§ (Mr. Dodson, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. John Bright, Mr. Chichester Fortescue, Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ COMMITTEE. [Progress 29th April.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 30 (Enactments with respect to mixed endowments).
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he wished to bring under the notice of his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government a case which had been communicated to him by one of his constituents. There was a living in the diocese of Cashel to which the present incumbent had been appointed in 1810. At that time, and for long before it, there were no glebe lands attached to the living; but in some old maps and documents the incumbent discovered what he thought gave the living a claim to twenty-five acres, which were in the occupation of Lord Mount Cashell. He tried the question in three different actions. Twice he was beaten, but in the third action he succeeded. The costs of the three actions amounted to almost the value of the fee simple of the lands recovered. He wished to know from his right hon. Friend whether that case would come within the terms of this clause?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, that the case mentioned by the noble Lord was a very uncommon one. He had no doubt that the property recovered was a public and not a private endowment; but 23 the costs were another matter, and the Government would consider whether there was not a sort of salvage claim in the case.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 31 (Limitations of right to purchase fee simple in consideration of; perpetual rent) agreed to.
§ Clause 32 (Sale of tithe rent-charge to owners of land)
§ MR. H. A. HERBERT
said, he would propose to substitute eighteen years' purchase for twenty-two and a-half years' purchase as the price at which landlords could acquire the tithe rent-charge. The Returns of the In cumbered Estates Court showed that from 1850 to 1869 the average price of such property was only fifteen and three - quarters years' purchase. It was very hard that the price should be placed so high, especially as while they were to be allowed to deduct the poor-rate from the calculation, yet they were not to be allowed to deduct the income tax. He begged to move in page 15, line 8, to leave out "twenty- two and a-half," and insert "eighteen."
said, that the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Faweett) had an Amendment on the Paper which would precede that proposed by the hon. Member.
§ MR. FAWCETT
, said, he would not propose his Amendment, though his objection to the term fixed by the clause was not that it was too high, but that it was too low. The tithe rent-charge appeared to him to be an admirable source of revenue, and the Government ought certainly not, in his opinion, to en- courage its commutation. He trusted, at all events, that the Government would adhere to the figure in the clause.
§ MR. WALTER
said, he wished to offer a few remarks in reference to the explanation of this part of the Bill given by the First Minister of the Crown upon the second reading. He concurred in the opinion that a landlord whose property was saddled with any charge should have the right of pre-emption, whether it was marketable at twenty-two and a-half, eighteen, or ten years' purchase. But he desired to call attention to the extraordinary plan by which the Government proposed to facilitate this arrangement. In the by no means improbable event of the landlord not 24 being in a position to redeem the charge, there was to be some fictitious, imaginary, and to him, wholly unaccountable transaction between the landlord and the Government, by which the Government nominally and on paper advanced him the amount that was necessary, the money to be re-paid at the rate of 4½ per cent, in forty-five, or, as was now proposed, in fifty-two years, by which process the tithe rent-charge was to be extinguished at the end of that period Unless he had misunderstood his right hon. Friend, he could only regard this as a most extraordinary discovery in finance, because he was at a loss to understand why the same principle should not be applied to the National Debt, and why the fund holders should not be paid off in a similar manner. The plan had been compared to the advances which were made for the purpose of draining lands, but in the latter case there was this difference— that money actually did pass. The transaction, however, appeared to be somewhat analogous to the arrangements made during the time of the railway mania, when the railway companies, in order to comply with the Standing Orders, figured in the books of the banks as having received advances which in point of fact had never been made, It resembled the plan suggested by the ex-President of the United States for paying off their National Debt, and it certainly was one which, in the absence of further explanation, seemed to be indefensible.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he thought that the discussion on this subject would arise more naturally when an Amendment which he had to a latter portion of the clause came under consideration.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he wished for some explanation as to the basis upon which the rent-charge was to be calculated. The charge was not a fixed, immovable sum, but varied from time to time according to the price of corn. He wished to know whether, in fixing the purchase money, reference was to be had to probable fluctuations?
