§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he begged to ask Mr. Speaker, whether that was the time for proceeding with the Amendment of which he had given notice?
§ MR. SPEAKER,
said, that the hon. Member could not bring forward his Amendment until all the clauses of which notice had been given were brought up.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he rose to call attention to the important changes proposed by this Bill. He alluded more particularly to the operation of the second clause, which would effect a very material change in the financial accounts of the kingdom. He brought this subject under notice, in the absence of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume). If he understood the clause correctly, it would alter the time for the production of the public accounts from the 5th of January to the l3th of June—a period when the Session was generally about to close, and when it would be impossible for hon. Members to consider them. If such a change should take place, he believed that a very 1028 serious difficulty would arise. He understood the hon. Secretary to the Treasury to say it was his intention to introduce certain words into the clause, with a view of modifying this provision; but he (Sir H. Willoughby) did not think that the words proposed by the hon. Gentleman would have the effect of remedying the evil to which he referred. if the clause were agreed to, the public accounts could not be audited and printed before the month of July, when it would be utterly impossible for hon. Members to consider them with a view to a financial discussion. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would either amend the clause or withdraw it, and bring in a new one.
§ MR. J. WILSON
said, he was afraid that the clause could not be amended. He believed it must either be adopted as it stood, or be altogether omitted. The object of the clause was to take powers to harmonise the annual accounts of the public revenue and expenditure regularly presented to Parliament with the Parliamentary financial year. The two were at present discrepant; the annual accounts representing one quarter of the preceding year with three quarters of the current year; whereas they ought to range over precisely the same period as the length of time for which the Estimates were prepared, and the Votes of that House taken.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he had intended at one time to move that the third reading of the Bill be deferred till that day six months; but he would not persist in that intention, hoping that, after the Bill had been read a third time, its details would be reconsidered and revised when the Amendments came to be discussed upon the question that the Bill do pass. He did not object to the general principle of the measure, if that principle were fairly carried out, with certain modifications in the schedules appended to the Bill; but he was sure the measure was not now in a shape in which it should be passed by that House and sent up to the House of Lords. He considered that the schedules had been drawn in a very careless and slovenly manner. He also considered that the Bill did not sufficiently guard and protect vested interests. It would, in particular, deal unfairly with persons who held offices during pleasure or good behaviour, and persons who were in receipt of superannuation allowances—all of whose cases were to be included in Schedule B, and left to depend for their 1029 incomes upon the annual Votes of that House. An instance of the partial operation of the Bill was, that the English law officers were excluded from it, but that all the Irish law officers were included in the schedule. The officers of the English Court of Chancery were not in the schedule at all, and the answer to that was, that they were paid entirely out of the suitors' fee fund. But they would find that all the fees in Ireland went into the Consolidated Fund, while those of the English courts did not contribute a farthing to it. The Judges of the English courts, the Lord Chancellor, and the Master of the Rolls, could regulate the fees just as they pleased for the purpose of paying salaries, and why, he asked, should the Irish courts not be placed in the same position? That was a gross and glaring injustice towards Ireland, which could only be perpetrated by reason of the defenceless and unprotected position of the sister country in that House. He strongly objected to placing the Irish law officers, as this Bill would do, under the thumb of the Treasury. He was not now advocating the cause of Gentlemen with whom he was connected, or for whom he had any favour or affection. Many of the Irish law officers were individuals who were his political (and as a necessary consequence in a country like Ireland) also his personal enemies; but he did not see why the salaries of law officers in Ireland should be made to rest upon so uncertain a tenure as this Bill proposed, and thus be exposed to the tender mercies of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams), or any other hon. Member who professed great friendship for Ireland; and he thought this especially invidious and unfair when the incomes of the English law officers were put beyond the reach of any such danger. He therefore hoped that this portion of the measure would be carefully reconsidered and amended.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he considered that the present measure was one of the very greatest importance, and the Government ought not to run the risk of losing it altogether, in order to afford some sort of protection to the Irish courts. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Evesham (Sir H. Willoughby) had urged as an argument against the measure, that much time would be taken up annually in examining the new Estimates; but he would refer him to the manner in which the Votes for all the great departments of the State were passed. They included hundreds of thousands of pounds, and he ventured to say the indi- 1030 vidual items of the salaries never gave any trouble to the House. He could also assure the hon. and learned Member for Cork County (Mr. V. Scully) that no one, he believed, in that House would wish to deprive Irish officers of their rights, and, when any case of personal claim was brought before them, they had always been willing to do justice. There was no necessity, therefore, for introducing those petty affairs, and making stipulations, with the object of securing to the Irish officers their salaries. He would also beg to tell the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) that if he should be successful in the Motion of which he had given notice, he might be the means of throwing out one of the most beneficial financial measures that had been proposed, and one which they might never again have the opportunity of passing. He hoped the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury would withdraw the clause, notice of the introduction of which had been given, and then, perhaps, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire would probably not press his Motion.