HC Deb 19 May 1857 vol 145 cc542-617

Order for Second Reading read.


rose and said that, in consequence of what had taken place a few evenings before, when the Bill had boon introduced, and in consequence of the Amendment placed on the paper by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, and considering also that there were a great many Members in the House who had not been present at the former discussions upon its subject, he must claim the indulgence of the House while he entered somewhat fully into the reasons why he claimed their votes in favour of the measure under their notice. In the first instance, he might be permitted to refer to a matter personal to himself. If any private Member were liable to adverse criticism for presuming to introduce an important public measure, he was that individual. On the first day of the Session the First Minister, in the course of a casual conversation, stated, in reply to an inquiry from himself, that it was the determination of the Government to take the measure into their own hands. Subsequently the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, with that delicate courtesy which he (Mr. Fagan) highly appreciated, communicated to him that as he (Mr. Fagan) had so long had charge of the measure, and devoted his attention to it, he (Viscount Palmerston) thought he was entitled to the option of either permitting the Government to take it out of his hands or to take charge of it himself. On an occasion of this kind he hoped he was above personal considerations, and the first impulse of his mind was to leave the responsibility and the entire conduct of the measure to the Government; but, having consulted those of his friends who had been mixed up in it, he found they were unanimously of opinion that he should persist in bringing it forward himself. Nor did he regret this, for certainly, the state of public business showed that as a Government measure it would hardly have been standing for a second reading at so early a period of the Session. He humbly said, however, that be did not think the question had, up to the present time, suffered from being in his hands; but if the friends of the measure thought that, after the division of that evening, which he hoped would be a triumphant one, he should commit the care of the Bill to the Government, he would most heartily adopt that course. He should now proceed to give the House a short history of the tax before he stated the reasons why he thought it should be abolished. It had been first imposed by Act of Parliament in the reign of Charles II. upon the city of Dublin and other corporate towns in Ireland having the cure of souls, but which did not at the time possess any provision for the maintenance of the ministers of the Established Church. The Lord Lieutenant and Privy Council had authority given them to name the towns upon which it should be levied, and had fixed for that purpose, besides Dublin, upon the towns of Cork, Water-ford, Limerick, Clonmel, Kilkenny, Drogheda, and Kinsale. Now, it appeared somewhat remarkable that those eight towns should have been chosen for the payment of the tax, inasmuch as they were inhabited principally by Roman Catholics, while Belfast, Enniskillen, and other flourishing towns in the north of Ireland, the greater proportion of whose inhabitants were members of the Established Church, were exempted from the operation of the tax altogether. This Act of Charles II. was passed in the year 1665—three years after the Act of Declaration of Charles II.—when that Act had been made more adverse to the interests of the Roman Catholics. It had been argued by the hon. Member for the University of Dublin that the house property had originally belonged to Protestants, and had subsequently been transferred to Roman Catholics, and that therefore the Roman Catholics had no reason to complain. He (Mr. Fagan) was a disciple of Adam Smith, and he believed with him, and with Ricardo and M'Culloch, who entertained the same views, that all taxes on house property were essentially a tax upon the occupiers and not upon the property. Therefore it was that lie had not agreed with the statement made by the hon. Member for Enniskillen before the Court of Chancery last Session—namely, that this tax was originally a tax upon the Protestant inhabitants of those towns for the maintenance of their own religion and ministers of their own persuasion. Assuming that to be the case, however, it only proved that they might as well expect to stop the rising tide as stop the entrance and growth of the national religion of a country when the people were faithful to that religion. The Act had in 1689 been felt to be so unjust, that when James II., in that year, assembled a Parliament in Ireland—a Parliament not recognized in this country because it was assembled by him—that Parliament had passed an Act abolishing ministers' money. In the preamble to this Act the tax was declared to be "a new inquisition, which had become very grievous." That, he contended, was a convincing proof of the feelings of the people of Ireland on the subject, when, some twenty-eight years after its enactment by Charles II., it had been repealed by an Irish Parliament convened by his own brother James. Attempts had been made to prove that this tax had not been felt as a grievance by the Irish people, because the question had not till a comparatively recent date been brought before that House. The reason was that for the 150 years that the tax had endured, it had been but a small infliction compared with the great grievances to which Ireland had been subjected. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to mention the various penal enactments against Roman Catholics in Ireland, from the reign of William III. down to George IV., and continued: That was why they had heard nothing of this ministers' money tax, because Ireland had been oppressed with so many greater evils. But in the year 1842 it had been brought for the first time to the notice of that House by a former colleague of his own, Mr. Serjeant Murphy, then one of the Representatives for Cork, who had proposed the abolition of ministers money; but then there had been no substitute proposed, or, at least, the hon. Member had not thought of a substitute. He (Mr. Fagan) had not the honour of a seat in Parliament until 1847, but in 1848 he brought the question under the consideration of the House. He then proposed that a substitute should be found in the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Those funds then amounted to about £70,000 a year, but he showed that year after year they would be in process of being increased until they amounted to £100,000 a year. A Select Committee was appointed to consider the subject. He objected to that course, because he thought that a sufficient argument in favour of the repeal of the tax was to be found in the annually increasing income of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and he regarded the Select Committee as another mode of shelving the question. However, the Select Com- mittee went into the inquiry, and he saw some hon. Gentlemen opposite who were Members of that Committee. They reported that the augmentation of the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners might be rendered available as a substitute for ministers' money. They recommended an amendment of the Church Temporalities Act, and they added that, although a new trust would be necessary, compensating advantages would be found in the social, moral, and religious considerations which demanded the repeal of the tax. At the time of the appointment of the Ecclesiastical Commission, church rates existed in Ireland, though not to so large an amount as in England; the sum thus raised was only £70, 000 a year; but it was felt to be so great a grievance and insult to contribute to it that there was a general rising against church rates in Ireland, and for two years the churches were left without repair. Now, who was the individual who came down to that House and proposed the abolition of church rates in Ireland? It was the present Earl of Derby, the leader of the party which was represented by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and from which the opposition to the repeal of ministers' money proceeded. The reasons that induced that noble Lord to propose the repeal of church rates were ten times more applicable to this tax. In the debate on the Church Temporalites Act Lord Derby, then Mr. Stanley, declared that it was the general opinion that, for the sake of the tranquillity and good order of the country, a different distribution of church property ought to be made, the mode in which the money was collected being in many instances more annoying to the Roman Catholics than the mere amount collected. This remark exactly applied to the case of ministers' money. The sum of £12, 500 was not in itself a very heavy tax; it was the religious feelings which its imposition excited that made it odious. Lord Derby further stated that the measure of the Government was one which the best friends of the Church thought would be advantageous to that body, while it would afford relief to the people of Ireland, and also tend to promote union, not only between Catholic and Protestant, but between Ireland and England. Such were the sentiments of Lord Derby, the leader of the great party Opposition which now threatened a violent resistance to this Bill. Was there anything in the present state of things which should make them depart from the views thus expressed by Lord Derby? He (Mr. Fagan) ventured to say, if this Bill went up to the other House, that that noble Lord would not recede from the opinions to which he had formerly given utterance. He (Mr. Fagan), and those acting with him, had not proposed, as a substitute for ministers' money, to tax any churchman, or to reduce any bishopric. They had merely proposed that as by a recent Act of the Government, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were in possession of ample funds to pay £12, 500, they should not come down to seven towns and create and intensify religious differences by the collection of that tax. What, however, was the substitute of the Government of the day for the removal of church rates? Lord Derby proposed, in the first instance, that ten bishoprics should he destroyed, and that when each fell vacant by death the whole of the property and incomes attached to it should pass into the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He also proposed a tax on all benefices above £300 a year; that all benefices where Divine service had not been performed for a certain period, should, with due regard to vested interests, go to swell the funds of the Commissioners; and that the tithes of all livings above £800 a year should, on their avoidance, be appropriated to the purposes of the Commission. Another arrangement which he made was that bishops' leases might on certain terms be converted into perpetuities. Mr. Finlaison, one of the ablest actuaries of the day, computed the value of those leases, when so converted, at £1, 500, 000; and on the plan being first adopted, an income of £40, 000 a year was obtained by the Commissioners from this source. This sum had, however, since then greatly fallen off; and he (Mr. Fagan) thought that these perpetuities ought to be made more available to increase the funds of the Commission. This might easily he accomplished if the state of the law were only improved. For that purpose he would suggest that there should be a larger bonus given to the purchaser and to the new tenant, to enable them to go on, and where those I purchasers left the purchase money on mortgage in purchasing the land, that, they should only be called upon to pay 3 per cent interest instead of 5. If that suggestion were adopted, the result would be an almost unlimited income to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. At present no persons holding bishops' leases would come in and purchase. In 1848 the income of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was £70, 000. Now it was over £100, 000, and there was a yearly increase because the avoidances of benefices had not all yet occurred. Their expenditure for church purposes, which underwent very little alteration, was £35, 000. Of this sum £22, 000 went to pay sextons and parish clerks, and a clergyman of the Established Church had informed him that by consolidating the offices of these functionaries £8, 000 of this £22, 000 might be easily saved. He ventured to suggest, also, that the means for providing the elements for the Communion should be collected at the offertory, and not taken from the funds of the Commission. The next item of expenditure was that for Dublin curates; and here he would say that he believed it was entirely by inadvertence that the ministers' money had not been included in the Church Temporalities Act of Lord Stanley. A large portion of these funds was appropriated to the defraying of the expenses of working the Ecclesiastical Commission. He had no desire to inflict an injury upon any private person for the sake of the public good, but the information which he had received justified his suggestion that if there were only one instead of two paid Commissioners the work would be admirably done. The greatest item of expenditure was that relating to the repair and rebuilding of churches. It was a remarkable fact that during the last year the Commissioners paid away £12, 500 under that head, the average expenditure being several thousand pounds less. The sum expended last year was only equalled in two previous years since the establishment of the Commission—namely, the first year of the Commission's existence, when several churches were found to be in great need of repair, and the year of the great storm, when three-fourths of the churches were unroofed. He did not wish to impute bad motives without cause, but the extraordinary large expenditure of last year certainly gave rise to the suspicion that the Commissioners were determined to reduce as much as possible the surplus which the Chief Secretary for Ireland had said was in their hands. He (Mr. Fagan) had been told that the expenditure was wasteful, and that in some instances churches had been repaired in which no Divine service was performed. He was glad that after the many laborious efforts which he had made in Parliament to put an end to this tax, and the many barren promises of support which he had received from Prime Ministers, the noble Lord now at the head of the Government was about to exercise all his influence in favour of this Bill. He could assure the noble Lord that his manly determination had gained for himself and his Cabinet more favour among the Roman Catholics of Ireland than any Government measure had gained for preceding Administrations since the passing of the Act of Catholic Emancipation. The Government of Lord. Aberdeen entered into a compromise with him (Mr. Fagan) on this question; but he at the same time declared that he should never cease his agitation until the tax was totally abolished. By that compromise all £10 houses wore exempted from the tax; and, although the Conservative Members were now present in large numbers for the purpose of opposing this Bill, yet they agreed in that compromise. That compromise and this Bill involved the same principle, and if hon. Gentlemen opposite did not think that the exemption of £10 houses was a violation of church property, neither should they oppose the total abolition of the tax when that abolition was justifiable as a State necessity. The present Chief Secretary for Ireland before his accession to that office always voted with him in the minorities upon this question, but as an instrument of the Government he was, of course, bound to see that the Act passed during the Administration of Lord Aberdeen was enforced when several of the Roman Catholic corporations refused to levy the tax. When the matter came before the Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer he said that the Act of Sir J. Young was inoperative; but, strange to say, that learned Judge added, that as it was the intention of the Legislature that it should operate it was his duty to compel the corporations to collect the tax. The law advisers of the corporations advise them that the Chief Baron had laid down bad law, and unless this Bill put an end to the discussion the matter would ultimately be taken by way of appeal to the House of Lords. The two conflicting principles at work were, on the one hand, the principle of religious liberty, and on the other, that religious ascendancy which found championship in hon. Gentlemen opposite. The noble Lord recommended religious amity. The party opposed wished to keep up a small abuse, in order to secure the existence of a larger one. On the one hand he had been accused of violating his oath in attempting to procure the repeal of this tax; on the other, he had been taunted with over fastidiousness with respect to that oath. He admitted that by that oath he disclaimed any intention of weakening the Established Church, or of injuring the Protestant religion. He conscientiously believed, that instead of injuring the Protestant religion by removing the excrescence which this tax constituted, he was benefiting it. He would not willingly do anything to infringe on the oath he had taken, and would sooner die a thousand deaths than violate his oath in advocating this measure. Thanking the House for the patience with which they had listened to him, he moved the second reading of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


