§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 18 (Compensation to lay patrons):—Amendment proposed, in line 4, after the word "ascertain," to insert the words "as hereinafter mentioned."—(Mr. Goldney.)
§ Mr. GOLDNEY
said, he would take up the question at the point where it was left the previous evening. What he wanted was the insertion of a rule that should lay down a basis upon which the sale of advowsons was to be carried on. Since last night he had had the opportunity of referring to the Returns in the Library regarding the sales of the small livings in the Lord Chancellor's gift, and he had also referred to the Act of Parliament by which those sales were authorized, and there he found, as he had expected, that the Act prohibited the sale of these livings at a price below a certain number of years' purchase. On Thursday he mentioned that, under Lord Westbury's Act, some had sold as high as thirty-five years' purchase. That was, no doubt, an extreme case, but they had all brought a price much higher than the minimum laid down in the Act of Parliament. He contended that the same kind of basis should be laid down in the present instance. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake), had mentioned the case of an advowson, sold in Ireland, which realized a comparatively small sum, but he (Mr. Goldney) 1474 never meant to contend that the value of advowsons was as high in Ireland as in England. No doubt the Irish livings would realize a low figure, in consequence of the state of the country. His object was to fix the minimum number of years' purchase at which livings should be sold, instead of leaving it to the discretion of the Commissioners. Of course, the purchase money would be calculated—first by multiplying the income after deducting all outgoings by the number of years' purchase; and, secondly, by making a deduction for the life of the incumbent. He was not assuming that these advowsons should be valued at the same rate as in England, but he thought that some minimum value should be placed upon them. The only difference between this class of property and freehold property was that to the former were attached certain duties, the value of which was to be ascertained and struck off the value of the freehold. He begged to move the insertion of the words "as hereinafter mentioned," with the view of subsequently adding words which would carry out the object he had in view.
§ Amendment again proposed, in page 7, line 4, after the word "ascertain," to insert the words "as hereinafter mentioned."—(Mr. Goldney.)
§ MR. BLAKE
said, that as the hon. Member (Mr. Goldney) had referred to him, he would give the House some important information with regard to the value of Irish endowments. The corporations of Ireland, as the House was aware, were in possession of several advowsons, and in particular the corporation of Waterford, of which he was a member, had several of these advowsons in their gift. It must be recollected that no sale by the corporation of an advowson could be carried into effect unless the Ecclesiastical Commissioners deemed the sum offered a fair equivalent for its value. He would read to the House some of these sales. There was the parish of Dunhill, the advowson of which was sold in 1863. Its value was £160 a year, and it sold for £300. There was one case which occurred seven years ago in the county of Kilkenny. The incumbent was over fifty years of age; the value was £260 a year, and the advowson sold for £1,000. The last they had sold was that of a parish, pleasantly situated on the other side of 1475 the river from Waterford. They had advertised it for a long time in the English and Irish papers without finding a purchaser. It value was between £200 and £300 a year, and it was at last sold for £800. He could assure the House that there was hardly an advowson in Ireland that was sold for more than four years' purchase.
§ MR. WALTER
said, he wished to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman was in a position to inform the House what was the number of advowsons in Ireland for which compensation would have to be made under the Bill; and, further, upon what number of years' purchase that compensation would be based, and what sum would be absorbed by that compensation?
Sir, I cannot answer the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) in a way that will throw much real light on the subject, because the livings are so very various in their nature, and the deductions to be made from the value differ so much. The incomes of the smaller livings, for instance, are almost entirety swallowed up by the necessary outgoing for which deduction has to be made. The amount of the aggregate value of the livings will, therefore, give nothing like an idea of the real value of the advowsons. The sum that I take as being necessary to compensate for these advowsons is £300,000. That is a rough estimate. The total gross value of the livings in lay patronage is £48,000 a year; therefore the sum likely to be absorbed in compensation comes to six or seven years' purchase. As I am on my legs, perhaps it will be as well to state that we have employed our time, like the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Goldney), in producing data on which to ground our plan. The difference between us is that he persists in producing precedents taken from the case of England, which are wholly irrelevant to the case of Ireland. In the case of England a vast number of persons buy these advowsons, which creates regularity in the market; but that is quite unknown in Ireland, where these sales are fitful and exceedingly rare. I have looked at the cases of which we are in possession, and I will give my hon. Friend a case, which will indicate to him how utterly inapplicable the English rules would be. In this case 1476 the living, which was sold in January, 1861, was worth £170 net, and the price for which it sold was £1,419, subject to a deduction of £297, or £1,121. That shows a price of about six and a-half years' purchase. I quote from 1861, because that was a sale not under the influence of any depreciation of landed property in Ireland. [An hon. MEMBER: What is the age of the incumbent?] The age of the incumbent is not stated. I will give the hon. Gentleman two other cases, in which the age of the incumbent is stated. They are later still, and entirely free from any influence of depreciation of landed property in Ireland. On the 25th of June, 1867, the advowson of the parish of Innishannon was sold. The gross income was £470 a year, and the net income £241. The age of the incumbent was fifty-five. The advowson was sold at £1,600—that is to say, about seven years' purchase of the income, without deducting the life interest of the present incumbent. In the same year and at the same period the advowson of Dunderrow was sold. The net annual income was £313, the gross £375; the age of the incumbent was seventy, and the amount of purchase money was £1,210 gross, £910 net, or a price of less than three years' purchase. I think that will show the hon. Member how vain it is to deal with these matters on the footing he proposes. In the 113th clause of the Church Temporalities Act there is a precedent much more available for his purpose, if he wants one, than any he can draw from English practice, where over and over again there was an interference with the value of advowsons, and power was given to Commissioners to compensate patrons in respect of any damage they might suffer in consequence of the changes authorized by that Act; but a maximum is imposed in these terms "so that such sums shall in no case exceed twelve years' purchase of the annual value." When we considered this matter my right hon. Friend near me (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) came to the conclusion that it was fairer to the patron that we should not insert that maximum. If a minimum value were to be introduced into the clause, it must be so small that it might just as well be omitted altogether.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
contended that the fact of advowsons in Ireland commanding fewer years' purchase than in 1477 England was a stronger reason for fixing a basis on which the sales were to take place. What was the position of these advowsons now? The right hon. Gentleman announced his measure for the disendowment of the Church last Parliament. That, of course, depreciated the value of those advowsons and he took advantage of this depreciation, which was caused by his own act, in order to depreciate the value of the compensation. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to a clause in the Church Temporalities Act. The livings suppressed by that Act were attached to churches where there were no congregations or very small congregations. But even in those cases twelve years' purchase was assigned to them. The right hon. Gentleman deprecated the idea of taking even the maximum assigned by the Church Temporalities Act—which was notoriously an Act to suppress livings which had fallen into abuse—as the precedent on which he was about to act with reference to the advowsons of livings throughout Ireland. It was perfectly manifest that the right hon. Gentleman's calculations were based on a value depreciated by his own act. And to what purpose was the money to be applied? Why, to purposes which ought at present to be supplied by other funds derivable from local and Imperial taxation. This was confiscation again. It was worse than confiscation, because it was to apply to cases in which no abuse was proved or even alleged. Having had some experience of the Act for disposing of advowsons in the gift of the Lord Chancellor—having been a purchaser of one himself—he saw no difference whatever in point of justice between the case of the English advowsons and that of the Irish advowsons, except that the Irish advowsons might be worth fewer years' purchase, and he should adhere to the principle which was considered justice in the case of England in dealing with these Irish advowsons. Were we to look forward to the application of this principle to England? We were establishing a very wide and dangerous precedent, which depreciated property and took advantage of the depreciation in compensating those whose property was to be taken from them. If they assailed the stability of one kind of property it would affect the credit of every kind of property, and he believed the consequence 1478 would be that it would tend to the depreciation of property and the invalidity of public credit.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the argument of the hon. Member would be a very strong one if it had any foundation whatever; but it was as visionary and baseless as a dream. The hon. Gentleman argued as if the Government were going to institute a system of forced sale of Irish advowsons at a value depreciated by their own act. Nothing could be further from their intention, and nothing could be further from the effect of this Bill. The Commissioners under the Bill, checked by a system of arbitration, would decide, in the words of this clause, what amount of compensation ought to be paid to the owners of advowsons. If any precedent was required for this mode of action it would be found in the first Church Temporalities Act, in which the value of private patronage was referred to, and in which a tribunal was provided which was precisely that provided by the present Bill. The Commissioners, in case of any disagreement, were to give the natural and normal price under any circumstances, utterly irrespective of depreciation of any kind: that was precisely what was done by the present Bill.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken. There was a provision for arbitration in this Bill.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he had founded his argument on the English precedent and the last Act passed for the sale of advowsons. He would ask, were they to establish a different rule for Ireland from that which existed in England? Were they to establish a different system of legislation founded on different principles for the two countries? If so, it would be far better that the Union should be repealed, and Ireland should have the benefit of its own rules of practice. What was the position in which the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had placed himself? He said that the Government meant to give the full value in all these cases—to act liberally. Now the Government were not asked to act liberally. English Members were as averse to placing in 1479 the hands of the Government the means of giving an excessive value as to give them the opportunity of giving an under value. They claimed for Ireland the same rule that was applied to England. He did not understand the modern system of Irish legislation, and did not wish to rob the present owners of advowsons in order to obtain the means of conciliating support.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, the practical way of looking at the matter was to take the case of the owner of an advowson attached to his estate, and the profits of which came entirely from that estate. The advowson, in that case, was his freehold; but by the Act he would have to sell it, and, if the depreciating effect of the Bill were taken into view, the result would be that he might receive only six or seven years' purchase of the tithe rent-charge, while for the re-purchase of his tithe rent-charge he would have to pay twenty-two years' purchase.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 161; Noes 273: Majority 112.