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he thought his hon. Friend (Mr. Williams) was mistaken in supposing that the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire was at all contingent on the clause proposed to be introduced by his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury. As he understood the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire it was this, that if the House sanctioned the principle of taking sums from the Consolidated Fund and transferring them to the Votes, then he should bring on Ids Motion. If that was so, the clause of which his hon. Friend (Mr. Wilson) had given notice did not apply to that Motion. He agreed with the rest of the speech of his hon. Friend (Mr. Williams), and he thought his hon. Friend was right in saying that the House had always behaved with great justice and fairness to all persons who claimed to be holders for life of salaries. He did not remember a case where it was shown that there were good grounds for a person expecting a salary for life, in which the House interfered in an arbitrary or capricious manner to deprive him of it. There may have been such instances, and it might be necessary to introduce this clause, but it was not rendered necessary by the proneness of that House to deal with salaries for life in any but the fairest manner. The proposition of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, however, went on a 1031 very different principle. The Bill was based on the principle of getting accounts of all payments out of the revenue before the House; it was an important financial measure, and, though there might be difficulties in carrying it into operation, it had been much urged on the Government by hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, especially by the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams). His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (whose absence from indisposition he much deplored) had bestowed likewise great care and labour on the Bill. The Vote to Maynooth was a totally different question. It was a great question of State policy, whether the Vote for Maynooth should be brought forward in the yearly Estimates or placed on the Consolidated Fund. That was a question which had been brought before the House years ago by Sir Robert Peel, and after warm debates and great contests in that House and in the country, Parliament had deliberately sanctioned the grant, and declared that it should be placed on the Consolidated Fund, and not be made the subject of a yearly contest. If that decision was to be reversed, it should be done in the same way as the matter was dealt with by Sir Robert Peel; it should be done by a Bill, thus giving the country time to consider the matter, and the House the opportunity of debating the question on the several stages of the Bill, and of approving, if they thought fit, or rejecting it if they thought that those who agreed with Sir Robert Peel had come to a wise and right decision. For his part, he (Lord J. Russell) thought it was a right and wise decision, and he had supported Sir Robert Peel on that occasion, notwithstanding the great opposition that was made by the country against that proposition. He believed the decision was one of wise and sound policy, and ought not to be reversed. He would say more; if the decision then made should be reversed on the third reading of this Bill, it would be then the duty of the Government to withdraw this Bill. It was for the House to consider whether on the third reading of this Bill they would adopt a principle that was at variance with all they had done of late years, but for his part he begged to give notice to the hon. Gentleman that his Motion was one that might be fatal to the Bill.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, all the schedules in the Pill rested on the ground that the grants were all to stand on the same footing as regarded the Consolidated Fund. 1032 Therefore there was no reason whatever why, when the whole question was opened as to what charges should be made upon that fund, and what charges upon the Estimates, that they should not consider the propriety of restoring this Maynooth grant to the Estimates, where it had always been up to the period when the change was made by Sir Robert Peel. The argument of the noble Lord was, that, after great discussion and long deliberation, that grant had been fixed on the Consolidated Fund by Parliament; but the reasons assigned by Sir Robert Peel why it should be so charged had been disproved by the result. In 1845 the whole argument of Sir Robert Peel was, that while he fully admitted it would be carried against the wishes of the people of this country, he was satisfied he was right in carrying it, and he believed that the country would come round to his view. Sir Robert Peel had further argued that it would prevent perpetual discussion to place the grant on the Consolidated Fund. But was that object attained? Had a single year passed since then without long discussions on the subject? That object had, therefore, entirely failed; and it furnished, consequently, an additional reason why the grant should not continue on the Consolidated Fund, but be subject to annual revision of Parliament. The strongest reason of all, however, against its continuance on the Consolidated Fund was the fact that it had been placed there to stifle the voice of public opinion. He (Mr. Spooner) called upon those who were opposed to the grant to say whether it should remain upon the Consolidated Fund or not. He called upon the guardians of the public purse in that House, and who were jealous of the money taken from the people's pockets, to say whether this Vote should be taken away from the annual supervision of Parliament. How could they consistently refuse to aid in this object? He would also call upon the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to aid in this object. He said the Vote was right. Then why was he afraid of discussion? The more a subject was discussed the more right was made manifest; but the fact was, the noble Lord and his party were afraid of discussion. The right hon. Secretary at War had, on a former occasion, made use of an expression to him (Mr. Spooner) which was hardly courteous, but which he supposed was Parliamentary, as it was passed without reproof. When he (Mr. Spooner) objected to pay priests acting as chaplains for gaols, the right hon. Gentleman asked why he 1033 had so long tolerated their payment as Army chaplains, and said the reason why he did not attack that Vote was, that he did not dare to do so. That charge, as far as he (Mr. Spooner) was concerned, had no foundation. He had not known that the Roman Catholic chaplains with the Army were paid by specific Vote, and he now only knew that they were paid out of a grant for educational purposes in the Army. If he had known it, he would certainly have dared to bring the question before the House; and he certainly should dare it next Session. Under these circumstances, he retorted the taunt of the right hon. Gentleman, and told him that the Government would not dare submit the Maynooth grant to the opinion of the public, as expressed by their representatives in Parliament. He would tell him further, that if he did so, the Protestant feeling of the country being once roused, that grant would not stand for a moment. Referring to that part of the Vote for Maynooth left open by the late Sir Robert Peel for the repair of the buildings of Maynooth, he (Mr. Spooner) remembered well going out against it in a very small minority, when first it came before Parliament; but by dint of perseverance, aided by an awakened public opinion, which could not be misunderstood, he had the satisfaction of ultimately seeing that Vote abandoned. In like manner it was his conviction that, if the grant in question were unshackled by the Consolidated Fund, the Government Would be compelled, by public opinion, to abandon it also. Public opinion had, moreover, compelled the Government to advise the Crown to issue a Commission to inquire into the system of education at Maynooth. The Report of that Commission had been kept back; but that was another reason why, by excepting the grant from the consolidated Fund, the House would be in a position to meet the recommendations of that Commission, whatever they might be, in the matter. The hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) asked him (Mr. Spooner) to withdraw his Motion, and not to throw out a useful Bill; and the noble Lord proposed that he (Mr. Spooner) should move for leave to bring in a Bill on the subject. If he (Mr. Spooner) attempted to bring in a Bill, he would be met by hon. Gentlemen talking on Wednesdays till six o'clock at night. Indeed, he had heard of hon. Members in that house expressing their readiness to talk any number of hours that were wanted. That was the way he would be met if 1034 he