§ [THIRD NIGHT.]
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [18th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Disraeli.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
* Mr. SPEAKER, I do not think it is possible that there can be any Member of this House to whom this measure has been the occasion of greater anxiety and solicitude than it has been to myself. Almost all the motives which most powerfully actuate and influence human nature would lead me to be desirous of giving my support to the Bill proposed by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. If general agreement of political opinion were sufficient for that purpose, I may say that there is no man whom for many years past I have so much wished to see occupying the position which my right hon. Friend now fills; and having for nearly nine years been acting in close and cordial co-operation with the party who occupy the Benches on this side of the House, I am bound to say that nothing has occurred during that time which has made me otherwise than proud of and satisfied with that connection, and full of sympathy for the high and patriotic aims which I know to actuate that party in general, and full of personal respect for all the Members of it with whom I have been brought into immediate contact. If personal attachments, if a sense of the highest personal and political obligations could be enough to determine any man's course upon this occasion, there are no attachments of mine stronger than those which I bear to some of my Friends sitting on the Bench below me; and from the first time that I became connected with them until now nothing 1907 has been omitted which could possibly have been done to make me more and more deeply indebted to them for every sort of consideration and kindness. The House will therefore believe that if I am unable to go with them upon this question, it is only under a sense of imperious and overwhelming necessity. My difficulty is not diminished because there are points on which I certainly cannot profess to differ from the advocates of this measure. I have no sympathy whatever with those who impugn the motives either of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, or of any of those associated with him in this undertaking. I know their motives to be as pure, I know them to be as completely reconcilable in their minds with a just regard to the interests of religion as my own, or as those of any other man; and I hope that in expressing, as I mean to do with freedom, my own opinions upon this subject, I shall not be betrayed into a single word which can for a moment cast the slightest reflection upon their intentions or motives. Furthermore, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that there is a real crisis in Ireland; a crisis to my mind the more grave and the more serious for the very reason that Ireland has been improving for many years in its condition; for the very reason that the Legislature of this country has shown so much anxious care to make the union with Ireland a real and hearty union. These circumstances, instead of producing a political reconciliation between the majority of the people of Ireland and the people of this country, seem only to make things worse, and I cannot but think we are called upon, more than at any previous period, deeply to consider the causes of this evil, and discover, if we can, a remedy for those causes. I agree with what was so eloquently said by the President of the Board of Trade, that we ought, if we can, discovering that remedy, to lay aside all party considerations whatever, and be willing to make any sacrifice—be it merely a sacrifice of interest, of prejudice, of feeling, not of duty—which would meet so grievous a state of things; and even upon the point of the disestablishment of the Church, I shall presently show that there is a certain length to which I might be able myself to go in company with my right hon. Friend.
1908 When I look at this Bill, I cannot conceal from myself that the principle of it is not disestablishment simply in the sense in which I use that term, but disestablishment accompanied by universal disendowment. That is a principle to which I cannot agree. It is advocated as an act of justice. To my mind it is a great act of injustice. It is advocated as likely to have salutary and beneficial consequences. I confess that I apprehend from it consequences which may tend to destroy the salutary effect of those parts of the measure, from which I might otherwise have anticipated good results. It is my duty to inform the House how far I am able to go with the Government on this point of disestablishment. I mean by disestablishment the severance of direct political relations between the institutions of the Church and the laws and government of the State. Taking it in that sense, and carefully separating the question of disendowment from disestablishment, I must say I cannot agree with those who say that the severance of the political relations of the Church with the State is, and necessarily must be, an abnegation of national Christianity, or an act of national apostacy. It appears to me that such a view is founded on an entirely false notion of the vocation of civil government and of the nature of national religion. The duty of civil government is to govern all and every part of the country committed to its charge with impartiality and justice, and with a regard to those interests which it belongs to human laws to protect. National religion, as I understand it, is not any profession, embodied in laws, or forms and ceremonies, made by those who are at the head of the Government; but it is the religion of the people who constitute the nation. It may be, and must naturally be under many states of circumstances, that the religious convictions of the people will express themselves in the forms and institutions of their Government. Under all circumstances, they must exercise a great influence over public legislation; and if the rulers are religious men, whether as members of a legislative body like this House, or as administering public authority in any other way, they will carry with them their religion, and be controlled or guided by its moral influence, in the discharge of all parts of their duty. But 1909 the forms of national institutions do and must, in this as in all other respects, vary from time to time, according to the circumstances of the country; and it is impossible to lay down à priori a rule to decide whether this change or that change tends to a departure from the national religion. Every single individual will be in point of religion what he was before the change, and therefore unless you believe that those who advocate the change have themselves departed from the principles of their religious profession, it is a monstrous and self-calumniating thing to say that an act of the nature now under consideration is an act of national apostacy. These views receive confirmation when they are examined by the light of history. In reality nothing has more changed and fluctuated in form and almost in substance than this idea of Establishment, as applied to the Church in this country, and to the institutions of the State in relation to the Church. The idea of Establishment at this day is different from what it was in the time of Elizabeth and Mary, and down to the time of the Revolution in 1688. It then meant that the Church and its doctrines were by the law of this country incorporated with the laws of the realm, and every person was presumed and commanded by law to be a member of that Church; and he was punished by the temporal law if he did not discharge the duties belonging to a member of the Church. That is a totally different sort of Establishment from any now existing in this country. There were, doubtless, persons who, when the Toleration Laws were first introduced, thought that we were giving up national Christianity because we did not any longer compel every citizen to profess the faith of the Church, which had been until then identified with the State. Do we not know, with respect to the Penal Laws, which all of us now condemn, that there were men who looked on every one of them as a badge and mark of national Christianity, and fancied that if we removed them we should shako the foundations of the faith? Do we forget how our metropolis was agitated in the last century, when propositions were made for the mitigation of those Penal Laws, and how it was said that if those propositions should be successful the light of Protestantism would be extinguished? It is well known that many 1910 persons declared, when the Roman Catholics were first admitted to political power, that the extension of that privilege to them amounted to a giving up of national Christianity. The same thing was said when we admitted the Jews to this House. But have we been—I speak of the nation as a whole—less Protestant or loss Christian since? Those who are Roman Catholics now—still speaking generally—were Roman Catholics then; those who are Jews now were Jews then; the religion of the people is the same, not having in any way altered. These adjustments of institutions to the necessities of civil government, as time went on, simply tended to make the Government a more true and faithful representative of the social condition and actual state of the people; and the exclusion of any classes of persons from their fair share of political power, on the ground that they do not belong to a dominant Church, is no longer recognized as being good either for the State or for the Church. Therefore we must approach the question of any political privilege given to the Church by considering whether the privilege is for the public good; for if it be not I am sure it is not likely to be for the good of religion; and, if it were good for religion, it would doubtless be for the public advantage. In the case of Ireland, I ask myself whether there are or are not valid reasons of State for the existence of that political privilege which constitutes an Establishment, and which may or may not be of utility to the Church. I confess I am at a loss to see in what point of view the political privilege of which I speak is at present useful for the spiritual objects of the Irish Church. We are bound to inquire—first, whether there is or is not reasonable ground for believing that this political privilege of the Protestant Episcopal Church is one of the causes of disaffection among the great body of the Irish people; and, secondly, whether it can be justly maintained for reasons higher and more important than those which are put forward to justify its removal. The hon. Member for Hertfordshire, in moving the Address to the Crown on the first day of the Session, said that what some people call sentimental grievances are calculated by their nature to excite most substantial irritation. There is real truth in that observation. The same feelings which prompt 1911 men to make great sacrifices for political freedom, or for national honour, are excited to resist any form of political ascendancy, which is created and maintained by external power in favour of any class, who, if that external power were removed, would have no moral right to claim it. The case is not as if there were one Church Establishment for the whole United Kingdom—Scotland is, for this purpose, separately, considered; and it is natural that Ireland should claim to be so too. But then, if the grievance consists in a violation of the national sentiment, what ought to be the remedy? Why should the remedy go beyond the disease? If the grievance is political ascendancy, surely the removal of political ascendancy will be the sufficient remedy. The grievance consists in giving, by State Establishment, to the Church of a small minority of the Irish people a superiority of rank, and an exclusive right—a right which no other religious body in the country possesses—to have its laws deemed part of the laws of the land, to have courts maintained for the execution of those laws—in the association of the Sovereign with the appointment of its chief officers, like the great officers of State—and in the introduction of those chief officers into the highest seats in one of the two Houses of the Legislature. These are the signs and marks of political ascendancy, these are the political privileges, these are the things that cause this rankling and irritation of feeling; and, in my humble judgment, the exigency of the case, this so-called sentimental grievance, may be met by the corresponding remedy—by the removal of those distinctions which elevate factitiously the political position of this particular Church above the other religious bodies in the country. But the question, whether you will take away their property seems to me an entirely different thing.
I come, then, to that question; and I ask whether, if you concede what I have conceded—if you do what I have stated myself willing to acquiesce in—although, of course, it would be with reluctance that, belonging to the Church of England, so long associated with the Church of Ireland, I could see anything like an apparent diminution of the honour and dignity of the Church, to which I am deeply attached—yet, conceding what I have conceded, I ask, is it really a ne- 1912 cessary consequence of it, that you are to introduce and pass this measure of universal disendowment? I will try and limit myself to the use of the word "disendowment." It means the same thing with another word, "confiscation," which I have been quoted in this debate as using elsewhere, but which I did not use as a word of contumely. As I take it, that word properly means taking property not at present rightfully in the coffers or treasury of the State, and putting it there. It is not to be denied that there are occasions and causes which might justify acts properly described by the word "confiscation." The question is, whether this is such a case. I confess I think not. I turn, then, to the question, is this universal disendowment a necessary consequence of taking away political ascendancy and political privilege? As a fact, it may possibly now have become so; but if so, who made it necessary? I do not think that such a necessity would be inherent in the nature of the change. I cannot be persuaded that it is a necessity arising from the justice of the case. It may have now become a political necessity; but I can take no part in the responsibility unless I think it always was so, and is also just. I will first ask whether any kind of precedent can be found for it? I confess I know of none. It appears to me unparalleled even by the extensive appropriations of Church property at the time of the Reformation in this country, appropriations which, I suppose, no one will deny, were attended or followed by very serious evils, and which few people have entirely sympathized with, though they may be thought to be politically necessary. These appropriations were of property belonging to institutions which it was deliberately thought should cease, not merely as then established, but should altogether cease to exist—institutions which were thought practical evils in themselves, and which it was considered the interest, if not the duty, of the State altogether to suppress. Had that been the view taken of the present Church of Ireland, of course we might have admitted the parallel, although we might not agree with the opinion. But every line of this Bill—which from the point of view in which it has been conceived displays the most anxious desire to do as much justice as possible consistently 1913 with that view—every line bears witness to the fact, that it is not thought that the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland ought to be suppressed, or can or will cease to exist. We have, therefore, no parallel, even in the extensive appropriations of Church property which occurred in this country at the time of the Reformation; nor am I aware of any parallel cases in any other country, although in some other countries these appropriations have taken place under circumstances so revolutionary as to form no precedents at all. Has anything like this happened in Canada r1 In Canada, as was well pointed out by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, in that remarkable speech, to which we all listened with so much satisfaction on Friday night—in Canada the whole case was essentially different. There were certain lands reserved by Act of Parliament which were originally supposed to belong to the Protestant Episcopal Church, and it was afterwards determined by law that, according to the true construction of the Act of Parliament, they belonged equally to all Protestant denominations. A large part of these lands had never become profitable; the income arising from other parts, which had never been assigned or appropriated as endowments to any particular rectories or parishes, had been distributed among the Episcopal clergy. These, when the reserves were resumed by the State, were dealt with very much in the way proposed by this Bill—that is, all persons who had got the benefit of the distribution previously made of the income had their life interests respected; they were commuted; and, as this portion of the reserves had not been appropriated for the use of any local communities, so as to give them any vested interests in their continuance, there was nothing else to take care of. But there was a third class of lands which had been actually appropriated to the endowment of particular rectories—I think between thirty and forty, or more, as was stated on Friday evening. These lands were appropriated to particular rectories of the Church of England, exactly in the manner in which tithes and glebe lands are now appropriated to the purposes of the Irish Church. What was done with them? Were they taken away? No. They were respected; they were left. 1914 It was felt there was no way of compensating those vested interests, except by leaving the Churchmen of those parishes in the possession of the property; and they are in possession of it to this day. But what happened in the United States of America? Surely, if there ever was a case in which this principle of universal disendowment might have been naturally expected to be applied, it was in the case of the separation of the United States from the mother country. In some of the colonies something like ascendancy had been given to the Church of England. In the great State of New York there were Royal grants—not very old, the latest not much more than 150 years from the time I am now speaking; very valuable land in the City of New York had been granted for the endowment of Trinity episcopal church. We know, on that great Revolution, the great Republic did not think it its Christian duty to establish any particular Church or religious denomination—it was not, I apprehend, less religious on that account it is only evidence that there was in that great country a divided state of religion which made it inconsistent with civil harmony to introduce such an institution. But did they on that account; think it necessary to confiscate and take away the endowments granted to particular Protestant Episcopal churches, though granted by the Kings and the State of England in the previous times? They did not. It happened, not very recently, that a question arose before one of the courts of the United States as to the endowment to which I have referred. According to one account which I have received.the value of that endowment is now about £400,000 a year—not so very far from the total value of the endowments of the Irish Church. [A voice from the Treasury Bench: ""$400,000."] No, the sum was reduced from dollars to pounds in the statement I have received. In another statement, however, the value was given at £100,000, but, by the falling in of leases, it was thought likely soon to reach or exceed the larger sum I have named. The question was raised, whether Trinity Church was entitled by the laws of the United States to the benefit of that endowment; or was it to be dealt with as national property, disposable by the nation? It was held 1915 that no law to take it away had been passed by the United States, and till such a law had been passed it could not be so treated. Till you make such a law it is not national property, or to be treated as national property. But what is the key-note of this whole debate? Why, that this is national property now; not that we are now to make it so, but that we are to take it as being already so, to treat it as already in our pockets as a reason for putting it there. I would ask the House further, is there nothing in the nature of public endowments in any of our own colonies and foreign possessions where there is no Established Church? There are such endowments, as all who are acquainted with the colonies know. I am not sure how it is in India, but certainly in several of our colonies there are such endowments, although no Established Church. The questions of disendowment and of disestablishment, therefore, are not inseparable, and they ought not to be so treated. Whatever other reason can be given for so treating them, it is not a case of necessity. Granting that, I will now ask whether, although it is not necessary, it is right? Upon that question I think that the burden of proof—and much more proof than I have yet heard addressed to that part of the question—lies upon those who insert it. However, I will do my best to accept that burden myself, and I will inquire whether there is any reason for believing that is just or unjust, that it is likely to be salutary or otherwise; and here, if the House will permit me, I will distinguish a little between the different portions of the revenues of the Irish Church. I must not be understood as saying that the question of disestablishment might not, to some extent, involve some change in the appropriation of the revenues of the Church. I have never said that, because it is manifest that there may be revenues so obviously connected with the position of dignitaries in an Established Church, as such, that I would not for a moment say, if it ceased to be an Established Church, the raison d'être of those particular possessions might not, either to some extent or altogether, cease. That is undeniably the case with the Episcopal revenues, and no one dealing with the question with that degree of honesty and candour with 1916 which I shall, at all events, try to deal with it—for I shall express my real opinions as they appear to my own mind—I say that no one so dealing with the question can fairly and truly say that the amount of the episcopal revenues, or the number of episcopal sees, now existing in Ireland, has nothing to do with the position of the Church as an Establishment. No one can truly say that they have not so much to do with it, as to make it very difficult here to separate the question of establishment from that of endowment. These Bishops are all directly nominated by the Crown, and they sit by turns in the House of Lords. Take away the Crown nomination and patronage, and the Parliamentary position—let the Church be reduced to the position of a Disestablished Church, with the right to make and multiply its own offices and appointments freely, pari passu with the other voluntary Churches of the kingdom—and I cannot carry the argument myself so far as to maintain that the same amount of episcopal revenues can be claimed by the Church, or that the episcopal revenues stand on the same footing as the parochial revenues. And I will not enter into the question whether or not it would be just or obviously necessary to take away the whole of those episcopal revenues. I wish to make my argument as cogent as I can on those points where it seems to me to be impregnable; and I will, for the moment, assume that the burden of proof is so shifted on myself, as to this point, that I am unable to satisfy it as to the whole amount of those revenues. I will also suppose the same as to the capitular revenues, and also that those funds which are in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are to be dealt with as in the same category. Those altogether amount to a very considerable sum, because the aggregate of the three is not less than £186,651 12s. 8d. a year. But this leaves untouched the case of the parochial endowments, which correspond with the rectories of Canada and the United States, of which I have spoken, and in which the people have the real vested interest. Their case stands thus—The total amount of the endowments of the parochial clergy in Ireland is £395,180 17s. 1d., of which £329,08717s. 10d. is derived from the tithe rent-charge; the sum of £62,124 12s. 1d. from glebes; and the rest from mis- 1917 cellaneous sources of smaller amount. How stand the facts as regards the population of the parishes that are so endowed? I find from the Commissioners' Report, that, if you take the figures at which they propose to suppress benefices—namely, forty Church members—I do not say whether that is a right principle or not—there are 199 such benefices, with a total annual value of £37,097 12s. 6d, In. their last appendix they give the total number of parishes having less than 200 Church members, which number is 431. The House will recollect that the total number of parishes in Ireland is something above 1,500. Therefore less than one-third of the whole number are parishes with less than 200 Church members, which includes the 199 parishes having less than forty Church members. The income of these 431 parishes is £54,620. Suppose, then, you were even to take all that away, in addition to the total episcopal, capitular, and Commissioners' fund., you would still leave the sum of £340,000 as the present endowment of parishes, in every one of which there are more than 200 members of the Church.