§ MR. MACFIE moved, in page 7, line 5, after "corporate," to insert "who or which shall within three years therefrom make application in writing to this effect." The effect of the Amendment was to give compensation for advowsons only to those who should apply for it within three years after the passing of the Act.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ CAPTAIN ARCHDALL
said, he rose to move, in line 10, to leave out "such person or body corporate," and insert "the corporate body hereinafter referred to as the representative body of the said Church," the effect of this Amendment being to hand over the compensation for advowsons to the Church Body instead of to the lay patrons who had previously possessed the advowsons. He said it might have been urged that this Amendment would rob the lay patrons of the compensation to which they were entitled, had it not been for the fact that the whole Bill was admittedly a measure of robbery and spoliation. It appeared, from the Report of the Irish Church Com- 1480 missioners, that out of 1,516 benefices in Ireland the presentation to 309 of them was in the hands of trustees, corporate bodies, and private individuals; and, if they were admitted to be trusts for a religious purpose, it was but just to the country and to the Church that, when that trust ceased, whatever the compensation was made should be paid to the Church Body for the good of the Church and of the country. When they came to discuss the disestablishment of the English Church, this question of advowson would be found to be one of great interest.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, he scarcely thought that the hon. and gallant Member, in moving his Amendment, thoroughly understood the effect of it. It was really one of the most formidable assaults on private property ever made, and was a proposition to take from all the lay patrons of advowsons in Ireland the purchase money of them and hand it over perforce to the Church Body. Was the hon. and gallant Member aware that advowsons, like estates, had been made the subject of family settlements; that there were tenants in tail with the remainder; and that infant children were interested in their proceeds? It was certainly a modest proposal to hand over the property to other persons. Such terms as "confiscation" and "spoliation" had been used against the present Bill; but the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member should be designated, if possible, by even a stronger word. Advowsons were the subject-matter of sale in the open market, and the present Bill, while taking away the right of presentation, would give compensation to the owners of the advowsons, whereas the proposed Amendment would deprive them of that compensation. Such a proposition struck at the root of all property. Moreover, the Amendment would have the effect of endowing over again the Irish Church in an indirect form, for the moment the Church was disestablished, it would be put, if the Amendment were carried, in possession of property which did not belong to it.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he thought it quite refreshing to hear a condemnation of acts of confiscation proceeding from the authors of the present Bill. However, he did not think it pos- 1481 sible for the House to support the Amendments, but he thought they might draw a moral from what had passed as to the different principles on which the Government proposed to treat one kind of right and another. What was the origin of an advowson? It was founded on an endowment given, in the first instance, for the benefit of the laity of a certain parish, for the sake of securing to them the right of public worship. In order to secure them that advantage a clergyman was appointed, and was provided out of the endowment with what was called a living. The nomination to the living fell by some means or other into the hands of some person, who thereby as patron acquired an indirect pecuniary interest in the endowment. The Government now said that they would do away with that which was the foundation of the whole affair—the right of the laity—without making them any compensation. With respect to the clergyman, compensation was given to him conditionally; that was to say, on the condition that he continued to perform certain services; but, as to the third right, that of the patron, which grew out of the other two, unconditional compensation was given. Now he wished to call attention to the fact that the persons who would mainly benefit by the application of the surplus of Irish Church property would be the class of persons which supplied the patrons of livings. The tithe rent-charge was, after a certain time, to become the property of the landlords, among whom the patrons were to be found. It was also to be applied, while it continued to be paid, to purposes which would relieve the landlords from considerable burdens. The glebe lands were to be confiscated and thrown into the surplus which would give a further relief to them. The House was continually misled by the account given by the Government of the mode in which the surplus of the Church property was to be applied. They were told it was to be applied to charitable purposes; but the greater part was going to be applied in exoneration of the county cess, and the persons who would really benefit were not so much the unfortunate inmates of the lunatic asylums and hospitals which were to be endowed, as the cess-payers, who were chiefly the landlords in Ireland. He would illustrate this position by a particular case. A 1482 parish, having two hamlets connected with it, had a Church population of 820, the dependent district having a population of 1,068. The net revenue of the living, after deducting the salary of the curate and everything, amounted to £839. There were three churches in the district. There was a glebe of 2,000 acres, and a rent-charge of £605, issuing, as he believed, chiefly if not wholly, from the lands of the great proprietor who was the patron. The patron was therefore going to be relieved of the rent-charge of £605. At the end of forty-five years his estate would be the better to that extent, and he would also be better by having considerable relief in the county cess to which he contributed, and towards which the surplus of the Church funds was to go. In addition to this he was to be paid for his advowson, that is to say for a right of presenting to a living, which had been in his family for generations. It was not common in these cases to sell the livings, and they were going to present such an owner with a considerable sum which really he never expected to receive. But what were they going to do for the 1,800 parishioners? Absolutely nothing. They were going to deprive them of all they had been in the habit of receiving, out of which this right of the patron had grown, and to make no compensation whatever. Although it might not be strict justice, yet substantially the injustice that would be done to the owners of the advowson in such cases, if they did take the value of it and apply it to the new Church Body, would be infinitesimal compared to the injustice they were doing by other parts of this Bill. If the Government were proceeding in the same equal spirit with all classes, they would not deal with one class in so different a manner from that in which they dealt with another. It was said that this would amount to something like a re-endowment of the Irish Church. No doubt it was open to that objection, as stated by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but they should remember that they were dealing with this matter in rather a peculiar manner. They were endeavouring to constitute, or facilitate the constitution of, a Church Body, and therefore they had a right to ask whether what they were about to do would contribute towards the formation of such a 1483 Church Body which it was desirable should be formed. Was it very certain that they would have a Church Body? It was extremely doubtful, unless they laid such a foundation as would give it a certain amount of power. It was not unlikely that the Church Body might not come into existence, and that private arrangements would be made with the incumbents for working the whole system by insuring their lives through the medium of insurance offices. A certain future endowment would thus be provided which would suffice for the wants of particular parishes, the whole thing being based upon a private deed of contract between the parties. It was very undesirable that they should do anything to encourage such a state of things as that. He thought it would be a very legitimate and desirable thing that the money paid for these advowsons should be handed over to the Church Body; but he admitted that there were some cases in which, on account of money having been laid out in the purchase of the advowsons, this could not be done without injustice to individuals. He could not, therefore, support the Amendment, but he hoped and trusted those gentlemen who did receive large sums in compensation for advowsons would, of their own accord, apply them to the benefit of the parishioners, from whom, in fact, they had been received; but although a great many might be anxious to do so, some, being minors, or owners of limited estates, might not be able. He was glad to see that the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Macfie) proposed that words should be inserted in the clause which would enable the patrons to hand the advowsons over at once to the Church Body. Although he should not support the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Archdall) he was glad of the opportunity of pointing out the extreme inequality of the mode in which different interests were treated by this measure.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, he thought the hon. and gallant Member for Fermanagh had proposed this Amendment as a joke. [Captain ARCHDALL: No!] If not, he really could not see what the hon. and gallant Gentleman was about. Hon. Gentleman on that (the Ministerial) side of the House were often accused of interfering with the rights of property, but he had never heard any- 1484 body propose to interfere with them in so audacious a manner. It was really in mercy to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he thought he was joking. People had bought advowsons on the faith of being able to make presentations, and they were not to be deprived of their property in that way. The hon. and gallant Member a short time ago put a Notice on the Paper to disestablish the Church of England. Perhaps he was not joking on that occasion. Really what seemed to hon. Gentleman opposite "but a choleric word" when it came from their own side, would, if it came from those opposed to them, be deemed "flat blasphemy." The hon. and gallant Gentleman was evidently not a patron; if he had been he would have availed himself of his own large spirit of generosity, and made the Church a present of the proceeds of his advowson, without compelling himself to do it by Act of Parliament. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) seemed to have availed himself of the opportunity afforded by this Amendment to make a speech prepared for some other part of the Bill; but he (Mr. Dowse) would join him in his appeal to the good nature of the Irish advowson holders, and would say, as one of the 700,000 "scatterlings" referred to by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire as left destitute, "the smallest contributions thankfully received." He hoped the hon. and gallant Gentleman would show his good sense, if only for the sake of that part of the country from which he came, by withdrawing the Amendment.
§ MR. JOHN HARDY
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down complained of this as an act of confiscation, and he seemed to forget that there was such a thing as honour among thieves. He would make the whole Irish nation receivers of stolen goods.
§ MR. WALTER
said, he thought his right hon. Friend the Member for North Devonshire (Sir Stafford Northcote) had contrived to mystify a very simple question. These advowsons were not the property of the parishioners. They were not a rent-charge at all. They did not belong to the proprietor in the sense of their being so. An advowson was the right of patronage, and the right of patronage did not belong to the parishioners, but to the owner of the advowson; 1485 and all that was proposed to be done was to compensate the owners of these valuable rights of patronage, which had a marketable character, in the same way as they had been acquired in the market. The parishioners were not to be compensated, for what they did not possess—namely, the right of patronage. It might be a question whether the Commissioners would compensate the parishioners. That was not a point with which the owner of the advowson had anything to do.
§ MR. W. H. GREGORY
said, he hoped the House would not be compelled to go into the Lobby on such an Amendment, which would have a contrary effect to that which the hon. and gallant Member desired. He should be prepared to show at the proper time that the Bill did not give the great advantages to the landlords of Ireland which the right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) supposed.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said he wished to put a question to the First Minister of the Crown with reference to the operation of the clause in a case in which he I was personally concerned. One of the London companies and himself had jointly endowed a living in a small separated parish in Ireland; and he was j anxious to know whether, under this Bill, I they would still hold the nomination and the endowment, or whether they would be deprived of the money value of the endowment, which had been made within the last two years.
said, he presumed that it would be regarded as a private endowment, and restored either to the Church Body, or to the parties to dispose of for the purposes of the Church.
§ MR. HUNT
said, his hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Archdall) said that the j interests of public bodies and private bodies were considered in the Bill, but not the interests of congregations, and he wished that they should not be forgotten. There was, however, an Amendment on the Paper by which his right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) proposed to provide for the interests of congregations without injury to the vested interests of individuals. He trusted his hon. and gallant Friend would wait for that Amendment, and meanwhile withdraw his own.
§ CAPTAIN ARCHDALL
could assure I the hon. and learned Serjeant (Mr. 1486 Dowse) that he had by no means brought forward his Amendment as a joke. It was, on the contrary, a very serious matter, as he would have seen if he had listened to the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote). Nor was he in joke when he proposed to extend the provisions of the Bill to the English Church; because he believed it would be more statesmanlike to consider the circumstances of both the united Churches at the same time, and so prevent the future agitation to which the question of the English Church must give rise.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill,"
THE O'CONOR DON
said, the measure was proposed upon the basis of perfect religious equality in Ireland, and by it was therefore provided that compensation should be afforded to private interests only. But by a subsequent clause it was proposed that the educational grant should be taken away from the College of Maynooth, while no similar proposal was made in the case of the University of Dublin, or Trinity College. Under the present clause, indeed, the University of Dublin would receive a large sum of money as compensation for the livings in its gift, about twenty in number, and including some of the most valuable in Ireland. He understood that the amount the University would receive would come to about one-third of what was given to the Church altogether, and he hoped that when the question of Maynooth came to be considered, the effect of this clause would not be forgotten.
§ DR. BALL
said, it was only an act of justice to the University of Dublin that they should receive the value of these advowsons. The advantage of the livings to the College was that they opened a succession to Fellowships to students; the Fellows having the right to take the livings in succession as they became vacant. The University would, under the clause, receive the money for these rights of presentation, but could not waste it, because the last charter bound the governing body to retain the money for the general purposes of the University. A very judicious suggestion had been thrown out, that the money 1487 would allow the University to create an additional number of Fellowships. There would be no injustice in giving the value of these livings to the University; it had bought some of them; and one of these livings alone had cost the University £12,000.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, he was not perfectly satisfied with the answer which he had received to his question from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. In the case he had mentioned, he wished to know whether he would have to give up his turn of nomination to the living, or whether it would be at the disposal of the new Church Body? He had also to ask what would be the position of the corporate body which had contributed the other half of the endowment.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he thought it was just and right that the University of Dublin should receive that large compensation for the right of presentation to these livings. But he also believed that, as they had reated the property of the Irish Church as national property, this payment to Trinity College would afford an irresistible argument in favour of their throwing open all the emoluments and offices of the Dublin University to the members of all religious denominations.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, he concurred in thinking that, if these funds were available for the general purposes of the University, they ought to be dealt with in the manner proposed by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). He understood, however, that it was the practice of the Senior Board to apply the year's earnings in paying the junior Fellows, the Sizars, &c., and then to divide the remainder among themselves. If the Senior Board regarded this sum as part of the year's earnings, and dealt with it in the way he had described, there would be very little of the amount forthcoming for the purposes contemplated by the hon. Member for Brighton, He wished to know whether the House had not, under an Act of William IV., given a number of livings to Trinity College? If that were so, they ought not to be compensated; for he understood that the Fellows would not take most of the livings in the gift of the College. They were better off as they were; and thus the livings did not fulfil the purpose for which they were in- 1488 tended, of causing vacancies in the Fellowships.
said, he would not then enter into the controversy respecting Trinity College. What the clause did was no more than to apply the obvious rule of strict justice in regard to the rights of property, as to which he considered that they had no option whatever. No doubt, the practical effect of the enactment would be to extricate Trinity College, as far as those advowsons were concerned, from its direct connection with the Established Church. That, however, was not a matter into which he need enter at present. In answer to the Question of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Hervey Bruce), he had to state that he could not then undertake to give a full account of what, under the Bill, would be the position of the living to which the hon. Baronet had referred. All that he thought it necessary to state upon the subject was, that the clause dealt with advowsons only. If there were an advowson having a pecuniary value in the case of the chapel in question, the circumstances of that advowson would not be affected by the fact that there were joint or alternate patrons. It would be for the patrons to show that they had an advowson of money value, and that value they would then receive under the clause.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, he wished to point out that there was not the slightest analogy between the cases of Trinity College, Dublin, and the College of Maynooth, to which the hon. Member for Roseommon (The O'Conor Don) had adverted. The College of Maynooth was devoted exclusively to the education of Roman Catholic clergymen; and it not only instructed, but also supported the students.