brought in a Bill. One of the reasons Sir Robert Feel gave for the transfer of the grant from Parliament to the Consolidated Fund was, that a better education would be given, and a better set of priests obtained. The history of Ireland since that period, however, disproved that argument, and the records of the Election Committees of that House showed the opposite fact. Had the priests, he (Mr. Spooner) Would ask the House, ceased to be political agents? Had they ceased to exercise a pernicious power over the poor slaves of superstition? Were they better educated? No. The measure had failed in all these points; it was, therefore, useless. It had been adopted on unconstitutional grounds—it was unconstitutional in itself—and the result had shown that it was nothing more and nothing less than an attempt to muzzle public opinion. The hon. Member for Lambeth asked him (Mr. Spooner) not to throw out a useful measure; he (Mr. Spooner) could not be swayed in his course by any such argument. The Government had chosen to open up the whole question of the Consolidated Fund without any necessity; and in the discharge of his duty he (Mr. Spooner), be the result what it might, would press his Motion to a division. The Bill had been introduced on the 2nd of February; it had lain dormant until the 29th of May; it was delivered to Members on the 1st of June; and it was read a second time on the 2nd of June, between one and two o'clock in the morning. When was the opportunity for opposing it? Indeed, had it not been for the vigilance of his hon. Friend the Member for Evesham (Sir H. Willoughby), he (Mr. Spooner) should not have known the nature of the Bill, the Chancellor of the Exchequer having described it as one merely affecting certain fiscal regulations which were proposed to be made es regarded salaries. When the proper time came he (Mr. Spooner) would, therefore, move his Amendment, and take the sense of the House on it. The noble Lord would of course deal with the Bill as he chose. All he (Mr. Spooner) sought to establish was, that the Maynooth grant should be dealt with in the same manner as the other matters in the Schedule B, and that it should not form the exception to the principle of the Bill. This grant to Maynooth never ought to leave been removed from the Estimates, and he should take care that, if possible, before long it should be placed there again.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
said, the hon. Gentleman had urged as a pretence for making this proposition that religious disputes continued to take place, and certainly if the object had been to obviate religious discussion, that object had not been attained.
Bill read 3°.
§ MR. J. WILSON
then brought up a clause with reference to the period at which the financial accounts should be annually prepared, the object being to have the annual accounts made up on the 5th of January, instead of on the 5th of April, as had hitherto been the practice.
§ MR. HENLEY
had great doubt with respect to the way in which the proposed system would work, and begged to know if the period of making up the statistical accounts would be also changed?
§ MR. J. WILSON
replied, that there was no intention to make any alteration with respect to the shipping or trading accounts, and the only object in making the alteration with respect to the financial accounts was to make them correspond with the years to which they applied. The accounts would be published for the year after the 5th of January, and by that means they would have the whole of the information connected with the financial accounts at an earlier period than formerly. They would receive in January the information which previously was not made known until April.
Clause added to the Bill.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he would now move the Amendment of which he had given notice. Having already explained his views on this matter, he trusted the Secretary of the Treasury would adopt them. He suggested that the present rights of all holders of office should not be interfered with, and also that there should be no interference with the retired holders of office. There were holders of office who did not hold during life or good behaviour, whose interests would be seriously affected if their salaries were to come annually under the supervision of the House.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 15, after the word "shall," to insert the words "but without prejudice to the vested rights of any present holders of office under existing Acts of Parliament, charging their salaries upon the Consolidated Fund."
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."1036
§ MR. J. WILSON
said, he hoped his hon. and learned Friend would not persist in his Amendment, but would adopt the words which had been carefully drawn up for the purpose of accomplishing what he believed to be the feeling of the House—namely, that the existing holders of office should not be prejudiced by the Act. The only difference between his clause and the hon. and learned Member's was that the hon. and learned Member left out the words "during life or good behaviour."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. WILSON
then moved the following proviso:—That where the salary of any office holden for life, or during good behaviour, is fixed by or under any Act of Parliament, and charged on or payable out of the said Consolidated Fund, nothing herein contained shall, so long as the present holder of such office continues to hold the same, affect the charge en the said Consolidated Fund of the salary which at the time of the passing of this Act is payable in respect of such office.
§ Agreed to.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
then moved to leave out from Schedule B the words "salaries and allowances of officers, excepting Master of the Rolls."
§ MR. J. WILSON
said, it had been much argued whether the Masters of these courts were judicial officers or not. It was the principle of this Bill that the salaries of all judicial officers should be left charged on the Consolidated Fund. In consequence of the great difference of opinion whether Masters were judicial officers or not, they had recourse to very high legal authority, and they were advised that Masters of all the courts might be considered as judicial officers. He therefore proposed to make an exception in favour of the Masters of these courts as well as of the Masters in the Court of Chancery. The officers in the Court of Chancery in Ireland were paid out of the Consolidated Fund. Those in England were paid by fees. It was the intention of Government to pay the officers in England from the public Exchequer, but the existing officers, those who were now living, would of course be protected in the same way that this Bill protected the officers in Ireland. At present the officers in England were virtually paid from the Consolidated Fund, inasmuch as their salaries were charged on certain fees, and, if there was a deficiency, it was to be made up from the Consolidated Fund. When they had provided that the existing officers 1037 should in no way be prejudiced by the operation of this Bill, they had gone as far as any existing person could have a right to ask them, for surely it was within the scope of the Treasury and of that House to consider not only whether an office that fell vacant should be filled up at all, but, if filled up, what salary should be attached to it. Government thought that the whole of these establishments should annually be brought under the consideration of that House, in order that public opinion might from time to time be brought to harmonise with these establishments, and that the Executive Government of the day might, from the discussions which would take place, know how to deal with these appointments as they arose.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, the salaries of Masters in Chancery in England were 2,500l., and he wanted to know what was the amount of the salaries of masters in Chancery in Ireland?
