§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 (Dissolution of legislative union between Churches of England and Ireland).
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I had given notice of my intention to propose an Amendment to this clause, but I will not press it on this occasion, because it might lead to a prolonged discussion. The Amendment refers to the date at which this Act is to come into play; the Committee will have numerous opportunities of considering that question, and to attempt to settle it now might lead to a debate of considerable duration, and would divert attention from the point which I am anxious to bring before the Committee. I shall have an opportunity, if necessary, upon the Report, of proposing an alteration of date, if circumstances should justify that course; and therefore I will now proceed, with the permission of the Committee, to move that the 2nd clause of the Bill be altogether omitted. And I am very anxious to ask the serious attention of the Committee and of the Government to this proposition, because I am aware that considerable misconception exists as the character of the Motion. I cannot but hope that—once a clear conception of its meaning has been obtained by the Committee—we may find in it, if not a complete, a very considerable solution of many of the almost inextricable difficulties with which this grave question is surrounded. What I propose by omitting the 2nd clause is this,—that the union created by Act of Parliament between the Churches of England and Ireland shall not be dissolved, but shall be maintained and preserved. Now, what is the character of that union? It has been referred to in the House very frequently, and I think under a misappre- 994 hension. Everybody, I imagine, will feel it to be desirable that the Act of Union should not be disturbed, unless disturbance is absolutely necessary for the policy which Her Majesty's Ministers, supported by the majority that voted for the second reading of this Bill, have signified their desire to adopt. If the Committee are of opinion that the policy recommended by Her Majesty's Government is the right policy, and that it can be only accomplished by dissolving the union between the Churches of England and of Ireland, they are fully justified, no doubt, from their view of the case, in proposing an alteration in the terms of that union. But everybody on both sides of the House will probably admit that if you can accomplish the policy which you have before you without meddling with the Union between Great Britain and Ireland, to avoid doing so would be highly desirbale. Whatever may be the opinions which hon. Gentlemen entertain of the various important principles involved in this policy, and of the serious consequences which may result from it, all will agree that it is highly desirable the object in view should be attained without unnecessarily interfering with so important a public document and muniment of title as the Act of Union. I would ask the Committee to consider what is the character of that union so created between the Churches of England and of Ireland. By the 5th Article of the Treaty, and afterwards by the Act of Union, it is provided that there should be a union between the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland, and by that union it is secured to the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland that there should be identity of doctrine, of worship, of discipline, and of government between the two Churches. I will not say of every hon. Gentleman—but it is true, I think, of the large majority of this House—that they have no objection whatever to these objects. Identity of doctrine, discipline, worship, and government among religious bodies are public benefits: and, if those who are in possession and enjoyment of these blessings or privileges do not request to be deprived of them, I cannot suppose that there is any party of any importance—I should hardly think there is any individual Member of the House—who would feel it his duty, or be anxious to deprive 995 them of these advantages. Identity of doctrine, discipline, worship, and of government, secured by one of the most solemn public acts of the country to the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland, are the things of which, by this clause, you propose to deprive that Church. I propose that we should continue them. They are in themselves great benefits; they are believed by those who possess and enjoy them to be great benefits; nobody requests to be deprived of them; and I cannot perceive that it is the interest or desire of any Member of this House to do so. The Committee must clearly understand that, if we preserve our faith inviolate with respect to these solemn engagements, if we determine not to invade the spiritual privileges of a great body of our fellow-citizens, we are at the same time agreeing to nothing which will prevent the Committee from carrying out, if they think fit, the policy of Her Majesty's Government. If we omit this clause, and by omitting it maintain the faith of the country upon this solemn subject, there is no reason whatever why you should not proceed, if you think fit, to disestablish the Irish Church by depriving its prelacy of all Parliamentary representation; to abrogate, if you think proper, all its ecclesiastical courts; and to terminate, if you deem it expedient to do so, all those distinctive features which have been alleged in the course of this debate as reasons for supporting the policy of the Government. I need not impress upon the Committee the great importance of this view, and that it is a just one I gather from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say—and I accept his interpretation—that by the Act of Union between the two countries that which is secured to the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland is identity of doctrine, of discipline, of worship, and of government with the Church in this country. I cannot understand how it is that the right hon. Gentleman himself, knowing, as he must, the danger of attempting to alter the Act of Union, and that nothing but a necessity of the first kind could justify a statesman in recommending such a course, does not feel that when the necessity for that course is not clear that course should not be pursued, more especially when by dealing with the 2nd 996 clause of the Act of Union we shall be interfering with the spiritual privileges of a large body of our fellow-countrymen. But there are other grave reasons which lead me to press upon the Committee the wise policy of leaving out the 2nd clause of this Bill. That clause proposes to dissolve the union between the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland. The consequences of that union I have already placed before the House, and therefore I will now merely repeat that that union secures to the latter Church identity of doctrine, identity of worship, identity of discipline, and identity of government with the Church of England. Those are not privileges which ought to be grudged to the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland by any body of Members in this House, whatever may be their religious creed or their political opinions. Well, but how are identity of doctrine, of worship, of discipline, and of government secured to the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland? They are secured to it by the supremacy of the Queen. It is by her authority and by her power that she vindicates the purity and uniformity of doctrine, that she secures decorum of worship, that she enforces in religious matters a salutary discipline, and that she secures to the Church a wise and temperate government. By leaving untouched the supremacy of the Queen you will maintain still between the civil power and the religious a tie which hon. Gentleman on this side of the House—and, indeed, I have reason to believe many hon. Members on the other side of the House—would see entirely severed with no inconsiderable pang. Well, then, if it is a matter, as I believe it to be, of grave importance that we should not unnecessarily alter the Articles of Union, and if—which is also, in my opinion, a matter of equal weight—we can, without offending anyone, without invading any rights, political or religious, and, in order to accomplish ends the most salutary, still maintain the connection between the civil power and religion, I think that is an additional reason why you should hesitate before you reject the proposition I have brought before the Committee. But there is, I will not say a graver, but a scarcely less important reason why I think the Committee should agree to the suggestion which I am now 997 bringing forward. I understand the policy of Her Majesty's Government as laid down in this measure to be, in general terms, the establishment of ecclesiastical equality. Last year we heard much of religious equality, and I then felt it to be my duty to maintain that religious equality was already enjoyed in Ireland fully and completely. The phraseology of the present year, however, is more accurate and more precise, and instead of religious equality we hear of ecclesiastical equality, and I am now about to show the Committee that, if they really wish to attain ecclesiastical equality, they are bound to support me in this Motion. In dealing with this question I feel that great inconvenience arises from the continued confusion—if I may be permitted to use such an expression—that still to a large degree prevails in this House with respect to the two principles of establishment and endowment. Last night the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) in his elaborate speech summed up his statements and arguments by impressing upon the House his conviction that the policy of Her Majesty's Government must end in the establishment in Ireland of the Roman Catholic religion. Why, Sir, the Roman Catholic religion is already established in Ireland—it is established in Ireland as fully and as completely as any power, human or divine, can establish it. ["Oh, oh!"] It is true that the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland is not endowed—that is a totally distinct question—but, I repeat, the Roman Catholic religion is established in Ireland. During the great debate upon the second reading of this Bill, we were perpetually told that the Protestant Church in Ireland, which it is proposed to disestablish and to disendow by this Bill, need not lose heart—that it should take consolation and courage by looking at the position of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland; that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was in a very satisfactory position, in a very powerful position, and that its existence was the triumph of the voluntary principle in that country. That, however, is not the conclusion at which I have arrived; it would seem to be an entire confusion of ideas that prompted such a statement. Cardinal Cullen is not the creation of the voluntary principle; the powerful hierarchy that pervades Ireland is not the 998 creation of the voluntary principle; the disciplined organized clergy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland are not the creation of the voluntary principle—they are the creation of the supreme will of a Sovereign Pontiff; they are entirely independent of the voluntary principle. If you want to establish ecclesiastical equality, if you want to put the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland and the Protestant Episcopalian Church of Ireland upon the same footing of advantage, why is the Protestant Episcopalian Church of Ireland to be deprived of the great advantage of having a supreme head as well as the Roman Catholic Church? I put the case with confidence to the consciences of every candid Roman Catholic Member in this House. I have some faith in the candid conscience even of my opponents, when they are called upon to decide questions like the present. I ask those hon. Members who profess the Roman Catholic religion why they should refuse to their fellow-countrymen the great and undoubted advantages which they admit they derive from their Church being established under the supreme will of a Sovereign Pontiff? I have shown that it is the supremacy of the Queen that is to be destroyed—perhaps not intentionally—by the 2nd cause of this Bill—a supremacy in matters in which I contend it is for the advantage of her Protestant subjects, and not of them alone, that she should exercise supremacy. The same power exists alike in the case of both religions, and is exercised in both cases according to the views of the respective supreme heads, in order to secure purity of doctrine, decorum of worship, salutary discipline, and wise government in their respective Churches. I maintain that so long as His Holiness the Pope possesses Rome—and I am bound to say that I see no reason to assume that there is any prospect of his losing that capital which he has so long possessed—the Roman Catholic religion, in whatever country it may be found, is an established religion, and we shall be labouring under the greatest fallacy if, in an attempt to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of this great question, we regard the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland as a disestablished, or as a non-established Church. Therefore, unless you accede to the suggestion which I am 999 about to make to-night, the first step you will take under your new system of enforcing the establishment of ecclesiastical equality will be to place the Disestablished Protestant Church of Ireland in rivalry with the Established Church of Home. Believing that there are great benefits in Establishments, I make this effort to call the serious attention of the Committee to the situation in which they are now placed. I most earnestly hope that the Committee will support the proposition which I have to make, and I appeal, not entirely without confidence, to the First Minister himself not to oppose it. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to consider this proposition without passion and without prejudice. We know that, in the management of these questions, it is difficult to divest oneself of the heat which naturally arises during their treatment; but I do most earnestly entreat the right hon. Gentleman to accept the proposition I make. It is a proposition that does not interfere with his policy; the omission of the 2nd clause will leave the Committee free to decide upon all the points which are affected by his policy. They may, I repeat it, if they choose, entirely despoil the Irish Protestant Church; they may banish the Bishops from the House of Lords; they may close the ecclesiastical courts; they may terminate every ceremony, every privilege, and every practice which hitherto they have held up to odium, and alleged to be the cause of national jealousy and discontent; but that they may do by maintaining the Union complete, by not disturbing the Articles of one of the most solemn muniments of the kingdom. They may permit the Sovereign of England to maintain her salutary privilege of guarding the doctrine, of vindicating the discipline, of regulating the worship of the Church, and of securing for it a temperate and equitable government—sources, in my mind, of security to the State, and guarantees for the progress and permanence of civilization. I trust, therefore, the Committee will adopt the suggestion I make, and that they will consent, with the support of the Ministry, to the omission of the 2nd clause.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he thought the Committee would have no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman was substantially the question 1000 which had been determined by the second reading of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman conceded that, as the Bill had reached this stage, the Church of Ireland was to be disestablished, and was, at all events, to a certain extent, to be disendowed. He (the Attorney General) ventured to assert as a proposition of law—and he should be surprised if any lawyers on the other side disputed it—that the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church made this clause absolutely necessary. The union of the Churches of England and Ireland was the union of two established Churches. The 5th Article of the Act of Union enacted—That the Churches of England and Ireland, as now by law established, be united into one Protestant Episcopal Church, to be called the United Church of England and Ireland.'That was to say, the two established Churches were to be united and if one Church was disestablished it was quite clear there was no longer a union of two established Churches. If the proposition of disestablishment contained in the Bill were carried then virtually and by implication; so much of this Article of the Act of Union would in fact be repealed; and surely it was desirable to do directly that which must be done by implication. It was either right or wrong to disestablish the Irish Church; if it was wrong, the Bill ought not to have been read a second time; if it was right, do not let them retreat from the consequences of their decision, do not let them be afraid of expressing the conclusion which must follow. The remaining words of the Article were—And that the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the said United Church shall be, and shall remain in full force for ever, as the same are now by law established for the Church of England.By what right or title did the Legislature force upon the Church certain forms of doctrine, discipline, and government? By the right and title that the Church was established; and, when the Church ceased to be established, Parliament had no right or title to prescribe for it its doctrine, discipline, or government. We did not prescribe doctrine, discipline, or forms of government for our non-established and voluntary bodies; indeed, the fact of their being voluntary was inconsistent with Parliament doing so. What was meant by Establishment was that 1001 the State conferred upon the Church certain privileges, and that, in return for these privileges, the Church submitted to certain State control. The main privileges afforded to the Church were these—that the law of the Church was recognized as the law of the land; that the tribunals of the Church were considered to be the tribunals of the Queen; and that the authority of the Executive was lent to these tribunals to enforce their decrees. Further, a certain status was given to ecclesiastical persons; Bishops were recognized as an estate of the realm; and last, but not least, the Church was endowed, to the exclusion of all other religions, with certain portions of public property. These were the privileges of Establishment, and, on the other hand, there were certain disabilities, and among them were these—that the Church was subject to State control; that it submitted to Parliament its doctrine, its discipline, and its government; and it was in consideration of its being an established Church that it submitted to this control. But when it ceased to be an establishment, then it would be most unfair to the Church itself that Parliament should undertake to lay down its doctrines, discipline, and government. Therefore, on every ground it would be quite impossible to maintain this clause of the Act of Union consistently with the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. Nothing could be added to the arguments urged in debate on this subject, but they had heard a novelty from the right hon. Gentleman, and that was his definition of supremacy. The meaning of the supremacy of the Crown was that the Queen was supreme in all her courts; and the meaning of the Act of Supremacy of Henry VIII. was that whereas appeals formerly went to the Church of Home, that was prohibited, and no foreign potentate was permitted to have jurisdiction over a cause originating here. The King was supreme in all cases and in all courts; that was the meaning of the word supremacy. That supremacy was not impaired by this Bill, the Queen would still remain supreme in all the courts of the realm. It was true that cases now tried in the ecclesiastical courts would be determined in the temporal courts, but the Queen would be at the head of these courts; and whether cases were tried in the temporal courts or in the ecclesiastical courts, 1002 still the Queen was supreme, and the Royal supremacy was altogether untouched. Therefore the definition the right hon. Gentleman had given of supremacy was altogether unfounded and erroneous. If he demurred to the right hon. Gentleman's definition of supremacy he was still more startled by his definition of the term Establishment. We had heard a good deal of levelling up: there had been various propositions for levelling up the three Churches; but he never heard the doctrine carried so far as it was by the declaration that the Roman Catholic Church was and established" Church in Ireland. What did "Establishment" mean? It meant establishment by the law of the land—the connection of the Church with the State;—but what connection had the Roman Catholic Church with the State, and how was it established by law? It was a mere trifling with language to call the Roman Catholic Church an established Church; in no sense of the word ever before used was it an established Church; and we should never advance in the discussion if new definitions of old terms were to be improvised for the purposes of every clause in Committee. If it was in no sense an establishment, every argument of the right hon. Gentleman founded upon that supposition failed altogether. He had said enough to show that they were substantially discussing again the main question; that, if they disestablished and disendowed the Irish Church, it was absolutely necessary to repeal this Article of the Union; and that, if they did not do so directly, they must do so by necessary implication; and, if it was to be done either directly or by necessary implication, could any man doubt it was far better to do it directly? For these reasons he ventured to hope that the Committee would agree to the clause.
