the other. He trusted, when the Canadians had this matter in their own hands, they would treat in a fair and equitable spirit these rights, which he believed really and truly existed; but sure he was that it was not by trenching on constitutional rights that they could hope to force a Church on a free people, or even to rescue from spoliation the miserable pittance dignified by the name of Church 1128 property. It was far more likely they would attain the object by exhibiting a generous spirit of unreserved confidence, Let it not be said that the Government of England had given to Canada a constitution which every Canadian felt to be a delusion, a mockery, and a sham. Let them not hold open the door with the right hand, while they clutched the captive with the left. Let it not be said that they wished to make the colonists slaves of the Imperial Parliament. Let them prove that they were actuated by no unworthy jealousy. Let them show that, while they took a deep interest in the present position and future destiny of Canada; they trusted, by affirming the liberties of the one, that they would be enabled to lay a solid and stable, and, if solid and stable, then a religious foundation for the other.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he had heard hon. Members take the present measure as a precedent, and as an argument antagonistic of the Established Church in the mother country. He had heard it stated that equality ought to form part and parcel of our legislation; but the word equity had been carefully omitted in the present discussion. The hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Vernon) had characterised the Act of 1840 as an Act exhibiting little of wisdom or justice. He confessed that he should have felt that his opinion savoured of presumption if he made use of similar terms in reference to his political leader, for the measure thus condemned by the hon. Member was passed by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), then Colonial Secretary. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Peel) the Under Secretary for the Colonies had ably elucidated the question; but he made use of an argument not quite in unison with what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet the Chief Commissioner of Works. The hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies did not see any reason for supposing that if the measure passed, the reserves would be diverted from the purpose for which they were originally intended. Now some of the words in the Bill might not bear such a construction; but when he found the word "alienation" a prominent word in a Bill, he wanted to know what alienation meant if not a diversion from the original purpose? The right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Molesworth) said there was no possible doubt about the intentions of the Canadian Legislature on the future application of the reserves. And, in his opinion, no one who read the despatches and debates 1129 could have any doubt—whatever might be the pretext alleged—that ultimate confiscation was contemplated. He had heard it stated by an hon. Member, that the measure was not brought forward in an unfriendly feeling towards the Church of England. He hoped he never should see the Government of this country bringing forward a measure in an unfriendly spirit to that Church, for if this should ever take place, he was certain it would not be received by the Legislature, and would be scouted by the country. But was this measure a friendly act towards the Church of England? He could not think that a Bill which was to alienate a provision solemnly sanctioned for the maintenance of the Protestant Church in Canada, was a very friendly act, either to that Church or the Church in England. Such proceedings will only tend to create distrust in the assertions of such friends. There was another, a grave, admission made by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, that these proposed new arrangements would shake confidence in the perpetuity of endowments. If confidence was shaken in one description of property, it would be shaken in all. He did not believe that the majority of the Canadian Legislature, or the majority of the Canadian people, was in favour of the measure. It was true that an Amendment to the effect that it was not expedient to alter the arrangement of the reserves was lost in the Canadian Legislature by fifty-two to seventeen; but then he had been assured by an unimpeachable authority that the largest part of that majority were Roman Catholics. He did not wish to say anything disrespectful of the Roman Catholics; but he must say in questions of this kind they were not fair or impartial judges. He asked the House, was no regard to be paid to the remonstrances of the Canadian clergy and the Canadian people, against dealing with the reserves for any other than their original purpose? The strong remonstrances of the Canadian bishops and 300,000 churchmen in Canada ought not to be disregarded. He did not mean to say that the Act of 1840 was a just one; but he would put it to the House whether the fact of depriving the clergy in Canada at a particular time of a part of their due, justified them in following up that Act by a total spoliation ten years afterwards? The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) had referred to the 1130 opinion of Lord Sydenham in 1840; he would quote the opinion of the Earl of Elgin. Writing to Earl Grey, in 1850, the noble Lord said—If the present unprincipled agitation succeed in secularising the clergy reserves, thus depriving religion in Upper Canada of its existing support, the same agitation, ere long, may be renewed, and disturb those endowments of the Roman Catholic Church which hitherto have been so instrumental in conferring a moral and religious education upon the members of that communion; and hence may arise in Canada a spirit of antagonism between the Protestants and Roman Catholics which, happily, has not hitherto existed.Seeing the coincidence of opinion in these statesmen, he could not help saying that a measure like the one before the House was neither wise, judicious, nor politic. He believed a great deal of party spirit was mingled with the question. He did not believe that the Canadian Legislature was in a condition to discuss the question fairly and impartially among themselves; for it could not be concealed that the most prominent of the parties in favour of this measure was Mr. Papineau. That name was of itself unlikely to inspire confidence in the minds of the impartial. When a measure was supported upon false principles it was justly to be suspected, and it was a most questionable principle to do evil that good may come of it. It was not true that the Canadian Legislature had any right to deal with this property as they pleased. It was not a question of taxation, but of property. Even as a question of policy, the measure was hardly less inexpedient than it was unjustifiable in point of principle; for if carried out, the interests of rival religious communities would be brought into open antagonism. It was unreasonable to suppose that 300,000 churchmen would, if deprived of their rightful endowments, submit to see a rival Church in quiet possession of endowments more valuable. The policy, therefore, as well as the morality of this measure, might be impugned. Only two-sixths of the original amount of the endowments were now vested in the Protestant Established Church; and when it was considered how rapidly population in Canada was increasing, it would appear a very inappropriate period to rob that Church of her revenues, and strip her of her resources. Certainly the measure would manifest most unfriendly feelings on the part of the Ministry towards that 1131 Church they were sworn to defend. The right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Molesworth) had boasted that he was a Radical. Well, he (Mr. Liddell) was proud to avouch that he was a Conservative. With what feelings would the right hon. Baronet's Colleagues receive his avowal?—considering that the noble Earl at the head of the Government had declared that nothing but a Conservative Administration could rule this country. The noble Lord had also added, indeed, that its measures must he liberal; but if the present were a specimen of liberal measures—that is, a measure for taking away the property of others—it was a species of liberality which it was not desirable to encourage. And yet this was the first measure of any importance produced by a Government which professed a desire to preserve the integrity of our institutions in Church and State.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, be thought that the hon. Member who had just sat down, concluded by expressing a horror of radicalism, and a ruthless interference with the rights of property: if there was one object more than another contemplated by this Bill, it was that the rights of others should not he interfered with. The speech of the hon. Member was marked by that moderation, impartiality, and fairness which, if applied to the real question, would have led him to an opposite conclusion. It was assumed by him that the Act of 1791 endowed a Church, which was by no means the case. If the hon. Gentleman referred to the saying that what was morally wrong could not be politically right, he might be asked to consider the converse of that proposition also, that what was politically right could not be morally wrong. The Bill now before the House was not only politically right, but was called for by every principle of political justice. The remark had been made that if the Bill were carried, there was nothing to prevent the Maynooth grant from being swept away; but if Parliament came to be of opinion that the Maynooth grant should be repealed, it would be repealed, and Canada asked for the same Parliamentary right, and that with the appropriation of their own revenue. If hon. Gentlemen who opposed this Bill could only once see that the measure was one that was demanded by political justice towards Canada, every scruple with regard to it must soon be entirely removed from their minds. It 1132 was said that if this Bill were passed it might have the effect of provoking Canada to declare herself independent; but he had yet to learn that conceding to the people of Canada their just and indefeasible rights as British subjects, namely, the reference to their own representatives of the appropriation of their revenue, was likely to lead to the disruption or the alienation of that country. On the contrary, he believed that during the last ten years nothing had tended so much to a union of affection between Canada and the mother country, and the cessation of all