rose to move the Amendment of which he had given notice, viz.: That the Bill should be read a second time that day six months. In dealing with this subject he would confine himself entirely to the principle of the Bill. That principle had been resisted by every Government that had been in power since he entered Parliament ten years ago. It was resisted by the Government of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London on several occasions, by the Government of Lord Aberdeen, by the Government of Lord Derby, and also by the Government of the noble Lord who was now the First Minister of the Crown. The principles involved in the Bill violated the sacred rights of property, and contravened the Church Temporalities Act, which he took to be a final settlement of the property question of the Church. What had fallen from the hon. Member, who introduced this subject, when he alluded to that Act, read to the House this lesson—that no concessions, however generous or liberal, would satisfy those whose ultimate object was the destruction of the Church Establishment of this country. He (Mr. Napier) could not expect in his arguments against this measure to make any impression on those who desired to make their voluntary system compulsory; nor could he expect to make any impression on those who voted with the late Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) when he proposed to set up all church property in Ireland to auction; but he did hope to make some impression on the attached members of the United Church of England and Ireland, and on the minds of sound constitutional Nonconformists; and he was not without hope of making some impression, if not on the vote, at least an the opinion and judgment, of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, for he believed the noble Lord had been misled into the position of supporting this Bill by an inconsiderate pledge given on the eve of last election. He spoke advisedly when he said he was misled into that position by the conduct of the Irish Government, and more particularly of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Horsman). In treating this question it was essential there should be no controversy about the facts of the case, and he would therefore call the attention of the House to those facts, which were indisputable. The hon. Member (Mr. Fagan) alluded to the early history of this charge, and had adverted rather indistinctly to its connection with the Act of Charles II., and the declaration of that Monarch involved in the Act. This charge arose after the Restoration, and it was not an unimportant part of the question to consider that if the owner of property, having perfect and complete power over it, put a charge upon it for religious purposes sanctioned by law, and if that property should afterwards come into the hands of persons who did not concur in the religious views of the owner who imposed the charge, they would, according to the principle of this Bill, be justified in refusing to pay the charge so imposed, though the property was acquired subject to it. That was exactly the state of things involved in this question. The declaration of Charles II. adverted to the importance of encouraging the plantation of Protestant colonies in Ireland. The north of Ireland had already been largely colonised by Protestants, and it was thought desirable to plant other parts of Ireland, and especially the towns, with English settlers. The words of the declaration were "That all Papists who for the public security have been dispossessed of estates within any corporation, shall be reprised out of forfeited lands near the said corporation," and reference was particularly made to three corporations—those of Cork, Youghal, and Kinsale, the very baronies being mentioned from which they were to be recouped for property which they had lost. The declaration then went on to state that Protestant plantations should be settled, churches should be built, and maintenance for ministers thereof provided, and then followed the "new rules" for encouraging religion and inducing English settlers to settle in those towns. Then let the House attend to the language of the Act which immediately followed, and in which the charge was imposed. It distinctly gave to the Lord Lieutenant a general power to "lay a charge on houses in Dublin and the other corporate towns, and to raise sums to be paid to the parochial incumbent having actual cure of souls therein." The sum was not to exceed 1s. in the pound, and no house was to be valued above £60 a year, and then, after some words more explicitly declaring the charge to be good and effectual in law, as if it were payable out of the house in each case, it gave as the only remedy for non-payment distraint upon the goods found upon the premises. The Law Officers of the Crown would admit that where no personal remedy was given in the case of a charge, and where the remedy was only by distress, it must be held to be strictly and peculiarly a charge on property. The statute clearly made it a charge on property. The Crown and Parliament having complete power over this property, and having recouped those who had suffered the loss of any part of it, then imposed on the property this charge for the support of parochial ministers, the persons then bound to pay the charge being Protestants and Protestants only. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Fagan) spoke of a precedent for the proposal in his Bill; and what was that precedent? It was the one set by James II. in 1689, when he attempted to repeal this Act of Charles II. That was the precedent which was held forth to be followed by the Protestant Prime Minister of the present day, and on the ground of that precedent he was asked to repeal a charge which was originally imposed, not on the property of Roman Catholics, but on Protestants, for no Roman Catholic could in those days hold property at all. He held that this which was the property of the United Church of England and Ireland, ought to be secured by as good a title, as were the estates of the hon. Gentlemen he saw around him, and which they so honourably enjoyed. He would now come to the Church Temporalities Act. The hon. Gentleman opposite gave it as his opinion that Lord Derby meant to include ministers' money in that Act, but the hon. Gentleman would find that in the very next Session after that Act passed there was an express reference made to parishes in which ministers' money was paid, and a section was introduced placing them on the same footing with rural benefices. Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Sheil were then in the House, and, though they were not sparing of their demands, and went as far as they could go with reference to Church property, there could be no doubt that they considered this as a permanent property of the Church. The Parliament abolished church rates, suppressed bishoprics, and taxed the clergy, but with this subject of ministers' money brought prominently before them, did not think that they were justified in touching it. It had never been suggested to confiscate the incomes of these parochial clergy; on the contrary, it was acknowledged by the Roman Catholics themselves that they were hard-working, meritorious men, and that it would be gross injustice to deprive them of one farthing of their incomes. What was the ground of objection to this tax? The proposition of the hon. Member was to take away from these meritorious men the income which they derived from a tax laid on property originally of Protestants, and which when it passed into the hands of Roman Catholics was taken with this charge upon it, for the simple reason that a proportion, though not a majority of those who were called on to pay the tax were Roman Catholics. Was this a principle which the noble Lord at the head of the Government would have his Parliament sanction? Was it a principle which any honourable man would sanction, that in a case, where no question could be raised between a debtor and his creditor but that of religion, a debtor should be allowed to repudiate a charge simply because he was of a different religion from his creditor? There was really no determining where such a proposition would stop. It would apply to the case of the tithe commutation. If the Roman Catholic tenant complained of the tithe rent-charge, the answer which he got was that it was part of his rent, that it had entered into the contract made when he took his land, that it was as much the property of the Church as the rent was his landlord's property, and that he had no more right to refuse the payment of the one than of the other. Two thirds of the charge were paid by the city of Dublin—by Protestants as well as Roman Catholics. It was a purely local charge, which people took into their consideration when they took a house, just as they did any other local charge; and was it reasonable that the whole should be swept away now, just because, forsooth! the noble Lord at the head of the Government, on the eve of the elections, misled by the Irish Secretary, and pressed by the hon. Member for Cork—a city which paid only one-sixth of the tax, and where, by the way, a very smart contest was then anticipated—had entered into certain stipulations, and allowed himself to give an imprudent promise of support to the Bill? The noble Lord had doubtless found out his mistake by this time, and would be glad to get out of the position to which he had committed himself, if it were possible with honour; it was to be hoped that some of his colleagues would come forward and extricate him. Let the House bear in mind the trusts of the Church Temporalities Act. That Act vested the property of the Church in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but entirely for Church purposes. The various trusts were recited in the Act, and it was specially directed that any surplus revenues, which should remain after the necessary trusts had been fulfilled should be applied to the augmentation of the incomes of the hardworking clergy whose benefices were under £200 a year. Now, he believed, it would not be denied, that in the Irish branch of the Established Church there was a large body of meritorious and faithful men, and the House, perhaps, will learn with surprise, that the incomes of nearly one-third of the beneficed clergy of Ireland were under £150, while there were a very great many under £100, and the surplus applicable under this provision had not been such as to raise many of the incomes to £100. The trust, therefore, in the Act, to which he had just referred, was, he need hardly say, received with great favour. Yet so great were the demands upon the Commissioners that, up to that moment, they had never in their hands a sufficient surplus to augment the livings which were under £100 a year. Parliament was asked, then, on the one hand, to apply this surplus to relieve certain persons, many of them wealthy Protestants, from the payment of a tax on their property which they had acquired with that charge upon it, and on the other to prefer the augmentation of the incomes of hard-working clergy whose incomes were under £100 a year—which would they choose? He did not then really believe there was an honourable man in that House who, if he were to lay aside political considerations, could put his hand to his heart and say that, consistently with the provisions of the Temporali- ties Act, it was fair thus to abolish the tax of ministers' money. His proposition was, that they had got no surplus to deal with until the requirements essential for the maintenance of the Church were first satisfied. That certainly was the spirit of the Act of Parliament. He did not stand there to defend an ecclesiastical abuse; on the contrary, he was as anxious as any one to make Church property more available for the growing wants of the times. But that should be done consistently with the principles of property. Now, after the Temporalities Act—which, however, was regarded at the time as a final settlement—came the Tithe Rent-charge Act, whereby 25 per cent of the tithe composition was given up, on the ground that it was better for the Church to take 75 per cent charged upon the superior proprietor. He himself was of opinion that that was a wise and beneficial settlement; at the same time, he could not agree in the notion that it implied a surrender of principle; it was simply an arrangement on the part of the Church as a fair settlement. When that was settled the only subject upon which a grievance could be got up was ministers' money, and accordingly an agitation was raised against that. To this tax there were two classes of objections; the general objection, which, if it were good, applied equally to the tithe rent-charge, and the objection arising out of the inequality of the assessments, the remedy by distress, and the unsatisfactory state of the valuations of property according to which it was raised. These latter objections were admitted by the friends of the Church, and it was on that ground that his hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Hamilton) moved for and obtained the Committee of 1848. That was under the Government of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and at a time when the hon. Baronet the Member for Canterbury (Sir William Somerville)—a useful, I able, and honourable man, who always acted courteously, candidly, and frankly—was Irish Secretary. Unfortunately, he was embarrassed by representing Drogheda, one of the towns interested in this subject, and his seat being in jeopardy he felt himself in some embarrassment how to act, and determined to remain away from the Committee. The consequence was, that Committee was packed so as to leave the Protestants at the mercy of the Roman Catholics. Mr. Sheil was chairman, and ultimately a Report of a most singular character was carried by one vote. That Report was that, "having examined into the state of the Ecclesiastical Commission, the Committee was of opinion that the income of the Commissioners was adequate to their expenditure." That was to say they judged of the adequacy of their income by the expenditure before them—a rather curious mode of calculation, while what was insinuated was, that they spent quite enough, and that therefore any sum that accrued beyond their actual expenditure might be applied to other purposes. There was in the original draught of the report a passage stating, that if the funds never increased, the Church would suffer no injury, but that was finally omitted. The evidence upon which the report, such as it was, was founded, was this. The Chairman asked one of the Commissioners if their income was adequate to their expenditure, and the reply was—"We regulate our expenditure by our income." The other Commissioner had, in most graphic terms, stated the deficient state of the funds, the inability to meet necessary demands, the imperfect nature of the repairs done in churches, and subsequent experience had verified the correctness of his statement. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan) thought himself fortified by this Report, and on the 27th of March 1848, he proposed a Motion for the abolition of ministers' money. That Motion was opposed by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir G. Grey), who was then Home Secretary, and who, after referring to what he justly termed the very peculiar language of the Report, said— If it afterwards appeared that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had ample funds in their hands for the accomplishment of the objects for which they were appointed, and that any surplus remained, then it might be fit and right to apply that surplus, and substitute it for ministers' money. That was in the spirit of the noble Lord's (Lord John Russell's) famous appropriation Resolution, which was much exceeded by this Bill, for the spirit of that Resolution was, that when all the demands of the Church should he satisfied, then the surplus should be applied to educational purposes. If any one could find that surplus, he (Mr. Napier) should be very much obliged to him, because it would imply first the supply of all the spiritual demands. The Motion of the hon. Member for Cork was lost, and among the majority were the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Somerville). In 1850 the hon. Member repeated his Motion with a similar result. In 1851 the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) began to consider whether something might not be done; a Bill was set going, but the Government, of the noble Lord came to a termination, and that measure was not brought forward. In 1852, when Lord Derby was in office, the hon. Member again brought forward his Motion, having, however, changed his plan, for he said, he did not wish the Commissioners to postpone any of their trusts, and suggested that property might be made available by the sale of perpetuities, which plainly showed that the hon. Gentleman did not contemplate the abolition of ministers' money as long as there were not sufficient funds to satisfy the trusts of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Well, there was no suggestion on the part of the Government that the funds were sufficient; but, on the contrary, his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole), then Secretary for the Home Department, opposed the Motion, and stated that the Government had it in contemplation to introduce a measure to remove the inequalities in the assessment of this charge. The Motion of the hon. Member for Cork was again rejected. Then, when Lord Aberdeen came into office, Sir J. Young, who was well versed in Irish statistics, applied himself to the subject, and framed a Bill which certainly conferred a great boon on certain portions of the community. He exempted houses under £10, and for the valuation under the Act of Charles II. he substituted the Poor Law valuation, and he also exempted future houses, in order not to discourage improvements. And who was the Home Secretary at the time that Bill was introduced? Why, the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton — it was the noble Lord who, as Home Secretary, had peculiarly the charge of the Bill. The Bill was also supported by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey), by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, by his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), by the present Attorney General, and by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall). That Bill was carried by a majority of 203 to 97, and it was undoubtedly a very great boon, for it cleared away all objections of the second class, and left nothing but the naked abstract objection founded on the difference of religious creeds. At that time the argument was advanced, that by relieving small occupiers the principle of ministers' money itself was abandoned; but that argument had been most clearly refuted by the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Well, but how was it that that Act had not been carried out? He would tell them presently. Now, he wished here to pause, and ask what was the meaning of that clause in the Roman Catholic oath—"I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property?" They had it on the authority of the late Sir Robert Peel, that that clause specifically pointed to the declaration of Charles II., by which it appeared that ministers' money was to be made a charge with the special intention of encouraging a Protestant settlement in corporate towns in Ireland; for it was perfectly plain, as was afterwards shown in the time of James II., that if the religions objection were to prevail, the arrangement might be upset at any time. He was willing to admit that the amount involved in the tax was small, but the principle was a large one; and if the religious objection were once allowed, the principle on which the property of the Established Church rested would be shaken to its very foundation. If Sir John Young had continued in office, they would not have heard one word of the present Bill. Well, then, in 1855 the hon. Gentleman brought in a Bill to repeal the Act of Sir John Young, an Act which was also endorsed with the name of the noble Lord now at the head of the Government. Well, it was expected, after the support which that measure had received from the Members of the Government, that the proposal would have at once encountered the opposition of Ministers, especially that of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. In place of that, when he (Mr. Napier) rose to oppose the hon. Gentleman, he was quietly put aside by the noble Lord—of course with his usual bonhomie—and the Bill was introduced. The second reading was fixed for after Easter. But what had occurred in the meanwhile? Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland went to that country, and there a deputation was received by him upon this subject. Let the House observe that the collection of this money was placed upon the same footing as other rates levied upon property, and then let them also observe who were the persons who complained of the rate. Why, they were not the persons upon whom it was levied, but those upon whom the collection of it was thrown. Now, what was the state of the case? A law had been passed requiring certain persons to collect a certain impost, and yet those persons waited upon the Secretary for Ireland, and were most courteously received by him, in order, as it appeared, to announce to him their determination not to obey the law, and their refusal to collect the tax. On the very face of the Act it was stated that the persons who were charged with the collection of this rate should, if they came into default, be looked upon as debtors to the Crown. Notwithstanding that such was the case, the right hon. Gentleman, instead of saying to the deputation, the law is so and so, you are bound to obey the law, informed them that their remonstrances should receive the best consideration. Of course, therefore, the corporations, seeing that they had got hold of a pliable Government, saw the advantage of pressing it; and in the end the right hon. Gentleman promised to put himself in communication with the Law Officers of the Crown. The course of the Government was condemned by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, who told them to take a decided course one way or another, and that he would support them. Indeed to make, the law depend upon the conduct of the corporations was the strangest thing in the world. Well, the Government took proceedings, and they got judgment against the corporations. A writ of error was threatened, and the Government, disappointed at their own success, were brought to a stand-still. The Bill of the hon. Member then came forward for the second reading, and was thrown out; in the subsequent year it was again introduced, and the right hon. Gentleman declined to offer any opinion on the first reading; but at the second reading, on the eve of the elections, he made one of the most extraordinary statements he (Mr. Napier) had ever heard from a person holding an official position. After adverting to the Committee of 1848 he stated— There were many Protestants in Dublin who had no objection to paying ministers' money, and therefore it was felt that the tax ought not to be redeemed altogether." [The right hon. Gentleman must have meant to say "abolished."] "That proposal met with a great deal of consideration at the hands of the Government, and he confessed he regarded it with favour himself, the more especially as the great bulk of the tax was levied Dublin, where those hospitals were. But it raised a question with which the House was familiar, namely, the appropriation question, that was to say, whether they ought to take away the funds of the Established Church and apply them to other purposes. Now, it was quite evident that this last plan could never he carried into effect without the concurrence of Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, and with that concurrence he was afraid it would never meet. The proposition to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded was, in fact, to apply the tax levied in Dublin to the maintenance of the hospitals, and thus to save a sum of £10,000 per annum to the consolidated fund. That was in his (Mr. Napier's) opinion, a course which involved not truly an appropriation—but he might say—a confication of the funds in question. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had thought fit, upon the occasion to which he was referring, to endeavour to make out that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners possessed a fund ultra the purposes of their trusts, which ought to be disposed of in the manner he had described. That was a proposition, however, which he (Mr. Napier) was prepared most emphatically to deny. The right hon. Gentleman in support of his view of the case had made statements which clearly showed that he had confounded the sale of perpetuities and other items which formed part of the permanent income of the Commissioners, with their annual receipts. He had endeavoured to prove that they possessed a surplus fund which ought to be applied to a particular purpose; but the Returns for the three years, after the passing of the Act of Sir J. Young made it perfectly evident that no such surplus existed. The first of these returns was that which contained the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the year ending the 1st of August, 1854. In that Report the Commissioners had made the following statement to Earl St. Germans, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland:— We have much satisfaction in bringing these particulars as to the assistance afforded by private contributions under the notice of your Excellency as by this means much has been accomplished in the extension of church accommodation, and in providing for the pressing wants which otherwise must have been to a great degree postponed had the Commissioners been altogether dependent upon their own resources. And we beg to observe that the Commissioners fail not on every opportunity to represent the urgent necessity of their being liberally aided from private sources, in their endeavours to meet the numerous demands upon them, the funds at present at their disposal being wholly insufficient for the several purposes to which they are applicable. The next Report was that for 1855, in which the Commissioners, after having re- ferred to the expenditure which they deemed to be necessary for the repair of many of the rural churches, went on to say;— These cases have been consequently added to the list of churches requiring to be rebuilt; and we regret to state that several of the objects contained in these lists must necessarily be postponed for some time, the funds available in each year for such purposes, after providing for other charges of a fixed nature, being insufficient to carry on very many of the buildings reported to be necessary, leaving other trusts created by the Church Temporalities Acts—such as the building of glebe-houses, the purchase of glebes, wholly unprovided for, as also the augmentation of small benefices, except to a very limited extent. The Commissioners, however, supply the usual requisites for the celebration of Divine service in such licensed places of worship as have from time to time been brought under their notice, of which sixteen have been added to their list this year. The most remarkable, however, of these Reports was that relating to the year 1856, which was signed by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and he would, with the permission of the House, read from it an extract, which was as follows:— A larger amount from private subscriptions might have been received had the Commissioners been able to afford the assistance required from them in several other cases; but the fund under their administration being insufficient for the several purposes to which it is applicable, they were obliged to require, under their existing regulations, a larger amount of subscription than the respective parties were prepared to give; and we have to state to your Excellency that in their endeavours to provide for the most urgent demands on their funds the Commissioners have for the present been obliged to refuse, unconditionally, many applications from the clergy and others, which, under different circumstances, it would have been very proper to have complied with. The difficulties with which they have had to contend in this respect, and the dissatisfaction occasioned by their refusing to comply with many reasonable demands, are likely to be much increased during the ensuing year, owing to a considerable defalcation in their funds, from the non-receipt of a large portion of the moneys which, pursuant to the provisions of the Act 17 Vict., cap. 11, should have been levied by the collector-general of rates in the city of Dublin and the respective boards of guardians and other bodies for the payment of ministers' money. Now, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he was prepared to contradict the statement of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, whose signature, as an ex officio Commissioner, was attached to that Report? And yet the right hon. Gentleman said that the Ecclesiastical Commission had an income of £146,000, and a surplus which they could easily appropriate to the payment of ministers' money. The right hon. Gentleman had adverted in his speech of the 18th of March to a letter which had been addressed by Lord Carlisle to the Archbishop of Dublin on the 13th of February, but to the answer which had been given to that letter no reference had been made. The letter in question he (Mr. Napier) might state bad been written with the view of obtaining the co-operation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with the Government for the purpose of procuring a Committee to ascertain, whether the working of the Commission might not be less expensively carried out. To that proposal the Commissioners in their reply of the 15th of February were perfectly ready to assent, but, at the same time, reiterated their former statement as to the inadequacy of their funds. In what, then, did the charge of the right hon. Gentleman consist? The Commissioners stated that their income was not sufficient to meet the pressing claims which were imposed upon them under the Church Temporalities Acts. If the right hon. Gentleman did not believe that statement to be correct, what would have been the proper course for him to have pursued? Why, clearly, instead of committing the Government to this Bill, on the eve of the elections, to have instituted an examination into their accounts, and to have obtained the best information upon the actual state of the question? Was any return obtained since the Parliament had assembled? And was the most accurate information sought for by the Government before they pledged themselves to support the present Bill? The Commissioners were much aggrieved by the conduct of the Government. He asked for inquiry, and he was in a condition to prove beyond a doubt that so far from the Ecclesisastical Commissioners having a margin of income applicable to ministers' money, their funds were so deficient as to be unable to reach some of the most important trusts created by the Act. The revenue of the Commissioners from permanent sources amounted to £93,591 13s. 9d. The terminable income, including £11,577 ministers' money, to which the Commissioners were entitled, but which was not collected, was £17,362. The permanent outgoings, such as repairs of churches, &c., amounted to £98,056 8s. 7d. The average of grants during the last three years for new churches were £9,464, and for the enlargement of churches, £3,636, leaving the purchase of glebes, building, &c., of glebe houses, and the augmentation of benefices without any means of supply. On many livings there were no residences, nor any means of obtaining glebe or glebe houses. All these trusts were unfulfilled. Well, he now asked what became of the available surplus out of the income of £146,000? It was gratifying to see the extension of church accommodation in Ireland, but the Commissioners were daily unable to avail themselves of offers for church extension, because they could not supplement private subscriptions by aid from their own funds. He was attached to the Church on principle, and he held that, consistently with freedom of conscience, everything ought to be done to make it an instrument of good for the spiritual welfare of the people. What did a member of his own profession, who opposed him at the late general election, and who was supported by the whole strength of the Government, say relative to this plan of abolishing ministers' money? He said that if he were elected he would oppose to the utmost of his power this measure for taking away, indirectly, a portion of the revenues of the Established Church, which could not be directly spoliated. An authority who ought to have great weight with Scottish Members — Dr. Chalmers—declared that he should hold it to be a false and ruinous step to alienate one farthing of the revenues of the Irish Church. He held in his hand a list of benefices of the poorer class, which would show the numbers of clergymen in the receipt of very small incomes, who, if there were a surplus, ought certainly to be first considered. He should be much indebted to the Government if they could make a surplus; and if they could do so by the more economical working of the Commission, or by making their resources more productive, he would heartily co-operate with them. But, while the trusts were unfulfilled which the Commissioners were appointed to carry out, he would not be a party to set them aside and hand this money over to persons so well able to pay it. When he remembered the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in answer to Mr. Miall, on the Irish Church, he did not believe he would join in an attack upon the property of that Church. What were the reasons given by Lord Castlereagh why Ireland should consent to the Union? He said— One State, one Legislature, one Church; these are the leading features of the system; and, without identity with Great Britain in these three great points of connexion, we can never hope for any real and permanent security. The Church in particular, while we remain a separate country, will ever be liable to be impeached on local grounds. When it shall once be completely incorporated with the Church of England, it will be placed on such a strong and natural foundation as to be above every apprehension and fear from adverse interest, and from all the fretting and irritating circumstances connected with our colonial situation. As soon as the Church Establishments of the two kingdoms shall be incorporated into one Church the Protestant will feel himself at once identified with the population and property of the empire, and the establishment will be placed on its natural basis. Would the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) attack the property of the English branch of the Church? Would he consent to a diminution of its resources, however small? He was sure he would not. To carry out this proposal it would be necessary to have a fund at once to draw upon, and was the House prepared to cripple the Irish Church just when she was beginning to prosper? If the Government would deal with the Irish Church and administer its patronage as if it were the English Church, he would give them all the co-operation in his power. He wanted no sinecures or abuses; but when it was proposed to confiscate the property of the Irish Church, he appealed fearlessly and respectfully to the Parliament of Great Britain. When he brought, forward his landlord and tenant measure the cry raised against him was that he was trenching upon the rights of property. And yet in this Bill they were confiscating the rights of property the most sacred. He could understand why persons who objected to every description of church endowment should support this measure, but that statesmen professing to be members of the united Church should vote for a measure of church confiscation like the present, was to him incomprehensible. He regretted that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had committed himself upon the question, and that it had thus been made a party question. The Bill involved a most important principle, and should not be treated as a mere Irish question. It was an Imperial question of great moment. He had endeavoured to submit it fairly and dispassionately to the House, and he hoped that before the debate terminated the House would see its way to the rejection of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