said, he thought that as objections to the clause were taken from three separate quarters, it would contribute to clearness if he made some explanation at once. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) was perfectly accurate in saying that the 25 tithe rent-charge was not a constant quantity. It was fixed every year, but was capable of varying periodically; and what the Government proposed was to take it at the sum at which they found it, and to got rid of future variations. This was a matter of detail, and did not touch the principle of the clause. The number of objectors to this clause might at first sight seem somewhat alarming, but it must be recollected that the objectors fired into one another. Some struck very considerably above the average fixed by the Government, and others very considerably below it. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) thought that there was something of a juggling character in this proceeding. He was not surprised at it, for he had rather anticipated that this would be the view taken of a financial operation apparently so mysterious. But the mystery, if any, lay in the terms and in the machinery, and in nothing else whatever. No doubt in the Bill there was Said to be a sale on one side, an advance on the other, and a gradual liquidation of the advance by instalments with interest charged at 3½ per cent; but the simple effect of the clause was that, allowing for a very possible and slight inequality—allowing for the difference between the past poor rate on which the estimate had been founded, and what it might prove to be—there was no doubt that it was equivalent to enacting that the landlords should continue for a given term of years, which he proposed to fix at fifty-two, to pay to the Commissioners, or a body representing the State, the very same sum which they had theretofore paid to the clergymen, and that at the end of that term they should cease to pay anything at all, and that the rent-charge should absolutely merge. His hon. Friend would see that all that phraseology and apparent machinery might be cast aside altogether. But his hon. Friend said that if that was a legitimate financial operation, he saw no reason why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should not be in a condition to pay off the National Debt. And so he would provided he could find somebody to lend him the money for that purpose at the necessary rate of interest. The Government to make over the tithe rent-charge to the landlords on terms which produced about 4½ per cent, while they made an advance to him at the rate of 3½ per 26 cent, so that there would be formed out of the difference of 1 per cent a sinking fund which would absorb the whole of the capital; and if it should happen that, on some happy morning, his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer should receive from some solvent parties a communication to the effect that they were ready to lend him at the rate of 2¼ per cent an amount equal to that of the National Debt on which there was at present paid about 3¼ per cent, it would be in the power of his right hon. Friend to arrange a plan under which the extinction of the Debt would follow as a matter of course, and to the satisfaction of all parties: that was the solution of the mystery, and the difficulty was in the terms alone. If any one were to choose to call this a gift to the landlord of the reversion to the tithe rent-charge after a certain number of years, he would give what would be on the whole a perfectly good and valid description of it. He would next pass to the arguments of his other two hon. Friends. He believed that the abstract proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) was nearer the mark than that of his hon. Friend the Member for Kerry (Mr. H. A. Herbert). His hon. Friend the Member for Brighton had proposed that a higher charge than that demanded by the Government should be exacted from the landlords, while his hon. Friend the Member for Kerry moved an Amendment, to the effect that the payments should be reduced from a period of twenty-two and a-half years to one of eighteen years; and that Amendment, he presumed, would be supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), who had placed a Notice on the Paper which showed that he thought the Government proposed to charge too much. But it was with some surprise that he saw that Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman, because those who recollected the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the second reading of the Bill would, no doubt, remember that he vehemently criticized and found fault with it as giving away the property of the Church to the landlords. But, what was more important, he (Mr. Gladstone) believed he could show in a very few words that that was an equitable proceeding. He could find no common ground with 27 his hon. Friend who had moved the Amendment. His hon. Friend said that they ought not to demand a higher sum than that at which the tithe rent-charge was commonly sold in the market, which he took to be about eighteen years' purchase. But it should be remembered that there had always existed a good deal of insecurity about the tithe rent-charge, and they must suppose that its value had in consequence been kept below its natural level. But they would sell upon entirely different conditions in the case contemplated by the Bill; and the lending of all the money to the buyer was so favourable to the