thoughts of annexation with the neighbouring republic, as the recognition of their title as our fellow-subjects to the same rights as we claimed for ourselves. He (Mr. Adderley) had thought the other day that really a race was taking place between the ex-Colonial Minister and the present Colonial Minister as to who should have the credit of carrying that principle to its fullest and freest extent; but he was surprised to find the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) come to a halt on a measure like the present. He was astonished to find any men rising up in 1853, and reproducing precisely the same arguments as were urged upon this question in the year 1840, effacing from their minds all recollection of what had since then transpired, and ignoring all the circumstances which had in the interval of thirteen years developed the rights of the colonies to self-government, and vindicated their claim to the freedom which was now being re-asserted for them. But whatever might be their obliviousness and want of appreciation of that march of events which had brought out so prominently, and established the right of the colonies to the enjoyment of representative government equally with ourselves, he was no less astonished to find that any statesman, even unconnected by his antecedents with the colonies, but knowing how British freedom worked wherever it existed, could propose to that House, as a possible measure, that the Imperial Parliament should maintain a local appropriation of local revenue for local purposes, whether civil or religious, in the teeth of the local legislature. Impossibility was sometimes allowed to be a valid argument against a proposition. The impossibility of any such attempt, however, appeared to be no obstacle in the way of the opponents of this Bill; but, for the sake of argument, he would grant, by a stretch of imagination, that, it might not be impos- 1133 sible. It had been admitted that the Legislature of Canada was fit generally to manage its own affairs—that it was able to dispose of the Crown lands, to appropriate its civil list, and to deal with all its other internal concerns; but it was contended that upon this one subject of the appropriation of its funds for religious purposes, Canada required to be held in leading-strings by England—that she was a child on the subject of her religious wants. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich had dexterously covered the weak point of his argument by the assertion that in the matter of the lands the Colonies had no rights—that the lands belonged to the Crown; and in this respect all the arguments with respect to self-government fell to the ground. But the right hon. Gentleman himself was the man who had given to the Colonies the right over the Crown lands; and was he now to turn round and withdraw half the subjects of that concession, namely, the funds arising from the sale of reserved lands? for when he once surrendered to them the general power over the Crown lands, was it not the necessary and inevitable corollary of the proposition which he had himself laid down, that he should concede the control over these reserves also? But it was alleged that this Bill would be a breach of faith and a violation of principle. [Sir J. PAKINGTON: Hear, hear!] He (Mr. Adderley) could not understand how a Gentleman who had presided over the Colonies for ten months should not be able to see that the real breach of faith and the violation of principle in this case would consist in the denial or the rejection, and even in the delay, of this measure, rather than in the granting of it. It would be the breach of a special engagement and assurance entered into by Her Majesty through Her responsible Ministers towards Canada; for an assurance so given by a Minister of the Crown to Colonies was a pledge almost amounting to absolute legislation. It was a pledge as binding on succeeding Ministers as a pledge given to a foreign country: and in this case the Crown's pledge, coming upon the vote and petition of both houses of local legislature virtually amounted to complete legislation. But what was the principle of the Act of 1791—the Constitutional Act by which these reserves were first established? It provided for the allotment of lands for the support of the Protestant clergy, subject to the revision 1134 of the Legislature. What was the Legislature in the contemplation of that Act? It was the Local Legislature under the revision of the Imperial Legislature. But since that period this revision of the Imperial Legislature had been removed; and therefore, according to the Act of 1791, the clergy reserves were subject to the sole and exclusive revision of the Colonial Parliament. So that if they now asserted the revision of the Imperial Parliament, they would distinctly violate in principle the Constitutional Act of 1791. The Bill before the House proposed simply to rectify an anomaly in the legislative referee to which the perpetual variations of appropriation of a certain revenue were legally referable. But the opponents of the measure dealt with these reserves as if they were an inalienable grant to distinct and indefeasible claimants. Now the grant was nothing more than the laying down of a certain proportion, one-seventh, of the revenues arising from the lands; and the grantees were no definite body, but one that was perpetually varying and uncertain, and that had never been incorporated. Some new claimants occasionally came in, such as the Free Church of Scotland, and some of the old claimants gave symptoms of dying out, such, he believed, as the Wesleyans; and was this an endowment? By no means. Between the Act of 1791 and 1840, not only were the grantees entirely changed, but even the intention and disposal of the grant were avowedly and ostensibly changed; for the Act of 1791 made a provision for Protestant clergy, and by the Act of 1840 the Roman Catholic clergy received a portion of the grant. By the first, Protestant clergy are named as the object of the appropriation; by the last, the object is altered to "the promotion of Christian knowledge." It was said that this grant could not be alienated; but this Bill did not implicate the alienation, it simply raised the question whether the appropriation made by the Acts of 1791 and 1840 should be subject to the Queen and the Imperial Parliament, or solely to the Queen and the Colonial Legislature. He would admit that the question of alienation of these grants might possibly arise at some future time; but before such a possibility occurred, it was wise to make it certain to whom the appeal was to be made; and don't let the House think they could maintain any particular appropriation of this revenue by robbing the Canadian 1135 Legislature of its rightful power over its general disposal from time to time, as circumstances required, according to the obvious original intention. They had no right to look forward to the consequences of this Act; but in his mind its probable consequences were very different from those anticipated by the opponents of the measure. He could conceive, as a churchman, nothing more beneficial to the Church in Canada than to get rid of an odious, obnoxious, and impracticable claim, and to rely upon some better and more valid support than the precarious support of the Parliament of England, No support could have proved more treacherous and uncertain and arbitrary than that of the Parliament of England. The various opinions of Judges, Crown Lawyers, and successive Secretaries of State, had given the most capricious and shifting decisions. Even the original intention was translated into a hundred versions. The discussion upon the Act of 1791 turned upon the large proportion of the fund which might possibly be allowed to Dissenters; and it was an entire mistake to suppose that that Act contemplated the Church of England alone. Lord Bathurst obtained an opinion from the law officers of the Crown of his day, that the Presbyterian Church of Scotland was to participate; and in 1840 again the Judges gave an opinion that all denominations were to come in for a share in the grants. And so far were those who carried the Act of 1840 from considering it final, that Mr. Poulett Thompson declared, with regard to that Act, that all he could say of it was, that it was only better than nothing. He attached no weight to the argument that this Bill would shake the faith of all endowed bodies in the honour and integrity of the country. This was not an endowment, but a simple appropriation of revenue for local purposes, varying from time to time according to circumstances, and it consequently ought to be under the control of the local legislature. It had been said by the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Paking-ton) that if Canada were to be annexed to the United States, it would be prevented by Congress from dealing with these clergy reserves. The right hon. Gentleman's authority had egregiously misled him—he had mistakenly compared these reserves to grants where there were distinct deeds of endowment to distinct grantees, which belonged to a wholly different category of property. He could assure the right hon. Gen- 1136 tleman that the very first thing, that the United States gave to its local legislatures was the power to deal with the local appropriation of all revenues analogous to these Canadian clergy reserves for the promotion of Christian knowledge; and it was the strongest of all arguments in favour of this Bill, that it would prevent Canada-from envying the institutions of a neigh-bouring State, by annexation with which she would obtain the concession which the opponents of this Bill seek to deny her. If, as had been argued, there was an engagement on the part of the English Parliament to keep up the Church in the Colonies, let Parliament pay its engagements out of its own funds, and not out of the funds of Canada. The Consolidated Fund was the only fund out of which, such engagements ought to be kept, in the first place, therefore, on the ground of impossibility, which he thought was a very good ground; in the second place, on the ground of distinct faith, honour, and: consistency of principle on the part of the Imperial Parliament; thirdly, from the utter futility of the arguments used against this measure, which applied to a species of endowment wholly different from these re-serves; and, lastly, upon the ground, which; he urged, as a churchman, that the interest of the Church of England was involved—a and vitally involved—in the passing of this measure as rapidly as possible, as well even, he would add, as the retention of Canada as a British Colony—for these grave and weighty reasons he should certainly support the second reading of this Bill.