Sir, I wish to take an early opportunity of stating to the House the grounds on which the Government feel it their duty to support the second reading of this Bill; and I trust I shall be able to show that I am not taking a course inconsistent with what I have either said or done on this question on any former occasion. I would remind the House at the outset that much that has been stated relative to the Act of Charles II., by which this tax was originally created, has really no reference to the practical issue which we are now called upon to determine. That Act was repealed in 1854, when another Act was passed which only partially continued the tax, and provided that it should be levied in a very different manner from that which had previously prevailed. It may be right to consider the Act of Charles II. in connection with the circumstances which existed before 1854, and this brings me to what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said regarding the conduct of preceding Governments. If I understood him aright, he objects to this Bill on principle. He says this tax is a part of the property belonging to the Established Church; that this measure violates ecclesiastical property; and that its principle has been resisted by every Government,—by that of my noble Friend the Member for the City of London, by that of Lord Aberdeen, by that of Lord Derby, and also by the present Government. I altogether deny that proposition, and I hold it to be very ill-judged on the part of a friend of the Established Church in Ireland to rest the security of its property, and still more to rest its existence as an Established Church, upon such a miserable footing as the maintenance of this tax, of which it had become impossible for the Church to avail itself, and which had been subsequently modified in 1854. What were the circumstances of the case previous to 1854? Was the Church Establishment really in possession of a valuable property guaranteed by law, and did the complaints only come from those who refused to pay the tax? The fact, I believe, was that the complaints against the tax came more from the clergy, who had a legal right to receive it, but from whom it was practically withheld, than from those by whom it ought to have been paid. It is stated with great truth in the Report of the Committee, and supported by the evidence adduced before it, that— It is not an exaggeration to say that popular odium attaches to this tax; nor is it to those by whom it is paid that this antipathy is confined. This source of livelihood is an object of dislike to the clergy, by whom it is most painfully collected from the reluctant and the poor. Several clergymen have been examined in the course of this inquiry, all of whom concur in the expression of a strong desire on their own part and on the part of the clergy that some substitute for ministers' money may be provided. The Report further stated that many clergymen had abandoned the attempt to collect their income in this form, because they felt that it would deprive them of all chance of influence as Christian pastors over those to whom they wished to minister, and that it would bring them into constant hostility with those with whom they desired to live in peace and amity. In this state of things the question forced itself upon the attention of this House; and what has been the course pursued with regard to it by successive Governments? The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that the Government of my noble Friend the Member for London opposed this measure on principle, as he opposed it himself to-night, and that on several occasions when it has fallen to my lot to address the House on the part of the Government, I also have resisted it on the same ground. What is the fact? In 1849 and 1850, subsequently to the Report of the Committee of 1847, when this measure was brought forward, I did not oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan) on the principle laid down by the right hon. and learned Gentleman—namely, that this tax was the property of the Established Church, and could not be alienated, and that the burden ought not to be transferred to the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. I did not even on the part of the Government of that day give a direct negative to the Motion. On the contrary, on both occasions, admitting the full force of the objections offered to this tax, both by those who were bound to pay it and those who were entitled to receive it, I met the Motion by moving "the previous question," stating distinctly that I did so with the Report of the Committee of this House before me, with which I, in the main, agreed. That Committee was unwilling to withdraw from the specific purposes to which they were then appropriated any portion of the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and it recommended—in which recommendation I concurred—that when their sources of income had sufficiently augmented, of which there was an early probability, this tax should be abolished, and the support of the clergy legally entitled to receive it be henceforth thrown on the funds of the Commission. That, I think, is a sufficient answer to the assertion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that I then subscribed to the doctrines which he has advanced tonight. It is said the Report of the Committee was carried by the casting vote of the Chairman. That is not the fact. Two draught Reports were submitted to the Committee, the one by the Chairman, and the other by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin. Divisions afterwards took place regarding paragraphs in the Report, and in one instance, when eleven members were present, five voted one way, and five the other, and the Chairman gave a casting vote. But when the question to be decided was, which of the two Reports they should adopt, seven Members voted for the Chairman's Report, and only five for that of the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University. This shows that the majority of the Committee was in favour of the recommendations subsequently reported to the House. The existing evils were unanimously admitted in the Committee; the tax was allowed to be onerous, odious, and impossible to be collected, inasmuch as it was levied in small sums from the occupiers of houses, who were mostly Roman Catholics, for the support of Protestant ministers. It was also generally agreed that the clergy ought not to suffer prejudice from the abolition of the tax, but should receive an ample equivalent, and one that would relieve them from the embarrassing position of being the recipients of a nominal income, which they could not, realize without endless delay, vexation, and expense. One other proposition was made to the Committee, and that by a clergyman who was examined before the Committee. It was, not that the tax must be maintained as sacred property which no unhallowed hand must touch, but that it should be abolished, and the sums necessary to replace it be supplied, from time to time, from the Consolidated Fund. That suggestion, however, was very properly rejected by the Committee, which then adopted the Resolution—that it was expedient the tax should be repealed, and its value paid to the clergy out of the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as soon as the augmentation of those funds enabled the Commissioners, without sacrificing the objects to which their present income was devoted, to supply the requisite substitute. It is said that the funds of the Commissioners are insufficient to meet the purposes to which Parliament intended them to be applied; and no doubt if those funds were to be multiplied tenfold, ample use could be found for them by zealous and active members of the Church, who might wish to build new churches, to enlarge old ones, and to increase the number of her ministers. The practical question, however, is not whether the time ever will arrive when all these objects shall have been exhausted, but whether the purposes contemplated by Parliament, when it placed these funds in the hands of the Commissioners, have been so far satisfied, that it is competent for them to apply part of their surplus to the maintenance of those curates and incumbents in cities and towns, who have had hitherto to struggle against the most inadequate incomes, owing to Parliament having assigned to them a resource of which they cannot practically avail themselves? By this means the efficiency of the Church will be more effectually secured than if the Government were to go on involving itself in endless litigation in order to collect an odious and unpopular impost. Indeed, on the ground of expense alone, to say nothing of the other evils incident to the present system, it would be better to adopt the plan of paying the amount of the tax out of the Consolidated Fund, than to waste an equal or even greater sum in vexatious litigation. I must call the attention of the House to the real effect of the Act of 1854, because the right hon. and learned Gentleman has told us, that, if we sanction the principle of this Bill, we shall act in violation of the sacred duty imposed upon us to maintain the property of the Established Church. Now, what was the object of the Act of 1854? Under the Act of Charles II. the clergy were entitled to the proceeds of this tax, which was chargeable upon Houses. I won't now enter into a discussion with the right hon. and learned Gentleman as to whether it was the owner or the occupier of a house that was made liable to the tax, but I will grant, for the sake of argument, the position laid down by him. The clergy themselves were entrusted with the means of enforcing payment of the charge, and they appointed their churchwardens to collect it. They had the power of enforcing payment by distress, which is the most effectual means of doing so. As I have already said, the collection became impossible. The clergy had merely a nominal income, and under these circumstances the Act of 1854 was passed. That Act received the approbation and support of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. And what did it do? Its provisions were shortly these:—The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was directed by it to ascertain, by persons to be named by him for that purpose, the gross amount payable in 1853, the year preceding, on all houses chargeable to the tax in Dublin and the seven other cities and towns in which the tax was leviable. Having done so, that payment was not to be absolutely continued, but, in the first place, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland were directed to pay 75 per cent. of that amount thereafter to the incumbents of those parishes in which the tax might by law be collected, and to all others who derived their incomes from that source. There was a deduction of 25 per cent. from the gross amount, and the clergy were much better off with the 75 per cent. paid to them by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners than they were before the Act of 1854 was passed, because they, no doubt, lost far more than 25 per cent. in the collection of the tax. The right hon. and learned Gentleman says it is true that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had to pay 75 per cent. of the tax, but they were to be recouped. But that is not the fact. One portion of the Bill had no connection with the other. This 75 per cent. of the actual amount ascertained to have been payable previously to the passing of the Act of 1854 was made an absolute charge upon the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. They were bound, without any reference to repayments, to pay the incumbents in question this 75 per cent. of the tax. I think that part of the Act was quite right, because it relieved the clergy from a position in which every one grieved to see them placed, and it, in fact, carried into effect the recommendation of the Committee of 1847. Having made this charge of 75 per cent upon the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, it directed the Lord Lieutenant to make a distinction between the houses rated no higher than £10 and those rated above that amount. With regard to the former class of houses, the tax was absolutely and for ever abolished. That was the proposition embodied in that Act, approved by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and sanctioned by Parliament. If, then, the House, with the approbation of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, exempted a certain class of property from a tax which he now says was made perpetually subject to it by the Act of Charles II., with what consistency can he contend that if we attempt to carry the principle of the Act of 1854 still further, we are sacrilegiously touching the property of the Church? How can a supporter of the Act of 1854 contend that the principle embodied in it will subvert the settlement of property in Ireland and annihilate the Established Church? The right hon. and learned Gentleman may tell us that the number of £10 houses subject to this tax was so small that they were not worth taking into account, and his support of the Act of 1854 was therefore no real violation of the principle for which he so earnestly contends this evening; but what said Sir John Young when he introduced that Act? He said it would be a very great boon to the inhabitants of those cities and towns in which the tax was leviable, because three-sevenths of the houses in Dublin would be relieved by his Bill; while in Cork 4 out of 5, in Clonmel 8 out of 9, in Drogheda 10 out of 11, in Kilkenny 10 out of l3, in Kinsale 6 out of 7, in Limerick 13 out of 14, and in Waterford 5 out of 9 houses would be exempted. If, then, it was competent for Parliament, without violating moral obligations, to pass the Bill of 1854, which interfered to so great an extent with the Act of Charles II., why is it less competent for the House now to give its sanction to the second reading of this Bill? But that was not all that was done by the Act of 1854. It enacted that in future the portion of the tax still leviable should be collected by the corporations of the different towns and cities subject to that tax. The payment, however, to the clergy was to be made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the first instance; and the corporations, when they had collected the tax, were to hand over the amount to the paymaster of the civil service, who was finally to hand it over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It was quite clear that the framers of the Act anticipated considerable difficulty in the collection of the tax, inasmuch as, if it were not collected, they provided that the amount should be considered as a debt due to the Crown, and power is given to the Lord Lieutenant to compel the corporations, by ordinary process of law, to collect it. And what was the result? The clergy, I believe, were entirely satisfied. I am not aware that any complaint whatever has been made in consequence of that Act. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have no doubt had to pay the greater portion of this tax, and they have hitherto received very little of it back. I am not at all aware that the Established Church is more insecure in consequence of the Act of 1854. I believe that the payment of this sum to the clergy by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners has had quite as beneficial an effect as if it had been appropriated to the building of now or the repair of old churches. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman insinuated rather than openly avowed a belief that the Government had refused to enforce this law. I believe that that is an entire misapprehension. The Government, finding that this tax was not collected, and knowing the requirements imposed upon them by the Act, instructed the Law Officers of the Crown to commence proceedings to enforce payment. The power of distress, be it remembered, was taken by the law, so that you could not, even if you had the wish, issue a distress against the miserable occupants of these houses. The only remedy left was to file informations against the defaulting corporations in the Court of Exchequer. Informations were accordingly filed, but I believe that up to the present moment judgment has been obtained in only one case. Judgment has been obtained, but not one farthing of money has been obtained, because the counsel who conducted the case avowed that it should be carried by way of appeal to the Court of Error, and if the same decision as in the court below should be given there, that then it should be taken to the House of Lords. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are still out of pocket, and if this Bill does not pass, we shall be involved in almost interminable legal proceedings, for the purpose of compelling these corporations (by process of law, and at the public expense) to make the collection and to hand it over to the Paymaster of the Civil Service, who has again to hand it over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. This unfortunate Act of 1854—unfortunate not as regards the clergy, but unfortunate as regards the machinery which it provided for the collection of the tax—has notoriously failed to effect its object; and yet it is to be retained for the sake of the principle which the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Napier) maintains is involved in this impost. A question has been raised as to whether the contingency I contemplated in 1849, when I moved the previous question as an Amendment on the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork—namely, an increase in the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, has taken place to the extent anticipated. I have only to say that it is difficult from the reports on the table of the House to arrive at the exact amount of income available in the hands of the Commissioners. The right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite called in question the statement made by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) on that subject; but I have no doubt he will be able to show from documents in his hands that he was fully borne out by facts in the information he then communicated to the House. Let me say, however, that it is admitted that the contingency which I contemplated in 1847, and which I referred to in 1849, has actually come to pass, that additional sources of income have arisen, and that the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have augmented to a much greater degree than is required to defray this £12,000 of ministers money. I cannot go into particulars, but I believe the income derived from all sources by the Ecclesiastical Commissioner in 1847, was only £68,000, and that it now amounts, by the admission of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, to at least £93,000, thus leaving, after former claims are met, a large margin for the charge now under the consideration of the House. I do not say that this sum could not be beneficially employed in other ways; but I think the importance of the claim before us will hardly be denied. The question before the House is, whether we are to go on with the present discreditable state of the law, or to adopt a conclusion which it is most desirable for the sake of the public peace, should be arrived at without unnecessary delay? Are we by endeavouring to recover the whole amount from these corporations, to come into perpetual collision with those who are the guardians of the peace of those towns, and with whom it is desirable that the Government should act in concert for the good government of the country? I believe that the interests of the Established Church itself would be better promoted by a change of the existing system than by an adherence to a principle which it is found impossible to enforce. Let me upon this point read to the House an opinion addressed to the Committee of 1847 by the Dean of Limerick, now advanced to the Bishopric of Derry, and which, I think, reflects great credit upon him. He said— Since I have come to Limerick I have given the subject the best consideration I could, and from observation and inquiry I have arrived at the conviction that there can be no transference of a liability from the occupying tenant to the landlord which can be attended with any beneficial results; it would still remain a fretting sore, and the more stringent its obligation was made on the landlord, by mixing it up with the payment of municipal taxes, the more inconvenient would it be felt. Besides, were it thought desirable to make this transference of liability, I do not see how the matter could be worked. In the old towns, like St. Mary's and St. John's, the derivative interests are so many and complicated as to render, in my opinion, legislation impossible. In truth, I know not where the burden can be placed, save and except where it ought to have been placed when the Church Temporality Act was passed,—namely, on the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and on the same principle on which they make payments to curates and have augmented small livings, ought they to provide for the clergy whose misfortune it is to have their incomes, in whole or in part, dependent on ministers' money. But to this it may be replied that for many years you would cut off all the means of building new churches. My answer is simply this—that there is only a choice of evils, and that of the two it is by far the most important to provide for the proper maintenance of the clergy in such places as Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, &c. The whole amount of the property is comparatively small, and were the clergy to have a fixed stipend—say the amount of ministers' money as it now is, reduced by taking off one-fourth, as in the case of the commutation of tithes into rent-charge, I cannot but think that with the prospect of the falling-in of two bishoprics at no distant period, and the gradual augmentation taking place from suppressed livings, combined with economical arrangement, the difficulty might be met and obviated for ever. The funds now in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are sufficient for this purpose, and the only question is whether the House will sanction such an appropriation of them, or refuse it by rejecting the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Napier) alluded to the tithe rent-charge. It may be a plausible suggestion to make, that, as the tithe rent-charge has removed all those difficulties that existed in the collection of tithe, a similar course might be taken in the present case, but in the letter I have just read there is an unanswerable objection to the proposal of merely transferring the burden from one class to another. It is there shown how useless it would be in those towns to transfer the charge from the occupiers to the owners of property. That course would, no doubt, have been taken by previous Governments had it been practicable; but I am bound to say that I know not any practical suggestion that has been made, but that contained in the Bill before the House, that is likely to meet the difficulties of the case. For these reasons I shall give my hearty concurrence to the second reading of the Bill.