Now, let us consider the sources of these endowments. It would be a great mistake to imagine that the present Irish Church remains in possession of the whole of the ancient national endowment of the ancient Church of Ireland. The whole course of centuries, down to the present time, has been occupied in its spoliation. Take one item—the tithe rent-charge. That is computed to represent not more than one-sixth of the original value of the tithe. It has been melted away by various processes. A large portion has been appropriated from time to time by lay hands. In the latter part of the last century, when, by several actions at law, the right of the Church to agistment tithe had been established—that is, tithe on pastoral land, and Ireland is a great pastoral country—an Act of Parliament was passed which abolished that tithe altogether. Then we come to the Composition Act of 1823. The compositions for tithes were very much below their value, and by that Act those compositions were made permanent. Then came the Cess Act of 1834, which threw all the repairs which would be met in England by the church rate upon the funds of the Church. Then we come to the Com- 1918 mutation Act of 1838, which, as the House knows, gave one-fourth of the commutation, which was paid on the amount of composition, to the landlord as the price of collection. In that way, I find it stated in the second Appendix to the Report of the Irish Church Commissioners, that the whole value of the remaining tithe is not more than one-sixth of the original value, or, as Mr. Shirley says in his Historical Sketch, which the Commissioners have published, only a fraction of the original tenth remains to the clergy—scarcely a larger portion than would have fallen to their lot if the whole tithe had been a national provision, and had been divided between the Church of Rome in Ireland, the members of the other Churches, and the Protestant Episcopal Church itself. Recent measures as to tithes, church rates, and ministers' money are stated to have had the effect of diminishing the revenues of the Church, even during the present century, by nearly £250,000, or about one-third of the whole amount. Let us not speak, therefore, as if the entire ancient ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland remain, and are still enjoyed by a small minority of the population. It will be seen, on the contrary, that they are in possession of property not much, if at all, more than equal to their due proportion of the population in general. I do not pretend to put this matter before the House with numerical exactness. I merely mean to say that the disproportion is not anything like what it would be if all or the greater part of the ancient provision made for the Church in Ireland, when the people were united in religion, still remained in the hands of this small minority. Now I want to consider what the effect of this Bill would be on these endowments. Practically, the Bill takes away everything, saving only the life interests, mid private endowments since 1660. I will consider the life interests presently; but I want now to know whether there is really and truly a clear and satisfactory distinction between these private and non-private endowments. I know that my right hon. Friend the late Member for South Lancashire—I ought to have spoken of my right hon. Friend by that title, which I am much more happy to apply to him—that of Prime Minister of England—I know that my right hon. Friend is perfectly aware 1919 that, except as a matter of sentiment, there is no distinction, because he said so. In his speech at Liverpool, he said that the sentiment was irresistible. I confess I agree with him. I think the sentiment is irresistible, when you propose to take away private endowments. But I carry it somewhat further. I think it is equally irresistible with regard to all private endowments whatever. I have said there is no distinction in principle between the case of private and other endowments. And why? Because the private endowments were given to the Established Church. And, if it be true that the glebes given by Kings—and the tithes given by ancient piety, and afterwards consolidated bylaw—are to be regarded as given to the Church, only as an Establishment—given on condition of the continuance of its privileges by the State, as a Church having its institutions united by law to the political institutions of the State—it is irresistible logic that the donors of these private endowments must be held to have given them just as much to the same institution, and for the same reason. The real truth is, that if you try to find any solution of the question, you must look to general considerations of reason, policy, and justice; and I say that reason, policy, and justice oblige the man who takes away to show the reason why he does it. To my mind, that reason has not yet been shown. But now let us consider what this distinction between public and private endowments, since the Reformation, really is worth. The whole of the glebes in Ulster, and by far the greater part of those in other parts of Ireland, were given after the Reformation. And how were these estates given? Were they given by Acts of Parliament or by solemn acts of the State, to which you can refer, and on the face of which you can find that the gift was upon condition of the continuance of the existing state of relations between the institutions of the Church and the institutions of the State? They were given by Kings, out of lands which came by confiscation into the hands of those Sovereigns, exactly as those Sovereigns gave other portions of the same lands to private persons, whose descendants enjoy them to this day. I own it was a matter of some surprise to me to hear, I think from my right hon. Friend, but, 1920 at all events, from one speaker on the Treasury Bench, that these glebes, and parts of the tithes which are dealt with by the present Bill, were given by way of restitution, because they had previously been taken from the Church by some former process of disendowment. It certainly is a very formidable doctrine that you are to go back from the existing title to a more remote title, which had been destroyed, and, on the ground that the new title is to be referred to the old, to conclude, for some reason connected with the old, that the property itself is to be taken away. A most formidable doctrine this, I must say, and especially for the New Voluntary Church Body, which you are going to create under this Bill. According to that doctrine, there will certainly be no security for the New Church Body—no security for the churches or houses which may be left to them—no security for anything which may be saved through the commutation of their life interests. For these may all be said to be, in some sense, a residuum remaining out of the old endowments. I confess it seems to me that when a State gives freely and does not annex specified conditions—when Kings, more especially at periods of our history which enabled them to deal with property as if it were altogether their own, or when private individuals give property to persons capable of taking it by legal titles, titles as valid at the time of the gift or grant as any private titles could be—when that is done, the gift takes effect exactly in the same manner, to all intents and purposes, whether the donor be the King, the Parliament, or a private individual. You must look at the title, see when it was granted, and what conditions were annexed, and if the conditions were the same in one case as in the other, there is no more justice in taking away the property in the one case than in the other.
I have thus given my reason for not thinking that you can possibly stop at private endowments, or at Churches, if you recognize the principle of some moral claim on the part of this body, even after it should cease to be established. I may perhaps be permitted to say one thing more in this connection. If we are to frame for ourselves hypotheses as to the motives and reasons for these grants, and to say it was because the Church was established, and it was sup- 1921 posed it would continue to be established, that these gifts were made, and that now it is to be disestablished these grants are to be withdrawn and to revert to the country, I should like to know, that line of argument once adopted, where we are to stop? I pointed out in the early part of these observations that the Established Church did not mean the same thing at all periods of our history; that it was very different before the Toleration Acts from what it was afterwards. Before the Toleration Acts, the idea was that the State and the Church were absolutely one, and everybody was bound by law to be a member of the Church. Some one may improve upon the view I am at present combating, and may say that the reason why all the endowments granted to the Church, at all events from public sources, down to the Revolution of 1688, were so granted was because at that time all persons were supposed to be of one religion, and were in fact required to he so by law; but that the law on that subject being changed, cessante ratione cessat lex. In other words, such a line of argument puts it in the power of any one taking a retrospective view of history to annex conditions, not expressed, to all ecclesiastical property whatsoever, and, because of the changes which have occurred in our legal, social, and political systems, to say that those unexpressed conditions have been violated, and therefore that the State has the right to resume the property. That, I say, would be a new and very formidable doctrine. Then I come to the next point, the limit of 1660. The principle upon which that date has been adopted appears to me more difficult to understand than almost anything else in the Bill. It is said that because the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England were not adopted by the Irish Church until 1634—not 1660—and because the system of Church government and Church discipline in Ireland may have been practically consolidated, in its present exact form, after the Restoration rather than before, you are therefore to take matters as if an entirely new start had been made, and a new Church established, and as if all kinds of endowments given between the Reformation and that date of 1660 had been given to some Church other than the present. But those who say so cannot 1922 possibly be ignorant of this plain matter of fact that, by the legislation—which few of us entirely approve—of the 2nd of Elizabeth it was expressly stated that the whole of the bishoprics in Ireland were to be in the nomination of the Crown, as they were in England, and even more absolutely; that the Liturgy of the Church of England as such was to be in use in all churches in Ireland, and everybody was to be obliged to conform to it; and that this included the Ordination Service, and everything else characteristic of the constitution and discipline of the Church of England. And although it may be true that the Thirty-nine Articles were not adopted till 1634. will anybody say that there was not substantial community of doctrine and of worship in the two Churches in the interval—at all events as far as the law was concerned; or will anybody say that persons who gave private endowments during that interval gave them with a view to the Roman Catholics usurping the benefices, as they did in some portions of the country during a considerable part of that interval, or with a view to Episcopalian clergymen fraternizing in other places with Presbyterians—as my right hon. Friend said they did fraternize-—possibly very much to the benefit of both? It is evident that the gifts must have been to the Church then established by law, and not to some other Church which, as the law stood, could not then exist. The suggestion is that there was a good deal of confusion, and a good deal of usurpation of benefices in different parts of Ireland, by persons not conforming to the Established Church, during the interval of which I have been speaking. I believe that there is much exaggeration in this statement; but, if it were ever so true, it could not justify the assumption that persons who gave endowments to the Church established by law before the year 1660 did not mean the same thing as persons who gave endowments after that date. Why, the very confusion, the very invasion by Roman Catholics hero, and Presbyterians there, must have made the inducement stronger to give new endowments to the Church to replace what she had lost.
And now I come to a question of much more importance. Why do you respect only life interests? Are there no others? I say there are. And the Bill, in this 1923 respect, seems to me the ne plus ultra of that system,—I hardly know how to characterize it without using some word stronger than I should wish to do—of that practice which too much prevails in our legislation, of looting to the individual interests of persons who discharge public duties, more than the rights and interests of those for whose sake they discharge them. It is a distinguishing feature of the present working system of the Church of England that there is hardly anything for which a clergyman once appointed can be turned out of his living. But who are the persons who have the real interest and benefit in the ministrations of the clergyman? The people of that religion whose minister he is. They are the persons whose servant he is. And when you find that there is a community, necessarily permanent, which your legislation neither will destroy, nor is meant to destroy, who will continue after it has taken effect with the same spiritual needs as before, and obliged either to go with these needs un-supplied, or to find new pecuniary means for their supply, then, I say, the true vested interest is the interest of those persons, and not that of the minister. Now, let us look at what is proposed. It is proposed to give to these persons their churches—a costly boon. Let me not for a moment be misunderstood. I should be truly sorry if they were not to have their churches. But still it is a costly boon. We find from the Commissioners' Report, that at this moment, the total annual cost of their maintenance, including repairs, for the year 1867, was £62,043 17s. 11d. They have been maintained out of the Church funds exclusively—not a shilling, not a penny has been levied from the people, since the abolition of Cess in 1834. You are now going to throw that £62,043 17s. 11d. upon the members of the Church, besides everything else, although they will no longer have the Church funds to assist them. Now, let us see how the fact stands, as to whether there are such persons—large permanent bodies, in parishes as populous as ordinary English parishes are—who have the local claim, who will continue to have it, and from whom you are taking away this property, not to give it to anybody else; for this disposal of the surplus—although I have not a word to say against it if there be a surplus—is manifestly an ingenious dis- 1924 covery under great difficulties, for the purpose of finding out what to do with it. Now, let us see whether there are in truth such people as I have referred to, existing to any great extent in Ireland. I find it stated in one document appended to the Commissioners' Report, that, in one-third of the dioceses in Ireland, all the parishes are sufficiently populous to require the exclusive services of a resident ministry, so that it would be inexpedient and unfit to unite any other parish to them; and that, as to the other two-thirds of the dioceses, one-half of the parishes are so. That is the general statement; but it applies still more forcibly to particular parts of the country. With the permission of the House, I will take for illustration two dioceses in the North of Ireland—first, the united diocese of Derry and Raphoe, and, secondly, the united diocese of Down, Connor, and Dromore. In the first of these dioceses there are 111 benefices, to only twenty of which is there is attached a less Church population than 200. One of them has more than 3,000, seventeen of them between 1,000 and 2,000, three between 900 and 1,000, seven between 800 and 900, nine between 700 and 800, seven between 600 and 700, fourteen between 500 and 600, twelve between 400 and 500, eleven between 300 and 400, and ten between 200 and 300. Now, anywhere else, should we say that these were not cases in which the population was adequate to a permanent endowment? I say nothing against anybody who might suggest that by possibility in some of those places the endowment may be excessive, and more than can be justified by the population. If such be the case, let that be the subject of investigation and adjustment. I would yield this, as I have yielded some other things for the sake of peace, where I was not bound by justice to maintain them. But surely these are populations which have some right to say—"We ought not to suffer. You are taking away from us our permanent endowments, although you provide for our servant the minister, and are giving us in return no compensation whatever, although we want an endowment as much as ever we have done, and have not done anything whatever to forfeit it." Let me now take the population connected with the benefices in the diocese of Down, Connor, and Dromore. 1925 Of eleven parishes in Belfast the aggregate population is 24,534. Of the remaining 133 parishes only twenty-four have a population under 200; one has a population of above 5,000, one between 4,000 and 5,000, six between 3,000 and 4,000, nine between 2,000 and 3,000, seventeen between 1,000 and 2,000, seven between 900 and 1,000, three between 800 and 900, eight between 700 and 800, seven between 600 and 700, eleven between 500 and 600, seven between 400 and 500, fifteen between 300 and 400, and seventeen between 200 and 300. From these 109 parishes having such a substantial population, you propose to take away all provision for a religious ministry. But this does not apply only or principally to populous parishes in towns, where it is comparatively easy to supply the religious wants of the population. The Rev. Mr. Sadler, a clergyman of the Church of England, who has written a very able pamphlet upon this subject, and in whose views I may say I almost if not altogether agree, has given a table of the Protestant Episcopal population of forty-four parishes, merely as examples, and many more might be found. He has excluded from that table all places containing either the whole of any large towns or any parts of them. In every one of those forty-four parishes there is a population of at least 300, and in many of them much more, and they are scattered over no less than twenty-five square miles, and in some instances over thirty-five square miles, being eight times the area of average English parishes. In one of those parishes there is a population of above 4,000, in another of above 3,000, in two of 2,000, in thirteen of 1,000 and so on below that number. In those cases the people are in such circumstances, that it is very difficult indeed to suppose that, if you take away from them the existing provision for religious ministry, they will be able to supply one for themselves. But is it not quite plain, that, unless you can show that in taking away that provision there is some manifest good to be done—that it is to be given to somebody who has a better right to it—you are doing a wrong to these people? Because I say that to take away my property, not because it belongs to somebody else, but because you want to take it away, is doing me a wrong.
Passing from that point. I would ask. 1926 what would be the result of the change you propose to effect f And here I will take the liberty to refer to the appeal which was so eloquently made by the right lion. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade on Friday last, in that splendid speech, which we all heard with so much interest. May I be excused if I respectfully take the liberty of saying that I listened to that speech, and all other recent speeches made in this House both this year and last by the right lion. Gentleman upon this subject, not merely with intellectual admiration, but with a very large- degree of moral sympathy. He does not accept my conclusions; ho thinks both them and my reasoning entirely wrong; but I do take the liberty of saying, that with the feeling which actuated and animated him in those speeches I entirely sympathize; and it is only because I think that unjust which seems to him just, because I think that although his end is good his means are not so, that I do not go along with him, as, if I were merely to indulge my feelings after hearing his powerful appeals, I might be disposed to do. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to show that, after all, the effect of the proposed change would not be the spiritual destitution of these communities of the Church. I wish to avoid the fallacy of generalizing, by speaking of the Church as a whole. I will, therefore, not speak of the Church as a corporation, because lion. Members have been very properly pulled up for speaking of the Church as such. When you speak of the Church as a whole, you lose sight of some of the main points of the question. It is of the endowed communities of the people in the parishes that I want to speak. The right hon. Gentleman says—"Why entertain such gloomy views? Why have you not more faith in the power of your religion? Don't you remember what happened in Scotland? Don't you remember that magnificent spectacle?"—and it was a magnificent spectacle, one of the finest moral spectacles which history has ever presented—" of that great body of men who went out for conscience' sake from the Establishment, without any compensation for vested interests, leaving house and home, and immediately betaking themselves to the founding of a new Church,"—with that remarkable and extraordinary result, which the 1927 right hon. Gentleman so powerfully depicted. I would, however, ask the House whether there is not a very great fallacy in pointing to that spectacle as an example to us at the present moment, as if that case possibly could be like the one we are now considering? In the first place, I beg to observe that the State has dealt very differently with the Established Church in Scotland from the way in which she has dealt with the Episcopal Church both in England and in Ireland. The Established Church in Scotland enjoys, in my humble opinion, a much better government, a much better organization—I do not allude to the difference between Presbytery and Episcopacy, of course—than the Church of England. She has her Kirk Sessions, her Presbyteries, her Synods, her General Assemblies, each step of self-government rising above the other, so that she has been well exercised in the whole art and power of self-government, self-legislation, and self-expansion, no State control coming in to stop her Synods from meeting, or from exercising all necessary powers of legislation and discipline. There the great men who afterwards became the leaders of the Free Church movement had as much liberty of speech as we have in this place. There they formed their parties, there they organized their system, there they collected together such a power and bond of moral public opinion as enabled them to go forth triumphantly, even, when leaving all which in this world they possessed. Have you so dealt with the Church of Ireland? Have you not imposed upon her, as the very condition of the Establishment which you now seek to remove, such restraints as prevented that organization of the powers of self-government, that organization of ways and means, and that organization of feeling, opinion, and discipline, which we have seen existed in Scotland? I am not speaking of an abstract difference, I am speaking of a difference which had a direct practical bearing upon the very case itself; because how was the Free Church formed? Was it the birth of a moment? Did it spring up full armed like Minerva from the head of Jupiter? By no means. It was formed in the General Assemblies of the Established Church. There it was that, by legislation, by council, by deliberation, by carrying on a long battle against the 1928 powers of the State the principles of the Free Church were established and consolidated, and the bond of union formed between those who afterwards seceded. But has anything of the kind occurred, or could anything of the kind have occurred in Ireland? If it had, you might have said—" The Irish Church has disestablished itself, and must take the consequences."
