HC Deb 08 June 1865 vol 179 cc1296-305

(30.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £119,382, be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March I860, for Superannuation Allowances and Compensations to persons formerly employed in the Public Service.


said, that although the Vote showed a small reduction it was still very large in amount, and he was afraid that superannuations were not granted according to any fixed principle.


said, that the principles according to which superannuations were granted were very strictly laid down in the Act of Will. IV. and that passed in the year 1859. The Vote was sometimes swollen in consequence of the abolition of offices, but it was a satisfaction that there was this year a small reduction in its amount.


said, he desired to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that the Treasury should, whenever it was possible, find occupation for gentlemen whose offices had been abolished. He was afraid that there was some reluctance to adopt this course because it diminished the patronage of the Department.


said, he might instance the case of Hugh Corr, who was now eighty-two years of age, who had been for half a century in the employment of the Government in Ireland, and who received a retiring allowance of only £12 3s. 4d. a year; as well as the case of Bridget Digman, of the House of Industry, Dublin, who was seventy-six years of age, who had been twenty-two years in the public service, and who retired on an allowance of £5 a year, to show that the Government proceeded on the system of construing the Superannuation Act strictly with regard to persons having only small salaries, while they put a much more liberal interpretation upon it in dealing with those who happened to possess larger salaries. Indeed, many of the pensions to the latter class were not sufficient to save the men from starvation.


said, the system, such as it was, was one which was based upon the provisions of the Act of Parliament, and proceeded on the same principle of length of service and amount of salary in reference to all salaries, whether large or small.


said, he wished to know who the hackney carriage attendants were who were set down for superannuation allowances at page 54?


said, the allowances under that head were not asked for for the first time this year. He could not exactly say under what circumstances those who were in receipt of the pensions at present had retired, as the hon. Baronet had not given him notice of his question.


said, he merely desired to know who those functionaries were.


said, he found on referring to page 48 an item of £400, by way of retiring allowance to Mr. Hood, late Consul at Buenos Ayres, who was described as being only thirty-one years of age, and as having been in the public service only twelve years, having entered it at the age of nineteen. The cause assigned for his superannuation was the abolition of his office, but surely it was necessary that there should be some one to represent our interests at Buenos Ayres, and he at any rate saw no good reason why Mr. Hood, whose full salary was £800 a year, should after so short a period of service receive £400.


said, that Mr. Hood was entitled to the pension in accordance with the Act of Parliament, in consequence of the abolition of the office which he held.


said, these Estimates were so voluminous, and included so many important matters, that they ought to be referred to a Committee to report upon them.


said, he wished to ask whether no other Consulship could have been found for Mr. Hood instead of giving him so large a retiring allowance.


said, that as he was not satisfied with the explanation given by the Secretary to the Treasury he should move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £400 mentioned.

Motion made, and Question put, That the Item of £400, for Retiring Allowance to Martin T. Hood, late Consul at Buenos Ayres, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Augustus Smith.)

The Committee divided:—Ayes 13; Noes 28: Majority 15.

Original Question (£119,382, for Superannuation Allowances and Compensations) put, and agreed to.

(31.) £661, for Toulonese and Corsican Emigrants, &c, and American Royalists.

(32.) £325, for the Refuge for the Destitute.

(33.) £1,789, to complete the sum for Polish Refugees and Distressed Spaniards.

(34.) £54,200, for Merchant Seamen's Fund Pensions.

(35.) £21,400, to complete the sum for the Belief of Distressed British Seamen.

(36.) £2,780, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Charges, formerly on Civil List.

(37.) £2,272, for Public Infirmaries, Ireland.

(38.) £1,600, to complete the sum for the Westmoreland Lock Hospital.

(39.) £700, for the Rotunda Lying-in Hospital.

(40.) £200, for the Coombe Lying-in Hospital.

(41.) £5,600, to complete the sum for House of Industry Hospitals.

(42.) £1,500, to complete the sum for the Cork Street Fever Hospital.

(43.) £600, for the Meath Hospital.

(44.) £100, for St. Mark's Ophthalmic Hospital.

(45.) £300, to complete the sum for Dr. Steevens's Hospital.

(46.) £245, for the Board of Superintendence of Dublin Hospitals.

(47.) £7,644, to complete the sum for the Concordatum Fund and other Charities and Allowances, Ireland.

