HC Deb 11 May 1866 vol 183 cc826-34

(2.) £140,888, to complete the sum for Superannuation and Retired Allowances, &c.

(3.) £605, Toulonese and Corsican Emigrants, &c.

(4.) £325, Refuge for the Destitute.

(5.) £2,001, to complete the sum for Polish Refugees and Distressed Spaniards.

(6.) £39,170, to complete the sum for the Merchant Seamen's Fund Pensions.

(7.) £22,400, to complete the sum for the Relief of Distressed British Seamen.

(8.) £2,732, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Charges formerly on Civil List.

(9.) £1,183, to complete the sum for Public Infirmaries, Ireland.

(10.) £11,845, to complete the sum for the Hospitals in Dublin and Board of Superintence.

(11.) £6,461, to complete the sum for the Concordatum Fund, &c, Ireland.

(12.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £30,156, 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 1867, for Nonconforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland.


said, that this yearly Vote had received continued opposition for many years past; during which period it had not passed without a division being taken upon it. The grant had originated many years ago, in a small allowance, in the time of the secret service money, and it had since swollen from £1,200 per annum to a sum of £41,155 at the present time. Besides this sum there was one of £2,500 for professors, and a sum for chaplains of various prisons in Ireland, some of them without any prisoners of the Presbyterian denomination. The whole amounted to £44,000. Last year the Vote was increased by £300, and this year it was proposed to increase it by £692. He might state to the House that these Dissenting ministers in Ireland had been paid upon the average about £40,000 a year since 1843, making a total of about £920,000, out of the funds of the State; while the Presbyterians of Scotland, of the Free Church, less numerous and wealthy than the Irish State-paid Presbyterians, had subscribed a much larger fund out of their own resources for the purposes of religion, for they had actually raised by voluntary effort above £7,000,000. He objected to this Vote; and he would remind the Committee that the members of these Calvinistic Presbyterian Dissenting bodies in Ireland were decreasing, while the sum expended by the State upon them was increasing, which manifested the deteriorating effect of this Parliamentary allowance. According to one of these Irish Presbyterian clergymen they were the worst paid ministers of any in Christendom; and he believed it had been stated, on authority, that some of those Presbyterian congregations in Ireland did not give their clergymen a shilling a day. He thought the Government would do both the denomination and the country a service if they sent a Commission to inquire how it was that, though the denomination was diminishing, its claims on the public purse were increasing. A Return of the pupils under the tuition of the professors before referred to gave the number as 432, but he believed some of the pupils were reckoned five or six times over. Dr. Cooke, of Belfast, who was credited with 165 of them, received £250, besides £320 a year for distributing the fund among his denomination, besides the profits arising from his congregation, in presents and other voluntary payments; and the late Dr. Montgomery, a Remonstrant or Unitarian minister, was allowed a like sum, rather less in amount, for making the distribution among the Remonstrants, though it was obvious that a banker would do the same thing for one-twentieth of the expense. In their memorial to the Lord Lieutenant the Presbyterians grounded their claim on the fact that they had always been loyal, but £44,000 per annum was a large sum to pay to a small body of religionists on account of this sentiment, and they were the only denomination of Nonconformists in the kingdom who had ever sold or made money of their loyalty. It would be asked, were they poor? On the contrary, they were the richest separatists in the kingdom of Ireland, and raised large sums for missions at home and abroad, building manses, and other purposes. In Dublin there had been a chapel erected by a noble-hearted individual at a cost of £15,000, and which was served by two ministers, who had attracted a very large and wealthy congregation. He should be glad to know if either of these ministers was to be placed on the Regium Donum. Indeed, the favoured and wealthy Presbyterians of the North of Ireland were famous for their liberality in all respects, except that of paying their ministers, and they threw on the Government to support their own ministers out of the taxes of the country. They had not the smallest pretence of a claim upon the public taxes. He heard, however, that they were quite indignant that they could only have £40,000 a year; and that they said they would give it up unless they could have it doubled. When they talked of their loyalty, he would ask, did they send Members to support Her Majesty's Government? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] Not the Presbyterians. Did they, at all events, Bend Liberal Members from Belfast? They had literally besieged the late and present Lord Lieutenants of Ireland and the late Prime Minister (Lord Palmerston) to increase the donum, and they made a display of Irish Peers and Members of Parliament in support of an increased claim on the public taxes, but they were ignominiously repulsed in every application. An application had been made to him (Mr. Hadfield) to support their petition for an increase of the grant. His reply was that he would consider of it. He had been considering ever since, and he had concluded that a single farthing would overpay them for their services to the State or the country. He regarded this Regium Donum as the curse of Ireland, for he was satisfied that the Established Church in Ireland could not exist for many months—certainly not for many years—if it were not for this bribe to the Presbyterians. It was high time that this payment should be put an end to, and he therefore moved the reduction of the amount of this Vote to £366 for retired professors and the widows of ministers deceased.