§ DR. BALL
said, he objected to the assumption that every question was already decided. It might be true that they had determined upon disestablishment and disendowment, but these words were not legal words; they had been first brought into notice in the course of the debates upon the Irish Church; they had no accepted definition; and he dissented from the definitions of the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken. He maintained that the question involved in this 2nd clause 1003 had not been decided, and, further, that the Amendment to omit the clause was not necessarily inconsistent with the professed principle and objects of the Bill. He understood the main object of the First Minister of the Crown was the assertion of religious equality; and the retention of the clause of the Act of Union would not prevent such equality. The only Church that would have a right to complain of inequality would be the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland, which would be subject to restrictions without having any privileges. Therefore, neither the Presbyterian nor the Roman Catholic Churches had a right to complain if the Episcopal Church in Ireland chose to accept subordination to the Crown in matters of doctrine, worship, discipline, and government. Before repealing the clause in the Act of Union, they should realize its true meaning, and consider whether it was desirable to get rid of the results which followed from that meaning. What was its effect as to doctrine? It pledged the Church of Ireland to adopt the Thirty-nine Articles. What was its effect as to worship? It pledged the Church of Ireland to use the English Prayer Boob. What was the effect on its discipline? Subscription and conformity to the Thirty-nine Articles, and obedience from the clergy to the Episcopate. The hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House had stated that the supremacy of the Crown would not be disturbed, and he had told the House that the definition of supremacy was that the Queen was supreme in all her courts. Now, in that definition he did not concur, for if it were a correct one the Emperor of the French would be the head of the Church in France, for the Emperor was supreme in all his courts. Nor was this the definition given by Blackstone, Coke, or the latest writer on the subject, Chitty—On the Prerogative; for, according to these eminent authorities, the Royal supremacy involved the right of the Crown to hold ecclesiastical courts with the right of appeal from them to the Crown. The meaning of the Queen's supremacy was that the Sovereign was the paramount and ultimate tribunal in ecclesiastical causes. Now, how was the Queen's supremacy acknowledged in England and Ireland? In Ireland, under an Act of Henry YELL, she was the supreme Judge 1004 in ecclesiastical causes, acting by delegates; in England she was the supreme Judge, acting by the Privy Council. And one remarkable fact that would illustrate her position was, that the Privy Council could make no Order in a cause involving doctrine or discipline—all they could do was to advise Her Majesty that such and such an Order ought to be made, and the Order, when made, was the Order of Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Privy Council. What was meant by the Royal supremacy was, that the Sovereign, as regarded ecclesiastical doctrine and discipline, was the head of the Church and the ultimate tribunal in ecclesiastical causes, acting in one country by delegates, and in the other by the Privy Council. In the case of the delegates, if they decided erroneously, there was an appeal to the Queen, who issued what was called a Court of Review. Now, what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) proposed did not in the least Interfere with the plan which Her Majesty's Government wished to carry out with reference to the Church in Ireland. The Royal supremacy did not place the Bishops in the House of Lords. Their presence there, in connection with the Irish Church, was due to special legislation, and in England they sate in virtue of tenure. Patronage was not involved in it. The appointment of Bishops could be given to a Synod, or other authority, as thought best. The object of the Amendment was to retain the prohibition expressed in the Act of Union, which forbids the Church of Ireland framing a different religion from that of the Church of England; to prevent her from severing herself from the Episcopacy; disregarding the authority of the Thirty-nine Articles, or having a different Prayer Book from that of the Church of England. What they proposed was that the Irish Church should accept the English Church as her model. He was well aware that many persons were of opinion that a free Church had greater advantages than a Church which was placed under the control of the State. He knew that many members of the Church of England were of that opinion, but many others, and, he believed, a majority in England, were not, and they were accordingly anxious that the right hon. Gentleman would place upon the new Irish Church a 1005 prohibition which would have the effect of preventing future generations from establishing a religion different from that which was recognized by the Church of England. They were not throwing any suspicion upon the present race of clergymen, who had been educated and brought up in strict conformity with the doctrine and discipline of the Established Church, but they were proposing to erect a barrier which would make it impossible for future generations to establish a wholly different form of religion. Now, what was the operation of the Bill as it stood upon the necessity of adopting the Thirty-nine Articles and the Prayer Book, and upon the obedience of the clergy to their Bishops? All these matters were left free. They were left free matters for the Church to decide upon, and the Church might abandon every one of them if she liked. He might here incidentally mention that, in his opinion, under the 10th clause, if it were retained in its present shape, the appointment of Bishops was not possible. The 10th clause was as follows:—Save as here in-after mentioned, no person shall, after the passing of this Act, be appointed by Her Majesty, or any other person or corporation, to any archbishopric, bishopric, benefice, or cathedral preferment, in or connected with the said Church.If that clause were left unaltered there could not after a certain time be any Episcopate at all; for the insertion of the words "or any other person "practically amounted to a total prohibition. No Bishop could be made, for there was no other clause in the Bill by which the power of malting such an appointment was conferred; and he would here ask the hon. and learned Gentlemen who were advising Her Majesty's Government on this Bill, whether they had any clause which would make it legal for the Irish Bishops to meet and consecrate a Bishop when a vacancy arose? He did not propose to lay much stress upon these points, because if the Bill did not now contain any enabling clauses they could be inserted in the progress of the Bill through Committee. But the Bill did not oblige them to retain Episcopacy at all, for by the 20th clause it was proposed—Subject to any alteration which may be made, after the said first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, by the members for the time being of the said Church, or their representatives, the present ecclesiastical law of 1006 Ireland, and the present articles, doctrines, rites, rules, discipline, and ordinances of the said Church, shall be deemed to be binding on the members for the time being thereof to the same extent and in the same manner in all respects as if such persons had mutually contracted and agreed to abide by and observe the same.Now, the first words of that clause impliedly gave a license to the Church to make whatever alteration she pleased. They were going to give a certain amount of property to this new Church, and by the same Bill they proposed to give the Church the power of abandoning Episcopacy if they pleased; indeed, if they thought fit, of adopting Presbyterianism. Of course, if that was what was really intended, the issue would be whether the provision was a wise one. The object of the Amendment was not to give that license. He believed that there was no inconsistency between the right hon. Gentleman's plan and what he (Dr. Ball) had asked. He believed that the solid advantages which would accrue would not be attended by offence to anybody. The patronage and right of appointment of Bishops should be regulated by the Church itself. But as to doctrine and discipline, if the Members of the Irish Church desired to submit to what might be a disadvantage to themselves, but which could injure no one else, he was at a loss to understand how any one could be offended. The Roman Catholics chose to select an external Power—the Pope—as their governor in religious matters. The members of the Established Church in Ireland said—"Give us the supremacy of the Queen." How could anyone be injured by a compliance with that demand? Then, again, he asked, was it just to the existing clergy that the Bill should remain as it was now framed? They might be compelled to adopt any new form of religion on the pain of loss of their income. The Protestant Episcopalian Church in Ireland might make a change. The Scotch Church had the very power which the Government by this Bill proposed to give to the Irish Church, and the Scotch Church had changed their Prayer Book. One of the clergy resisted, and ultimately the case came before the House of Lords. There was no jurisdiction, because there was no property in question; but the opinion was expressed that the clergyman was bound to adopt the change. If the Amendment should not be adopted, the Protestant body in Ireland would have power to do what 1007 they liked after the day when, in accordance with the provisions of this Bill, all coercive jurisdiction over them would cease. Such power was an implied result of the clause which put an end to the coercive jurisdiction. He contended that what was asked for in the Amendment was not inconsistent with the plan of the Government. In Australia there was no endowment of the Church except out of the Public Worship Fund which was voted by Parliament in the Civil List. In Australia they had formed Synods, exactly as the Government intended that the Protestant Episcopalian Church in Ireland should do; but, in respect of coercive jurisdiction, the Act passed in Victoria by a Parliament returned, he believed, by universal suffrage, and which had. to legislate for a colony inhabited by persons of every religious sect, did the very thing which he now asked the Government and the House of Commons to do in this Bill. The Government in Office in the colony when that Act passed was quite as Liberal a Government as that now in Office in England, and the House of Commons which passed it was a Liberal House of Commons. The Act itself resembled the Bill now before the Imperial Parliament in every particular, except that it provided that no regulation or Act should be valid that altered or departed from the authorized standards of the faith, doctrine, and discipline of the United Church of England and Ireland, or of the declarations and subscriptions now by law required to be taken by candidates for Holy Orders. Therefore even the advanced Liberal party in that colony in their Disestablishment Bill did not think it right to do what was proposed by this measure—namely, to trust the Church to the absolute dominion over itself, but bound it to adhere to the Articles, discipline, and doctrine of the Church of England. In Canada the Church by a resolution asserted the Royal Supremacy. Had anyone a right to object to what it was proposed to do by means of the Amendment? If the members of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland said—"Don't bind us; we shall have much more scope if you don't bind us," it would be a different thing. But the Roman Catholics and the Presbyterians certainly would have no reason to complain if Parliament decided that the Protestant Episcopalian Church of Ireland should 1008 be bound by the worship, discipline, doctrine, and government of the Church of England? There were other advantages also which would follow from the adoption of the Amendment. He did not want to again enter upon the topics which had been discussed in the debate on the second reading; but he would observe that, regarding the question in a social point of view, he thought that a Church under the control of the Sovereign, and with the Sovereign for its head, and which was obliged to follow standards remarkable for their wisdom and moderation, would be better adapted to a state of society in which there were so many antagonistic and hostile elements than a Church which would have absolute liberty. Therefore, looking at the question as a statesman or as a man of the world, and viewing it independently of the bearing of the decision on the members of the Church, he thought it would be politic of Parliament to keep up the coercive jurisdiction and control to which the Church in Ireland was now subjected. There was also another reason for taking this course. When this Bill came to be worked it would be found that the way in which it proposed to enforce religious obligation or duty was very delusive. The only mode by which it was proposed to enforce it was that provided by Clause 20, which stated that—Subject to any alteration which may be made after the said first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one by the members for the time being of the said Church or their representatives, the present ecclesiastical law of Ireland, and the present articles, doctrines, rites, rules, discipline, and ordinances of the said Church, shall be deemed to be binding on the members for the time being thereof to the same extent and in the same manner in all respects as if such persons had mutually contracted and agreed to abide by and observe the same, and shall be enforced in the temporal courts accordingly." &c.It would be extremely difficult to give practical effect to this theory of contract in, say, the case of heresy, or that of preaching doctrine contrary to the doctrine of the Church, as also in the case of immorality or impropriety of conduct. If there were property in the case proceedings might be taken. Thus, in the case of the Bishop of Natal against the trustees of the fund for the payment of his income, there was a specific pecuniary obligation, and a consequent jurisdiction. But you could not file a Bill for specific 1009 performance to compel a man to preach right doctrine, nor could you bring an action for damages. In the Bishop of Natal's case one Bishop was deprived by another Bishop whom the Queen had appointed by letters patent. The latter Bishop was his Metropolitan, to whom he had sworn the oath of canonical obedience. It appeared on the hearing of the case that the Queen had not power to appoint the Metropolitan, so that the case of coercive authority failed. But the second point was that the suffragan was bound by his oath to the Metropolitan. On this point Lord Westbury said that, though pastoral or spiritual authority might be incidental to the office of a Bishop, coercive jurisdiction in the Church must proceed from the Crown; that deprivation or suspension from office was a matter of coercive, not of spiritual jurisdiction; that the promise of canonical obedience made by the Bishop of Natal to the Bishop of Cape Town, as his Metropolitan, was a purely voluntary one; and that, even if it was intended to confer jurisdiction, it was not legally competent to the Bishop of Natal to exercise, or to the Bishop of Cape Town to accept, any such jurisdiction. Then he would refer the Committee to what was done in America. In New York State every religion was enabled to form corporations with proper rules, and in this manner was brought into connection with the law; but the policy embodied in the Bill now under consideration was that of divorcing every system of religion from all connection with the authority of the law. Those who supported the Amendment asked that their Church might not be launched forward without rudder, captain, or pilot; and he thought he had shown that their demand, as contained in the Amendment, did not involve anything that was unfair towards the members of any other Church. He should certainly be suprised to hear any hon. Gentleman in that House say-that his sensibility was, in the slightest degree, wounded by the circumstance that Her Majesty was declared to be supreme over that Church of which she was bound to be a member. If, he might add, the advantages which he had mentioned should follow from assenting to the proposal which he was advocating, while its adoption could do no injury to the feelings or interests of anybody, why should it not be acceded to? Was it not because the right hon. 1010 Gentleman at the head of the Government and the President of the Board of Trade had a sort of leaning towards a free Church, governing itself and framing its own articles? As to the Canadian system, he must observe that it was altogether different from the plan of the Government. Into that system, a clause was introduced which enabled those who constituted the governing body to vote and decide by a majority. The effect of the clause was that the majority could bind the minority, but how was the matter dealt with in the present Bill? It was provided that—From and after the passing of this Act there shall be repealed and determined any Act of Parliament, law, or custom whereby the archbishops, bishops, clergy, or laity of the said Church are prohibited from holding assemblies, synods, or conventions, or electing representatives thereto for the purpose of making rules for the well-being and ordering of the said Church.Now, what did the meeting in synod mean? What power would those Synods possess? By the law of England, Synods had no power to make regulations apart from the Crown. They might have had such power in the primitive Church, and, no doubt, they possessed it in the Oriental countries, and in many of the Continental countries; but in the history of England there was no trace of any independent power in Synods. If anyone disputed that proposition, he would refer him to Coke and Blackstone. The Bill, therefore, while remitting prohibitions, gave no affirmative power, like that which was conferred under the Canadian system. It was also differently framed from the laws which prevailed in the United States and Australia, where the paramount object in view was the same—namely, religious equlity. Under the Bill, as he had said before, the majority wore not allowed to bind the minority; but there might be cases in which there would be a majority and a minority, the one choosing Thirty-eight, and the other Thirty-nine Articles, and yet they were to be allowed to exist, without the slightest guide, in a country in which unanimity of opinion was not one of the distinguishing characteristics of the people. That for which he was contending was, after all, an extremely small matter, which would not affect the main principle of the Bill, while it would secure the great and solid advantage of maintaining the Royal su- 1011 premacy in the position which it ought to occupy. He had simply to observe, in conclusion, that while the Bill would repeal the section of the Act of Union to which he was referring, it was somewhat singular that it would not repeal any of that code of laws which gave her supremacy to the Sovereign. Whether that was done designedly or not he could not say, but certain it was that the Bill would not repeal those express statutes by which, as well as by the Common Law of England, Her Majesty was declared to be head of the Church. It seemed to him that it would not be legal without a further Bill to proceed to consecrate or appoint Bishops after this measure had become law. Under all the circumstances of the case, therefore, the best course to pursue was, he maintained, to retain the clause in the Act of Union, by which means the scheme of the Government might be shaped into a more perfect and consistent plan. But if they were resolved to pass this clause, they ought, at any rate, to introduce some affirmative and enabling clauses as regarded the appointment of Bishops, and also clauses to give the majority in the Church Body power to bind the minority.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