The next observation I have to make is this—There is all the moral difference in the world between the man who goes out of his own accord and the man who is turned out. The man who goes out of his own accord goes out in a cause in which he is the aggressor at all events, and may think he will be the conqueror; but the man who tries to hold his own, and is not able to do so is in a very different situation, and a very long period indeed must elapse before he can arrive at the possession of an organization suitable to his altered condition. Mr. Bence Jones well remarks, that—A man reduced from wealth to poverty is in a very different state from one who has never been otherwise than poor, and has numberless difficulties of which the other knows nothing.Now, as to the voluntary system. Certainly I am not one of those who have ever stood up to abuse the voluntary principle. It has done great things, and may do great things again. Christianity conquered the world under the voluntary principle; and, no doubt, in the times in which we live, it looks a little as if the world was endeavouring to re-conquer Christianity, under the opposite arrangement. But though endowments may not be the summum bonum which some persons seem to believe them to be, we have, I think, a right to consider whether those who have lived under endowments can be able all at once to do equally well without them. It is said, that if the Church in Ireland should be disendowed the Protestants will be able to provide for themselves. In proof of that proposition, it is said, that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is able to provide for herself now by the voluntary principle. The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland does so, but certainly by means in which the clergy of the Protestant Church of that country are not instructed—by means to which the people of the Established Church are not accustomed. A Church in possession of 1929 large endowments is able to give a gratuitous ministry. Such a Church makes its people accustomed to a gratuitous ministry; but, of course, a Church which is organized on an opposite principle accustoms its people, as far as their means go, and sometimes above their means, to contribute to their own spiritual wants. Undoubtedly, in the course of time, the Church which is now endowed in Ireland might accustom itself to the voluntary system; but how long a time will be necessary for that purpose? How long a period will be required to teach those who have always relied upon a gratuitous ministry to do otherwise? It appears to me that, independently of all the changes which it may be found necessary to make in its system of local organization, you must take a long time before you can arrive at that. I think there is a fallacy in the argument used by those who say that the rich in Ireland belong to the Church with which we are dealing, and that the poor chiefly constitute the Roman Catholic Church in that country. It does not quite follow that because the rich belong to a Church they will contribute to it with a liberality proportionate to their means, especially if, as in this case, many of them are not residing on their properties; nor does it follow, that, if they do not do so, the poor will not be the sufferers. Who will be the sufferers if a ministry be not provided? Will it be the rich non-residents, or oven chiefly the rich residents? No. It will be the poor, the permanent local poor—they will suffer most. You do not suppose they will change their religion upon account of the passing of this Bill. If they are not in circumstances to pay their clergy, are the clergy to depend on the rich? Bishop O'Brien says—To the successful working of the voluntary system numbers are of much more importance than wealth, and the diffusion of the wealth of the religious community than its amount.And he quotes Isaac Taylor, who observes—No motive that has hitherto been brought to bear upon human nature has availed to make the rich liberal after the proportion of the poor.But I would not have it supposed that in this case I am willing to do injustice to the rich. I ask the House to consider their position. They will for forty-five years, at all events, continue to pay tithes, though they will not have pro- 1930 vided for them that, to provide which, and which only, tithes exist. It is true that their titles do not comprehend that interest in the land; but it is also true that the tithe rent-charge never was State property in any sense whatever. Tithe rent-charge, since the law established it—and the law only established it because conscience had done so before—has only existed as a charge on laud for the express purpose of providing religious ministrations. It may be said that some of it has boon appropriated by lay impropriators. That was done in bad times, and I do not think that such an arrangement could now be repeated; but I say this, that tithe rent-charge is a local charge, that it never was imposed and never could have been imposed for general or Imperial purposes, and it would be most unjust to use it for such purposes. I have high authority for that. I have a speech which contains these words—Those funds, gentlemen, are local funds. The tithe of a parish was never given except for the purpose of maintaining religion in the parish; and to take the tithe out of a parish of Galway or Clare for the purpose of meeting the wants of Protestant congregations in Dublin or Belfast, whatever the intention may be is—1 cave not who hears it—in my opinion very like indeed, and dangerously like—whatever the intention may be, that is quite another matter—an act of public plunder.Whose words are those V They are the words—spoken during the last election at Newton—of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. I do not for a moment suppose there is a syllable in them from which my right lion. Friend would now shrink. I have no doubt my right lion. Friend would repeat those words now; but if those funds are local funds, if the tithe of a parish was never given except for the purpose of maintaining religion in the parish, and if to take the tithe out of a parish in the West or the South of Ireland for the purpose of maintaining religion in the North or the East is very like an act of public plunder, I own that I think the transfer must have the same complexion, if you withdraw such a local fund from a parish in one part of the country for the purpose of maintaining in another part of the country—no one knows where—for the purpose of maintaining lunatic asylums. I do not understand that the lunatic asylum need be in any particular parish. I do not even understand that 1931 there is to be even any approximation to that principle in the scheme of my right hon. Friend. The real truth is that the funds described by my right hon. Friend as "local funds," are funds which it is now proposed to treat as ordinary State property, disposable in any manner that Parliament may think useful on the whole, and which it is proposed to transfer from spiritual to secular, from local to general purposes. What I think on this point cannot be better stated than in the words of a very able man, the Knight of Kerry. He says—It may be held to be quite right that a great public good should be effected, even where it inflicts wrong on an individual; but it is fair, at least, to admit that it is wrong. I think the case may be made more clear by excluding the ecclesiastical element for a moment, and treating it on ordinary principles of business. Suppose, for example, that all the estates in this country were liable to a charge of, say 1s. per pound for the maintenance of some necessary local institution—the county hospital for example—which we will suppose, moreover, had for centuries been supported from this fund and this fund alone; would not all the landowners of this county have just cause of complaint, if an Act of Parliament siezed the above fund for the public Exchequer, and left them either to support the hospital out of their own pockets or to allow it to collapse? I confess it does seem to me that a serious injustice would be done in this case, and I cannot possibly see where the parallel fails.Hitherto I have dealt with the sufferings and loss that will be inflicted upon this portion of our fellow-countrymen; and I will now enquire as to the reason. First of all, have they done anything to forfeit the advantages which they enjoy? Now, I confess it seems to me that the considerations applicable to that question instead of leading to an affirmative conclusion, greatly add to the weight of everything which I have already advanced. 'How has the State dealt with this Church in past times? It has loaded her with all the evils, with all the drawbacks, and with all the difficulties, arising from the grossest mis-government, from the grossest and most profligate spoliations, and from those detestable Penal Laws which have done so much to alienate from this country the hearts of the people of Ireland. I certainly think that it is much more owing to the acts of the State than to anything that she has done, that the Church has been laid open to the charges which are made against her. And therefore I do not think that the State is warranted in regarding as a ground of forfeiture that 1932 degree of failure in the Church in Ireland, which is mainly attributable to bad civil government and bad legislation, more especially as it is admitted on all hands that in our own time she has done her duty well. I may here refer to the expenditure which is proved to have been made upon the faith of these endowments since 1833. We read not only of all the churches and parsonage houses in Ireland being built since the Reformation, but the total expenditure in building and improvement of I churches and parsonage houses amounts I to £1,000,000 since 1833, and that is only the expenditure, to the recorded proofs of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are able to refer. Now, let us consider, for a moment, whether you do justice, when you treat that as the measure of the claim upon you, which such an expenditure creates. You cannot separate private and public expenditure in such a matter as this. You must take into account all that has been done on the faith of the possession of these endowments. Those who have suplied this money may fairly claim to have considered, not only the money which they have actually laid out, but all the other circumstances which attended that outlay. If I contribute £100, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners give £50 in aid, is it to be said that I am not entitled, as. a purchaser, to the aggregate endowment? Some talk as if the wrongs done in former times ought now to be visited, by way of retribution, upon the Irish Church of this day. But if the people who now derive benefit from those endowments are wholly innocent of those wrongs; if their clergy have been, far beyond the memory of the present living generation, exemplary, useful, and efficient, and have given no ground for complaint, it is impossible to make out a cause of forfeiture against those communities, which the moral sense of those communities at all events can be expected to recognize and allow.
I will not weary the House by referring in detail to other considerations, connected with the immigration into Ulster, with the plantation of Ulster when the improvement of lands, formerly waste and wild, was undertaken by a Protestant population, invited to come there upon the faith of their possessing an endowed Church. They were pro- 1933 raised, and they received, a Church endowment of so many acres, in a fixed proportion to the number of acres improved and brought into cultivation by them. This part of the case is powerfully and clearly set forth in a. recent declaration, numerously signed by Protestant gentlemen in Ireland; and, as it has probably been read by most Members of this 'House, I do not feel myself justified in repeating it here.
I will now endeavour to grapple with the argument so often adduced, and which is really the main assumption on which all the other arguments in favour of this measure are founded, that this is public State national property, which is at the present time misappropriated for the benefit of a few, when it belongs to all. That appears to me to be a doctrine which is, not on technical grounds of law but upon substantial grounds of law and fact, absolutely untrue, in the sense in which it is brought forward. I do not mean for a single moment to deny that the nation has a largo interest in and control over every species of public property. But of public property there are various kinds. There is that in the public Exchequer, contributed by the taxes of the country, and there is that which is vested in the nation at large, or in the Sovereign, for purposes co-extensive with the general government of the country. These are national property in the largest and fullest sense of the word. But every species of property given for every kind of use beneficial to any portion of the community—the property of municipal corporations throughout the kingdom, the property of the City companies, the property of the Universities and of the Colleges in the Universities, the property of all hospitals and charities—is in a certain sense public property, subject to public regulation and control; and in the due management of this species of property the public has always an interest. But that is a sense, in which everyone would perceive that the State would not be warranted it treating it as disposable at its own mere will and pleasure. And, on the other hand, the public interest in it is not of that nature, which would warrant anyone in saying that the State can be called to account for its use and application, as if the State were annually giving the same amount of money for the purpose out of the public Exchequer. 1934 There is a confusion of thought, when we fail to perceive that there are many gradations if what, to some extent, may be regarded as public property; and that money belonging to a portion of the community ought not to be taken away by the whole of the community, unless good cause of forfeiture, or proof of misuse can be clearly made out. Now, it seems to me, that to apply this principle to the local parochial endowments, in which the local communities have an interest, to deprive them of that which they would either have to supply out of their own pockets, or, still worse, go without—is much more unjust, than if you were to apply it to any kind of corporation which would cease to exist upon your taking away its means. Take the case of the monasteries, for example. They absolutely ceased to exist when they were by law dissolved; you dissolved communities which then, in the nature of things, necessarily came to an end as soon as the individual members, who were then living, died. So it would be in the case of the Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. There is no permanent body of persons which would continue after their dissolution, and be a loser. The public, or the Church, might be a loser, by the destruction of valuable institutions; but there would be no individual persons who would be in want of what they, or their predecessors, had before. But here you are dealing with a permanent class of persons in the enjoyment of local funds, who will remain and continue in existence after you have done this, who will want those funds afterwards as much as they did before, and who will either have to supply the deficiency themselves, or go without that which is much more valuable. I cannot but think, therefore, that this plea of national property is altogether unsound. Now I frequently hear the word "prescription" employed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Prescription signifies a title established by enjoyment for a length of time, where there is no proof of any original right. But in this case we have, with enjoyment for a great length of time, ii clear legal title to that enjoyment. How did the House think it right to deal some years ago with the case of the charitable trusts in this kingdom which were enjoyed by Unitarians, but were originally founded for the benefit of Trinitarian congregations? The con- 1935 gregations had gradually lapsed into a different faith, and for much more than twenty years Unitarian congregations had been in the practical enjoyment of funds to which the courts of law determined they had no legal right. My right hon. Friend, and Lord Macaulay, and other great authorities said it was right even to legislate in that case for the purpose of applying the principle of prescription. I am wholly at a loss to understand why the claims of congregations of our own faith in Ireland, whose legal title is so much better, and who can urge the enjoyment of centuries in their support, should not be at least as much respected; or why the rights of those persons who have from time to time laid out their money and made all their arrangements on the faith of the continuance of these endowments should not be equally regarded. And certainly it is not an answer to say that the legislation of 200 or 300 years ago, which settled the existing title to a portion of these endowments, was a violent and oppressive legislation. Because wrong was done then, you cannot take from those who have had a valid legal title for centuries that which they have done nothing to forfeit, simply on the ground that at a remote period your predecessors may have done something equally unjustifiable.
Another great argument which I will take the liberty of referring to is the argument of equality. That seems to me, in the sense in which it is put, to be a very dangerous argument. It is new to me that it is the business of the State to abolish all inequalities of property. Of course nobody contends for this as affecting individuals; and nobody, in truth, contends for such a principle as that it is the business of the State to abolish inequality of property among religious bodies, whether they have or have not been originally created by means of public endowments. As far as I have heard in these debates, and in recent discussions of these subjects by i advocates of the present measure, every body repudiates the application of such a principle to Scotland or England. This principle of equality, when it is brought forward to justify you in taking away local funds from those who have done nothing to forfeit them—not to give them to anybody else, not to restore or redistribute them, not to establish another 1936 Church because it is the Church of the majority, as in Scotland, but simply for the purpose of taking them away—appears to me to be a principle which cannot be worked out without going much beyond the point to which anybody at present is proposing or desires to go. You will be producing another new form and state of inequality, in some respects more remarkable, between one part of the kingdom and the other parts of it. It would be one thing if you were about to found another Established Church—it would be one thing, if you were only resuming superfluous endowments; but it is a very different thing, for the sake of bringing about equality between different classes in Ireland, to take away from one religious body, whose title is one of centuries, everything by which its possessions exceed those of another which does not advance any claim to have such possessions for itself. Although we do not carry the principle further, there may be some who will. I look with great suspicion upon a principle which, if it is logically pursued, may lead to conclusions which we all repudiate, and which we desire everybody to lay aside, because there is so great a difference, as all agree there is, between the case of the Established Churches of England and Scotland and that of Ireland. Well, then, let us legislate in a manner which that difference suggests; but do not let us lay down an abstract principle of levelling equality as a reason for doing what on other grounds we do not justify.
I have thought it my duty to say what I felt upon this subject. I do most heartily desire and pray that all my apprehensions may be disappointed; I do heartily desire that all those good effects may follow which my right hon. Friend desires, and I am sure expects, from this measure. I have said nothing upon the subject of danger to private property, because it appears to me that there is in the nature of things a broad and clear line between private property and all property of this character. At the same time I am bound to acknowledge that the circumstances of the present times are peculiar, especially in Ireland; and that in Ireland language has been and is held as to private property, which in a manner connects it with some of the same considerations, which points to its origin from confiscations in past times, 1937 and which parades the fact that it is for the most part held in Protestant hands—language which, I think, does in some measure justify the alarm of those who fear danger; and, however well we may mean, if, while proceeding in one direction we make a false step, if we go too far, if we go beyond the limits of justice in dealing with this description of ecclesiastical property, we may be helping, perhaps not to kindle, yet to fan the flame, which threatens also property of other descriptions. I trust that my right lion. Friend may deal successfully with what is called the land question. From what was said the other day by the right hon. President of the Board of Trade, we know it is not intended to deal with it in a manner which can in the smallest degree do violence to or infringe the principles of the security of property. Whether or not all the desires and hopes which have been excited in Ireland on that subject will or can be satisfied by I any measure fulfilling that condition, remains to be seen. I most heartily hope and trust that they may; but of one thing I feel confident, and it is that we should be safer and upon surer ground if we were not to permit ourselves to be led to hope we can be doing good by violating the just rights and reasonable feelings of our Protestant fellow-subjects. Are they not people who have deserved well of the Crown? Whatever in their position has been false or unfortunate has been much more owing to our legislation than to themselves. If; that position has been made false with a view to fortifying English interests in Ireland, I cannot but think it would be a very unjust and ungenerous thing if we were to treat them as if they had deserved ill rather than well of us for their share in fortifying those interests.' They have been loyal, intelligent, and industrious subjects of the Crown, and if they are not numerically the most important, they are a very important class of Her Majesty's Irish subjects. Surely, in doing that which is needful to allay, discontent, and to sow the seeds of a better feeling among other parts of the community, we should be very cautious how we wound their feelings, disregard their interests, and alienate them, perhaps, without really conciliating other i classes, who are now discontented. I repeat, I heartily wish and pray that the expectations of my right hon. Friend of 1938 good from this measure may be fulfilled: I do not say they may not. Although I have offered the best arguments I could command, I am by no means insensible to the force—in many cases the great force—of the arguments urged on the other side. I have told the House how far I can, and how far I cannot go. It only remains for me to say that if this House shall pass, as I presume it will pass, in substance, this measure, I shall, for one, acquiesce in the verdict of the House and of the country; and I will do my best in Committee to suggest improvements in those details which, as it seems to me, are capable of improvement, of course without attempting anything which may be inconsistent with the decision of the House. I trust and hope that if this measure should pass into law, the members of the future disestablished Church of Ireland will not take the advice which seemed to be offered to them from the Benches opposite a few nights ago—will not think they are asked to co-operate in their own destruction by having put into their hands the means of organization for future activity and usefulness, and, as I trust, of future revival and prosperity. I hope they will gird themselves up like men, and will use the means offered them—and, putting details aside. I know no better in the main than those suggested—of completing the re-construction of their Church upon the voluntary principle; and although it cannot be without a sense of great and grievous wrong and injustice, yet still I hope they will submit, like men and patriotic citizens, to a wrong done to them by those who sincerely believe it for the general welfare, and will contribute as far as they can to that end, by setting—notwithstanding all they may have suffered—as good and bright an example of loyalty to the Crown as they have set before, and at the same time bury in oblivion all feeling of irritation, all feeling of animosity towards any other classes of the community, and endeavour to bring about, even out of this measure, so injurious to them as I cannot but think it is, as much as possible of future good.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
* I hope the House will acquit me of being guilty of any affectation of false modesty if I say that I follow my hon. and learned Friend to-night with great reluctance. It is always a hard matter to re-engage 1939 the attention of an audience after a speech so admirable, yet making such severe demands upon close and sustained attention, as that to which we have just listened from the lips of my hon. and learned Friend. But, in addition to this obvious disadvantage, when I remember where he is sitting, where he ought to be sitting, and where, but for his difference with the Government, he would be sitting—that in some sort it is through him that I am standing here instead of in my proper place below the Gangway; that he has raised the character of our great profession—r may I say, without offence, that he has raised the character of public men—by the example he has given us of magnanimous superiority to all sordid motive and selfish, aim, the House will believe I know that nothing but a sense of duty would have led me to place myself in antagonism to my hon. and learned Friend, and attempt to act the part of critic instead of the more congenial part of follower and admirer.
It is, of course, for him to decide whether the difference between us is one which is really worth the sacrifice he makes for it. The less the difference the greater, no doubt, and the nobler, the sacrifice which it entails. But, if I rightly comprehend it, the difference is one which no intellect less subtle than his could have discerned, no language less keen and refined than his could have intelligibly discriminated. Disestablishment he fully understands, and he makes no objection to it. This is some comfort; for I have seen and heard of clergymen, from Archbishops downwards, who say they find a difficulty in understanding what it means. I think they could understand it if they were to try; and, at all events, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire and my hon. and learned Friend find no such difficulty. To disendowment in itself my hon. and learned Friend has no objection either. In the Roman Catholic parts of Ireland, where Protestants are few in number and scattered in habitation, where, probably, if the State ceases to support the Church, they will find it hard to support it themselves, there—where one would think, if anywhere, there was an excuse for State support—my hon. and learned Friend is willing to disendow and extinguish it. But where the Protestant population is large and wealthy—where, if they really care 1940 for their religion, they can support it and ought to support it without the smallest difficulty—there we violate some principle in leaving it to such support; and at this point and on this ground my hon. and learned Friend breaks from us. Says he—" This is in truth confiscation, because endowment apart from establishment is only the holding of property; all religious bodies hold property to a greater or less degree; this religious body in certain parts of Ireland does not hold too much, and therefore it is against justice to touch its property in those parts of Ireland."