thought his hon. and learned Friend had opened too broad a question to be discussed in so thin a House. If the paltry grant which the hon. Member objected to were once touched, the whole question of ecclesiastical endowments in Ireland would be re-opened. He thought no one would grudge the small sum appropriated to the Presbyterians of Ireland when the large endowments of the Established Church were remembered. In his opinion, the Presbyterians had a right to the grant.


agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down that the Regium Donum rested upon a different footing from that stated by the hon. Member for Sheffield, as, in fact, it rested almost on an equal footing with the Church Establishment in Ireland. In 1672 Charles II. resolved to make the Presbyterians some compensation for their loyalty, and the sum of £1,200 per annum was accordingly applied to their benefit. William III. confirmed that grant to them, and in 1830 the Government determined to enlarge the grant. The Presbyterian was one of the most loyal bodies in Ireland, and by their colonization of Ulster they had transformed one of the most turbulent provinces of that country into a peaceful, industrious, and enterprizing district. And when an attempt was made to violate the Act of Succession, the Presbyterians of Ireland took measures to secure the succession of the Electress Sophia of Hanover. The hon. Member for Sheffield said that the Presbyterians wished to sell their loyalty, but that was an accusation that need scarcely be replied to, as no one would give credit to it. For these reasons he thought the grant should be continued.


agreed in the remark that the present was only a part of a much greater question; and though he was quite prepared to vote against the Regium Donum, he would not select for opposition a small Vote to a small body while another body not more numerous, loyal, or respectable, was allowed to appropriate to itself the whole of the ecclesiastical revenues of the country. He thought, indeed, it was high time that the Government should consider the whole question of ecclesiastical endowments in Ireland. The question was at present in a most unsatisfactory state, and to that in a great measure was to be attributed the unhappy condition of that country. So long as they granted the whole of the ecclesiastical revenues of the country to a small minority and religious endowments to another portion, and left the great body of the people without Parliamentary recognition in this respect, they might depend upon it they would have Ireland in a chronic state of disaffection. If they perpetuated a state of things in Ireland different to that of England and Scotland, how could they feel surprised at the state of Ireland? The Presbyterians in Ireland were a loyal body, and would be so if the grant were taken away; but there was nothing to justify its withdrawal.


said, that this question had always been introduced hitherto in the form of a separate Motion, and had never been raised in Committee of Supply. That fact would account for the small number of Members on the Opposition Benches. It would have been more becoming if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield had brought forward his Motion openly and manfully, instead of adopting the course he had done. The grant had tended much to promote the instruction and morality of the inhabitants of Ulster, who were as earnest for its maintenance as for the existence of the Established Church. It was a miserable pittance given to a most useful and exemplary body of clergymen, and it would be a dark day for that province when it was withdrawn. He would state his own opinion to be that the grant should, on the contrary, be largely increased.


cordially approved of the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield. He regarded this Vote as altogether wrong, contrary to every sound financial principle, and an unjust tax for the benefit of a small portion of the community laid on the whole people. He denied that it was beneficial, even to those parties themselves; he believed they were the greatest sufferers by it. He admitted all that was said of the excellent characters of those who got the money, of their respectability, and of their being entitled to receive a much larger sum; but he maintained they had come to the wrong paymaster. The people who should give them a much larger sum were their own flocks; it was not on the revenue of the United Kingdom they should come for it. He might be allowed to say that they managed things differently in the country to which he belonged. There were 800 ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, who were in the same position as the recipients of this grant; there were 500 more of the same religious faith and principles, known by the denomination of the United Presbyterian Church, and the people of Scotland raised above £250,000 annually for these 1,300 ministers. They did not come to the Consolidated Fund begging like paupers for these paltry and pitiful grants; they came to their own denomination, who cheerfully put their hands in their pockets and paid each of their own ministers £200 a year. He believed the poor ministers of the Synod of Ulster did not get so much, even when they added the contributions of the people to the sums they got from the public funds. He denied altogether that it was wrong to take an opportunity of objecting to a particular grant because it did not include every grant to which objection might be made. He was against all the three ecclesiastical grants—that to the Presbyterian Church, that to the College of Maynooth, and, most of all, the endowment of the Established Church. Saving the rights of existing incumbents, he would abolish it out and out. He would abolish the Maynooth grant out and out, saving the life rents of existing holders; and he would abolish the Regium Donum out and out, saving the life rents of existing possessors. Whichever of them came up first, he should vote against that—Regium Donum, Maynooth, or the Established Church—he would vote against any of them. In whatever shape, way, or form he could manifest his hostility to them, that was the right way for him. He was against them all; he had attacked all of them in detail. They were all bad in principle, and the sooner we got rid of them the better. He cordially approved of the Motion which had been submitted to the House, and hoped it would be carried.