§ MR. A. MILLS
said, that as knowing something of the feelings of the Canadian people, he was anxious to bear testimony to what public opinion in the Colony was on this subject. He entirely concurred in the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of the Board of Works (Sir W. Molesworth), who had told the House that the great principle of self-government as regarded our Colonies, ought to be preserved; but the question in the present instance seemed to him to be, not whether the principle of local self-government should be recognised, but whether it was the affair of the mother country to decide how this property should be dealt with. He was prepared to con-tend that it came under this category, and that it was one of those local matters' about which the English Parliament had 1137 a right to interfere. Suppose the Canadian Legislature should pass—as it was conceivable they might do—a resolution for dismantling the fortifications of Quebec, which had cost this country 2,000,000l., and for giving them up to the peace party to be converted into tea-gardens; or that they had come to the determination of sending the 6,000 troops now in Canada to hunt fugitive slaves in Pennsylvania or Ohio—the Imperial Parliament would, as a matter of course, interfere in those cases; there must, therefore, he a point beyond which the principle of self-government could not he carried. So long as the Colony was not an independent principality, so long some sort of control should be reserved to the British Parliament; and this was just one of the questions which ought to be so reserved. The property which they were then discussing was property won at the cost of British blood and treasure, and it was property for which they were now paying a sort of ground-rent in annual allowances to the Indian tribes. It was property which had been set apart for religious purposes, and which ought to be held sacred; and they ought not so far to forfeit the faith of the British Parliament, as to withdraw it from those purposes, or (which was the same thing) to give the disposal of it to the Canadian Legislature. He spoke from very good authority when he said that, as a body, the Earl of Elgin's government were pledged to their constituents for the secularisation of the clergy reserves, and therefore there was very little reason to believe that the religious principle would be respected; but, on the contrary, it was clear that the property would be used either for saving the money of the Canadians in making provision for education, or it would be appropriated for building of steamers, making of railways, or any State purpose. It was important to consider in what sense the Act of 1840 was regarded in Canada. He found in the Report of the Select Committee on Clergy Reserves, printed by order of the Legislative Assembly, 1846, the following passage:—We find with regret, from the numerous petitions laid before the House, that the long-agitated question of the clergy reserves has again become a subject of discussion in this province. The excitement which so unhappily existed on this subject for many years, and which produced such disastrous consequences to the peace and prosperity of the province, was at length set at rest by the Imperial Statute, 3 & 4 Vict. cap. 78.Again, in the speech of the Hon, Robert 1138 Baldwin, late Attorney General for Upper Canada, this passage occurred:—Mark my words, if the question be reopened, former fierce agitations will be resumed. So much do I dread the renewal of agitation, that I have in every instance, and in toto, discountenanced such a course, and I therefore press on both sides of the House to forbear reviving the question.And the Hon. Harvey Price and the Hon. Malcolm Cameron expressed themselves to the same effect. The question of these reserved lands had been reopened as a source of political capital in Canada. He was convinced that this agitation had not been got up from any sense of injustice on the part of the colonists, but because political adventurers adopted this mode of rousing excitement among the people. He believed it to be of infinite importance not to allow religion to rest in any new country upon the voluntary principle. He believed the voluntary principle in the United States had been a failure, for he had found in many parts of the Union, particularly where the population were most scattered, the grossest ignorance of the cardinal and elementary truths of Christianity. He should deeply regret to see a British Colony sentenced to the voluntary principle by a vote of the British Parliament. The right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Molesworth) had said that it was to the expulsion of the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) from office that we owed the preservation of the North American colonics; hut he warned the present Government that it was possible, if we lost those Colonies, that the loss might be owing to the feeling of the colonists that by this measure we had forfeited the pledges made to them by the Imperial Parliament.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I understood my hon. Friend who has just sat down to say that he was tempted to rise in this House on the present occasion, partly because he desired to bear his testimony to the sentiments of the people of Canada on this most important question; and after this statement he proceeded to inform the House that topics of this kind were regarded in that country as political capital; that they were traded upon by intriguers; that any wishes that were expressed to the House on this subject were to be regarded as the indication only of a momentary excitement; and that the substantial sense of the people of Canada was to he considered as something entirely distinct from those wishes so expressed. I cannot conceive a higher au- 1139 thority on a question of personal testimony than my hon. Friend; but I protest for myself, and I presume to warn the House, against passing by the constitutional organs of public opinion in Canada, in order to trust to the vague reports which travellers, in their passage through that country, collect. Amongst the many advantages of establishing free government in the Colonies, not the least in my opinion is this, that when your Colonies are not endowed with that blessing, it is almost impossible even for the best intentioned Minister to ascertain by the use of the utmost diligence, what are the real sentiments of the people of a Colony of whose affairs he is in charge. But when you place the suffrage in the hands of that population—when you entrust them with the privilege of choosing representatives—when those representatives meet in the exercise of the privilege of free discussion, in which we ourselves place our glory—then, at least, we think it a safe and a sound principle of action that the deliberate expression of those representatives is to be taken as conclusive evidence of the sense of the colonial population. And when you adopt a different principle; when you are content to gather shreds and rags of evidence which have been collected, perhaps with the best intentions, perhaps with great individual intelligence—when you place these in competition with the deliberate judgment expressed to you by the Legislatures which you yourselves have created, and invested with the authority and responsibility of legislation, then, I say, you strike a deadly blow at the principle of free government; and you had better never establish free institutions in your Colonies, than, after you have established those institutions, after you have placed in the hands of the people the power to vindicate their privileges, deny to them the fair exercise of those very privileges which you have given them. Well, what are the facts of this case as they stand before the House? An Address of the Assembly of Canada, conjoined with an Address of the Legislative Council, and echoing the terms of an Address of similar effect presented by the Legislative Assembly that immediately preceded the present one, prays you to repeal the Act of 1840, which imposes an absolute restraint upon the Canadian Legislature with respect to the disposal of the clergy reserves. They pray you to repeal that Act which excludes them from any share in the disposal of 1140 those reserves. To that prayer Her Majesty's Government urge the House to accede, and they are met by the late Secretary for the Colonies, my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) with a Motion which he says goes to the rejection of the Bill now before the House. To what does the proposal of my right hon. Friend amount? It amounts to this: that, in regard to that vital question, you shall now bind down the people of Canada to a total exclusion from all share and all discretion with respect to the disposal of these lands. When in 1791—sixty-two years ago—at a time when those who are now a powerful and thriving community were but a few scattered settlers—even then, in the infancy of their political existence, your forefathers—wiser, I think, than those who now advise us—committed the initiative and the power of legislation, without any other control than the veto of the British Parliament, to the Canadian Colonies—is it to be expected, then, that at this period this House will consent to act upon such