I regret very deeply to be obliged to say that I cannot, after having heard such high political and legal authorities as the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite give utterance to such doctrines as those to which we have just listened, with respect to the Royal supremacy, refrain from expressing from those doctrines my entire dissent. They appear to me essentially to have misunderstood some of the very first principles of the constitutional law of this country; and, if such doctrines are brought to bear upon the Irish Church when she is stripped of all her property, and turned out naked upon the world, she will have had no friends more cruel than the right hon. Gentlemen and those who support them. There is no mystification, no transcendental idea connected with the doctrine of the Royal supremacy. It is a doctrine of the first political importance, which no legislation which you can introduce, that does not subject this country to the domination of a foreign Power, can in any manner do away with. It amounts to nothing whatever but this—the independence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain 1012 and Ireland, and the absolute supremacy of the temporal government of the Kingdom. "Whether that government is vested, as now, in the Queen as its head, or whether even the Constitution were changed into a Republic, would make, in this respect, not the slightest difference—the doctrine is a simple assertion of the country's absolute independence of all foreign jurisdiction. All, therefore, that is said about ecclesiastical supremacy is merely the form of language used by lawyers for the purpose of defining the practical consequences which the general supremacy of the Crown produces on the Established Church. When I hear such doctrines as we have heard laid down as to the Royal supremacy, there appears to me to be something savouring almost of disloyalty in the construction which is put upon the words. Is the Queen, I would ask, not as supreme in Scotland as in England? But in Scotland the Established Church is so constituted that the Queen does not exercise in it any of those special ecclesiastical functions which the law attributes to Her Majesty as the chief governor of the Established Church in England. It is, then, not merely not a necessary element of the supremacy of the Sovereign that special ecclesiastical prerogatives should be vested in the Crown, but there may be cases, as in that of Scotland, in which these special ecclesiastical prerogatives either do not exist or almost entirely disappear. What do those authorities say to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred? Not that there is anything in the religion of the Church of England which requires that she should have a head like the Pope, or that the Queen should be, in a personal sense, the head of the Church. Something of that kind may possibly have been asserted in the days of the tyrant Tudors, but has never been asserted since. The great authorities thus lay down the true doctrine—By the ancient law of this realm, this kingdom of England is an absolute empire and monarchy, consisting of one head, who is the king, and of a body consisting of several members which the law of the land divideth into two parts—the clergy and the laity, both of them next and immediately, under God, subject and bound to the head.That division results from the temporal dignities and privileges with which the ecclesiastical estate has been endowed by the law of the land, and nothing else. 1013 It is not, then, because we are Christians, or because we are Episcopalians that the Crown has those special prerogatives which it possesses in our Church. It is because the law has given to the Church great legal privileges and authority which have been thought to require corresponding legal regulation and control. It has never entered into the head of any of us to entertain the idea that the Queen is less supreme over members of the Roman Catholic persuasion than over any of her other subjects, or that she can by any possibility be made so; and the moaning of the ecclesiastical supremacy is only that the Church of England, being established by law in a certain manner, becomes subject to the common supremacy, according to the manner and form of that legal establishment. It follows, because, by giving a coercive power to the Church tenets, the Ecclesiastical Law is made, as Lord Coke says, the Queen's Ecclesiastical Law—not because that is a special tenet or doctrine of the Church of England, nor because it is necessary that such a state of things should exist, but because the Church is possessed of certain privileges, authority, and property. The Queen will be quite as supreme over all the Bishops of the Disestablished Church, over all its clergy, and over all its laity, as she is now. They could not by possibility deal with a fraction of the property which they will have as a voluntary Church, or interfere with any rights they may have over one another, and which the law can recognize without going into the Queen's courts to assert those rights. Those courts are of course subject to the Queen's jurisdiction, which may ultimately come to be exercised in the House of Lords, as the highest Court of Appeal; and can anybody for one moment suppose that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is, while the House of Lords is not, a religious or ecclesiastical body? The right hon. Gentleman opposite spoke of the personal jurisdiction of the Crown, because, as he said, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council present their Report to Her Majesty in Council, and she approves it. But this is the form followed in all cases, whether they be ecclesiastical or not, and surely the right hon. Gentleman himself would not go so far as to contend for the personal jurisdiction of the Queen in regard 1014 to all the civil affairs of the colonies and other matters which come under the cognizance of the Judicial Committee. In point of fact, it is the law which is supreme. The law will be exercised in a different manner, but it will remain supreme, do what you will. I deprecate as much as the right hon. Gentleman the total disendowment of the Irish Church; but the right hon. Gentleman seems to think it would be a good tiling, in the event of the Church being entirely stripped of its property, that it should remain subject to all its disabilities, and be unable to manage its affairs for itself. Now I think that, if you wish to destroy the Church for all purposes, spiritual as well as temporal, you could not suggest a better scheme than to say it must depend on the Queen and on the legislation of this House—for the Queen can do nothing without the legislation of this House—whether the Church shall adapt its machinery to its altered circumstances or not. With regard to the doctrine, discipline, and general principles of the Church as a spiritual body, I desire as much as the right hon. Gentleman to abide by that doctrine and discipline, and those principles. But if, as I believe, the right hon. Gentleman had good authority for saying that such was the mind and will of the Church in Ireland, as soon as ever this Bill passes the opportunity will be given to the members of that Church, both clergy and laity, to meet together and declare that to be their mind and will. And if they make such a declaration, it will henceforth become the law of the community, and it need not be made alterable, by any future Act, unless it be their will and pleasure that it should be so. But one thing would certainly result from the proposal made on the other side. The Disestablished Church would be unable to get the benefit of the assistance of the laity in its councils, because by the present constitution of the Church the laity cannot be introduced in any shape or way whatever into its councils, and without the alteration of that constitution they could not be introduced. The real truth, it seems to me, is this—We shall in substance, if we pass this Bill, alter the Act of Union. We ought to say so if we do it, and I confess it was the last thing I ever expected to hoar from the opponents of the Bill 1015 that by reserving all the control over the members of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland, while you take away all their political privileges and their property, you will enable yourselves to say—"We still maintain the United Church of England and Ireland intact according to the true intent and meaning of the 5th Article of the Act of Union."
Sir, anything which falls from my learned Friend who has just sat down is deserving of every consideration from both sides of the House, and from the country at large; and if I venture to question some of the opinions he has expressed, it is because I think he has overlooked some of the points which are necessary to be taken into consideration. The clause now under discussion involves two propositions. The first is that the union of the Churches of England and Ireland, created by the Act of Union at the commencement of this century, shall be dissolved. The second is that the Church of Ireland, as part of the United Church so created, shall no longer be established by law. With regard to the first proposition, I will not enter into it at any length, however much I feel tempted to do so, because the present argument does not very much turn upon it. The subject which my hon. and learned Friend opposite (Sir Roundell Palmer) has adverted to is the argument addressed to the Committee by my learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) with reference to the effect which this Bill will have upon that which now exists as a security for the continuance of the powers and duties and obligations now resting upon the United Church in Ireland as well as in England, and so long as they remain under the supremacy of the Crown. The retention of those powers, and the duties and obligations consequent on those powers for the benefit of the laity as well as of the clergy, do not in the least degree apply to any supposed superiority or ascendancy which the Church in Ireland might exercise over other persons in Ireland who were not members of that Church, but they simply and solely endeavour to preserve for the members of the Established Church in Ireland those advantages which are now secured to them, and which ought not to be taken away. 1016 Now, what does my learned Friend opposite (Sir Roundell Palmer) say to this? He says that the supremacy of the Crown is simply and solely the power of the Crown, not only over the members of the Established Church but over everybody in this country, to be exercised in the Crown courts. Well; that is a fact which nobody can deny; but I take leave to say that the supremacy of the Crown is not limited in that respect. If I know anything of the history of this country and of Ireland, the supremacy of the Crown has a double aspect. It is a supremacy against a foreign jurisdiction, but it is also a supremacy exercised in this country from the commencement of our history, in order that no ecclesiastical authority should be exercised over the people of this country with regard to the established religion of this country, excepting that which can be exercised through the authority of the Crown. I see that my learned Friend opposite assents to this proposition, but why did he leave out the second branch of the question? Nobody knows better than he does that the supremacy of the Crown within this country, as distinct from the supremacy of the Crown against a foreign jurisdiction, amounts to this—that without the authority of the Crown no Synod or Council of the Church can meet; that without the authority of the Crown no laws passed by any ecclesiastical authority are binding upon the laity; and that without the authority of the Crown no sees can be created and no Bishops appointed. All these matters are involved in the question of the supremacy of the Crown, so far as it affects the religion of the country within the country, but they are distinct from the supremacy of the Crown against any, foreign jurisdiction which may be attempted to be brought within this land. Then my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer) replying to the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin said that, without repealing the Act of Union, we could give no security to the laity that they would have a voice concurrently with the ecclesiastical authorities with reference to their own religion. But, I ask, why are you going to take away from the laity the security they possess at present? They possess a security which you cannot deprive them of so long as 1017 you preserve the laws of this country relative to the understood supremacy of the Crown in matters of religion. If you rely entirely on some new Church Body, the present security of the laity is or may be entirely taken away from them with regard to the discipline, doctrine, and worship of their Church, and that too without their consent. No doubt it is apprehended that the omission of this clause would interfere with what the Government are so anxious to effect by this Bill, that is to say to remove what they call superiority and ascendancy in that part of the United Church which now exists in Ireland; and supposing they were right in that apprehension, there would be strong reason for retaining the clause. But, in point of fact, the omission of the clause will not affect, in the least degree, the question of superiority and ascendancy as regards the residents in the sister country who are not members of the Church; it will only affect those who are. Why, then, should we take away from the members of the Church in Ireland the advantage they now enjoy, and deprive them of their present security for the continued observance of the form of worship now prescribed for them, and the Articles of Faith which they desire to have continued?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, he should not touch upon the question of the Royal supremacy, because the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had already disposed of it. [Laughter.] At all events, no answer had been given to the hon. Member's lucid exposition of the subject. The right hon. Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) said the rejection of Clause 2 would be a very small matter, but in reality that clause was the vital portion of the Bill. If that clause were rejected, the Protestant Church would continue to be established by law in Ireland. Did he forget that every Protestant rector in Ireland was a corporation sole, and the only rector of the parish; and did he forget that by the law, as now administered in Ireland under that Church as established by law, a conveyance to the parish priest of a particular parish and his successors would be void in law so far as his successors were concerned. Those were evils brought about by Establishment in that country, and those evils that Bill 1018 attempted to grapple with and remove, and to substitute for the Establishment a free and voluntary Church, which could adopt the Thirty-nine Articles and the whole doctrine and ritual of the Church of England if it liked, or modify them if it preferred that course. His right hon. and learned Friend (Dr. Ball) had mistaken the entire scope of that measure. He asked his learned Friend for whom had he spoken that night? Did he speak for the Irish Church? He had misgivings as to his speaking for anybody after what they had heard. His right hon. and learned Friend, on a former occasion, spoke as the representative of a Constituency closely connected with the Irish Church, but his doctrine had been repudiated by his Colleague (Mr. Lefroy); and it would not be surprising if, in the course of that night, some devoted Member of the Irish Church got up and pronounced the opinions of the learned Member for Dublin University not to be those of that Church, and declared that after its destruction as an Establishment it would not submit to the iron tyranny of the Thirty-nine Articles and a connection with the State. ["Oh!"] He believed, from what he had read of the proceedings at the Church Conference, that they would repudiate that control; and while they condemned that Bill as a measure of justice, they would desire, above everything, if it passed, to reserve to themselves freedom of action. But his learned Friend said the Bill would destroy the supremacy of the Crown. Was he not aware that it was the distinct opinion of the great lawyers that the Act, 28 Henry VIII., c. 5, which made the King supreme head of the Church, was but a declaratory Act? And would the repeal of the 5th Article of the Act of Union leave the declaratory law of the country less declaratory? That was what the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) pointed out so forcibly, and to which no answer could be given—that that Act, making the King head of the Church, being declaratory, that declaratory law, resting on the Common Law of the country, remained, and the Queen remained supreme head of the Church, do what they would by that Bill. When the case of the Bishop of Natal came before the Privy Council it was then laid down that the Establishment of the United Church of England and Ireland 1019 was no part of the Constitution of the colony, nor could that Church claim to be recognized by the law of the colony otherwise than as a mere voluntary association. What would follow from that, according to his learned Friend's argument, but that there was no Royal supremacy in the colonies; that, as the Queen was the supreme head of the Established Church, and as there was no Established Church in the colonies, her supremacy was gone? He left his learned Friend to answer that if he could. Then, his learned Friend said that by Clause 10 they would prevent anybody from appointing a Bishop of the Irish Church in future, but that was not the true construction of the clause. If it were, his right hon. and learned Friend had abandoned his duty to the Church in not putting an Amendment on the Paper to Clause 10? [Dr. BALL was understood to say that he had done so.] He challenged him on that very point, and let him answer him if he could. His learned Friend was too good a lawyer not to know that Clause 10 simply referred to appointments to archbishoprics, bishoprics, or Cathedral preferments and benefices—all words which would never have existed but for an Establishment. The Bill merely left the Church to agree to a form of constitution for itself, and it took away disabilities imposed by the statute law in Ireland. By a peculiar law of old standing in that country, and framed for a particular purpose, no person or body could meet by delegation, and that prohibition would extend to the meeting of the Church in Convocation. It was therefore necessary to wipe that Act from the statute book, in order to enable the Church to meet in synod; and so it could by the Common Law. When the Church became a free and voluntary body, it would have a right to meet and frame its own ordinances, doctrines, and worship. In conclusion, he believed that his learned Friend had not spoken for the Church, and that his criticisms had been answered and would not be repeated.