(48.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £25,809, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1866, for Non-conforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland.


said, he was surprised that it was not proposed to increase this Vote. A deputation on the subject had waited on the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year, and the right hon. Gentleman gave them reason to suppose that the Government would raise the salaries of the Presbyterian ministers in Ireland from £75 to £100 a year. The right hon. Gentleman was not now in his place to state why, though he had given that sort of pledge, he had not thought fit to fulfil it. The Presbyterians in the north of Ireland took a great interest in the matter, and they thought it very hard, when so many liberal allowances were made, that the stipends of the Presbyterian ministers should not be increased.


said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman must be mistaken in thinking that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given any pledge whatever. [Major KNOX: He told the deputation that he would consider the matter.] The Government had considered the matter and were clearly of opinion that no increase could be made.


said, he was strongly of opinion that the Vote ought to be abolished altogether. He objected to any sums being voted by Parliament for the support of any man's religion. The principle was opposed to the interests of the denominations and to those of the ministers themselves. If the Vote were abolished these ministers would receive better salaries from their congregations, who could well afford to pay them, than they now did. He was determined not to rest until this Vote should be abolished altogether. It was a monstrous thing that the people of this country should have to pay not only their own ministers, but the ministers of other people. He would not now propose the rejection of the Vote altogether, but as there was an item of £300 increase for new ministers, he should move to reduce the Vote by that amount.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £25,509, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1866, for Non-conforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland."—(Sir Francis Crossley.)


said, he seconded the Amendment. Considering the wealth of the Presbyterian body in Ireland, they were degraded by receiving this money. The Vote had originated in Parliamentary corruption, and had been established by Lord Castlereagh, in order to obtain control over the Presbyterian ministers. He did not accuse the present Government of maintaining the grant with a view to corruption, but it would be well if the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland wiped their hands of it altogether. The money, as voted, was for distribution in a certain manner, but the grant was much abused, as there were ministers under it receiving as much as £200 a year by the accumulation of offices receiving pay. [Colonel KNOX—Name!] Dr. Cooke. [Colonel KNOX: No!) Yes. Dr. Cooke was a professor, and in various ways his salary, paid out of the grant, was more than £250 a year. It would be an honour to the Presbyterians of Ireland if they would come forward of their own accord and give up this grant altogether.


said, the last speaker had been singularly ill-informed on the matter of history. In his patriotic dislike to any grant, the hon. Gentleman was of opinion that this grant had its origin in Parliamentary corruption. This was the product of the hon. Gentleman's imagination—an entire hallucination—as nothing of the kind occurred. If he (Mr. Whiteside) read the history of Ireland aright, the first person who made the grant to the old Presbyterian settlers was a sovereign of whom the hon. Member might, perhaps, have heard, King William III. By his express desire, in consideration of great services performed at a critical period of English history, and after the little affair at Londonderry, the King did suggest to the Parliament of Ireland to make a grant to the ministers who settled in Ulster. It was made for a long time by the Parliament of Ireland, and it was unfair to lay the blame upon Lord Castlereagh, who had enough to answer for. For Lord Castlereagh upheld the honour of England, and with the Duke of Wellington, did as well as most of the Ministers whom they heard of in modern times. Lord Castlereagh was a sensible man, and he naturally desired not to endow, but to encourage the Presbyterian ministers in the north of Ireland, whose congregations were to subscribe a sum equal to the amount voted by Parliament. But it seemed to startle a Member of Parliament that Dr. Cooke should get the enormous sum of £250 a year. Now, in the pulpit, he (Mr. Whiteside), who had heard both, believed Dr. Cooke to be fully equal in eloquence and genius to Dr. Chalmers. If the sum were seven times as great as it was, Dr. Cooke was better entitled to it than many a man who had been a bishop. He (Mr. Whiteside) was surprised, in these days of Parliamentary purity and religious toleration, to hear from the opposite Benches a complaint that an able divine, a celebrated preacher, and eminent scholar, after fifty years spent in the ministry, received £250 a year. The £300 was not a new grant, but merely an extension of the old principle, and he was sure the House would support it.


said, he thought that this grant ought to be treated on the same footing as the Maynooth grant, and placed upon the Consolidated Fund. It would then be taken out of the arena of political controversy. Sir Robert Peel was asked whether he would make a proposal to this effect, and replied that if any Member would do so he would support the Motion. If the present Secretary for Ireland would submit such a proposal it would receive general support from Irish Members, and would prevent every year much unnecessary and unpleasant discussion. It had been stated that the Presbyterian congregations could well afford to support their own clergy, but they were not so wealthy as dissenting congregations in Yorkshire, and he knew that some of them could not afford to do so. As to the proposed increase for the support of new ministers, that was a part and parcel of the compact, and he hoped the House would adhere to it.


said, he regretted that the hon. Baronet (Sir Francis Crossley) had not moved to strike out the whole Vote. The complaint in Dr. Cooke's case was not that he, who could scarcely be spoken of too highly, was paid a salary of £250 a year, but that he got that amount in some way or other out of this fund. In his opinion, if this compulsory payment was withdrawn able ministers would be well supported; and, instead of receiving a pittance from this House, they would, if worth their bread, earn it from the freewill offerings of their congregations. This paltry grant was a dishonour to those who received it, and nineteen-twentieths of the dissenting community of the three kingdoms would vote against it.