My hon. and learned Friend has too often shown that he can leave the Court of Chancery behind him when he chooses and discuss the affairs of men like a great and broad-minded Statesman to mind my saying that for once and tonight he has brought the Court of Chancery into the House of Commons, and has argued this question to us as if we were a tribunal to administer a settled law instead of an Assembly to change it if a call for change be shown. Why, the whole case is in truth given up when it is conceded that the Establishment as an institution is indefensible, and that on the highest grounds and for the most religious ends it must be abandoned as an Establishment. It is the great symbol of Protestant ascendancy; it is not just that Protestant ascendancy should be continued; and with the thing signified the symbol must perish. But how does the Establishment hold its endowments? Why, because it is the Establishment; not from any necessary or inherent connection between the property which it holds and the Thirty-nine Articles which it subscribes, but because the State determined to have a national Church; and in the time of Queen Elizabeth, as the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire said, it ill-treated the Irish clergy of that day by imposing fresh terms on them as a condition of their holding their property—terms inconsistent with all their settled religious convictions; because it disendowed and disestablished, with no protection for vested interests, the then Church of Ireland, and established and endowed the present Church of Ireland through the four provinces of the island. And does not my hon. and learned Friend see that you cannot localize a national iniquity, nor circumscribe with- 1941 in provincial limits, still less within parochial, the operation of a national disease? The Church, though not a corporation, is a whole; it is established as a whole; it is endowed as a whole; it insults the Irish feeling as a whole. You cannot break it up into parishes and congregations, and say this parish is a grievance and that not; this congregation is too rich, this rich enough, this not adequately wealthy. Parishes and congregations are not thought of, are not established, do not hold their property as parishes and congregations, but as parts of one great united integral whole. Defend the whole if you will and if you can—that is intelligible; but from this the sense, the wisdom, the charity, of my hon. and learned Friend alike utterly recoil; and I say it is not intelligible, it is not practical, it is not possible to defend it here and there to give it up. You must maintain it or abandon it on principle and as a whole. And as a whole I understand my hon. and learned Friend is not prepared—is any one in the House prepared?—to uphold and to defend it. I pass therefore from the ingenious, striking, clever, but utterly impractical speech of my hon. and learned Friend and proceed to consider how far this measure is right in principle, and what is the real weight of the prominent objections to it.
In this portion of the discussion it is impossible not to feel the truth of the observation of the hon. Member for Bradford, that there is a certain unreality in the whole debate. The subject has been debated out here and elsewhere, the verdict of the country has been asked and has been given, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite and those who sit behind him, know as well as we know that it has been decided. I will, however, endeavour to consider it, first, on principle, and I say that it is an institution which, apart from and prior to argument, is generally felt as it now exists to be indefensible. You hardly ever meet an intelligent man even among those who, now that it does exist, would not abandon it, who does not wish it never had existed at all. For no man can help seeing that even if it was as right' as it seems to be wrong, yet as the vast majority of the Irish people do not j think it right; as they think it very wrong, very unjust, and very insulting. there ought to be some enormous coun- 1942 teracting practical advantage to justify its maintenance in the face of this strong and undoubted feeling. Now, is there any such practical advantage? It is said that the clergy of the Establishment are what Dean Swift called them 150 years ago, excellent resident country gentlemen in black coats and white neck-cloths. I dare say they are—as a rule they are good, and high principled men—and they are resident—at least the inferior clergy are so—and no doubt do good where they reside; but this seems an utterly inadequate reason for keeping up a great religious Establishment, and if you want a resident gentry it would be far simpler and more honest to call them so and pay them to reside, than to call them clergymen and defend them as squires.
In the very able speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, you would have expected, if any where, a defence of the existing state of things; but I listened in vain. An exceedingly ingenious and interesting attack on voluntary religion in principle and practice was made to lake its place. But this was hardly to the point. Scotland and America, New Zealand and South Africa, show that he is entirely incorrect in point of fact. But suppose he was correct, how does that meet the argument that this is a bad Establishment, and show that you ought to keep up an Establishment that is bad? It would be of just as much and just as little value in defence of a Mahometan Establishment in Scotland, or of a Roman Catholic Establishment in England and Wales. Is this, then, a bad Establishment? It is established by force of law. It has great privileges, it has considerable wealth, its Bishops are Peers of Parliament, its priests have a dignified and legal status—yet it is the Church, and always has been from the first, the Church of about one in seven. Without argument and apart from historical experience, it is plain that in a free country such a Church could only be maintained by force. It has been so maintained. It is so maintained. It cannot be maintained otherwise. It is therefore as Mr. Roebuck called it, in 1849, a badge of slavery. It is a thing which, in our own ease, we should not submit to for a year, which we should never rest till we had flung from off our necks, and which we 1943 ought not to expect—which I say we ought not even to wish—that a free people should be so degraded as to acquiesce in. In fact, as the First Napoleon observed in time of war, it operates as a diversion of from 30,000 to 40,000 men. The English Army, for the duties it has to perform, is singularly small. A handful of men suffice for the needs of most of our colonies, a few men are enough for England, a few for Scotland; but in Ireland, around the slumbering ashes of a people's discontent, which a breath might in a moment kindle into flame, you keep watch and ward with a formidable force, lest at any time they burst into conflagration. Force is indeed the usual solution of Irish difficulty—the usual reply to Irish complaint. We are too apt to answer Irish argument by English guns, and to turn a deaf ear to remonstrances which we can silence, and resistance which we can overcome in this simple and primitive fashion. Our notions of Irish right and wrong are pretty accurately described by the Pirate of antiquity—IIæc quærant alii, toto meliora PlatoneArgumenta, manu qui gerit arma, tenet.Next, it is said to be a sentimental grievance. I confess I hate the expression—sentimental grievance. A sentimental grievance is a grievance which is felt, and almost all political grievances are grievances of this sort. The corrupting despotism of the French Emperor, the Dutch supremacy in Belgium which led to the Revolution, the Stamp Act which cost us North America, the civil rule of the Pope and the Cardinals in Italy, are all sentimental grievances. And when we talk of this as sentiment, I ask again, how should we like it ourselves? and how long should we endure it? But it is, in truth, something more than a grievance to the feelings. It is an actual loss to the majority; for if the law, supported by English power did not appropriate these endowments, they could be made useful to the majority, and it is the majority who have the right to them. But it is said that we are affecting the rights of property by this measure. This, however, whether in law or in statesmanship, is utterly untenable. There is no property in any legal sense to be affected. The incumbents have a property, and that is carefully protected; I agree, as a matter of course, and claim 1944 no merit for it. But the Church, as a whole, has no property. It is not a corporation, and can hold none; and if it be intended to say that the laity have an interest in the benefits the clergy derive from it, then I say that interest is a very different thing from property; that the laity which has this interest is the miserable minority of the population, and cannot place its interest against the interest of the great majority of the people.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, indeed, spoke of sacrilegious spoliation, I know not whether by way of "heedless rhetoric" or careful eloquence; and he proceeded to his one excellent and telling joke, that about the Irish country gentlemen all living on voluntary contributions. But not satisfied with a good joke, he went on to turn it into earnest, and gravely argued that we might as well take away their property from the three great endowed hospitals of London because other unendowed hospitals were doing excellent work of the same sort without it. A more singularly unfortunate illustration it is impossible to conceive. Those great hospitals stand open night and day, and are full to overflowing of the poor, the sick, the maimed, whose various wants are attended and whose miseries are alleviated with the promptest care, and the most consummate skill. No religious bars interpose between the sufferers and their relief. Jews, Turks, infidels and heretics, are received as tenderly and cared for as completely as the most orthodox of Christian patients. But let this state of things be altered, let the great hospitals exclude from their ministrations all classes but some small one, let their beds stand empty, and their officers be idle, let their governors be non-resident and yet draw large salaries from their endowments, let them insult public feeling and outrage public justice—let the case, in short, become analogous instead of being in every respect utterly unlike, and I venture to say that Parliament would proceed without the smallest hesitation, and amidst the universal applause of the country to compel them to do their duty, and if they either could not do it or would not do it, to abolish them without remorse.
This whole argument of the bearing of this measure upon property is 1945 full of danger to the Church of England, to the property of this country. No one can really believe that there is any serious danger to the general stability of property. The difference between public and private property, or property well established, and that between property given to religious uses, and property of any other sort, has been always recognized from the very earliest times, beginning with the statutes of mortmain in the time of Henry III. and Edward I. But if you go about persuading people that there is no difference, you do the most revolutionary thing in the world; you make them think that there is no way to do justice but by violating the laws of property, and the result will be that justice will be done, and that you, not we, will have unsettled men's minds about the laws of property in general. I should like to recommend to my right hon. and learned Friend who represents the University of Oxford the opinion of Bishop Butler on this matter. I have no doubt he reverences Bishop Butler as much as I do—he cannot reverence him more—and any one who has a contempt for that very great man, has a contempt—to adapt a good saying of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—not bred by much familiarity. This is what Bishop Butler says on this very subject—Property in general is, and must be, regulated by the laws of the community. This is allowed on all hands. If there he any sort of property exempted from these regulations, such exceptions appear either from the light of nature or from revelation …. We may, therefore, with a good conscience retain in possession Church lands or tithes, such as the laws of the State we live under give as property, and there is less ground for scruple here in England than in other countries, because our Ecclesiastical Laws agree with our Civil Laws in this matter. … The persons who gave these lands to the Church had themselves no right of perpetuity in them, consequently they could convey no such right to the Church.The right hon. Gentleman opposite has deeper feelings on this subject than Bishop Butler, and he speaks of sacrilegious spoliation where the Bishop speaks of the ordinary operation of human law.
It has been suggested, rather than stated, that instead of disestablishing and disendowing one Church we should have set up three. Thirty years ago this might have been possible; but does any one now plainly and like a man advocate this scheme? Lord Rus- 1946 sell, frank and fearless in his honoured age, as when in the prime of manhood he led the House of Commons, does advocate it, or something like it. So does the Dean of Westminster, in his brilliant and most interesting Paper. But no present opponent of this Bill, no Bishop, no Statesman has ventured to put it forward, and if he did, it is now too late. Thirty years ago it might have been possible, but it will not do now. There is a tide in the affairs of men, and the tide has ceased to run in this direction.
In return for disestablishment and; disendowment, however, the Church obtains absolute and entire freedom. I hope the Church will make good use of it. I am not without some fears as to the effect upon moderate opinions and general toleration of this part of the scheme. I wish it had been possible to take some security for the maintenance of the standards of doctrine according to their present wise breadth and liberality. But I see that it is not possible, and I acquiesce with the less reluctance that wiser men than I am are firmly convinced that the dangers, if there are any, of the new state of things will lie in an exactly opposite direction. There is also the great advantage of starting with a considerable and very respectable endowment from the capitalization of the life incomes of the incumbents which this measure holds out to the Church. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College have both said that they do not think this likely to be made use of by the Bishops and clergy of the Church, and that the benefit—if it be one—will turn out to be illusory. I hope not. It would be a great reflection upon such a body of men as they are if I could believe it to be true. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire has studied them much longer and knows them much better than I do. Many years ago, in one of those exceedingly clever books which we read and re-read still with constant pleasure, he said of them, in relation to the Irish missions—"As long as these funds lasted their missionaries made proselytes. It was the last desperate effort of a Church that had from the first betrayed its trust." These are not my expressions; 1947 they are the expressions—I do not presume to say they are the opinions—of the Church's now chosen champion. But unless they are still true, unless the Church should still betray its trust, it ought to take, and it will take, this opportunity, as the Free Kirk of Scotland did, to acquire a firm footing in the country, and to build up an ecclesiastical fabric equal to its wants. With the example of Chalmers and his great associates before their eyes—while the sacrifices asked of them are nothing to compare to the sacrifices which the Scotchmen underwent—I cannot believe, and do not believe that they will be wanting to themselves and the occasion. When Innocent IV., according to the old story, showed the great Dominican the treasures of the Vatican, he told him that the Church could no longer say, "Silver and gold have I none." "True," said Aquinas, "neither can she say 'Arise and walk;'" and it is certain that if, for the first time in history, the Church in Ireland is to be a real religious influence and a great moral regenerator, it will be from the joint effect of being disestablished by Parliament and endowed by its own efforts and its own munificence.
Indeed, the Church owes some reparation to that unhappy country for the wrongs which it has inflicted. I do not wish to go through the dreary story of the Penal Laws and the ferocious cruelties wreaked upon the Roman Catholics for so many long years. In Hallam, in Burke, in Massey, in Sir Henry Parnell, in many other writers you may read, if you will, that dismal history. But two things I will mention. You may see in the 80th page of Mr. Greville's book, The Past and Present Policy of England towards Ireland, a statute so loathsome, promoted by the then Duke of Grafton, passed by Christian clergymen—for I suppose the Irish Bishops of those days were at least professing Christians—but to the honour of England instantly and indignantly rejected by the English Government—a statute, I say, so loathsome that I will not speak of it here, and but for the detailed account of it given by Mr. Greville, and Mr. Greville's own character, I should have disbelieved the possibility of its existence. I wish to remind you also of the famous Return extracted in 1842 from the Probate Office in Dublin, 1948 showing that ten contemporary prelates left in Irish personal property alone—not including land, remember, nor property which paid, duty elsewhere—£1,575,000. These things have passed away; but there stands the Church which made them possible, and with whose present life these hateful memories are inextricably blended.
There are many other matters on which I should like to say something. The supremacy—the line of 1660—the question of Maynooth—the absence of any attempt in the Bill to define the clergy and laity of the new body. But I will not weary the House—long since anxious to be much more solidly and practically employed than in listening to me—and therefore I will stop. I will say only that such are some and some only of the considerations which lead me to support this Bill, and by which I am brought to think that any objections I have yet heard to it are poor and weak. To a clever man it is always easy to pick holes; to an ingenious man it is always easy to make objections. But the question for the House to-night is whether, in its broad outlines, this great measure does not afford some prospect of bettering the state of Irish feeling, and of laying the foundations of a wise and Christian policy on the part of England towards that noble but hitherto unfortunate country. To me it does, and therefore I support it.
Sir, I will not be guilty of the folly of trying to imitate the magnificent description of the future prospect of the two countries with which the President of the Board of Trade wound up his speech—Multa Dirceum levat aura cygnum;and I will not try to follow him in his flight. But at least, in common with all who heard or read that description, I can heartily admire it, and earnestly hope for its fulfilment. Certainly, it is a great and glorious prospect; great beyond belief, glorious beyond imagination, ravishing us out of the present state of things and making us dwell in another—a sight, if one could but live to see to it, to make an old man young, and in the hope of seeing but the very beginning of which, though no longer a young man, I claim it as a privilege to indulge. I say the very beginning, and I say it on purpose; for of nothing 1949 am I more intimately convinced than of the comparative powerlessness of all human effort without that aid which we may hope for, which we may pray for, but which it is presumption to reckon on. Our duty, nevertheless, remains the same; if we see a wrong, to try to mend it; if we see a right thing, to try to do it; not minding what mere drops they are which we can cast into the evil sea, but casting them in; striving to break the bands and soften the distinctions which keep men and nations apart from one another, sure that if we are forgotten our good works will live, and that when these things are history it will more avail us to have advanced by one day or one hour the time when wars shall cease and discords die away, than to have won a hundred great victories, or made a thousand splendid speeches.
