§ House in Committee of Supply; Mr. BOUVERIE in the Chair.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not succeeding 38,745l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Non-conforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1855.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that this time twelvemonth, or this time two years, he had opposed this Vote, and he now pro- 1270 posed to bring it before the notice of the Committee, with the view of inducing them to recommend its early, not its immediate, abolition. He was glad to say that, although this question referred to a religious body, it did not refer to a religions subject, and he should not have to ask anyone to condemn any one's religious opinion, of which they had had already too much this Session, but he would confine himself to matters of arithmetic and tax paying, and he hoped to be able to make out such a case as ought to induce Parliament to abolish this grant, and even to induce some of the recipients of the grant to ask for its discontinuance. This vote of 38.745l. represented the interest of a sum of 1,000,000l. sterling, and was, therefore, not unimportant in amount, and it differed from all other grants and endowments by the State to religious bodies; for the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland did not pretend to be, and were not recognised as an Established Church, and the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) could not argue this Vote as he did the Regium Donum, which he described as a sum of 1,600l. given in charity to Nonconformist ministers in England. It was neither a grant to members of an Established Church, nor was it in the nature of a charitable grant; and he could show that it was in its origin entirely political. The first trace of it in Parliamentary records was to be found in 1690, about the time when there were political reasons which might have justified the course the Government took in establishing that grant. But it continued small in amount till 1803, when if there was a political object for establishing the grant in 1690, there was no less reason in 1803 for extending it; for whereas in 1690 the recent revolution was the moving cause, the rebellion in Ireland in 1798 might have influenced the increase of the grant soon after the rebellion was suppressed. It was arranged in three classes as regarded the amount, paid to ministers. One class received 50l. a year, another 75l., and the third 100l.; and it so continued till 18[...]8, when the scruples of the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland, who were anxious that there should be no inequality in the status of their ministers, induced the Government to equalise the payment, and give 75l. to each minister, on condition that 35l. a year was raised by voluntary contributions, of which 20l. was to be subscribed by the flock of which he was the appointed minister. To show the Committee the way in which the grant had jumped up he would just state 1271 as briefly as possible its successive decennial amounts. It would appear that in the ten years succeeding 1804 the amount voted was 120.000l.; in the next ten years, 135.000l.; in the ten years from 1824 to 1834, 172,000l.; from 1834 to 1843, 289,000l.; and from then to the present year, 1S54, the Presbyterians in the north of Ireland have received 370,000l, besides a considerable sum voted annually for professors, which would bring it up to 400,000l. In the last fifty years the grant had risen from 4,000l. to 38,000l.; and if it went on in the same proportion in the next fifty years it would become a formidable item in the Estimates. He, therefore, contended that the grant was unnecessary, and he would call on the hon. Member for Newry (Mr. Kirk). who he presumed would consider himself the representative of the class who would defend the grant, to show that there was any necessity for it. No one who was acquainted with Ireland but knew that the Presbyterians of the north were the most prosperous persons of the nation; they were extensive manufacturers, had large towns, and one town and seaport equal in prosperity to any in the United Kingdom. The Presbyterians of the north were generally of the middle class. In Ireland the great landed proprietors belonged to the Episcopalian Church, and the poor were adherents of the Roman Catholic religion. If you took the Incumbered Estates Court as an indication of the pauperism of the higher class, and the Poor Law Commissioners' returns as the indication of the pauperism of the lower, you would find that the Presbyterians of the north had contributed less to those two classes than any other part of the population. It was creditable to them, and they had done good by their assuming that position, and he hoped to induce them to do more good of the same kind. If the grant was not necessary, it was a grant approaching to 40,000l. a year taken from the taxation of the people and voted for the endowment of the ministers of a sect composed of some of the most prosperous men in the kingdom. If it was a grant which was not just as regarded taxpayers. how could it be just as regarded other classes of Nonconformists? Compare the recipients of the grant with the Nonconformists and Dissenters of Wales, who were not so prosperous as the Presbyterians of Ulster. They had no port or city in Wales to vie with Belfast; and, with the exception of one or two mining and iron districts there 1272 was scarcely a prosperous manufactory in the whole Principality. But what had the Dissenters of Wales done? According to the religious Census they had erected 2,500 places of worship, with accommodation for 602,000 persons. The Dissenters of Wales were not the owners of land, but were of the humbler and partly of the middle class while in Ulster the Presbyterians were confined to the middle class, and there was, therefore, the less reason for their coming to that House for this grant. The Nonconformists of Wales had had built 2,500 places of worship, and supported their own schools and ministers; and he should like the hon. Member for Newry to show why that House should vote a grant of 40,000l. a year to the prosperous, active, and energetic manufacturing classes of Ulster, and nothing to another less capable class in Wales, and why the people of Wales have done so much for their religious institutions, and the Presbyterians of Ulster so much less for theirs. It be said that there was less zeal in the Presbyterians of Ireland. But he would take two bodies of the same faith—which were to be found by crossing from Ulster to Scotland—and show by their example that the Vote ought to be unnecessary to the Presbyterians of Ireland. He would take the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which was formed of two bodies who seceded many years ago from the Established Church. That body had 256 ministers, and. he supposed, 256 congregations, as it was to be presumed that every minister represented a congregation. At any rate, he took his information from the Presbyterian Almanack for 1854, and it was stated that the United Presbyterian Church in Scotland had 256 congregation,, and subscribed 28,000l. a year for the support of its ministers, whose incomes used to vary from 80l. to 100l. a year; but at the last general assembly of the Church they were raked to a minimum of 120l. a year, and were to be fixed ultimately at a minimum of 150l., exclusive of house accommodation for the minister. If that Church could do this, why was it not done in Ireland? The Free Church of Scotland had done more. The sum raised by the Free Church in the last ten years by voluntary subscriptions amounted to 3,018,000l.; the rum raised in the last year being 295,000l., and the average on the four years being upwards of 300,000l. a year. But, whilst the Free Church had raised 3,000,000l. in ten years for its own proper uses, and without a 1273 farthing of Parliamentary grant, the Irish Presbyterian Church had received 400,000l. from the Votes of that House, and he would show that while you were pampering that body with this unwholesome grant, it had prevented its doing those great things which the Free Church of Scotland and the Dissenters of England and Wales, who had received nothing from Parliament, had been doing. It was a fair Measure of the activity of the religious zeal of a sect when it was found that they were doing more than supporting their ministers. The Free Church had raised, for missions and purposes of education, a sum of 50,000l. in the last year, and the United Presbyterians had raised 16,000l. for missions, while the Presbyterians of Ireland had raised for missions of every kind only 10,000l. The inevitable conclusion was, that this prosperous and industrious sect. the best men in the world for making and bleaching linen, these men who were continually telling us that they were cultivating and civilising Ulster, who had built the port of Belfast, who, in matters of religion, in the payment of their own ministers, in subscribing for purposes of education, and for missions, fell entirely and deplorably short of all other Dissenters and Nonconformists in the United Kingdom. He was sure that the Committee, whatever view they might take of this Vote, would agree with him that it was injurious to the Irish Presbyterians, that it crippled and destroyed that liberality and generosity which ought to be the distinguishing features of a Christian Church, and that their position was not only unenviable, but must be viewed with regret with reference to all the other Non-conformists of the United Kingdom. To show how eager they had been to grasp this money he would mention one fact. In the Report of Mr. Matthews, in 1848, it appeared that, after the famine of 1847, the Presbyterians of Ireland made an application to the Government that the condition on which the Regium Donum was granted, namely, that 35l. a year should be subscribed by each congregation, should be done away with, that they should subscribe nothing, but that the Regium Donum should still be granted, whether any subscription was made for the minister or not. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) very properly refused; but Mr. Matthews said that the rumour that the demand was to be made and would be granted had such an effect on the Presbyterians that some ministers were shorn of the voluntary 1274 contribution of 35l. a year, because it was believed that they would get 75l. a year from the Government without it. That showed the tendency of these grants to destroy the feeling which induced congregations to support their ministers. There was another point, and he wished to draw the attention of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to that point, and it was one which it would become the Committee to consider, and that was, the expansive quality of this grant. It was not a grant of 38,745l. every year, and no more; but it was constantly increasing, and by its very nature offered inducements to what he would call frauds upon the State; and although they might be frauds of the pious kind, yet they were of a kind to which they in that House were bound to attend. The principle on which the money was granted was this:—If twelve families agreed to start a chapel and put a minister into it, and could show that a sum of 35l. a year was subscribed, they could get an additional sum of 75l. a year for him from the Government. There was nothing like this in any other grant. There was certainly an allowance to the chaplains of Ambassadors abroad, half of whose stipend was paid by the State, and the rest obtained by other means. But here there was every inducement to split off chapels from other congregations, to get twelve families and a subscription of 35l. for the minister, and then to get a permanent pension for him from that House. In order to show how this operated he would state, whereas in 1848 the number of congregations in the north of Ireland was 454, it had now increased to 528, making an addition of 74 congregations in six years, and that during a period when it was notorious that the population was decreasing in those counties, as it was all through Ireland, in consequence of emigration, the Presbyterians being included in that movement. The grant, therefore, was, as he had previously stated, all inducement to the fabrication of ministers and chapels, and an inducement for congregations to come year after year to that House for participation in the Regium Donum. He protested against this expansive system, and he hoped the Government would at least take care not to allow the extension of the grant. He had been informed that there had been gross evasions of the policy which Parliament intended to pursue with regard to this grant. He had before him communications, by one of which it appeared that a gentleman be- 1275 longing to one of the new communions of Presbyterians had given a subscription to help to build a meeting-house, and soon after he was asked to put the sum he had subscribed for the building fund down to the stipend fund, in older to make up the 35l. necessary to secure the Regium Donum. In another case, a man Who was compelled to resign the office of elder in one of the congregations got together another congregation, and in a short time was enabled to place himself in the position so as to obtain the Regium Donum. In another instance, in Dublin, two congregations were merged into one, and it was stated that for a long time the two grants from the Regium Donum were received by that one congregation. He did not charge the Presbyterians of Ireland as a body with such frauds, but he would boldly assert that this grant was of a description that opened the door to those evasions, and it was only in human nature to suppose that they would probably be practised by some portion of the Presbyterians. It was not to be supposed that all the Presbyterians or Ireland were in favour of this system. In more than one instance congregations had protested against it. In 1845 memorials were presented by congregations in Belfast and Londonderry. and he would mention what was stated by the memorialists of Londonderry. They expressed an opinion—"That it would be no loss, but a gain, to vital Christianity if the Regium Donum was abolished; that it was only a ladder by which the Church was enabled to climb into power." They also said that the Presbyterians were able to support their own Church, which consisted of 160,000 families, comprising 800 000 souls, and if each of them could subscribe one penny a week for the support of these ministers, there would be raised a sum of 35,000l. a year, nearly the amount of the Regium Donum grant; and they showed by a scale how unnecessary this grant was—and he (Mr. Bright) would beg to call the attention of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) to this. They said that—"If one half of those persons paid one penny a week, nine-tenths of them less than two-pence, and the remaining tenth two-pence a week, they would raise 50,000l. a year. which would be 12,000l. a year more than the grant." He (Mr. Bright) would assert that there was not a labourer's family above the most outcast class which would not pay as much and more than that for the ministration of the religion they professed. He could 1276 not believe that any men with their own chapels, and all the luxury of a religions organisation, would not be willing to pay 1d. a week per head to avoid the necessity of a Parliamentary grant. What would the Dissenters of Wales say if that was asserted of them? But it was only the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland who were men who could do everything except pay their ministers, who were equal to everything, paying for the ministrations of their religion. and who were only emasculated and weakened by this grant, which could not be given to them without injustice to the taxpayers of this country and other classes of Dissenters. To be sure, there was a defence for this system, for there never was anything so bad for which a defence could not be found. He would read a statement in the Irish Presbyterian Magazine, to which he would recommend the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to attend, as the noble Lord was an adept in defending anything of this kind. It was stated in an article in this magazine—"That the Presbyterians had civilised Ulster, had defended the House of Hanover"—(The noble Lord once said that the Dissenters had defended the House of Hanover; and as the Dissenters did not get anything, he hoped the noble Lord would not adopt this line of defence in this case); "and, lastly, that they had got nothing for the losses sustained by reason of their non-comformity." Why was not Nonconformity that in which a man gloried in the losses of pickings from the State which he sustained by reason of his following his religious convictions? Had not the Dissenters of Wales and England sustained losses, and did not the Free Church of Scotland sustain losses of all that was dearest to them in connection with their Church; and did any one for a moment think that such men would come to that House to make good the losses they had sustained on account of their nonconformity? Was it not clear that this industrious and respectable class of persons were blinded by this Vote, and did not see the fallacy of their reasoning? Talk of a pecuniary claim for civilising Ulster! He should like to know who it was that civilised Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire? He remembered that Camden, in his amusing Itinerary, told of the dread he felt on looking down front the hills before entering Lancashire, and of the earliest prayer he offered up to Providence to spare him from the dangers he would incur in a country consisting of a vast morass and peopled by uncivilised 1277 tribes. And who had civilised that Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire? Why, the great majority of the population of those districts were Nonconformists. They did not come to Parliament for grants, but they had some of them sent him (Mr. Bright) to ask to take away all grants; and although the noble Lord President had been induced to remove the grant of 1,600l. a year of the Regium Donum to the Nonconformist clergy, some of those poor clergymen who had lost 10l. a year had never complained; and all he asked was, that the prosperous manufacturers of Ulster should pay their own ministers, and not ask Parliament for any aid for that purpose. This Irish Presbyterian Magazine was a very amusing publication. The first article was the defence of this grant to which he had alluded, and the second article was entitled "Love to Ministers," as indicating the good feeling of a Christian congregation. This article gave a correct picture of the Christian religion, and recognised the duty of its followers to support their own ministers. Let it be remembered, that this was addressed to the Presbyterians of Ulster; it was they who were told that they owed it as a duty to religion and Christianity to support their own ministers, and yet they annually came to Parliament for this Vote, equal to the interest on 1,000,000l. of money. For his part, he would make no religion a grant, and he was glad to observe that yesterday the hon. Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Maguire) expressed a hope that the time would speedily come when there would be an end to the Maynooth grant. In the language of Dr. Candlish, these grants to the Dissenting bodies were nothing but "hush money" from the State. They were a disgrace to the bodies to accept them, but doubly so to the Presbyterians of Ulster, who were quite rich enough to support their own ministers. The hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Cairns) could not deny that fact, that is, at least, if he were bold enough to do so he hoped his Church would excommunicate him when he returned home. Many parts of the western portion of Ireland presented an appearance which told pretty well that some of the former Governments of that country had been guilty of a great crime towards the sister kingdom, but these appearances were not visible in Ulster, where the people were prosperous and flourishing. The majority of them were Presbyterians, and, like the Presby- 1278 terians of England and Scotland, they were well able to pay their own ministers. If, then, the Catholics of Ireland, the Free Presbyterian Churches of Scotland, and the Nonconformists of England, had not only the power, but the liberality, to support their own Churches, surely he should not in vain appeal to the Committee to give the Presbyterians of Ulster an opportunity of doing themselves honour by abandoning the State subsidy which they now received, and which sapped the life, the vitality, and the power of their Church. He hoped that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would at any rate consent that no further augmentation of the grant should take place, and that an early period should be put to it, due notice of course being given to the Presbyterians, so that they might have time to raise the requisite funds for supplying its place. He hoped that this would be done, because this grant was not necessity, and because it was not just either to the taxpayers or to other religious sects, who neither asked nor wished for such grants. With respect to the form of his Motion, he might propose that the grant should be diminished by 346l. 3s. 4d., which was the increase for this year—allowing the rest of the grant to pass. If the noble Lord would consent to this proposition, he (Mr. Bright) would take that course, because something would then be done towards affirming the principle fur which he contended. If, however, the noble Lord would not agree to this, he (Mr. Bright) would propose to negative the whole Vote, because he wished to have a discussion on the subject generally, and did not intend to ask the Committee to divide more than once.
Motion made, and Question proposed—That a sum, not exceeding 35,399l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of Non-conforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1855.