said, the Vote had been opposed hitherto by English Members only, and those were Members of a peculiar class—Voluntaries. On the other hand, he believed the Vote was supported by Irish Members of every section; no Vote excited greater unanimity among Irish Members than that for the support of the Presbyterian clergy. The statement that it was recommended by King William III. was not, in his mind, an argument in favour of the Vote. The fact was that at the time of the Union the Presbyterian clergy of the North of Ireland opposed the Union. In this, he thought, they acted the part of patriots; but if Lord Castlereagh intended to bribe them by what he then proposed he certainly did not succeed in his object.


said, that if he had any doubt as to the Vote he should give, one remark made by the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) would have removed it. That hon. Member told the Committee that all Irishmen, Catholics and Protestants, were agreed on this question. Now, such unanimity was wonderful, and seemed possible to be brought about only by the opportunity of putting their hands into the pockets of the people. The Vote was most unjustifiable, and he regretted that the rejection of the whole sum had not been moved. It was also a matter of regret that the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) was unavoidably absent. He regarded the Vote as most mischievous in its effects on the Presbyterian religion itself. The Presbyterians were a most opulent body in Ireland, and they ought to be ashamed of persist- ing in such disgraceful mendicancy. It was said that when Presbyterian congregations increased in size they then split up into separate congregations in order to obtain additional Parliamentary grants. It was highly disgraceful, in so opulent a body of Dissenters or Nonconformists, to ask the House for such a grant as that now proposed. This, however, was only a small part of a great question, and the time would come when the country would be alive to the larger question of the Irish Church. The sooner Irish Pres-byterianism and State aid were separated the better, and he again expressed his regret that the hon. Member for the West Riding (Sir Francis Crossley) had not moved the omission of the whole Vote.


said, that the Presbyterian body, so far from being a mendicant body, was highly respectable, and worthy of every consideration on the part of Parliament. There was an arrangement that when a congregation consisted of more than a certain number of families a fresh congregation should be formed; and the increase in the Vote was occasioned by the formation of fresh congregations. He was glad that the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) was not in the House, for his absence proved that the hon. Member had withdrawn his opposition to the Vote, finding opposition useless. The hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Mills) stated truly enough that Dr. Cooke received a salary as agent for this fund. He received £320 a year for salary and allowances, stationery, postage stamps, &c, as agent for the Ministers of the General Assembly, not as a minister of the Presbyterian Church. There was also a salary paid to the agent of the Ministers of the Remonstrant Synod of Ulster of £230, which made up the £550 stated in the Vote. He hoped the hon. Baronet (Sir Francis Crossley) would not go to a division.


said, he had received a letter that morning from the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), asking him to put off the Vote till Monday, as he could not be present in the House that evening; but, having given notice that the Vote would be taken that night, and finding that many Members from Ireland had attended, expecting that it would now come on for discussion, he regretted that he could not accede to the hon. Gentleman's request.


said, he was sorry that the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White), in the warmth of his opposition to religious endowments, should have allowed himself to be betrayed into using unjustifiable expressions towards the Irish Presbyterians. As a Roman Catholic himself, he must say that the Presbyterians were one of the most industrious and respectable bodies in Ireland. With regard to the Vote under discussion, he looked upon it as the result of a compact; and as long as the much larger endowments of the Established Church remained, he thought it a very paltry thing to grudge the Irish Presbyterians a grant of £40,000.


said, he had no intention to offer any disrespect to the Presbyterians of Ireland, but he entirely objected to any grant out of the Consolidated Fund for the support of any particular form of religion. More than 200 years ago the Presbyterian body was brought from Scotland into Ireland by the Crown, no doubt with a view to the planting of their creed there. That might have been a right and proper proceeding at the time it was taken; but the Irish Presbyterians were now Dissenters from the Established Church, and one of the distinctive principles of their dissent was a desire to be free and independent of the State. He regretted the absence of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), and knew that he was attending to his Parliamentary duties in the borough that he represented. That hon. Gentleman, though desirous of being present to move the entire rejection of that Vote, had to address a meeting of his constituents that evening. The mode in which that grant was distributed had the effect of causing a subdivision of congregations for the purpose of securing more of the public money. As a member of the Established Church himself, he thought it was the duty of every denomination to support its own religion out of its own means. On that ground he would vote for the Motion of the hon. Baronet to reduce the Vote, and if that Motion failed he would himself divide the House on behalf of his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield against the entire Vote.

Question put:—The Committee divided:—Ayes 14; Noes 51: Majority 37.


said, he accepted the disparity of Members as an indication that the House in its present state was disposed to support the Vote. He would not divide the Committee on the main question, but promised, if he were returned to the new Parliament, on every occasion to exert his hostility to it.


said, many Presbyterians 'in Ireland repudiated the attempt that was made last Session to increase this beggarly grant, and in voting for the grant he did so that it might remain in statu quo. He was not for attacking the weakest of the bodies which received support from the Church, but would be glad to get rid of all endowments, including Maynooth. He believed that the grant in this case was at first given in the reign of James.

Original Question (£25,809, for Nonconforming, Seceding and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland) put, and agreed to.