said he was somewhat surprised that the reasons given by the right hon. Baronet for supporting the Bill did not lead him to take the same course on former occasions. The hon. Member for Cork had made use of words which he would never forget, and the true meaning of which was perfectly understood by those who were familiar with the designs of the party to which he belonged. He said that "though the sum was small, yet this question carried a large principle with it." And then the right hon. Baronet came forward, and advanced the weakest and worst arguments which could be addressed to a thoughtful assembly on this subject. He said that the opponents of this measure had no principle to sustain them in maintaining this tax, because they had relieved poor occupiers who inhabited houses under £10 a year. Having conceded something, the Minister of the Crown argued, you must concede everything; because you have submitted to a loss of twenty-five per cent. for the sake of the poor, you must give up all that remains. In dealing with this subject, from a knowledge of the course taken by the noble Lord at the head of the Government and the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, the right hon. Baronet felt himself placed in a difficulty, glossed over the principal facts of the case, and came to a conclusion which he said was satisfactory to his conscience, but which he (Mr. Whiteside) thought ought not be satisfactory to the conscience of any right-minded man. The language used by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant was such as would raise the question of church rates in England, the question of the annuity-tax in Scotland, and the whole question of the appropriation of the Church revenues, and he (Mr. White-side) quite concurred with the right hon. Gentleman's argument that that made this question one of great importance. All these questions might be raised on the ground of expediency, which was a plausible mode of argument at the present day, but he believed nothing to be expedient that was not just. He opposed this Bill because it was not just, and if it was not just he defied any man to prove that it was expedient. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward this question on a former occasion (Mr. Fagan) told them that James II., amid all his cares and troubles, found time to repeal this Act. When he heard him use these words he began to reflect on what were his cares and troubles. His cares were to confiscate and extirpate and subdue whatever there was of Protestantism in Ireland, and upon the ruins of civil and religious liberty to build up such a system of tyranny as was suited to his implacable nature; and his troubles were brought upon him by the opposition he received from those whom he endeavoured to coerce; by the struggles of the fathers of those he (Mr. Whiteside) now represented, and by their efforts to carry out the very principles which he was maintaining in that House. No doubt the tax was originally established, as was shown by the Act of Settlement and the 14th & 15th, 16th & 17th of Charles II., for the express purpose of establishing the Protestant interest in these towns. The hon. Gentleman asked why the tax was not imposed on Enniskillen, for instance. For this simple reason, that the Protestant interest had been then established there already, and well was it for Ireland and England that it was so. Charles II. was advised that it would be impossible to accomplish that object without imposing a tax on the property in those towns, in order that the settlers might have the word of God preached to them in their own language. It was good advice, and he acted upon it though he did not believe in it; not that that was at all an unusual thing in him, for he seldom believed in anything he said or did. There was no injustice done to the Roman Catholics in the corporate towns in imposing the tax. The historian Leland gave this account of the transaction:— Innocent Papists, although they had taken lands in Connaught, were to be restored to their estates, and the persons thus removed to be re- prised. If they sold their Connaught lands, they were to satisfy the purchasers. But as the modelling of corporations seemed essential to the security of Government, and, as it was a point determined that they should be formed entirely of English inhabitants, there was an exception inserted in this article. Those innocent Papists whose former estates lay within corporate towns, instead of being restored to their possession, were to be reprised in the neighbourhood, so that the corporations should be formed entirely of men friendly to the monarchy. The property was essentially Protestant, the inhabitants were Protestant, and when Roman Catholics settled in those corporate towns they had to receive a licence, and the English Parliament quarrelled with the Irish Executive for granting these licences. The hon. Gentleman was right in saying that James II. reversed that Act. He did reverse it, just as he would have reversed any Act which gave any right or permitted the free exercise of his religion to any Protestant. He was surprised that the hon. Gentleman should have referred the House to such a precedent as that to justify his proposal. From that time there was nothing in the Statute Book to interfere with this impost. It was imposed by lawful authority, and for a good purpose, on the property of Protestants, and on that property it had continued to the present day. The persons for whose benefit it had been created had always performed the duties which were imposed on them with it. There was no breach of trust alleged, and the question now was why was the tax to be abolished? Was the abolition to be granted simply because it was asked for? If that were the case, then he could promise the House a regular Motion every year from the hon. Gentleman, asking for what remained of the church property in Ireland. He should not have made this observation had not the hon. Gentleman voted last year for Mr. Miall's Motion for the sale of the whole of the property of the Church of Ireland—a Motion which was a revolutionary Motion—a Motion which ought to have been made in the National Assembly. This Motion was a mere trifle compared to that, but the hon. Gentleman brought it forward as a small instalment, in order that he might afterwards work out that which might be collected to be his ultimate object from the words which he had used, that "though the sum at issue was small, the principle was a large one."


The hon. and learned Gentleman is quite mistaken in thinking that I voted for Mr. Miall's Motion. I purposely abstained from voting on that occasion.


