HC Deb 29 July 1859 vol 155 cc646-56

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.


in the chair.

(In the Committee.)

The following Votes were then agreed to:—

  1. (1.) £500, Rotunda Lying-in Hospital, Dublin.
  2. (2.) £100, Coombe Lying-in Hospital, Dublin.
  3. (3.) £5,600, House of Industry, Dublin.
  4. (4.) £1,500, House of Recovery, Dublin.
  5. (5.) £400, Meath Hospital, Dublin.
  6. (6.) £50, Saint Mark's Ophthalmic Hospital, Dublin.
  7. (7.) £950, Doctor Steevens' Hospital, Dublin.
  8. (8.) £165, Board of Superintendence of Hospitals, Dublin.
  9. (9.) £5,931, Concordatum Fund.


observed that some items in the Vote were anything but charitable items. No doubt many of the persons mentioned in the Estimates, such as lunatics and paupers, ought to be maintained, but they should be maintained, as in England, out of the county cess, and not out of the general taxation of the country.


said, he thought that it might properly be a subject for inquiry by the Lunacy Commission whether or not the sums appropriated in the Estimate for lunatic idiots should be paid out of the public Exchequer.

Vote agreed to.

(10.) Motion made, and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £29,193, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expense of Non-conforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1860.


said, there had been no occassion during the last twenty years on which this Vote had been taken without a division, and he did not intend that the present should form an exception to the rule. Next Session he intended to submit to the House a formal Resolution; which he hoped would have the effect of getting rid of this annual discussion, by providing that the payments should cease as the clergymen died out; he should on the present occasion address only a few observations to the Committee. In opposing this Vote he was not actuated by any hostile feeling towards the Presbyterian Synod of Ulster, for, being a Nonconformist himself, he should be the last man to entertain a hostile feeling towards them. He belived that, however, they never would have peace in the House or in the country until every one of those annual grants for religious purposes were removed from the Estimates. Many of these grants were to rich bodies, who ought to be ashamed to come begging to the House for these small sums. The clergy for whom the Vote was intended were no doubt many of them most estimable men, and had rendered great services to the people of the districts in which they were located; but inasmuch as no such grant was voted by that House for the Nonconforming clergy in England or Scotland, he did not see why a different rule should prevail with regard to Ireland. He could understand the principle which was acted upon in England and Scotland, where the English Church and the Pres- byterian Church were established, but he could not understand the principle acted upon in Ireland, where, though the English Episcopal Church was established, subsidies were given to Unitarian and Trinitarian Dissenters in Ulster, while many other sects received no subsidy whatever. No one could read the history of the Regium Donum without coming to the conclusion that it was given as a reward for political services. This was plain from the fact that at first the grant was included in the amount voted for secret service money. A Presbyterian clergyman had declared that the effect of the grant on that body had been to render them the most beggarly sect in all Christendom. In one Presbyterian church in Ulster which enjoyed the grant the whole amount raised for all charitable purposes was only £27. How different was the case in Scotland. The Free Church in that country was now raising a million and a half a year. In order to take the sense of the Committee, he would move a reduction of the Vote by a sum of £69 4s. 8d., the amount of the increase over the Estimate of last year.


said, that the hon. Member thought the present Vote was not justified by principle, but it was difficult to reconcile the whole ecclesiastical state of Ireland with any principle. The Established Church in Ireland was the church of the small minority of the people. The religion of the great majority was the Roman Catholic. The people of this latter persuasion received from the State nothing but the grant to Maynooth, which he thought a very parsimonious one. The Vote before the Committee, however, might safely be defended on the ground of public policy. He had not heard that the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland had expressed any wish that this grant should be withdrawn. They were a most exemplary body of men, and every one acquainted with the north of Ireland knew how much that part of the country was indebted to them for peace and harmony, while other parts of the country had been in an unquiet state. Putting it on the lowest ground, therefore, and reckoning what expenditure these men had saved in police and troops, the money could not be said to be badly disposed of.