§ MR. KIRK
said, he should not attempt to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester in the kind of sledge-hammer eloquence with which he had spoken on this question. He would rather endeavour to refute some of the fallacies which he had brought under the notice of the Committee. The hon. Member had dwelt much upon the inactivity of the Presbyterian clergymen in the north of Ireland; but he could inform the hon. Gentleman and the Committee that the Presbyterians in Ireland had added seventy-five congre- 1279 gations to their number within the last six years, which went far, he thought. to negative the charge of inactivity. The first payment made to the Presbyterian ministers in Ireland took place in 1672, and it amounted to 600l. a year, or 10l. a year to each minister (for there were then about sixty ministers). This sum was continued to be paid for nine or ten years, but was discontinued during the troublous times of James II. King William III., on landing at Carrickfergus, ordered the Presbyterians an allowance of 1.200l. a year, which was afterwards secured by patent, and it was remarkable that this patent, instead of stating that the grant was given to the Presbyterians for the support of Nonconformity, asserted that it was given them as a compensation for the less of the tithes which they had previously enjoyed. This fact proved that die grant was on a footing precisely similar to that upon which the Established Church stood, and the present attempt on the part of the hon. Member for Manchester and those who thought with him to knock down this grant was, he believed. simply made because Presbyterianism was an outpost of the Irish Established Church. He denied that looking at the alteration which had taken place in the value of money, the grant now was, as had been asserted, a great deal more than it was in 1690. for 200l. a year now was not worth more than 20l. a year was at that time. Then, the hon. Member declared that the sum accorded by the Government for the support of a minister—which amounted not to 75l., but to 6[...]l. 4s. 8d—was made immediately a chapel was erected, and 35l. a year obtained by the congregation. The fact was, that a congregation must have their chapel built, and their minister appointed, and must have a salary sufficient to maintain him for two full years before the grant was even asked for. It must be remembered also that 35l. was the minimum stun subscribed by any congregation, and that a very large majority paid their ministers a much larger sum than this. He utterly denied that the Presbyterians in Ireland were a wealthy body. Although they did not posses large wealth, many of them had a moderate competency; but a great many more were very poor. The great thing which philanthropists of the present day aimed at was the prevention of crime. That House, a few evenings ago, voted no less a sum than 1,411,851l. for law and justice; 1280 or, in other words, for the punishment of crime—for he contended that law and justice meant nothing else than the punishment of crime. Yet a class of people were called all sorts of opprobrious names because they attempted to carry the light of truth into the benighted corners of Ireland. Now, he would take the population of Ulster, which, in 1852, was 2.004,287, of which 1,024.635 were Roman Catholics, 394.595 were Episcopalians, and 585,057 were Presbyterians. The number of prisoners in gaol in that country at that time was 1,433; of whom 862 were Roman Catholics, 416 Episcopalians, and only 155 Presbyterians; time proportion being. Episcopalians (he was sorry to say). 1 in 948; Roman Catholics, 1 in 1,188; and Presbyterians, 1 in 3,774. That showed, if the Presbyterians received stipends and participated in this grant, they did not do so for nothing. and that they did their work. He would next take the statistics of three workhouses in Ireland—those of Belfast, Derry, and Monaghan. Of the population of those three Unions, 101,382 were Roman Catholics. 49,981 Episcopalians, and 81,864 Presbyterians; whilst of the inmates of those three workhorses, 1,668 were Roman Catholics, 883 Episcopalians, and 452 Presbyterians. Again, on the 10th September last 6,006 persons altogether were imprisoned in the gaols of Ireland, of whom 5,268 were Roman Catholics, 601 Episcopalians. and only 137 Presbyterians. There were also in the Government prisons in Ireland, on the 13th September last 3,902 convicts in all. Of these there were 3,636 Roman Catholics, 222 Episcopalians, and only forty-four Presbyterians. He thought he had clearly shown that these despised and calumniated Presbyterian ministers had all along been doing just the very thing which all the great philanthropists of the present day desired to be done. In April, 1854, there were 230 inmates of the union workhouse of Armagh. Of these. 125 were Roman Catholics, ninety-six Episcopalians, and only nine Presbyterians. There were at the same period ninety-six persons confined in the gaol at Armagh, of whom seventy were Roman Catholics, twenty-three Episcopalians, and three Presbyterians. All that proved that there must be a high standard of morality among the Presbyterian clergymen and people of Ireland. According to the Census of 1851, the whole population of England and Wales was 20,936,468, and, adding two years, at 1281 the ordinary rate of increase, it might be taken in September, 1853, to have been 21,494,772. Of these 21,626 persons were in gaol at that time in England and Wales, or one in every 989 of the whole population; and of this number 323 declared they were of no religion, and of 339 the religion was not stated. If this calculation held good, the result was, that there were more than 320,000 persons in this country utterly ignorant of the being of a God. No such state of things existed in Ireland. He found that in Scotland there were, in tile year 1851, 2,870,784 persons, and, adding an increase of 1 per cent in the population, the number of persons in 1853 would amount to 2,928,198. The number of prisoners was 2,838, so that the proportion of prisoners to the rest of the population was one in every 1,032. That was a proportion much more satisfactory than the proportion in England; and, in addition to that, there was not one of those prisoners reported as being utterly without religious knowledge. In Ireland the population in 1851 was 6,515,794—and he made no addition for increased population on account of the emigration which had been taking place—and the number of prisoners was 6,006, or one in every 1,085; so that, although Ireland was generally looked upon as the worst of the three kingdoms, and its population supposed to be the worst instructed, yet in Ireland the proportion of prisoners to the population was as one to 1,085, while in England it was one to 989. It was, therefore, clear that that population, generally considered so miserable, was better instructed than the people of this country, vast as was its wealth, and great as were its means. The reason for that circumstance might be found in the existence of voluntaryism, which would not recognise the right of a man to receive religious services except through the right of his breeches pocket. He had himself a great respect for the Nonconformists of this country, but he was bound to say that the voluntary system had been tried in Ireland, and had turned out a miserable failure. It was said, and truly said, that for ministers it was desirable to obtain a high status of education, and to secure their services during the week; but on the voluntary principle, as carried out in Armagh, it was impossible to procure that desideratum, as the Independent minister would on the Sunday be a clergyman, while in the week day he was a teacher. If it was impos- 1282 sible—and he believed it to be so—to maintain the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in its present state of efficiency without the grant now proposed, he trusted that the Committee would not listen to the insidious arguments of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), but that it would continue a grant which had, as he had proved, been fully responded to by the persons to whom it had been made—persons who had performed their duties in a manner satisfactory to that House and to the people of England.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he could not think the hon. Member for Newry, who had just resumed his seat, was a fair exponent of the opinions of the body to which he belonged. He hoped the Nonconformists of this country would be relieved from this odious impost, which they considered so great a stigma on the body at large. Not one denomination, whether Protestant or Catholic, received one farthing from the State for the support of their ministers, except this particular denomination in Ireland, and yet the Presbyterians of Ireland, who received that grant, contributed a sum of nearly 10,000l. a year for the support of missionaries abroad. Was it right that these persons, contributing such a sum annually, should put their hands into the Exchequer for the maintenance of their ministers, when they were applying that large sum unjustly and improperly in maintaining missionaries abroad? He did not know on what principle the hon. Member for Newry voted for a Catholic grant, and for other grants, and, himself being a Calvinist, now pleaded in favour of this grant. He would ask the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) if he thought it was a sin to contribute to the Catholics, what did he think of inflicting taxes for the purpose of paying for Unitarian ministers? He (Mr. Hadfield) maintained that no man had a right to tax him to maintain principles which he conceived to be false. Now, with regard to this particular grant, increased now to 42,000l. a year within a fraction, there were, he believed, thirteen professors in the College of Belfast—four retired professors and nine active professors—for this one body; and he understood that these professors had little more than twenty students belonging to the Trinitarians, and three to the Unitarians. Of the nine professors, three were professors of divinity, and of these two were Unitarian professors, and they had three students between them, and 1283 to them the State contributed 300l. a year. There were from twenty to thirty students of the Trinitarian body, and they had professors of ecclesiastical history, of biblical criticism, and of Hebrew. Not one of those chairs was wanted. Sacred rhetoric was taught by Dr. Cooke at 250l. a year. Did any gentleman ever hear of any such professor in any other college in the world? Dr. Cooke further received 400l. a year as distributor of this fund; he had the modesty also to receive the Regium Donum, and his congregation gave him 300l. a year besides. Dr. Montgomery, the Unitarian clergyman, was much in the same situation. He had 150l. a year for his professorship; he had the benefit of the Regium Donum; he had a grant for distributing to his brethren the portion allotted to them; and together these two professors realised not much short of 2,000l. a year between them. The House had heard of these two gentlemen before. They were formerly in one body, and it became too hot for them, and the result was, that the House of Commons was obliged to interfere, and to pass the Dissenters' Chapels Bill, for the purpose of quieting the dispute between those two persons. Now, he asked, was it right that the Unitarian and Trinitarian should mess together in the Exchequer, that they should be differing in everything that pertained to theology, but that when they came to taxes they should agree, and that the hon. Member fir Newry (Mr. Kirk), himself a Calvinist, should advocate the tax for both. The Free Church of Scotland was not so numerous a body as the Presbyterians of Ireland, and not so wealthy, and yet the astounding fact stood before Christendom, that 3,018,000l. had been raised by that body without coming to the State to ask for one sixpence. This was Christian-like, and yet they had another body of the same class, with the same motives for action, coining year by year as common beggars to that House for the purpose of maintaining their ministers, while they were giving 10,000l. a year for objects abroad. This was not general among the Presbyterians of Ireland, and he had received a letter from a gentleman, well known in Ireland, the Rev. Dr. Brise, of Belfast, in which it was stated that all the Presbyterians did not ask for assistance. He would appeal to the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, and to the Members for the University of Dublin, if it was right to support in this way the Unitarian cause in Ireland, and, if they remained silent, he should con- 1284 sider that they shared his sentiments on the subject. It was time that the House of Commons should take notice of this subject, or they would find that it would excite alarm among their constituents when they came to understand that it was not for the sake of truth that this pecuniary grant was made, but for political purposes. The hon. Member for Newry was not quite correct in saying that a grant had been made to the Presbyterians in compensation for their loss of tithes, for never at any time had the Presbyterians tithes. Another objection to the grant was, that it was distributed to all alike without regard to the private circumstances of the recipient. He appealed to the Government and to the judgment of the noble Lord the Lord President to remove so grievous an impost.