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, that before the question was put, he wished to state his reasons for voting with the hon. and learned Member for Cork. He did not mean to discuss this as an Irish question. He despaired of making the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) understand the position in which the officers of the Irish courts of justice were placed by this Bill. He would not attempt it; but he hoped the House would understand that the Bill placed the Irish officers in this position different from the English. The Irish officers were to be dependent upon the annual Vote of that House, and the English officers were not. This was a plain and intelligible distinction. The fees of the courts of justice in England were retained by the courts of justice to pay the salaries of their officers; in Ireland the very same fees were paid into the Treasury. But they were told, that in future years the same principle would be applied to England. This increased his objection to the clause. The House must understand that they were about to pass a Vote infringing on the great constitutional principle of the independence of the courts of justice. The salaries of all the officials necessary for the administration of justice in every one of the courts was to be made dependent on the annual Vote of that House. They must remember that two parties must concur in such a Vote; the Treasury must propose it, and the House must pass it, The effect, therefore, of 1038 transferring to the Estimates the provision for the establishment necessary for the business of the court was to make the existence of the court depend, first, upon the fiat of the Treasury, and next upon the Vote of that House. This was a direct infringement of the good old constitutional principle that the courts of justice ought to be alike independent of the Crown and of popular control, and he earnestly implored of the House not to violate that principle of making all the officers of each court dependent on an annual grant.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the schedule."
§ The House divided:—Ayes138; Noes 111: Majority 27.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, his previous proposition had reference only to the Court of Chancery. His further proposition was somewhat different. The English law officers in the common-law courts were practically omitted from the schedule, and if it had been intended to deal with them in the same spirit a with Irish common-law officers the same words would have been used. It was no answer to tell him that the English law officers were paid out of fees; the plain fact was, they were not in the schedule, and he would move that all the law officers of all the Irish law courts be exempted. He would not trouble the House to go to a division.
Amendment proposed in Schedule (B), to leave out the words "Ditto of the Officers and Clerks of the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland."
§ MR. J. WILSON
asked the hon. Member to take the division upon the reference to the officers of the first court (Queen's Bench), on the understanding that that division would apply to all the other courts.
§ Mr. I. BUTT
said, he trusted that the hon. and learned Member for Cork would again take the opinion of the House upon this question. The proposal was now raised in its most objectionable form. The question they were now discussing was as to the officers of the Queen's Bench; that was the supreme court of criminal judicature. He appealed to the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, was it right to subject the whole ministerial staff of that high court to an annual revision by the Treasury and the House of Commons? Suppose the Court of Queen's 1039 Bench to make an unpopular decision. When the Estimate for the salaries of the officers came on, that decision would be canvassed in that House; nay, he was at liberty to put the case of that House refusing the Vote, and leaving the court without an officer to record its decisions. Upon what other principle, then, did they make the salaries of the Judges independent of Parliament, except that such consequences were possible? But did they really pay such a bad compliment to a Judge that they supposed he would be influenced by the fear of a hostile Vote restricting his own emoluments, and that he would not be influenced by the apprehension of one that would destroy the administration of justice in his court? If each court were to depend upon the will of the Government and of that House from year to year for the means of carrying on their business, that court could not be said to be independent of the Crown and the House of Commons. And they were applying the principle to the Court of Queen's Bench, the Court of all others that was called on to decide between the Crown and the people. This Court tried political libels and great constitutional questions. The times might come again when that Court would discharge those duties in the midst of excitement and agitation. Would it be fitting that at such times the salaries of all the officers of the Court should be the subject of annual discussion in that House—would it be fitting that it should depend upon the pleasure of the Treasury whether any provision at all should be made for them in the Estimates? Could such a court be independent either of the Crown or the House of Commons? He warned the House that it was a mockery to make the salaries of the Judges independent of the Estimates, if at the same time they left the whole machinery of the court dependent upon them. The true principle was to provide all that was necessary for the administration of justice in the courts of law, independent of the Crown or of the House of Commons. For these reasons he would vote for the Amendment, and he earnestly hoped, for the sake of a great constitutional principle, the result of the division would be different from the last.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he trusted the House would not be carried away by any extreme case being put. He could not think it reasonable to suppose, as had been done by the hon. and learned Mem- 1040 ber who had just spoken, that the House would by any vote deprive all the officers of a court of law of their salaries, although if it were found that excessive salaries of 2,000l. or 3,000l. were paid where 1,200l. or 1,000l. would be sufficient, then there might be good ground for interference.
§ MR. MALINS
said, he thought the enactments of the Bill went to enforce a principle that infringed the due administration of justice. The Government of the day was responsible for the appointment of the officers in question, as well as for the amount of their salaries, and if the Judges should find themselves without their staff the whole administration of Justice would fall to the ground. A great principle was at stake—whether those engaged in the administration of justice were to be subjected to the caprices of the House of Commons.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, the consequence of this Bill would be that they would have an annual debate upon every single point connected with it. If there was a part of the United Kingdom to which this principle ought not to be applied, it was Ireland—the very part to which it was now proposed to apply it.
Question put "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 100: Majority 2l.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, there were twso or three other Amendments that he had given notice of. The taxing officers in Ireland were included in the schedule; those in England were not.
§ MR. J. WILSON
said, before the hon. Member proceeded, he had an Amendment to move, which was, that the words "excepting the Masters" be inserted in the schedule after the words "Courts of Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer."
Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, there were some other Amendments upon which he did not wish to take the opinion of the House, but to which he thought attention ought to be directed. The taxing officers and their clerks in Ireland were to be put into the schedule, while those in England were not. Now, the taxing officers were at least as much judicial officers as the Masters in Chancery, they filled an equally important position, and therefore he would ask the Government to consent to omit them from the schedule. With regard to 1041 the police magistrates or Commissioners of Police, Dublin, there were very strong political reasons why these officers should not be left subject to the will of the Government of the day; and he apprehended, also, that there would be no difficulty in striking out from the schedule the Registrars of Judges (Ireland), who were peculiarly the officers of the Judges of the land. He trusted the hon. Secretary to the Treasury would not object to leave out the salaries of the taxing officers and their clerks.