was glad to be told that he had been misled on this point, and willingly withdrew all he had said upon it. Certainly several hon. Gentlemen who acted with the hon. Member for Cork had voted for that Motion; but the objects of the two Motions were exactly the same. The hon. Gentleman argued that there was no principle involved in dealing with the Church property; and, having recapitulated with great minuteness all that had been taken already from the Church of Ireland, in the shape of tithes, church lands, and church rates, then asked what you have now to say why this portion of the income of the clergy also should not be taken away? He did not remember whether the noble Lord the Prime Minister was in Lord Grey's Government when the Temporalities Act was introduced; but the language of Lord Grey and of Lord Lansdowne (he took Lord Lansdowne because he seemed to be the most Conservative of them all) was very different from that which was used now. Lord Grey declared that he brought forward the measure in support of the working clergy, of the laborious members of the Church. He insisted that the measure would not trench on the real interests of the Church: that there would be an income of £20,000 for the increase of small glebes, and £50,000 for the increase of small livings, though neither of these objects had ever been fulfilled. Lord Lansdowne was more particular. He said— He would beg of noble Lords to consider what would have been the result if, when the measure of the union of the two kingdoms was arranged, some such provisions as those of this Bill had been made? What would have been the situation of the clergy if the sum of £50,000 a year had at the time of the Union been set aside for the improvement of small livings; if £20,000 a year had been devoted to the building of churches, and £10,000 to the erection and improvement of houses for the inferior clergy? These were advantages which could not, of course, be expected to flow all at once from the Bill before the House, but they might be expected to result from it in the course of some time, and when they did occur would they not be of the greatest advantage to Ireland? These were the feelings which prompted the Government in introducing that measure, and Parliament, while it consented to the proposals made in that Act, refused to touch ministers' money. There was not one Roman Catholic Gentleman in the House at that time who asked for the abolition of the ministers' money. Neither Mr. O'Connell nor Mr. Sheil did so, their policy being to take all that was offered, and then grumble and ask for what more they could get on the next favourable opportunity. That was called a permanent settlement, and one of its effects was to make the fortunes of many Roman Catholic gentlemen. They hit upon the plan of taking all the church lands they could get in perpetuity, at a diocesan valuation, and in some cases they got lands at five or six years' purchase. If he were not mistaken, the right hon. Gentleman in the chair drew the attention of the House to this mode of spoliation, and afterwards the real value of the lands was required to be paid for such lands as were in future converted from leaseholds into perpetuities, and thus this mode of spoliating the Church was checked. As long, however, as they could have got church lands for next to nothing, they would have extended to ministers' money the courtesy of Polyphemus, and have devoured it last. At a subsequent period this question of ministers' money was agitated. It was examined into by a Committee of that House, the Report of which the House was now asked to affirm. It was most amusing to read the extraordinary law of property which was laid down in that Report. Nowhere was there more clearly displayed the strange affinity between men's pockets and their consciences. In fact, Swift's saying appeared to be true, that a conscience was of no use unless it stretched with the occasion. The moment a man was called on to put his hand into his pocket and pay a tax of this sort he discovered, to use Mr. Sheil's language, that "his paramount objection to ministers' money is one of a religious character." This was very strikingly exemplified in the evidence of one of the witnesses, a Mr. O'Flynn, whose opinions and views with respect to the nature of property were well worthy of being recalled to the attention of the House. He was asked by the right hon. Member for the University of Dublin whether it was against the conscience of a Roman Catholic to pay a charge created in favour of a Protestant clergyman, although the property might have been acquired with that charge upon it, and answered, "Yes, certainly; under whatever form you put it I should consider it objectionable." That was a bold and manly answer, and included all descriptions of property which happened to be held by a Roman Catholic. He was next asked whether a Protestant could create a charge upon property in favour of a Protestant clergyman which would be recognized by a Roman Catholic when that property came into his hands? and his answer was, "he could not—a Roman Catholic could not pay it." That might be very good theology, but it was contrary to common honesty. Although he should have taken the property subject to it?—Yes. This was laid before a Committee of grave men who were obliged to listen to Mr. O'Flynn propounding the views of his friends on church property. And do you consider that a conscientious principle?—I do. Suppose you were to take a house and then to pay ministers' money, but that you were entitled to deduct it out of the rent, would you still object to pay it?—I would. Although you were entitled to deduct it out of the rent?—I would. Suppose you were a Roman Catholic banker, and got money from a Protestant, would you object to honour his check?—No. How do you draw a distinction?—That is not my own money. Suppose your landlord is a Protestant, and you take a house from him at so much rent, and afterwards pay ministers' money, and save the property from distress thereby, being by law entitled to deduct the amount from the rent, you would still object to pay?—I would not have the same objection if I could deduct the amount from the sum paid to my landlord, supposing him to be a Protestant. This was a clear and scientific exposition of the principles of political economy. Would you have any objection?—I would have a little objection. Why?—Because I conceive that there should be no compulsion at all on religious matters. You would pay because it is a charge on property?—It would not come out of my pocket. If it be a charge against the rent there would be no reasonable objection to it?—Yes; the landlord might be a Roman Catholic. Suppose the landlord to be a Protestant?—I would pay it, but still I would object. Why?—Because I think clergymen should not be supported by any compulsory tax." [Cheers.] He understood that cheer. He understood the argument of those who were in favour of the voluntary principle, and he respected, while he differed from them; but those who supported that principle in this country would, if they promised to pay a man a certain sum of money, keep their engagement. If it were a charge made by a Protestant on his own property you would have no objection to pay it?—No. Then, the conscientious objection would be entirely removed if the charge was put by Protestants upon Protestant proprietors?—I would not consider that to be objectionable. That was precisely the case with respect to this tax. It was imposed by a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant King upon Protestant owners and upon the property of corporations of which Roman Catholics could not at that time be members. The hon. Gentleman proceeded with his Bill and met with various fortunes. At last the noble Lord at the head of the Government undertook the settlement of the question. This part of the subject concerned the noble Lord. It concerned his consistency and his conduct as a Minister of the Crown, and he should be glad to hear how the noble Lord would justify himself. It could not be glossed over in the easy manner in which the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had settled the appropriation principle involved in this measure. It was true an agitation was got up against ministers' money, but it was of a very modified kind, and was confined to certain towns in the south of Ireland. Until Her Majesty's Government encouraged the agitation the tax was nearly all paid in Dublin, and had been paid almost up to the present time. But it became necessary to deal with the subject, and the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) then Secretary of State, Sir John Young, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the present Mr. Justice Keogh then Attorney General for Ireland, put their heads together and framed a Bill, which the same noble Lord, now that he was Prime Minister, called upon the House to assist him in destroying. In introducing that measure, which was seconded by the noble Lord, Sir John Young said that since the time of James II. no Minister had ventured to propose the abolition of this tax without providing a substitute for it; that the Minister he served (that was the noble Lord) could not act upon such a principle); that it involved the safety of the Church property, and the settlement of the Church Temporalities; that the Ministry (that was the noble Lord) felt all the considerations most forcibly, and consequently, while they removed every evil which had resulted from the practical operation of the Act, they were resolved to maintain its principle. Subsequently the argument took a religious turn. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) argued that this tax was originally imposed not for the cure of the soul of a house, but for the cure of the soul of a man; and he, with great force and originality, insisted that it was a religious tax, and that the noble Lord, as a popular Min- ister and one willing to remove a grievance, ought to listen to this argument. The noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) then rose, and, although he said but a few words, it was impossible that the subject could have been better argued than it was by him. He said— He would beg the hon. Gentleman and those who acted with him to consider what was involved in the principle they advocated—that no person of one religion should ever be called on to contribute to anything connected with another. He would beg the hon. Gentleman to recollect how his doctrine would apply to the allowances made to Roman Catholic chaplains for attending upon the soldiers of the army and the sailors of the navy, and also other matters in which Roman Catholic interests were concerned. This tax had nothing to do with any religious question. It was a tax upon property, and it would be perfectly preposterous to make the rate upon a house dependent upon the religion of its owner. Was the imposition or non-imposition of the tax to be regulated by the religion of the head or of the immediate landlord, or was it to depend upon the religion of the occupier? If they adopted any such principle as that of the proviso, they would be involved in endless absurdities. The tax was one upon property, to which every man knew he was liable when he purchased it, and had really nothing whatever to do with religious feeling. Thus the objection taken by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan) was, to use the language of the noble Lord, perfectly preposterous. That was, it was absurd, foolish, and contrary to reason and justice. Yet, the same noble Lord who made that speech could come to the present Parliament and, with the same equanimity of temper, with the same sincerity, with the same anxiety to convince, and with a majority at his back that made him more forcible than Demosthenes and more persuasive than Tully, would unsay every word of that speech, and persuade the House that the principles there advocated were utterly and entirely wrong. He would now insist that this was not a charge upon property, it was a charge upon persons, and that it was preposterous to call it a charge on property. He would turn the phrase the other way, and would turn it against those who then voted with him. He (Mr. Whiteside) on that occasion voted with the noble Lord, who had two or three times induced him to go into the same lobby with him, and he afterwards said to his friends that the noble Lord had acted upon a Conservative principle, and was himself much more Conservative than they had thought him to be. He (Mr. Whiteside) believed the noble Lord, because he knew that his argument was sound. He knew that this was a tax upon property. Now, however, that the noble Lord had by a turn of fortune's wheel been elevated to the high position of prime Minister, he was, as soon as it suited his purpose, without a shadow of excuse, save to carry the elections, ready to sacrifice the property which, when Home Secretary, he pledged his reputation could not upon any principle of reason or justice be touched. Let not the House suppose that the bulk of the Roman Catholics objected to this tax. It was only the town represented by the hon. Member (Mr. Fagan) and one or two others which made any objection to it. Archdeacon Bell was for ten years in Waterford; during that time he was only three times involved in litigation upon this subject. His just rights were punctually paid by the correct and honourable men of that city, whom, had he (Mr. Whiteside) the power, he would first relieve from this payment, and not those of Cork. But, astonished as he was at the conduct of the noble Lord, he was much more astonished to hear the Home Secretary attacking the Bill framed by his own Government, and stating that no one could understand it, and it could not be carried into operation. These were the men to conduct the affairs of the nation. He thought that the principle involved in the Bill of Sir J. Young of exempting the £10 householders and reducing the amount by twenty-five per cent, was a just one, although perhaps it might be said that it was a reflection upon the class which in reality governed the country—and no doubt the £10 householders did govern the country, for did they not form the mass of the people, did they not elect the legislators?—to say that they could not pay this small impost. Was it wonderful, he would ask the House, that those who, like himself, were attached to the Established Church in Ireland should stand up for her property, when they found that no sooner was the question settled than it was sought by the very men who settled it, again to unsettle it. On a former occasion the hon. Member for Cork had proposed that the Commissioners should publish an annual Report, and that any surplus which might remain in their hands should be applied to the redemption of the tax. Now, to such a proposal he would be ready to assent, as he would be to any measure to remedy a proved practical grievance; but when the hon. Gentleman came forward, saying that he had a small Bill to carry, but a large principle to assert, he felt himself bound to stand up and endeavour to maintain that which had been guaranteed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government when he was Secretary for the Home Department. For his own part, he believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland had been the chief offender in this matter, and that he had brought the Government into a difficulty which they had not apprehended, unless, indeed, the noble Lord at the head of the Government was willing to adopt his views. On the 16th of April, 1856, the right hon. Gentleman made a speech upon the subject; and let the House remember how matters really stood. If the principle had been established that this charge should be abolished, Members from Scotland would naturally have said, "Abolish the annuity tax also." Some English Members would, with equal justice, have called for the abolition of church rates, while others might have asked for a general appropriation of church property for secular purposes. Such being the case, the right hon. Gentleman said,— Now, the question relating to ministers' money in Ireland was not, as at first sight it appeared to be, a local or an isolated question; it involved subjects of imperial interest. It had been stated that the tax of ministers' money did not depend upon persons, but upon property, and that it was the possession of property, and that alone, which rendered persons liable to the tax. Now, putting the matter upon that footing, it became one of a class of questions with which that House was familiar. In England there were the church rates, and in Scotland the annuity tax, both of which were defended upon the same ground. He then refers to the defeat of Government through public opinion acting on its representations on the church rate question. He then refers to riots in Edinburgh which he ascribes to the attempt to maintain the annuity tax, adding— That was a question precisely analogous to the present. Again, as to the resistance to church rates and ministers' money, he says— The principle of the two complaints were precisely the same; namely, that the professors of one religion were compelled to support the professors of another. But in Edinburgh the annuity tax was not an old tax, and it applied exclusively to ministers of the Established Church in Scotland. The two cases were, however, precisely analogous in principle. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, had placed the annuity tax in Scotland and church rates in England on the same footing with ministers' money in Ireland; that was, that they were all of them charges upon property. The House, there- fore, could, from the words of the right hon. Gentleman himself, form some appreciation of the magnitude of the question which they were called upon to decide. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to narrate the results of his experience in Ireland, and he said— With respect to every one of those municipal boards, they had met to record their determination not only to resist payment of the tax themselves, but not to allow others to pay it. When he was in Dublin a large deputation waited upon him, who stated in strong and decided terms, but in language respectful to the Government, that they would resist the payment of the tax to the uttermost. That was the communication which had been made to him, though, at the same time, it was not to be supposed that any Government would give up its duty. Although he had felt it to be his duty to make that statement, yet he must add that it would be the duty of Government to see that the tax was paid. Was it possible that a gentleman holding such a position could listen complacently to a deputation which informed him that not only would they not obey the law themselves, but that they would also prevent other persons from doing so? What would be thought if a deputation were to wait upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer and tell him that they had resolved not to pay any more income tax and to prevent other persons doing so; and if he said to them—Well, gentlemen, you are very hard upon me, but I will take the matter into consideration? The simplicity of the right hon. Gentleman appeared to him most remarkable. If he had had much experience of the country he would have seen that that deputation was only trying what they could get out of him. He went on to say the language used by that deputation was courteous but decided; but that it would be the duty of Government to see the tax was paid. It was curious how before an election the opinions of a Minister underwent a change. What reply had he given to the deputation from the south of Ireland which had waited on him. At that time the right hon. Gentleman had magnanimously determined to support the law. He had said— If the state of the law were not what it was, he should have shrunk from an annual contest of this kind, but now no alternative was left to the Government—they were bound to proceed firmly, manfully, and upon principle—they were compelled to carry out the law. The question had long engaged the attention of Government, and he had carefully endeavoured to ascertain by what means a legislative change might be made which might do justice and be satisfactory to all parties. Now, the conclusion which he had drawn from that speech had been that the right hon. Gentleman intended to carry the law manfully and fairly into effect, or, if not, that he intended to propose a settlement of the matter satisfactory to all parties, and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he had done so he would have supported him. Thus had the right hon. Gentleman expressed himself, but then came the general election. Upon the eve of that event the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan) and the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Meagher) had arranged a speech to the following effect—"We beg to inform the Minister that we represent towns that return a certain number of Members to Parliament. We influence the returns of ten Members for counties. You, the First Minister, have been often in difficulties. The votes of the Irish representatives have carried many a Government successfully through this House. Mark what we now tell you. You know how our support may be obtained. Abolish ministers' money and we shall see what we can do to help you out of your difficulties." The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had been found open to conviction. In his case a fair argument fairly put was always sure to tell. He at once adopted the Ministerial jargon and said the Government would take the subject under their consideration. So the right hon. Gentleman had taken it under his consideration, and he who had first set out with saying that he would enforce the law, and if not successful in that respect propose a fair and equitable adjustment of the tax, had at length begun to see the question in a new light, and, persuaded by the convincing logic such as that to which he (Mr. Whiteside) had just adverted, he came down and told the House that he had considered all the difficulties, and after taking a review of what Sir John Young had done, and the errors of his Bill, and noticing that the difficulties were increasing, he finally announced that he had come to the conclusion that the tax was of such a nature that he felt coerced to provide for its abolition. The right hon. Gentleman had, in fact, settled his reputation by his latest speech upon the question. He (Mr. Whiteside) could understand the case of a statesman taking a clear view of the matter, and arriving at the conclusion that he would abolish ministers' money, together with all the rest of the church property in Ireland—a course which, so far as the Protestants of that country were con- cerned, would do much to destroy their connection with this country. He was as strongly attached as any man to the connection between England and Ireland, yet if the Government were to adopt that course, and to overturn those institutions which Mr. Pitt, speaking the language of a gentleman and a British statesman, as well as Lord Castlereagh, had declared to be based upon fundamental principles, then would the Protestants of Ireland be at liberty to consider as to the course which they should take, and the House might rest assured that, although the Protestants of Ireland were ready to be the friends of this country, yet they would never consent to be her slaves. If they found that the clergy of their Church were, without due reason, treated with disrespect, then would the adamantine chain which bound them to England be severed. He had, however, been led away by these remarks from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland. That right hon. Gentleman had made a speech, the language of which he would prove did not demonstrate that to do away with ministers' money was a proceeding either equitable or expedient. The right hon. Gentleman had asserted that as the objections to the tax were chiefly of a conscientious character, it would be justifiable to collect it for the support of certain hospitals in Dublin, the more especially as the greater portion of the tax was levied upon the inhabitants of that city. It was not, however, quite clear upon what principle the funds of the Established Church could with justice be applied to a totally different purpose. The right hon. Gentleman, then, would appropriate the tax to what he considered useful ends, but if he could not appropriate it to such objects he would abolish it altogether. That, in his (Mr. Whiteside's) opinion, was a somewhat curious line of argument to adopt. He must say, it appeared to be robbing the Church in order to give to the doctor. He could not, however, understand how the right hon. Gentleman could justify the abolition of the tax. Unless, indeed, he were prepared to sanction the principle that when a Roman Catholic obtained possession of property under certain stipulations, he was at liberty to set up his conscientious scruples in derogation of those obligations which he had legally contracted. If the right hon. Gentleman were not prepared to sanction that proposition, then was there no force in the argument to which he had given expression. But to pass from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he must beg to remind the House that as agitation, had formerly been very much fostered by the Government in Ireland, so at the present day much was effected in the conduct of her affairs by means of deputations. There was nothing like them for attaining a particular object. One might not effect much, but a series of them was irresistible; and, acting upon that principle, he supposed a deputation had waited upon Lord Carlisle on the 14th of April last. The House had seen that upon the eve of the general election the Government had changed their intentions upon the subject of ministers' money, and had subsequently announced it to be their determination to support a Bill which proposed its abolition. The immediate result of that determination had been, that the corporation of Dublin, which had never previously resisted the payment of the tax, had passed a resolution upon the subject which they had submitted to Lord Carlisle on the occasion to which he had just alluded. The Resolution was as follows:— That taking into consideration that Her Majesty's Government have expressed their determination to introduce a Bill early next Session of Parliament to abolish ministers' money, and the Attorney General has discontinued legal proceedings against the corporations of Cork, Clonmel, and other cities, for the recovery of ministers' money, we are of opinion that Government ought to direct the Collector General to discontinue the collection of ministers' money in Dublin, pending the passing of the Bill. The reply of the Lord Lieutenant was in these terms:— I think Her Majesty's Government have assumed the responsibility of proposing a measure for the abolition of the impost called ministers' money to Parliament. What may be the result of their proposal I cannot take upon myself to anticipate. In the meanwhile I am not authorized by law to interfere with the liability of persons for the payment of the sums now due. I will consult with the law advisers of the Crown whether any steps should be taken for suspending the collection for a short period, till the decision of Parliament is ascertained. Now, the words of the Act of Parliament were to the effect that the Lord Lieutenant should order all sums due under the provisions of the Act to be recovered and paid into the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, so that his Excellency was scarcely right in stating that "he was not authorized by law to interfere in the matter." Mr. Reynolds, who had been the spokesman of the deputation, who had long been a leading agitator on the subject of ministers' money, and who had been the Government Candidate at the last election in opposition to his (Mr. Whiteside's) hon. Friends behind him (Mr. Grogan and Mr. Vance), had observed, in answer to the remarks of Lord Carlisle, "That that was all they could expect his Excellency to do," and had stated, that in the event of the Bill passing, the sum of £11,000, already paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, ought to be returned to the ratepayers of Dublin. Such had been the progress of agitation. The speaker first sought that the law should be suspended, and, having obtained a compliance with his wish, then, with inimitable coolness, asked that the money, which had already been paid in accordance with legal obligations, should be refunded. It was all a mere pretence to say that the tax could not be recovered, particularly with respect to Dublin, where, notwithstanding the agitation against it, £9,900 had within the last two years been obtained from persons who were willing to pay it. Why, there would be agitation for ever in Ireland if the local Government always pursued such a course as it had done with reference to this subject. If the Government had pursued a straightforward manly course, this just demand would have been paid without demur. He had been appealed to relative to this law-suit in Cork, and what were the facts? The opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Deasy) had been taken, and his advice was, that the corporations of Cork had no defence against the payment of the money. They were prosecuted, and the case was decided in favour of the tax. There was, indeed, a bill of exceptions, but on a collateral point. The commission for valuation issued by the Lord Lieutenant was wrong. Instead of directing the two Commissioners to make a proper valuation, they took the Poor Law valuation, which includes warehouses, slaughter-houses, &c., whereas the tax is only imposed on dwelling-houses. That was a fair exception, for it showed that the valuation was not fair. But what had that to do with the collection of the tax upon a proper valuation? What security had Parliament that when it abolished ministers' money, as it had abolished church rates, tithes, and the ten Irish bishoprics, it would not be told, "Now that you have given up ministers' money, nothing remains but that you should give up the tithe composition." The facts stated before the Committee ought to tell upon any Ministry really attached to the Church of England. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had stated the growth of the Church in Ireland, the need for the building of churches and the enlargement of glebes, and had certified that this money was necessary to enable them to execute the trusts that were thrown upon them, and he trusted that Parliament would not throw the burden upon the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of fulfilling these trusts, while it refused to give them the funds necessary for that purpose. The Commissioners had submitted a just and honest case. There had been no waste of the money intrusted to them, and if there were a surplus, the laborious parochial clergy would have the first claim. He put in no claim for the Irish bishops, but they were not overpaid. The Bishop of Cork had an income of £1,800, which was very small to meet the demands upon him. It was a sheer fiction to talk of the millions of property of the Irish Church. Their property is not equal to their wants, and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland had certified that the Commissioners had no money to meet these demands. The fact was, the Bill was introduced to meet the religious scruples of certain gentlemen who had incurred debts and did not wish to pay them. He trusted that the House would not yield to an objection without reason, justice, or necessity, and would not justify an attack upon church property, for which no excuse of a wise expediency could be pleaded.