§ DR. BALL
said, he hoped the Committee would not think he intruded upon it if he rose again to offer a few remarks. There was no one whose authority would weigh with him more than that of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer); and were he not fortified by authority he would not 1020 venture to place his own opinion in competition with his. But as that hon. and learned Gentleman had so very positively asserted that what was termed the Royal supremacy was satisfied by authority and jurisdiction incidentally in the civil courts, he had sent for Blackstone, with whom he was content to err, on whose authority he founded himself, and of whose school on that subject, as on other ecclesiastical questions, he professed himself a disciple. He was aware there were persons in the Church of England who asserted that Blackstone had not correct views of Ecclesiastical Law. Now it was his opinion that Blackstone had; and Black-stone was entirely fortified by Lord Coke. But those lawyers who had founded themselves on the canonists and on writers of that character had always impugned the authority of Blackstone in respect to ecclesiastical questions. He held that Blackstone was the very highest constitutional authority; and what, then, did he say, dealing with that question—The King is, lastly, considered by the laws of England as the head and supreme governor of the national Church. To enter into the reasons upon which this Prerogative is founded is matter rather of divinity than of law.If this Prerogative, as the hon. and learned Member for Richmond had described it, was satisfied by jurisdiction in the civil courts, how was it "matter of divinity." But Blackstone went on to say—I shall, therefore, only observe that by statute 26 Henry VIII. c. 1 (reciting that the King's Majesty justfully and rightfully is, and ought to be, the supreme head of the Church of England; and so had been recognized by the clergy of this kingdom in their Convocation) it is enacted, that the King shall be reputed the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England, and shall have, annexed to the Imperial Crown of this realm, as well the title and style thereof, as all jurisdictions, authorities, and commodities, to the said dignity of supreme head of the Church appertaining.Blackstone next proceeded to tell what was the effect of that common law and statute law prerogative. First he said—In virtue of this authority, the King convenes, prorogues, restrains, regulates, and dissolves all ecclesiastical synods or convocations. This was an inherent Prerogative of the Crown, long before the time of Henry VIII., as appears by the statute 8 Henry VI., c. 1.Then, in the next place, he said—From this prerogative also, of being the head of the Church, arises the King's right of nomina- 1021 tion to vacant bishoprics, and certain other ecclesiastical preferments; which will more properly be considered when we come to treat of the clergy. I shall only hero observe that this is now done in consequence of the statute 25 Henry VIII., c. 20. As head of the Church, the King is likewise the dernier ressort in all ecclesiastical causes; an appeal lying ultimately to him in Chancery from the sentence of every ecclesiastical Judge.There was no other explanation of the consequences of the Sovereign's headship of the Church but the three given in Blackstone. By the supremacy of the Crown he (Dr. Ball) apprehended was meant headship or governorship, because the word supremacy was an expression taken out of the words "supreme head" in the Act of Henry VIII., and Black-stone said that supremacy gave three things—jurisdiction over Convocation, the nomination to vacant bishoprics, and the last resort in ecclesiastical causes. He knew not from what book the hon. and learned Member for Richmond quoted, but he imagined that it was Hooker. [Sir ROUNDELL PALMER was understood to say from Burn's Ecclesiastical Law.] Now, he denied that the Queen was supreme over the Presbyterians. ["Oh!"] He used the term "supreme" in the sense of headship, and he said the Queen was not the head either of the Roman Catholic or the Presbyterian Churches; and when the hon. and learned Member opposite said she was supreme in Scotland he forgot that William III. himself passed an Act of Parliament declaring that that supremacy was at an end in Scotland, and it was in that Act declared that the supremacy of the Crown was inconsistent with the rights of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. That was the first Act of William and Mary. The position of the Roman Catholic Church would illustrate what he meant. The Queen could not dictate to a Roman Catholic Bishop or interfere with him in the management of his Church. If a difference occurred between a Roman Catholic priest and his Bishop, the matter must come before the Queen's courts as connected with property, not as connected with doctrine. If a Roman Catholic priest was condemned for preaching heretical doctrine, could he appeal from his Bishop to the Queen's courts? Not at all. But if it happened that property was involved, then the Court tried as an incidental circumstance whether he had conformed or not to the rules of the Church of which he was a member. 1022 But with regard to the Church of England, the Queen was the supreme head of the Church, and was declared by the 26 Henry VIII. to have annexed to the Imperial Crown "all jurisdictions, authorities, and commodities" to the said dignity appertaining. A question between a Bishop and a clergyman of the Church of England must be decided by the Sovereign as the last and ultimate tribunal. Now he came to another challenge, which had been given him by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Sullivan), in regard to the 10th clause. Now, he had before said to his right hon. Friend that probably his meaning was as he stated, but he (Dr. Ball) thought the word "bishopric" was wide enough to prevent the nomination of any person as Bishop.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, the right hon. Gentleman had no Amendment on the Paper to the clause on the point raised.
§ DR. BALL
said, he had an Amendment, not in his own name, but in that of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. By their Amendments, they put off the prohibition until January, 1872. It was necessary to provide for the intermediate period. There was one clause proposed for that purpose, enabling Her Majesty to appoint Bishops, and another Amendment would authorize the constitution of an Episcopate in synod after the intermediate period had expired. His right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had given notice of an Amendment to substitute 1872 for 1871. The effect of that Amendment would be that till the 1st of January, 1872, the Bishops in Ireland might recommend to Her Majesty a person for appointment as Bishop. In that way the date of the Bill's coming into operation would be put back, and they proposed to add a subsequent clause, enabling the Church to meet in synod and pass resolutions for its government. Therefore, they first took away objection by confining the clause to a limited period, and then they would establish a power to constitute an Episcopate.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he thought the principle involved in this discussion one of such extreme importance that they were justified in availing themselves of the privilege they pos- 1023 sessed in Committee of speaking more than once. He had no quarrel with the passages from Blackstone quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, and had nothing to say to them, excepting this—that Blackstone said this supremacy was a matter that depended upon divinity rather than on law, and he (Sir Roundell Palmer) thought Blackstone a greater authority on law than, on divinity. If they wanted to see how the matter was regarded in divinity, they could not do better than look to one of the Thirty-nine Articles—namely, the thirty-seventh—that Article said—The Queen's Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England and other her Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction.Where we attribute to the Queen's Majesty the chief Government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended, we give not to our Princes the ministering either of God's Word, or of the Sacraments, but that only prerogative which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself—that is, that they should rule all states and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.There was no mysticism, no transcendentalism in that. There was no idea of a proper spiritual as distinguished from a proper temporal jurisdiction. It was an undivided temporal supremacy over all estates and degrees of men in the realm. And then with regard to the title of supreme head, they did not stand on titles; but, if he did not greatly mistake, the particular part of the Henry VIII. legislation, as to that title, was not re-enacted under Elizabeth, in order to avoid that very confusion of ideas which the Article he had quoted was intended to exclude. And with great deference to his right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Walpole) he (Sir Roundell Palmer) had dealt with both the affirmative and the negative supremacy. The negative related to the jurisdiction of foreign princes; the affirmative asserted the home jurisdiction over all estates of men in the civil courts and in the ecclesiastical courts. When you had an Established Church it did not necessarily, but it did naturally follow that the Queen should have a special prerogative with reference to that Church, and then it was called by the name of the 1024 Queen's ecclesiastical supremacy. But when the Church was disestablished, they got rid of those things out of which this special supremacy arose; and to maintain the name after they had got rid of the thing could answer no useful purpose, religious or temporal. The supremacy of the Crown would apply to the members of a disestablished Church as well as to the members of an established Church, only that in the one case it would not be exercised in the same manner with regard to Synods, Bishops, and the like, with which it was not expedient that the Queen should interfere unless the Church had a legal establishment.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, he wished to recall the House from the legal and technical argument into which they had wandered to the common-sense issue involved in the clause. As he understood it, the question was whether an integral portion of this kingdom was for the future to be without an established religion. He was not surprised that there should have been some confusion about this question, considering that it was only within the last year that the idea of disestablishment had been originated in that House. Nay, more, he would say that though the Irish Church question had been before the country for years, no statesman had ever ventured to breath the word "disestablishment" in connection with it until the right hon. Gentleman last year proposed to disestablish and disendow. He (Mr. Graves) had not been long in that House, but he remembered well when this subject was first brought under the consideration of the House by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), and the tones of moderation in which that hon. Gentleman asked for inquiry; but he never used the word "disestablishment," nor in the debate that followed was the word to be found. He believed he was correct in stating that the hon. Gentleman was acting as the organ of an association formed within a very few years for the redress of Irish wrongs. He held in his hands the rules of the National Association of Ireland, and the first rule set forth the principles upon which the association was founded. The objects were, first, to secure by law to occupiers of land in Ireland compensation for all valuable improvements; secondly, the disendowment of the Irish Protestant Church—the House would mark there was no 1025 mention there of disestablishment—and the application of its revenues to purposes of national utility, saving all vested rights. The third object was freedom of education, for the several denominations and classes in Ireland. With regard to the question of supremacy, he was inclined to agree with the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) that, looking to the interest of the Church, if they suffered it to be disestablished they should not desire to obliterate this clause; but, at present, they were not prepared to admit that, looking to the interest of the State, the Church should be disestablished. When the Church, within the last month or two, asked permission to defend itself in Convocation what answer did it receive; Such an answer as would not be given to a criminal placed on his trial. Its voice was absolutely stifled by refusing to it the power of meeting. That incident was a strong illustration of supremacy. No doubt State reasons dictated the course that was pursued, but it showed that supremacy was now practically exercised; and might not State reasons of equal weight again require an exercise of such authority? The constituency he represented—perhaps the largest in the country (Liverpool)—had considered the question, and declared that disendowment, a mere matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, was only an interference with the rights of property, but that on no consideration should the Church be severed from the State in any portion of the United Kingdom. In no class had he found this opinion so strongly held as among the working class. The question of endowment was a matter of conscience, historical as well as individual conscience, affecting only material rights and obligations, and he would make the best fight he could for it; but for the maintenance of the connection between the Church and the State he would stand firm in the name of those hundreds and thousands who had sent him as their representative to this House. Having some little knowledge of Ireland, he would remark that there, as here, society had no higher bonds than religion, and that the Establishment in that country, as in this, was but the outward recognition of the belief that there are blessings and advantages consequent on the connection of the Church with the State. The Irish were charac- 1026 terized in an especial manner by natural piety, yet theirs was the country which had been chosen to make the experiment of a State without a religion. He firmly believed that when the heat of this struggle had passed away, Ireland, smarting under the charge that she alone was godless, and finding that she alone was without that which gave weight and dignity to a nation, would demand national religious equality in the shape of the disestablishment of the Churches in England and Scotland, or that the religion of the majority should be made the religion of the State in Ireland. He did not envy the statesman who would have to meet that demand, after the arguments which, night after night, have been used for the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland; nor did he envy the present Prime Minister the bitter reproaches that would be cast upon him through the length and breadth of the land when it would clearly be seen that he had been the means of doing away with what he (Mr. Graves) looked upon as one of the most glorious—if not the most glorious—parts of the Constitution of this country. ["Oh, oh!"] He was brought up to believe it so; and until last year no person in that House doubted it. He, however, trusted that such a violation of one of our most cherished institutions might, at least, not be productive of the evil consequences that he feared would result if the clause of the Bill before the Committee were permitted to pass.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, he should have inferred from the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down, but for his declaration to the contrary, that he was about to support the Government, because in the early part of his speech he declared that as the law stood the Convocation of the Church of Ireland—the élite of the Church—had not the privilege enjoyed by criminals in our courts. But, from a later remark, it appeared the hon. Member would continue to deprive the dignitaries of the Church of Ireland of the privilege conceded to our criminals, and he (Mr. Candlish) discovered the reason in the opinion the hon. Member expressed that there was no godliness outside the Established Church. ["No, no!"] Yes, yes! The hon. Member would preserve the Church Establishment in Ireland in order that he might maintain the godly character 1027 of the country! and so the hon. Member was shut up in this dilemma—he must inflict hardship upon the dignitaries of the Church in Ireland in order to maintain the godliness he desiderated, or he must sacrifice the godliness in order to get rid of the bondage he detested. But in reality there was no such necessity and no such dilemma, for the Noncon-forming bodies of that country were not devoid of the godliness the hon. Member so much desired. It would have been well if those who argued against this clause, on the ground of its being needful to maintain the supremacy of the Queen, had shown how that supremacy arose and why it should be continued—if they had shown that in the origin, constitution of, or necessity for a Church there was any idea whatever of the supremacy of the civil governor. According to his idea of the Church of Christ, its origin was heavenly and divine, and there was nothing which rendered it necessary that the Head of that Church should be represented by the civil governor. And if there was nothing in the nature and constitution of the Church that required the civil governor to control her, neither was there anything in the objects and necessities of civil government that required the ruler to preside in the Church. But then the Royal supremacy was defended on another ground—that it secured identity of doctrine, worship, discipline, and government. He contended that it did not secure identity of doctrine; for it was notorious that the utmost diversity of doctrine prevailed in the Church of England notwithstanding the supremacy of the Queen. He concurred with the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) that it was an exceedingly difficult thing to determine points of doctrine; and that was a strong argument for that House having nothing to do in determining what doctrines should prevail in the free Church of Ireland. He thought that in this measure they were conferring a privilege upon the Church in Ireland, by giving her members freedom of worship—a freedom which he claimed for himself, and which was the birthright of every freeman—together with the opportunity of determining her own doctrine and discipline. As to upholding the Established Church for the sake of preserving the connection between the civil power 1028 and religion, that connection would exist just in proportion to the personal religion of the members of the civil community. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) told them that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was in effect an established Church. Prom the right hon. Gentleman's point of view he (Mr. Candlish) should have considered that to be an argument in favour of severing the connection between the Church and the State in Ireland; because, if the Roman Catholic Church, being wholly unconnected with the State, was an established Church, the Protestant Church would still be an established Church, even though it were severed from the State—unless, indeed, it were contended that it was necessary to have a civil governor as the supreme head [of an established Church. But, if the Pope ceased to be a civil governor, he would still be the head of the Roman Catholic Church. If the Church were divine in its origin, it was not dependent on legislation, and would exist in spite of it; and, he believed, that the Irish Church, if left to the free operation of the great and mighty principles on which it was founded, and the truths which it taught, its power to move and control the heart of man would be vastly augmented, and the Church itself would be greatly blessed by the measure which the Government had submitted to the House.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, it appeared to him that the arguments which they had heard from the Ministerial side of the House that night applied as much to the Church of England as to that of Ireland. He agreed with the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) that they were not there to discuss nice legal questions, but a great practical question; and he must say he believed that this was the clause of the Bill which the people of this country—he could certainly say the people of Lancashire—thought more about than any other in the whole Bill, because it was felt that though it would be unjust, unwise, and impolitic to take away property which the Church had enjoyed so long, yet it was merely a matter of money, and the zeal and generosity of the members of the Church might, in a generation or two, make up what was lost; but by disestablishment they took away the very birthright of the Church, and deprived her of what it 1029 was out of her power to replace. This clause was therefore a matter of principle. He ventured to say that their Roman Catholic brethren had shown them an example which they would do well to imitate. The Roman Catholic body had worked long, patiently, and boldly to defend their rights and get a footing in this country. They had laboured for what they believed to be the truth, and they were now accomplishing the first object; and they would never rest until they had secured for their religion that position of supremacy in the State which it had formerly held in this kingdom. He did not blame them for that, but he wanted the people who belonged to the Church of England to stand up in the same way for their religion. He believed that the Church of England came nearer to Apostolic and Gospel truth than any Church in the world, and he therefore wished to uphold that Church, not only in England but in Ireland. His authority was the book written some years ago by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. Nothing would induce him to cast aspersions upon the right hon. Gentleman because he had changed his mind. He (Mr. Cross) had read that book long ago, and was then firmly convinced of the truth of the arguments it contained; and he (Mr. Cross) must say that nothing he had since heard or seen could convince him that his arguments were wrong. He should therefore stand by the book the right hon. Gentleman had written, and the arguments he had then used. Admitting that there was a State necessity for making some alterations in the condition of the Church of Ireland, he believed that those alterations could be made without interfering with what the Protestant Episcopalians of Ireland believed to be the rights of their Church. They were entitled to demand, not as a favour but as a right, that they should be allowed to continue what they believed to be essential and proper for the exercise of their religion—its connection with the State by means of the supremacy of the Crown. By passing this clause the Committee would in effect be trampling upon their rights—insulting and injuring them most seriously. He believed in his heart that there had been, even since the recent election, a very great change on the subject in the 1030 public mind. He knew it personally as regarded one part of the country at all events. He heartily wished that through some chance or another there might be another General Election, because he was quite sure, that the longer this matter was debated and kept before the country, the stronger would become the feeling of the public against the measure. He ventured to say that a question of this enormous magnitude could not be settled in an hour, nor even a month. Even if this Bill were passed it could not be a final measure, because it would be felt as a grievous wrong by Protestants, and they, like the Roman Catholics, could fight long for what they believed to be their liberties. A good deal had been said about the supremacy of the Crown, or, in other words, the connection between the Crown and the Church in Ireland, he would simply remind them that from the year 1845 to 1865, only four Petitions had been presented on the subject of the Irish Church. Therefore it might with truth be said that the supremacy of the Crown had not then been felt in Ireland as a grievance. They might succeed in disestablishing the Irish Church, but they could not destroy it. They would, however, create this state of things. They would have the Church still in close connection with the State in this country, and with the free Church in Ireland. What would be the consequences? They knew that they had no moral right to alter the constitution and laws of the Church without consulting Convocation. By its ancient constitution the Church had a right to be heard in Convocation. Convocation in this country might say they would act with the Church in Ireland, which was one with them, and might refuse to assent to any alterations proposed, and such a state of things might produce a collision between the Church and the State, the consequences of which might be far more serious than they anticipated. He contended that it was not necessary to carry this clause in order to effect the objects of the promoters of the Bill, and his side of the House had therefore a right to warn them against going any further with this clause, the adoption of which would deprive the Protestant Episcopalians in Ireland of what they believed to be essential to the proper exercise of their religion, which they wished to preserve without interfering 1031 in the least with the religious freedom of other people.
§ MR. PIM
said, that one of the arguments urged against disestablishment was, that though connection with the State might not be good for the Church, it was certainly good for the State, and therefore that it ought to be maintained. Now, that was an argument which, above all others, it was dangerous to introduce. He believed that nothing had, during the last 200 years, caused so much injury to the Church of Ireland as her employment as a State engine. The right hon. Gentleman (Dr. Ball) said that the members of the Irish Church were in favour of the connection with the State. Now, he was not a Member of the Irish Church; but, in conversing with some of those who belonged to it, he found they said—"Well, if we are disestablished and disendowed, we shall, at all events, have freedom and independence, with the management of our own affairs." It would, indeed, be a serious blow to the Church if you take from her the endowments and deprived her of the dignity of an Establishment, and still leave her under the control and authority of the Crown—that is to say, of the Minister of the day. Such a quasi Establishment, without freedom, without the power of managing her own affairs, would be the most fatal thing that the House could do in respect to the Church. When the Church was disendowed, the laity must be admitted to a large share in its management; for the necessary funds could not be raised under the voluntary system, if the present constitution of the Church were maintained, and everything was in the hands of the clergy.
said, he thought that one point had escaped the observation of the hon. and learned Members who had spoken earlier in the evening. The 22nd clause of the Bill constituted the new representative body of the Church; but if Clause 2 were maintained, how could you be certain that this Church Body would be able to re- organize itself? They had lately seen what had happened in a Church conference held in Dublin. Suppose the heads of the Church declined to form the' organization contemplated by the Bill, what was to become of the poor members of Church congregations? Unless there was a legislative enactment which put 1032 the Church of Ireland in communion with that of England, and under the same authority, the heads of the Church might refuse all endowments, and thus the rights of all who were not represented in such an assembly would be totally sacrificed. He had always held that a Church Establishment was the true security for religious liberty. In Wales, for instance, Dissenters were predominant. They were split up into a number of congregations; no man could be a member unless he paid money; and at any time a member might be turned into the street—a power which he believed had been exercised to a great extent during the recent elections; because, though they professed Liberal sentiments, yet when a man was found voting against the majority of the congregation, he was put out of the chapel and sent to Coventry. In fact, quite as great tyranny was exercised among the Dissenters in Wales as was exercised by the chiefs of the Roman Catholic Church. At present, the Dissenter, if expelled from his chapel, had the parish church to go to. That Church was not a proselytizing Church. It was a missionary Church, and would receive anyone. [Laughter.] Therefore, he came back to the principle he started with—a Church Establishment is our best security for religious liberty. He repeated this, notwithstanding the laughter of the hon. Member for Limerick county (Mr. Synan). He had watched the hon. Member last night during the unseemly disturbance which took place on the other side of the House; and he must express his surprise that the right hon. Gentleman who commanded so large a majority in this House was unable to maintain his Followers in better order. It was proposed by the last words of the clause that the Church of Ireland should cease to be established by law. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury in his speeches had made some considerable historical blunders. What were his arguments on historical grounds for the disestablishment of the Church? They were three. First, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that, in 1644, Charles I. professed willingness to accept the status quo at the time when the Roman Catholics were in possession of a large portion of the Church property. The fact was that, in 1641, a serious re- 1033 bellion broke out, which commenced with the massacre of every Protestant the Roman Catholics could lay their hands on, and the result was the rebel Celts became possessed of property, whether belonging to the Church or private individuals he had no means of ascertaining. In 1644, the King's affairs fell into a desperate condition, and he submitted to a suspension of arms with the Irish rebels for a year. The exact terms of that suspension, so far as he could ascertain, after consulting every authority, were not known, but so it was that the King came to an agreement with the Roman Catholics, and he was violently attacked in the House of Lords and Commons in this country for that proceeding. The King was consequently obliged to repudiate the arrangement. In 1645, the Irish leaders broke all their engagements with the Royal Commissioners, forbade payment of taxes, and gave absolute powers of government, both in secular and ecclesiastical affairs, to the Papal Nuncio, who immediately excommunicated, not only his opponents, but even his own partizans if they opposed him. In his next statement the right hon. Gentleman came down to the time of William III., and declared that Sir Charles Wogan, described by him as a person intimately connected with those who gave direct evidence in the case, said, in writing to Dean Swift, that, before the battle of Aughrim (1691), King William had offered Tyrconnel that the Roman Catholics should enjoy the free exercise of their religion, half the churches, half the employments, civil and military, and even a moiety of their ancient property. What were the facts? Sir Charles Wogan was a Roman Catholic Jacobite, and was, besides, a very flighty and crackbrained sort of gentleman, but what was more important was that this letter to Dean Swift was not written till forty years after the alleged events; further, the writer said that he regretted the Royalists in Ireland had not accepted the offers made to Tyrconnel by William III., but he never stated that those proposals were put in a regular form. The fact appeared to be that King William, being apprehensive of the rebellion in Ireland, had engaged Colonel Hamilton to correspond with Tyrconnel, but what offers he made no one knew. What, however, did William III, do himself? At the very time he was 1034 supposed to be so anxious to give the property to the Roman Catholics in Ireland, he was passing an Act for removing Papists and reputed Papists ten miles from London, and on first landing in Ireland, in 1690, he published a declaration threatening condign punishment to all the desperate leaders of the rebellion, who had violated those laws by which the kingdom of Ireland was united and inseparably annexed to the Imperial Crown of England, and who had called in the French and committed all manner of violence's and depredations against the Protestants of that country. The right hon. Gentleman also said, last night, that it was certain that the power and influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was excessive, beyond what it was in other Roman Catholic countries, and he attributed that circumstance to the policy pursued by this country. The right hon. Gentleman added that that very fact justified the proposed disestablishment. Now, to his mind, the policy pursued by this country appeared to be entirely different from that stated by the right hon. Gentleman, because the policy of the party which the right hon. Gentleman represented now had always been, since the Reform Act of 1832, to sacrifice to the utmost of their power the interests of the Irish Church for political purposes; and, if their efforts had not been checked by the action of the party opposed to them, the Irish Church would have been disestablished and disendowed long ago. Soon after the first Reform Bill, the j Whigs, finding themselves in a difficulty, did what the party opposite did last year—they assailed the Irish Church; but they could do little with it, for agrarian crimes, murders, and all sorts of outrages followed. They made an alliance with the Ultramontane Roman Catholics, with Mr. O'Connell and his tail, and with the Scotch Radicals, in order to raise a party to defeat and humiliate the representatives of England. But that was all of no avail, for after a short period Mr. O'Connell wrote a letter to Lord Duncannon, then Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, of which this was an extract—Never was there a more ungenial or hostile Administration in Ireland than that which has subsisted since Earl Grey first obtained office, and still subsists. I am ready to give a detail of the follies, the faults, and the crimes of the Whigs in Ireland. I will not set down ought in malice, but 1035 will give a full and unexaggerated detail of the principal acts of 'folly, fatuity, and crime committed against the people of Ireland since November, 1830. I write more in sorrow than in anger, more in regret than in hostility. It is true you have bitterly deceived me, bitterly and cruelly deceived Ireland. But we should have known you better. You belong to the Whigs, and, after the most emaciating experience, we ought to have known that Ireland had nothing to expect from the Whigs but insolent contempt and malignant and treacherous hostility.That was precisely the policy of the right hon. Gentleman. He had allowed Fenian meetings to be held without interruption; and, more than that, he had constituted the Chief Secretary for Ireland into a kind of Brummagem Lord Normanby. It would be remembered that that Nobleman let out of prison the worst possible characters, and that was just the policy the present Prime Minister was favouring. He ventured to prophesy that the right hon. Gentleman's so-called Liberal remedies for Ireland would be similar to those described in the letter to Lord Duncannon—Coercion Bills, Arms Bills, and suspensions of the Habeas Corpus. He might disendow and disestablish the Church of Ireland—an institution which no hon. Gentleman on the other side could say had not exercised a beneficial effect in Ireland. But the substitute which would become necessary would be an increased force of soldiers and police.