Amendment proposed, in Schedule (B), to leave out the words "Salaries of Taxing Officers in Common Law Business, and of Clerks to ditto in Ireland."
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule," put, and agreed to.
§ MR. SPOONER
, then moved to add to Schedule B—The President, Vice President, and Students of Maynooth College, and the expenses of the Establishment enacted by 8 & 9 vict. c. 25.He said he did not mean to enter into the religious part of the question, but he wished it to be understood that his opinion on that point remained unchanged. At an earlier period of the evening he had stated his reuses why the charge for Maynooth College should be placed on the annual Estimates. They were now opening up the whole question of charges on the Consolidated Fund, and he could not conceive how the noble Lord could oppose placing a Vote on the annual Estimates which had formed part of those Estimates for forty years previous to 1845. It had been removed for reasons which had never been explained, and on grounds which were not only unsafe, but unconstitutional. He would appeal to those hon. Members who did not desire to shut out public opinion from bearing upon the votes of that House, to exempt no charge from the annual Estimates except these which related to judicial officers, or to cases in which contracts had been. The Vote for Maynooth did not come under either of these heads, and was not a grant which ought to be kept independent of the house and of the Crown. There could be no doubt on that point that it did not rest on any contract, for when Sir Robert Peel proposed it in 1845, he distinctly stated that it had not been introduced in consequence of any communication, deputation, or contract with the Roman Catholic authorities. It was altogether a free gift, given for the 1042 purpose of conciliating those who never had been, and never could be conciliated, and had entirely failed in its object. No honest Roman Catholic holding the views which the Roman Catholic clergy professed to hold, ever could be conciliated till they obtained what they were every clay more strenuously endeavouring to obtain—supremacy, instead of toleration. In that House they had heard those who had expressed their gratitude for the Bill of 1845 declare within the last twelve months that they never would be contented so long as the United Church of England and Ireland was established in the latter country. When he made that assertion on a former occasion, he was met with cheers, which clearly showed the determination of those who cheered to act, as he had supposed, in upholding the spiritual domination of the Pope. Unless the House stood firm in its Protestant principles, and, while maintaining them, told Roman Catholics that they must be content to be on a level with all other sects who did not agree with the Church of England, the Protestant spirit of the nation, which was daily growing stronger, would be raised to such a pitch that they would be compelled to do what they had better do at the present moment without such compulsion. They were not entitled to call on the Protestants of England to pay for the idolatry of the Church of Rome. He called on the House—the guardians of the public expenditure—to place the grant to Maynooth on such a footing as would enable them to exercise that control which was one of the duties intrusted to them. He called on all those who valued their Protestant liberties and their religious privileges, which their forefathers had fought to obtain, to stand firm to their duty, and to refuse to Maynooth a privilege which was accorded to no other sect. They were now taking several charges from off the Consolidated Fund, and as no reason had been shown why the charge for Maynooth should be made an exception, he called on the House to support him in seeking to place it on the Estimates, so as to bring it under their control and discussion annually. It was too late to say that by retaining it on the Consolidated Fund angry discussion would be prevented; had it prevented angry discussion? Peace would not be gained by stilling discussion and inquiry. The wound would canker until it broke out. He warned them of the danger they were incurring in seeking to continue to Maynooth 1043 a privilege not given to any other religious body. He had admired the noble Lord opposite for the manly spirit with which he had met the Papal aggression; but he could not understand how the noble Lord could reconcile it to his sense of what was right to allow the Vote to Maynooth to remain in its present state—a Vote which might be said to be the foundation of the aggression, and which had totally failed in the object which the statesman who proposed it professed to have in view. They had been told that the result of the grant would be a higher kind of education, more obedience, and a better class of priests. What reason had they to look for such results? Every fresh concession to the Roman Catholics but increased their demands. He would have them take their stand somewhere. He implored them not to yield up their constitutional principles to clamour, or in supporting Motions of bribery—if he might use the word—in the hope of conciliating their opponents. If such an impression got abroad it would be fatal to their character, to the influence which they ought to exercise in that House and elsewhere, and to that confidence without which no Government could exist. He again implored the House to yield to the public feeling on this great question; for of this he was sure, that a continued opposition to it would occasion one day a conflict which it was terrible to contemplate. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the grant be added to the Schedule.