§ MR. CAIRNS
said, he was sorry to have, in the first place, to interrupt the regular course of debate in order to answer the personal attack which the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) had made on one who was not present to defend himself; he meant Dr. Cooke, of Belfast, a divine who was an ornament of his own, as he would be of any ether Church. The hon. Member had stated that Dr. Cooke received a large sum for distributing the Regium Donum; that he received the Regium Donum itself; that he received 250l. a year as Professor of the College, and that he had a stipend from his congregation of 300l a year. If all this were true, it would have but little to say to the question before the Committee; but the Committee would agree that those who made personal charges of this description should first ascertain that they were accurate. Now, what were the facts? Dr. Cooke was a distributor of the Regium Donum, and for the trouble and responsibility of this, he received a salary or percentage, as any agent must do by whom the duty was performed. Dr. Cooke was also Professor in the Theological College of Belfast, where the youth of the Presbyterian body were trained and educated for the ministry, and he thought that in such an institution the State had made a good bargain to have secured for such a salary the services of such a man. But now came the question as to the stipend; and as to this, the hon. Member would have ascertained, had he chosen to inquire, that when Dr. Cooke was appointed a professor, he ceased to receive any stipend from his congregation, and has continued to perform the pulpit ministerial duties of his church 1285 without any remuneration whatever. [Mr. HADFIELD said he had quoted from returns made to that House.] But what period do those returns relate to? He (Mr. Cairns) was speaking of the period since Dr. Cooke was appointed professor. It was to that period that the charge against Dr. Cooke was made; and he again said it was a charge which ought not to have been made without clear proof that it was well founded. But, then, the hon. Member for Sheffield said he detested bigotry, and was weary of discussions in that House which were founded on religious differences. The hon. Member then asked the Committee to vote against this grant because Unitarians shared in it. Did he call this bigotry or not? But the objection was neither can-I did nor sincere. If the hon. Member really objected to the grant on that ground, he might move to omit Unitarian congregations, and he would then be taking a consistent course. But the hon. Member knew perfectly well that, if Unitarian congregations were omitted, he would vote against the rest of the grant all the same. But now for the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright). The hon. Member said you were to judge of the system of the Regium Donum by its fruits, and what its fruits were he attempted to prove by reading some anonymous letters. Now, he (Mr. Cairns) objected to the introduction of anonymous letters and statements into a discussion of this kind—but if they were—to be referred to, he also held some letters in his hand. The Committee might remember that last year, on the proposition of this point, an hon. Member opposed it, and mentioned a case in which he said that, in order to qualify a minister for the grant, a fictitious stipend had been created by valuing the pew of the minister's own family at 15l. The hon. Member described this, and he thought properly, as a fraud. Well, when the case was stated in the House no name was given, and, of course, no answer could be made. But the statement had excited attention in Ireland. The Presbyterians naturally felt that it was a grave imputation on their body, and one of them wrote to the hon. Member who made the statement, requesting to know either the name of the minister, or the name of the hon. Member's informant. He held in his hand the hon. Member's answer. It was signed, "Yours respectfully, John Bright." The writer declined to give either the name of the case or of his authority; but his reasons are amusing. He says 1286 he heard the story on his tour through Ireland; it was notorious and openly talked of; every one stated it, and no one contradicted it; and, therefore, because it was notorious, because it was in every man's mouth, because every one made, and no one denied the charge, the hon. Member says, "For obvious reasons, I must decline to give you the name." Now, he would make a fair offer to the hon. Member for Manchester. Let him give the name of any case in which any fraud or abuse had occurred in obtaining the grant, and he would undertake that it should be investigated and corrected; but if this was declined, he asked the Committee to join with him in deprecating these anonymous slanders, which eluded the grasp when any attempt was made to meet or explain them. But then the hon. Member says this grant cripples the energy of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and he refers to the Dissenters in Wales, and what they have done, as a proof of the superiority of an unendowed body. He says, "Look at these Welsh Dissenters; they are so many in number; they are not wealthy; and yet they have such a number of places of worship, and so much church accommodation. Behold what a great and excellent system that must be which yields such fruits." Then I he turns to Ireland, and finds that in six years there have been added to the Presbyterian body seventy-five new churches and congregations, or nearly one-sixth of the whole number. [Mr. BRIGHT: With a diminishing population.] Yes; with a diminishing population, and in years when the resources of the country were crippled. All this, any one but the hon. Member would say, was much to the credit, and great proof of the energy, of the Presbyterian body, and might well vie with the feats of the Dissenters in Wales. But the hon. Member says, "This is the very thing I object to: it can be nothing but a vicious and corrupt system which can allow churches to be multiplied at this rate." The church-building of the Dissenters in Wales is a proof of their energy the church-building of the Presbyterians in Ireland is only a proof of their deadness and corruption. Well, then, the hon. Member concluded by impugning the motives of those who give and those who receive the Regium Donum. He said Dr. Candlish called it the "hush-money of the State." Whether Dr. Candlish called it so or not, he could 1287 not tell; but he would take the term as adopted by the hon. Member. Now, whenever argument degenerated into imputation of motives, it was a simple and legitimate mode merely to deny the imputation. But he would tell the hon. Member that he did not know the Presbyterians of Ulster. Much had been said, and said justly, of the Free Church of Scotland, who had left their manses, and glebes, and endowments, rather than submit to what was, or what they thought was, an infringement of their spiritual freedom and liberty of conscience. But the Presbyterians of Ulster were the relatives and descendants of the Presbyterians of Scotland, connected with them by the ties of sympathy, and of a common family and a common faith, and the same principles and feelings which made the Free Church of Scotland resign their endowments, would make the Presbyterians of Ulster reject a grant of ten times the amount, if they thought its acceptance compromised a principle, or placed a bar on their liberty of thought and action. But the question before the Committee was, whether this grant should be continued. [Mr. BRIGHT said he had since intimated to the Chairman he would oppose the increase only.] They had then been discussing, for two hours, a question which the hon. Member now withdrew; but, in any form, the object of the hon. Member was to defeat the grant. Now, he (Mr. Cairns) would simply rest the main question on the ground that it was a matter of contract. It was part and parcel of the settlement of Ulster. On the faith of a grant of this description, the State had induced colonists to settle and improve—churches to be built—young men to have other employment, and to devote themselves to the ministry. And the State had never laid out money better, or got a better return. The civilisation of Ulster—its peace—its industry—its prosperity—were owing, in no small degree, to the Presbyterian body; and let the hon. Member count the grant by decennial periods, or in any way he pleases, he would find that the State gained more than she bestowed. But, on the broad and plain ground which he had stated, he asked the Committee not to entertain any proposition to violate an agreement which bad been kept and conferred for more than two centuries.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he was surprised bow some Members opposed the 1288 grant to the Roman Catholics in Ireland, whose sin, if any, was a national one, while they supported an endowment for a body who denied the divinity of Christ, and the efficacy of the atonement. The Regium Donum was somewhat upon the same footing as the Maynooth grant. There could be no doubt that the Presbyterians, at one time, possessed some of the tithes. He would vote for the Regium Donum as long as the other grants were upheld. It was, after all, a small grant. He noticed that 25,000l. had been given to the Church of Scotland to supplement their churches and regale the Commissioner of the General Assembly. He would be ready at any moment to support a Motion for suppressing all religious endowments. At present, the grant to the Roman Catholics in Ireland was about 1d. per head on their numbers; that to the Presbyterians in Ireland, 10s.; to those of Scotland, 4s.; but to the Established Churchmen in England it was 1l. 10s., and in Ireland 5l. per head. Hon. Members ought to bring in a measure to upset all Church Establishments, and not make an attack on the Presbyterians, who were the weakest body. Be considered that the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) was not by any means a well-trained or high-bred hound to run down a little leveret when there was greater game before him.
§ LORD NAAS
said, he thought the course which the supporters of the voluntary system had pursued during the present Session of Parliament was a very unfair one, and one which, if successful, would be attended with very unfortunate results. The broad question, whether it was right or not for the State to grant money for religious purposes, ought not to be decided in such discussions. It was a great principle on which many persons entertained strong opinions; let it be brought fairly and openly before the House by Bill or Resolution, but let not some single items of 100l. here to a chaplain, or 200l. there to a church, be made a test of principle. It was unfair and inconvenient to discuss it as a mere question of money. The present grant was not a bribe for political purposes, but had been granted years ago to the Presbyterians as an inducement to them to settle in Ulster. The hon. Member for Manchester complained that it was an injury to the Presbyterian body, and rendered their ministers inefficient as clergymen. Seeing the number of chapels which lead been built, it was ridiculous to say that the grant 1289 had produced no beneficial effects. He happened to know something about the distribution of the grant, and he believed that it was fairly and honestly distributed. He denied there were any of the abuses which had been stated. The governing body of the Presbyterian Church, as well as the Executive Government in Ireland, were personally responsible for its distribution, and certain conditions were required to be performed; for instance, that the congregation should be formed for three years before a minister could participate in the grant. It was unfair that, whilst the grant to Maynooth was placed upon the Consolidated Fund, the Presbyterians of Ireland should have to come to Parliament for an annual Vote—one which they had enjoyed for a great number of years. The proper course would be to place both grants upon precisely the same footing.