§ MR. MONK
said, he would not follow the hon. and learned Member for White-haven (Mr. Bentinck) in the hypothetical case which he had put. Sufficient to the day was the evil thereof. When the clause to which he referred came before the Committee he should be ready to consider the effect of it. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said little or nothing about the clause now before the Committee. He (Mr. Monk) agreed with the hon. Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. Cross) that this clause contained the kernel and principle of the whole Bill. If that clause were not carried, the whole Bill would fall to the ground. This was not only a question of principle, but of law, and as such they were now considering it. He would tell the hon. Member for South-west Lancashire that if there was any change of feeling in that county since the election, it was in favour of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman referred to the supremacy of the Crown, but he omitted to state on what rests the Prerogative of 1036 the Crown to nominate to bishoprics and other Church preferment. Did it rest on the Divine right of kings? Certainly not, but on the statute law of this country. It rested on the 25 Henry VIII., c. 20, and it was in the power of Parliament to abrogate that law. Prior to the reign of Henry VIII. the Sovereigns of this country were content to give up the right of appointing Prelates, reserving to themselves the approval of the appointments and receiving homage for the temporalities. This Prerogative being the creation of the statute law, Parliament had power to decide whether the power of appointing Prelates should remain in the Crown. If this clause were rejected there would be an end of the Bill.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown when he stated, on the second reading of the Bill, that if he gave up the 2nd clause he gave up quite half, if not more than half, of the Bill; and it was because he thought the clause so important that he wanted to make one or two remarks upon it. He ventured to tell the right hon. Gentleman, although he had a majority of 118 at his back, the people of England did believe there was something in the union of Church and State, and they would be more sorry to see that union dissolved than the disendowment of the Irish Church. Hon. Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House had been brought up in the conviction that there was something in the union of Church and State, and that belief had always formed part of the creed of the Constitutional party. If the Committee passed this clause and disestablished the Irish Church they would do that which the people of this country would feel as a blow at themselves and at their religion, and the Protestants of Ireland would resent it as one man. The doing away with the unity of Church and State in Ireland, besides being a great and grievous wrong, would place the Disestablished Church in a most unfavourable position. It was all very well to say that the Church in Ireland could be maintained on the voluntary principle, but this was to be a new voluntary principle. The Roman Catholic religion had been established on the voluntary principle for centuries in Ireland; but he would ask whether it was not in fact maintained by the compulsion of those who paid 1037 towards it? He protested most earnestly against disestablishing the Irish Church, and dividing the supremacy of the Crown from it, which would be to strike a blow at the highest interests of this country, from which it would be difficult to recover.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, that, except the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck), no one on the other (the Opposition) side of the House had used a single argument to show that to cancel the 2nd clause would be for the Protestant interest in Ireland. He (Mr. Whalley) rose to point out the reasons which led him to support the clause on purely Protestant grounds. He was a Member of the Church of England and Ireland, and a believer in her creed as far as he understood it; and he, for one, repudiated any assistance, either by endowment or establishment, for maintaining what he believed to be the truth. It had been stated by several speakers that, after all, the question of establishment or disestablishment did not affect the principle of the Bill. He believed the principle of the Bill was equality; and, though the establishment of the Church in Ireland might not materially affect the energy or the efficiency of the organization that would succeed the present arrangements, there was no doubt it afforded a pretext for the Roman Catholic hierarchy to say that the Protestants—those who believed in the Thirty-nine Articles, or as many as might be affected by that organization—had certain advantages which they, the Roman Catholics, did not possess. Now, in the name of common sense, of honesty and justice, and on the principles of free trade fairness, he repudiated any attempt to put a different weight into the scale against the Roman Catholics from that which we were prepared to accept ourselves. We had to deal with the most astute priesthood in the world, which would get ten times the advantage that we should if they could say that what was called establishment was left. The question of establishment had nothing to do with the Constitution. At the time of the Reformation a declaration of that Reformation was passed by Parliament, and it had nothing to do with differences of doctrine—it was simply a Parliamentary declaration of what was, before the Reformation, the Common Law of the country. The Preamble of that Act recited that the Bishop 1038 of Rome—whom some called the Pope—had long darkened God's word that it might serve his pomp, glory, avarice, ambition, and tyranny on the souls and bodies of all God's creatures, to the exclusion of the rule of Christ, and had exacted great sums by dreams, vanities, and other superstitious ways and innovations, which practices should be put down by the law. That was simply a direct protest, from which Protestantism took its name against the Church of Rome, not on a question of doctrine at all, but a protest against the usurpation of power in this country by the Pope, contrary to the Common Law. Protestantism of itself, then, had nothing to do with establishments or endowments; and, in 1405, the Protestantism of the country spoke out, and the Commons passed a remonstrance to the King, declaring that, without burdening the people, he might supply his occasions by seizing on the revenues of the clergy, who possessed one-third of the riches of the realm, without doing service for it, and that, in that way, their excessive income would be of double advantage to Church and State. On those grounds he should support the clause! for disestablishment, believing that it would be of no avail to perpetuate what had been one of the great evils of Ireland, by conferring on the professors or members of a particular creed certain State advantages, which the astute priesthood of Rome had taken advantage of and made the buttress of their whole system.
MR. STAVELEY HILL
said, he would accept what had fallen from the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley); he agreed that they could only deal with these subjects so far as they understood them, and if he (Mr. Hill) and his friends failed a little in the quantity of their understanding he hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would show them some mercy. He confessed he was not surprised when his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck) called attention to the manner in which hon. Gentlemen opposite received the addresses delivered from that side of the House, and took some exception to the continual laughter with which they received everything which came from his side. He was scarcely surprised at the laugh from the hon. Member for Limerick. History repeats itself, and if the day spoken of by the right hon. Gen- 1039 tleman as fraught with the ineluctabile fatum of the Irish Church had arrived, the mind naturally ran on to the end of the passage—Victorque Sinon incendia miscet Insultans.Last March the hon. Gentleman whom he (Mr. Hill) had succeeded in the representation of the city of Coventry addressed the House on this subject, and said that he came fresh from the Hastings to support the First Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, and that that city, through him, accepted the Resolutions then before the House. Certainly, however, when those Resolutions became better known, they were not the better liked, for the hon. Gentleman he referred to (Mr. Carter) had not come back to that House, and Coventry had done him (Mr. Hill) the honour to send him in his place. The interest which he took, and which he believed a great proportion of the people of England took, in this Bill was mainly upon the question raised by this 2nd clause. They held that the endowment of the Irish Church was a matter of comparatively small importance; it had been yesterday, it might fall to-day, and it might arise again to-morrow; but it was of far greater moment that the Establishment should remain, and that the Church of Ireland and England should remain one Church. They held that Ireland was in no fit state at present to bear the jar which this Bill would throw upon the tie of Union, nor were the people of Ireland in such condition that they could bear, without loss and injury, the withdrawal of those exemplary persons who filled the offices of ministers of the Church and the position of resident landlords. It was felt that if the connection of the Church of Ireland with the State were to be severed she might degenerate into scepticism on the one side, or into Ritualism on the other. He was not prepared to say that there might not well have been a reform of the Church of Ireland; an adjustment of her revenues, so that labour and pay might go together, and superfluous bishoprics and other ecclesiastical offices might have been abolished, but what he said was that the right hon. Gentleman had used the axe where he should have used the pruning-knife—when he might have performed the office of surgeon he had 1040 stepped forward in the character of executioner. He did not wish to go into details on this measure, though there were many points on which he should have wished to say something. He would have liked to have shown how this measure might have been rendered more effectual even for the purpose which it pretended to subserve. In doing away with the Establishment they were doing away with that control of the State which he held to be necessary to retain the Church in the position in which it should be kept. Those that approached this question in the spirit in which he did could not approach it as a party question, though, whether brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman as a party question or not, as a party question it had been eminently successful. But, above all, he approached it in a spirit of toleration, for he trusted to have attained that crowning point of toleration at which he was not bigoted even against bigotry, and was tolerant even of intolerance. He was sorry that there should have been introduced into the debate the harrowing details of the laws of olden times, and that such allusions had especially been made by his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, from whom he should have expected other and better arguments. It would be just as reasonable in discussing the Game Laws of the present day, to bring in reminiscences of the cruelties and atrocities perpetrated under the old forest laws of Norman times. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, the other evening, made a reference to King Lear, and recalled how when the old man thought he fell, he fell not. But had he gone a few lines further back he would have found how he, who under the innocent guise of a countryman led the old man to the fancied verge, doubted still in his own mind as to the success of his experiment, and hesitated whether it might not be that—Conceit may robThe treasury of life, when life itselfYields to the theft.Some such fate, he feared, was before the Irish Church. The right hon. Gentleman had not brought forward the measure which he ought to have done, and hence he alienated where he might have conciliated; he had wrought a curse where he might have brought about a blessing.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he could not congratulate the House upon being dragged into the arena of Nisi Prius by the hon. and learned Member for Coventry (Mr. Hill). If the arguments of the hon. and learned Member in that arena were not more pertinent and forcible than what he had just addressed to them, he could not compliment his clients upon their selection. [A laugh] He admitted, however, that he could rise to the humble level of a second-hand classical quotation worthy of a boy of the fourth form. [A laugh.] He desired to explain that he meant no offence by the laughter in which he joined, and which had been complained of earlier in the evening, and thought he would have been above the infirmity of human nature if he had not shared in the laughter of his Friends at the facetious and humorous after-dinner address of the hon. and learned Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck). Last night, also, he had not been guilty of any interruption; he had merely joined with Friends about him in the laughter which the wit and humour and peculiar arguments of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) produced. The real and only question before the Committee was whether the Church of Ireland was to remain an established Church or not. That question, he imagined, had been pretty well decided upon already. Two large divisions had decided the question last year, and two much larger divisions had taken place on the same subject this year. The results of those divisions were of a character that could not be gainsayed. Well, then, what was the meaning of again opening up the whole question? It was, in his opinion, for the sole purpose of causing delay. It was only by severing the connection between the Church and the State that they could secure perfect religious and ecclesiastical equality in Ireland, and it was by the second clause of the Bill that that severance could alone be effected. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) said he did not want the Church to have any power, ecclesiastical or religious, exercised in Courts of an exclusive character, and that all he wanted was to maintain the supremacy of the Crown, but the right hon. Gentleman did not tell them what he meant by supremacy of the Crown. Did he mean spiritual supremacy, and if he did, 1042 then there was no such supremacy at this moment. Did he mean temporal supremacy? then it would exist after this clause just the same as it did now. As to the argument about the repeal of the Articles of Union used by the right hon. Gentleman he answered it himself, for he said he had no objection to the 21 st clause, and that clause was as much a repeal of the Articles of Union as the clause they were discussing.
§ MR. A. EGERTON,
who rose amid loud and continued cries of "Divide!" said, he would remind the Committee that he had never yet troubled the House upon this subject, either during the past or the present year, and therefore he trusted that they would allow him to make a few observations, which he promised should not detain them long. [" Divide!"] He hoped that hon. Members on the other side of the House had not made up their minds to stifle discussion upon a question which the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown had stated to be the most important that had been submitted to that House for the last 300 years. What he was particularly anxious to say was this—An hon. Member opposite (Mr. Monk) had asserted that if the people of Lancashire were to have this question submitted to them again their verdict would be very different from that they had already given upon it. Now, he had come very lately from that county, and he could, vouch that there was a very deep feeling in that part of the country against the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. There were two arguments which weighed strongly with him. The first was that England and Ireland must be regarded as one, and not as two separate countries. Although he was aware that some hon. Members would like to see the Union between the two countries dissolved, he himself hoped that that Union would last for ever, and he objected to this Bill as being the preliminary step to dissolving that Union. ["Divide, divide!"] The conversion of hon. Members on the other side of the House had been effected in a very short time, and he trusted that in an equally short space of time they would change their opinions again upon this subject. He held, that the union between Church and State in this country and in Ireland was absolutely necessary to enable us to hold our present position in the world. 1043 The other argument against the measure upon which he relied was that referred to by the hon. Member for White haven (Mr. Bentinck)—namely, that the Established Church was the only security we had for religious or civil liberty in that country. Once destroy the Protestant Church in Ireland, and the Roman Catholic Church would become the dominant Church in that country.