seconded the Motion. Amendment proposed, at the end of the schedule, to add the words—The President, Vice President, and Students of Maynooth College, and the Expenses of the Establishment enacted by 8 & 9 Vict. c. 25.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he thought there was no excuse for refusing the Motion of his hon. Friend and Colleague, and he considered that the anxiety of the supporters of the grant to avoid discussion and to divide proved they had no case. All the other educational grants were made the subject of annual Estimates; that for Maynooth had no special claim to be differently treated. Those who opposed the Motion were trying to shelter themselves behind an Act of Parliament, and were seeking to escape the pressure of public opinion on the subject. Let the House consider how the case stood. From the date of the first grant in 1795 1044 till the Act of Union in 1800, the grant had always appeared in the Estimates. In 1799 it was refused by Parliament. By the Act of Union certain grants for pious and charitable purposes were guaranteed, and among these The average payment of about 7,0001. a year was held to be guaranteed to Maynooth for twenty-one years. The grant was not placed on the Consolidated Fund by Sir Robert Peel till 1845, but had been for twenty-four years previous to that year the subject of an annual Vote in that House, without guarantee of any kind. In proposing to place it on the Consolidated Fund, and to increase its amount, Sir Robert Peel stated that the object was to conciliate the Roman Catholics, especially the priesthood, and also to better the condition of the students at Maynooth, of which he gave a miserable picture. In his (Mr. Newdegate's) opinion the state of Maynooth was not what Sir Robert Peel had represented it to be. It happened that in 1845 Maynooth was visited by a traveller—Mr. Carus Wilson— and the following was the description he gave of it—After having heard so much of their poverty and wretchedness, we were all surprised with what we saw. The students are all dressed in black, with long black gaiters. Certainly some of them looked wretched, which is not to be wondered at, as they are mostly of the lowest orders. They are the whole year at Maynooth, with the exception of six weeks at Midsummer. We were told that the students had everything they wanted (indeed we went into the kitchen and saw the very best fare preparing), that they had as much beer to drink as they liked (we saw the brewery, a good-sized building, standing by itself), and as much to eat as they wished; and on Fridays the food is altered in quality (that is, fish instead of meat), though not in quantity, as they were not on that day restricted at all. This is rather singular, for surely a fasting does or ought to imply an abstinence. Then, as to the beds. Sir Robert Peel talked of 'three sleeping in a bed.' Now, our guide told us that he never knew of such a thing as even two sleeping in a bed all the time he had been there (twelve years); indeed, we saw the beds, which, though very good, were not large enough for two, much less three, and in addition to this, a priest told us that if such a thing was done it would be punished by expulsion. Surely the testimony of two on the spot may be taken, and almost proves that Ministers must have quoted from some suspicious authority. I believe that many who are in favour of the grant, if they went to the college and witnessed the mummery we did in the chapel, and really the seeming abundance and comfort of all in the college, would come to a different conclusion; but, in these days of lukewarm Protestantism, we are as much betrayed by the apathy of friends as the treachery of foes.That was the statement of Mr. Carus Wilson. He believed it to be true, and 1045 Sir Robert Peel's statement to have been from the first untenable. He should like to bring this to the proof. He held in his hand the Report made by the Maynooth Commissioners to that House in 1851. Be referred to it in support of the facts adduced by Mr. Carus Wilson, and because he wished to show that he was justified in the vote which he gave against the Act of 1845. That Report bore the signatures of the Duke of Leinster, Dr. Murray, and Sir William Somerville. In that Report, which had been made in 1851, it was stated that one of the questions which had been put to the President of the College by the Commissioners was, whether any improvements had been made in the public halls of the college for the better accommodation of the students? The President had replied to the effect that portions of the old buildings had undergone some slight alterations, but that he regretted to have to state that the new buildings were at the time unfit for habitation. He expected, however, that at the approach of the fine weather such progress would be made as to render them fit for the habitation of the students. The Commissioners then went on to say—We (having concluded the necessary inquiries) proceeded to inspect the halls, the refectory, the students' rooms, and the new buildings; after which we reassembled in the reception hall of the college, and reported, 'That, considering the want of sufficient furniture, and the absence of all provision for properly heating the new buildings, we are of opinion that it would not be desirable that the students' rooms should be inhabited during the present season. Much has been done in levelling and draining the grounds, thus rendering them more healthy and fit for the recreation of the students.'Now, he would show the state of health prevailing among the students of Maynooth in the year 1851—seven years after the grant to that college had been voted? In answer to a question which had been put to him by the Commissioners, the President had stated that there was only one case of serious illness in the college, and, with that exception, its inmates continued to enjoy perfect health. Thus, in 1851, 520 students of Maynooth were living in the old buildings of the college and under an unchanged dietary in the enjoyment of good health. It was impossible to reconcile these facts with the statement of their misery which had been made by Sir Robert Peel seven years before. It was also a very reasonable question to ask, what had become of the 30,000l. which had 1046 been voted by Parliament for the purpose of obtaining for the students of Maynooth that amount of increased and improved accommodation which it had been alleged by the supporters of the grant was absolutely necessary for their comfort? In the autumn of the year 1852, Sir Francis Head—the well-known author, an engineer officer, and a gentleman who, therefore, was perfectly capable of forming a correct estimate with respect to buildings—happened to travel in Ireland, and had written a narrative of his tour in that country. In that narrative Sir Francis Head gave a short description of the College of Maynooth, and he (Mr. Newdegate) would read a few passages from that portion of the work, in order to show the House the state of things which prevailed in that establishment. Sir Francis Head wrote to the following effect—The new college, at the distance of about 100 yards from the open end of the lawn on which I was standing with the vice president, and which, as I have stated, was bounded upon the other three sides by the residence of the professors and barrack-looking dormitories of the senior department—there appeared immediately before us the chaste, simple, and appropriate from of the new college; a plans, solid, handsome building of grey rubble limestone of the best description, with Gothic entrance gate, and windows of white chiselled limestone. From the builder, who fortunately happened to pass, and who for a few minutes joined us, I learned that the height of the tall slated roof, which is surmounted by four crosses of different sizes, is forty-five feet; the height of the tower at each extremity of the building, six and a half feet; the central cross, seventy-six feet; height of cross, four feet; length of front, 305 feet. The whole building, which is just completed, but which remains to be fitted and furnished, has cost 30,000l.—the total Parliamentary grant. Like the old college, it is composed of three sides of a hollow square, of which it is designed that the fourth shall form a chapel, with additional dormitories and halls. The builder told me that his estimate for the extra work was—
For the above, no Parliamentary provision has at present been made."