said, that he intended to support the Amendment. It had been said that the Unitarian body was in favour of this grant. As an English Unitarian he must state that such was not the case. They had never come to Parliament, and he hoped they never would come, to ask for a grant for the support of their institutions.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, that having been appealed to by more than one hon. Member in the course of that discussion, he felt called upon to offer a few remarks upon the question under their notice. He was strenuously opposed to the grant to Maynooth upon the ground that it was a great national sin, and upon the same ground he should be prepared to object to any grant given to those who denied the great and vital principles of Christianity. He understood, however, that the grant which was under the consideration of the Committee had been made 250 years ago to the Presbyterians of Ireland, and very few of that body had, he believed, adopted the tenets of the Unitarians—tenets which he held to be wrong, and for upholding which he should most decidedly object that any grant should be made. He could only say with the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Mr. Cairns) that if the amount of the grant which was to be conferred upon Unitarians could be clearly ascertained, he should readily give his vote that by that amount the grant should be diminished.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, he could help the hon. Member for North Warwickshire to distinguish between the Trinitarian and Unitarian congregations; the former receiving 250l. a year, while the others were, 1290 only paid 150l. The noble Lord (Lord Naas) in recommending the supporters of the voluntary system to move an abstract Resolution asserting their views, did not follow the general tendency of opinion and feeling in that House, for when an abstract Resolution was brought in, the House were told it was not worthy to be dealt with by a legislative body. The friends of the voluntary principle were quite competent to decide upon the best time and mode of putting that general principle before the House. These were questions which the House and the Government were continually putting before them; it was known they were repugnant to the feelings and opinions of the body in question, and why were they not to express their opinions? The only mode of asserting their principles was by opposing such Votes as the present. It had been said, that this grant was given for the spread of the pure Gospel, but, as it was distributed among Trinitarians and Unitarians, it was clear that both could not hold true opinions, and that the one opinion necessarily implied the falsity of the other. Then, by some hon. Members, the Vote had been placed upon the I ground of a contract. But the Committee had not been favoured either with the date, the terms, or the amount of the contract; and then it came to be described as a sort of understanding. But the Irish Parliament had never understood it to be a bestowment of 38,000l.; they never gave more than 5,000l. before the Union. The English Nonconformists had as good a right to plead a contract as the Irish Presbyterians; for what sacrifices had the latter made more memorable than the endurance, the persecutions, the privations, and the honourable exertions of the expelled ministers, under the Act of Uniformity, who had laid the foundations of English dissent? He must say he thought the argument drawn from the temptations held out by this Vote to multiply congregations had not been very successfully met. They had had statistics of the number of congregations, but no statistics of the number of the members in them, and if it were found that the number of members of a particular body had not increased, while the number of churches had increased, a case was, he thought, made out for inquiry. If the Vote went on increasing, and the members of the church did not increase, a strong presumption was afforded of some indirect and unfair means being at work, such as no general panegyric of a particular sect or 1291 its ministers could wipe away. An hon. Member had alluded to the paucity of members of the Irish Presbyterian body who were to be found in the workhouses and gaols, but what did this prove? that they were, generally speaking, a well-to-do body of men, who kept themselves out of the workhouses, and were not likely to get into gaol. The hon. Member (Mr. Kirk) had told them that, while in England hardly one person in gaol knew anything about religion, in Ireland no such thing happened; every rascal who got into gaol there had religion. Very pretty religion, indeed! The hon. Member attempted to justify the Vote by showing that it was a subsidy to those who, by their preaching and teaching, kept persons out of gaol. But was it true that they had effected that object? If they looked to these returns, he admitted that they observed considerable advances in national education, and a corresponding effect in the decrease of crime. They perceived a tangible result from the Irish school, but they could not trace it to the Presbyterians. Their number showed no increase; they were at a standstill, a fixed principle, and could not arrogate to them-selves the honour of affecting materially crime in Ireland. He would not repeat arguments which had been used year after year, but would simply say he opposed this grant on the ground of its being pernicious in its results. It was a grant which could not be identified with any great good to the people of Ireland, and it violated a principle which he thought it would be well if the Government would consent to be guided by—that of adhering to the management of the political and temporal concerns of the nation, and leaving its religion to the consciences of the people.
§ MR. NAPIER
, who rose amid cries of "Divide," said, he would not detain the Committee long, but it was incumbent upon him to make one or two remarks after what had fallen from the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield). He (Mr. Napier) did not perceive that, in giving his vote for the support of this grant, he was raising any theological question. He gave it on the same principle as he had voted for the support of the chaplains in lunatic asylums, a portion of which went to Roman Catholics, because he thought it raised no religious principle. He considered the present Vote was the result of a contract made with the Presbyterians who settled in Ireland, and he thought when, by way 1292 of inducing a body of men to go over and settle there, they had entered into such a contract, they could not now repudiate it. It was not open to the objection that it was an endowment, because it was only given in support of Presbyterian ministers where the people themselves came forward and assisted in the support of their ministers. He considered there was not a more deserving, industrious, and energetic class of men in the United Kingdom than the Presbyterians of Ulster, and hon. Members had no right to rise in that House and stigmatise them as beggars. With regard to the Trinitarian and Unitarian question, which had been, he thought, very unnecessarily revived, he would say no more than that he considered the grant was justly given on the principle that both classes took the Bible and the Bible alone as their guide in faith and morals, and the only main point of difference was as to the subscription to certain articles of faith. He would say, in answer to the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. V. Scully), that Unitarians did not deny the divinity of the Saviour, although they might not admit the doctrine of co-existence. At all events, they did not admit that any created being was superior to him, which could not be said of members of the Roman Catholic Church. He thought, however, no religious question at all would be raised on this Vote, which was founded upon a principle of contract, and ought to be argued on that principle alone.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, in consequence of the words which fell from the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), I wish to make a few observations. I could wish that in one respect the example of the hon. Member for Manchester had been followed, because he said that he would steer clear of any religious question or any religious difference which might exist with respect to this subject, and he kept his word in the speech he had made. I could wish, also, that the hon. Member from Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), and the other hon. Members who have since entered into the question, had observed this with regard to the question of Unitarianism, a question which I think much better kept out of the discussion. I am willing, likewise, not to enter into the general question of the principle of the grant, were it not for what has fallen from the hon. Member for Manchester, who has a great fund of arguments at his disposal on this question, and well knows how to make 1293 use of them. The noble Lord the Member for Coleraine (Lord Naas) desired that a general Resolution should be moved on which we could discuss the whole question; but the hon. Member for Manchester knows very well, if the abstract question is entered into, what the result will be. He says—you are putting the whole machinery of church rates out of the question. He then comes to the voluntary principle, maintaining that all religious establishments ought to be put down, that no votes ought to be given, and no grants allowed by Parliament. This is the discussion which he enters upon, making a very large discussion upon a very narrow foundation, and he thus gains his object of repeating his arguments without having the answers on the other side heard. No one knows better than the hon. Member for Manchester how great the advantage is which he derives from this method of arguing, and I am afraid that he will not take the advice of the noble Lord the Member for Coleraine, and give us an opportunity of discussing the whole question. However, on this question I certainly see no necessity for entering into it at any great length on the present occasion. There appears to me to be two grounds upon which this Vote rests; one is the great ground upon which the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Napier) has just referred—to the Parliamentary contract and the general expectation of the Presbyterian body. The Presbyterian body settled in Ireland, and were engaged in supporting the throne of William III., and subsequently in supporting the Throne at the time of the Union. At those times expectations were held out to them to the effect, that they were to be entitled to the support of Parliament for the ministers of their religion, and, in fulfilment of that expectation so held out to them, a number of worthy and pious men are to be brought before the House, and stigmatised as beggars, because they are asking for the fulfilment of a contract which was made with them. Without entering into any of these questions, it might be said that the feeling of the State was manifestly against the support of the Presbyterian clergy, and that in this case, as the hon. Member for Manchester suggested, an engagement might be made by which the present ministers should receive this support, but that future grants should be curtailed. From this policy, however, I entirely dissent. Putting aside the ques- 1294 tion of peculiar doctrines, I cannot but see that those teachers have exercised a great and beneficial effect upon the morality of the people among whom they live. And of that morality the State derives the benefit, for when fewer persons are sent to prison, when fewer crimes are committed, when less expense is incurred in protecting from crime, the State derives the benefit of that abstinence from crime; and I believe there are no men who contribute more to the morality that prevails among the Presbyterians in Ireland than their religious teachers. Had there been no grant in existence, I do not know that I should have proposed to commence it; but, seeing that for many years it has continued in the shape of a compact with Parliament, and seeing the beneficial effect which this grant has had in maintaining morality and order, I shall give my vote against the hon. Gentleman's Amendment.
§ MR. BRIGHT,
in reply, said, he wished to explain, that he did not propose to reduce the Vote below the amount of last year. But there were five new congregations put on the list, the allowances to whose ministers increased the Vote by the sum of 346l. 3s. 4d.; and it was this sum he proposed to reduce, as he thought that the increase ought, for the present, to be suspended. He would not attempt to answer the arguments which had been used on the other side, for he thought that the extreme difficulty which the noble Lord showed he laboured under in making out a case, was the best answer that could be given.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 149: Majority 87.
Vote agreed to.
(2.) 6,426l., Concordatum Fund.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, there was a strange mixture of subjects in this Vote, and he had no doubt that their distribution, as in all such eases, was a great job. He asked explanation as to some of the items.
§ MR. J. WILSON
said, the grant was as ancient as the reign of Charles II. It had been taken from the civil list and put upon the Estimates to enable the Lord Lieutenant to distribute it in small sums among various deserving charities in Ireland. It had been much diminished of late years, and was exactly of the same nature with the Queen's Bounty in England. The items were all under the management and control of the Lord Lieutenant.
§ MR. MICHELL
said, he wished to see the Vote withdrawn, in order to its being increased to the same standard as in England. He objected to London obtaining so much of the public money in preference to other parts of the country. He thought the Vote for the Dublin Vaccine Institution should be increased 500l.
§ MR. VANCE
said, he also must express a hope, that, if not in the present, at least in future years, the Vote for the Dublin Vaccine Institution would be enlarged. Vote agreed to. Motion made, and Question proposed—That a sum, not exceeding 11,855l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of the General Board of Health, to the 31st day of March, 1855.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
said, a promise had been given by Government that this Vote would only be made to extend to the 1st of November next, whereas it reached to the 31st of March. He felt bound to condemn the system pursued by the Board as unconstitutional, and he considered that, under the provisional orders which they issued from time to time, great injustice was done to various towns throughout the kingdom. He did not think it was right to grant money for the Board for any time beyond that fixed for its extinction, and he should therefore move to reduce the Vote of 11,855l. to 6,855l. He hoped all those hon. Members who wished to get rid of the Board of Health—and he knew there were many of this mind —would support his Motion. He should also like to have some explanation as to the repayment of the sums charged for the expenses for the superintending engineering inspectors. It was stated in the Estimate, that these sums were to be repaid by local boards, but he thought they were very much mistaken if they expected that those towns which had succeeded in rejecting the embraces of the Board of Health would ever repay a farthing of the expenses which had been incurred in the attempt to bring them within the operation of the Health of Towns Act.