said, he was in favour of the continuance of the grant. It would be most unjust, after the lapse of a century and a half, to withdraw a grant which had been sanctioned for so long a period, and which really was the result of a compact entered into by our ancestors. He contended that the condition of Presbyterian ministers in Ireland was a compromise between the voluntary and State systems, the clergy being paid partly by their congregations and partly by the State. The same system prevailed under the Mosaic dispensation. It was an arrangement that had worked well, and had not been complained of by any party in Ireland. Even the Roman Catholics approved of it. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had compared the position of the Presbyterians of Ireland, who he said were a wealthy body, with that of the Free Church of Scotland; but the parallel did not apply. The Presbyterians of Ireland were not rich, they were comparatively poor, being mostly engaged in agriculture,—not wealthy manufacturers, like the members of the Free Church of Scotland. The increase which had taken place in the grant from time to time was a proof of the advancement of the Irish Presbyterians in intellectual worth and piety, and the amount which was sufficient in 1803 would be quite inadequate to the wants of the present day. He might remark that the religious movement which was now going on in the north of Ireland was chiefly maintained by the Presbyterian clergy, and must be regarded as a healthy sign of moral advancement. He would only add that, in justice to the numbers and respectability of the Presbyterian body, this grant ought not only not to be withdrawn, but it should be largely increased, and might properly be placed as a permanent charge upon the Consolidated Fund.


said, that as he understood the hon. Member for Montrose meant to raise the question in a fuller House next Session, he should then be prepared to reurge the reason why he thought the Vote should be maintained. He thought, that being the case, it would be advisable for the Committee not further to discuss the question on the present occasion.


denied that it rested on the same ground as a grant the Maynooth. The two cases were altogether different. He had always protested, and continued to protest, against the Maynooth grant, because he believed that in granting it, they were doing that which was contrary to the Word of God, and in complete opposition to the oath taken by the Sovereign of the country. He held that while they main- tained that grant they acted with perfect inconsistency in requiring from the Sovereign an oath that she should maintain the Established Church in all its integrity, that Church teaching that the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church contained dangerous deceits and blasphemous fables, and the Liturgy of the Established Church declared that the celebration of the mass was idolatrous, and ought to be abhorred by all men. A notice of his intention to bring on the subject of Maynooth had stood on the books at the time of the dissolution of Parliament; but when the new Parliament assembled, considering the great pressure of most important business, and the near approach of the usual termination of the Session, he thought it better not to endeavour to bring the question before what at that season of the year would have certainly been an unwilling house; but if God spared him his life till next Session, he should renew his Motion for the discontinuance of the grant to that establishment.


said, it was the essential principle of persecution to make grants in support of one set of views and refuse them to another. This grant, which went to a mere handful of Dissenters, had gone on increasing for the last ten years. It was now close upon £40,000; while to the whole of the Roman Catholic body in Ireland a grant of only £60,000 was made. He wished to see the whole of these grants taken up as a substantial question, and he hoped that they would all be done away with.


said, he would suggest that the hon. Member for Montrose should next year call attention to the whole subject of religious grants. They would then have the matter decided upon principle, and be spared these annual attacks upon particular items.


said, he had always voted against these grants, and should do so on the present occasion.


said, this was a poor man's question. If this grant were withdrawn there would be no means of paying the clergy. He knew of cases in the north of Ireland where the clergy were obliged to practise agriculture.


defended the grant, on the ground of the respectability of the recipients and the purity of their doctrines.