said, that after the opinions expressed by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren), one might reasonably ask if there was anything with which a Scotchman was content. The hon. Member seemed to object to every- thing that bore the name of an endowment. The Irish Members would, however, probably do their best to avert the catastrophe which the hon. Gentleman appeared so anxious to accelerate. The first grant of this kind was made by William III. to certain Presbyterians who from a lengthened residence in Ireland did not, like the hon. Member, regard the existing state of things with so much abhorrence. Their opinions, in fact, were somewhat Conservative. The grant had been continued until the present time, and if the hon. Member and his Friends from Scotland were so willing to dispose at one fell swoop of the Established Church in Ireland, the Maynooth Grant, and the Regium Donum, the question of increasing the number of Scotch representatives would require very careful consideration indeed. For if all the endowments and institutions of the country were to be swept away, the turn of the House of Commons would come with the rest. The hon. Gentleman could scarcely imagine that he was expressing opinions becoming a statesman, for the confusion, to say the least of it, which would arise from so sudden a destruction of things ancient and revered would be surprising. He could bear personal testimony to the advantage which had accrued to the province of Ulster from the Vote before the House, and to the beneficial effects which had accrued to the population generally.


thought that what he was about to state might change the vote of the hon. Member for Edinburgh. That hon. Member said that he was willing to vote whatever was necessary to protect the life interests of the present clergymen; but the Amendment before the Committee would strike off all the stipends of the existing ministers, and therefore the hon. Member for Edinburgh ought to oppose the Amendment. With respect to the distribution of the gift, he wished to inform the Committee that Dr. Cooke, one of the distributors, had died lately, and his place had not yet been filled up; but he did not consider a salary of £300 a year too much for the person who had the care and distribution of £40,000 intrusted to him, and he thought it would be unwise to discontinue the allowance.


said, that the province of Ulster was at present in a most prosperous condition; and he believed that that prosperity was in no small degree owing to the teaching and the example of the ministers among whom the grant in question was distributed. The hon. Member for Sheffield had given the House a new test for loyalty. The true test, he said, was to support the Government. If that were so, then he (Mr. Corry) must confess himself to be one of the most disloyal men in the House, the more especially since the Government had proposed a Reform Bill, which partially disfranchised the province of Ulster, the most loyal and prosperous portion of Ireland.


wished to know, whether he was correct in understanding the Secretary to the Treasury to imply that as the existing recipients of the grant died out the grant itself would die out? If so, the estimate in the present year was inconsistent with such a declaration, as there was an increase in it for new congregations. If the Vote were taken distinctly on the ground that it was for the present recipients only, he should support it; but if others were to succeed, then he should oppose the grant.


said, that he had made no such allegation. All he did was to claim the vote of the Member for Edinburgh, who said he would oppose taking the income they now received from the existing ministers. This injustice the Amendment would do.


observed, that this was part of a very large and serious question, affecting generally Ecclesiastical Establishments in Ireland, which must soon come under the consideration of the House. He did not consider this was the right end of the subject to begin with, and he therefore trusted that there would not be a division on this particular grant to-night. He repudiated the assumption of exclusive loyalty made on behalf of Ulster, and when he heard the progress, prosperity, and civilization of the northern province spoken of in contrast to other parts of Ireland, he was tempted to ask whether the town of Belfast was not situated in that northern province, and whether it had not been year after year handed over to civil strife, and whether its streets had not been dyed with the blood of peaceful citizens.


speaking in favour of the Vote, asserted that the Presbyterians of Ireland were an essentially liberal body, and he warned them not to be led away by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who sought to curry favour with them by supporting the Vote. He trusted the day would come when the Presbyterians and Roman Catholics in Ireland would be united in one liberal bond, and then there would cease to be in that House an opposition, including Irish Conservatives.

Motion made, and Question put, That a sum, not exceeding £366, 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, 1867, for Nonconforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland."—(Mr. Hadfield.)

The Committee divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 130: Majority 106.

Original Question put, and agreed to.