a doctrine, and to lay down the principle that the liberties granted to two or three villages in 1791, shall not be granted to cities that count their scores of thousands—to a population approaching 2,000,000, and that in the middle of the present century? Well, now, what are the objections made to the Bill before the House? They turn merely upon the apprehension that the power which we are about to give, will be, as they think, misused. And the ground, on the other hand, on which this Bill is recommended is this, that you have no right to base your judgment upon the opinions you may happen to entertain upon that point. The question is really not about the use that shall be made of the power, but about the hands in which, if right, it should be lodged. Is this a local question, or is it not? Upon that your vote should turn. If you can show that this fairly belongs to the category of subjects of Imperial interest, of subjects which are for Imperial consideration, and that it is therefore necessary for the House to retain the control over it in our hands, then I grant this Bill should be rejected. But now, I will not say what proof, but what shadow of evidence or argument, has been alleged to take this question out of the category of local questions? Was it no evidence of its being a local question that in 1791 Mr. Pitt left it to the Canadian Legislature to legislate with regard to it? Do the people of Canada 1141 believe it to be a local question? If they do not, how comes it that, time after time, Session after Session—I speak now of periods antecedent to the settlement, as it was hoped it would be, of 1840—one Assembly after another sent home Acts of the Legislature, aiming, so far as it was in their power, to obtain the disposal of the clergy reserves? Why, is there any man in this House who can fairly say there is an Imperial interest involved in the maintenance of the clergy reserve lands in Canada? You will say, perhaps, that the public faith has been pledged. Well; but is that an Imperial interest? I want to know, is there any Imperial interest involved, and, so far at least, to disembarrass the question. I do not speak of public faith; because we are now considering whether this question is a local subject of inquiry or not. Well, Sir, I say that it is a local question. It is a local question whether or not these reserved hinds ought to be used in one way, or whether they ought to be used in another way. Surely it is the Canadian who alone ought to decide this question—it is not one who sits in this House, or the people inhabiting this country, who can claim the settlement of it. Sir, I want to know whence these lands derive their value? Was it from our skill, or from our labour, or from our capital? Have we then the right to treat these lands as if they were our own, or as if they were mere abstractions which we had sent out to Canada; and as if, without the agency of Canada herself, they were available for purposes of endowment? No, they were originally in a state of natural wildness; it is the Canadian who has cultivated them, and it is his industry and skill which has given them value. And is it seriously believed to be possible that this property so created by Canada, except as far as regards the crude material which the Almighty gave—is it to be believed that a community of political freemen, endowed with political privileges, will consent that any body of Gentlemen, even although those Gentlemen bear the proud title of the British Parliament, shall thus dispose of that which in truth and justice belongs to them? Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) who commenced this debate, urged the argument that the present Bill does not satisfy the principle of self-government. And why not? Because it provides for the vested interests of the present incumbents. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman is totally mistaken 1142 in that respect. The Bill, it is true, does provide for the vested interests of the present incumbents, but in so doing it precisely fulfils the conditions of the Canadian Legislature itself. If the right hon. Gentleman will take the trouble to turn to the Address of the Canadian Legislature of July 1850, he will there find the following words:—The most liberal and equitable mode of settling this question would be for Parliament to pass an Act, enacting that the stipends hitherto given to the clergy of the Church of England and of the Church of Scotland, or of any other denomination, to whom the faith of the Crown is pledged, shall be secured for the natural lives or incumbencies of the parties receiving the same.Now that was the Address presented by the Canadian Legislature, and the recommendation which it contained forms the framework of the present Bill. I perfectly agree that the public faith is pledged to the maintenance of the rights of those parties; and I, for one, and I believe I may add all my Colleagues, would have resisted any proposal to depart from the obligations imposed by that public faith. The principle upon which the Bill is framed corresponds with the principles stated in the Address from Canada, and therefore, Sir, the argument is disposed of, that this Bill does not satisfy the principle of self-government. I think that the right hon. Gentleman did not clearly indicate—I will not say that he concealed, for I have no right to say so—but the effect of his speech was to conceal from the House the true standing of this question at the present moment. I heard the right hon. Gentleman say, unless I am greatly mistaken, that the object of the Act which it is now proposed to repeal, was to secure a provision for the maintenance and support of the Protestant religion. Now, is the clergy reserve fund—for it is material that this should be understood—is it, or is it not, restrained or limited to the support and maintenance of the Protestant religion? For there are a great many Gentlemen in this House who, but a few days ago, came here in great numbers, prompted, no doubt, by conscientious feelings, to vote for the withdrawal of the grant to Maynooth, on the ground that it was incompatible with their conscientious belief to support any endowment for the support of the Roman Catholic religion. Unwilling as I am, Sir, to disturb any Gentleman in the enjoyment of that repose which nature requires, I am still desirous of attracting the attention of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire 1143 (Mr. Spooner), who, I am certain, is prepared on this occasion to give a conscientious vote, and it is material that he should understand the nature and effect of the law of 1840, in regard to the Protestant religion. Sir, it is most important, if you are thinking of entering upon a struggle with the people of Canada, that you should consider well whether your case against them is valid and complete, whether you can show that you are contending for a principle, and whether that principle he one which you have steadily and consistently maintained. Sir, I want to know what that principle is. I think that the House will gather from the speech of the right hon. mover of the Amendment that that principle was the maintenance of the Protestant religion. Well, let us examine into that statement. It is perfectly true that the object of the Act passed in 1791 was, in strictness, the maintenance of the Protestant religion. There is a vexed and disputed question as to the meaning of the terms "Protestant clergy," to whose support the proceeds of those lands were by that Act to be devoted, and much discussion has been expended on the signification of those terms. Some have contended, and I admit with great colour of reason, that they were intended to be limited strictly to the clergy of the Church of England. Others have asserted that the words were capable of being expanded a little beyond that definition, but maintained that they could only include the other class of the established clergy known in this country under the name of the Church of Scotland. Others again believe—and I confess that I rather incline to this last opinion—that Mr. Pitt, Lord Grenville, and the Legislature intended that there should be included in the words, "the ministers of other Protestant denominations." But, at all events, this much is clear, that the object of the Act of 1791 was strictly a Protestant object and purpose, and no person, or body of persons, could derive any benefit under that Act except those who, in one form or another, professed the Protestant religion. But let me tell the hon. Member for North Warwickshire that in the year 1840 you chose to change the nature of the Act; you dropped the word "Protestant." I believe the word is not found in that Statute from one end to the other. At all events, what you did was this. With respect to the great bulk of the lands unsold, you proposed that they should be divided into 1144 six parts. Two of these were to belong to the Church of England, one to the Church of Scotland, and the other three were to be appropriated for purposes of "public worship and religious instruction in Canada." The Bill of 1840 proceeds on the principle of equality, and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) knows that; for in one of his despatches he has alleged that the Bill of 1840 is founded on the same