Motion made, and Question put,— That the item '£69 4s. 8d. for New Ministers (1 at £69 4s. 8d,)' be omitted from the proposed Vote.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 40; Noes 126: Majority 86.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £3,965, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to pay the Salaries and Expenses of the Office in London under the Local Government Act, to the 31st day of March, 1860.


said, be must complain of the increase in the Estimates under the head No. 7. In 1843 those items amounted to £90,000; they were? now £1,028,236. He denied the necessity for such an expenditure in the dilapidated state of our finances. It was said these Votes were prepared by the late Government. If so, he hoped they would explain them.


said, that the general sum had been divided into items, of which the present Vote was one, for the convenience of the House.


said, that speaking generally and from a cursory examination of the Estimates, if he had been still at the Head of the Department of Works he should have recommended the principal sums which he saw down in the Votes in connection with that department.


said, he thought the expenses of the London Office which had been established under the Local Government Act should be diminished, there being nothing for it to do. He could not see what good it did for the £5,965 a year which it cost. There was a charge of £600 travelling expenses, but, having conferred local government upon towns, there was no need of sending inspectors from London. In fact, these latter gentlemen did more harm than good.


said, the Vote had been the result of an Act passed last year, after considerable discussion, abolishing the Board of Health, but retaining certain machinery of that Board which was deemed to be useful to the public. The offices were by no means sinecures, their holders being fully employed.


said, he quite concurred with the hon. Member (Mr. Palk) in thinking that the operations of the inspectors of the Board of Health had been attended with most mischievous results. Indeed, he was surprised at the smallness of the Vote, as he expected to have found some items which were not there. He was engaged upon a trial at Chelmsford, where a verdict was given against an inspector for fouling a stream, and the costs and damages must have been £1,000. He wanted to know who paid that money? At Hitchin a verdict, with £400 damages, was given against the inspector for fouling a stream; and at Croydon another inspector had turned the whole sewage of the town into the Wandle, and caused a typhoid fever to break out. It was an important question whether those gentlemen who caused the mischief paid the damages and costs, for there was no mention of such payment in the Vote.


said, that the late Board of Health was dead and buried. He could not give any information on the subject of the damages referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Marylebone.


said, he thought there must be another Board of Health, as Dr. Simon received a salary of £1,500 a year, which was not included in this Vote.


suggested, that as the present Secretary to the Treasury knew nothing of the subject referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Edwin James) perhaps the late Secretary could give them some information.


said, he had no general knowledge of those Estimates, as they had not come before him when Secretary to the Treasury. He had never heard of the damages referred to by the hon. and learned Member. If they had been paid out of the public funds, he presumed they would appear in the Estimates under the head of "Civil Contingencies."


remarked, that no saving had been effected by the abolition of the Board of Health.


said, it appeared these damages and costs amounted to some £5,000, and he should like to know who paid them?


said, that no demand had been made on the Treasury; he presumed, therefore, that the damages had been defrayed by the local boards concerned.


said, it was desirable that the Vote should be postponed until the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had acquired some further information in respect of it. He found some inspectors were paid £2,000 a year. He should like to know who they were. Again, there was a sum of £600 charged for "travelling and personal expenses," and £1,000 for "clerks." He should really like to have some information as to these items.


said, that the Act of last Session had empowered the Home Secretary to send down inspectors to make inquiry where local improvements were contemplated; and upon their Report the Home Secretary gave power to the municipality to carry out the improvements proposed. A Bill was in course of preparation which would, to some extent, modify the provisions of this Act.


said, he also would urge the postponement of the Vote.


said, that in deference to the wish of the House, he would consent to postpone the Vote till the evening sitting.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

(11.) Motion made, and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £3,588, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray a portion of the Expenses of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England, to the 31st day of March, 1860.


said, he must also object to this Vote. He should like to know on what principle of morality or Christianity the Church of England could call upon the Roman Catholics and Dissenters to pay a portion of the expenses of a Commission which had been established entirely for the benefit of that Church, and which had been productive to it of very great pecuniary benefit.


said, he could bear testimony to the business-like and equitable manner in which the Commissioners attended to their affairs, but as he found that by the last report there had been for the year a surplus of £57,000, he could not understand why the Commission should not pay its own way.


observed that as a member of the Church of England he really was ashamed of calling on Roman Catholics and Dissenters to pay this Vote.