(who had lately resigned his office of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant) said, that he had listened with great pleasure, although with some surprise, to the speeches of the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Napier) and the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside); but, remembering that the eloquence of the latter was of so imaginative a character, and that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was a Member of a profession of which he was an ornament, and therefore a practised adept in its highest arts, he was not astonished that the eloquence of both wanted that foundation of truth and fact which was the basis of all true eloquence. When he listened to the accounts they had given of the early history of this Act and their statements of the proceedings of the Governments of the Earl of Aberdeen, the Earl of Derby, and of the noble Viscount, he could not help feeling that as historians they laboured under the defect of that shortness of memory which was so often the accompaniment of the highest genius. No doubt the question was one of great difficulty—he had never denied that to be the case; but he contended that the graver part of that difficulty arose from the course which had been pursued by the Government of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Napier), and the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Whiteside) were Members but which they had ignored. The last-named hon. and learned Gentleman had insinuated that upon a former occasion he (Mr. Horsman) had raised this into an imperial question, and had identified it with the church-rate question in England; but in making that charge the hon. Member had omitted to look at the speeches upon which it professed to be based. The fact was, that when replying on a former occasion to the speeches of the hon. Member for Cork and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, he told them that if they objected to ministers' money in Ireland and the annuity tax in Scotland on the ground that they ought not to be compelled to support a church of which they were not members, they made the questions about ministers' money and the annuity tax not local and isolated, but Imperial questions. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, however, very conveniently ignored that part of his speech. He (Mr. Horsman) had been careful to draw a distinction between the church-rate question in England and ministers' money in Ireland, but ministers' money in Ireland and the annuity tax in Scotland were precisely the same in principle. There was no doubt that church rate was as old as the Church itself. It was a part of the ecclesiastical property which had come down from early ages. But ministers' money in Ireland and the annuity tax in Scotland were the creations of a recent Act. He believed that they both owed their origin to Acts passed in the year 1665. They were certainly imposed in the same reign, and they had also this remarkable similarity, that, whereas church rate was applicable to the whole country, ministers' money was applicable to only eight towns and cities in Ireland, and the annuity tax only to the city of Edinburgh and the town of Montrose. The question, therefore, was not entirely new, nor was the assertion on the part of the Government of a new principle. Before the year 1833 there was a church rate in Ireland as well as in England, but in that year the Irish church rate was abolished, and a Commission was established to provide funds for the payment of that rate which had been applicable to the maintenance of the fabric of the Church. An effort was made at the same time to do the same thing for England, but it failed. Now he would put it to the House whether, supposing church rate in England had been abolished, and there were about eight towns, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, &c., in which local assessments were found to be made for the maintenance of the fabric of the Church and the support of clergymen, they would endure the existence of such exceptions to the supposed great measure by which church rate had been altogether abolished throughout the whole extent of the country. Why, then, should they act differently towards Ireland, in which notwithstanding the abolition of church rate, eight towns and cities were still virtually burdened with a church rate? The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had given a description of the agitation which had taken place on the subject, and the mode in which it had acted on the present Government; and had stated that it was not of any importance until the present Government took it up. He had said that until the noble Lord now at the head of affairs had given countenance to the demands of the hon. Member for Cork he had stood no chance of success. But what were the facts? To his (Mr. Horsman's) knowledge this question had been agitated in Parliament for the last twenty years. He had seen every Ministry in succession oppose it. He had seen his hon. Friend the Member for Cork, year after year, gain upon the Government that opposed it; but he never did see it gain strength and standing in that House until the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin and his learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen came forward as Members of Lord Derby's Government, and pledged themselves to propose a measure for its settlement. It was a most unfortunate event that during the Derby Administration legislation for Ireland was delivered into the hands of those two Gentlemen. They were the gemini, the twin constellation that were to guide the Administration of Lord Derby through all the difficulties of Irish legislation. And how did they commence? There were three prominent and difficult questions which they had to settle. These were the Land question, the Maynooth question, and the Ministers' Money question, and every one of these the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Napier) came forward to settle by throwing over all the principles and traditions of his party. Now, that was the first proceeding that gave a real Parliamentary importance to the agitation against ministers' money in Ireland. Upon the two other questions the House knew what were the propositions of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. They were propositions of the most extravagant description, and were acceptable only to the most extreme Members of an extreme and insignificant minority in Ireland which he (Mr. Horsman) believed had now died out. Although the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen had that night severly criticized and wittily ridiculed the proceedings of the Government in reference to this question, he himself gave a public and solemn pledge, in 1853, that he would bring forward a measure to settle it, when he had no measure even shadowed forth in his own mind. But, as the brightest flower is ever the briefest, before there was an opportunity for the hon. and learned Gentleman to carry his measure the ministry of Lord Derby came to an end. [Mr. WHITESIDE: I never gave a pledge with reference to ministers' money in my life.] The hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University (Mr. Napier) are so closely and apparently so happily united that they may be regarded as one flesh. Nor did he know that there had been any divorce between them. He had mistaken the former for the latter with reference to that solemn promise to settle this unhappy agitation about ministers' money. At that time he had not much acquaintance with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Napier), but he was intimately acquainted with the right hon. Gentleman then the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole), who was Secretary for the Home Department in the Administration of Lord Derby, and he well remembered having crossed the House to ask his right hon. Friend whether he would give his support to the promised measure. His answer was in the affirmative, and as he felt convinced that he (Mr. Walpole) would not have made that answer unless the matter had been discussed in a Cabinet Council, the Derby Government manifestly intended to do the very thing contemplated by this Bill—namely, to put an end to the agitation about ministers' money. Why had they not given the Government the benefit of their deliberations, and assisted in bringing the question to a satisfactory conclusion? The hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen had just delivered a vehement speech against this Bill, but it was rather strange that a gentleman with such apparently strong feelings upon the subject should have actually become counsel to one of the defaulting corporations in their opposition to the collection of the tax. He had already been retained for the corporation of Cork, and he congratulated him upon the prospect of still further retainers from the other defaulting corporations; for there was every likelihood that his vigorous resistance to the tax on their behalf would enable him to die richer than Irish lawyers usually did. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Napier) whether he saw any mode of escaping from the difficulty he was now using all his ingenuity to entail upon the Government? Again, when Lord Aberdeen came into office the hon. and learned Gentleman misstated the facts. The truth was that when that Government came in, and the hon. Member for Cork again brought forward his Motion, his (Mr. Horsman's) predecessor in office, finding himself pressed and likely to be left in a minority, brought in a measure of his own to save the Government from a defeat, but such was the feeling that he was only saved from that result by a majority of fifteen on the introduction of the Bill. With regard to the Committee of 1848, the fact was that there were two counter propositions and two different reports. On one of these, Sir J. Young—not then a Member of the Government—voted with both the Members for the University of Dublin and with the Member for the city of Dublin; and having proposed a measure in accordance with his known opinions and former associations, he did, in order to escape the difficulties of the question by a compromise, unfortunately resort to the counsels of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin. He brought in a Bill modelled by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite—oh, he begged pardon of him, but it was all on record, for there was a draught Report proposed and voted for; and the names of those who had voted had been laid upon the table. He voted with the two Members of the University of Dublin, and the Member for the city of Dublin. The Bill so adopted by Sir J. Young, on the model of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, had really landed them in all the difficulties which they were in. When it was made a charge against the noble Lord at the head of the Government that he supported that Bill in 1854, and opposed that of the hon. Member for Cork, it should be remembered that his noble Friend was then acting with the Government in promoting a measure which had at least the appearance of settling the question, for no man could have foreseen the contradictions, and difficulties, and impossibilities of a Bill which was really a concoction of the ingenuity of the brain of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. Well, what was that Bill? That Bill relieved all houses under £10 from payment of the impost, and this was believed to be a great boon, but it turned out to be nothing of the kind. It turned out that the parties who ought to have paid this tax were rated at 1s., 1s. 6d., and 2s.; but the collection had become so difficult, and odious, and expensive, that the clergymen who then had to collect it, as might be expected of gentlemen, rather gave it up altogether than collect it under these circumstances. The act then failed as a relief to the parties who paid the tax. Then those who paid the tax were allowed to compound it for fourteen years' purchase. That also failed. Then the collection of the tax was to devolve on the corporations, and that failed more than anything. With regard to these corporations they were principally composed of dissenters from the Established Church, who themselves objected to pay the tax, and a very little common sense and foresight might have prognosticated the failure of such a provision. Indeed, the only provision which succeeded was that relating to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman had accused him of negotiating with the representatives of municipal boroughs in Ireland upon this question. He had entered into no negotiations. Deputations from various corporations waited upon him, introduced by several Members of Parliament, and, as was his duty, he received them courteously. The interviews were short—the language of the deputatious respectful. They stated their views regarding the ministers' money. They told him frankly that they objected to paying the tax themselves, and that they had still greater objection to compelling others to pay it. He told them that as the repre- sentative of the Irish Government, he had no power to enter into the merits of the tax, and no choice but to compel its collection, but that he would transmit their views to the Government, which he did by the next post. Now, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin had said a great deal about the statement in reference to the intentions of the Government on this tax being made on the day before the dissolution of the last Parliament, adding that it was obviously made at that time for electioneering purposes. He (Mr. Horsman) believed that the statement he made on the subject was, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman had said, made on the last day for the transaction of business which occurred prior to the dissolution, but it was a mere piece of claptrap to say that the one had the slightest reference to the other. It was a very simple fact, of which the right hon. Gentleman had certainly made the most. But it should be recollected that the right hon. Gentleman took care not to mention one other important fact, namely—that on the 20th of February he (Mr. Horsman) had promised to make that statement; and that after he had given that promise circumstances occurred which were not anticipated, and which led to the dissolution. The promise given on the 20th of February was in answer to an appeal from the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell), who said that the Government were bound to do one of two things—either to propose a satisfactory plan for the settlement of the question, or to abolish the tax altogether. He (Mr. Horsman) gave a pledge that Government would do one or the other of those two things; and on the 20th of February, when nobody had any idea that dissolution would take place this year, he told the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan) that if he would fix the second reading of the Bill for a distant day, it would give the Government time to make up their minds on the subject, he could state the views of the Government on the subject, and consequently the second reading was fixed for the 28th of March. [Mr. NAPIER said he was not present at the second reading]. No, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman was present on the 20th of February, when he gave the promise to the House to answer the appeal of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and it seemed, he thought, to be pretty well understood what the decision of the Government would be. Several friends of his (Mr. Horsman's) said to him that it would be impossible to suggest any satisfactory settlement of the question. While several friends came to the conclusion that the Government would be obliged to propose the abolition of the tax, another said, "I don't think it was so understood by the Member for the University of Dublin, or he would have been more savage." After the 20th of February, and before the day fixed for the second reading, there came a vote which was not anticipated, and the dissolution was determined upon. And so it accidentally had occurred that he (Mr. Horsman) had to fulfil the pledge he had given to the House on a very late day, and out of that circumstance the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin had not failed to make great political capital. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had referred to a statement he (Mr. Horsman) made as to the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and called it a gross misrepresentation. Well, it so happened that he spoke from the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which Report had been printed and was in the hands of Members of that House; and he quoted at length that very paragraph which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been at the trouble to quote against him to-night. The right hon. and learned gentleman accused him of making a gross misrepresentation as to the funds of the Commission. All he could say was, that he read what the Commissioners themselves stated as to their income, disbursements, and balance, and therefore the mistake, if any, rested with the Commissioners. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that he had stated the income of the Commissioners in 1856 at too high a sum, because there was included in that year money arising from the sales of perpetuities and from private subscriptions. Well, he would show how much the right hon. and learned Gentleman was to be trusted when he dealt with figures. He (Mr. Horsman) made a comparison of the income of the Commissioners in 1848 with their income in 1856, and showed, according to their own statement, that, while their income in 1848 was £98,000, it was £150,000 in 1856. But the hon. and learned Gentleman accused him of gross exaggeration because there were sums in 1856 arising from the sale of perpetuities and from private subscriptions. Well, he found that there were sales of perpetuities also in 1848; and that, while in 1856 the amount from the sale of perpetuities was £7,000, in 1848 it was no less than £9,000. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that, while contemplating to bring this matter before the House, the Commissioners told him not to trouble himself about it, because he (Mr. Horsman) had promised to give an explanation, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to intimate that that pledge had been broken. He had that correspondence in his pocket. And from that it appeared that a letter was written by one of the most prominent members of the Ecclesiastical Commission, the Archbishop of Dublin, who read the statement made by him in the same manner as the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and that letter was forwarded to him (Mr. Horsman) by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He instantly replied that he took the statement from the accounts of the Commissioners, and was satisfied that he was quite right, and his letter concluded with this paragraph:—"I quite subscribe to your Grace's opinion, that any correction of such a statement, calculated to convey a false impression, would best come from the party by whom that statement was made; and if your Grace will have the goodness to communicate to me the nature of the correction which is desirable to be made, I shall have much pleasure in giving it to the House of Commons on its reassembling, either in your Grace's language or my own." Having had no reply to that letter he assumed that his letter had been satisfactory, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman, having some friend who thought the quarrel a very pretty one—perhaps the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, who was the Sir Lucius O'Trigger of the bar—offered to bring the matter before the House of Commons, and he was then told by the Chief Commissioner that he need not trouble himself. The hon. and learned Gentleman said the noble Lord the First Minister had been misled by the Irish Government and by him (Mr. Horsman) on this question, but he seemed to be ignorant of the duties of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. He was an officer entirely subordinate to the Government; he submitted to them information and facts for their consideration, but as to the decision they came to, or as to any principle or policy they resolved to adopt, he was a mere cypher. The Go- vernment arrived at their decisions according to their own views, and upon their own responsibility, entirely irrespective of any opinions which the Chief Secretary might entertain. But he (Mr. Horsman) thought that the Government had taken a wise and politic course—one of which he more cordially approved than any other they could have followed. He had seen this question year by year growing in the House; he had seen the Liberal party more and more voting with his hon. Friend the Member for Cork, and the Government more and more dependent on the Opposition than upon their usual supporters, and he had been long enough in the House to know that, when you had a Government which depended for support on its opponents in resisting the fair, reasonable, and moderate demands of its own friends, the longer a course of that kind was persevered in the wore false the position of that Government would be, and the earlier it extricated itself from such a position the more would that step redound to its credit, and add to the strength of its own party, He hoped his noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston) would persevere in the course he had laid down, being satisfied that the strength and security of his position depended not on the forbearance of his opponents, but on the cordial and unfailing support of his friends.


, as the chief magistrate of one of the towns which was affected by the tax, could not avoid offering a few observations to the House, as he was anxious to correct a few inaccuracies that had crept into the debate. In the first place, he must refer to the description given by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) of the interview of the corporations with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Horsman). Now, he had often heard that hon. and learned Gentleman make the best of a bad brief, but on the present occasion he must say his facts were very badly briefed to him. So far, indeed, from the deputation meeting with the reception described by the hon. Gentleman, he would say—adopting the description of a poor countryman of his—"they only just met with the height of civility, and nothing more." In fact, it was observed by several members of the deputation, on leaving the chamber in which the interview had been held, what a change office had made in the right hon. Gentleman—how soon Radicals became converted into High Churchmen! At all events, the deputation took their leave with no other feeling than that of disappointment, and a determination to resist the collection of the tax by every means in their power. No one was better entitled than he was to speak out upon the question, for he had been the first to organize an opposition to the tax—an opposition which he was happy to say had proved most successful. The corporation of Water-ford had determined that every stick and stone of the corporation should be sequestrated rather than that they should become collectors, and they most successfully persevered in their resistance. He had seen the greatest cruelties practised in the collection of the tax. Beds had been dragged away from families, and women's petticoats had even been taken for the payment of the impost. On one occasion, two of a rev. Gentleman's collectors were sentenced' each to two years' imprisonment for the abominable cruelties they practised. In many cases the corporations had found it impossible to enforce the impost, the people invariably resisted it, and he trusted, therefore, that the House would remove it from the Statute Book. One day's bombardment of Sebastopol cost more than would pay the impost for a year. When Irish blood and sinew were wanted for the war the people heard nothing about ministers' money; but now, on the restoration of peace, writs were being issued in dozens by Her Majesty's Attorney General. He hoped that the House would put an end to an impost which was calculated, more than anything else he knew of, to engender the worst feelings amongst the Irish people.


said, when the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for Ireland rose, after the powerful speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), I anticipated, from his known ability, and his familiarity with the subject, that he would have encountered the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend, and that he would have addressed himself to the important question under consideration. But I am compelled to say that the right hon. Gentleman, feeling much more interested in matters which were personal to himself than in the grave question before us, disappointed expectation, and never, in the course of his speech, did he address himself, in the slightest degree, to the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend. As those arguments remained untouched, I ought, perhaps, to apologize to the House for rising, and, indeed, its impatience may be justified on the same ground. But I feel that, inasmuch as the debate, up to this time, has been confined to Members connected with Ireland, it has been made to assume a false and provincial character which is prejudicial to the satisfactory discussion of the question, for I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey), not in the speech which he made to-night, but in that which he delivered on a former occasion, when he declared that this is not a local and provincial question, but it is one of Imperial interest. And the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in saying that he made that observation as applicable to the arguments which were addressed upon that occasion. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the question relative to ministers' money in Ireland was not, as at first sight it would appear to be, a local and isolated question, but that it involved considerations of imperial interest. Now, I think there cannot be a more fatal notion than for English Members to conceive they are not closely concerned with questions of this kind. By the Act of Union the churches of England and Ireland are inseparably bound together. They are united in one body, each being Members of the other, and we ought to feel that if one suffers the other suffers with it. Now, upon the present important question, I would warn hon. Members that it is quite impossible we can come to a determination to destroy church property in Ireland, which must be the effect of this proposal, without its bearing fruits that will ultimately drop upon the English branch of the Church. I call this a question of property, and not a religious question; because the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in the year 1854, distinctly gave that character to the proposal, and ridiculed the idea that the rights of property were to depend upon any change in religious opinions. The question itself has branched out in the course of discussion to a very considerable extent, though it appears to me to lie in a very narrow compass, and I will, if the House can indulge me, endeavour to lay the issue fairly and distinctly before it. Now, it is not denied that originally, at all events under the Act of Settlement, the 16 & 17 Chas. II., the property in this ministers' money was created. It was imposed as a tax upon the only persons who could then possess property in the corporate towns, upon the Protestant community, and it was imposed for the benefit of Protestant ministers. In the course of time, however, the property which was so taxed came into the possession of Roman Catholics. Now, can any one suppose for a moment that the rights of property were to fluctuate with the changes of religious opinions, and that the new state of things discharged property from the obligations which lay upon it? No idea of that kind appears at any time to have been entertained, because I beg the House to bear in mind that this agitation upon the subject of ministers' money is of very recent origin. I believe that it was not until the year 1842 that we ever heard any opposition to the payment of the tax. I have, I think, the assent of the hon. Member for Cork, who introduced the Bill, to that assertion. Well, now see what took place in the year 1833, the year in which the Temporalities Act passed, and which, I say, definitively settled this important question of property with respect to ministers' money. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were appointed, and a fund was created by the suppression of ten sees, and by the taxation of livings above the value of £300 a year. The fund which was so entrusted to the Commissioners was to be saddled with certain obligations. And, first of all, in consequence of the abolition of the church cess, it was saddled with the repairs and rebuilding of churches and chapels, with a provision for the maintenance of Divine worship, with the payment of clerks and sextons; and then, if any surplus remained after discharging these duties, it was to be applied, in the first place, to the building of new churches, where one-fifth of the amount was provided by voluntary contributions; in the next place, to the purchase and building of glebe houses, while its third and most important duty was to contribute to the augmentation of poor livings under the value of £200 a year. Thus matters were settled by the Church Temporalities Act. The hon. Member for Cork says it was probably the intention of the Legislature at that time to abolish ministers' money, but that the point was overlooked, and through the technical language of an Act of Parliament the tax was made to endure. I think, however, with great submission, that the hon. Member is in error in that respect; because in the following year, by the Act 4 & 5 Wm. IV., ministers' money was recognised as an existing tax upon property, and nobody from that time down to the year 1854 ever suggested that there had been an intention of getting rid of the tax altogether. It was treated as an obligation upon property; and, as I have said, the agitation for its removal did not commence until the year 1842. Now, it has been observed in the course of the argument, without being denied—on the contrary, the assertion has been confirmed by the right hon. Gentleman late Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Horsman)—that every Government, without exception, down to the year 1857, invariably refused to repeal the tax unless a substitute was first provided. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department says, that following out the suggestions which were made in the Report of the Committee of 1848, he admitted it was desirable to get rid of the tax, and, therefore, instead of meeting the proposal of the hon. Member with a direct opposition, he moved "the previous question." It is perfectly true he did so upon two occasions, but it is equally true that upon both these occasions the grounds upon which the right hon. Gentleman opposite opposed the repeal of ministers' money was that it would be improper to do so unless a substitute was provided; and as none had been suggested, he felt it his duty not to support the Motion. Well, now the right hon. Gentleman has to-night made use of a most extraordinary argument, one which I could hardly have expected from him. He admits, as every one must, that the Act of Settlement of Charles II. establishes ministers' money as the indefeasible property of the Church. But, says the right hon. Gentleman, in the year 1854 the Act of Charles II. was repealed, and thus the question is put upon a totally different footing, and the right to ministers' money having been taken away by the Legislature, we are left now at liberty to deal with it as we wish. That is the most extraordinary view of the Act of 1854 which I ever heard of. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for Ireland said that my right hon. and learned Friends, the Member for the University of Dublin, and the Member for Cambridge University, when he was a Member of Lord Derby's Government, had pledged that his Government would take this matter into their consideration, and would propose a settle- ment of the question, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman has rather taunted my right hon. and learned Friend with having supported the measure of the Government in 1852. Now, what did my right hon. and learned Friend then propose? With the knowledge that great objections were made to the tax, and that there were great inequalities in respect to it, my right hon. and learned Friend said he was quite ready to take the matter into his consideration, not for the purpose of abolishing the tax, but of removing the objections that had been raised to the mode of collection and the valuation, and, therefore, to render it more efficient for its purposes. In 1854 it was proposed by the Government, of which the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) was then Home Secretary, to introduce a Bill to effect the very objects intended by my right hon. and learned Friend. The right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary for the Home Department says that the Act of 1854 repealed the Act of Charles II. But was that the view then taken by the noble Lord at the head of the Government and Sir John Young? No; for the latter right hon. Gentleman stated that no Government, from the earliest period at which this question was agitated, had ventured to propose a repeal of the tax without a substitute; and the noble Lord, so far from supposing that the Act of 1854 was to operate as a repeal of the ministers' money, on that occasion argued that the question was one of property, that that was the ground upon which he was prepared to introduce his measure of 1854, and he ridiculed the idea of treating it as a religious question. There could scarcely be, in fact, a stronger recognition of the right to ministers' money than the Act of 1854, because by it measures were taken to remove all the objections to the tax, for the purpose of rendering it a permanent impost. But it did more; it removed any conscientious objections that could exist on the ground of this being an ecclesiastical tax, because it took away from the ministers, or from the ecclesiastical body, the power of collecting the tax, and it placed it in the hands of the corporations of the different towns. If the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were bound in 1854 to pay the tax to the ministers, no collection of it could be offensive to any religious feeling. What happened on that Act being passed? The tax, for a short time, was collected by the corporations. [An hon. MEMBER here expressed dissent.] Well, by the collectors general of rates. It appears by the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford that seven mayors had assembled together for the purpose of resisting the collection of the tax. That was a very remarkable state of things, because the objections did not proceed from the tax-payers themselves, but from those who had control over its collection. An agitation was therefore raised by persons in authority, although one would suppose that such persons should have had a little more respect for the law, which was obligatory to collect the rates and to pay them over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department has not treated this question quite fairly, for he says that the Legislature had imposed on the trustees the necessity of paying ministers' money. That, no doubt, is true; but the right hon. Gentleman did not do the question justice by taking only a portion of the Act, for he should have stated that provision was made in the same Act for the collection of this money and the payment of it over again to the trustees. Those persons, however, it appeared, refused to collect it, and evinced their determination to resist the law. Well, in that case, what course ought to have been pursued by the Government? It seems that a deputation had waited upon the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Horsman) and intimated to him, in distinct terms, the determination of those parties not to obey the law themselves and not to permit any other persons to obey it. I think, however, that a little more vigour on the part of the right hon. Gentleman might have been exercised. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. j Blake) said, that the deputation was received by the right hon. Gentleman with the greatest civility. Now, I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman under the circumstances should have pursued a different tone with a party of gentlemen who waited on him to announce their intention of not allowing the law to be put in force. But after a little time it was intimated that the Government would proceed to enforce the law. The right hon. Gentleman opposite sneers at my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), because, in one part of these proceedings, he was retained as counsel by the inhabitants of the city of Waterford. The right hon. Gentleman expressed a hope that my hon. and learned Friend, from the number of fees which he then received, would die a rich man. Sir, I sincerely hope that he will live a rich man, and that he will, for a great many years confer a lustre upon society by the influence of his great abilities. It is scarcely possible to help observing, on the events which marked the course of this agitation. The right hon. Gentleman says that no Government, from the earliest period, would permit the repeal of the ministers' money. The noble Lord, however, thought it convenient, on the eve of the dissolution of Parliament, to signify for the first time his assent to the measure of the hon. Member for Cork, although, in 1854, he described such a Bill as one for interference with the rights of property, which he was determined to resist. The intimation given by the hon. Member for Cork, and another of the Irish Members, that ten of the Irish cities, with their surrounding counties, were greatly interested in the solution of this question, was not lost on the noble Lord, who soon afterwards stated that it was the intention of the Government to support this Bill. Well, let the Government take one of two courses—let them either arrange a mode by which a substitute can be raised, or let them take the bold course of at once abolishing the tax. The noble Lord has taken neither of these courses. He has not come forward to propose the abolition of this ministers' money as a question which it was necessary to settle; he has placed himself behind the hon. Member for Cork, and leaving this still the measure of that hon. Gentleman, has certainly shown neither much courage nor forwardness upon this subject. This seems to me a question of vital importance. It is quite impossible, if this principle be carried out, that it should not extend to other subjects in which we have an immediate interest. The hon. Member for Waterford says that this is a part, but not the entire, of what he expected. Many persons look upon the abolition of this tax as a measure that will be followed by the abolition of the Established Church in Ireland. The hon. Member for Cork says, that although the amount involved in this Bill is but trifling, there is a great principle at stake. I am alarmed to think that the passing of this measure establishes the principle that property is no longer to be held sacred and inviolable. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for Ireland said, that there was a difference between this tax and church rates, for that the latter had existed from the earliest period, whereas the former had only been established about 200 years. Let us turn to another question likely to engross our attention in a few days—I mean the grant to the College of Maynooth. How will this argument affect the continuance of that grant? The Government supports that endowment on the ground that the faith of Parliament is pledged to it; but that grant has only an existence of sixty years. My hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) says from only the year 1845. I differ from him, on that point, and think that Parliament has been pledged for a period of sixty years. Well, if we are to be ruled by a Parliamentary principle, this ministers' money has an advantage over the Maynooth grant; but if the Government is disposed to give way on this important question, because it appears that the religious scruples of certain persons are offended by the exaction of this money, why should not the Government give way on the subject of Maynooth, when they know that many good and conscientious persons are offended at the money of the State being employed for such purposes? It is clear that you cannot forbear to carry out the principle of this abolition of ministers' money to church rates; and I cannot conceive, on the principle that this grant of ministers' money is to be repealed and abolished, how any description of property whatever can be safe. I shall therefore oppose the Motion for the second reading, on the ground that it endangers the security of all property whatever. I also feel that it is impossible not to anticipate the most serious consequences resulting from a recognition of this principle. I see nothing but danger and mischief arising from yielding to the measure of the hon. Gentleman, and I shall therefore feel it my bounden duty to support the Amendment.