principles as the one which, at the time the despatch was written, had just come home to receive the Royal As-sent, and which he knows divided the proceeds of the reserved lands amongst the different ministers simply according to the numerical fractions of the population. Be it remembered, then, that in principle the Bill of 1840, which you desire to refuse leave to repeal, is not a Bill for the maintenance of the Protestant religion. It is a Bill for the application of certain lands for purposes of public worship and religious instruction in Canada, but without any limitation as to one Church or another. And while these were the provisions of the Bill, while it was evidently within the spirit and scope of the Bill that the lands should not be withheld or kept back from the Roman Catholics, it will be found that the operation of the Bill gave full effect to those provisions. If the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) will examine the returns, he will see that considerable sums have been given to the Roman Catholics out of these lands; and if you put aside the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, more has been given to the Roman Catholics than to all the other denominations put together. A strange system, indeed, this, for maintaining the Protestant religion! I will leave it to the hon. Member how far he can feel himself bound in conscience to maintain a Bill, which the Bill of 1840 is, for endowing the Roman Catholic Church in Canada. For me, it is right that I should point out that you cannot take your stand in the face of the people of Canada, and say, "Here is an endowment made by the piety of our forefathers, and we cannot touch it." Why, Sir, you have touched it. You have altered its character, and you ought to have bethought yourselves sooner if you meant to stop short and to withhold the final disposition of it from those who have in it the greatest, and, as I should say, the only interest. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich, in a remark- 1145 able portion of his speech, referred to the United States, and he read a most interesting letter from a man whom he described as of the greatest intelligence, and from the tenor of the letter I think there is every reason for agreeing in that opinion. In that letter it was stated that the reserve lands, had they been instead of British Colonies, States of the American Union, would have been placed beyond the power of any Legislature to touch; that by an article of the federal Constitution they would have been placed under the protection of the Supreme Court, and that that would have overriden the jurisdiction of the State Legislature if any attempt should be made at confiscating them. Sir, I greatly respect the foresight of those American statesmen who made such strict provisions for the maintenance of the public faith, and I greatly respect the self-command and the self-control of the people of those States which has made the execution of those provisions practicable. It will be well for the British colonists, whether they continue colonies, or whenever the natural term of their independence shall have arrived, if they are equally strict and equally punctilious in their observance of the principles of public faith. But let us not strain the example too far. The case of an estate bestowed upon a particular body is not analogous to that of a public-fund levied from wild and uncultivated lands; and dues the right hon. Gentleman suppose that there are no analogous instances in the history of the United States to that at present before us? In the State of Massachussets there was at one time a law under which it was compulsory on every man to give something to a religious establishment, while a free choice was left as to what that establishment should be. But that law has been swept away, and the Supreme Court does not interfere. Again, before the Revolution the clergy of Virginia were endowed with a maintenance strictly analogous to that existing in this country, not with bushels of wheat or corn, but with so much tobacco, and a very handsome maintenance I believe it was; but that endowment has been swept away, showing that the constitution, however strict, and laudably strict it may he with regard to the maintenance of the public faith, does not resign all control and regulation of the public funds levied from the entire country, and appropriated to these purposes by an Act 1146 of the Legislature, But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich, I must say, appears to me, of all others, to be one of the least favourably situated for recommending the rejection of this Bill. If there is any man who has made the maintenance of the present law impossible, that man is the right hon. Gentleman. It is most important that the House should bear in mind the ground taken by the right hon. Gentleman, when in April last he rejected the petition from Canada on this subject. He said that his words were words of peace and conciliation, and no doubt they were so intended; but words of peace and conciliation are not everything, and it is the habit of these colonists to look to deeds rather than to words. There was but one plausible or colourable ground upon which you could have resisted this demand. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted the example of the United States, and has spoken of the doctrine of contract; but is he entitled to quote that doctrine who tells you that it is in the power and that it is the duty of the State to step in and take away and redistribute these reserves from time to time? I ask him if the Supreme Court would not prevent that alienation of the reserves, and that withdrawal of them from one body to give them to another. I do not say that the argument would have been tenable; hut it might have been plausibly said that this was not a national endowment at all, but a limited fund, which, having once been given, whether wisely or unwisely, was a thing past and gone, and that the question could not again be reopened. But the right hon. Gentleman did not adopt any such ground. On the contrary, he expressly disclaimed it, and said that the Government might think it desirable, for various reasons, that a redistribution should, from time to time, be made:—Her Majesty's Government think it may possibly be desirable, on account of the changes which may be effected in the character of the population, through extensive immigration or other causes, that the distribution in question should from time to time be reconsidered.And then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say—"Any proposals of such a nature Her Majesty's Government would be willing to entertain." Were these words of peace and conciliation? Canada said—"We ask the disposal of our reserve lands;" the Secretary of State replied—"No doubt they cannot be regarded as a fixed endowment; the ques- 1147 tion must be an open one; it must be reconsidered from time to time, according to the changes in circumstances; but you are totally unfit for the discharge of the function; you have opinions prevalent among you of which we disapprove. But I come to you with language of peace and conciliation, and I assure you that if you will submit your proposals to Her Majesty's Government they will he willing to entertain them." Way, Sir, a more flagrant violation of every principle upon which colonial freedom is founded I never heard of. Therefore it is perfectly plain that nobody can assert that the present law can be maintained on the ground that the question is finally disposed of; and if there be any reference to the question of public faith, as extending beyond the lives of the present incumbents, it is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich to whom I shall entrust the defence of that portion of the measure of the Government, because if the public faith was pledged to anything it was not to an abstraction. As to the maintenance and further extension of religious education, that is not a question of public faith; it is a question of public policy. I must say that I think there was great force in what fell with great simplicity from my hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley). He said, "I do not intend to support the maintenance of the present law on the ground of impossibility." I think, Sir, there is considerable force in that language. I think, Sir, impossibility is a very valid and material reason. It is, I conceive, a topic of some weight, and I would seriously commend it to the consideration of hon. Gentlemen before they commence a conflict without knowing where and in what it is to terminate. For, Sir, if there is one thing more necessary than another for the maintenance of the dignity of the British Parliament, it is that we should not play over again the game of the American war. Do not let us commence any conflict or controversy with the colonists unless we feel convinced that our arguments are sufficient, not only to be produced once or twice in a debate, but to stand the brunt of a sterner controversy, when it comes to mingle with more serious difficulties out of doors, and to agitate the minds of a whole community indignantly demanding their rights. Do not let us commence a controversy in which we shall go in like a lion and come out like a lamb. Consider whether