§ MR. CHARLEY
said, the hon. and learned Solicitor General had observed that the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had placed the question of disendowment in Chancery, but he (Mr. Charley) considered that the hon. Member for Richmond had put the Solicitor General in Chancery, and that the latter learned Gentleman had not been able to get himself out of it, notwithstanding the able speech he had just made. The question of disestablishment, however, touched him (Mr. Charley) much more closely than that of disendowment. On the latter question a compromise might be effected, but there could be and must be no compromise with regard to disestablishment, which involved the national recognition of Protestant Christianity and its incorporation with the law of the land. It was often urged on the other side of the House that Ireland required exceptional treatment because it was a separate nation. On this he would merely remark that the kingdom was a United Kingdom, and if hon. Gentlemen desired to deal with Ireland as a separate kingdom they ought to propose a repeal of the Union. If a Parliament sitting in Dublin declared that the Church should be disestablished and disendowed, he would bow to its decision; but he could not accept such a decision at the hands of the Imperial Parliament. The Church existed long before the Union, and the Irish Protestants only agreed to the Union because they were 1950 told it would give to their Church additional security. It had been alleged in the course of the debate that the Act of Union did not touch the question of the temporalities of the Church, but in that document occurred the words, "doctrine, discipline, and government of the Church." Similar words occurred in the Act of Union between England and Scotland, and did any hon. Gentleman really suppose that they did not protect the temporalities of the Church of Scotland? Again, he was opposed to disestablishment because he thought the whole laity had a right to the services of the clergy. This Bill appeared to show that the right hon. Gentleman had abandoned his original programme of civil justice to Ireland, or rather to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, for the Preamble set forth, not that it was "just," but that it was expedient that the Church of Ireland should be disestablished and disendowed. With regard to the revenue from tithes, only £35,000 a year—a sum little more than the amount of the Maynooth Grant—came out of the pockets of the Roman Catholic landlords, and the Protestants would be very happy to make them a present of it. Could justice be promoted by taking from the Church its property without giving it to the Roman Catholic Church which claimed it? Could loyalty be promoted by striking down the loyal Church? A great deal had been said about religious; equality, but what was meant by the term? It might either mean the religious equality of the inhabitants, or the religious equality of the creeds they professed. In the former sense it already existed, as every British subject had the right of worshipping according to his conscience. If, however, it were taken to mean equality of creeds, he might be told that the Church of Ireland was established in that country while the Church of Rome was not. No doubt that was so, but it should be recollected that the Church of Rome was compensated by being entirely free from State control. One of his great objections to the Bill was that it proposed to destroy, as far as Ireland was concerned, the first estate of the realm—the spiritual peerage. Now, if that were abolished, how could the temporal peerage be retained consistently with social equality? He contended that the Church of Ireland per- 1951 formed all the conditions on which she obtained her property. The ancient glebe lands were bestowed on the Church by the independent chieftains before the advent of Henry II. Now, although it was absurd to speak of St. Patrick as a Protestant, seeing that the term was unknown in the. Saint's time, yet undoubtedly the present Church conformed in doctrine to the old Irish Church, and consequently had a right to its revenues. The tithes within the English Pale were given to the Church by Henry II. on condition of its conformity with the Church of England, and he contended that they were the rightful property of that Church which had followed the Church of England's fortunes through all her vicissitudes. The same Church clearly had a right to the tithes without the English Pale, which a Roman Catholic Bishop (Bishop Doyle) declared to have been first collected in the reign of William III., and to the glebe lands granted in 1609. He denied that the Church in Ireland had been a failure. The Irish nobility were, if anything, more Protestant than the English nobility, and eight-ninths of the landowners were Protestants. Then the educated classes—especially barristers, doctors, and professional men—were Churchmen, in the proportion of two to one. The mercantile classes were Protestant. At the Bar there were only 216 Roman Catholics to 500 Protestants, and yet eight out of the twelve Common Law Judges were members of the Roman Church. So much for religious inequality. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Bright) had taunted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) with making history as he went along. In the Bible there was an allusion to a beam and a mote, and his (Mr. Charley's) advice to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade was to study it before he passed judgment on others. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) said the Puritans had been the bulwarks of our freedom; but who, he would ask, placed England under the foot of a military despot, and consigned the wretched Roman Catholics of Ireland to the tender mercies of Cromwell's troopers? But the Puritans were superior to their so-called descendants, the modern Nonconformists, in one respect. They would 1952 have no terms with Rome, and even refused to accept an indulgence at the hands of a Roman Catholic King, whereas the Nonconformists of the present day had formed an "adulterous affiance" with the Ultramontane Catholics of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had favoured the House with some other historical novelties. One of them was that the Irish Church had been imposed on Ireland by the English Parliament. The fact was that the Royal Supremacy had been accepted twice over by the Irish Parliament—first, in the reign of Henry VIII., and afterwards in the reign of Elizabeth. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Sullivan), had stated that only one Bishop had accepted the Reformation, but he would refer him to the Calendar of State Papers, vol. 8. temp., Henry VIII., A.D. 1539, as well as to the 2 Elizabeth, cc. 1 & 2, the Irish Royal Supremacy and Uniformity Act of 1560, passed by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons of Ireland in Parliament assembled. He found that in 1560 the names of twenty Prelates were recorded as being present in the Irish Parliament, all of whom agreed to the Act with the exception of William Walsh, Bishop of Meath, and Thomas Leverous, Bishop of Kildare. It was quite clear, then, that the corporate character of the Church was continued down to the present time, and there was evidence to show that the Irish people attended the parish churches till the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth. It was incorrect, therefore, to say that the Reformation had been thrust on the people. It had the sanction of the only legitimate authority recognized in Ireland at the time, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in Parliament assembled. It was, however, contended that the verdict of the nation had gone against the supporters of the Irish Established Church at the recent elections, and the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall), who had pronounced a somewhat lugubrious benediction on the First Minister of the Crown, had stated that no new arguments could be advanced on the subject; but the old arguments had not yet been fairly placed before the constituencies. The Liberation Society have got the start of the opponents of the present Bill, and he 1953 would assure hon. Members on the other side of the House that the gigantic question which it involved was not to be disposed of by a half-year's discussion within and a half-year's discussion without the walls of Parliament. He was sure that there was no opinion out-of-doors sufficient to warrant the right hon. Gentleman if he should attempt to swamp the independence of the other House. He regretted, he might add, that the name of the highest personage in the realm should, on a previous evening, have been dragged into the debate by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) with no better warrant than the use in the Speech from the Throne of the very innocent words, "the re-adjustment of the ecclesiastical arrangements in Ireland." And he would ask with confidence whether the verdict of the country had been unanimously given in favour of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government? According to law a verdict that was not unanimous was no verdict at all. Had not Westminster and Middlesex declared by a majority against it? Had not Liverpool, the second city in the kingdom, pronounced against it by a majority of two to one? Had not the English counties by a majority of three to one done the same thing? Had not Lancashire declared with unanimity against the right hon. Gentleman? and he had been forced to become a pensioner on the bounty of Greenwich? But, then, it was said that the voluntaries of England were in favour of the Bill. Now, his answer to that argument was that he did not think they had a right to sit upon the jury. The fact was that the Nonconformists in England were as much opposed to the Establishment in this country as they were to the Irish Establishment, while the members of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland were equally opposed to the Established Church in that part of Her Majesty's dominions. There was no analogy whatever, he maintained, between the voluntary exodus of the Scotch clergy from their homes, in vindication of a principle for which they were ready to lay down their lives, and the expulsion from their glebes and churches of the Irish clergy, who were bound by every feeling of duty not to abandon their position. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had taunted the Irish Church with want of faith. The 1954 right hon. Gentleman was very fond of quoting Scripture; in reply to that taunt he (Mr. Charley) would remind him that it was written—" Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God;" and if the Irish Church were sent out into the world impoverished as she would be by the operation of the Bill, they had no reason to expect that a special miracle would be wrought for her preservation. As for Penal Laws they existed in Ireland long before the Reformation, and he denied the justice of the statement which had been made over and over again in the course of the discussion that they had been imposed on the Irish people by the Protestant clergy. Penal Laws had been imposed by the Whigs on the Irish Roman Catholics because they had conspired to restore the Stuarts. The Protestants of Ireland had been the victims of repeated massacres at the hands of their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. In 1641, 150,000 Protestants were butchered in cold blood. In 1798 Protestants were dragged from their beds at the dead of night, and numbers of them, men, women, and children were shot, while others were allowed to perish of starvation. He adverted to these facts merely to show that there were two sides to the picture. The right hon. Gentleman now Chancellor of the Exchequer had, last year, referred to the Irish Church as the barren fig-tree of the parable, and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government said that for that Church the time of probation had passed, and that for thirty-five years—that is, since 1832 she had had fair play, and something more. But what were thirty-five years? Protestantism in three centuries had made no impression upon the South of Europe, and in eighteen centuries Christianity itself had hardly succeeded in evangelizing a fourth part of the world. He denied, however, that the Church had had fair play during these thirty-five years. Ireland had been the victim of ceaseless agitation and conspiracies from the time of O'Connell downwards, and such agitation unfitted men's minds for the reception of Divine truths. It might be said that in 1848 the Irish Church had a golden opportunity, but even that was turned against her by her wily foes. Again, the work she had done could not be judged by the Census of 1861, The Church Commis- 1955 sioners did not ascertain the number of Churchmen in the several benefices; and until 1871 the relative numbers could not be ascertained. It must be remembered, too, that Protestants as well as Roman Catholics had been thinned by emigration, and in Upper Canada the Bishop of Ontario said they formed two-thirds of his congregation, and were his best Churchmen. That the Irish Church had not been utterly fruitless was shown by the fact that during these thirty-five years it had raised by voluntary effort, for church building and endowment, £500,000. He referred hon. Gentleman to a pamphlet recently published, entitled Church Life and Work in Ireland. In 1867, the various Church societies in Ireland raised no less a sum than £179,000. He denied, therefore, that the Irish Church had been fruitless; but even if it had the parable would teach us that it should have a still further period of probation before they resolved to cut it down, and that meanwhile they should foster and encourage it.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, he wished, as an Irish Protestant Episcopalian, sent to Parliament expressly to support the present measure, to explain his views on the question. On Wednesday he presented six Petitions from four different counties in the North of Ireland, praying for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church, which the petitioners stated to be a fruitful source of discontent and disaffection. He agreed in that statement, which was justified by the history of Ireland. He admitted what was said by the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last—that the Irish people were discontented and disaffected before the Reformation. But after that event these feelings of discontent and disaffection were intensified by a difference of religion, and culminated on the establishment of the Irish Church, that crowning act of tyranny and oppression. The Irish people then and now regarded that Church as a great wrong and a standing memorial of conquest. Though established to encourage Anglican Protestantism, and to promote English interests, it failed to effect either purpose. The feelings of the majority of the Irish people were disregarded, their language was ignored, and their manners and customs treated with deliberate contempt. The Scotch and English settlers 1956 in Ireland had in many respects been treated no better than the native owners of the soil. Such of the Scotch as settled in Ulster did so under the promise of obtaining from the bounty of the Crown native freeholds; and their descendants of the present day found that instead of freeholds they had only a delusive tenant-right. Nor did the Irish people fare better under the Protector than before. Cromwell, no doubt, was a great man and a great Statesman, who, to use the expression of the right hon. member for Buckinghamshire, introduced into England "violent tranquillity;" but in Ireland he introduced violence without tranquillity. The Irish people suffered under the hands both of the Puritans and the Cavaliers, so that to their case might well be applied the expression—Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi.After the Restoration the Irish people fared no better, for what toleration had existed disappeared. Before that time Presbyterian ministers were frequently settled in the parishes of the Establishment; but the Irish Church, as it at present existed, became then the paramount institution of the soil, greatly to the discontent not only of the native Celtic race, but of the Scotch Presbyterian settlers. The period of the Revolution was marked in Ireland by circumstances of confiscation and civil war, and the result had not been, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), to combine the established religion with the national faith. That had been the effect in Scotland, but it was an abuse of terms to say it had been the case in Ireland. King William had left in Ireland a discontented people, Scotch settlers whose rights had been ignored, and an aristocracy based upon conquest and leaning upon England for support. He had left in addition a broken treaty and a Church which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had denominated—in the days before his voice was silenced by the promptings of ambition—an alien Church. From the Revolution to the Union that Church had been the enemy of the Irish people. Its condition in the period between the Revolution and the Union had been ably described by Swift. The Irish people had seen the Bishops sitting in the House of Lords, and combining with the 1957 Commons and Lords Temporal to pass those laws which had been unanimously denounced by every right-thinking man in this country, whether Whig or Tory, as a disgrace to humanity and a stigma on civilization. The Penal Laws had been frequently adverted to in the course of the present debate, and it had been said that they were inflicted on the Catholic inhabitants of Ireland by the Presbyterians. He denied that statement, and he could not understand where the hon. Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. Cross) got his history from when he said that the Irish Presbyterians combined with the Episcopalians to impose those laws. The Irish Presbyterians did nothing of the sort, for they had no power to act in the matter, seeing that they were as much pariahs as the Roman Catholics until the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. He was reminded of one incident in Irish history by the presence of the Member for Belfast (Mr. M'Clure), who sat on that side of the House. After the glorious defence of Derry, one of the most brilliant feats of arms in their records, when Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Nonconformists stood manfully in the breach, what was the reward the dominant Church conferred on the Presbyterians? An ancestor of the hon. Member for Belfast, a Presbyterian Dissenter, was expelled from the corporation by his Episcopalian brethren because he was a Nonconformist. There was one sentiment expressed the other evening by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, in which he entirely concurred, that they ought to approach the consideration of this question with a desire to do that which is right, and without any desire to exasperate and inflame animosity. He should therefore tell his countrymen that both sides of the House were unanimous in the desire to remedy the wrongs of Ireland, and that the only difference between them was as to the remedy to be applied. Now, with reference to the Act of Union, they had been told that the Irish Church was firmly established by that treaty, and that the 5th Article rendered it impossible that it could be either disestablished or disendowed. But, after all, the 5th Article of the treaty of Union, as it was called, was only the 5th section of an Act of Parliament, and then, who were the parties to 1958 that Treaty. The bulk of the Irish people were no parties to it. It was made behind the backs of the Irish Catholics and Nonconformists. The Protestant Anglicans, confined within the walls of their privileges, made the treaty, and their descendants insisted that the Irish nation should be bound by what had been done, although they were never consulted in regard to it. But the treaty had, since the Union, been subjected to the revision of Parliament, and those who held by the authority of the Earl of Derby were surely the last who should insist on its being kept sacred, for that noble Lord had actually abolished ten Bishops, and, in the matter of tithe commutation, had given a bonus of 25 per cent to the Irish landlords. Were they now, then, to stay their hand, frightened by the phantom of a treaty which could not prevent those who sat in that House thirty years ago from the work of Church reform, although they had not such enlightened views of public policy and public interests as they now had? It was not till after the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts that the Irish people for the first time stood face to face with the so-called Irish Church. That Church had been condemned by public opinion. It had been condemned by every enlightened foreigner who had written on the subject. It had been condemned by the impartial Liberal mind of Europe. It had been condemned at the elections throughout the country. It had been condemned by that House, and they were now merely going through the dreary phantasm of a debate and discussing a foregone conclusion. The hon. Member for Mid-Surrey (Mr. Brodrick) said the Irish Church was not to be condemned because there was less typhus fever and small-pox in Ireland. If it were not a specific against those diseases, he (Mr. Dowse) could not see of what use it was to tell the House that this nuisance was not to be removed, because two or three other nuisances had gone before it. Had the Irish Church, then, been justly condemned? It was the Church of a small minority. ["No, no!"] He thought the arithmetical education of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Charley) had been greatly neglected, otherwise he could not have arrived at the conclusion that 693,000 persons were superior in number to 4,500,000 Roman Catholics.
1959 There were in Ireland 600,000 Presbyterians and Nonconformists, including 382 Jews. The population, if properly tested, would show that the Irish Church was the Church of a small minority. He said this although he was one of the 700,000 scatterlings—as they were called by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—who would have to pay for its support when disendowed. There were thirty-two dioceses of the Anglican Church in Ireland and only twelve Bishops. In eighteen of these Irish dioceses only 7 per cent of the population were Protestant Episcopalians. In the diocese of Kilfenora they were only 1 per cent. In the diocese of Dromore they were 25 per cent, which was the highest. The average over the whole of Ireland gave only 11 per cent of the population as Protestant Episcopalians. Was it not a gross abuse of language to call a Church which embraced only 11 per cent of the population a national institution? In several dioceses in Ireland the Presbyterians were not 1 per cent, but in Down they were 52 per cent, and in Dromore 32 per cent. In those portions of Ireland where the Scotch and English settled the Presbyterians were most thickly scattered; but the Episcopalians were scattered over the whole population, and the gentry were generally Episcopalians, for Episcopalianism was found to be the cheapest and the most respectable religion. In the diocese of Connor, adjacent to Dromore, the Roman Catholics were 26 per cent, in Dromore 38 per cent, and in Kilfenora 98 per cent. Their average number over the whole of Ireland was 77 per cent. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire wanted a national Church to endow there was one for him. But the feeling of the country and the House was emphatically against the endowment of any denomination whatever. In the diocese of Dublin the Anglican Protestants were 19 per cent, the Presbyterians 8 per cent, and the rest were Roman Catholics. Having regard to these statistics, could they say that the Irish Church was a national institution? Was it fair or reasonable to have a Church in Ireland endowed not because it was true—for that argument had not been heard in this debate—but because it was there? The argument was—"It is there because it is national, and it is national 1960 because it is there." He addressed himself to this subject not as a Protestant Episcopalian, but as an Irishman who wished to rise above sectional differences and to regard this Bill as a subject of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. And treating this as an Imperial question he arraigned the Irish Church Establishment before the entire world as having failed to discharge her duty. And this being the verdict, the sentence of the Court must be that she be taken from that place to the place whence she came, and thenċe to the place of execution. If he were an Irish Catholic he should address this House in a very different tone. But although he was not a Catholic, yet he was the representative of a large and influential body of Catholics, who came by him to the Bar of that House to plead for justice to their country, and if this nuisance were not abated he would use the words of Lord Chatham upon the employment of Indians in the American War against his fellow-countrymen, and say he would "enter on that war and never lay down his arms—never, never! "—until right was done to his country. He was also the representative of some of the Presbyterians of Ulster, and he felt justified in saying that the Presbyterians were not satisfied with this institution, and that they had expressed an opinion against the existence of the Established Church in Ireland. As a Protestant Episcopalian, he was anxious that the stigma of the present state of things should be removed from his Church. He said, trust that Church to the innate vigour of its members. "Loose her, and let her go!" She could not be a greater failure in the future than she had been in the past, and he was anxious that one last chance should be given to Protestantism in Ireland. He wished hon. Members opposite took as much interest in everything else connected with Ireland as they did in the Protestant Church. He supposed they came to its defence because they saw danger to the Established Church in England in the present movement——proximus ardetUclegon.But he had no fear for the future of his Church. If she were left to voluntary effort, he believed she would go forth in vigour and energy, and spread herself through the land. The Irish Protestant 1961 population would liberally and bountifully support the needs of the ministers and the Church. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) seemed to be afraid of voluntaryism; but the Catholics of Ireland were a noble illustration of what that principle could do. It was said that the Protestants had not the same power of raising money as the Catholics; but let the Irish Church follow the example of the Church of Scotland, which she would have to follow perforce, whether she liked it or not. If 450 of the ministers of a poor country could leave their manses and stipends and go out on the hill-side, and if their congregations could raise £2,500,000 for a sustentation fund for them, why should the Irish gentry, the Irish tradesmen, and the Irish professional men fear? He believed that in ten years the Irish Church would acknowledge the present First Minister of the Crown as the greatest benefactor she had ever had. He was able to give an illustration of the benefit of the voluntary system in Ireland. As a resident in the City of Dublin for the last twenty-three years, and knowing the large sums that had been raised by that system, he could positively assert that but for the voluntary system Anglican Protestantism there would have died a natural death. He would pass no censure on the present clergy of the City, but would only say that before their day Protestantism had come to so low an ebb in Dublin, in consequence of the neglect of duty by the beneficed clergy, that if it had not been for voluntary efforts in the building of free churches, and in other ways. Protestant Anglicanism would have died of inanition. There were ten or eleven of these free churches, and they were not connected with the State by any endowments, yet the ministers were in receipt of large stipends from their congregations. The ministers of these churches had so distinguished themselves by their zeal that the late Earl of Carlisle made one one of them Bishop of Cork, and another Bishop of Kilmore, and the late head of the Government selected another to be Dean of a southern diocese. But whether the Irish Church suffered or not from the change, it must come. It was an act of justice, and in the words of the Sovereign on a Petition of Eight—"Let right be done." He would put a case to hon. Gentleman 1962 opposite. If the Irish Catholics were 693,000, and the Protestant Episcopalians were 4,500,000, and if all the ecclesiastical revenues of the present Irish Church were held by the Irish Catholics, what would be the feelings of the Protestants? They would proclaim that the existence of the Irish Church was the most intolerable burden that a nation ever groaned under, the only difference being that the nation would hardly have time to groan before being relieved of it. He must say that he had heard no argument in the course of the debate against the Bill before the House. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite were such friends of the Irish Episcopal Church that the moment an Irish Episcopalian came forward to express his opinion, they conveyed pretty plainly that they did not want to hear him, inasmuch, as they knew more of the subject than he did. He was justified in saying that various as were the arguments which had yet been put forward, there had been no real argument against the Bill. The debate was opened by a speech which contained no argument against it; it passed a glowing eulogium upon established institutions and Established Churches, which would have been equally applicable to Ireland if Mahomedanism had been established there instead of Protestantism. It was too late to be telling the House the doctrines of Bolingbroke and Hume on the subject. What they wanted to hear were practical remarks on the Bill itself. He was sorry the Church had no one to say more on her behalf than had been said during the present debate. One great reason put forward why the Established Church should not be abolished was that if a Catholic were excommunicated or a Protestant Dissenter put out of the body to which he belonged there would be no body to receive him. A Church Established under the Crown existed for the purpose. What a compliment to the Irish Church ! If such a thing did happen in the future, he hoped the Disestablished Church would be willing to receive him, and the more so that he would probably bring something with him to contribute to its support. A sentimental grievance—lightly as some speakers had treated it—was worthy, in his opinion, of as much consideration as any other grievance. When a nation stood forward in battle array to de- 1963 fend the national honour or to avenge an insult to its flag, or when a gentleman repelled an insult to his character—was this regarded as a sentimental grievance? The Irish were a sentimental people; and the existence of this sentimental grievance had kept them discontented and disaffected. The English nation were getting a very cheap bargain in the tranquillity of Ireland by making the Irish people a present of what did not belong to them. This was more than a sentimental, it was a religious and political grievance, which poisoned the whole social life of Ireland. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) said the measure would not lead to social equality. Nobody ever said the measure would lead to social equality. But in future a Bishop or dean would no longer be preferred over a Bishop or dean of the Catholic or minister of the Presbyterian Church, and in that way, at least, an important removal of social distinctions would be effected. What plan, he asked, had been put forward better than that of the First Minister of the Crown? Surely not the plan of the Church Commission. The best argument put forward on behalf of the Church was that of the hon. Member for Mid-Surrey (Mr. Brodrick) that it kept alive a lamp of truth in every parish, and that with the removal of the Church that lamp would be taken away. But the Church Commissioners were prepared to take away the lamp from every place which had not forty Protestants. Of old, ten faithful people were needed to save a city, but it required forty Irish Episcopalians to save a benefice. Another great piece of economy recommended by the Commission was that the same person should perform the duties of sexton and parish clerk. The time, however, had passed for all these compromises, and the House stood face to face with the abatement of this great grievance. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for India (Sir Stafford Northcote) said he did not know what was meant by Protestant ascendancy, of which the Church was a badge. The hon. and gallant Member for Fermanagh County (Captain Archdall) would, no doubt, be able to instruct him in the meaning of that phrase, for he found by Debrett that he was "a firm supporter of Protestant ascendancy." If the right hon. Gentleman would only come 1964 over to Ireland on the next 12th of July, to the county of Fermanagh, which that hon. Member had represented for thirty-four years, or to the county Tyrone, he would see erected on the spires of the State churches that fatal Orange flag, the badge of degradation to the vast majority of the Irish people. [" Oh, oh !"] Protestant ascendancy did exist, he maintained, as long as one Church was patronized and preferred above another Church either of the whole or a portion of the people. And now he had done. But if he was done he had some satisfaction in knowing that the Established Church in Ireland was done too. The English people were entering on a new career,—the career of justice to Ireland; but by this great measure they were only opening the gates of the temple of justice; they had still to enter the penetralia of the temple and put their richest offerings upon its shrine. A late Statesman, Sir Robert Peel, had given the country Free Trade. The measure of the right hon. Gentleman would give the country religious freedom, and what it greatly needed—equality. By another measure, which he hoped would receive the sanction of one who was revered in Ireland—the President of the Board of Trade—security would be given to the land. These things accomplished, they would then have a happy, a prosperous, and a united people—happy because no sense of injustice rankled in their breasts; prosperous, because they enjoyed the fruits of their own industry; and united, because the fell spirit of ascendancy would be banished for ever.