§ Clause added to the Bill.
§ Clause 19 (Repeal of laws prohibiting synods, &c.).
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he rose to move at the end, to add—And the Bishops, clergy, and laity of the said Church may meet in General Assembly or Convocation by such representatives, lay and clerical, as shall be determined and declared by them in 1489 their several dioceses, and, in such General Assembly or Convocation, frame a constitution and regulations for the general management and good government of the said Church, and the property and affairs thereof, and the future representation of the members thereof in Diocesan Synods, General Convocation, or otherwise.He had called attention to this matter on the Motion for the second reading. The clause as drawn removed restrictions on public deliberation; but it was necessary that definite powers should be given to the Church Body to meet in Convocation after it had organized itself. He anticipated so opposition to the addition, as it would render the clause much more complete and satisfactory.
said, he regretted I that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) had not explained himself more fully than he had done, because his few words in the nature of assertion, and not of argument, did not show the occasion for the Amendment, or that it was in itself exceptionable. He (Mr. Gladstone), as at present advised, believed there was no occasion for it, and that it was exceptionable. The object of the clause was in absolute completeness to remove all restrictions whatever on the action of the Archbishops, Bishops, clergy, and laity of the present Established Church in Ireland, and he believed it did so. If it did not accomplish that purpose he granted that it ought to be amended. Restraints at present attached to the Irish Church in respect of its being established, while other religious bodies had to submit to no such restraints with respect to the management of their own affairs. But having removed those restraints, there, he thought, they ought to stop; because it was not the business of Parliament to confer upon disestablished Churches any positive or constructive power of giving any legal authority to the regulations they might make among themselves. Therefore, the words, besides being unnecessary, were exceptional; and he did not speak without authority in saying this. He would tell the Committee what had happened in an exactly analogous case. In the year 1852, he had proposed a Bill to amend the laws relating to the Church in the colonies. The belief then was that the Church in the colonies did not possess powers for the management of its own affairs, and he sought to give it those powers on the footing of a voluntary contract. The 1490 right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) was then. Leader of the House, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) was Colonial Secretary; and on the second reading, of the Motion for committing the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman, on the part of the then Government, took him to task severely—he did not say with undue severity—for making such a proposition, and argued, with great point and ability, that it was exceptional, because its provisions were affirmative and positive in their character. The same view of the matter was urged, with great force, by the present Lord Westbury, and others, and the result was that the House declined to proceed any further with the Bill. Instructed by the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, of his Colleague the (Colonial Secretary, and of the Attorney General of that day (Sir F. Thesiger), he had been careful in the framing of this Bill to leave the Church entire liberty. He thought it must have been in for-getfulness—a very pardonable forgetfulness—of what then took place, that the right hon. Gentleman proposed the Amendment now before the Committee, which was positive in its character, and the effect of which would be to give to the regulations of a voluntary society of Christians, after disestablishment, a kind and degree of sanction, and a basis in law different from that which would attach to the regulations of the Presbyterians, the Wesleyans, or of any other body. He should feel it his duty to object to the Amendment.
§ DR. BALL
said, he was in favour of the Amendment, and he was much confirmed in that view by the fact that a similar proposal had, on a former occasion, been brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman himself. It was proposed for the benefit of the Church, and it would not injure any other person or body, and he could not understand that any other religious body was interested in it. Now, although the right hon. Gentleman's former Bill had been thrown out in the English Parliament, the spirit of it had been adopted in the colonies. In Canada, by an Act of the colonial Parliament, the Preamble of which recited that even the semblance of a connection between Church and State must be abolished in the colony, the Bishops, clergy, and laity 1491 were empowered to make regulations for enforcing discipline in the Church. The entire government of the Church in Canada was carried on by virtue of such a provision, as was also that of the colonies of Australia. In the colony of Victoria the Act declared that the resolution of the Assembly or Synod should be binding on the Bishop and his successors, and on the clergy and the laity, and that it should be lawful for the Assembly to establish a Commission for the trial of ecclesiastical offences. Therefore, two most important dependencies in this Empire had found it necessary to pass a measure similar to that which the right hon. Gentleman had failed in passing through that House. If the clause passed as it stood, then he saw nothing in it to prevent the people of Down and Antrim forming a Church for themselves, the people of Leinster another, and the people of Connaught a third; but as they were going to give these people the glebes upon their paying ten years' purchase for the sites, the House was entitled to make some bargain with them, and to say—"We will not allow you to divide yourself into a number of minute sections." Such a restriction would be conducive to good order and good government of the Church. In the United States, a sort of enabling power had been given to each religious body to form a corporation for itself, and he could not see why such a power should not be given to the Church in Ireland.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
might point out to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, in confirmation of what had fallen from his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for a sister University, that there was one great difference between the Bill he introduced, in 1852, and any legislation that might possibly occur under the present Bill. He spoke from a rather vague recollection of the former Bill; but he believed that that Bill was an enabling and an incorporating Bill, and it dealt with the ecclesiastical constitution of many of our colonies, each of them with its own special form of constitutional government, and very jealous of any general measure emanating from the mother country, and dealing with them in the lump. It was very difficult indeed for the Imperial Legislature in England to deal with the ecclesiastical 1492 constitution of several colonies in one Act, in consequence of its involving the question of colonial versus Imperial administration. In consequence of this miscarriage, a short enabling Act was subsequently introduced, though it afterwards fell through, and he believed that the synodical government now existing in various colonial churches was by Acts of the different local Legislatures. Hereafter the Church of Ireland would stand in the position of the Churches in Canada or Victoria. It would be a colonial Church in a country which did not possess an establishment; but Ireland would still be governed, as to its local concerns, as far as secular affairs were concerned, by the Imperial Parliament, while the colonies were locally governed by their respective Parliaments. As far as Ireland was concerned this Imperial Parliament was to that country just as its own Legislature was to each colony—namely, an individual engine of domestic government. It had not been regarded as unconstitutional for the colonial Parliaments to pass enabling Acts incorporating their Churches, and therefore, by parity of argument, it would be no violation of the principle of religious equality if the Parliament of Great Britain should pass such an Act or put a clause in the present Bill with reference to the Disestablished Church of Ireland. As to the point of religious equality so often thrown in the teeth of those who opposed this Bill, he did not see why, if a similar provision were applied for by the Roman Catholic or the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, it should be refused.
§ MR. SAUNDERSON
said, that a doubt had arisen in the minds of members of the Irish Church as to what religious persuasion they would belong to when this Bill was passed. As at present advised they would belong to the sect of the disestablished Irishmen. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government appeared to assume that, after the passing of the Bill, members of the Church from all parts of Ireland would assemble in Dublin in order to form themselves into a Church Body, and to decide what form of religion they would adopt. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for leaving them perfectly free in this matter to chose what form of doctrine they might think most advisable and suitable; but it was quite 1493 within the bounds of possibility that when a number of Irishmen assembled together for this purpose some slight disunion might arise among them; and whereas some might be in favour of adopting the whole of the Thirty-nine Articles, some might prefer a smaller number. A portion of the clergy might refuse to adopt the proceedings of the Church Body, as not in any way binding on them; and he wished to know whether the Church Body, as contemplated by this Bill, would have any power of interfering, or of enforcing discipline in the parishes of Ireland. Or if a certain number of parishes adopted the principles of the Church Body, would the others still continue to belong to the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland. This was an important matter. It was felt that if the Church Body was to meet in Dublin and have no power at all, it would be simply a farce. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would state what position they would be in after disestablishment and disendowment.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, it appeared to him that the words proposed to be added by the right hon. Gentleman were not wanted at all, or, if they were, it was for a purpose not very clearly disclosed in them. If they had any object, it must in reality be to obtain for the Disestablished Church a recognition by the State which no other religious body in Ireland would have. According to an Act of Parliament peculiar to Ireland, no body in that country could meet by representation or delegation: the prohibition in that Act extended to Convocation of the Established Church, save when it met by consent of the Crown. It was rather curious that in an Act of Parliament which had been passed with a view to the suppression of the United Irishmen and other secret societies, Convocation should be specially referred to; but so it was. It was necessary to repeal the prohibition contained in that Act so far as it affected the Church Body, as the Church was about to be disestablished; but to give the disestablished body privileges which no other body would have would be to perpetuate the grievance which now existed. The 19th clause would leave the Archbishops, Bishops, and clergy of the Disestablished Church as free as air to 1494 meet and form any constitution which they themselves might choose to form. If the case put by his hon. Friend the Member for Cavan (Mr. Saunderson) should arise—that was, if the Church Body should not agree—they would be in no worse position than the Presbyterians or the Wesleyans. If one portion of the Presbyterian body did not agree with the rest, the dissenting portion formed another Synod. Well, if twenty or thirty parishes of the Disestablished Church did not agree with others, they need not send representatives to the general body. The case of the colonies, relied on by his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball), did not apply. In the colony of Victoria the Act was not passed by the State to bind the Church, but it was passed by the State at the request of the Church Body. He could imagine nothing more objectionable than that a central Church Body in Ireland should come to Parliament for an Act to enable the majority to bind the minority. He believed that the Protestants of Ireland did not want to be dictated to in the manner they would be dictated to if the Amendment were adopted.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that the Attorney General for Ireland had given them a lively picture of the impending religious amity which they might expect in Ireland. The result depicted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was one which he was anxious, if possible, to prevent. He did not think it a necessary element of religious freedom that every facility should be given for discordancy of opinion. In the proposition which he made, he did not ask for any great authority for the Church Body. On the contrary, a subsequent clause of the Bill would give that body a much larger measure of authority, to be exercised in much more important matters. After all, what was it that he proposed by his Amendment? That the new Church Body should conduct their affairs with the authority and decorum of an ecclesiastical Parliament, instead of being made a sort of Donnybrook fair. To allow the opinion of the majority of the Church Body to be the opinion which should regulate the conduct of the whole body appeared to him to be only in ac- 1495 cordance with, the Constitution and the habits of this country. He believed that the great grievance of the Amendment was that it would carry into effect convictions entertained by the First Minister of the Crown, in 1852. He was willing to give all the credit of the principle of his Amendment to the right hon. Gentleman. He was only proposing something that the right hon. Gentleman proposed in 1852; but as he (Mr. Gladstone) did not see his way to a concurrence in anything of that kind, he would not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 20 (Existing law to subsist by contract).