said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just resumed his seat had accused his right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) of having neglected his duty by casting overboard the question of principle involved in this discussion, and proceeding to a personal attack, He believed that it was the first duty of a Member of that House, to whom it had been imputed that he had misrepresented facts, to clear his character and let it stand fairly before the House; but he denied that his right hon. Friend had neglected the questions of principle. On the contrary, he had spoken to them fully and fairly. He (Mr. FitzGerald) would not follow the example of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin and the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen and treat this as a sectarian question, or one between Roman Catholic and Protestant, and he hoped to show, before he sat down, that this Bill ought to pass on totally different grounds. God forbid that the House should decide the question upon the ground that the creditor was a Protestant and the debtor a Catholic, or that property belonging to Protestants, and charged with a tax for ecclesiastical purposes, should be discharged because it had come into the hands of Roman Catholics. Neither would he pause to do more than notice the allegation which had been made by hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, he believed without historical foundation, that when the Act of Charles II. was passed, the property in these towns was in the hands of Protestant owners and occupiers. When Dr. Ellmes, the Protestant rector of Limerick, was asked by the Committee, "Are you aware that when this tax was originally created it was placed upon Protestant property?" he replied, "No; I do not believe that to be the fact, because at the time it was created, 17 & 18 Chas. II., almost all the occupiers and most of the owners of houses were Roman Catholics;" and it must indeed have surprised the hon. Members for Waterford, for Cork, and for Limerick to hear that in the year 1665 the proprietors of houses in those boroughs were exclusively Protestants. One of the reasons why he thought the question ought not to be determined on such grounds as these was, that his experience had shown him that this tax was equally vexatious to the Protestant clergyman and to the Protestant or Roman Catholic owner or occupier, and that it had been condemned by every one who was anxious to promote the advance of Christianity. On this ground it had been equally assailed by all these persons. One and all agreed in the opinion that when a substitute could be provided this tax ought to be abolished. For the purposes of religion, of Christianity, and of good will, the position of Protestant clergymen, who were obliged to obtain from the poorest of the poor the tax upon which they were to subsist was very unfortunate. If this impost were to cease, the greater part of the saving would go, not, as might be supposed from the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, into the pockets of Roman Catholic ratepayers, but into those of Protestant occupiers and proprietors of house property. The tax was condemned by the Committee of 1848 as an impost which led to most injurious animosity; all the rectors who were examined by that Committee agreed that the tax ought to be taken off; the only question was as to what was to be substituted for it, and the only substitute which could be suggested was a payment out of the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commission. He believed that the Government of Lord Derby were so convinced of the oppressive nature of the tax, that they were pressed to adopt measures to effect its abolition; and that it was only on account of their brief tenure of office that they had not done so. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) committed a slight inaccuracy in saying that the Secretary of State under the Government of Lord Derby proposed to settle this question, and suggested the plan which was afterwards carried out by Sir John Young. The matter was left completely ambiguous, all that was said being that the Government had in contemplation a measure for the settlement of the question. During the Government of Lord Derby the hon. Member for Cork brought forward a Motion for the total abolition of the tax. The Government did not meet that Motion by a direct negative, but they moved the previous question, thus implying that they were prepared to settle the question. That Government, however, had no opportunity of doing so, for ten days afterwards they were thrown out of office, and Lord Aberdeen's Government succeeded them. Sir J. Young subsequently brought in a Bill upon the subject, and he was free to confess that there was only one portion of that Bill with which he concurred, and that was the provision which removed the rectors of parishes from the disagreeable position in which they were previously placed, and enabled them to draw their incomes from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Now, the present Bill did not interfere with that right. Sir J. Young took from the clergy the arduous and disagreeable task of levying the impost, and imposed it upon the corporations—a duty foreign to their constitution, and which necessarily brought them into disastrous disputes with their people. The represent- tatives of those towns, with the exception of the Members for Dublin, objected to that proposal. The Bill, however, passed into law, and the inevitable result of it was to bring the corporations into collision with their ratepayers, or, if these corporations did not perform the invidious task imposed on them, to bring them into collision with the Government. From the very first the corporations indicated their intention of not becoming the collectors of this tax, and it had been his duty to state the course which the Government intended to adopt—namely, to carry the law into effect, and in so doing he had pointed out the difficulties which were in the way. The result of that course had been a scene of unhappy and expensive litigation. At the present moment there were seven suits pending in the Court of Exchequer in Ireland at the suit of the Attorney General, against the several corporations to enforce the tax. In one case judgment had been given for the Crown, and proceedings had been commenced in order to carry the case to the Court of Error, and thence before the House of Lords, and he could not certainly affirm that that tribunal would not reverse the decision of the court below. But, supposing the judgment were confirmed, how could it be enforced against a body corporate which had, after fulfilling its trusts, no property of its own? For his own part, he believed it was exceedingly difficult, if not impracticable to obtain the fruits of judgment in such a case, and a recent decision of the Court of Chancery confirmed him in that view. He did not look upon this impost as being church property, nor did the measure involve any question of appropriation. It was a question of taxation; the tax had been created by Act of Parliament; and, as it had been created by Parliament, so Parliament had a perfect right to abolish it. Was it, he would ask, politic for so small a sum as £12,000, per annum to keep up a continued feeling of strife and contention? If it were impossible to levy the tax, let the House see if there was anything which could be resorted to as a substitute for it. He thought that substitute might be found in the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He believed that by an economical management of the annual receipts of the Commission, which had increased from £68,000 in the year 1848 to £140,000 in the last year, a sum might be set aside to be applied for the purposes for which the tax then under consideration was levied. He had before him the accounts for the year 1855, and in them he found one item alone amounting to £34,850 for "requisites for the celebration of Divine service in several churches and chapels." What the components of that item were he had not the materials to enable him to say. Moreover, there was £6,000 a year paid for salaries, and a salary of £1,000 a year to a solicitor, in addition to his professional outlay, and an allowance for clerks. These items might be considerably reduced. Even if that could not be done, Christians of other denominations by voluntary efforts raised means for the celebration of Divine service, and he did not think it too much to call upon his Protestant fellow-countrymen to imitate that example, if by so doing they could put an end to a continued source of strife and contention. For his part he believed that, without reducing the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, or withdrawing those funds from the purposes to which they were now applied—the increase of ministers' stipends, the repair of churches, and the building of glebes—a large proportion of these items might, under a more economical management, be applied towards this £12,000. The tax was oppressive. It gave rise to opposition in every part of the country, and to continuous litigation, involving more expense than the whole tax. Eight towns came to the House, told them that they regarded it as most obnoxious, and prayed to be relieved from the impost. He thought the House would agree that a tax which assumed that character, which met with opposition on all hands—so small in amount, but so vexatious in operation, was one which ought to be abolished, and that it would be most unwise and impolitic to uphold such a source of irritation and ill-will.


Although I have no doubt with respect to the Vote which I shall give upon this question, yet I own I am not so well satisfied with the reasons which have been given for that vote by two Members of the Government and a late Member of the Government, as to induce me to refrain from stating shortly the ground upon which my own vote will be given. Sir, I am not satisfied with the statement that the necessity for this vote arises from the imperfections of the Act of 1854. That Act, as I understand it, consists of four parts. One part reduced by 25 per cent, the amount of ministers' money to be paid. To that part I think no objection has been made. Another part provided that, instead of the uncertainty that formerly prevailed, the ministers entitled to these stipends should receive them from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. That I believe was a very wise provision, and has tended as well to the comfort and welfare of those ministers as to the comfort and ease of those who are called upon to pay the tax. A third part, of that Bill consisted of a provision that those who occupied houses under £10 a year should no longer be subject to the tax. That, again, I think, tended to prevent very vexatious and oppressive levies of small sums, and was likewise wise and proper. The fourth part of the Act, which provided that the corporations should levy the tax, seems to me to be the only part which could be said to have entirely failed, and that part undoubtedly has not worked satisfactorily; but the Government had the matter under their consideration, and I presume that, if by any other mode of collection—if by taking away this liability from the corporation, and placing it in any other hands, the collection of the tax could have, been made easy and successful, they would rather have preferred that course to the course which they have adopted, and have submitted it to the House. I presume, therefore, that the failure of Sir John Young's Act rather arises from the difficulty of the matter itself than from any imperfections which are to be found in the Act. Not finding, then, in that Act—upon which so much stress has been laid, and which by two Members of the Government, one of whom has lately left it, has been made the theme of so much objection, any reasons to necessitate the present measure, it appears to me that there is one ground, and that a very simple ground, upon which it can be fully justified. The Act of 1833, introduced by the present Earl of Derby, took away from the Church of Ireland part of its revenues for the system of what was called church cess, amounting, if I recollect rightly, to about £70,000 a year. That part of the revenues of the Church was taken away, on the ground that it was most vexatious in its collection; that it was felt as an oppression by the people; and that, in fact, it raised great hostility to the Church for whose support it was levied. In lieu of that revenue there were certain charges—that for building and repairing churches amongst others—placed upon the Commission, which was furnished with funds, partly by the suppression of the bishoprics, and partly by a tax on benefices. That measure affected £70,000 a year of the Church revenue. It appears to me that, with regard to this £12,000 a year, there are the same objections as to the £70,000 a year—that it is vexatious and oppressive; that it is collected in small sums; that it does not tend to the welfare and comfort of the ministers of the Church who receive it, or to the general well-being of those who pay it; and as there were funds provided for the Church Commission, to meet the deficit caused by the abolition of church cess, so likewise I think there will be no difficulty in providing a substitute for minister's money. I own I cannot conceive how the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Napier), who argued this case with so much ability, could contend that this is a spoliation of Church property; that it is a precedent which involves the ruin of the Church; that it is contrary to the principles of property altogether—when he had this precedent before him of 1833 in an exactly similar matter, and in which Parliament took a course exactly similar to that now proposed. There remains, therefore, it appears to me, one single question to be answered—namely, is it possible or impossible for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with the funds they have at their disposal, to furnish this substitute for ministers' money? I own I cannot doubt that it is possible; for taking, not the statement of the Attorney General for Ireland, but of the right hon. Gentleman himself, he admits that that income, which was £68,000 in the year 1848, was £93,000 in 1856. Taking that statement, you have an increase of £25,000 a year in order to provide a sum of £12,000 a year. This is a very short, but I trust, clear statement of the grievance that is suffered, and of the method in which it is possible to deal with it. I confess I think, that as the question does touch upon very important interests, as it is right that those who support this measure should have an opportunity of stating their reasons, in order that their views on other matters, touched by the same principle, might not be affected, and as, therefore, it is a matter which requires legislation, the question had better be undertaken by a Member of the Government than by the hon. Member for Cork. He says it was left to his own choice whether to undertake it or let it alone. I should be glad to find that he gains credit from the people of Ireland for having undertaken the measure, but I fear he did not make a very fortunate choice when he took it upon himself, inasmuch as it has less chance of success than if the Government had made it a measure of their own. But, whether in his hands or the hands of the Government, I on these grounds support the second reading of the Bill.