§ MR. VANCE
said, that as representing a northern Irish constituency, he must offer his thanks to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) for his able and disinterested defence of the endowments of the Irish Church, to support which he had made so great a sacrifice. The Irish laity, whose interests were most directly attacked by the Bill, had never supposed from the tenour of the Speech from the Throne that a measure of so severe a character would be applied to the Irish Church. The Church itself was disestablished, its funds transferred to other purposes, and the status of its clergy lowered. The material for disendowment in this case would be obtained from the tithe rent-charge and from the glebe lands of Ulster. There were two kinds 1965 of tithe rent-cliarge—one of which was purely ecclesiastical, while the other was in the hands of lay impropriators. The right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown treated the latter portion of the fund with the greatest deference; he laid no such sacrilegious hand upon it as he was laying upon the ecclesiastical tithe rent-charge. He protected the drones while he destroyed the working bees. With regard to the glebe lands of Ulster, he should observe that no argument had been advanced in defence of the appropriation of that property. Those lands had been given by Protestant Kings after the Reformation to the clergy who had accompanied the Protestant settlers; and it was puerile to say, as the Chief Secretary for Ireland had contended, that they had merely been given to the national Church of Ireland. The national Church of the country was the same at that time that it was at present; and the same proportion existed at both periods between the number of Protestants and the number of Roman Catholics. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had not kept faith in the matter. In his speech on the 30th March last year, he had distinctly stated—That if the full money-value of the entire possessions of the Irish Church, fairly sold in open market, were estimated, certainly not less than three-fifths, possibly two-thirds, would remain in the hands of members of the Anglican Communion."—[3 Hansard, cxci., 476.]The utmost which the Bill now proposed to give in any way to the Church was £7,300,000 of a total of £16,000,000. A portion of the property of the Church was to be applied to the support of reformatories and training-schools for the deaf and dumb. There were institutions of that kind scattered all over Ireland, which were supported by voluntary contributions, and the effect of this Bill would be to dam up this stream of charity. Again, £20,000 out of the confiscated property was to go for ten years to the new Commission, while the old Commission, which had hitherto been paid out of the Consolidated Fund, must be superannuated. Surely, this was a most wasteful manner of dealing with the funds of the Irish Church. What he most of all objected to, however, in the scheme was the proposed application of a portion of the property of the Church to the permanent endowment of May- 1966 nooth—a proposal which, after the Recess would meet with an amount of opposition which the right hon. Gentleman little anticipated. The House had formerly declared against such a proposition, and he hoped they would remain firm to their old convictions. The hon. and learned Member who had last addressed the House had told them that he was an Episcopalian, but no one who had listened to him would have thought that such was the case, seeing that he praised every religious denomination, except the Episcopalian. The hon. and learned Member said that the Presbyterians were badly disposed towards the endowments of the Protestant Church, but he (Mr. Vance) entertained a contrary opinion on the subject. One who was the head of the Presbyterian body, and who was respected by men of every creed in Ireland—the late Dr. Cooke—always defended those endowments. The great majority of his (Mr. Vance's) Presbyterian constituents voted for him, and he believed the majority of the Presbyterians in Ireland voted for those who would support the Church. The hon. and learned Gentleman further stated that as the Irish Parliament had been composed of Episcopalians they were not competent to enter into such a compact as the Act of Union. But the Parliament of England was at the date of the Union composed of Episcopalians also. The hon. and learned Gentleman had described the Act of Union as being a mere Act of Parliament, whereas, in truth, it was a solemn compact between the two nations. The Parliament of one of the countries was defunct, and therefore it was impossible that the Parliament of the other could ever take that Act into re-consideration, as to do so would be a breach of faith and a violation of national rights. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, had stated in one of his speeches that the Act of 1833, the Church Temporalities Act, had interfered considerably with Church property. He denied that such was the case, because there had been precedents for the union of bishoprics from time immemorial, and where any dignities were suppressed by the Act the money so obtained was spent within the Church itself, no part of its property being alienated. The Irish clergy had done nothing to merit the treatment which they were now receiving. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter 1967 had said that the Irish clergy might be good country gentlemen, but they made bad parsons. But everybody who was acquainted with the conduct of the Irish clergy knew that they were the most faithful of ministers, and that they devoted themselves with the greatest assiduity to their duties. The existence of a large body of clergy in Ireland was of great national importance, as they formed the connecting link between the gentry and the yeomanry, and possessed the esteem and the confidence of both parties. They were men of high education and refinement, and knit the various classes together wherever they resided. Many landed proprietors were induced to reside in Ireland merely on account of the presence of the clergy, and for every clergyman who left many country gentlemen would also leave. It was vain to say that this Bill would put an end to Irish discontent; it would tend rather to foster and increase it. When once an unjust demand was conceded to clamour, others would be made Demands for other organic changes would be made, the most prominent of which would be for fixity of tenure and a repeal of the Union, and in resisting those demands the Government would have to depend on the co-operation of those whose feelings they had deeply hurt, whose religious observances they had interfered with, and whose dearest interests they had sacrificed by the destruction of their Church.
§ MR. RICHARD
said, that, as a representative of the Nonconformists in Wales, he wished to make some observations on this measure. The verdict of the Principality had been pronounced upon the Bill with great emphasis, for whereas in the last Parliament it had returned seventeen Liberal Members and fifteen Conservatives, it had at the late election sent twenty-three Gentlemen to support the policy of the Prime Minister, with only ten to adorn the opposite Benches. He was the representative of a constituency, eight, out of every ten of whom were Nonconformists; and, as he might fairly describe the Welsh people as a nation of Nonconformists, it would not be thought strange if, in his observations, he regarded the question from a Nonconformist point of view. Not that he had any intention of discussing the abstract question of the justice or expediency of ecclesiastical Es- 1968 tablishments. It seemed to him there was no necessity, in these days, for Dissenters to proclaim very loudly their peculiar principles on this subject; inasmuch as there were events and influences which, altogether independently of them, were working that problem to a speedy solution, in the sense in which they looked upon it. All enlightened politicians, of whatever colour in politics, were now accepting this as a just and sound principle—that no body of men, who were good subjects of the State, who were loyal to the Throne, who were obedient to the law, who fulfilled honestly and faithfully their duties as citizens, ought to be placed in a position of inferiority, in comparison with the rest of their fellow-subjects, as regarded their social, civil, and political rights, in consequence of their religious profession. Many of the most learned and pious of the clergy, representing every school of theological thought, were coming rapidly to this conclusion, that the so-called alliance between the Church and the State was injurious, rather than beneficial, to both parties in the alliance; that it was constantly embarrassing the action of the State, while it fettered the freedom, secularized the spirit, and benumbed the vital energies of the Church; and, at the same time, in many ways retarded, rather than promoted, the progress and triumph of practical Christianity in the world. If hon. Gentlemen opposite could not find in their logical arsenal any better weapons wherewith to assail the voluntary system, and to defend the principle of Church Establishments, than those that had been introduced in this debate, he had no fear whatever as to the issue of the controversy. He had heard four remarkable arguments put forward in this discussion, in vindication of Established Churches. One was, that they were necessary as safeguards for religious freedom. It certainly did require some degree of courage to advance that argument in the presence of fifty or sixty Nonconformists who had not forgotten, if the right hon. Gentleman had, that there was no Established Church in the world whose annals were not stained by records of gross cruelties practised upon men who deserved to be called "excellent of the earth," for no other purpose but to suppress religious liberty. Another argument was that ecclesiasti- 1969 cal Establishments were necessary, as a refuge for men of such character and conduct as to render them intolerable to other sects—as a sort of ecclesiastical Alsatia, where outlaws from all other Churches might be received. He did not know how far members of the Episcopal Church might feel flattered by that line of argument, but he should be sorry to think it was a sound one. A third argument was that the Established Church was necessary, in order to enable the high-born of this earth to travel to Heaven in genteel company, and to permit dignitaries to lift their mitred heads in palaces. Another argument was that ecclesiastical Establishments were necessary to repress religious fervour. He quite agreed that if religious fervour was an evil to be repressed, a State ecclesiastical Establishment was the very best wet blanket that could be thrown upon it. When he said that he intended to speak from a Nonconformist point of view, he meant that perhaps he could be able to show that persons belonging to Churches supported by the voluntary principle ought to be able to administer some words of consolation to those friends of the Irish Church who dread the idea of disestablishment and disendowment. He admitted that, if he were placed in the position of a member of the Church, sought to be disestablished and disendowed, he might have a repugnance to the change; and he thought the objection to the change did not arise altogether from the loss of those endowments. He could not think, indeed, that the supporters of the Church Establishment were insensible to the advantage they derived from the artificial support of the law. But he believed it to be an error to assume that any great community of men like those constituting the supporters of the Irish Church, and those benefited by it were actuated by merely base and mercenary considerations. He was also willing to admit that the repugnance to this measure did not arise from a wish on the part of those who opposed the Bill to guard the power and prestige which they now possessed. At the same time, it was not in human nature to be insensible to those advantages. The suspicion that unworthy motives had operated in the case arose from the injudicious nature of the defence put forward for the Establishment 1970 in Ireland. For instance—it had been said that if Parliament touched the temporalities of the Irish Church, it would impair the loyalty of the Irish Protestants. They remembered the passage in Scripture—"Doth Job serve God for nought? Put forth now thy hand and touch that which he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face." That, however, was said not by a friend, but by an enemy. But it had been said of the Irish Protestants, by some injudicious friends—"Put forth your hand and touch their temporalities, and you will see that they will curse you." He repudiated the idea. He believed their loyalty would remain unchanged. But he wished to say a word in order to encourage those members of the Irish Establishment who desponded as to what might become of their Church in the event of this measure being carried, as it assuredly would be. About a century ago the people of the Principality of Wales were in a state of deplorable spiritual destitution. There had been an Established Church there for upwards of two centuries; but it had utterly neglected the people. The Bishops, and other dignitaries, and many of the clergy were absolutely ignorant of the language of Wales. Simony, nepotism, plurality, non-residence, and an ignorant and immoral clergy; every evil that could affect a Church was rampant in the Church in Wales. Then there arose a body of remarkable men, fired by compassion for their countrymen, and they set a movement on foot calculated to remove the evils that existed. The zeal of those men became offensive to the principal dignitaries of the Church, and an attempt was made to put down their fervour. They were expelled from the communion of the Church, but they were not awed from their purpose. They at once joined the Nonconformists, and commenced the work of evangelizing their countrymen. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond said that the clergy of the Scotch Church had gone out voluntarily, whereas the Irish clergy were to be expelled. But in Wales the clergy were expelled from the Established Church, and took with them no congregations. Well, what happened? In 1742, when that movement occurred, the number of Dissenting places of worship in Wales was 110; but in 1851, a little more than a 1971 century afterwards, they had increased to 2,826. The population, that year was rather more than 1,100,000; the Established Church provided church accommodation for 301,897, or about 30 per cent; while the Nonconformists provided for 692,339, or 70 per cent. Now, Mr. Horace Mann estimated that if Church accommodation to the extent of 58 per cent of the population were provided that would be sufficient to meet the requirements of the case. In 1851 the accommodation provided by the Established Church fell short of that by 387,672, while the accommodation provided by the Nonconformists exceeded it by 2,770. Therefore the Nonconformists had really provided for the whole population; so that the worst consequence that could happen from any catastrophe occurring to the Church in Wales would be that a few of the landlords and wealthy people who remained attached to the Church of England would have to provide the means of religious consolation for themselves. He wished to correct a mistake made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) in a debate on church rates who, in commenting on an illustration of the working of the voluntary system in Wales given to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, said that the large number of Dissenting chapels in Wales arose from the fact that they were built by speculative builders, who mortgaged them on the security of the pew-rents, and realized 7 per cent. That statement was not correct; but even if it were he did not see how it could affect the case. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman spoke in perfect good faith according to such information as had been supplied to him. The whole thing was a fiction, for chapels were never erected in Wales by building speculators, but were always built by the people, for the people, and out of the money of the people, and were vested in trusts for the congregations which erected them, or for the particular religious bodies to which those congregations belonged. He would now ask the attention of the House to another remarkable fact. What had been the case in Wales since the Census of 1851? Some friends of his had taken the trouble to collect the ecclesiastical statistics of Wales as regarded the Non- 1972 conformists for the last eighteen years, and he found that from 1851 to the present year they had built 630 new chapels, and rebuilt and enlarged 736 more, and furnished additional accommodation for 296,000 persons, at a cost of £802,000. Might he not, therefore, with every possible respect, venture to address some words of encouragement to the friends of the Irish Church. If the Welsh—a poor persecuted, struggling people—did so much? ["Oh!"] Yes, persecuted; because from an early part of their history they had been persecuted, and their persecution had not yet altogether ceased—because it seemed to be one of the functions of an Established Church to persecute those who did the work it ought, but had neglected, to do. If a poor, persecuted, struggling people like the Welsh provided so amply for then-own religious wants were they to suppose that the Irish Protestants, who as they were told were the most wealthy and the most respectable part of the population, could not manage to get on without the assistance of the State, especially when they were supported, as they certainly would be, by the members of the Established Church in this country? He felt certain that there was not a voluntary Church in the world—and nearly all those now in existence had at one time or another been connected with the State—that would go back to the connection if the offer were made to them. Having once tasted the sweets of freedom, they had no inclination again to enter the house of bondage. He felt certain that twenty-five years hence, if the Irish Church would refuse to take counsel from hon. Gentlemen opposite of going into sulks with the Government—if it accepted its destiny—if it girt itself for the work before it—if it set itself down earnestly to do the work of evangelization—its members would look back with astonishment at the infatuation with which they had hugged their chains, and those who now called the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Ministry a spoiler and a confiscator, would, in all probability, be engaged in erecting a monument to him in the most honoured place they could find, and inscribing on the pedestal of his statue, "To the man who liberated the Irish Church."