you are 1148 prepared to repeat those arguments from year to year—consider the principle on which you will found arguments which you will have to present to the inflamed minds of the people of Canada, scrutinising what you say at the bar of reason and of feeling—consider how you will reconcile it, not with a feeble demand alone, but with your own acts. If, indeed, you are under a sacred obligation to maintain the appropriation of this fund for the purpose of religious education, I ask you for the title-deeds of that appropriation; and you will be obliged to own that the appropriation was made in 1791 for the encouragement of the Protestant religion, but that in 1840 you essentially altered that appropriation; and having taken that privilege into your own hands with respect to the Canadian question, you are now going to deny the Canadians themselves the power which you thought yourselves entitled to exercise on their behalf. I must say as a member of the Church of England, and I hope not indifferent to her welfare, that there is one portion of the speeches which have been made on the other side with which I heartily agree. I cordially agree with those who say, that whatever the voluntary principle may be (and certainly its performances, in my opinion, have not been generally encouraging), it is miserably ill adapted to the circumstances of Canada. I earnestly desire the passing of this Bill. I can conceive nothing more detrimental to the Church of England than that she should be found engaging in a struggle perfectly hopeless, and in my deep conviction as entirely devoid of justice as of any prospect of success. My right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of the Office of Works takes a desponding view of the state of public opinion in America with regard to religious endowments, and as it is I am afraid there is too much foundation for what he says; but I hope that we may reasonably indulge in some expectations that these endowments would not be removed from the purposes to which they are applied; yet I say, if you want to render that alienation certain, a catastrophe which I should deplore as much as you would do—if you want to render that confiscation certain, then reject this Bill. If you want to make the position of the Church of England, which is now honourable, both weak and odious, then combine the maintenance of her claims with the denial of the principle of colonial freedom. Sir, I defy any person to devise 1149 a more bitter and pernicious gift than you would confer upon your Church by offering her a support like that, and by mixing up with it a cause which is now, I trust, damaged and discredited for ever, the cause of resistance to the rights and privileges of your fellow-subjects in a distant land. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) was pleased to-night to assail a right rev. Prelate for his language in another place, because he said he lamented the plausible fallacy he had urged in support of this Bill. I must confess, in the first place, that it is a questionable practice for hon. Gentlemen to amuse themselves in this House by introducing matters of debate from the other. My own humble opinion is, that we have quite enough to discuss amongst ourselves. There may be cases, certainly, that call for such a thing; but I was astonished to find that the right hon. Gentleman should have really thought himself entirely warranted in describing with so much coolness as a plausible fallacy what other hearers of that Prelate have described to me as not amongst the least brilliant orations ever delivered by one who is certainly one of the first public speakers of the day. But I do not want to dwell upon the merits of his public speaking—I only want to dwell on the merits of his speech; and I say I am glad that a bishop of the Church of England, in his strength of mind, and his keen sense of justice, has the courage to defend what he thinks is right, and to come forward and declare himself the supporter of a Bill like this, notwithstanding the obloquy which, especially amongst those of his profession, may attach to such conduct. I believe that right rev. Prelate judged well and wisely in the support he gave to this Bill. I believe, if it should chance that you were able to give effect to your opposition to this measure, the remnant of property that you ask to preserve would be too dearly—ten times too clearly purchased by the odium and hatred you would bring upon the religious body whose champions you profess—and I do not doubt desire—to be. But to enter upon such a struggle as that without the hope of success—without, I believe, an idea in the minds of any one who has considered the subject how this battle is to be fought, year after year, and Session after Session, or how you can hope to succeed in the end with such facts disclosed as to the justice of your ease and the intelligibility of your principles as those which the history of this question presents, 1150 passes, I must confess, my comprehension. In thus adverting to the probable course and issue of this conflict, did he mean to say he thought it would be unfavourable because the people of Canada were violent, headstrong, and rebellious? I lamented nothing more in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich than one part, in which I heard him say that he appealed to one part of the population of Canada. It is high time to have done appealing to one part of the people. We know of old the meaning of these words—we know from disastrous experience their effects—we know that the effect of them was to create knots and cliques of intriguers, who put upon themselves the profession of British supporters, who denied the name of loyalists to all who would not adopt their shibboleth, and caused a strong reaction in the minds of the colonial population; so that, if under that system of government you would look to govern the people of Canada, you must expect the spread, if not of disloyalty, yet of dissatisfaction and dissent; and that pervading the great mass of the community there will be a current of public opinion throughout the Colony, if not contrary to, yet distinct from, the current of British feeling. It is my opinion that for that tremendous evil the mistakes of this country, the mistakes of Government, the mistakes of Parliament, are in the main responsible. It has been the error of recent times to degenerate in this respect from—I will not say in this instance from the piety, but at any rate the wisdom and prudence of those who preceded us, and who have left to our colonial fellow-subjects the undivided and uncontrolled management of their local affairs. I heard with surprise the observations of my hon. Friend and Colleague the other night, and I cannot sympathise with him in his fears that those endowments will be touched; for my firm hope is that if you pass this Bill those endowments will be maintained. [Laughter.] Do you think there is wisdom in that laugh? Do you think the chance of their being maintained is increased by ridiculing the very idea that the Canadian Parliament may be disposed to maintain them? For my part, I must say that I happen to know, from the opinions of persons in Canada entitled to the greatest weight—of persons whose judgment and opportunities of forming judgment are excellent, and whose powers of mind give the greatest value to their conclusions, that they do believe that those 1151 endowments will be respected. I may be wrong; but I sincerely believe that your concession to the people of Canada in this vital matter, by giving them the power of dealing with their own affairs, accompanied with the respectful expression of British feeling in favour of the maintenance of those endowments, without pretence to authority, but simply as being the unrestrained expressions of your feelings, will, at all events, afford the best chance of securing them. My hon. Friend thinks it worth while to refer to the fact that the State of New York has maintained an endowment that existed before the Revolution, and I want to know how that result was brought about in the State of New York. Was it by an Imperial Act binding down the colonial legislature—tying their hands, and forbidding them to intermeddle—that the endowments in New York were maintained? Was it by generating such a state of feeling and of public opinion as to make the maintenance of the endowment impossible? No; but by leaving the people of New York uncontrolled freedom in the management of that endowment. It was not by taking it out of their hands, but, having given them free institutions, by reposing a generous confidence in the working of those institutions, and letting them go to their result. I speak of the general state of New York before the unhappy period of the war; but it was, for the reason I have stated, that there grew up amongst them such a manly tone of independence—such a strong feeling belonging to freemen—such a keen sense of public right—such a delicate sense of public honour, that those endowments were maintained. And if similar rights are not respected in Canada, as has been said, it will be in consequence of the errors of your policy, whereby you have mixed up with the maintenance of the endowments principles that are justly odious to the natives. It is not because they are Canadians that