promotion of the purchase that it might almost authorize the seller to fix his own terms. If they were to accept the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton to strike out the clause the effect would be that the tithe rent-charge which, under a previous clause, they had provided should be vested in the Commissioners, would be paid throughout all time. Therefore this clause was one in favour of the landlords. The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) might say that that was his case, and he did not wish to legislate in favour of the landlords; but he (Mr. Gladstone) should observe that in such a matter they must look not merely to the abstract figure, and to logical rule, but to policy and equity. He did not by any means admit that the landlord had any claim of a definite character, on the ground of equity, which should prevent his paying the full price for what he was about to purchase; but, apart from that, he thought there was a great principle of public policy involved; and considering how unhappy for a long series of years had been the history of that question of tithe rent-charge, he believed there was great policy in getting rid of it altogether, and causing it to merge into the general revenue of the land. It was that consideration of policy which had led the Government to think that if, without calling on the landlord to pay anything except what he had been accustomed to pay, they could obtain for the tithe rent-charge a sum representing twenty-two and a-half years' purchase, they should, upon the whole, be doing pretty equal justice to all parties. It was upon that general ground, and not upon any ground of speculative right or political economy, that he recommended the clause to the 28 Committee. He thought that considerations of policy justified them in abating somewhat of the price they might have exacted in that case, while, on the other hand, he did not believe there was any ground for diminishing the number of years during which, under the clause, the payment was to be made.
§ MR. HUNT
said, the explanation which had just been given by the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly clear. The result was this—tho payer of a permanent annuity would find himself free from it at the end of a certain number of years. No doubt the transaction was favourable to the landlord; but the right hon. Gentleman had omitted to explain why he had selected this particular rent-charge for the operation. He believed the right hon. Gentleman would be puzzled to say why the landlord should not have an equally favourable opportunity of getting rid of a perpetual quit-rent, or of extinguishing the rent-charge, payable to a lay impropriator. It would be a great been to all landlords if, at the end of fifty-two years, they could extinguish what was nothing but a permanent annuity; and, if they set the precedent then proposed, he did not see why landlords should not come to them hereafter, and ask to have the advantage of this arrangement extended to all perpetual payments out of land.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he did not object to the first paragraph of the clause, which simply provided that the tithe rent-charge might be sold to the landlords, who, as owners of the soil, had, naturally, the right of pre-emption. This was nothing but what was done every day in England by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but the second part of the clause, the omission of which was moved, consisted of a financial process, under which the landlords would, for fifty-two years, continue to pay to the State the exact sum which they had hitherto paid to the Church; and at the end of that time, would, in reality, obtain the tithe rent-charge as a gift. Now these landlords had already been liberally dealt with in the clause relating to advowsons, and were to be saved the cost of asylums, infirmaries, and reformatories; so that, as far as they were personally concerned, they had not much reason to complain of the provisions of the Bill It might be said that the landlords ought 29 to be liberally dealt with, inasmuch as upon them would mainly devolve the maintenance of the future voluntary Church; but he feared that they must not expect any very large contributions under that head from persons who had for centuries not been subjected to such a liability. He was prepared, however, to deal liberally with the resident landlords. They were the poorer class; they would continue to pay the annual sum just as they had paid tithe rent-charge, and many of them would naturally feel reluctant to pay anything in addition to the Church, not only on account of their poverty and inability, but also because they might think that the blame for the appropriation of the revenues of the Church to secular purposes rested with Parliament and not with themselves. Much help could not be expected from the farmers, whose predecessors went to Ireland on the faith of having the Church maintained for them; and, therefore, he wished every consideration to be shown for the resident landlords. But he confessed that he entertained doubts as to the propriety of giving even them the tithe rent-charge; and he was altogether at a loss to know how giving it over to absentees could be justified. Probably the result would be that the absentees at the end of the fifty-two years, though they would have got rid of the payment of the tithe rent, would put the money into their pockets, and pay nothing for