said, that the Ecclesiastical Commission was founded not merely for the benefit of the Church, but also for the benefit of the Church lessees. By means of the powers vested in them, they had been enabled so to deal with the Church property as to obtain a surplus, which was applied, in conjunction with grants from benevolent persons, for the benefit of smaller livings of £40, £50, or £60 a year. In addition to this, the Commission had dealt with lessees' property, and the lessees never would have got the advantages they had obtained had it not been for the operation of the Ecclesiastical Commission. Therefore, the Commission being founded at the instance of Parliament not only for Church purposes, but for other purposes it had always been thought reasonable, down to the present period, that the annual Estimates of the year should bear a portion of the expenses of the Commission.


said, he thought that what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman proved that the Commission had the means to take, and, therefore, ought to take the whole cost upon itself.


said, there were works going on at present under the Commission in which the public were as much interested as in the operation of the Tithe Commutation Act. It mattered not to the Commissioners how these charges were defrayed. The amount applicable to the augmentation of small livings was on the increase; and he hoped that a sum of £200,000 would soon be thus applicable. The sum now asked did not nearly cover the expenses of the Commission, but it was the sum which Parliament had been accustomed to pay.


said, that with a surplus income of £50,000 the Commissioners certainly ought to pay their own expenses. These funds, though applied to augment small livings, were properly applied to the interests of the Church and the clergy.


said, he should be glad to know why the salary of the Chief Commissioner, £1,000, was paid out of the Church funds, and the salary of the Secretary, also £1,000, was included in this Estimate.

Question put,

The Committee divided:—Ayes 82; Noes 72: Majority 10.

Vote agreed to.

(12.) £11,695, Charity Commission.


said, that a report from this Commission ought to be made to the House, and then hon. Members might object to any of the schemes proposed by the Commissioners. At present their responsibility was frittered away, and rested nowhere. Large charities were daily disposed of, without any check. The course was that the Commissioners issued a certificate, which was confirmed as a matter of course by one of the secondary Courts of Chancery without further inquiry. In this way there was a divided authority without sufficient responsibility. If the charity Commis- sioners were referred to, and told that their certificate was final, they would say it was not; and, on the other hand, the Master of the Rolls or the Vice Chancellor felt that the duty of inquiry, and consequently the responsibility, rested with the Commissioners. In addition to this, persons in the locality who disapproved of the decision of the Commissioners had no means of appealing unless at their own expense. It would be much more satisfactory to have the cases reported to Parliament, before the Commissioners decided, instead of after. He might instance the case of the Bristol charities, where the decision of the Commissioners had been in direct opposition to the wish of the inhabitants. It was not a satisfactory arrangement that the solicitor to the Attorney and Soliciter General, and the solicitor to the Charity Commissioners, was one and the same person. He would suggest that a Bill should be brought in applying to all large charities.

Vote agreed to.

On the Vote of £26,275, to make up the sum required for Temporary Commissions.


said, he wished to refer to the item of £750, for the West India Encumbered Estates Commission. Considering the benefits the West Indies derived from that Commission, he thought they ought to pay for it themselves. This was the principle that governed the Encumbered Estates Court Commission in Ireland, and he thought it ought to have a general application. He wished to know, too, how long the Decimal Coinage Commission was to go on. The Secretary stated in a letter of the 7th of February that the Commissioners had completed the taking of evidence, and expressed a hope that the final report would shortly be laid before her Majesty. The Commission appeared now to consist only of the Secretary and Assistant Secretary, and he did not see why their salaries should be paid for the whole year.


said, that since the West India Incumbered Commission had been founded few purchasers could be obtained for the deteriorated property, but he had no doubt that, when in course of time purchasers presented themselves and the West Indies began to feel the benefit of the Commission, the fees received would pay its expenses.


said, he could inform the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Danby Seymour) that the Decimal Coinage Commission was considered as terminated.


But are they to be paid for the whole year, when their labours are already completed?


said, there were some unpaid expenses included in the Vote.


said, the Committee ought to know whether this Vote was for work already done, or did it refer to the current year.


said, that nearly a million of money had been spent in the last few years on Commissions appointed offhand by that House.

It being now within ten minutes of Four o'clock, the House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported on Monday.