Motion made, and Question proposed—That a sum, not exceeding 6,855l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of the General Board of Health, to the 31st day of March, 1855.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, nothing was more easy than for an hon. Member to get up and say a thing was useless, a nuisance, and ought to be put an end to, when there was no immediate danger, or 1296 any evil to be averted or remedied; but if a period of calamity were to follow, everybody would cry out, "What was the House of Commons, what was the Government about to have abolished the very department which was to secure us against the recurrence of calamities of this kind?" If there had never been in this country any such thing as cholera—if the population had never been swept away in consequence of defective arrangements for sanitary purposes—then he could understand any one saying, "We don't want any particular department to look after our health—let the country take care of its own health;" but really, after the sad experience we had had upon former occasions, after the population had been twice swept away by a visitation of that kind, and when even during the last summer we had a most awful warning of the consequences of improper and imperfect arrangements, he did not see how any one could seriously propose that a department of this kind should forthwith be abolished. If Brighton did not wish to be included in the arrangements of the Board, there would be no difficulty in excluding that town. Now in every town there were two parties known by the two designations corresponding to those of Whig and Tory, and almost dividing the town—the one was the clean party, and the other was the dirty party. These were the well-known factions. One man would say, "I am of the dirty party—I like the dirt—I don't choose to pay for being clean." Now, in the towns where the dirty party prevailed, the arrangements of the Board of Health did not apply, for the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton had said enough to show that it was not in the power of the Board of Health to compel the dirty party to submit to the clean party. A provisional order could not be issued without a preliminary proceeding indicating the desire of a certain portion of the inhabitants to have these arrangements established, and where applications had been made to convert provisional orders into law, they could not be so converted, except with the consent of Parliament. In many cases these orders had been rejected by Parliament, and that was conclusive evidence that the Board of Health could not impose on a town arrangements which the town might think inconvenient and useless. If hon. Members were to read the accounts which it had been his lot to read of the condition of some towns, they would be surprised, not at the occurrence of periodical visitation of disease, 1297 but that the population was not altogether extinguished. The condition of Newcastle, for instance, was enough to make any man shudder to think that such a state of things should exist in a civilised country. The successful exertions of the Board of Health to avert cases of disease, so far from exposing them to animadversion, entitled them to the thanks of the country. The object of the Board of health was not to administer local arrangements, but to promote local self-government under the arrangements which they might suggest. Where local Boards of Health had been established they had made arrangements of the most important description, relative to drainage and the water supply, adding greatly to the health and comfort of towns. He thought that it was of infinite importance that this machinery should not for the present be disturbed, more especially at this moment, when they could not say that before the winter arrived they should not be exposed to a recurrence of that awful visitation of the cholera, a warning of which they had received last summer. He could not, therefore, give his consent to the proposal of his hon. and gallant Friend to abolish the Board at the time he proposed. He was ready to admit that the constitution of the Board required alteration. The fault of the present arrangement was this, that it was a Board vested with considerable powers, not represented in Parliament by any public officer having a control over its proceedings, and responsible for those proceedings. There might be different ways of reconstituting the Board. It might, for instance, be constituted without any limitation, or with a limitation of time. He considered a limitation of time reasonable, and had given notice of his intention to propose the continuance of the Board under certain modifications for two years. during which time an opportunity would be afforded of ascertaining whether it worked efficiently or not. It appeared to him that the care of the health of the country fell properly within the functions of the office which he had the honour to hold—the Secretary of State for the Home Department, being generally charged with regard to the interests of the country at large, was the person who ought to be made responsible for this peculiar duty. He intended to propose that the Board should continue as at present for two years; that it should consist of two paid members and one unpaid member; but that it should be subject to the instructions and directions of the Secretary 1298 of State, The consequence would be that the Secretary of State would have a controlling power over the Board, and that if complaints should be made of its proceedings, he would have the power of calling it to account, and of sanctioning or rescinding its proceedings, giving an account thereof to Parliament. The department would then be constitutionally represented in that House, and it appeared to him that the Secretary of State for the Home Department was the person who ought to be liable to blame or censure, if blame or censure should attach, and who ought to be guided by the opinion of that House upon any matter pending, with respect to which the opinion of Parliament might be required. This, then, was the general outline of the Bill which he intended to propose. He really thought it impossible, with a due regard to the public health, to discontinue these arrangements at the present moment. He did not at all mean to say that, there would be any necessity for the permanent continuance of such a Board. It was very possible that when more towns had organised themselves, and made provision for their own security, the central Board might no longer be required, for the action of that Board almost ceased as soon as a local Board had been established. Under all the circumstances, however, he could not, at this moment, agree to the Motion to reduce the Vote.
said, he agreed with his noble Friend that many sanitary measures might be introduced and carried out; and it was because he wished to see them carried out that he objected to the principle of a Board which, instead of carrying out sanitary measures, had made sanitary measures unpopular. He thought that, under the present constitution of the Board of Health, this must be the result of its operations, because sanitary measures were brought in, not by the free will of the people, but by the despotic interference of this central Board. His noble Friend had said, that people were unwilling to hear about the Board of Health until disease occurred, and that when disease occurred they turned round and inquired what the Government had been about. Now, he wished himself to inquire what the Government had been about, and for this plain reason, that they were promised last year an amendment in the constitution of the Board of Health, that no such amendment had been made, and that the Committee was now called upon to vote for the main- 1299 tenance of that Board in its present form, although everybody admitted—and his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Works had declared—that it was most unsatisfactory. Surely this was a most unreasonable proceeding. He would remind his noble Friend the Home Secretary that there were two paid Commissioners—that one of those Commissioners had been appointed for the purpose of carrying out the Burial Act—that the Burial Act had been abandoned—but that, nevertheless, the Commissioner remained. His noble Friend had given no reply to the inquiry why the Commissioner had been retained, although the business of the Commissioner had been abolished. But what he wanted to know was, who was to be responsible for the proceedings of the Board. His right hon. Friend (Sir W. Molesworth) had stated—and had stated very properly—that he would not he responsible for those proceedings, because he was only an individual member of the Board, and his opinion might be overruled by his colleagues. When he (Lord Seymour) was himself at the Board of Works. and, after communicating with the other Members of the Government, had made a communication to the Board of Health as to the course which he thought they should adopt, he was told that his proposition was not seconded—that the members of the Board knew nothing of what the Government might wish; they only knew that, at their Board, the proposal was not seconded, and it consequently fell to the ground. Was that the way in which public business was to be conducted? Were they to be called on to vote money for the maintenance of a Board which carried on its proceedings in this way. and set the Government at defiance? The only way to bring these gentlemen to reason was just to stop their salaries. His noble Friend had said, that if they had seen the accounts sent in by the inspectors they would vote this money immediately. He had himself visited a town immediately after a Report of that kind had been sent in, and having taken the Report in his hand and tested by personal examination the statements which were made in it, he had no hesitation in declaring that a more exaggerated Report he had never read. The invariable recommendation of the inspector was, that the towns which they were sent to visit should be brought under the Board of Health; and what did the Board of Health do in return? Why, they stated that the 1300 inspector had devised a very beautiful system of drainage, and that he had better he allowed to carry it out; and it the town did not adopt this advice, and did not employ the inspector, there were such hindrances or difficulties thrown in its way that it soon bitterly repented it. The fact was, that the inspector brought in the Board, and then the Board brought in the inspector. This was the system they were asked to maintain, and because they objected to maintain it, they were told that they were objecting to sanitary measures. Upon the question of local self-government, he must remind his noble Friend that there were many orders of the Board of Health which did not require the sanction of Parliament—which only required the confirmation of an Order in Council—a proceeding against which it was impossible to offer as effectual a resistance as might be made to the passing of the Bill, and that thus many a town had been brought against its will under the coercion of the Board of Health. His noble Friend had also said, what an excellent system of drainage they had established He doubted it. Their system was utterly denied by the best engineers of the metropolis; and when they stated that they had brought in, instead of brick sewers, a new system of sewers graduated in size, he must observe that their graduated sewers unfortunately choked up, and that they thus created a nuisance where they professed to be about to drain. They had published a pamphlet in defence of their proceedings, which was almost an indecent thing to have been sent out by a Government establishment, and in which they had set down certain "conclusions" arrived at by the Board of Health, but denied by everybody else. He should like his noble Friend to state whether that pamphlet, called "A Report of the Board of Health," was in the same form now in which he had received it from the Board; because he must say that a good deal of it had the appearance of having been "cooked." The Report impugned the motives of the Members of that House, because the measures of the Board were not approved there; and stated that an intimation had been received that the Parliamentary agents looked upon those measures as an interference with their emoluments. He did not mean to say that a good system might not be established. They had seen in old times how the Poor Law had stood in that House. Who was at the Poor Law Board then? The same 1301 person who was at the Board of Health now. And who had brought the Poor Law into detestation in this country? Who heard any complaints of that law now, under the administration of his right hon. Friend below him (Mr. Baines)? Were they to go on, then, maintaining the Board of Health in upholding a system which was so unpopular? He thought it desirable that, at all events, the Government should withdraw the Vote until the House of Commons had been informed upon what system the Board was to be continued. When they knew that, it would be time enough to vote the salaries.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, his noble Friend must have been so intent upon the argument which he had made up his mind to offer to the Committee, that the observations which had fallen from him (Viscount Palmerston) must have fallen noiselessly on his ear. He had endeavoured to state to the Committee—vainly, as it appeared, so far as his noble Friend was concerned—what were the alterations which he intended to propose. His noble Friend had stated that when he had gone to the Board of Health as President of the Board of Works, no one had seconded his Motion—that no one had the power of controlling the proceedings of the Board—and that no person in that House was responsible for those proceedings. He had stated that his intention was that there should be a control for the future—that that control was to be given to the Secretary of State for the Home Department—that when the Secretary of State proposed anything, there would be no need that any one should second it—that any such proposal would take the form of an order, which must be obeyed—and that the Secretary of State would stand there, as an official person, responsible for all that he permitted the Board to do, and for all that he did not compel it to do. He was, therefore, surprised that his noble Friend should have passed over what he had said as if it had never been said at all.