they shall have these privileges, but because it is not right, according to nature or justice, that you should take the management of their affairs into your hands. They are doing precisely what you would do if you were in their place. Were Canada England, and were England Canada, I do not believe there is one of you who will vote against this Bill who would not take the same attitude that has been taken by the Canadians. In such a case many of you, I believe, would be in the same attitude as the Canadians now assume. I think their intelligence, their 1152 wealth, their population, their power, and the judgment they have shown during a course of years in the regulation of their own affairs, entitle them to this privilege; and I think, that it having pleased the Almighty to interpose 3,000 miles of ocean between you and them—having drawn that broad line of distinction which showed His will—it is fitting that they, and not you, should take the management of their concerns, with which they are better acquainted than you possibly can be. I believe that to pass a Bill of this nature, entirely unshackling their Legislature, is the best course you can take to relieve the religious bodies from odium, to secure for them a place of honour and esteem amongst the public of that Colony, and to give them the best possible prospect of maintaining those endowments. I do not found mainly upon that consideration my recommendation of this Bill; but I chiefly found my argument for its adoption on the words of that venerable Prelate the Bishop of Quebec, who, writing to my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) respecting the existing state of the Colony, says, "Be just and fear not." Some persons have re-echoed the right rev. Prelate's words, and have said, "You should not do evil that good should come of it." No, Sir, but on the contrary, we shall not refrain from doing a thing that is in itself just and right, because we may fear that evil may come of it. By doing so we really take our stand upon the principle that we should "be just and fear not." The Canadians are entitled in justice to the management of their own affairs, and no apprehension of the use they may make of those privileges will warrant you in depriving them—I will almost venture to say defrauding them—of the exercise of their rights, and I recommend this Bill to the House because it is wise, politic, and prudent; but, above all, I emphatically recommend it because it is righteous and just.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had brought them back to the Act of 1791, and he (Mr. Napier) was prepared, in opposing the Bill, to take his stand upon that Act. He begged to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the language he had used in reference to this question in the year 1840, and called upon the House to consider the provisions of the Act of 1791, by the principles of which he admitted they were bound. When he referred to the Act of 1791 he found it stated there that the ob- 1153 ject was to provide a due and sufficient support and maintenance for the Protestant clergy in proportion to the increase of the population. In the year 1791 the Crown was the proprietor, and set apart certain lands for the use of the Church—a diocese was established and a bishop was appointed; but they were now told that it was not a perpetual grant from the Crown. He (Mr. Napier) affirmed that the Crown was pledged to the grant by every principle of duty, for it was the duty of the Crown to see that its grants were enjoyed by its grantees. Could the Crown, therefore, he asked, withdraw this grant without a breach of faith? The right hon. Gentleman said the question was, whether this was a matter of local concern or of Imperial concern, and that it was to be regulated by the Constitutional Act of 1791. Now by that Act the Imperial control was preserved over this property, and that control was continued by the Act of Union in 1840; and the noble Lord opposite, when Secretary for the Colonies, in reply to a question put by Sir Robert Peel, said that the ecclesiastical and Crown rights were to continue under the Imperial control. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) said that he would vote for the second reading of the Union Bill, because he was anxious to make a settlement of the question, and did not wish to leave the future settlement of the question of the Reserves to the Provincial Assembly. The present measure would violate the Acts of 1791 and 1840, because it would part with the Imperial control. The Crown was bound to defend its own grant, and it was the duty of Parliament to defend its own Acts; and he would ask if it was consistent with proper affection to our brethren to hand over this property to a party which desired to spoliate funds which had been consecrated to the object of maintaining the Protestant clergy and the Protestant religion? Another objection to the Bill was, that it was not only prospective but retrospective. If the Crown and the Parliament were no longer to have any control over this property, but allowed it to be vested in the Colonial Legislature, they would be assisting in the violation of an endowment made for religious purposes. This property belonged to "the United Church of England and Ireland, and the members thereof in the same province"—a body of loyal and highminded men; but by this measure 1154 encouragement would be given to the turbulent and the troublesome. The faith of Parliament and the honour of the Crown were pledged to the support of this endowment. How did the matter stand in point of duty and principle? He contended that it involved no principle of religious equality This property was the gift of the Crown to the Protestant clergy and the Protestant community. The grantee of the property in question was the Church, and the Church was essentially a corporation. He contended that the faith of Parliament and of the Crown was pledged to forbear from meddling with the clergy reserves in Canada. He was surprised on reading the remarks on this question which had fallen a few nights ago from a right rev. Prelate in another place, for whom he had great respect, because he bore a name dear to every Christian; but he was, at the same time, rejoiced to find that there was only one Bishop in the English Church who took the view of this matter entertained by that right rev. Prelate. The right rev. Prelate, in justification of the course he had thought it right to take on that occasion, said he was moved thereto by considerations of justice and none other. Fiat justitia, ruat caelum, said that right rev. Prelate, and he (Mr. Napier) was ready to adopt the sentiment. But what he understood by that was to do justice in point of principle—not to consider consequences, but to leave them to an overruling Providence; to ascertain what was right according to truth and principle, and having done that, to go on fearlessly as it regarded the result. He (Mr. Napier) believed that justice was not spoliation, and that when a grant was made on the faith that Parliament was pledged to maintain it, that pledge should be religiously observed.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
said, he did not wish at that late hour (past twelve o'clock) to occupy the attention of the House for more than a few minutes; but as the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Sir W. Moles-worth) had alluded to him in the course of his speech in connexion with the interruption which he had felt it his duty to offer to the right hon. Gentleman, he asked the permission of the House to meet his observations with a few words. The right hon. Gentleman had claimed the distinction of being "an ignorant Radical." Now, no one who knew the right hon. Gentleman could believe him to be "ignorant;" 1155 but that he was a "Radical" might be a matter of sincere congratulation to himself and to his constituents, whatever it might be to some others near him. The right hon. Gentleman, when he (Sir R. H. Inglis) took the liberty of interrupting him, said that he ought to have previously interrupted the right hon. Baronet the late Secretary of State for the Colonies, who had been guilty of an equal abuse of Parliamentary privilege by referring to a debate in the House of Lords. But he begged to say that there was a distinction between the case of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works and that of the right hon. Baronet the late Secretary of State, which was at least intelligible to him, and it was this—that whether the right hon. Baronet were right or wrong in making the allusion, it was an allusion which might have been made to a speech in Exeter Hall, because he merely said it had been delivered "elsewhere;" whereas the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works distinctly spoke of the other House of Parliament. He begged only to add one word more before he sat down, and that was, that to his mind it was plain that the Act of 1791 referred not to Protestantism generally, but to the Church of England in particular, in proof of which he quoted the words of the 38th section of the Act, which spoke of the erection of parsonages or rectories according to the Established Church of England.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 275; Noes 192: Majority 83.