§ MR. GREENE
said, he had been represented by the right hon. Gentleman opposite as being in favour of the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. He thought he was too well known in that House for such a mistake to have been made. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government had been pleased to allude last night to what he called his "stubborn incredulity," and had stated that he could make no impression upon him. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman. From what he had heard from hon. Members on both sides of the House, he was led to suppose that the motive of the right hon. Gentleman in bringing forward this measure was to gain political capital, and he still remained of the same opinion. ["Oh, oh!"] They might cry "Oh, oh!" as much as they liked, but they would make no impression upon him. He should be very sorry to say a word against the right hon. Gentleman; but, as he held that opinion, he acted more honestly in expressing it openly than those who said things behind the right hon. Gentleman's back which they did not like to say before his face. If the right hon. Gentleman had heard what he (Mr. Greene) had heard said of him by staunch men on the Ministerial side of the House, he would be rather astonished. He objected to the disestablishment of the Irish Church, because he was old-fashioned enough to believe in the truth of the Thirty-nine Articles, and because he believed that a connection with the State was necessary to preserve the purity of the doctrine of the Church. He had a respect for Dissenters and Nonconformists who conscientiously believed that disestablishment would be good both for England and Ireland, but he appealed to them to say whether grave errors were not creeping into their chapels which many of them deeply deplored? If the Crown had no control over the principles of the Established 1044 Church, that Church would be driven before the storm. He hoped the House would pause in its headlong career; but even Gentlemen who approved the principle of the Bill ought to vote for the Amendment.
Sir, the latter part of the discussion has not unnaturally assumed a very general character, and has ranged over the ordinary arguments applicable to the main principle of the Bill; but for several hours after the Amendment was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli), the discussion was pretty strictly confined to the immediate character of the Amendment and to the terms of the clause. I must say that some of the doctrines laid down, and some of the matters of the discussion were of a wholly transcendental character, and in that category I venture to place some of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was great confusion in the House with regard to the nature of religious establishments, and in order to remove this confusion he delivered his opinion that the Roman Catholic Church is an established Church in Ireland. That proposition of itself does not appear to me to go far towards securing to us a clear comprehension of the distinction applicable to this question; nor, I think, did he make much further progress when he said that the reason why the Roman Catholic Church was to be considered as established in Ireland, was because the Pope was the temporal sovereign of Rome. The right hon. Gentleman also said that Archbishop Cullen is not the offspring of the voluntary principle. Well, I do not know whether personally he is the offspring of that principle, but I think, that Cardinal though he is, he requires the means of subsistence like other mortal men; and that the means of subsistence, whereby he is enabled to exercise his ministry in Ireland, are the offspring of the voluntary principle. The question whether a particular religious community acknowledges an authority abroad has no connection whatever with the question of the religion of that community being an established religion; because that acknowledgment itself of the foreign authority is a part of the voluntary profession which it thinks fit to make. Well now, much has been said 1045 by great authorities upon the subject of the Royal supremacy; and it is hardly for me to enter into discussions so legal and recondite as those which, for a considerable time this evening, were carried on with reference to that subject. But yet it is my duty to say something upon the subject, because I cannot withdraw from the statement which I made on behalf of this Bill—that the supremacy of the Crown is not destroyed by any of its enactments, but will continue to exist as truly after the Bill has passed as it exists at the present moment—["No, no!"]—not, undoubtedly, in the same precise form, because I subscribe entirely to the doctrine of my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), who admits that, in connection with the peculiar conditions of religious establishments, the supremacy of the Crown receives peculiar developments and applications. But I ventured upon a former occasion—and I believe I have been contradicted to-night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball)—to point to Scotland and to observe that in Scotland there was no appellate jurisdiction exercised by the Crown, and. that there was no Crown authority acknowledged in the ecclesiastical tribunals; but that the supremacy of the Crown existed there as truly as in England. I am contradicted to-night, and told that the supremacy of the Crown was abolished by the first Act of the first Parliament of William and Mary. I take leave to re-assert what I presumed to state to the House. I hold in my hand the first Act of the first Parliament of William and Mary, and that which is repealed by that Act is not the supremacy of the Crown, but a particular Act of Parliament in which that supremacy was asserted in a special and unheard of form. Let there be no mistake about it. The words are few, and I will read them—The first Act of the second Parliament of King Charles II., intituled an Act asserting his Majesty's supremacy over all persons and in all causes ecclesiastical, is inconsistent with the establishment and the Church Government, now required, and ought to be abrogated, and is abrogated accordingly.Now, what was the character of that Act? because I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman adverted to it? Was that Act merely an acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Crown? 1046 It was an Act totally different in its character from any which had been passed upon the subject in this country. The Acts which were passed in England invariably went upon this basis, that they alleged—there may be those who say that they did not allege truly; that is another question—but they alleged that they were declaratory of the ancient law of the land. This Act of the Parliament of Scotland, which was repealed by the Act of William and Mary, was no revival, and did not purport to be a revival or a declaration, of the ancient law of the land, relating to the ecclesiastical supremacy; but was the establishment in a form wholly, without precedent or example, as happily without any imitation in any subsequent period, of an absolute, unqualified, ecclesiastical despotism residing in the Crown. Now, to make good what I have said, I will read part of the description of the ecclesiastical power of the Crown as it was declared by this Act, repealed by the Act of William and Mary. It begins, it is true, by asserting the supreme authority of the Crown over all persons, and in all causes ecclesiastical; and so far it agrees with the general doctrine. But it goes on to recite and enact—And that his Majesty and his successors may settle, enact, and emit such constitutions, acts, and orders concerning the administration of the external government of the Church, and of persons employed in the same, and concerning all ecclesiastical meetings and matters to be proposed and determined therein as they in their Royal wisdom shall think fit, which acts, orders, and constitutions being recorded in the books of the Council, and duly published, shall be observed and obeyed by all his Majesty's subjects, any law, Act, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.Now, that was the Act of Supremacy passed in the reign of Charles II., and most properly repealed by the Act of William and Mary. But it is totally different from the doctrine of supremacy which had ever theretofore found a place in the law of England; and further, I will supply a proof of what I have stated by referring to another Act of Charles II., which may not have met the eye of the right hon. Gentleman apposite—first Session of the first Parliament, chapter 11. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman refers to that Act he will find it set out there the Oath of Allegiance to be taken by persons appointed to offices of trust. In that Oath, first the person is required to— 1047Affirm, testify, and declare that I acknowledge my Lord Sovereign, only supreme Governor of this kingdom, over all persons and in all causes; and that no foreign Power, Prince, State, or Potentate, civil or ecclesiastical, hath any jurisdiction, power or authority within this realm.—coinciding with the declaration of the doctrine of the supremacy as it is contained in the thirty-seventh Article of the Church of England, and as it was contained in the Oath of Supremacy in this country. That Act of Parliament, so far as I am aware—until the right hon. and learned Gentleman instructs me to the contrary—was not repealed, and certainly is not repealed by the Act quoted of William and Mary. With respect to this question of supremacy, this, at least, is evident, that there has not been one fixed and continuing state of the Royal supremacy in ecclesiastical matters from the time of the Reformation onward. At the time of the Reformation, and for some generations afterwards the Crown exercised, not indeed an unlimited, but an important original jurisdiction, and the ecclesiastical courts of the country performed all their acts in the name of the Sovereign. In the reign of Charles I. the ecclesiastical courts of this country ceased to perform all their legal acts in the name of the Sovereign, but proceeded in the name and under the seal of the respective Bishops: and the entire original jurisdiction of the Crown in matters ecclesiastical passed away when the Court of High Commission and the Star Chamber were abolished, and when the constitution of those courts, or of any resembling them was declared to be illegal and contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. But the right hon. Gentleman laid down the doctrine that the supremacy of the Crown was never applicable, except to the Established Church. Did he ever, let me ask him, read the opinion which was delivered by no less a person than Lord Hardwicke as given in Chalmers' Cases? In Massachusetts or one of the New England States, when the Duke of Newcastle was Secretary of State, though I cannot say whether it was in the time of George I. or II., the Presbyterian clergy of the State in question desired to meet in synod, and the Governor of that State wrote home to know if he could permit it. The Duke of Newcastle consulted the Law Officers of the Crown—Lord Hardwicke being Attorney General 1048 —to ascertain whether these religious bodies, who had been established, could meet without the license of the Crown; and the opinion given and which was acted upon by the Government was, that without the license of the Crown they could not meet in synod, so that the supremacy of the Crown controlled an drestrained their action according to the doctrine which was then held. As to the state of things in Scotland, it does not, I maintain, in the slightest degree, bear out the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman, and I must ask him to show me in what sense the ancient law of the supremacy of the Crown has been destroyed in that country? I shall show him that the statement that it was destroyed by a particular Statute is totally inaccurate, because what was destroyed was an unheard-of assertion of that supremacy, an assertion so extravagant, so severe, that even the Episcopal Church, although reproached by the Presbyterians for their subserviency, was so opposed to it that several Bishops were deprived, because they declined to admit the doctrine of supremacy as contained in the statute to which I have referred. But making that protest, and leaving the right hon. Gentleman to be responsible for the statement that there can be no supremacy of the Crown in Ireland when this Bill passes, I come to the Motion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire has made—or rather announced it to be his intention to make. That Motion has been defended on two grounds. I should say that the Motion for the omission of the clause, strictly speaking, does not extend beyond saying "No"—when we propose the clause. Now that intended Motion of the right hon. Gentleman is supported on two grounds which are totally and diametrically opposed to each other. The one—and this is the doctrine of the Mover—that the rejection of the clause is compatible with the attainment of the main objects of the Bill—namely, the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. But the great bulk of his supporters, those who last addressed us as well as those who addressed us throughout the evening, have avowed an opposite principle—namely, that in this clause is involved by far the greatest part of the vitality of the Bill, and they have exhorted those who sympathize with 1049 them to oppose this clause in order to defeat the Bill on its main objects. It appears to me that that is the more consistent and the more rational view of the case. I will not presume to say whether the Bill would not be sufficient for its purpose without this clause, provided all the other clauses were allowed to stand. But, before agreeing to part with this clause, I should wish to have an engagement from those who wish to dispense with it that none of the other clauses would be objected to. I am afraid there would be some difficulty in getting that engagement. There is no doubt that the purpose of the Bill requires a modification of the Act of Union in as far as its substance is concerned. We might, by using words of sufficient strength, have secured that modification without strict and literal reference in the body of the Bill to the Act of Union. But, considering that that was a great and important and historical constitutional statute, I think that the most candid, as well as the most secure and satisfactory, mode of proceeding was at once and directly in the head and front of the Bill to refer to the Act of Union, and to remove from the statute book that portion of the Act, the whole purpose and design of which we meant to put an end to. Now, with respect to the substance of this Motion, what does it come to? There is not much difference of opinion as regards the statement. It is said by the advocates of the Motion—I mean those who defend it on the narrower ground—that the Members of the Irish Church have a right to the benefits of the Royal supremacy, and to the benefits of a doctrine, discipline, worship, and government uniform with the Church of England. My answer is a very plain one; and it is this—They may have a right to that benefit, but they have no right to have it secured to them in the form of law. The distinctions of an established from a non-established Church are many. Several of them have been referred to to-night; but the most profound and the most comprehensive of them all is this—that the Church is an established Church, has laws which are the laws of the land; and the demand made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and the modest form of language in which he has clothed his Motion, amounts to this, that the laws of the land shall continue 1050 to be the laws of the Church of Ireland. Well, Sir, that means that the Established Church, of which we are about to put an end to the establishment, although we are still to continue to profess to put an end to it, is to have its laws placed on a footing wholly and radically different from that on which rest the laws of other non-established bodies. For while the rules of government and association of other bodies are to be on forced simply on the principle of contract, the rules of the Irish Protestant Episcopal Church are to rest on statutory and Parliamentary authority. Why, Sir, phrase it as you will, narrow it as you will, limit it as you may, the scope of the Amendment strikes—as the majority of the speakers opposite have clearly seen and frankly admitted—at the very root and groundwork of the principle of the Bill. But I entertain to it another objection. I have objected to it from the stand-point of the framers of the Bill, and of those who mean to strip the Established Church of its political privileges. I must also object to it from the standing ground of the members of that Established Church itself. I want to know by what title it is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, or the right hon. Gentleman who sits near him (Mr. Disraeli), calls on us from his place in this House to deny to the body which we are going to disendow and disestablish that freedom which is an inherent and essential prerogative, according to the notion now recognized in this country, of every body of Christians asking no aid from the State? What authority has the right hon. and learned Gentleman to tell us that what he proposes is desired by the members of the Church of Ireland? [Dr. BALL: I do not claim any authority:] He has none? He does not claim that authority? I am glad to have obtained that admission from him, I have deemed it my duty, and my Colleagues immediatly connected with the Irish Government, as; well as others among them, have also deemed it their duty to endeavour to procure the best information we could of the views entertained by men of the greatest weight, learning, and ability, in the Irish Church—not by partisans of ours, not by the friends of endowment, not by those who have concurred with us from the beginning, but by those whom 1051 we regard as representing the general sentiment of the members of the Established Church in Ireland; and I must say that, so far as our experience has gone, the information we have received is directly and diametrically at variance with the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. So far from calling on us to continue to them, after having stripped them of their property, an enforced conformity with the Church of England, they insist, as their right, on that freedom which we are not disposed to deny. There is but one other point on which I wish to say a few words. Some hon. Members who had spoken to-night have said—" What a dreadful thing it is that you are not going to secure the continued conformity of the members of the Irish Church to the Thirty-nine Articles and to episcopal government!" They may obtain, they say, the provisions of the Bill in their favour to-day, and to-morrow they may alter the doctrines and constitution of the Church. Certainly they may do so; and, no doubt, if they do so, it will be because their convictions direct them to do it; and if their convictions so direct them, does the right hon. Gentleman think that we shall obtain any advantage by compelling them to make professions in which, on his own showing, they will no longer believe? I am as anxious as the right hon. Gentleman about the end—though we may differ as to the means by which it is to be secured—and I hope and desire, nay more, I am firmly impressed with the conviction that the sympathies which unite the members of the Church in Ireland with their brethren in this country, will not only continue but gain and grow in strength after this act of disestablishment has been completed. But I am quite certain that in order that this sympathy may have scope you must not attempt to apply to them the hand of force; but you must recognize their right and title to perfect freedom in all matters ecclesiastical, if either you would make the connection between them and you beneficial, or would wish it to continue. With these views there can be no doubt as to the course that the Government will take, nor any, I should think, as to the course that will be taken by hon. Members who voted for the Resolution of last year, or who have voted for the second reading of the measure, 1052 and for going into Committee upon it. If we take the limited scope of the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, it would only place us in a position of hopeless and absurd inconsistency with the leading provisions of our measure. If we adopt the most simple and natural construction of the negative upon this clause, it is a new form, of which I have neither the title nor the disposition to complain, of aiming a mortal blow at the substance of the Bill, and that substance, I believe, it is the fixed intention of the majority of the House to maintain.