said, he thought it was important that they should have the Bill first; and when they knew what the constitution of the Board was to be, it would be time enough to vote the money for carrying it on.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, he had, for his part, listened most attentively to the speech of his noble Friend, and he considered that the speech of the noble Member for Totnes had been quite to the 1302 purpose. As far as he understood it, the plan of his noble Friend embodied precisely the same Board of Health that now existed, and that was precisely a prominent objection to the plan. There was no doubt that a Board of Health, properly constituted, would be one of the most useful and acceptable institutions of the country, and what he desired to see was a Board of Health placed on such a footing that it should enjoy the confidence of the country, without which confidence such a Board must be worse than useless. As to the present Board of Health, he would undertake to say that a more unpopular Board was never appointed, and, therefore, it could not he useful, The noble Member for Totnes had put a question as to the pamphlet he had described to the Committee, which his noble Friend had not answered. He (Sir B. Hall) had been informed, on good authority, that a Report had been sent from the Board of Health to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as the Report of the Board of Health; that this Report was then sent by the Secretary of State to the printer, by whom it was forwarded to the Board of Health, who, without the knowledge or consent of the Secretary of State, made large alterations and additions thereto; that the Report, so altered and enlarged by the acting members of the Board, was printed under their directions, and, so printed, was distributed by them—to the number of 4,000—throughout the country. before it came at all into the hands of Members of that House. This was, among other grave objections to the proceeding, a striking illustration of that profligacy of expenditure upon printing which so discreditably characterised the Board of Health, and which was well deserving the attention of the Treasury. The Report thus printed and distributed was not a fair Report of the Board of Health as a public department, but a pamphlet written by Mr. Chadwick in laudation of the proceedings of himself and his acting colleague, wholly valueless as a Report of the department. He felt it his duty to point out to the Committee and to the country what was the real composition of this Board. At the outset it had been clearly designed that there should be a responsible member of the Commission in Parliament, responsible there for the proceedings of the Board, and that officer was to have been the Chief Commissioner of Works. No one, however, could possibly censure the right hon. Gentleman now. 1303 filling that office for having practically withdrawn from the proceedings of the Board, and their responsibility, so soon as he found by repeated experience that his assistance and his services were set at nought by the acting Commissioners, who were sure to outvote him on any point which did not precisely suit their particular views. The right hon. Baronet had honestly manifested his desire to go on with these persons, and had only withdrawn when he found this an impracticable endeavour. The next member of the Commission whom he would name was a nobleman whom all must eminently respect and esteem for his benevolent intentions—the Earl of Shaftesbury; but this upright and well-intentioned nobleman was no match for Mr. Edwin Chadwick and Dr. Southwood Smith, the paid Commissioners, who systematically acted in concert together, and who were, in fact, the Board. When his noble Friend said he intended to-morrow to introduce a Bill to continue the Board, he concurred with him in the propriety of that intention; but he entirely differed from him in the view that there should continue to be two paid members and one unpaid member, understanding that this view contemplated that the two paid members should still be Mr. Chadwick and Dr. Southwood Smith. He conceived it a perfectly fair proposition on the part of the noble Member for Totnes that the House should postpone its assent to this Vote till it saw what was to be the composition of the Board. He was perfectly certain that if the Board was to continue, composed of the same members as now constituted it, putting aside the Chief Commissioner of Works, such a Board would be worse than useless, because the country at large utterly repudiated and rejected the two persons whom he had especially specified—Mr. Chadwick and Dr. Southwood Smith. When the House was called upon to sanction the appointment of public officers, it ought closely to investigate the antecedents of the persons nominated for their approbation. Now, what were the antecedents of the two worthies he had named? He would beg leave to sketch an outline of their past career not wholly minimising in itself, and which would enable the House to judge whether their services had been such as to entitle them to the confidence of the House and of the country. In the year 1831 there was a great agitation against the Poor Law, and in 1832 Mr. Edwin Chadwick, who 1304 had not been unknown in that agitation, was appointed a Commissioner to inquire into the Poor Law. In 1834 Mr. Chadwick was appointed Secretary to the Poor Law Commission, with a salary of 1,500l. per annum. So soon as he was appointed to that office, instead of working in the most lenient manner a measure which gave most enormous powers to the Commission, powers almost unprecedented, Mr. Chadwick worked the law with such severity, he issued rules of such atrocious stringency, separating for the first time men from their wives, parents from their children, that the law became almost intolerable; and the scenes which took place in consequence of the proceedings of the Poor Law Commission, of which this Mr. Chadwick was the prime mover, resulted in the notorious Andover inquiry. During the sitting of that Committee, facts were adduced which led to the dissolution of the Commission and the dismissal of Mr. Chadwick. The Commission was then placed under the charge of Mr. Charles Buller, next under that of Mr. Strutt, then under that of Mr. Baines, next under that of Sir John Trollope, and, lastly, again under that of Mr. Baines, by whose successive care these monstrously stringent rules had been relaxed, and now the Poor Law, as the noble Lord had remarked, worked in almost entire harmony with the feelings of the people, and had become an institution of the greatest value to the country. These broad facts manifested the impolicy of continuing a person of the character of Mr. Chadwick in office. His failure—his utter failure—in the Poor Law Commission was matter of universal admission; nay, more, one Commissioner, Sir Frankland Lewis, had not hesitated to denounce him as an unscrupulous and dangerous man. Having thus failed, and worse than failed, in connection with the Poor Law, Mr. Chadwick turned his attention to sanitary measures, with which he had continued mixed up until this day. He concocted a pamphlet on the subject, with the aid of his friend Dr. Southwood Smith, with whom he had been closely knit ever since, and in company with whom he managed, its 1847, after his dismissal from the Poor Law Board, to get appointed a paid Commissioner to inquire into the sanitary condition of the metropolis. They drew up a Report on the subject. which, so far rightly enough, recommended the dissolution of the then Metropolitan Sewers Commission. A new Commission was appointed, and— 1305 this was in November, 1847—Mr. Chadwick got appointed, still in company with his worthy friend Dr. Southwood Smith, one of the new Commissioners. The pair had not long been in office before they worked a quarrel with the other Commissioners, which resulted in the dissolution of the Commission. A fresh Commission was appointed, and the pair again got up a quarrel with their brother Commissioners, terminating, as before, in the dissolution of the Commission. But the Metropolitan Sanitary Commission, of which Mr. Chadwick and Dr. Smith were paid members, could not last long, and in order to perpetuate their services the General Board of Health was got up, under Mr. Chadwick's auspices, Mr. Chadwick himself getting appointed a Commissioner at 1,500l. a year; and in this Board he had failed as signally and as mischievously as in the two other Boards, for by his proceedings, concocted with his friend, Dr. Southwood Smith, who still accompanied him, he had managed to render the Board of Health well nigh as unpopular as he had rendered the Poor Law Board, and consequently to render it ineffectual for the valuable purposes to which, under sound and honest management, it might be applied. If, then, an attempt were made to continue this most objectionable person upon the Board, he would resist that endeavour to the utmost of his power. The chief Commissioners, in succession, had found it impracticable to control the mischievous vagaries and extravagances of these two persons, and the only remedy was to get rid of them altogether. The series of offices which Mr. Chadwick had held was, according to Hs own return, as follows:—Commissioner of Inquiry into the Poor Laws, 1832; Commissioner of Inquiry into Employment of Persons in Factories, 1833; Commissioner of Inquiry into the Establishment of a Constabulary Force, 1839; preparation of Sanitary Reports, 1842 and 1843; Commissioner of Metropolitan Sewers; Secretary of the Poor Law Commission; Commissioner of the Metropolitan Sanitary Commission, and now Commissioner of the Board of Health, with, in most eases, large salaries, but what the practical services were which he had rendered to the public remained to be discovered. He himself (Sir B. was quite at a loss to know what services this man had rendered to the community. He might be asked, why did he, a metropolitan Member, thus especially interest himself in proceedings which os- 1306 tensibly affected only country localities? As a metropolitan Member he had good reason to interpose, for he saw the encroachments of these men making their way to the metropolis itself, and menacing it with the same mischiefs and the same discontents which they had engendered everywhere else. At the close of last year there appeared in the Times and other London papers notices of the regulations under which the Metropolitan Buildings Act was to be carried out in the burial-grounds of London. Those regulations, which many believed emanated from the Board of Health, or from some of the members of that Board, were of the most outrageous character, separating in their graves the parents from their children, and were so offensive and so disgusting to the finer feelings of mankind, that there was a commotion in all parts of the metropolis, letters were sent to the noble Lord the Home Secretary to know what was meant by these regulations, and his noble Friend was obliged to have a letter published in the morning papers in order to set the public mind at rest. His letter was to the effect, that no general regulations had been issued for the new burial-grounds, and it satisfied the public mind that the Board of Health would not dare to enforce its regulations. He would now state the various offices held by Dr. Smith, and it would be seen how invariably he had been associated with his present colleague. He had been Commissioner of Inquiry into the Employment of Persons in Factories; Commissioner of Inquiry on the Employment of Children and young Persons in Mines and Manufactories; Inspector of Sanitary Reports for Poor Law Commission in 1842 and 1843; Commissioner on Metropolitan Sanitary Inquiry; Commissioner of Sewers; preparation of evidence for the Select Committee on Health of Towns; preparation of evidence for Health of Towns Commissioners, 1844; and now Commissioner of the Board of Health. It had been said truly that Dr. Southwood Smith was appointed to carry into effect the Metropolitan Interment Act, an Act which had been brought forward in 1850, when it was opposed by the metropolitan Members, who had warned the Government that it would not work. What they said had proved true. It had been forced upon them, and in 1852 it had to be repealed, but Dr. Southwood Smith had