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he wished, after the able and amusing speech of the hon. and learned Member for Deny (Mr. Serjeant Dowse), to state why those he represented could not consider the question as one for laughter or merriment. They, on the contrary, regarded it as a grave constitutional question—as an invasion of the rights and privileges which their ancestors had enjoyed for centuries, and which they were justly entitled to hand down to their descendants—and as a policy which, if carried out, would in all probability be fatal to the union of the United Kingdom. As an indication of coming events, he might instance the circumstance that oven the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General in his speech that evening had assumed that peace and order were only maintained in Ireland by the presence of a large alien force, and when comparing Irishmen with Englishmen and Scotchmen had referred to the latter as "aliens." He could not understand why those who, after all, were the most peaceful, the most industrious, and the most loyal portion of the population of Ireland, who contributed the most largely to the wealth and the industry of the country, should suddenly find themselves under the ban of public opinion, and be held up as fit subjects for spoliation. The hon. Member for Deny assumed, but did not prove, that the Church was the cause of Ireland's discontent, and that its removal as an Establishment would produce happiness and prosperity, but he prudently abstained from offering any argument to sustain his unfounded assumption. Almost every writer had acknowledged the loyal and industrious character of the population of the North of Ireland. What had they done to justify the wholesale attack that had been made upon them? To ascertain this, examination must be made how the question has obtained its present pre-eminent position. The policy now advocated by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Ministry was suddenly undertaken, and did not apparently suggest itself to his mind until the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) had taunted him with being a leader who would not lead, and with being at the head of followers who would not follow. A cry was instantly demanded with a view to rallying the Liberal party 1974 and the cry of the Irish Church was suggested as one which had done good service in times past, which had enabled the party to obtain Office in 1835, and to retain it for six years without injury, after all, to the Church. He could not, therefore, look upon this sudden thought as anything but a political and party manœuvre. It was a mistake to suppose we could repudiate the obligation imposed upon us by the Act of Union. We were not justified in stigmatizing it as a mere Act of Parliament; it was no such thing; it was a solemn arrangement made between two independent Parliaments representing two distinct kingdoms, and the union of the Churches was one of its essential conditions. Without that the Parliament of Ireland would not have passed it; and, if it were said that the Irish Parliament did not represent Ireland, and that therefore it was incompetent to unite the Churches, it was also incompetent to pass the Act of Union; but if the two Parliaments were competent to effect the Union, we were bound by the terms which they agreed to. If they were in existence, they could undo their own act; but by solemn compact they refused to future Parliaments the power to rescind the Act of Union, and they explicitly and solemnly declared no such power should exist. Was it possible to have a more solemn guarantee for the strict maintenance of those terms upon which alone this House had any power in the matter? This was the opinion of the Duke of Wellington, who entreated Parliament not to deviate in the slightest degree from the terms of the compact so long as it intended to maintain the union between this country and Ireland. He said—It is the foundation on which the Union rests; it is a, compact which you entered into with the Parliament of Ireland, and which you cannot violate without being guilty of a breach of faith.He added there could be no deviation from that, solemn compact as long as there was a spark, of honour left in the country. Lord Plunket, also, who, in his younger days, was the eloquent advocate of Roman Catholic claims in the Irish House of Parliament, and later consistently maintained them in the United Parliament and in the House of Lords, stated in the clearest language, that the existence of the Protestant Establishment was the great bond of 1975 union between the two countries, and that if ever we rashly laid hands on the property of the Church, that moment the connection between the two countries would terminate. Therefore, in this respect we were placed under no ordinary obligation; and were we to think lightly of the engagements of the Sovereign entered into on the solemn occasion of her Coronation? Are we to consider the Oath taken by Her Majesty before the assembled magnates of the realm and the representatives of the people, in a building dedicated to the God of Truth, as a theatrical pageant, without any moral obligation, and perfectly useless as a security to the interests it professed to protect? He would now say a few words as to the Bill itself. The measure before the House was really that of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, for the Prime Minister had only adopted a scheme which his right hon. Colleague drew up seventeen years ago, so that, although the Prime Minister was the figurehead of the Ministerial vessel, and indicated the direction it was taking, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade was the rudder, and really directed the course of the ship. That right hon. Gentleman visited Ireland in the autumn of 1852, and afterwards published his views as to changes that were desirable in the ecclesiastical arrangements of Ireland. He proposed that there should be no Church in Ireland connected with the State, and that there should be a Commission which should hold in trust, for certain purposes, the tithes and other property enjoyed by the Church, that the landed proprietors should be allowed to purchase the tithes at an easy rate, that the churches should be given up to those who would maintain them by voluntary contributions, and that the realized property should be distributed—£1,000,000 to the Roman Catholics, the capitalized value of the Regium Donum to the Presbyterians, and the remaining £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 to the various bodies for educational and moral purposes. To judge of the ultimate object of the measure it was only necessary to remember that the President of the Board of Trade had uniformly been at war with all endowments. The authorship of the Bill was the more striking when the measure was compared with the speeches of the 1976 Prime Minister in Lancashire. The Preamble was in conformity with those speeches, but the clauses were opposed to them. The Bill gave large sums to the Presbyterians and the Roman Catholics, but the right hon. Gentleman in Lancashire repudiated any such intention on two or three occasions. He had said distinctly that the residue of the funds taken from the Irish Church, after satisfying every just claim, ought not to be applied to the teaching of religion in any other form whatever. Could it be said the Roman Catholics had a just claim on the Establishment? When questioned as to his meaning by a resident at Birmingham, the Prime Minister had replied by letter, that—Not only my own declaration on this occasion, but the Resolution unanimously passed by the House of Commons, binds me in honour to propose that the Regium Donum and the Maynooth Grant should be wound up, and cease with the Church Establishment.They knew, then that the Bill was not drawn up in conformity with the former principles of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, but rather with the plan sketched out by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, before he joined the Government. What did the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall), the consistent Member of the Liberation Society, say in regard to this measure? That hon. Gentleman said that the Irish Church question would not be finally disposed of before the public mind would take hold of the Scotch Church and the Church of England with the object of their destruction as Establishments. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) asked the House to pause before pressing forward this measure, the leading advocates of which had long declared that they looked at it as only a means to an end—namely, the destruction of all religious Establishments in the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Mr. Serjeant Dowse) had repeated a statement which they had frequently heard from some of the enemies of the Establishment, that it was a failure. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) maintained that it was not a failure. On the contrary, he was prepared to prove it was a success. The Church in Ireland never professed to coerce men, or to do aught but uphold the pure Christian Faith and the right of private 1977 judgment—to secure a free Bible and liberty of conscience. Had it not nobly fulfilled these duties under circumstances of great difficulty? The great impediment to the beneficial influence of the Church has always been the unworthy conduct of English, ministers who have sought to make it subserve their political objects. As formerly, so now—the interests of religion have been sacrificed to party objects and political intrigue. But has it failed? In England, Wales, and Scotland Dissent has drawn half the whole population from the fold of the Established Church, whereas in Ireland the Church has steadily increased per proportion of population; and had the massacre of 40,000 or 50,000 Protestants in 1641 not taken place, the natural increase of the number would have largely strengthened the Church. But what did they see in America? Tens of thousands of Roman Catholics having emigrated to America became Protestants. In the Tablet, the organ of the Roman Catholics in this country, a Catholic priest stated, some time ago, that at least 1,900,000 persons who had been Roman Catholic in Ireland became members of the Protestant Church in America. And this statement was subsequently confirmed by the Catholic Bishop of Toronto. He claimed these 1,900,000 as fruits of the teaching of the Irish Church. These emigrants obtained the instruction that caused their conversion from the ministers of the Established Church; but dreading the persecution that awaited them in Ireland, they only proclaimed their change of religion when safe in America. There are thousands now in Ireland who would gladly avow their conversion, but are deterred by fear, and not without just cause. This measure, if carried, would sap the very foundation of the rights of property and the Constitution. He called upon the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to explain that portion of his speech which he delivered last year in Scotland relative to the land question, in which he suggested that Protestant absentees should be deprived of their land, and he also called upon the Members of the Government to state whether they concurred in those views. He hoped that the passing of this measure would not cause to be enacted a repetition of the persecution and spoliation that followed the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which 1978 is the only historical event that bears similarity to the present infamous attack on the rights of a loyal, industrious, and religious people.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The long controversy which has been carried on with regard to the authorship of the letters of Junius is the best proof the public can give of their admiration for that remarkable performance, and I am willing to accept in the same spirit the historical investigation of the noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton) who has just sat down with respect to the original idea of the Bill now before us. I think he could not have given us a greater proof of the high estimation which he entertains of our performance. I must leave it to him, however, to arrange the position of the rudder and the figurehead of the ship of State, only entreating him, as I have some interest in the safety of that good ship, that he will not place them side by side. Now, Sir, I will re-call the attention of the House to a thing that I believe has been too much neglected in the course of this debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), in the speech with which the debate commenced, very gracefully and very properly, as I thought, exhorted us all on this subject to self-control and mutual forbearance. I must say, however, that the right hon. Gentleman spoilt a little the force of his admonition, because, before he had proceeded a third part in his speech, I took down his words, and I find that he applied rather harsh language to the very innocent Gentlemen who sit on this side of the House, for he accused us of "confiscation," "plunder," "robbery," and "sacrilegious spoliation." Whether that was meant as a specimen of "self-control and mutual forbearance," I really do not know, but I must beg to object to the employment of such language from such a quarter. ["Oh, oh !"] Just allow me to state the reason why. In the first place, because it involves a trifling inconsistency on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, but I will not insist on that. In the next place, because, though it might have been quite right to say those things of us before the late election, that language is now not so much levelled at Gentlemen on these Benches as against the majority of the people of England, and, what- 1979 ever respect we may be entitled to be treated with, I know nothing they have done to forfeit their right to respectful treatment. Then, again, I have another objection, and it is that it is, in fact, begging the question. There is no doubt that this Bill means to disendow the Irish Church, but whether that disendowment be a right and legitimate measure, or whether it be spoliation or sacrilegious robbery, is the very question we come here to argue; and to decide that question in the manner of the right hon. Gentleman, and to apply those epithets as he has done, can serve no purpose except to inflame and envenom a discussion which ought to be calm and statesmanlike. ["Hear, hear !" and "Oh, oh!"] If hon. Gentlemen come here merely to harangue and get cheers from their own party, they cannot do better than use such language; but, if they come here to convince, let me remind hon. Gentlemen that no conviction can be attained unless we start from a common point; and that to assume the greatest turpitude in those that are opposed to you is not the way to prove your case and carry conviction to anyone's mind. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman missed a most tempting opportunity for the exercise of that genius which he possesses in so remarkable a degree. This, if anything in the world, is a romantic and historical subject. There is a great deal to be said about the Irish Church; a great deal that is very picturesque, and a great deal that is very interesting. It begins in the night, or, I should rather say, at the dawn of history—in a mythical age; and I should have expected to have heard from the right hon. Gentleman something aboutThe fair humanities of old religion,The power, the beauty, and the majestyof the Church. I should have thought he would have favoured us with some sort of sketch of the power and dignity of that Church down to the time of the Reformation—that he would have dwelt on the strong legal title by which it holds its land and possessions, on the frequent recognitions that it has received from Parliament, on the great names that have been connected with it, and that he would have extenuated any faults and shortcomings which he might be compelled to admit by alluding to the spe- 1980 cial difficulties to which any institution in Ireland is subject. That is what I should have thought would have been suggested to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman by his subject. I should have thought we should have heard the names of Ussher, Bramhall, Taylor, Berkeley, Bedell, Boulter, Swift, Whately, and the other great names which have illustrated the Irish Church. But the right hon. Gentleman, for what reason I know not, entirely declined to take a course of that sort. His speech was so vague that it would have been just as cogent and convincing whether applied to the best or the worst of human institutions. There was no single thing that the right hon. Gentleman said about the Irish Church except these two—first, that it was a Church connected with the State; and secondly, that it was a corporation—and the latter was not strictly accurate. This certainly is a specimen of the high a priori, metaphysical style of reasoning, but I think for an important constitutional question it was rather a hungry and jejune manner of treating it. The right hon. Gentleman's argument may be stated in a few words. The Irish Church, he said, is established—that is, connected with the State. The right hon. Gentleman is favourable to connection between Church and State, and therefore he is in favour of the Irish Church. Of course, he avoided most carefully saying anything more specific about the Irish Church, but that he did say, and upon that he argued. Now, how did he make out his theory of the connection between Church and State? Why, in this way. The right hon. Gentleman has evidently no very high opinion of Churches. But he told us that he was acquainted with many eminent philosophers of the present day, and that, differing in all other points, they all agreed in this, that all speculation tended to "the insoluble," and he told us that it was exactly at that point religion began. Having built the foundations of his Church upon so firm a basis, he proceeded to give his opinion as to the nature of Churches, and this is what he said. He told us that Churches were not calm, were not impartial; that they were sincere, fervid, enthusiastic, with contracted views; and, such being the case, he was of opinion that a union between Church and State was desirable. The State extended 1981 to the Church material protection and support, and gained in exchange the power of controlling the Church when it got enthusiastic, fervid, contracted, and all the other things; and then the Church sanctified the actions of the State, and influenced the consciences of men in favour of the powers that be. That was the sketch of the right hon. Gentleman, and it put me in mind of the prayer in the Critic—Assist us to accomplish all our ends,And sanctify whatever means we useTo gain them.Well, I will not quarrel with the definition of the right hon. Gentleman; but what I want to point out is this—that in arguing about the Irish Church we cannot leave the Irish Church out of the question. It follows from his definition that the main advantage which the State gains from the union between Church and State is that it controls the vagaries of the Church and receives a sort of sanctity in return, if the Church be not too weak to make it worth your while to control it; but if, on the other hand, its influence be such that it enlists the conscience of the nation, you are endeavouring to govern against you instead of for you, then, on the very showing of the right hon. Gentleman, it becomes a mischief and ought to be put an end to as soon as possible. Let us apply this reasoning to the case of the Irish Church. Does anybody think that the Irish Church is so dangerous a body that it is necessary for the State to enter into union with it for the purpose of controlling it and keeping it in order? Has it not always been the obedient servant of the State? On this point I will not use my own language, but that which a prelate of our own Church used last year in the House of Lords, when he said that the Irish Church had been the worst and meanest instrument of English misrule." ["Name !"] It was the Bishop of Ox-ford. Is it, then, that the Irish Church sanctifies and consecrates; is it that it throws a halo of sanctity over the acts of the State, and, where law and ordinances and police and military fail, induces a willing obedience to the dictates of the State in the minds of the Irish people? Is that the consideration which the State gets, on the right hon. Gentleman's principle, or is not the state of the case rather something of this kind—One-eighth of the Irish people 1982 may be somewhat conciliated by the union of Church and State, and another eighth may be in some degree conciliated by the Regium Donum; but as to the remaining six-eighths, the Irish Church is an obstacle and a hindrance to the State, and, so far from bringing them into harmony with the Government, sets the great bulk of the nation against it, and multiplies ten-fold the difficulty of governing the country? I am entitled, then, I think, to say that, on the very showing of the right hon. Gentleman himself, the Irish Church does not satisfy the conditions of that union of Church and State on which he rested his argument; that it is not worth controlling; that a union with it is not worth having as an instrument for conciliating and influencing the minds of the Irish people in favour of the Government, But that her influence, as far as it goes, acts rather as a counteracting and disturbing force. Then, the right hon. Gentleman has another argument, which is perfectly consistent with his view of the union of Church and State. He says—"You have two discontented Churches in Ireland now; and if you get rid of this Establishment you will have three discontented Churches." Would it not be more true to say that you have now one great discontented Church, which you make discontented by endowing this Church; and that if you get rid of this Church you may have the smaller Church discontented, but you will have conciliated the larger one? You may have lost the support of a small clique, but you will have conciliated the nation. I think I have shown—["No, no!"]—then I intended to show—that on the right hon. Gentleman's own principle, the union between the Irish Church and the Irish State ought to be dissolved as soon as possible. I now pass on to his other argument, which is equally remarkable. The right hon. Gentleman says the Church is a corporation. It is an aggregate of corporations, as we have often been told; but I will not insist on that. Then he says that the State is the trustee for a corporation, and, being a trustee, cannot apply the money which it holds in trust to its own purposes. Now, what is a trustee? He is a person possessed of property which he holds for the benefit or on behalf of another person. Well, the State is not possessed of this property at all, and therefore it can- 1983 not be a trustee. The right hon. Gentleman did not favour us with any demonstration of how he arrived at his conclusion; but I am bound to say that I can quote against it a great authority, a very eminent lawyer, who says that the Bishops and incumbents hold the property which they possess in trust for the whole Church—for the laity and the clergy alike. There is a slight difference between that great authority and the right hon. Gentleman, because the right hon. Gentleman says that the State is a trustee for the Church, whereas the authority I have quoted says that the Church herself is a trustee for other people. Now my authority is Lord Cairns, the leader of the Opposition in "another place." The argument of course, therefore breaks down in the first instance, because the State is not a trustee. There may be other reasons why the State should not appropriate these revenues, but this is not one. I should like, as the right hon. Gentleman accuses us of despoiling corporations and of sacrilegious spoliation, to point out exactly how that matter stands. We do not despoil present corporations, the existing Bishops and clergy, because we compensate them for their lives. [A laugh.] Do hon. Gentlemen think that we do not compensate them? Then whom do we despoil? Who are their successors? [An hon. MEMBER: The laity.] If the hon. Gentleman will please to observe we are now speaking of corporations. The charge of the right hon. Gentleman is that we despoil corporations. Now, we do not despoil, as I have said, but we compensate the present corporations; nor do we despoil those who are unnamed and unknown, and who, if there were no interference, would ultimately succeed them. Therefore, it is quite clear that according to the right hon. Gentleman's own showing we do not despoil corporations. Now, this is all very trifling. It is mere subtleties and waste of time. [Cheers.] I admit it fully. But bear in mind that that is the whole argument of your champion. There was not another word—I defy any Gentleman who may follow me to point it out. There was not a single word that he said about the Irish Church which showed that he knew or cared anything about that Church except that it was an Establishment and that it was a corporation. There are many 1984 young Members in this House, and I venture to offer a caution to them; and it is this—they are not to suppose that the right hon. Gentleman cannot speak very differently from that when he chooses. No man can speak more directly to the point than the right hon. Gentleman, or put a case with more force, or grasp it more completely; but sometimes it does not serve his purpose to do that, or to be so cogent and convincing. I observed that, when he had mentioned the word "education," he substituted the word "instruction," and I cannot help thinking that this exhibition of the sort of argument which can be adduced in favour of the Irish Church, and which can with such case be taken to pieces, was meant as another example of the process of which we have seen so much—the process of political "education," or, if he likes it better, of "instruction." I now turn to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer). My hon. and learned Friend, in the position which he occupies on this question, deserves, and I am sure commands, the sympathy of every one in this House for his strict conscientiousness, and I can assure him that if I am obliged to differ from him I do it with the very greatest respect. But it did appear to me that my hon. and learned Friend was much more happy in the tone and feeling which he infused into the debate than in the arguments which he used. ["Oh, oh!"] I will take nothing for granted. I will give my reasons for my opinion. My hon. and learned Friend required information on three subjects. He was ready to consent to disestablishment, but wished it to be shown to him that the disendowment of the Irish Church was necessary, just, and salutary—a most reasonable request. He began by saying that disestablishment did not necessarily involve disendowment. He did not give any proof of that, nor do I think there was any reason why he should; because nothing is more manifest, abstractedly considered, than that the connection between a great corporation and the State could be broken off without depriving it of its revenues. But surely the inconvenience of such a proceeding might easily have presented themselves to the acute mind of my hon. and learned Friend. What would be the effect of the disestablishment of the 1985 Irish Church, leaving that Church in the possession of £16,000,000, without any connection with the State, without any of that control which the right hon. Gentleman opposite thinks so necessary, and with absolute freedom to regulate her own affairs in her own way, in a country like Ireland, with no other check except such as might be imposed by a court of law—not by an ecclesiastical court. It seems to me that it would be the foundation of a species of theocracy; with so temendous a power backed by such enormous wealth, and so utterly unchecked, it is impossible to conceive the amount of disturbance which such an element might introduce. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen seemed to be going on very fast indeed. They are apparently in favour of a free Church in a free State; but I confess, with my slow rate of progress, that I for one look with horror at the idea of an immense corporation wielding all the formidable power which its money and its position could give it in a country like Ireland. Of course it would either side with the civil Government or it would oppose it. If the two sided together, no doubt they would be irresistible, and therefore it would be worth while for the Government to secure its support by any concessions. But if, on the contrary, the two were arranged as hostile powers, and engaged in quarrelling with each other, would not a vast element of turmoil and confusion be introduced into Ireland? And I would remark that such a thing would involve not a continuance of endowment, but a re-endowment, because the property of the Irish Church was given not by persons who made it a condition that it should continue to be established, but by persons into whose heads it never entered that it would be otherwise than established. If you take away from the Church its connection with the State, you take away its peculiar character, it is essential a new institution, and the money would be really as much re-invested as if it were given to another body So much for necessity. I next come to justice, and on that my hon. and learned Friend says that everybody who is in possession of this property is in want of it, and having done nothing to forfeit it, ought to retain it. That is the position which he lays down. The effect of that, of course, would be to make all endowments perpetual. A thing, once done, 1986 could not be undone; and however inconvenient, however noxious, however the course of time or the change of circumstances might render it necessary to alter it, you would be met by this rigid and invincible law of property which he lays down, and which it would not be possible to get beyond. As for possession, of course they have that. As to want, everybody wants to keep what he has got. And as for forfeiture, an endowment may be in the highest degree useless and mischievous to a country without the particular owners and occupants of it having done anything to render them in any manner liable to forfeitture. Then my hon. and learned Friend went on to say that the Church had a legal title. If it had not, it would not be necessary to pass a law to take it away. The very foundation of our Bill—one of the very first things we must assume before we pass this Bill—is that there is a legal title, because it is not necessary to invoke the assistance of Parliament to take away property from those to whom it docs not belong. Therefore, I do not think that carries it any further. Then my hon. and learned Friend says that every congregation has a vested interest. What is meant by "vested interest?" I was surprised to hear so great a lawyer as my hon. and learned Friend apply the term vested interest in that sense. This is what I understand by a vested interest; and I am open to correction if I am wrong—[" Hear ! "]—but not before I am wrong. It is this—that where you destroy a College or other institution for public reasons, the persons who have actually got a position in that institution, and have a reasonable expectation of remaining in it, should not suffer for the public good, but should have their position made good for life. But that is not what my hon. and learned Friend contends for. He claims for them as an inalienable right that they should hold their position in perpetuity. But that is not a vested interest. A man has not a vested interest in his own property. The owner of a fee-simple has not a vested interest in the sense in which we use the term, and these people according to him, are just the same. That is to say, they have no legal title at all, and no legal ownership whatever, but they have got a "vested interest," as he calls it; according to him they have an inalienable right, whatever be the circumstances of 1987 the time and the necessities for change, and they ought to continue to have the same ministrations in their churches by ministers paid by the State. ["No, no!"] All I can say is that that is the argument of my hon. and learned Friend. Now, if that be so, I should like hon. Gentlemen to consider this—The State has undoubtedly the power of making, unmaking, modifying, moulding, dispossessing, and endowing corporations. ["No, no!"] Has it not? Having that power, does no responsibility go with it? Can it really be contended, as my hon. and learned Friend contended, that the State is bound to stand by, having the power to correct gross abuses? and to see those abuses exist merely because those who commit them have a legal title or a vested interest? The State may hold its hand and forbear to exercise its power, but it cannot elude the responsibility which waits upon the possession of power, whether exercised or not; and it is for that reason I contend—and in doing so I fear I come under the ban of my hon. and learned Friend—that these public corporations exercising public functions and spending public money are neither more nor less than departments of the State, over which it is the duty of the State to watch just as much as over any other public department. Then my hon. and learned Friend said another thing which astonished me. He said that a monastery was an institution which existed only during the life of the present possessors, so that when the last monk died out the monastery was gone. But, I always thought that, according to the old law of England prior to the dissolution of the monasteries, a monastery was a corporation with a perpetual succession. [Sir ROUNDELL PALMER: I said when it was dissolved.] That is to say, when a monastery ceased to be a monastery it was not a monastery. Well, on that point I quite agree with my hon. and learned Friend. Now, I am very much frightened by this remark of my hon. and learned Friend, because, knowing his great ability and authority, I was afraid he might succeed in instituting a perfectly Chinese system in this country—that anyone, however bad, who got hold of any kind of public property must keep it, and that the State must be engaged like Frankenstein in creating a set of hobgoblins and giants, which it could 1988 not unmake, and which would make its life miserable. I was very much relieved by the latter part of his speech, because, after having proved to his own satisfaction, first, that no disendowment was necessary, and, secondly, that no disendowment would be just, he proceeded to propose to take one-half of the endowment away at once. He proposed, for instance, to take away the estates of the bishops and capitular bodies, and of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the endowments of all the small parishes which have not 200 inhabitants. ["No, no !"] I assure hon. Gentlemen that my hon. and learned Friend really did propose that. My hon. and learned Friend, who is a great Chancery lawyer, laid down a rigid code, and then suddenly wheeled round without the least notice, and after having proved that to take away any endowment was the most wicked thing in the world, he immediately proposed to take away one-half of the endowments. There is a well-known distinction between questions of land and questions of degree. I can imagine my hon. and learned Friend differing from us as to the quantum of endowment; but how he could argue as he did in favour of absolute rights of property, and the inviolability of corporations, and of congregations who have no legal ownership at all, I cannot understand. My hon. and learned Friend assumed that want was to be our criterion, but how does he proceed? Why he spares the North of Ireland where there are large congregations, and where it is comparatively easy for people to collect subscriptions for the ministers, while he ruthlessly sweeps away small congregations in the South and West of Ireland where there is no such power of raising funds. That is his notion of making want his criterion. He takes away the support of the State where the people are poor and where it is needed, but he leaves it in places where the people are rich and do not need it. That puts me in mind of nothing so much as of Saul, who spared the fat and good cattle, but all that were lean and refuse he utterly destroyed. My hon. and learned Friend is of opinion that the Church will not raise contributions under the voluntary system. What an idea he must have of the value which is set on the ministrations of the Church when he argues that those of its members who 1989 are most able to contribute will refuse to do so! My hon. and learned Friend objects to the disendowed Irish Church being compared with the free Churches of other countries. He is driven, therefore, to take up this position. He says that the rich members of the Irish Church will not contribute towards its maintenance, and that, although considerable funds must be necessarily placed at its disposal, it cannot, for a moment, be expected to compete with the Free Church of Scotland, which went out unaided, and in the course of a few years raised up a vast number of schools and churches. Now, if you wish to form the worst opinion possible of the Irish Church, you should listen, not to its enemies, but to the account given of it by my hon. and learned Friend. I will now turn to the right hon. Member for Trinity College (Dr. Ball), of whose speech I must speak with admiration and respect. My right hon. and learned Friend was at great labour to prove what I think he might have assumed—that the end and object of this Bill was to establish voluntaryism in Ireland, and he went on to state his objections to the voluntary system. But does not all this come a little too late? Need we travel through America and Australia to find an answer to his argument? Where is there a country so entirely under the influence of the voluntary system as Ireland herself? When you declaim against the voluntary system you declaim against yourselves. Ireland has got the voluntary system because the Government of England took away from the Irish people the funds which were appropriated for the purposes of their religion. ["No !"] There has been a nation on one side and a Church on the other. ["No !"] Hon. Gentlemen appear to be confused by the term "State Church," but, in point of fact, the State Church in Ireland is not the national Church, and the national Church is not the State Church. Such religious life as there is in Ireland is purely voluntary. If you want to find where religion does not prevail go to where it is richly endowed, for where it does prevail it is poor and needy. Therefore, it is rather too late to urge this objection about voluntaryism. We have made voluntaryism in Ireland, and we cannot unmake it. There is no pretence for saying that we have been generous in framing this measure. I cannot un- 1990 derstand being generous with other people's money. We must, however, try to be just. We have laid down a principle, and it appears to me a just one. We say—"We must disestablish and dis-endow the Church, but we will make a great and important organic change by which not a single man shall suffer injustice;" and as far as we can do so we have wrought out that principle in the Bill. We have contrived to give suum euique. A great State necessity obliges us to put an end to the Establishment; but we shall take care that persons are not placed in what would be a pitiable situation owing to no fault of their own. And then as to the Church Body. It is complained that we have not attempted to form a Now Church Body. I think it would have been very unjust if we had. After withdrawing from the Church her property and her status what right had we to interfere further with her? There is one thing we have left her, and that is freedom to regulate her own affairs. I do not believe that a word would have been said in the Bill about her internal affairs had it not been necessary that a Body should be appointed to receive the proportion of the money which is to be; handed over to her. The right hon. Gentleman taunts us with not being able to plunder the Church without her own co-operation. I think he is in error. As far as the harsh and severe part of the Bill is concerned—namely, that relating to disendowment and disestablishment—all that might have been carried out with the moat literal exactness without calling for any assistance from the Church, which is only required when we want to remedy, in some degree, the harshness and severity. We want her assistance to constitute a Body to whom we may make over such things as we can properly and reasonably make over in accordance with the plan we have laid down. Then the question really remains, what is the principle on which we ought ! to act? I do not think it is the principle on which my hon. and learned Friend; behind me has based his argument, for the reasons I have stated. We should, in my opinion, look upon the whole subject, not from a legal nor sentimental point of view, but from the most elevated point of view which we can take—that is, as a matter of justice and conscience. The true question we have to consider is, were, or were not, the 1991 many made for the few? Is it, or is it not, in accordance with the order of society, and with that principle which secures the prosperity and welfare of nations that a very small portion of the people of a country should monopolize to itself a large share of the public money, to the exclusion of the poorer, and far more numerous, portion of the community? Was it right that the Trench noblesse should enjoy an exemption from the burden of taxation? If that were wrong, on what principle can it be fairly contended that a certain portion of the Irish people—a small portion—should receive exemption from the charge for the maintenance of religion, which falls so heavily on the members of other denominations in Ireland? This is sometimes represented as a religious question, as if religion could have anything to do with this sort of iniquitous favouritism—the result of conquest, and enforced by violence. Can that which would be wrong in secular matters—which would be intolerable, for instance, in the case of an hospital, that it should be devoted exclusively to the relief of members of one denomination—be right in the case of the most sacred of all things, religion; as if the very fact that, the services to which these funds are applied being religious services did not make it a great deal worse that they should not be dealt with in the most scrupulous fairness on all sides? We are told that we ought to erect a bulwark against Popery, but I would observe that it is no part of the business of a Government to erect bulwarks against any form of Christianity. Of the Roman Catholic religion, it may be said as of the Shannon, that the more bulwarks are set up to stem its course the higher does it rise and the more land does it inundate. I cannot, I think, state my case in fewer or better words than those of Swift, which, to my mind, have peculiar force—If God be the sole Lord of conscience, why should the rights of conscience be subject to human jurists?This, I hope, Sir, is the beginning of a time when we shall give up not only the idea of persecution, but the language of toleration—that is to say, when we shall come to admit that one man's faith is not a thing to be tolerated by another man, but to be respected, and shall neither impose penalties and disabilities on 1992 the one side, nor give bounties on the other, as in this case, to any particular sects; but when we shall obliterate from the statute book and from our minds any notion of social or other superiority as attaching to a man's religion, and when it shall be free for every man to choose his own creed and to walk according to it. There can be doubt, notwithstanding what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, that a man can obtain such certainty in those matters as may be a guide to him through life, and a comfort to him at the hour of his death; but let us at once give up the notion that you can establish an objective certainty in religion, such as a State would be justified in enforcing by penalty or otherwise. I hope to see this change effected, in some degree, by that which we propose to do by means of this Bill. I hope also to see another thing, and that is this—The Irish Church, from the very necessity of its position, is obliged to exaggerate the differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. Its raison d'être is to embody the principle of violent opposition to Rome, and if it were to begin to give up that controversial and polemical attitude, it would feel that, as now constituted, it was sapping its own foundation in the country. I do trust, therefore, that it may be found to be one of the advantages of this measure that that feeling may be put an end to. When there is nothing to fight for, I cannot but hope for peace. But, after all the hard things I have had to say about the Irish Church, I confess my mind is so constituted that I cannot view, without considerable regret, the destruction of an institution which has lasted so many years, and which has been so long interwoven with our history. When that feeling occurred to my mind I returned to that period when a black darkness settled over Ireland in 1692, after the Civil Wars, when she was condemned to suffer all the miseries which the frantic rage of a victorious faction could inflict, and whent he most infamous Penal Laws were enacted. If ever a Church had a high mediatorial function offered to it to discharge it was the Church of Ireland at that time. It was connected by race and principle with the victorious party, but as a minister of religion, a professor of a common Christianity, and an avowed 1993 teacher of the doctrine of love, peace, and reconciliation, it had powerful agencies at its command, and should have put these into operation to mediate between the two races. I have sought, however, in vain for any evidence that the Irish Church remonstrated against any of those dreadful Penal Laws. It folded its arms and stood by like the English Parliament, while the Irish Parliament worked its wicked and cruel will. It thus lost a great opportunity of winning to itself, if, indeed, it were possible to do so, the hearts of the Irish people. That opportunity returned again, when the English Government, alarmed at last, did tardy justice to the Roman Catholics of Ireland by the Emancipation Act. The Irish Church might then j have stood forward and emancipated itself from the narrow prejudices by which it had so long been trammelled, but it declined to do so. It had a last chance of redeeming its position and obliterating religious dissensions afforded it when Mr. Stanley, with a liberality which did him infinite credit, introduced; his scheme for mixed Irish education. But how did the Irish Church receive that scheme? It stood aloof. It took an attitude of hostility. It set up a small useless competition of its own' against the Government plan, and for once in its life succeeded in uniting the bigots of all other denominations in the endeavour to stifle this noble work. That was its last chance, for it seems to me that it thus cut itself off from all sympathy with the nation, and that nothing was wanting but the fulness of time to bring about the fate which now threatens it. Mr. Burke, whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) quoted as a high authority on this subject, speaks in one of his letters of the Irish Church as being a great and grievous infliction on the Irish people, who had to bear the cost of two religious Establishments—one which they do believe in and another in which they do not. This, however, Mr. Burke went on to say, was unalterable. At that time I do not know how any man could have said otherwise; the conditions of society were then such that it was vain to look for a change. But the conditions of society are now altered. The minds of men have become enlightened. They see things now no longer through the 1994 haze of prejudice and bigotry which sur-sounded them in the last century, but in a better and purer light. The present state of things in Ireland is no longer unalterable. We can alter it, and we will.
§ MR. WALPOLE moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. GREENE
objected to the adjournment at so early an hour of the evening, as there were many Members on both sides who had not yet spoken. They had not yet come to the practical question before them. He had been a Member of the House since 1865, and he could safely say this question had never been made a prominent question until the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury found himself in Opposition, and found also that it was difficult to unseat the Conservatives without bringing that question forward. The measure was fraught with dishonesty, and the country had not yet given its voice upon it. Hon. Members should be allowed to go again to their constituents upon this Bill. It was said that the Roman Catholics of Ireland felt the Irish Church as a grievance. Now, as Protestants, they protested against the errors of Rome, but the First Lord of the Treasury was now asking them to degrade the Protestant Church at the bidding of Romish priests. It was all very well for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side to say—" The old cry of 'No Popery' is not now uttered," but he was one of those who would say "No Popery." It was said in the debates last year that the Irish farmers would not go for disestablishment: then they should be deducted from the Roman Catholic and added to the Protestant population. Absenteeism was complained of, but this Bill would produce it in ten-fold greater amount. The voluntary system must fail in Ireland, and there was no analogy between Scotland and Ireland, for the people who left the Scotch Church were wealthy people. And then it should be remembered that Scotland was a purely Protestant country. He did not believe that the voice of the country was in favour I of this measure, and the Bill was not in accordance with the previous speeches of the right hon. Gentleman. He used to look with satisfaction and delight upon the fact that there was a man of such talent as the right hon. Gentleman 1995 to lead the Opposition. He did not blame the right hon. Gentleman for changing his opinions, but was the man who changed his opinions on all questions the man to lead the country? Much had been said about Irish discontent. But the Irish Church had never before been brought prominently forward as the cause of that discontent, and the hon. Member for Cork, in 1867, had touched very lightly upon it, dealing chiefly with the land question. ["Read!"] No, he was happy to say that in the few remarks he should make he was not obliged to read, like an hon. Gentleman who had lately been returned to Parliament, and who read nearly all his speech. This Bill had not been asked for in Ireland. They were told that the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) was the man to enlighten them all on this subject, but all that hon. Gentleman had done was to hand about a butter-boat. He for one would not entertain the Bill at all. Though hon. Gentlemen on the other side thought they could do everything because they had a majority, and told them they must accept the Bill, he would not accept it at all. The lame speech just made in its favour by the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed clearly that he had a bad case. As for the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), it should be circulated throughout the length and breadth of the land. It was said that the subject was exhausted; but the question had only now begun to be debated, and he recommended hon. Members on his side of the House not to divide to-morrow, for only about thirty out of 658 Members had yet had an opportunity of talking. He thanked the House for the kindness with which they had listened to him; for he remembered that on a former occasion they had refused to hear him. Many quotations had been made in the course of the debate from the former speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, but he objected to such a mode of discussion. For his part he believed that a man ought every year to wipe out everything he had said or done the year preceding. They had heard a few nights ago a quotation from something the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had stated when he was a lad. No real advantage could be 1996 gained by citing such passages. He (Mr. Greene) was not deeply versed in the history of the Irish Church, but he had studied quite enough of it to be satisfied that what they were about to do was as great a robbery as ever was committed. [Laughter.] That was his honest conviction, as well as that of the greater part of the people of England. Had Ireland been pacified, even temporarily by the promise of this measure which they now boastfully declared they were about to pass, but which would not pass? Perhaps the House might remember his prediction that the Reform Bill of the right hon. Gentleman opposite would not pass, and it did not. Who could trust a Government which let loose the Fenians—men who had been guilty of the foulest crimes—without any guarantee for their future conduct? Such a proceeding was enough to induce him to move a Vote of Want of Confidence himself. The day of retribution was at hand, and they might rely upon it that in the course on which they had entered Ministers would not be borne out by thoughtful and right-minded people in this country.
§ Motion agreed to; Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.