§ DR. BALL
said, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he objected to the adoption of the following Amendment, which had been placed upon the Paper by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer):—In line 34, after 'accordingly,' insert 'and no alteration in such Articles, doctrines, rites, rules, discipline, or ordinances shall be deemed binding in law upon any Archbishop, Bishop, or other person entitled to any annuity under this Act, who shall not consent thereto?'He regretted the absence of the hon. and learned Member, and he did not feel himself empowered to move the Amendment in the absence of his hon. and learned Friend, if the right hon. Gentleman objected to its adoption.
said, that he also regretted the absence of his hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer). He had had some communication with him, and he believed that his hon. and learned Friend was not indisposed to look with favour upon the view taken of this matter by the Government. Now, he freely admitted that it was one of real difficulty, and different from that which they had just been discussing. They were dealing with the pecuniary interests of a large body of men, and they made the arrangements on the assumption that they would continue to belong to the body to which they now belonged. But then arose the question, what is to be done if that body altered its laws and circumstances in a manner that some particular Members might not approve of? The Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend would provide that no such alteration should 1496 be binding on any annuitant, but the objections to such an Amendment were fundamental. How was "consent" to be denned or provided for? A person, under such an Amendment, might object to the action of the representative ecclesiastical assembly contemplated by the Bill, and might refuse to be bound by its decision, even though, with the exception of himself, the whole body of the Church was in favour of it. At least upon the passing of any particular Act by the Church Body any small minority might object to being bound by the decision of the majority, and thus two or perhaps many systems of law might be established within the Church. He did not know how to distinguish between such a state of things and anarchy. How could it be known to what laws the Church was subject, and to what she was not subject? The Bill, as it now stood, proceeded on an uniform and just assumption. The Church in Ireland was to be set free without restraint or qualification; the Government thought that incumbent on them when they took away its privileges. They were then asked—"Won't you take securities for a right use of that freedom." They answered—"No, because if we do so it is freedom no longer." But then came the question—"How will you deal with the rights of individuals?" The best answer he could give was this—if any individuals of the clergy of the Church of Ireland were not content to accept the position which the Bill as it now stood gave them—if they mistrusted the body to which they belonged—the only remedy for the difficulty was this, that the Government must—and he thought they would—endeavour to construct some provision under which, upon certain terms in regard to their annuity or commutation, such persons might cut of out the game altogether—of course he used the expression not irreverently—and release themselves from all obligations to, and connection with, that body. This might be done, but he did not see how it was possible that they should continue members of that body and yet enjoy the license of individuals dissenting from this or that particular rule or constitution. It was quite evident that it was of the greatest importance to know what view was taken by the Irish clergy themselves of the new liability they would come under as members of the Disestablished Church; 1497 that was to say, the liability to have their religious affairs affected by the proceedings of the proposed assembly that might meet under that measure. If the clergy declined to trust their religious affairs to the control of the proposed assembly, the House could not bind them to become members. In that case it might be right to introduce a provision to enable them to resign some proportion of the compensation contemplated by the Bill for the purpose of permitting them to go away free from all obligations. But it was very satisfactory to know that from no one quarter in the Church of Ireland—and the Government had been in communication with a number of persons on this subject—had there proceeded the slightest sentiment of distrust of that nature, or the least disposition to assert their individual rights as against the body. Well, if the clergy of the Church of Ireland were satisfied with the prospect and content to take their chance, so to speak, as members of that community, it was not necessary for the House to trouble itself very much upon the question. It was a matter that had received, and would continue to receive, the earnest attention of the Government.
§ DR. BALL
said, that he had received from some of the Irish clergy communications expressing the wish that this Amendment should be passed. In the absence of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond he could not, however, undertake the responsibility of moving it, especially after the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, who had certainly suggested an alternative that had not yet been taken into consideration.
said, he was very glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Dr. Ball) was giving his attention to this point. It was not one involving any party considerations, and he had some confidence that the proposal of the Government would meet with the approval of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House.
§ MR. SHERLOCK
said, he rose to propose the omission of the clause, on the ground that it was inconsistent with the leading principle of the Bill—the establishment of complete religious equality in Ireland, while it was also of far too inquisitorial a character. The objection that had been made against Clause 18, that it would virtually re-establish the 1498 Disestablished Church was still more applicable to this clause. The effect of it was to distinguish the clergymen of the Episcopal Church in Ireland from those of the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and other religious denominations, and if any such provisions were to be carried in favour of the members of the present Establishment, they ought to be extended impartially to all other sects. He did not mean to argue that the Roman Catholics of Ireland would be willing that their ecclesiastical discipline should be supported by appeals to the temporal courts, except in cases where questions of property were concerned. He thought that, on the principle of equality, and in a Bill establishing voluntaryism in Ireland, this was a clause that ought to be omitted.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, he thought that the clause would create a marked distinction between the Disestablished Church and other religious bodies, and he wished that the Government would leave the members of the Disestablished Church entirely free.
§ MR. R. BRIGHT
said that he was in favour of the clause, and only doubted whether it would be sufficient to secure, as he hoped it was intended to do, the indentity of doctrine and discipline between the Churches of England and Ireland. He could see no force in the objections of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Sherlock); but, on the other hand they must remember that in the first days of disestablishment the Church would be feeble and it was the duty of the House to lend them a helping hand, and the process of disestablishment would be really a gradual one, for when the Act came into operation, in 1871, there would be a large portion of the clergy who would not be under the voluntary system, but bound by their ordination vows to obedience to the laws of the Church. In the event of any question of doctrine arising to what court could they appeal? The Committee had done away with the ecclesiastical courts and substituted for them the temporal courts, which might not always decide upon the same principles as the ecclesiastical courts had been accustomed to do. In fact, it was probable that questions would come before the temporal courts which had never been before the ecclesiastical courts at all. It would, no doubt, be necessary in the end to re- 1499 sort to the highest court of appeal in this country, but in the mean time there would be danger of a great schism being created in Ireland.
§ MR. O'REILLY DEASE
said, he thought that the most unlimited freedom of action should be given by the State to all denominations whatever.
§ MR. PIM
desired that all the religious bodies in Ireland should be placed on a footing of equality. He should not have objected to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli). It would be almost necessary, in order to prevent the Church, when once placed in a voluntary position, from getting into absolute confusion. He reminded the House that they were about to leave the Church in a condition of which there was no example since the disestablishment of the Church of Rome in Ireland. But in that case that Church had an organization of its own, and it received its directions from abroad. It was said that this clause was only introduced for a temporary purpose till the Church was in a condition to make arrangements for itself. That might be, but then see what was done by a subsequent clause, which provided that, when the Church Body had made laws and regulations for itself, it should be lawful for the Queen to incorporate that body and enable it, notwithstanding the Statute of Mortmain, to hold lands. But no other body in Ireland had that power. Before this section had the approval of the Committee he hoped a full understanding would be come to that some similar power would be conferred on other religious bodies in Ireland.
said, he thought this a very curious clause, and the more curious coming from the quarter it did. They had heard a great deal lately about the hardship of subscription; but here parties were not to subscribe, yet they were to be bound, not by any existing law they might now believe they knew, but, as if they had entered into a contract, by something that might be made by some other body. ["No!"] That was the construction he put upon the clause. It was not always very easy to say what were the obligations of Church membership; but how were these obligations to be enforced? Not by the ecclesiastical, but by the temporal 1500 courts. That seemed to him rather a complex mode of proceeding. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), whom he was sorry not to see in his place, seemed to think it necessary to put in words to save the clergy from the inconvenience of any alteration that might be made in the existing law. What was the case? That House, so far as it was in its power, had decided by a large majority that Ireland, so far as the governing power of this country is concerned, might—he did not say should—be for the future "without God in the world." ["No, no!"] The House had come to that decision; that was the position in which they were about to put one of the three kingdoms. It was a very grave question, whether, having taken that step, they had a right to interfere with the new body in any way—whether they ought not to leave them to their own free action—whether, by any attempt of this kind to keep them in conformity with some other body, they might not be doing the same very serious mischief. If they were to be entirely free from the State let them be free. They had sometimes heard of the Church in chains—that was rather a favourate phrase with some; but if there could be a Church in chains it would be the Church of Ireland disestablished and disendowed, with this 20th clause round its neck, He did not see any use at all in hindering the free action of the Church after the cable had been cut.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, he thought that if the 20th clause were looked at fairly, it would be seen that it was not open to the objections with which it had been assailed from various quarters. Beginning with the words—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,it enacted that the present ecclesiastical law of Ireland would be binding on the members as if they had agreed to observe the same. It was important to remark that this clause was entirely of a transitional character, and only proposed to operate so as to lift over the members of the Church from one state of things that had been entirely destroyed to another with which they might themselves deal. The view of the Govern- 1501 ment in agreeing to the clause was that the members of the Church would create a state of things for themselves. Until the voluntary body made some regulations analogous to those that governed all other religious bodies, there must be some such provision as this made by Parliament, or the whole body would be in a state of absolute anarchy. If they took from the members of the Church the courts in which their own peculiar obligations were enforced, they would not be placed in a better position than was occupied by other voluntary bodies in the kingdom; and the only difference between the position of a clergyman who refused to join the Church Body, and the one who did, was, that the one who did not join would be in a worse position than Dissenters, because in the one case they would enter into a contract to be bound by regulations to which they consented, while in the other they would be bound by those to which they did not consent. Suppose a minister guilty of any offence which would subject him to the censure of an ecclesiastical court, or to deprivation of his living. Under the new state of things he would be taken to have broken a contract which he would be supposed to be bound to keep, and which would be enforced against him by the temporal courts, the penalty for breach of which might be the deprivation of his living. The only difference would be that the sentence would be a temporal instead of an ecclesiastical sentence. Without such a clause the Bill would not work, because it provided for the discipline of the Church in the interval in the only possible way.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he thought it was possible to come to a common understanding in this case. As he understood the matter, it was a pity that this clause preceded the 21st. By the 21st clause the ecclesiastical courts were to be abolished on the 1st January, 1871, and this clause coming before it left some misapprehension as to its meaning. Coining before the abolition of the ecclesiastical courts it gave some persons the idea that it would subject them to a discipline that they had not before been called to submit to. But as he understood the clause it would not come into operation till 1871, and he admitted it was necessary that some provision should be made until then. Up 1502 to the 1st of January, 1871, everything was clear—everything would be administered by the ecclesiastical courts as at present. Then would come 1871, and by that time it was supposed the Church Body would be constituted. Till that Church Body, as a constituent body, representing the Church, altered the constitution, it was the intention of the Government that the civil courts should put in force the laws of the Church as they existed at present. That seemed to him very reasonable also. He saw no difficulty in it as far as property was concerned. But a question might arise as to the Bishop's jurisdiction, such as in the matter of a certificate of sequestration. He wished to know whether the Bishop's certificate of sequestration could be enforced in the temporal courts? He wanted to know whether, if the Church, though altered in organization, did not alter its laws, the Bishops, with the consent of the Church Body, could prosecute in the temporal courts in a question of doctrine? He supposed it would be so, for he remembered a dispute among the Dissenters, whether a certain chapel belonged to the Particular or to the General Baptists. It was a question of doctrine, and it was enforced in the Court of Chancery. But he wanted this point specifically stated, as much misapprehension existed on the subject out-of-doors.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, that the right hem. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy) had stated the effect of the clause with perfect fairness. The ecclesiastical courts were not to be abolished until the 1st of January, 1871. The effect of that would be that inasmuch as these courts had authoritative jurisdiction over the members of the Established Church, the coercive jurisdiction of the Bishops, as enforced by those courts, would last until that time. The Bill provided machinery by which the Church might be ready on the 1st of January, 1871, to have statutes and a representative body of its own. But it might possibly be that differences would arise, and in such an event the clause provided for the interregnum. But for the clause everything would fall into perfect confusion, and a minister might out or the pulpit and preach doctrine quite contrary to that of the Thirty-nine Articles, and to that which his congregation accepted 1503 and believed. The clause granted power of appeal under such circumstances to the temporal courts. It gave the temporal courts no additional jurisdiction, but merely confirmed to them the same jurisdiction as was actually exercised at this moment by the Court of Chancery over Wesleyans, Presbyterians, and other Dissenting bodies.
