HC Deb 25 June 1868 vol 192 cc2166-72

Resolved, That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee of Supply.

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £21,386, 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 1869, for Nonconforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland.


said, that the House had by a Bill and Resolution suspended all new appointments, whether to the Established Church, Maynooth, or the Regium Donum, and this proceeding placed him in rather a peculiar position. In 1834 the allowance to these ministers was only £26,100; in 1868 it had risen to £41,386. During the interval a feeling of distrust had sprung up in many quarters against this system of begging from the State, and he had himself presented a petition from the remonstrant body in Ireland who were opposed to it. To that portion of the grant which was allowed to widows and orphans of ministers of the synod of Ulster—£366—he did not object; but he should move that the entire grant be reduced to that amount.

Motion made, and Question proposed, 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 1869, for Nonconforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland."—(Mr. Hadfield.)


acknowledged the consistency of the hon. Member for Sheffield in again bringing forward this Motion; but expressed his own opinion that the present time was most inopportune for the consideration of the question. The Northern district of Ireland was a model of what a British settlement should be, and much of this happy state of things was due to the Presbyterian Church. The Vote was a very small sum to give for the advantages which the State receives in return; for wherever Presbyterianism predominates the gaols are empty, and the number of police is infinitesimally small. As the larger question of the Established Church in Ireland had been taken up, it could not be expected that the smaller question of Presbyterian endowment could escape hostile criticism. Retaining the opinions he had often expressed, he should vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sheffield. The grant was paid in consequence of an agreement entered into between the State and the Presbyterian body, when they were induced to undertake the colonization of the North of Ireland in the reign of James I. He submitted that, considering the alteration in the value of money in course of years, there should be an augmentation of the original endowment.


said, as the circumstances had been much altered since the Notice of this Motion was put on the Paper, discussions on the Irish Church and the Regium Donum having taken place, and Resolutions having been passed which could not then have been anticipated, he hoped the hon. Member for Sheffield would not press this Motion to a division. If he did so, as the elections were approaching, every Member for Ulster would feel bound to speak in favour of the Regium Donum; but if he withdrew it, those speeches would be made from the hustings.


said, that the clause relating to the Regium Donum in the Suspensory Bill, which he hoped would pass, would prevent any fresh rights accruing under the grant. But for that clause he would have pressed for a division; as it was he would advise the withdrawal of the Amendment.


objected to the statement of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), that the Regium Donum caused the Presbyterians to cringe at the feet of the Ministry. He should give a decided opposition to the Amendment.


said, he had always supported the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) in this proposition; but would now suggest to him that, owing to altered circumstances, he would do well not to divide the Committee on this occasion. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Peel Dawson) said the Regium Donum had been given to carry out the policy of James I. That policy was that no Catholic should be permitted to exist in Ireland, and that the whole of the land should be held by imported Englishmen and Scotchmen. When it was assumed that the Presbyterians were so exclusively loyal, he begged to remark that within the memory of living men a serious rebellion had been organized in Ulster by Presbyterians.


recommended to the hon. Member for Sheffield to withdraw the Amendment; but he hoped that a subsequent Amendment against any increase in the grant would be adopted.


was understood to intimate his willingness to withdraw the Amendment.


protested against the Motion being withdrawn after the hon. Member had made a speech on the subject. Other hon. Members were thus debarred from expressing their opinions. The Dissenting congregations of Ireland were too poor to provide anything like the amount that was raised by the Free Church of Scotland. The voluntary system could not exist in Ireland to such an extent as to make it successful. He thought that it would be a great breach of faith to take away the grant, which, instead of being left dependent on annual Votes, ought to have been placed on the Consolidated Fund. He protested against the principle of leaving it to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone), or to any individual, however high his authority or ability, to say in his mercy what amount of compensation ought to be given to the clergy of the Established Church or of the Presbyterian Church. He contended that the Presbyterians had as much right to compensation if the Regium Donum was abolished as the clergymen of the Established Church would have if that Church were to be disestablished.


protested against the principle that the grant was one which entitled parties on its withdrawal to compensation. The whole system connected with this grant was a rotten one, and he believed that no party would be more benefited by the abolition of the grant than the Presbyterians ministers themselves. Within the last month a meeting of the whole body of Presbyterian ministers in Ireland was held, and a motion was made to strike at the grant, and it was lost only by a majority of about 30 in a very large assembly; and he had no doubt they would find next year that there would be a majority of that body itself against the grant. As to Ireland being too poor for the voluntary system, he could only say that even in the poorest parts of Scotland the voluntary system flourished in the highest degree. The Free Church had raised on the voluntary principle last year upwards of £390,000—just nine times the pittance which the Presbyterians in Ireland came to beg from that House, to be paid by taxes out of the pockets of those who already paid for the support of their own ministers.


said, that the House, instead of grudging this miserable pittance, ought to feel ashamed that the sum granted was so small. £150 ought to be the least stipend granted to any minister.