Cost of building a chapel and hall £20,000 Dormitories and halls 10,000 Total £30,000
He should now wish to call the attention of the House to the extent of the accommodation thus in course of preparation. Sir Francis Head, in continuation, wrote as follows—The new college was in front three stories high, of twenty-seven windows each, with an additional story in the tall slated roof. The arched central entrance gate was of oak, with massive black hinges. The whole of the three wings, as they at present stand, comprise 215 rooms for 1047 students, a library, seven lecture halls, a refectory, kitchen, and other accommodation; but the fixtures and furniture of the whole have yet to be provided.Now he should ask the House to consider the result to which such a state of things tended. The old College of Maynooth, so far as they had been informed by the last Report, which had been made in 1851, and which had been confirmed by a subsequent document in the year 1852, was the healthy habitation of 520 students. The new college, seven years after the grant to Maynooth had been made, had been built, but not a single chamber in that new building had, up to the end of that period, been occupied. The precedent which had been laid down in 1845 seemed to have led the priests of Maynooth to form the idea that that house would grant 30,000l. in addition to the original grant of 30,000l., in order to complete buildings not planned according to the design of the Legislature, but designed in accordance with the exaggerated notions of the undertaking which those priests had ventured to form, relying upon the disposition of the House of Commons to carry out their wishes. He would ask the House to look to the practical results of the state of things to which he had just been referring. The Legislature had made a grant of 30,000l. in. 1845, for the purposes of enlarging and improving the College of Maynooth, and yet up to the year 1852 no new accommodation for the students in that college had been afforded. But how stood the case with respect to the future? The old establishment afforded accommodation for 390 senior and 130 junior students, making a total of 520. In the new building there were rooms to the number of 215, for the accommodation of students; so that, if an additional grant were made by that House for the purpose of fitting up and furnishing the new building, there would be accommodation altogether in Maynooth for 735 students instead of 520, the number for which provision had been made in the 5th, 6th, and 7th clauses of the Act of 1845. Thus, from an absence of proper supervision, the bounty of that House had been employed to construct additions to Maynooth, which he had demonstrated were by no means necessary for the accommodation of the number of students for which it had been the intention of the Legislature to provide. He had shown the House that up to 1852, the period when they had received the latest evidence upon the 1048 subject, such had been the misappropriation of the grant to Maynooth, that it had been applied to the purposes of enlarging the establishment, not of effecting those improvements which the health and comfort of the students had been stated to require. He maintained, therefore, that he had made out an unanswerable case why Parliament should bring within its immediate cognisance for the future the annual payments devoted to the maintenance of that institution, for they had no security that any additional Vote would be more legitimately applied than the grant of 30,000l. which had been made for the improvement of the building at Maynooth in 1845. Let him not be told that that grant had answered the ends of those who were its advocates, upon the supposition that it would tend to conciliate the good-will of the Irish priests. Why, within a year of the time at which that very grant had been made, such was the state—he had almost said of insurrection, at all events of disturbance, which prevailed in Ireland —such the plunder, such the violation of property and of life, that the Government, by whom the grant had been proposed and carried, had been compelled to come down to that House in the next Session—that of 1846—and to ask for the enactment of a Coercion Act—a measure which at the time had been disapproved of by the noble Lord opposite, the President of the Council—but which, nevertheless, that noble Lord, when he came into power, dared not repeal. Could they forget the attempt at rebellion which was made in Ireland in the year 1848? Did the disturbances of that period, he would ask, afford evidence that they had succeeded in conciliating the good-will of the priesthood or the people of that country? Let hon. Members come down to a period two years later, and let them say what evidence of their having conciliated Rome by their act of spontaneous bounty was furnished by the Papal aggression, or by the reception which had been given to that aggression upon the part of the priests and Roman Catholics of Ireland? Had not Irishmen then risen to set the authority of the law at defiance? Had they not manifested a degree of allegiance to the Pope inconsistent with that which was clue from them to their Sovereign— and did they not at public meetings give the health of his Holiness before they thought it proper to propose that of their Queen? Was it possible to forget the language which had been used at the 1049 meetings which had been held in Ireland in the year 1851? Could they forget the defiance of the law which was then manifested throughout that country? And if they did not forget it—as they could not —how was it possible, he would ask, to believe that the grants which had been made to Maynooth had tended to promote that peace and tranquillity in Ireland which its advocates seemed to anticipate, or to hope that they were likely to witness such a result as the consequences of continuing beyond the control of the Legislature funds the application of which they were bound jealously to guard? It was his sincere belief that there was but one way to govern Ireland and Roman Catholics— in all matters, whether connected with educational grants or any other subject whatsoever—and that was to place them upon the footing of fellow subjects. Let Her Majesty's Ministers, therefore, proclaim— if they desired to rule Ireland in peace— that no difference should be permitted to exist, so far as the administration of the law was concerned, between members of any religions persuasion—be they Roman Catholics, Dissenters, or members of the Church of England. ["Hear, hear!"] It was by acting thus, and thus only, that they would command the respect of the people. It was not by giving away the money of the nation blindly, or by placing grants beyond their own control, so as to afford scope for their misappropriation, that respect was to be secured. They must seek for it by extending to the professors of all creeds the same measures of impartial justice, and by maintaining fearlessly the authority of the law. Hon. Gentlemen cheered when he spoke of equality. It was perfectly true that Roman Catholics themselves did render it impossible that they could be placed completely upon a level with their Protestant fellow countrymen. He regretted that such was the case. But he must say that no man who had marked the conduct of the priesthood of Ireland during the years 1850 and 1851—that no man who had watched their conduct since that period, and who was aware of the extent of the control which, by means of the confessional, they exercised—could fail to be of opinion that they wielded an authority adverse to the Constitution, which it was their desire to make supreme. Hon. Gentlemen, when they reviled the Protestant Constitution of this country—when they spoke lightly of the liberty which that Constitution conferred— 1050 when they dared to raise their voice against the authority of their lawful Sovereign, must form a strange idea indeed of the duties of a citizen if they expected that men, possessing common sense and ordinary feeling, would freely consent to arm them with a power to overthrow all that the people of England held most dear. He, for one, lamented that there existed any necessity for imposing restrictions upon our Catholic fellow-subjects. But he would say to hon. Members opposite that it was not by