said, he found difficulty in assenting to the clause from the fact that the Bill would drive the Church of Ireland into a transition state, the result of which could not be ascertained until the new Church Body had been determined. The two clauses taken together, and they could not be separated, provided that the ecclesiastical law should cease to be administered in Ireland on the 1st of January, 1871, and that the interval, if there should be one between this and the time that the new Church Body framed its constitution, should be provided for under Clause 20. Now, if all the parties in the Church agreed as to its government, no difficulty would arise; but it must be remembered that the Bill dealt with a body which had certain existing laws, to which its officiating members had subscribed. Some of its members would wish those laws to be maintained, while others might desire to see them put an end to in the new laws which the new Church Body might desire to create. Supposing, then, that a large portion of the new Church Body did not agree to maintain the existing laws, what protection would the members of the Church have? And what would happen if the clerical authorities of the Church did not subscribe to the new doctrines laid down? He was not prepared to propose any Amendment to these two clauses, but he feared that great difficulties might arise if they were carried in their present form. There was another point on which he desired to have additional information. He should be glad to learn from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Sullivan) what was meant by the words "ecclesiastical law." What did those words include? It was distinctly said in one clause that the ecclesiastical law should be binding till the new provision was made, and by the next clause it was provided that the ecclesiastical law should be entirely abolished. How many Acts of Parliament and regulations affecting 1504 the Church did these words "ecclesiastical law" include; which would be binding, and which would be abolished? There ought to be some explanation of this.
said, his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) had remarked that there was much difficulty in regard to these clauses and the arrangements they contemplated. Well, the Government also admitted that that was the case. Indeed, he should like to know how any Legislature was to go through the operation of converting an established Church into a voluntary community of Christians, and to reserve, at the same time, all its legal rights as far as possible, without encountering difficulties. As regards the difficulty which might possibly be experienced at a future period by individuals who might not feel disposed to assent to particular regulations made by the new Church Body, that was a subject which had been already discussed on the Amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), and it would not be convenient to revert to it on the consideration of this clause, which affected the new Church Body as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman had asked what would be done if the body went to pieces or could not constitute itself. Well, the present Bill had been constructed throughout upon the supposition that a new Church Body would be formed, and he did not say that, in case it was not, further legislation would not be necessary. But he defied anyone to propose a law which should be perfectly adapted to the two suppositions—that the members of the Church in Ireland would and would not constitute the new Body. It would not be pursuing a course friendly to the Church if they were to include a set of propositions in the Bill on the supposition that it would, after the passing of the measure, disperse into fragments. It was more respectful, and it would be more beneficial, to assume in the first instance, as the Government had assumed, that the Church would be disposed to keep together hereafter, as it had done heretofore, although the means by which it operated would be different. If these expectations were not realized it would then be time to attempt to deal with the fragments into which the Church might be dispersed. He desired nothing better for the clause 1505 than that it should rest on the speeches which had been delivered in succession by his learned Friend the Solicitor General, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), and the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Sullivan). In reply to the appeal made, at an earlier period of the evening, by the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish), he could not help expressing his belief that the hon. Gentleman's objections to the clause must have been mitigated by the speeches he had just alluded to. One indication of the importance of the clause was that neither the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford nor the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) had proposed any alteration. No authority whatever was given by this clause to the present ecclesiastical law, the subject-matter of which would remain simply as a matter of contract between individuals, and not as imposed by authority of the State. Although the clause was most necessary for the purpose of the Disestablished Church, it was not either exceptionally advantageous or exceptionally disadvantageous to that body. Every religious body found it necessary to constitute tribunals of its own, which dealt with various circumstances which arose in the first instance; and, as a general rule, it was only in any difficulty, when their own machinery happened to be insufficient, that they were driven to appeal to the temporal courts as a last resort. But this new religious body, so long as the clause remained in action, would have no resort but to the temporal courts; therefore they would have the strongest practical motives for exempting themselves from the operation of the clause in order to voluntarily constitute their own tribunals. If he were asked, with regard to the general prospects of this Bill, and the hopes he entertained of carrying it into law, he should not hesitate to say that, in that point of view, the importance of the clause could not be exaggerated. It involved no violation of the principles of the Bill; it was, he believed, required by the common dictates of justice, and he strongly commended it to the acceptance of the Committee on account of the tendency it would have to lessen the difficulties and promote an early settlement of the question.
§ MR. SHERLOCK
said, that, although he still entertained some doubts as to the effect of the clause, he would not trouble the Committee with dividing, but would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 21 agreed to.
§ Clause 22 (Incorporation of church body).
§ DR. BALL
said, he rose to propose as an Amendment, to leave out at the end of the clause the words "to such extent as is in this Act provided, but not further or otherwise." The effect of the clause as it at present stood was this—The representative body of the Church might hold lands. There was no limitation or obstruction as to any amount of money, because there were no laws or rules of law in Ireland to prohibit anybody, whether a corporation or an individual, for any religious or charitable purpose from holding any amount of money. There were laws in Ireland to prevent corporations, but not individuals, from holding lands. Now, the first part of this clause provided that if at any time it was shown to the satisfaction of Her Majesty that the Church, as there described, had agreed upon a representative body, then it should be lawful for Her Majesty by charter to incorporate such body. That would make the new Church Body a corporation, and when it was made a corporation it was brought under the law of Ireland applying to corporations. The law of Ireland applicable to corporations was this—The old statutes passed in England in the reigns of the Edwards and Henries prohibiting corporations from holding lands were introduced, or rather the effect of them was introduced, into Ireland by Poyning's Law. Therefore since Poyning's Law corporations in Ireland could not hold lands without license. There was no prohibitory law in Ireland preventing any property from being applied to religious uses; the sole restriction in Ireland was against land being acquired or held by a corporation. In consequence of the Church Body being incorporated, the general law of Ireland would prohibit that body from holding any lands whatever except so far as it was licensed. Now the close of the clause dealt with that, as it said that the Church Body should have power, notwithstanding the Statutes of Mortmain, to hold lands to 1507 the extent that was provided in the Act, but not further or otherwise. But the only license to hold lands given in the Bill was contained in one clause, making provision for thirty acres in the case of a Bishop's house and for ten acres in the case of a glebe house. He objected to that limitation in both cases. The thirty acres and the ten acres would be too small. What were thirty acres in connection with the see house of Armagh, to which it had taken £14,000 to add one storey? The whole demesne, too, which was about 200 acres, was planted in such a manner that you could not carve it and cut it up without injuring the entire place. Viewing it merely as regarded the Government plan, the quantity defined was entirely too small. But he had a further objection to the limit imposed; he did not know why they were to put any restriction at all. The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland could hold land there to the extent of £10,000 or £100,000 a year, because the corporate character did not apply to that Church. The Roman Catholics had never been allowed to form a corporation sole or corporation aggregate. He did not deny that an individual could endow a bishopric or a glebe by conveying it to trustees, but that would be a very inconvenient mode of proceeding. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had another Amendment, with something like the same object, leaving the limitation contained in the Bill, but open to such further extension as Her Majesty might hereafter authorize. The spirit of that Amendment would, however, he feared, be considered contrary to the decisions already arrived at by the House, to the effect that there should be a complete severance between the Crown, or in other words, the State, and the Church Body. Then, again, it was not altogether fair to place the Church Body at the mercy of whatever Government was in Office, which would be the effect of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment. In various countries various limits as to the extent of land to be held in mortmain were adopted. In America and the colonies, £200 or £300 a year were allowed for each clergyman, and he would have no objection to accept a limit of that kind in this case. The Roman Catholic Church could not be prevented from acquir- 1508 ing property in Ireland, because there was no statute against superstitious uses in that country. Under the Charitable Bequests Act a deed or will, confirming endowment for religious uses, might be executed three months before the death of the testator, and this limit of time was the only restriction in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, and that was founded not on motives of religion but policy. The Amendment which he would propose was to leave out the limit as to extent, and therefore he would move in page 8, line 19, to leave out "to such extent as is in this Act provided, but not further or otherwise."
§ Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 19, to leave out from the word "lands," to the end of the Clause.—(Dr. Ball)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, the effect of the Amendment would be to enable the Church Body, when constituted, to hold lands to any extent whatever—a proposal utterly contrary to the spirit of the law. He could understand his right hon. Friend (Dr. Ball) proposing to enlarge the limitation, but to say that this corporation was to be favoured beyond all other bodies whatever he could hardly conceive to be a serious proposition. What his right hon. Friend had said with respect to the Roman Catholic Church was to be taken with a qualification. By the Charitable Bequests Act property could be held for them by trustees, and that he thought the Church Body might fairly ask. But the law never allowed the Roman Catholic Church to hold an acre of land as a corporation. On the contrary, that Church had been driven to every possible shift and device and to enormous expense to obtain the means of doing so, while the Established Church had been favoured by statute after statute, giving the most comprehensive powers with respect to these things. His right hon. Friend had spoken of the Palace of Armagh, and had told the House that it had cost £14,000 to put one storey on it. Well, if anything were wanting to add force to the argument in favour of the proposal of the Government, it had been supplied by his right hon. Friend. His right hon. Friend regretted that the see of Armagh should be deprived of its beautiful demesne; but thirty acres were a pretty fair allowance, and a Bishop 1509 would probably be better employed on his thirty acres than in putting a new storey on his palace at a cost of £14,000.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland seemed to have landed the House in a very unfair conclusion. He could not say that he was as much taken by surprise, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be, to hear that a country house in a former generation, when labour was high, and when the situation was remote, should have cost more than, perhaps, it ought to have cost, or would now cost, in a state of things like the present; but it hardly comported with the position of the right hon. Gentleman, or with the feelings with which he ought to have approached this question, for him to come forward, and to excite something like what, if it had not come from so august a personage, he should have called a claptrap cheer. Well, he would simply ask the Committee whether it was prepared to strip this Disestablished Church of all its property, and then turn it out naked into the world? Was it not a great hardship and unfairness that the Church, when constituted into a voluntary body, should be prevented from making itself into a benefactor of Ireland in the way of agricultural improvement? Was it not a great hardship if the Church, stripped of its old possessions and turned out almost naked, is to be precluded from making the best investment for its money it could, or, if it pleased, turning it into land? With so much unreclaimed land as Ireland still contained, and so many complaints rife about the absenteeism and want of interest of the landowners, any body of men who were induced to undertake and superintend reclamation and cultivation would be Ireland's natural benefactors. No obstacle, he maintained, ought to be thrown in the way of the Church Body investing its money, acquired by way of commutation or of voluntary gifts, in the purchase of land. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite maintained that for corporations to hold lands to an indefinite amount was a power unknown to the law, but at present a factor of the United Kingdom without an established Church was equally a thing unknown to the law, and if disestablishment were resolved upon in any one of 1510 these factors it must be faced and taken with all its sequelœ. There might be invidiousness in an Establishment having this power of holding land; there could be none in its being conceded to a voluntary body. One unknown state of things ought to be established to meet the other. If there was a fear that the effect of this Amendment would be that the Protestant laity of Ireland would flock into the market to buy land for the benefit of the clergy of their Church, to an extent detrimental to public polity, he could only say he should be glad to see such a burning zeal realized, and he should not then look upon this Bill with so much apprehension. But all people know that the new Body would, at best, only have a moderate income, and it was an act of tyranny to limit it in its commercial freedom to invest what it might obtain at the most remunerative interest, including landed securities.