said, the principle upon which the Regium Donum was voted was a sound one. They had a curious illustration of the manner in which the provision for the Irish Presbyterian Church and the endowment of the Established Church in Ireland was assailed. The Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) was supported by the hon. Baronet the Member for Clare (Sir Colman O'Loghlen), who was the Leader in the House of the Roman Catholic section, and perhaps also a leader of the Liberation Society. There was an unnatural alliance between those who represented opinions in favour of extreme voluntaryism and the Roman Catholic section, who were opposed to the whole body of Protestants in this country. That alliance had proved fatal to foreign countries, and would prove fatal to this if the people were not made aware of the aims and ends of the allies.


observed, that the voluntary system worked admirably in Ireland; but, under all the circumstances, it would perhaps be better now to agree to the Vote, on the understanding that the matter would be fully discussed next Session.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(2.) £3,701, to complete the sum for the Treasury Chest.

(3.) £19,656, to complete the sum for Bounties on Slaves and Tonnage Bounties, &c


said, he wished to ask a few questions respecting the Vote so far as it concerned liberated Africans. He found that in 1864 six slaves were liberated, and in 1865 none, and yet he found that in 1864, the sum granted for prize money was £7,061; and even in the years when no negroes at all had been captured, prize money was granted. He wanted to know how that happened? He thought the prize system was a had system, and led to much inconvenience.


wished to know what had become of the negroes who were captured on the East Coast of Africa?


said, he had given a full explanation of this subject a short time since, and was not prepared to enter into the question again without Notice. He might, however, remind the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Alderman Lusk) that the prize money was principally derived from the sale of the slave ships captured by Her Majesty's ships. The cost of these captured slaves was a decreasing cost. The Vote originally was very large. It was not merely for captured negroes, but also for captured slave ships. The slaves captured on the East Coast of Africa were disposed of in an economical way by being sent to islands in those seas. The great item was the Vote for the mainten- ance of the establishments necessary to keep up in connection with our captures.

Vote agreed to.

(4.) £200, to complete the sum for Coolie Emigration to French Colonies.

(5.) £4,360, to complete the sum for Mixed Commissions (Slave Trade).

(6.) £126,178, to complete the sum for Consular Establishments Abroad.


said, that since 1866–7 the Vote had increased at the rate of about £20,000 a year. A considerable number of the establishments might, with great propriety, be suppressed. Some of the consuls, to his knowledge, in Spain and elsewhere, had literally nothing whatever to do. He last year mentioned the case of Seville, and he could mention it again as a place where the English consul had nothing to do. By not filling up many of the appointments when they became vacant, the expenditure might be reduced by between £30,000 and £40,000 a year.


said, he doubted whether the Vote had really increased to the extent mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. He would also remark that the fact of there being a certain amount of security in these consular appointments induced gentlemen to accept them on comparatively low pay. He thought that when they had sent a man out upon a salary to a post which he had a right to consider a permanent post, they could not very well withdraw him from his employment. Such a course would inflict great injury upon the public service; but he could assure the hon. Gentleman that in every case where he had to appoint a consul he considered first whether there was anything for him to do, and, secondly, whether the salary was excessive for the work required of him. It should also be borne in mind that a sovereign did not represent so much now as it did twenty-five years ago. The cost of living and of house-rent had increased greatly all over the world of late years.


said, he saw a Vote of £600 for house-rent, &c, for the consul at Massowah. Was there any reason why this Vote should be continued, seeing that the consul had been re-called years ago?


said, there was no intention to send a new consul to Abyssinia. Consul Cameron had been re-called; but the hon. Member was aware that he had been detained in Abyssinia by causes not within his own control.


said, he believed Consul Cameron had been recalled when Earl Russell was Foreign Minister.


said, it was quite right that these Consular Estimates should be carefully scanned; but it must be borne in mind that our consuls were not Diplomatic agents of the Foreign Office, but were appointed to look after the interests of our enormous trade, and as that trade increased, so it must be expected that the Vote for Consular Services would increase also. His impression was that this country was often very fortunate in obtaining the services of intelligent and respectable gentlemen in foreign forts at a very moderate salary.


said, that there was an item for Mr. Consul Cameron's salary and house-rent in Abyssinia, whereas he had been re-called two or three years ago. As to his house-rent he always understood that he had been provided with house-room by King Theodore.


said, that the letter of re-call was written by his predecessor at the Foreign Office, but it never reached Consul Cameron as he was in confinement. A somewhat nice question thereupon arose whether Consul Cameron had been re-called or not. He had borne a severe and painful imprisonment. Whether he had been well-advised or not, he had acted to the beat of his judgment, and having suffered very seriously it would not be the wish of the Committee that he should be dealt with hardly.

Vote agreed to.

(7.) £300,000, Post Office Packet Service (on account).

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported Tomorrow;

Committee to sit again To-morrow.