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman (the First Lord of the Treasury) gives me credit for wishing to level a mortal blow at this Bill, and I am bound to say that he has rightly interpreted my desire. If I could devise any plan by which I could defeat a measure which the thought of every day more and more convinces me is the most pernicious measure that has ever been introduced in my time into this House, I certainly should not shrink from any fair attempt to accomplish that end. But I can say with equal sincerity of the Amendment which I have proposed tonight that I did not propose it in that spirit; and, although I will not avoid any fair occasion of giving a complete defeat to this measure if I can, I was influenced by very contrary sentiments in making the proposition which I have suggested this evening. Sir, I hope the Committee will not be diverted from the point before them by antiquarian discussions about the Queen's supremacy in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman has occasionally referred to it in his speeches, and reminded the House that the Queen's supremacy was not acknowledged in matters ecclesiastical in Scotland, and that it has been abolished in that country; but I have always been of opinion, from what I have read, that the Royal supremacy in matters ecclesiastical, as far as the Common Law is concerned, never existed in Scotland. There was a forced intrusion of the doctrine into that kingdom by Charles II., and every one is well aware that that was the origin—the fatal origin—of those unhappy proceedings which were the consequences of that unwise Act. But both the statutes referred to by the right hon. Gentleman were repealed, one directly, and the other, as lawyers say, in- 1053 ferentially; so that, referring to Scotland as illustrative of the doctrine or of the practice of the Royal supremacy in matters ecclesiastical, is to my mind, perfectly superfluous, and can have no bearing on the practical decision of the House. Sir, whatever may have happened in Scotland, the question for us to decide is—" Is that portion of the people of Ireland who have profited by the action of the Royal supremacy in their affairs ecclesiastical to be deprived of it, as we maintain to-night, unfairly and unnecessarily, even if we admit, for the sake of argument, that the policy of the right hon. Gentleman ought to be carried out." I will remind the Committee, which is much fuller than it was when I attempted to lay before it the views which induced me to recommend the course I suggested this evening with regard to the 2nd clause, that I have never for a moment admitted that even if the 2nd clause is rejected the policy of the right hon. Gentleman will be accepted by us. All I have said in argument is this, which no one has denied or attempted to question or refute—that if they will consent to omit this clause, upon which I will make a remark or two hereafter, it will not affect in the slightest degree the power and privilege of the Committee to carry into effect the whole of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland. I have said that the Committee, if they think fit, can despoil and plunder that Church; that if they think fit they can divest its Prelates of their Parliamentary rights; and that if they think fit they can shut up the ecclesiastical courts, and put an end to and abrogate all those circumstances incident to the present established position of the Church, which are the subject of so much envy, and occasionally of so much invective and criticism in this House. They may do all this, and at the same time make this concession which is so greatly desired by the consciences of so many of their fellow-countrymen, and which will not in the least interfere with the completion of the policy which hon. Gentlemen opposite support. But I am not contemplating that the Committee will seriously support the right hon. Gentleman in all his propositions, nor can I bring myself to believe—even if the Committee should pass all the clauses which follow that 1054 one to which I have made this exception—that anything so fatal to this country would ever occur as would occur if the policy of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland were ever carried into effect. Sir, what I have desired, and what has led to this controversy, is that the members of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland should continue to enjoy the advantages of the supremacy of their own Sovereign. Is it an unreasonable or an unconstitutional request? Well, on that the controversy arises, and the Attorney General follows me in the debate in order to answer the principal points in my remarks. I confine myself now to the point concerning the supremacy. What then, does the Attorney General say? He says that which was said ad nauseam in the debates of last year, and which I verily thought we should not hear again in a new Parliament—namely, that the supremacy of the Queen, such as we on this side of the House express it to be, is a perfect shadow, that it is an illusion, and that the only supremacy of the Queen is that which Her Majesty possesses in Her Majesty's courts. Why, that is a supremacy which is enjoyed by every Sovereign in every country in the world. If a Sovereign is not supreme in his courts he ceases to be a Sovereign. Justice cannot be administered except in the name and by the authority of the ruler of the country. I utterly deny, however, that that is the supremacy in matters ecclesiastical to which I referred, and on which my right hon. and learned Friend (Dr. Ball) ably enlarged. Sir, the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) although he appeared to support the view of the Attorney General on the subject of supremacy, is too much a master of the subject to lay down propositions with the same barren nakedness. The hon. Member for Richmond was quite consistent with the ecclesiastical views which he has so often and so ably developed and expressed in this House. It is of course quite consistent with his views to question our assumption of the Queen's supremacy and our definition of its nature. The hon. Member for Richmond does not. deny that the ecclesiastical power which we claim for the Sovereign of our country does exist, but he says it does not exist in the person of the Sovereign because the hon. Member 1055 for Richmond is in favour of the supremacy of the Church and not of the Sovereign. This circumstance explains the view which the hon. Gentleman has taken on the present occasion.
And now, Sir, let me call the attention of the Committee to what after all, though a most important is, the very simple proposition which I have placed before them. I have called their attention to the fact that by the 2nd clause of the Bill we are asked to terminate the union between the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland. I have asked the Committee to consider, before they assent to that proposition, what are the terms of that union, what are its conditions, and what are the objects which are accomplished by the union. They will see if they look—and I have no doubt they have well ascertained the terms of the Act of Union—that the objects to be attained by the union between the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland are identity of discipline, of worship, of doctrine, and of government. I have asked the Committee—"Are these privileges, so venerable and so legitimate, and which all of you must have prized in your own spiritual relations, whatever creed you may belong to—are these privileges, under the present circumstances, such as you will deny in a spirit of justice to the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland?" That is the real, the sole, the simple issue before us. I say it is not mixed up with the endowments of the Irish Church. It is not mixed up with its national authority. It is not at all mixed up with its temporal magnificence. And yet it is said to us—"Would you let this Episcopal Church of Ireland be denuded of its property and authority;"—as if it were a crime to denude it of its property and authority, and as if we were the persons who proposed such measures—"would you allow that body, whose only chance of salvation is to be left to themselves, to be under the control of the Sovereign, whom, for more than 300 years, they have acknowledged as their head? I say, that the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland is the best judge of that matter; and no person of any authority on this subject who has addressed us has pretended for a moment that there is among any part of the laity and clergy of the Protestant 1056 Episcopal Charch in Ireland the slightest symptom of a desire to lose the advantage of the Queen's supremacy. On the contrary, at this moment of exigency and of trial, do they not cling to that name and authority as their only chance and consolation, as the only means by which they possibly may get through the immense difficulties and dangers that surround them? Mr. Dodson, I hope the Committee will remember that this issue before them—I do not say this gigantic issue, it is a very simple issue—is what we have to decide. And I did appeal to the Committee, which was then thinner, but it was well attended by those who represent Roman Catholic opinions in this House—I did appeal to Gentlemen who are of the Roman Catholic communion and did say to them—" You have the advantage in your Church of a supreme head—you acknowledge that to be a great advantage—you boast of that great advantage and probably you justly boast. Why should you deny your Protestant fellow-subjects the same advantage, especially as it is no novelty to be introduced, no anomaly to be brought in and thrust into this new Constitution, but the custom of the country, which has now existed for centuries, and which the Protestant population of Ireland generally regard with confidence and affection? "Well, I did also impress on the Committee, irrespectively of the simple but great issue on which I call on them to decide—I did ask the Committee to consider what, as public men and as statesmen it was their duty to consider—that, when the point which I have raised was so unquestionable, when it was self-evident and not even denied by the right hon. Gentleman and his followers, that his policy could be effected without this violation of the Act of Union, it was—totally irrespective of the merits of the views that I was placing before the Committee—it was a consideration of deep import whether it were wise unnecessarily to tamper with the Act of Union. Why, Sir, whatever may be our opinion upon the general policy of the Government, every sensible man must agree in this, that, if you can accomplish that policy without tampering with the Act of Union, it would be a great benefit, a source of strength to the State, and one on which I think our society, now in some degree of danger, might be con- 1057 gratulated. Well, can you or can you not? The right hon. Gentleman does not deny that if the other clauses of his Bill are carried his policy would be effected. He has never for a moment maintained, with any appearance of conviction, that it is necessary to his policy that this clause should pass, which at the same time violates the Act of Union and wounds the conscientious feelings of the whole body of the Episcopalian Church of Ireland. I, also, in making that appeal to the Roman Catholic Gentlemen, asserted, and I assert again, notwithstanding some observations that have been made, that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, and in every other country where it appears, is an established Church. I say that without the slightest hesitation. I maintain as a political truth, as a point not to be controverted, that when a Church is instituted by a foreign Power—a Church without influence over its own doctrines, discipline, worship, or government—it is an established Church, and can be no other than an established Church. It is as much and as completely organized and regulated, without the slightest influence and power of its own, as any Church which can be established by Act of Parliament, and I say, therefore, that not only theoretically—which some may question, but it would only be a criticism of words—but practically, the Roman Catholic Church is an established Church; and I say, if that be the case, how can you, in the name of ecclesiastical equality in Ireland, permit the Roman Catholic Church to have all the advantage of establishment—that is, of having a sovereign control over it which secures all these advantages of discipline and doc-trine, and deny that to the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland? It is impossible to contend that under these circumstances you are establishing a policy of ecclesiastical equality. Why, Sir, it is impossible—whatever the vote may be—to divert and distract the minds of intelligent men, on whatever side they may sit, by entering into controversies about Scotch Acts of Parliament regarding the supremacy of the Crown in the time of Charles II. and William III. No, Sir, we know to-night what the right hon. Gentleman is aiming at—what is his real defence of his policy—what is his real answer to my proposi- 1058 tion to leave out this clause of his Bill. He says he will not do it, because it secures that freedom which is the prerogative of every body of Christians in this country. But, if that, be the case, why is your policy not more comprehensive? You who are so learned in the statutes of Scotland; why do you not come forward at once and secure that freedom, which is the prerogative of every body of Christians in this country, to that body of Christians, the minority of the Scottish people who do not enjoy it? Why does the right hon. Gentleman who to-night has announced this policy, which he never announced so distinctly before—a policy which is to secure the freedom which is the prerogative of every body of Christians in the country—why does he not extend it to the people of England? Sir, a prudent statesman might say—"Whatever may be my ulterior designs, you have no right to judge me except by the public propositions that I have made—you have no right to impute to me a future policy, which on your part may be a rash and unfounded inference from my present propositions." That would be the position of a prudent statesman; but we have a frank statesman who does not condescend to be prudent. I say, on the part of the Protestants of Ireland that, when we are told that a new policy is now to be inaugurated, when we have from the Prime Minister a definition of that new policy—namely, that it is to secure to all that freedom in religious matters which is the prerogative of every body of Christians in the country—the Protestants of Ireland have a right to say—"Carry your policy into effect completely, or at least postpone our fate till there is one verdict of general ruin and an entire dissolution of the bonds of society."
Sir, I am not about to make a speech, or to abuse the indulgence of the Committee; and I could not find it in my heart to weaken the effect of the animated peroration to which we have just listened, but, now that it is over, I am bound to tell the right hon. Gentleman that I think he laboured under a delusion as to the words used by me, which was not shared with him by any other Gentleman in the House, with reference to the freedom, the absolute freedom, or any freedom, which was the title or right or prerogative of "every body of Christians 1059 in the country." I say "of every body of Christians subsisting upon its own resources." I therefore, Sir, am greatly rejoiced to think that I may still, perhaps, be included in the right hon. Gentleman's category of "prudent statesmen."
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 344; Noes 221: Majority 123.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
§ House adjourned at One o'clock, till Monday next.