said, they were not now discussing the question whether thirty acres were sufficient for a Bishop or ten for a clergyman. He was disposed to admit that, in certain cases, those limits would require modification as regarded glebes in the occupation of the clergyman, and where the Commissioners were of opinion that severance would be injurious, but that would come in a later clause. With regard, however, to the present Amendment, so far as he understood it from the observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball), and of the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), the Government must distinctly and decidedly join issue with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It was proposed that the Disestablished Church should have the opportunity of investing in land without any legal limitation to whatever extent it might find convenient, and the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge anticipated that the Disestablished Church would then take the read in the great work of agricultural improvement. His own impression was that the Disestablished Church would have something else to do. Ecclesiastical landlords, as a general rule, were bad landlords, and could not well be otherwise. If the ecclesiastics of the Irish Church engaged in land accumulation and management, they would be ecclesiastics of a very different 1511 kidney from those of which the Disestablished Church would have need. On grounds of public policy he was averse to the principle of accumulating lands in ecclesiastical hands. Whatever they did for the Disestablished Church they must be prepared to do for all other bodies in Ireland; and then arose this further question—the question between the various religious bodies and the State. Time was when almost the only kind of productive property was landed property. No wonder, then, that great license was given 500 years ago for its tenure by the Church, though even then it was continually found necessary for the State to interfere to impose limits on the power of holding endowments of land. But we had now lived into a period when the proportion of personal property had become very great, was every day increasing, and admitted of every variety of investment. He was not arguing that they should limit the power of bequests, but he thought it was enough for the religious bodies, as a general rule, to have the power of investment other than in land, and that it was necessary to apply a somewhat rigid rule as to the amount of landed property which they should be allowed to hold, especially in a country where the quantity of soil was limited, and where an ecclesiastical landlord, from the nature of things, could not be a good landlord. The Government could not accede to any change in the structure of the Bill which would entirely and essentially alter the present character of its provisions, and they objected to recognize landed property as a fit receptacle for ecclesiastical investments.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he thought it probable that the Church Body would be inclined to invest more in personal than in real property, for their own sakes. The right hon. Gentleman opposite the First Lord of the Treasury had, however, laid down a principle to which, if he adhered, he could not refuse to assent to what was now proposed. The right hon. Gentleman declared that what they did for the Disestablished Church they must do for all other religious bodies in Ireland. He (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) would reverse that, and say that what they did for others they should do for the Disestablished Church. The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was not an established Church, and could 1512 not be from its organization, a corporation, and to get over the difficulty thus arising, the Commissioners of Charities were authorized by 7 & 8 Vict. c. 97, the Charitable Bequests Act, to hold any amount of lands or property for the benefit of the priests of that Church and their successors, and for the Bishops of that Church and their successors. And, therefore, these charitable Commissioners held lands as trustees for those persons, of whom the First Minister of the Crown had stated that they could not be good landlords without being bad ecclesiastics. In that way he maintained that a fiduciary body had been created by Act of Parliament, into whose hands funds and lands were put by to accumulate. The fiduciary body, in the present instance, was created by the Government itself, and the Bill put into the hands of a corporate body all the funds of the Church. The Bill gave them a power to hold any amount of personal property, and he could not understand why it did not give them the same power with regard to real property also. The First Minister of the Crown, and the Attorney General for Ireland had laid down the principle that the same measure should be meted out to all religious bodies in Ireland. Well, then, having put the Roman Catholic body on that footing by the Charitable Trusts Act, he thought that the Government were bound to introduce into this Bill clauses similar to those in that Act.
said, he happened to have been a member of the Ecclesiastical Titles Committee, and had heard a great deal about the land question; and it was admitted that, as stated by his right hon. Friend, the Roman Catholic clergy had the power to acquire, and, in point of fact, did acquire, any amount of real estate. The right hon. Gentleman, though he had to a certain extent consented to modify the clause, never said that he would put the new Church Body upon the same footing as the priests of the Roman Church. He (Mr. Bentinck) maintained that this was not equality.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the late Mr. Southey asked why a man who were a black coat should be a worse landlord than he who were a blue one, and he could not concur in the apparent conclusion of the First Minister of the Crown, that a gentleman wearing a 1513 black coat would make a worse landlord than a gentleman wearing a blue one; indeed, he thought that as regarded Ireland, at all events, the reverse was true; and he had never heard that clerical landlords had been the victims of the violence to which other landlords had been subjected. Be that as it might, if the Church of Ireland was to be committed to the voluntary principle, why should the State step in and say the voluntary principle should not apply to the holding of land, except in the limited degree stated in the Bill? Through the mouth of the Attorney General the Government had declared the proper size and limit of glebes and episcopal domains; but that declaration was at variance with the first principle of the measure, with which the Amendment of his right hon. Friend was quite consistent; for what was that principle? It was that henceforth the State should not concern itself with the arrangements or affairs of the Irish Church. It was laid down, as a principle of public policy, that corporations should not hold land; but the Charitable Bequests Commission in Ireland was at liberty to hold an unlimited quantity of land for the purposes of the Roman Catholic Church, and he, therefore, wished to know whether that power was consistent with public policy? The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that, so far as regarded bequests of land, the Disestablished Church ought to be placed on the same footing as the Roman Catholic Church; but did the Bill place the two on an equality? It did not, and he therefore wished to know whether the right. hon. gentleman would bring up clauses to place the two Churches on an equality? As to the principle of public policy which prevented the right hon. Gentleman acceding to the proposal, he ventured to say there was no country in the world in which that principle, or the dread of ecclesiastical domination and spiritual influence, prevailed more than in the sister kingdom of Scotland. But did the law in that country say that gifts of land to a Church should be void? Not at all; the only limitation of the Scotch law was that the person who made a bequest of land for a religious or charitable purpose should have been seen at kirk or at market after he made it. He would venture to say that in no colony was a disestab- 1514 lished Church placed in so unfavourable a position as the disestablished Church of Ireland would be placed in by this Bill with respect to the bequests of land. On all these grounds the First Minister of the Crown was bound to assure the Committee he would bring up clauses to place the Disestablished Church on the same footing with respect to bequests of land as the Roman Catholic Church, or to show greater favour than he had shown to the Amendment.
said, he rose to reply to the challenge of the noble Lord (Lord John Manners), and he was glad of the opportunity it afforded him of removing some degree of misapprehension which probably existed in reference to this subject. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bentinck) had read them a lecture on equality, and to use a phrase from the same side of the House, he (Mr. Gladstone) would say it was very refreshing to hear a lecture from that quarter on the principles of equality. But were they departing from the principle of equality in the proposal they made? This clause was of a limited character, its object being to incorporate the Church Body, and to give to it certain limited powers in regard to the holding of land. Now, that was a question totally distinct from the general state of the law in respect to the holding of land in Ireland. Apparently, and in the letter, an advantage was, no doubt, possessed by the Roman Catholic Church, which had the power, indirectly, through the Commissioners of the Charitable Trusts, of receiving bequests in land, without any specific limit; and the Government were now told that they ought to bring the clergy of the Disestablished Church under the provisions of the Charitable Trusts Act. In reply, he was bound to say that this Bill did not attempt to re-model generally the Law of Mortmain in Ireland. In his opinion, however, the Charitable Bequests Act ought not to be taken as the standard of their proceedings on this Bill. He was a Member of the Government of Sir Robert Peel that had passed that Act, and he could say that it was another of those buttresses of the Established Church of Ireland, and therefore an exception to general principles. How was it possible, at a time when the Established Church, having one-tenth of the people for its followers, held hundreds 1515 of thousands of acres, to place a specific limit to the property to be held in trust for the Roman Catholic Church under the Charitable Trusts Act, which was framed solely for the purpose of allowing the clergy of that Church to pick up some of the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. That Act was passed to mitigate in some degree the remarkable anomalies connected with the Established Church. Was the House aware of the extent of the operations of that Act? Unless he (Mr. Gladstone) was misinformed, the extent of property held on behalf of the Roman Catholics under that Act was utterly insignificant. If the noble Lord approved of the principle of the Charitable Trusts Act, let him propose its application to the present Bill. It was one thing to constitute a Church Body a corporation, and allow it to hold land for itself, and another to set up a colourless representative of the State as a corporation in the face of the country, and allow that body to hold land on behalf of a religious community. He entirely agreed with the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) that there was no liberty given to any other religious body in Ireland which ought not to be given to the Disestablished Church. The proposition to put the Church under the Charitable Bequests Act would be a fair one for the noble Lord to make from his point of view, if he approved the Act. The general Law of Mortmain in Ireland required revision in connection with the Charitable Bequests Act or otherwise. The provision in the clause was forced upon the Government by the circumstances of the case; but the Bill did not propose any change for the sake of theoretical equality. They were compelled to constitute the Church into a corporation, and to say something as to the principles on which it should be regulated with regard to the holding of land. Let them do what was fair and reasonable, and then they would be the better prepared to revise the Law of Mortmain on the principle of perfect equality.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he observed that, whenever the right hon. Gentleman got into a difficulty with regard to the principle of his Bill, he invariably fell back on what he called "a buttress" required for the Established Church in Ireland. They were told, first 1516 of all, that the Regium Donum was such a "buttress;" next, they had the same statement applied to the establishment of Maynooth College by Mr. Pitt; then they afterwards found it extended to the enlargement of the Maynooth Grant by the late Sir Robert Peel; and now they heard the Charitable Bequests Act described as a fourth "buttress" of the Established Church. But what was most remarkable was the use made of that "buttress." The use made of it was to prevent equal justice being done to the Disestablished Church in Ireland, as compared with the existing non-established religious communions. The right hon. Gentleman gave him (Lord John Manners) leave to bring forward clauses for placing the Disestablished Church on what might be called the "favoured footing" on which the Roman Catholic Church stood; but he had not gathered from the right hon. Gentleman's speech that he intended to give him his support and that of the Government in the event of his taking him at his word. Should, however, the right hon. Gentleman decline to support such clauses, and merely tell them that, at some time or another, he might probably undertake to remodel the Law of Mortmain as applied to the kingdom of Ireland, the provisions of the Bill would be open to the charge of dealing out one measure to the Established Church of Ireland, and another to the Roman Catholic Church.
§ MR. CRUM-EWING
said, that he thought it would be most dangerous to invest such a corporation as the Disestablished Church with the power of holding landed property. It would become an imperium in imperio. He earnestly hoped the Committee would not adopt the Amendment.