|List of the AYES.|
|A'Court, C. H. W.||Brady, J.|
|Adair, H. E.||Brand, hon. H. B. W.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Bright, J.|
|Alcock, T.||Brocklehurst, J.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Brotherton, J.|
|Anson, hon. Gen.||Brown, W.|
|Anson, Visct.||Browne, V. A.|
|Atherton, W.||Bruce, Lord E.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Bruce, H. A.|
|Ball, J.||Bulkeley, Sir R. B.W.|
|Baring, H. B.||Byng, hon. G. H. C.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Cardwell, rt. hon. E.|
|Baring, hon. F.||Cavendish, hon. G. C.|
|Bass, M. T.||Cavendish, hon. G.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Chambers, M.|
|Bell, J.||Chambers, T.|
|Bellew, Capt.||Charteris, hon. F.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Cheetham, J.|
|Bethell, R.||Christy, S.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Clay, J.|
|Biggs, W.||Clay, Sir W.|
|Blackett, J. F. B.||Clifford, H. M.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Clinton, Lord R.|
|Bowyer, G.||Cobbett, J. M.|
|Cobden, R.||Hastie, A.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||Hastie, A.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Coffin, W.||Heathcote, G. H.|
|Cogan, W. H. F.||Henchy, D. O.|
|Collier, R. P.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Heneage, G. F.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Cowan, C.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Heywood, J.|
|Crook, J.||Hogg, Sir J. W.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Currie, R.||Hutchins, E. J.|
|Dalrymple, Visct.||Hutt, W.|
|Dashwood, Sir G. H.||Ingham, R.|
|Denison, J. E.||Jackson, W.|
|Dering, Sir E.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Keating, R.|
|Divett, E.||Kennedy, T.|
|Drumlanrig, Visct.||Kerrison, E. C.|
|Duff, G. S.||Kershaw, J.|
|Duff, J.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Duffy, C. G.||Kirk, W.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Duncan, G.||Laing, S.|
|Dunconibe, T.||Langton, H. G.|
|Dundas, G.||Lawley, hon. F. C.|
|Dundas, F.||Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Dunne, M.||Locke, J.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Lockbart, A. E.|
|Ellicc, E.||Lowe, R.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Lucas, F.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Luce, T.|
|Esmonde, J.||Mackie, J.|
|Evans, W.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||M'Cann, J.|
|Ewart, W.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Fagan, W.||M'Mahon, P.|
|Fergus, J.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Fitzgerald, J. D.||Marshall, W.|
|Fitzgerald, Sir J. F.||Martin, J.|
|Fitzgerald, W. R. S.||Massey, W. N.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Matheson, A.|
|Forster, M.||Matheson, Sir J.|
|Forster, C.||Maule, hon. Col.|
|Fortescue, C.||Meagher, T.|
|Fox, W. J.||Miall, E.|
|Freestun, Col.||Milligan, R.|
|French, F.||Mills, T.|
|Gardner, R.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Geach, C.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.||Moffatt, G.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Molesworth, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Goderich, Visct.||Monck, Visct.|
|Goodman, Sir G.||Moncreiff, J.|
|Goold, W.||Monsell, W.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Morris, D.|
|Gower, hon. F. L.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Mure, Col.|
|Greene, J.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Murrough, J. P.|
|Greville, Col. F.||Norreys, Lord|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||O'Brien, P.|
|Hadfield, G.||O'Connell, M.|
|Hall, Sir B.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Osborne, R.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Otway, A. J.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Paget, Lord G.||Smollett, A.|
|Palmerston, Visct,||Stafford, Marq. of|
|Patten, J. W.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Pechell, Sir G. B.||Stapleton, J.|
|Peel, Sir R.||Stirling, W.|
|Peel, F.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Pellatt, A.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Phillimore, J. G.||Sullivan, M.|
|Phillimore, R. J.||Swift, R.|
|Phinn, T.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Pigott, F.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Pilkington, J.||Thompson, G.|
|Pinney, W.||Thornely, T.|
|Pollard-Urquhart, W.||Tomline, G.|
|Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.||Towneley, C.|
|Portman, hon. W. H. B.||Traill, G.|
|Price, Sir R.||Tufnell, rt. hon. H.|
|Price, W. P.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||Vernon, G. E. H.|
|Ricardo, O.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Rich, H.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Wall, C. B.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Walter, J.|
|Sadleir, J.||Wells, W.|
|Sawle, C. B. G.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Scholefield, W.||Whitbread, S.|
|Scobell, Capt.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Scully, F.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Scully, V.||Williams, W.|
|Seymer, H. K.||Wilson, J.|
|Seymour, Lord||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Seymour, H. D.||Wise, J. A.|
|Shafto, R. D.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Shee, W.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Shelburne, Earl of||Wyndham, W.|
|Shelley, Sir J. V.||Wyvill, M.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Young, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Smith, J. A.||TELLERS.|
|Smith, J. B.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Berkeley, C. G.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Cairns, H. M.|
|Annesley, Earl of||Campbell, Sir A. I.|
|Arkwright, G.||Carnac, Sir J. R.|
|Bagge, W.||Cayley, E. S.|
|Bailey, Sir J.||Chelsea, Visct.|
|Bailey, C.||Child, S.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Cholmondeley, Lord H.|
|Ball, E.||Christopher, rt.hn. R.A.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Clive, R.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Bennet, P.||Coddrington, Sir W.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Compton, H. C.|
|Bentinck, G. P.||Cubitt, Ald.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Blair, Col.||Davison, R.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Deedes, W.|
|Boldero, Col.||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Booker, T. W.||Drax, J. S.W.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Du Cane, C.|
|Bremridge, R.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Brisco, M.||Duncombe, hon. O.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Duncombe, hon. W. E.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Buck, L. W.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Elmley, Visct.|
|Burghley, Lord||Fellowes, E.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Butt, G. M.||Follett, B. S.|
|Butt, I.||Forbes, W.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Col.||Neeld, J.|
|Forster, Sir G.||Newark, Visct.|
|Franklyn, G. W.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Fraser, Sir W. A.||Newport, Visct.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Galway, Visct.||North, Col.|
|Graham, Lord M. W.||Oakes, J. H. P.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Ossulston, Lord|
|Greenall, G.||Packe, C. W.|
|Grogan, E.||Pakenham, Capt.|
|Guernsey, Lord||Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Hale, R. B.||Palmer, R.|
|Hall, Col.||Parker, R. T.|
|Halsey, T. P.||Peel, Col.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Percy, hon. J. W.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Powlett, Lord W.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Prime, R.|
|Hanbury, hon. C. S. B.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Harcourt, Col.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Rolt, P.|
|Herbert, Sir T.||Rushout, Capt.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||Sandars, G.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Hume, W. F.||Seaham, Visct.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Irton, S.||Smijth, Sir W.|
|Johnstone, J.||Smith, Sir F.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Smith, W. M.|
|Jones, Capt.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Jones, D.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Spooner, R.|
|Kendall, N.||Stafford, A.|
|Ker, D. S.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|King, J. K.||Stanley, Lord|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Stuart, H.|
|Knight, F. W.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Knox, Col.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Langton, W. G.||Tudway, R. C.|
|Lascelles, hon. E.||Turner, C.|
|Laslett, W.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Lennox, Lord A. F.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Vance, J.|
|Lewisham, Visct.||Vane, Lord A.|
|Liddell, H. G.||Vansittart, G. H.|
|Lockhart, W.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Lovaine, Lord||Villiers, hon. F.|
|Lowther, hon. Col.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Lowther, Capt.||Vyvyan, Sir R. R.|
|MacGregor, J.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Malins, R.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Walcott, Adm.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|March, Earl of||Welby, Sir G. E.|
|Mare, C. J.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Masterman, J.||West, F. R.|
|Miles, W.||Whiteside, J.|
|Miller, T. J.||Whitmore, H.|
|Mills, A.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Michell, W.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Morgan, O.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Morgan, C. R.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Napier, rt. hon. J.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Neeld, J.||Mandeville, Visct.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2°, and committed for Friday next.