The last observation of the noble Lord, coupled with those with which he commenced, induce me to request him to reconsider his determination, which is distinctly and diametrically opposed to the noble stand which he has invariably made in defence of the system of church rates in England upon the ground that those rates were property belonging to the Church, which, if you take away, you strike at the foundation of all property, and are injuring the permanent institutions of the country. I do not wish to press the noble Lord's argument too far, nor do I think this impost, as it is called, is at all to be compared to church rates in England or to the church cess in Ireland; but I am confident that principles thus enunciated will, if acted upon, lead us into difficulties which the noble Lord himself will be the first to deprecate. The Attorney General for Ireland has told us that Lord Derby's Government had been prepared, as he inferred, to abolish this tax, because they met the Motion for its abolition by moving the previous question. Upon that occasion I stated the grounds upon which Lord Derby's Government was prepared to act, and if the House will follow me for a few moments they will see that those grounds were just and safe grounds. The objections to the impost were three. The first was its inequality, and the undue manner in which it pressed upon the poorer householders who fell within its range. The second objection, to the mode in which the tax was levied upon certain tenants in the towns subject to its payment was, that it was levied at the same rate of assessment as when the assessment had been first made, though their tenements had since become considerably depreciated in value. These two objections the Government of Lord Derby was prepared to remove. In addition to that we were ready to give to those, who might choose to take advantage of the privilege, the power of redeeming the tax, and I may add that these various principles were embodied in the measure of Sir J. Young, which was introduced by the Coalition Government, of which the noble Lord opposite, who has just resumed his seat, was the leader, which bore on its back the name of the present First Lord of the Treasury, then Home Secretary, and which was supported by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, the right hon. Member for Oxford University, and by every man of note on the other side of the House. The third great objection to the tax was that which was urged so temperately by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Fagan), and which consisted in the circumstance that its collection gave rise to religious differences and animosities among the inhabitants of Ireland. But how did the noble Viscount at the head of the Government meet that objection in the year 1854? He said, "You cannot argue the question upon the ground of religion. It is a question not of religion but of property." That was the opinion of the noble Lord, and I beg leave to say that the objection is one which cannot be admitted as of any more force against this tax than against church rates or any other impost of a similar character. There is, however, one point in connection with this subject which I am particularly anxious to press upon the attention of the House. This tax was first levied in the reign of Charles II.—a period of nearly 200 years ago—while it was not only not repealed by the Bill of 1854, but was absolutely confirmed, so that it has now two Parliamentary enactments in its favour. Well, that being so, let me ask what better claim does Maynooth possess to the sum which it annually receives? I am, indeed, one of those who think that the agitation for the withdrawal of the grant to Maynooth is a most unfortunate circumstance for the country. Upon that point I am aware that I unhappily differ from some of my most intimate friends. I feel it, however, to be my duty to speak what I honestly believe to be the truth, and it is my opinion that if you to-night assent to the second reading of this Bill you will afford to those who seek for the withdrawal of the grant to Maynooth an argument in support of their views which you will find it extremely difficult to answer. That grant, as well as ministers' money, owes its origin to Act of Parliament. Both alike give offence to the religious feelings of the inhabitants of two different countries. There are, then, but two ways of dealing with the question. You must either admit that an obligation entered into by Act of Parliament must be religiously observed, or that the particular obligation being dispensed with, some equivalent for its removal should be given. I defy you to arrive at any other conclusion upon any principle of justice or of reason. This leads me to make an observation with reference to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. FitzGerald), who, taking up the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, has referred to the fact that they have availed themselves of the assistance of a solicitor, at a salary of £1,000 per annum, to aid them by his advice in their proceedings; and, with reference to the argument of the noble Lord, founded upon the circumstance that while £12,000 was all that was required for ministers' money, the Commissioners were now in the receipt of £25,000 per annum more than in 1848. My answers to those remarks, implying that the funds of the Commissians have increased, and, therefore, that they possess sufficient money for the objects which they have in view, are two—In the first place, they were taking away what was secured to parties by Act of Parliament and was applicable to one purpose, to apply it to another purpose to which it was not legally applicable. And in the second place, until you are satisfied that the stipends of those poor clergymen, who receive only a miserable pittance of £100 or £150 per annum, and who now constitute one-third of the clergy of Ireland, ought to be reduced—until, in short, you are convinced that the trusts which the Ecclesiastical Commission was established to carry into effect have been fulfilled, you cannot say they possess a surplus in their hands, and that their funds ought to be turned to other uses than those which the law now sanctions. This is a subject with respect to which I am extremely anxious we should proceed upon no erroneous principle. I am solicitous that we should not break through those securities upon which property is based, and that we should, by steadily adhering to that principle, contribute, as far as lies in our power, to produce that peace throughout the country which it is so desirable to maintain.


I hope the House will give its assent to the second reading of this Bill, and I trust that in coming to that decision hon. Members will consider the question upon its own merits, and will not be led away by the observations which have fallen from hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, who combine this with a great number of other measures, and would make our decision depend on hypothetical questions not now under our notice. Those hon. and learned Gentlemen have endeavoured to show by a logical deduction that the towns in Ireland at present subject to this impost ought to continue to pay it, and, if the question were one of logic, I have no doubt that the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen would succeed in convincing his clients, whom he is about to defend in their resistance to this impost, that upon the principles of logic they ought to be willing to pay it. This question, however, is not one to be determined upon grounds of such narrow description. It is a question of State policy, in our decision in reference to which we ought to be guided by considerations of a larger scope than those by which the hon. and learned Gentleman would have us influenced. Everybody must admit that ministers' money is a tax which has long been regarded as objectionable. Successive Governments have endeavoured so to modify its imposition as to remove those objections. The Administration of Lord Aberdeen hoped that the Bill of 1854 would remove the difficulties attendant on the collection of the tax. Such, however, has not been found to be the case. We are now told that in attempting to deal with the tax we are depriving the Church of her property. We ought, however, to bear in mind that the clergymen themselves, when they had to collect the tax, hardly ever succeeded in the attempt, and that it was upon that account that 25 per cent, was taken from its amount, and that they received a sum less than that to which they were nominally entitled. I am of opinion that the Bill of 1854 introduced a great improvement in connection with the subject. It secured to those clergymen the amount of their reduced stipends from the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The claim was transferred from the local tax to the revenues of the Commissioners, and therefore, so far as they were concerned, the clergy were placed upon a better footing, inasmuch as they had guaranteed to them the sum which it was thought they ought to receive. It was also supposed that by transferring the collection of the tax from the clergyman to a corporation that collection would be more easily made, and that in that way the commissioners would be reimbursed for what they had advanced to the clergy. Experience has, however, shown that in that respect the Bill of 1854 has been a failure, that the collection of the tax has become the subject of lawsuits and controversy, and that it has entailed enormous expense. At the commencement of this year, therefore, Her Majesty's Government, having considered what course they would take upon a question which it was announced would be brought again under their notice, and after full deliberation, came to the conclusion that, as a substitute had been provided, and as the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners appeared from the returns which were laid before the House, to be amply sufficient to provide this £12,000 a year, it would be desirable, for the sake of promoting peace and quietness in the country, and removing heartburnings and disputes, to place the charge permanently upon that fund upon which it had been placed in the first instance. We came to that decision at an early period of the year, and I trust this House will sanction it by agreeing to the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork. The hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite have taunted us with having shaped our course upon this question with a view to the elections that were about to take place. I am unwilling to say anything uncivil to the hon. and learned Gentlemen; but if we are taunted in this manner, I am compelled to tell them that we did not stand in need of such slender support as a stratagem of that sort would have afforded us. It was not to that quarter of the House which we looked; we looked opposite, and were content to rest our chance of the favourable decision of the country upon the course which had been pursued by those who sit face to face with us, and did not trust to any concessions we might be disposed to make the hon. Gentlemen whom we see below the gangway on our own side of the House. We came to our decision, not for any unworthy reasons, such as those which have been charged against us, but upon grounds of material policy, and our object was to put an end to an impost trifling, no doubt, in amount, but still important in its bearings on the peace and contentment of the country. We took our decision upon grounds which, I think, statesmen would be fully justified in accepting, and I am convinced that if the House should concur with us in the course we have adopted, so far from the Church of Ireland being injured in her interests, we shall find that she will derive additional strength from the goodwill which this measure will produce, and that the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are amply sufficient to provide the means of continuing the payments to those clergymen who are affected by the Bill. My noble Friend (Lord John Russell) has said that this measure ought to have been taken up by the Government. It was our first intention so to take it up; but, feeling that my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan), had identified himself with the question, that he had perseveringly advocated the claims of those on whose behalf he speaks, I felt it was due to him to give him his choice as to who should have the conduct of the Bill, and, if he was desirous himself to propose it to the House, to express my willingness on the part of the Government to allow him to do so. But I hope the House will believe that, in supporting the Bill, we support it with all the earnestness and influence of the Government, and that, although the measure has been brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Cork, we are willing to take as much responsibility for it as if it had been moved by one of ourselves.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes 313; Noes 174: Majority 139.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Monday next.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P.
Adeane, H. J. Bouverie, hon. P. P.
Akroyd, E. Bowyer, G.
Althorp, Visct. Boyd, J.
Anderson, Sir J. Brady, J.
Antrobus, E. Brand, hon, H.
Ashley, Lord Briscoe, J. I.
Atherton, W. Brocklehurst, J.
Ayrton, A. S. Brown, J.
Bagwell, J. Brown, W.
Baines, rt, hon. M. T. Bruce, Lord E.
Ball, E. Bruce, H. A.
Baring, T. G. Buchanan, W.
Barnard, T. Buckley, Gen.
Bass, M. T. Buller, J. W.
Baxter, W. E. Bury, Visct.
Beamish, F. B. Butt, I.
Beaumont, W. B. Buxton, C.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Byng, hon. G. H. C.
Bethell, Sir R. Caird, J.
Biddulph, R. M. Calcutt, F. M.
Biggs, J. Calcraft, J. H.
Black, A. Campbell, R. J. R.
Blake, J. Castlerosse, Visct.
Bland, L. H. Cavendish, Lord
Bonham-Carter, J. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Cavendish, hon. G. Greville, Col. F.
Cheetham, J. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Clay, J. Grey, R. W.
Clifford, C. C. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Clifford, H. M. Grosvenor, Earl
Clive, G. Gurdon, B.
Cobbett, J. M. Gurney, J. H.
Cogan, W. H. F. Gurney, S.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hackblock, W.
Collier, R. P. Hadfield, G.
Colville, C. R. Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.
Coote, Sir C. H. Hanbury, R.
Coningham, W. Handley, J.
Conyngham, Lord F. Hankey, T.
Cotterell, Sir H. G. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cowan, C. Harcourt, G. G.
Cox, W. Hardcastle, J. A.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Harris, J. D.
Crawford, R. W. Hassard, M.
Crook, J. Hastie, Arch.
Dalgleish, R. Hatchell, J.
Davey, R. Hay, Lord J.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Headlam, T. E.
Deasy, R. Heard, J. I.
Denison, hon. W. H. F. Henchy, D. O'C.
Dering, Sir E. Heneage, G. F.
DoVere, S. E. Herbert, H. A.
Devereux, J. T. Hindley, C.
Divett, E. Hodgson, K. D.
Dodson, J. G. Holland, E.
Duff, G. S. Horsman, rt. hon. E.
Duke, Sir J. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Dunbar, Sir W. Hughes, W. B.
Duncan, Visct. Hutt, W.
Dundas, F. Ingham, R.
Dunlop, A. M. Jackson, W.
Dunne, M. Jervoice, Sir J. C.
Ellice, E. Johnstone, Sir J.
Ellis, hon. L. A. Keating, H. S.
Ennis, J. Ker, R.
Esmonde, J. Kershaw, J.
Euston, Earlof King, E. B.
Evans, T. W. Kinglake, A. W.
Ewart, W. Kinglake, J. A.
Ewart, J. C. Kingscote, R. N. F.
Fagan, W. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Ferguson, Col. Kirk, W.
Finlay, A. S. Knatchbull-Hugesson, E
FitzGerald, W. R. S. Langston, J. H.
FitzGerald. rt. hon. J. D. Langton, H. G.
Fitzwilliara, hn. C. W. W. Levinge, SirR.
Foley, J. H. Lewis, rt. hn. SirG. C.
Foley, H. J. W. Lincoln, Earl of
Foljambe, F. J. S. Locke, J.
Forster, C. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Foster, W. O. Macarthy, A.
Fortescue, hon. F. D. M'Cann, J.
Fortescue, C. S. MacEvoy, E.
Freestun, Col. Mackie, J.
French, Col. Mackinnon, W. A.
Garnett, W. J. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Gifford, Earl of Maguire, J. F.
Glover, E. A. Mainwaring, T.
Glyn, G. C. Mangles, R. D.
Glyn, G. G. Mangles, C. E.
Goderich, Visct. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Grace, O. D. J. Marsh, M. H.
Greene, J. Martin, C. W.
Greenwood, J. Martin, P. W.
Greer, S. M'C. Massey. W. N.
Gregory, W. H. Matheson, Alex.
Gregson, S. Matheson, Sir J.
Grenfell, C. W. Melgund, Visct.
Merry, J. Smith, J. B.
Mills, T, Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Milton, Visct. Smith, A.
Moffatt, G. Smith, Sir F.
Moncreiff, rt. hon. J. Smyth, Col.
Monsell, rt. hon. W. Stafford, Marq, of
Moore, G. H. Stanley, Lord
Morris, D. Stapleton, J.
Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L. Steel, J.
Muntz, G. F. Stuart, Lord J.
Napier, Sir C. Stuart, Col.
Neate, C. Sullivan, M.
Nicoll, D. Sykes, Col. W. H.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Tancred, H. W.
Norris, J. T. Taylor, S. W.
North, F. Thompson, Gen.
O'Brien, P. Thornely, T.
O'Brien, Sir T. Thornhill, W. P.
O'Brien, J. Tite, W.
O'Connell, Capt. D. Tottenham, C.
O'Donaghoe, The Townshend, J.
O'Flaherty, A. Traill, G.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Osborne, R. Trueman, C.
Paget, C. Turner, J. A.
Paget, Lord A. Vane, Lord H.
Paget, Lord C. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Palmerston, Visct. Vivian, hon. J. C. W.
Pease, H. Vivian, H. H.
Pechell, Sir G. B. Waldron, L.
Peel, Sir R. Walter, J.
Perry, Sir T. E. Warburton, G. D.
Philips, R. N. Watkin, E. W.
Pilkington, J. Watkins, Col. L.
Pinney, Col. Weguelin, T. M.
Platt, J. Western, S.
Portman, hon. W. H. B. Whatman, J.
Potter, Sir J. Whitbread, S.
Power, N. White, J.
Puller, C. W. White, H.
Ramsden, Sir J. W. Willcox, B. M 'G.
Ramsay, Sir A. Williams, M.
Raynham, Visct. Williams, W.
Rebow, J. G. Williams, Sir W. F.
Ricardo, J. L. Willyams, E. W. B.
Ricardo, O. Wilson, J.
Ridley, G. Wingfield, R. B.
Roebuck, J. A. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Roupell, W. Wise, J. A.
Russell, Lord J. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Russell, F. C. H. Wood, W.
Russell, Sir W. Woods, H.
Salisbury, E. G. Worsley, Lord
Schneider, H. W. Wyld, J.
Scholefield, W. Windham, Gen.
Seymour, H. D. Wyvill, M.
Shafto, R. D. TELLERS.
Shelley, Sir J. V. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Sheridan, R. B. Mulgrave, Earl of
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Blackburn, P.
Annesley, hon. H. Boldero, Col.
Archdall, Capt. M. Booth, Sir R. G.
Baring, T. Botfield, B.
Bathurst, A. A. Bovill, W.
Beach, W. W. B. Bramley-Moore, J.
Bective, Earl of Bridges, Sir B. W.
Bennet, P. Bruce, Major C.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Bruen, H.
Bernard, T. T. Buller, Sir J. T.
Bernard, hon. W. S. Bunbury, W. B. M'C.
Burghley, Lord Laslett, W.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Legh, G. C.
Garden, Sir R. W. Leslie, C. P.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Cecil, Lord R. Lisburne, Earl of
Child, S. Lockhart, A. E.
Christy, S. Lovaine, Lord
Clark, J. J. Lowther, hon. Col.
Clive, hon. R. W. Lowther, Capt.
Cobbold, J. C. Lygon, hon. F.
Cole, hon. H. A. Macartney, G.
Conolly, T. Macaulay, K.
Cooper, E. J. M'Clintock, J.
Copeland, W. T. Malins, R.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Manners, Lord J.
Cross, R. A. March, Earl of
Dalkeith, Earl of Maxwell, hon. Col.
Damer, L. D. Miller, T. J.
Davison, R. Miller, S. B.
Disraeli, rt, hon. B. Montgomery, H. L.
Dobbs, W. C. Montgomery, Sir G.
Dod, J. W. Mowbray, J. R.
Du Cane, C. Mullings, J. R.
Duncombe, hon. A. Napier, rt. hon. J.
Duncombe, hon. Col. Neeld, J.
Dundas, G. Newark, Visct.
Du Pre, C. G. Newdegate, C. N.
Dutton, hon. R. H. Nisbet, R. P.
East, Sir J. B. Noel, hon. G. J.
Egerton, Sir P. North, Col.
Egerton, W. T. Ossulston, Lord
Egerton, E. C. Packe, C. W.
Elphinstone, Sir J. Pakenham, Col.
Elton, Sir A. H. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Emlyn, Visct. Palmer, R.
Estcourt, T. H. S. Paull, H.
Farnham, E. B. Peel, Gen.
Farquhar, Sir W. M. Pennant, hon. Col.
Forde, Col. Pevensey, Visct.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Philipps, J. H.
Forster, Sir G. Robertson, P. F.
Fraser, Sir W. A. Russell, F. W.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Scott, Capt. E.
Gard, R. S. Seymer, H. K.
Goddard, A. L. Shirley. E. P.
Greenall, G. Sibthorp, Maj.
Gray, Capt. Smollett, A.
Griffith, C. D. Spooner, R.
Grogan, E. Stafford, A.
Hamilton, Lord C. Stanhope, J. B.
Hardy, G. Steuart, A.
Heathcote, Sir W. Sturt, H. G.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Sturt, C. N.
Henniker, Lord Thesiger, Sir F.
Hildyard, R. C. Tollemache, J.
Hill, Lord E. Trefusis; hon. C. H. R.
Hill, hon. R. C. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Hodgson, W. N. Vance, J.
Hopwood, J. T. Vansittart, G. H.
Hornby, W. H. Vansittart, W.
Horsfall, T. B. Verner, Sir W.
Hume, W. F. Waddington, H. S.
Ingestrie, Visct. Walcott, Adm.
Jermyn, Earl Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Johnstone, hon. H. B. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Johnstone, J. J. H. Warren, S.
Jones, D. Welby, W. E.
Kendall, N. Whiteside, J.
King, J. K. Whitmore, H.
Knightley, R. Wigram, L. T.
Knox, Col. Williams, T. P.
Knox, hon. W. S. Willoughby, J. P.
Langton, W. G. Willson, A.
Woodd, B. T. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Wortley, Maj.
Wyndham, Gen. TELLERS.
Wynn, Col. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Wynn, Sir W. W. Taylor, Col.

House adjourned at One o'clock.