§ MR. G. GREGORY
said, the clause as it stood proposed to give an unlimited power to the Church Body to hold property, but limited its power to invest that property in land. The clause, however, did not prevent the Church Body from investing money upon mortgage, by which, to all intents and purposes, it might become the proprietor of an unlimited quantity of land. The Attorney General for Ireland must be aware that the direction of recent policy was to relax the Statutes of Mortmain, and that, at the present time, corporations held vast properties under the license of the Crown; and, therefore, there could 1517 be no reason why the Church Body should not be permitted to hold land without limitation. He did not see why the Church Body should be put upon a different footing from the Roman Catholic Church, for whom trustees held large quantities of land which practically belonged to that Church.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that the Government were prepared to accept the engagement which the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) wished to impose upon them. His right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury had stated his readiness to extend to the members of the Church any concession which might be made to other religious denominations in Ireland; and the only question was as to the application of the principle. The only possible inequality that could arise under the clause as against the Church Body would be due to the operation of the Charitable Bequests Act, which it was stated would create an inequality in favour of the Roman Catholic Church. It had been shown, however, that that inequality was more theoretical than real, because it was well known that, in the matter of the acquisition of landed property, the Charitable Bequests Act had been almost a dead letter. But such as that inequality was, his right hon. Friend had expressed himself as prepared at the proper time to correct it in one way or the other—either by a modification of the Charitable Bequests Act, or by the extension of that Act to the members of all religious communions, including the Disestablished Church. He presumed, however, that the Committee was not going to stultify itself by remedying that trifling inequality in the manner proposed by the Amendment, that was to say, by creating on the other hand a gigantic inequality, and erecting an ecclesiastical corporation which would tower over all other corporations, lay or clerical, throughout the country, in respect of having the sole and exclusive privilege of investing an unlimited amount of money in land.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he would beg to ask whether the provisions suggested by the right hon. Gentleman were intended to be introduced into this Bill? [Mr. GLADSTONE replied in the negative.] He must point out that, in that case, it was impossible that those provi- 1518 sions could be presented to the House for consideration during the present Session, and no one knew when they would be brought in. He trusted that if the right hon. Gentleman refused to introduce such provisions into the present Bill, the noble Lord (Lord John Manners) would take upon himself to do so by way of Amendment. As to the supposed danger from the wealth of the Church Body, he could only say, that if the. Bill passed, people would probably not be so ready to give money to corporations as they had heretofore been.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 259; Noes 157: Majority 102.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 23 (Redemption of annuities and life interest of ecclesiastical persons).
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, whatever views may have been altered during this discussion, mine continue unchanged; and the experience of every day more and more convinces me of the difficulties which we have to encounter in connection with this question. I think that they were bound, when proposing, as they admit, a revolutionary measure like the present, to prepare all that subsequent legislation, which they now tell us is necessary. Looking upon this Bill, as I do, with unaffected repugnance, and believing that we have embarked in an enterprize that may prove disastrous to the realm, I am equally of opinion that if it is to pass—and in Committee we ought to work upon the assumption that it may or will pass—we ought to do everything we can to facilitate its provisions being carried into effect. With this view, therefore, I have considered this important clause, by which the redemption of the annuities and life interests of ecclesiastical persons is provided for under certain circumstances and certain conditions. It is proposed in the Bill that the representative body of the Church may assent to the Commissioners commuting the annuity or the value of the life interest of any ecclesiastical person; and that upon a person applying to the Commissioners they may pay the capital sum for that interest to the representative body of the Church. Now, it is evident that this may be a very long 1519 operation, and probably there would be a very considerable period before any great result could be accomplished. All must, I think, deprecate an operation of this character being carried on in so desultory and fragmentary a manner; and it is highly desirable that if this great result is to be accomplished it should be accomplished as soon as possible. With this view I propose an Amendment to the effect that the repretative body itself shall apply to the Commissioners for a commutation of the life interests; and that the Commissioners themselves, after they have ascertained and declared the aggregate amount of the yearly income, shall then commute this value, and capitalizing the amount, pay over that capitalized sum at once to the ecclesiastical body. This appears to me to be a course that recommends itself to all who have any regard to common sense; for if an operation of this kind is to be achieved, it should take place as soon as possible, and as completely as possible. If it could be done within a year it would be most advantageous to the country. I, therefore, propose instead of every individual—by the somewhat complicated course proposed in the Bill—applying to the Commissioners—for I do not see any satisfactory solution of the question if that course is pursued—I propose that, by the simple machinery contained in my Amendment, the whole capitalization shall take place at once, and I hope that, with the sanction of the Government, I may induce the Committee to assent to this. If this should be agreed to it would remain for us to consider the period upon which the commutation should be calculated. As far as I can gather from the general scope of the Bill, from the speeches of the First Minister of the Crown, and from casual observations made during these now somewhat protracted debates, I think that the mean term that would meet the justice of the case, and the arrangement that would be satisfactory to both sides of the House, is what I propose—that the capitalization should be made at the rate of fourteen years' purchase. This arrangement, if adopted, would greatly facilitate the settlement of the question now before us, and although, at the time that this clause was originally framed, the proposal it embodied was, no doubt, the best that suggested itself to the mind of the Government, I 1520 trust that their candour will induce them to acknowledge that the course I now propose is infinitely preferable. If the Committee should agree to what I have mentioned as a mean term, it appears to me that we shall have come to a settlement of this, which is, perhaps, not the least important clause in this measure, with less difficulty than has been generally anticipated. The right hon. Gentleman, in conclusion, moved his Amendment.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "Church," in page 8, line 24, to the word "Any," in page 9, line 6, in order to insert the words—
It shall be lawful for such representative body, at any time between the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, and the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two, but not afterwards, to apply to the Commissioners for such commutation of life interests as hereinafter mentioned, and thereupon the Commissioners shall ascertain and declare the aggregate amount of the yearly income to be computed as mentioned in Section 14 of this Act, of all persons holding, on the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, any archbishopric, bishopric, benefice, or cathedral preferment in or connected with the said Church, and also the aggregate yearly value as on that day of any ecclesiastical property passing to the Commissioners, on the death of such holders, such yearly value to be the full and true value of the property after deducting all rates and taxes other than income tax, and to include the benefit (if any) derived from fines paid on renewal of leases on an average of fourteen years preceding the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine; and the Commissioners, if the representative body shall satisfy them that such incomes and life interests are unincumbered, or, if incumbered, that the incumbrancers consent to the commutation, and also that the persons entitled to such incomes and life interests have consented in writing to such commutation and payment as herein mentioned, or, as regards those who have not so consented, that the due and punctual payment for their respective lives of the annuities which would be coming to them under Section 14 of this Act, and of the said yearly value of their life interests, has been secured to them respectively by the said representative body, to the satisfaction of the Commissioners, shall pay to the said representative body a capital sum equal to fourteen times the amount of such aggregate yearly incomes and life interests; and, upon such capital sums being paid, the several annuities provided for such persons under Section 14 shall not take effect or shall cease (as the case may be), and all the estates and interest of such persons in such ecclesiastical property shall vest in the Commissioners,"—(Mr. Disraeli,)
said, he quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman 1521 (Mr. Disraeli) that the consistent course for those who, like himself, felt a repugnance to this Bill was to amend its provisions, so far as they might he able to induce the House to agree with their views, and he had not the least doubt that that was the spirit and intention with which the right hon. Gentleman had proposed the Amendment. The immediate effect of that Amendment would he to increase the compensation given to the Church. The Amendment had fallen rather out of harmony with the general plan of Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman, in consequence of the Committee having declined to substitute 1872 for 1871. As it originally stood, the ordinary income of the Church would have continued till 1872. But he had objections which went to the substance of the proposition, and which he would endeavour to state to the Committee. In the first place, the clause would interfere with the individual liberty of clergymen as to commutation. He admitted that, in effecting the great changes contemplated by this Bill, it would be impossible to leave every individual precisely in the same condition which he now occupied; but he also thought it was their duty, and that it was highly politic, to confine those changes within the narrowest possible limits; and he could not understand why they should force the clergy, as a body, to proceed upon the principle of commutation implied in this Amendment. It was proposed that before the Church Body could carry out the commutation in the case of persons who did not consent to it, they should show that the due and punctual payment of the annuities was provided for. Were the Commissioners, then, to enter into the whole pecuniary position of the representative body, to examine its solvency, and satisfy themselves that the representative body had made such arrangements as would insure the payment of annuities, some of which would last for thirty, and even for forty or fifty years? The obvious effect of such a provision would be to make the Commissioners interfere at every point with the pecuniary arrangements of the Church Body, to exercise a virtual control over every investment which the Body wished to make, probably to compel the Church Body to accept less profitable securities than they would otherwise invest in, and 1522 thus raise a conflict of interest between the State and the representative body. But suppose the Commissioners satisfied themselves that the pecuniary arrangements were satisfactory, and the money would be paid. What would this amount to? It would be nothing else than a Parliamentary guarantee. It was quite impossible that the Commissioners could, under the terms of this clause, subscribe a document declaring that, in each case, the payment of the annuities had been secured by the representative body without entailing this consequence, that, if the arrangements of the representative body proved insufficient or unsatisfactory, the faith of the State would be pledged to everyone of these annuitants, and the State would have to bear the whole responsibility for the good or bad finance of the body. It was impossible for the House of Commons to undertake this liability. He had another word to say with regard to the fourteen years. If they were to increase the commutation money, it should be increased upon some intelligible principle; but the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman was not intelligible. He had referred to a declaration that fourteen years was about the mean value of the life interests compensated by the Bill. That was true, but it was not the mean of the life interests affected by this clause. There were five principal classes of life interests—the life interests of Bishops, of incumbents, of persons connected with cathedrals, of curates, and of Presbyterians. Of these, the life interests of curates were the best. They came to either sixteen or seventeen years' purchase. The life interests of the Presbyterian ministers were the next best, and they came to something under fifteen years' purchase. The life interests of persons connected with cathedrals, on account of the great varieties of age, were the third best; these fell under fourteen years. The life interests of incumbents fell yet more considerably under fourteen years, and those of Bishops, invariably men who had reached a respectable maturity, fell yet more under the line of fourteen years. In the Bill he had had to deal with these five classes of life interests, of which two were above and three under fourteen years; but the right hon. Gentleman struck off the two above fourteen years, and then took the fourteen years as the 1523 mean of the three classes, everyone of which was under that line. It was quite plain that such a proposal would not hold water. How, for instance, would you deal with the Presbyterian clergy? There should he uniformity of treatment, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman would take fourteen years as the mean in their case. The classes referred to in his clause would gain a year or a year and a-half. But if you proposed to deal with the Presbyterian clergy on the same footing, they would reply—"No, narrow as our stipends are, and small as is the commutation to which they entitle us, at least do not clip and curtail us in respect of that natural advantage of which you cannot deprive us—namely, our age." While in the Established Church a man did not usually come to his living before thirty-five or forty years of age, Presbyterian clergymen obtained it at twenty-four or twenty-six, and, therefore, commutation based upon fourteen years' purchase would deprive them of the compensation to which they were entitled. He objected, then, to the clause upon three grounds—because it would interfere with the free action of individuals; because it put the State, through the Commissioners, in an entirely false position relatively to the representative body of the Church; and because of the inaccurate figure adopted in the clause as the mean value of these particular commutations. It was impossible, therefore, for the Government to accede to the proposal.