been appointed to carry out its provisions, and thus another of Mr. Chadwick's objects was at- 1307 tained. When the noble Lord the Member for Colchester (Lord J. Manners) was Chief Commissioner of Works he had given a pledge that the subject should be brought under the consideration of the Government, and the Vote for Dr. Southwood Smith was passed in 1852–53 with a full and distinct understanding that there should be no Vote for him again in 1853–54; but now we were called upon, in l854–55. to pass a Vote for the salary of this gentleman, who had been appointed to carry out the provisions of an Act which had been found to be unworkable, and had been repealed. It was perfectly monstrous that an officer who had been appointed to carry out the provisions of an Act should continue to receive a salary for doing so after the Act had been repealed. He begged and prayed his noble Friend, if he intended to bring in a Bill, to consider seriously the reconstruction of the Board. He did not at all desire to abolish the Board, but he wished to see it reconstructed in a useful manner, so as to make it creditable to the Government and popular with the country; but he told his noble Friend that, if he attempted to place Dr. Southwood Smith and Mr. Chadwick at the head of the Board could not possibly be either popular or useful. If he were asked by the Secretary of the Treasury whether he would give these gentlemen 1,500l., and 1,200l. a year respectively out of the public funds, and send them about their business, or retain them in their present situations for the same salary, he would say, "For God's sake pay them the money and send them about their business, if you believe they have been of service to the State, but it is impossible to get on with them." He (Sir B. Hall) had already stated that the Board of Health had not now any jurisdiction within the metropolis. It would be his duty to see that no additional powers were granted to that department, and he hoped that the provincial districts might soon be equally freed from the interference of the present Commissioners, and that the Board might be reconstructed in such a manner as to ensure the confidence of the country.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he must beg to explain that all the knowledge he had of the Report alluded to by his hon. Friend (Sir B. Hall) was, that it was sent by the Board of Health to the Home Office to be printed and laid before Parliament. It was their Report, and they were perfectly authorised at any time to make any 1308 alteration they pleased in it, and to place in a more correct form the statement, they wished to make to Parliament. He (Viscount Palmerston) could not cut out or object to any part of the statement which they made on their own credit and reputation. The Bill which he intended to introduce would give him a control over the Board; and when it was stated that no one could keep those gentlemen in order, he ventured to think that any man who had the honour to hold the office which he held would be able to keep in order any one whom the law made subject to obey his orders.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, he understood that after the Report was sent to the printer matter was introduced into it that had never been sent to the Home Office.
said, with reference to the observations that had been made with respect to the sanitary state of Newcastle, he was willing to admit that there were parts of the town which it was painful to witness, and which would require long and continued exertion before they could he made conformable to modern sanitary principles, but at the same time, when he compared that town with parts of London, or parts of other large towns in the country, he would say there was not any material difference between them. The present Board of Health did not possess the confidence of the country, and it was perfectly essential, in an undertaking of this description, that the Board should be supported by all the circumstances that could give it authority. It was not only necessary to reform the central authority, but they should also direct their attention to the manner in which the local powers were carried into effect, so that some power might be established which would be sufficiently strong to control private interests, which generally opposed themselves to sanitary rules.
§ MR. HEYWOOD
said, that to a Board of this kind a certain degree of unpopularity must always be expected to attach; but he was quite willing to allow that the present members of the Board had their share of the unpopularity, though he did not think they deserved all the censure that was cast upon them by the hon. Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall). In some parts of the country their efforts had been unfortunate, but in other parts their exertions had been attended with success. He could speak from long personal acquaintance with those gentlemen, and he believed them both thoroughly to under- 1309 srand the subject, and believed it to be of importance to the welfare of the people of the country that the persons placed on the Board of Health should be masters of the subject. The medical department was taken by Dr. Southwood Smith, and Mr. Chadwick attended to the engineering and more practical parts; but he (Mr. Heywood) was glad to hear from the noble Lord the Secretary of State that the Board was to be under his control.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he had no objection to accede to the proposal of his noble Friend (Lord Seymour) which only appeared reasonable. As he was to bring in a Bill on the following day, he would agree that this particular Vote should be postponed.
§ MR. APSLEY PELLATT
said, he was of opinion that it would be of no use to bring in a new Bill unless the Board was entirely reconstructed. The Commissioners had been tried and found wanting, and if they were appointed on the new Board more harm than good would result. Let them take the engineering department, and go to any civil engineers' society, and see if they could find a man of any eminence to agree with the engineering recommendation of the Commissioners. Let them take the medical and scientific department, and they would find that every man of any eminence in the country differed altogether from the Commissioners.
Motion and Original Question, by leave, withdrawn.
(3.) 13,930l., Incumbered Estates Commission.
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, he wished to ask whether any provision had been made by the Government for the removal of the Court from its present site, as the effect of its present position was to throw the whole of the business into the hands of two or three barristers, and those the relatives of the Commissioners? Indeed it was common on that account to say it was an Ecclesiastical Court, the business of which went according to the Statute of distributions among the next of kin. It gave rise to suspicions that the business was not done with fairness; suspicions, however, which he could not countenance.
§ SIR JOHN YOUNG
said, he was not insensible to the evils of the present site, and that it was essential to the administration of justice that the Court should be attended by a numerous bar; there were obstacles, however, in the way of the removals, but the question was still under consideration.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he considered the whole expenses of this Court ought to be paid out of the sales of estates.
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, he hoped the right hon. Baronet would not think he was pertinaciously pressing him on this subject in asking him to lay on the table the correspondence which had passed between the benchers and the Irish Government.
§ SIR JOHN YOUNG
said, the original proposition of the benchers was to give the land, and the Government to build the Court. The Government, as the building was merely temporary, declined, but offered to find the land if the benchers would erect the building. That they refused, and the last proposal was, that the benchers should give the land fur a temporary building. That was under consideration, and thus matters stood.
Vote agreed to.
(4.) 15,000l., Charity Commission.
MR. E. ELLICE
said, the public hoped, when they heard of the appointment of this Charity Commission, that sufficient powers would have been conferred upon them by the Legislature to attain the object in view. The greatest care, however, had been taken to avoid giving them the least power beyond the power of inquiry, which power was not so very essential, inasmuch as full inquiry had been made by the old Charity Commissioners. With reference to a case in which he took a great interest—that of a town where 10,000l. or 12,000l. was bestowed in charity, great part of which might be applied to more useful purposes than at present—he had applied to the Commissioners upon the subject of the state of these charities. An inspector was accordingly sent down, who was now upon that mission, but he could only report exactly what had been reported previously by the Charity Commission as to the state of the accounts and the uses to which the moneys of these different trusts were applied. When a report was so made, the Charity Commission, as now. constituted, had only the power to enable, the trustees, or other persons in whom the management of these trusts was vested, to apply to the Court of Chancery for amendment of the different scales upon which the charities were now distributed. Now, if these Commissioners could propose no, new schemes for the application of these. charities, or if it was thought inexpedient to give them the power of deciding abso- 1311 lutely upon these schemes—if they were not to be at liberty to recommend to this House such Bills for the reform and amendment and better application of these charities than that which now existed—it would be better at once to say to the public, "It is impossible for us to interfere with the administration of the Court of Chancery, and therefore you are left in the same difficulties in which you have been placed ever since the Report of the original Charity Commissioners." He hoped an efficient person would be placed at the head of the Commission.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that upon assuming his present office, he had resigned his seat at the Commission, believing the duties of the two offices to be inconsistent. He considered that his right hon. Friend in his observations had rather underrated the labours of the Charity Commissioners. There were cases in which they could propose schemes and carry them into effect if sanctioned by Parliament. In the greater number of cases, however, their powers were no doubt limited to inquiry, and to sanctioning schemes to be laid before the Court of Chancery for ratification. He believed that the Report of the Commissioners, which would be laid before Parliament at the commencement of next Session, would show that they had an enormous amount of business thrown upon them which their present staff was inadequate to transact. They had had a great number of applications to inquire into charities from all parts of the kingdom, necessarily involving an extent of correspondence which it was perfectly impossible to conduct with the limited accommodation which was at present provided for them. This had been represented to die Treasury, and a house had been taken for them in St. James's Square. They could not, however, obtain possession of it until this or the next month, and it had been thought better not to make the necessary additions to the staff of the Commissioners until that time. He could bear a willing testimony to the zealous manlier in which the paid Commissioners had devoted themselves to the discharge of their duties, but at the same time he must admit that the Commissioners themselves felt that their powers were quite inadequate to the discharge of the duties which were expected from them. It was, however, thought better not to apply to Parliament for any extension of their powers until there had been a year's experience of the working 1312 of the Commission, but no doubt a measure having this object would be laid before the House next Session.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ The House resumed.
§ The House adjourned at half after One o'clock.