him, but by them and by those to whose dictation they blindly yielded, that those restrictions were imposed; and that the restrictions which he desired to defend he sought to guard only for the preservation of freedom, peace, and order in the State. He made the observations which he had offered to the consideration of the house for the purpose of proving that there existed good reasons why the House should take cognisance of the appropriation of the grant to the College of Maynooth in the same manner as it did of all other educational Votes. The noble Lord the President of the Council had signified it to be the intention of the Government to withdraw the Bill under their consideration rather than subject that grant to public discussion and popular control. He (Mr. Newdegate) should only remark, in reference to that point, that the course which the noble Lord had announced it to be his intention to pursue was rather a strange one for a Minister to adopt who had hitherto professed to feel some deference for public opinion in this country. The noble Lord could not maintain that the feeling upon the question of the grant to Maynooth was the temporary and hasty ebullition of a rash and heated bigotry, unless he was prepared to condemn a whole generation of his countrymen. But the noble Lord seemed to act as though he dare not, as a Minister of the Crown, expose the grant to Maynooth to discussion. Was the noble Lord prepared to admit, then, that he felt ashamed of the task of endeavouring to defend by argument the renewal of that grant? If so, the noble Lord admitted at once his belief, that if the public opinion of this country, as now matured, had full play in that House, the grant could not be maintained another year. He (Mr. Newdegate) would not deny, that if the conduct of the Roman Catholic priesthood had been such as had been expected by the supporters of the grant in 1845, the grant to Maynooth might have been 1051 continued with less questioning. But since the conduct of the Maynooth-bred priests had been marked by defiance and semiloyalty—he had almost said dis-loyalty— he told the noble Lord that it would be better that the grant in question should guard be withdrawn, than that the Government of this country should from year to year practise evasion, or assume an attitude of defiance against public opinion as manifested upon the subject. It was a complete fallacy to suppose that the annual Vote of 30,000l. was needed as a provision for the spiritual necessities of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Would any one tell him that after the population of Ireland had been thinned by famine and by pestilence—that after hundreds of thousands of her inhabitants had left her shores to seek a freer and a happier home in other lands, especially in the United States—where, as had been admitted by a clergyman of the Roman Catholic persuasion, Mr. Mullen, they were liberated from that priestly control which had oppressed them in Ireland—it was useless to attempt to set up the fallacy, after all that had taken place, that there existed the same demand for priests in Ireland as formerly prevailed. It was stated as a fact, in almost every Irish newspaper, that a sum of 50,000l. had already been raised for the purpose of establishing a Roman Catholic University in Ireland that should throw into the shade those colleges which had been founded in that country by the authority of Parliament and of the Queen. If such were the case, what more appropriate sphere could be found for that new University than the education of the Roman Catholic priesthood? If the Roman Catholic body could afford to found a University of their own, why not train up the ministers of their religion, and relieve the empire from all controversy with respect to the grant to Maynooth? Why should not the House say to them, "Keep those buildings of which you now are in possession, but cease to expect assistance derived from the taxes which are levied upon your Protestant fellow-subjects." Let them look around them, and behold the rapidity with which, throughout the country, monasteries and cathedrals and chapels—the evidences of an enormous expenditure—were springing up. Such a state of things furnished no proof of poverty upon the part of the adherents of the Church of Rome—no ground why they should ask for a grant of money from the House of 1052 Commons. After the statements which he had made, and the authorities which, in proof of those statements he had adduced, he felt he had a right to call upon the House to adopt means, at all events, to guard against the future misappropriation of their grants which he had shown them had been misapplied. He should give his cordial support to the Motion of his hon. Friend and Colleague.
§ MR. HEYWORTH
said, that he would vote for the abolition of the grant to Maynooth whenever a direct proposition of that kind was submitted to the House, but he declined to support the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, considering that it was only an obstruction to the regular business of the House.
§ MR. GARDNER
said, he should vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire—first, because he was opposed to all grants for religious purposes made under any pretence whatever; and secondly, because he believed that the hon. Gentlemen the Members for North Warwickshire were the instruments specially raised up by Providence to bring about the destruction of the Protestant Church "as by law established" in Ireland. When he heard Gentlemen advocate the delusion of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, Which meant the forcing upon the Roman Catholics there that which they believed to be an heretical Church, he was astonished that their common sense did not show them that anything more destructive —he would not say of the peace of these islands, but of the delusion of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland which they were so anxious to support—could not be imagined than the present Motion. He should be satisfied with nothing but the complete secularisation of ecclesiastical property in Ireland, believing there could be no solution of this difficulty which stopped short of that secularisation.
[No other Member having risen to address the House after Mr. Gardner resumed his seat, Mr. Speaker called for a division, when, the sand-glass which precedes the closing of the doors prior to taking a division having nearly run out,]
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that great inconvenience had arisen on previous occasions from Gentlemen allowing the glass nearly to run out and then attempting to renew the debate. A suggestion had been 1053 made that when the glass was once turned the debate was to be considered as at an end; and he believed that was the general understanding of the House.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, he believed Mr. Speaker had just laid down the rule which had been established by common consent among them, that as soon as the glass had turned, the debate was to be considered at an end.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he had never said he had adopted any rule of that sort; but he understood it to be the intention of the House. He had merely called the attention of the House to the circumstance, that when the glass had nearly run out hon. Members often rose to renew the debate.
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, he understood the decision of Mr. Speaker to be, that, strictly speaking, he was in order, or he would not have persisted in his attempt to speak. But at the same time he understood Mr. Speaker to say, there was a general understanding in the House that when once the glass was turned no Member should after that rise to address the House. If that was the impression of the House, he would not now attempt to occupy their time, though in strict order he believed he was perfectly entitled to speak. Being at first perfectly ignorant of that understanding, he only wished now to say in justification of himself, that he waited till the last moment in the expectation that some one of Her Majesty's Ministers would have risen to address the House on the subject.
Question put, "That those words be there added."
The House divided:—Ayes 90; Noes 106: Majority 16.