§ DR. BALL
said, he apprehended that the larger number of persons would be quite willing to commute, and he thought that no injustice would be done to individuals under this clause. It was unreasonable in such a case that a minority should be able to oppose a proposition of great utility and fairness. This Bill was by no means an original one. It was modelled upon the case of the Church in Canada, and, he believed, that the number of the clergy who refused to commute there was extremely small. But it was scarcely fair that they should be able to hold out separately from the rest, because the representative body would be just like an insurance office in this respect—they could not undertake to pay the annuities unless a large number of persons came into the arrangement, and unless, therefore, there was a large area over 1524 which the calculation ranged. A calculation respecting lives was not certain as to a few individuals, but it was absolutely certain as to a large number of individuals. If a clergyman were shown ample security for his money, he did not think that there was any interference with his freedom of action. As to the fourteen years, he admitted that the right hon. Gentleman might say this was a greater age than the mean affecting those classes: that the clergy were only worth thirteen and the Bishops twelve. But when the right hon. Gentleman dealt with Maynooth and the Regium Donum, he was able to find that fourteen years was an exact measure of the value of the lives concerned there. The arrangements contemplated by the 39th clause for compensations in these instances were based upon that assumption. Now, the mode adopted in the 39th clause was, he contended, the true mode to adopt, because it did not weigh out the compensation to be given in grains and scruples, but fixed it at fourteen times the annual value, which was a fair round sum. He did not say it was the right figure, but fourteen was the Government's own multiplier. The mode proposed in the clause under discussion was a miserable and poor way of proceeding.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, he could not understand why any individual clergyman who would, under the operation of the Bill, be guaranteed his £500 or £600 a year, should be compelled to surrender it and take security which he would not himself voluntarily accept. Why should that House force the whole of the incumbents of the Irish Church to surrender their life-estates in land at the dictation of the governing body? Yet that was the proposal made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were constantly speaking of vested interests, because they found it convenient to alter the principles on which the Bill was based, when an endowment might be obtained by the Church by force. He maintained that the moment a man was compelled to submit to the jurisdiction of the Commissioners in the matter, the nature of his vested interest was annihilated. The Amendment was, in fact, but a repetition of the attempts which had already been made in several proposed Amendments which really pointed to endowment over again. It was a 1525 total mistake to say that any part of the Bill gave the Presbyterians fourteen years' annuity as compensation for what the ministers received from the Regium Donum. There was a clause having that effect where the annuities of widows were concerned; but the Committee must not anticipate the discussion on that clause. The cases of the Presbyterian College at Belfast and Maynooth were exceptional, and what was pro-posed with regard to them could, he believed, be as well defended at the proper time as any other part of the Bill. He hoped the Amendment would be rejected.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he was desirous of stating the reasons why he should support this Amendment. The Government might succeed in carrying the clause, but those who might be in a minority would do right to state their opinions and to leave them upon record. And in saying this he would bear testimony to the courtesy which, in the main, had been extended to them. His reason for supporting the clause was that it gave some small chance of doing some little justice to those for whose vested interest no provision had been made—he meant the laity. If this general system of commutation were established, there might be some means of retaining some small provision for those whose claims would be otherwise ignored. Let it not be said that the difference between the Government and their opponents was simply one between endowment and the reverse. He believed the intention of the Government to be, within certain limits, to give a chance of saving something out of the property of the Church, and he recognized a generous intention, so far as it went in that direction. The question was whether they might not give fuller and more perfect effect to that generous intention. He understood there were three objections to the Amendment—first, that it dealt unfairly with the individual by subjecting him to the general commutation without his own consent; secondly, that they might involve the State in a sort of implied guarantee if the Commissioners should be mistaken in the judgment they might form as to the security given for personal interests; and thirdly, that fourteen years' purchase was an improper amount on which to fix. In the first place, as to the un- 1526 fairness of dealing with the individual, without allowing him to exercise any sort of power. On this point he could not help saying that he was very much struck with the way in which the argument varied from clause to clause. He received information, last night, not from the Government, which led him to believe that this Bill would not be proceeded with to-night, and in consequence he was absent during the earlier part of the evening; but he had since been told that an Amendment which he had placed on the Paper was taken some notice of. The object of that Amendment was to prevent any clergyman, who received an annuity by way of compensation under this Bill, from losing his annuity in the event—which he owned was very unlikely—of the representative body making alterations in the terms of communion, as to doctrine, discipline, or any other matter with which he could not comply; and he was told that when that point came on for discussion the right hon. Gentleman said that, in a matter of that kind, the interest of individuals must be subordinated to the discretion of the general body. ["No, no!"] He begged pardon; he had been misinformed. [Mr. GLADSTONE here made an observation to the hon. and learned Gentleman.] He was happy to have received the right hon. Gentleman's correction. The right hon. Gentleman said that these individual interests must be subject to the discretion of the general body to a certain extent. Well, but this Amendment made the interests of individuals subject to the discretion of the general body only to a certain extent. The question whether the exercise of that discretion would give sufficient security to the individual or not would be left to the determination of the Commissioners who were proposed to be nominated under the Bill, and who were to be the final judges of questions of compensation and of a great number of other matters equally affecting the interests of individuals. Then, he said, why in the world should it be supposed that these Commissioners would be unable to form a correct judgment as to whether the interests of a small number of dissentients were sufficiently secured by the general body? In his judgment, it was only fair and right that they should incur this infinitesimal risk of an individual clergyman for the sake of the general interests. As to the second ob- 1527 jection, he would remark that the very object of the Bill was to make a final settlement, and, if there were not a guarantee on the face of the Bill itself, everyone would understand that the interest of the individual had been left subject to the judgment of the Commissioners. As a mere matter of law, no man could dispute that an individual would have no sort of claim against anybody except the representative body of the Church. Last of all came the objection of fourteen years' purchase. Now, the point of view from which he looked at the question was this, that some regard was due to the permanent interests of the laity of the Church. He was unable to see why the same measure of justice should not be dealt out to the permanent interests of the laity of the present Established Church that was dealt out to the permanent interests in Maynooth and the Presbyterian institutions. He was not satisfied—though he might be obliged to acquiesce—at being told that this would be explained when they came to the 39th clause. He owned he saw no good reason why it it should not be explained at once. He wished it to be observed that he did not complain of the measure of justice that was about to be dealt out to Maynooth, and to the Presbyterians. On these points he would go with the majority, however that majority might deny him what he thought justice on this and on other points. He thought too much was not proposed to be given either to Maynooth or to the Presbyterians; but he noticed that under the 39th clause those bodies would be allowed certain annual sums not payable to individuals for their life interests; and he said, from the point of view from which he looked at the matter, that it was just and reasonable that the Committee should agree to this Amendment, which would give to the laity of their own Church in Ireland a chance of obtaining the same benefits, consistently with the protection of the individual interests of the clergymen, by means of commuting them.
MR. WINGFIELD BAKER
said, he wished to ask whom the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Roundell Palmer) called the laity of Ireland, and where were the permanent interests to which he alluded? For his own part, he thought the laity were the majority of the people of Ireland, and the permanent interests were 1528 the interests of the great body of the people.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the object of his hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer) was one which he was not sure was shared by the proposer of the clause. His hon. and learned Friend wished to provide for the laity, whom he said the Government had totally and unfairly neglected. Now the Government never professed to provide for any supposed vested interests of the laity. A Bill for the disendowment and disestablishment of the Irish Church, which, at the same time, professed to provide for the vested interests of the laity, would be an absolute folly and self-contradiction. But if they had proposed to provide for the interests of the laity, they would have carefully avoided doing so by the method proposed by his hon. and learned Friend, which was the sacrifice or the endangering of the vested rights of the clergy. The effect of the Amendment would be this—that in every case it would destroy the free discretion of every individual clergyman in the Irish Church, and would transfer that discretion to other parties. It would depend first upon the Church Body, and next upon the Commissioners, whether any particular clergyman should be brought within the compulsory powers proposed to be conferred. The case of Canada had been referred to, but he denied the justice of the parallel, for though a good deal of commutation did take place there, yet every clergyman had the right to refuse his assent, and there was one case of a celebrated clergyman that withheld his assent to the last. Under the proposal now made no such discretion could be exercised—no such case as that of the Canadian clergyman could exist, though many Irish clergymen might desire to take the same course. It was perfectly true, as had been stated by his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Sullivan), that this was not a simple question of fixing the amount of the annuity, for it involved, in very numerous instances, the change from the position of a landowner into that of an annuitant. They had carefully distinguished between tithe rent-charge and ownership of property; but they were now called upon to sweep away that distinction, and to transform the clerical landowner into an annuitant 1529 in every case. Then as to the fourteen years which his hon. and learned Friend thought was fair and right, because it had been adopted in other cases, and for other purposes. He denied the justice of his hon. and learned Friend's allegation. In every case of life interest, whether the individual was clergyman or layman, the true life interest had been taken, though there were a few exceptional cases in which, not the maintenance, but the education of the clergy, and purposes of charity were concerned, where they could not go upon a life interest, and were obliged to take a commutation at an arbitrary number of years' purchase.
said, he felt grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) for having called attention to that very important matter in connection with this measure—the interests of the laity. The interests of the impropriators, of the incumbents and curates, and of vergers and choirmen, had been much discussed and well-cared for; nay, the class of permanent curates had even been invented, or, at least, resuscitated, for the purposes of that Bill; because last Session considerable trouble was taken to extinguish the class of perpetual curates in the Established Church. Indeed, the interests of every class, but the poor scattered congregations throughout Ireland, who would be the real sufferers from the measure, and for whom he felt most concern, had been provided for in that scramble for the plunder of the Church.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, he thought the Committee ought scrupulously to avoid doing anything by way of compulsion to make the incumbents capitalize the annuities offered them as comgensation for their vested interests. Those annuities, if so capitalized, would form a permanent endowment for the Church which they were professedly disestablishing and disendowing; and it would convert an assailable endowment into an unassailable one. As to providing compensation for the Protestant laity in Ireland, that laity had always taken good care of themselves. Go to any district or diocese of Ireland, and it would be found—to use the words of Bishop Bramhall's biographer—that the print of their sacrilegious paw was upon everyone of them. Let the Irish Pro- 1530 testant laity manfully come forward to support their own Church, and not ask the public to do so. They had obtained quite enough out of the funds of the Church to be able to support their own religion without personal loss or inconvenience. It is admitted that the Protestant Parliament of Ireland by abolishing the tithe of adjustment transferred from the Church to the pockets of the landlords four-fifths of the tithes of that kingdom; and any person who will take the trouble of enquiring into the present condition of the Episcopal lands will not fail to see that the Church gets about one-sixth of the rental value, and that the Protestant landlords divide amongst themselves, in various proportions, the remaining five-sixths. The Protestant laity of Ireland can therefore well afford to sustain their ministers, and will have in their pockets a large surplus of the property the nation set apart for ecclesiastical purposes after paying for their own Church administrations.
§ MR. PERCY WYNDHAM
said, he should like to know why the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government thought that the individual interests of the incumbents of Ireland were more likely to suffer at the hands of the Commission than the individual interests of the professors and students of Maynooth at the hands of the trustees of the College. He should also like to hear the ground of the distinction which the right hon. Gentleman drew between the interests of the professors and students of Maynooth College and the interests of the incumbents in the Established Church. Maynooth and the Protestant Episcopal Church were both ecclesiastical Establishments, and should be dealt with on precisely similar grounds and on the same terms. It was said the intention of the Amendment was to confer permanent endowments on the Irish Church. Then he answered that it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government to confer permanent endowments on Maynooth. The Bill went far beyond the individual interests of the professors and students of Maynooth; and if the right hon. Gentleman adhered to his present proposal in regard to that College, there was no ground of justice or of common sense for his refusal to accept the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 294; Noes 194: Majority 100.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, as it was past twelve o'clock, he thought the further progress of the Bill should be postponed, and accordingly moved that the Chairman report Progress.
said, there was no other Amendment to the clause, and he hoped the Committee would not object to pass it.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, the clause was a very important one, and he should himself approve their reporting Progress. But it would certainly be in unison with the usual practice to adopt the clause, and, therefore, he hoped his hon. Friend would not press his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.