the support of the Church. He was prepared to admit that many of their estates were well managed, and the tenantry carefully looked after; but he had been much struck by the observation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball), that the absentee landlords were not renowned for their contributions to objects of real benevolence. The Government in effect admitted this when they proposed to devote these large public endowments to the erection of infirmaries, reformatories and lunatic asylums upon a very wide scale in Ireland. Now, he thought it would be admitted that, as a general rule, people were more ready to contribute to the support of institutions for the relief of sickness and suffering than to the maintenance of religion. How, therefore, could they expect that absentees would support a Church for others, if they had so far failed to provide 30 for the ordinary charitable institutions of the country, that the Government were compelled to supply the deficiency? He said further that they were actually, by the nature of their proposals, holding out a premium to absenteeism, that curse and calamity of Ireland, which deprived the country of the benefit of a large expenditure, which with held from it the social influence exercised by a landlord among his tenantry, which took away the hand that ought to administer charity, and the head and heart that ought to sympathize with and counsel the poor in their necessities. Take the case of a landowner in the Smith of Ireland, who, with his family and a few tenants, were the only Protestants in the parish; he and his ancestors, with the Protestant clergyman, having been for ages past the principal benefactors of the poor, Roman Catholic and Protestant alike. The Protestant clergyman having been removed by a previous clause of the Bill, by that now under consideration, Parliament held out to the landowner the strongest temptation to migrate to some parish in the North of Ireland, where there would be other Protestants to aid him in supporting the expenses of the Church, or else to England, where he would find a Church maintained for him free of expense. What would be the effect upon the country if the resident proprietor were tempted away? The Knight of Kerry, in a letter which he had written, said that it would be far better in many districts for the Roman Catholics themselves to pay the Protestant Clergyman than to lose the benefits of a proprietor resident among them. There was no other clause, he thought, upon which the question could be so conveniently discussed as upon the present, whether the tithe rent-charge could rightly be taken away from the Church. Long before the fifty-two years had expired the Roman Catholics of Ireland, he ventured to say, through their representatives in the House of Commons, through their advocates in the Press or through their Bishops, would raise an outcry to this effect— What we want is real equality; therefore either disendow the Church of the majority in England also, or give us — who are the Church of the majority in Ireland — the endowment of which we have been deprived. He certainly thought that the title of the 31 present Established Church in Ireland would be good against such a claim, but he doubted whether the title of the landlords would be held to be equally valid. Bishop Moriarty had said that "the Roman Catholic Church was the rightful owner of the Church property in Ireland as a spiritual corporation, and no prescription or statute of limitations could bar her claim." The tithe rent-charge, he contended, had not only been for centuries dedicated solely to the service of God, but was never given by the State to the Church; and in no other country in the world had it ever been applied to secular purposes. Its origin he attributed to the gifts of pious laymen following the practice first instituted by the Jews, and which at last became so general that the State acknowledged the claim of the Church to a portion thus set apart for sacred purposes, and felt itself able to enforce the custom and to render payment compulsory. But the proposal now before the House to take away money which had been thus given, and to divert it to secular purposes, had never yet been carried out in this country. The Act of Henry VIII., in suppressing the monasteries and appropriating their funds, afforded no precedent for the present proceeding; for the monasteries were acknowledged by every one to be institutions hurtful to society, whereas no one had ever contended that the Protestant Church in itself was likely to be hurtful to Ireland. On the contrary, those who were most strongly for its extinction politically declared that their object was to free the Church and render it more efficient for religious purposes. He yielded to no one in the force of his objections to many of the tenets of the Roman Catholic religion, and he could not witness with entire approval the payments to Maynooth. But he would rather see the whole of this tithe rent-charge devoted to the purposes of the Roman Catholic religion than see it taken from the Church and appropriated to purely secular objects. In his opinion, the proposal of the Government combined sacrilege with bribery. ["Oh. Oh!"] Those were strong words, but nothing less strong would express his feeling. He believed it to be sacrilege because it was taking away from the Church property to which the State had no right, and devoting it to secular purposes; and bribery also, because it 32 was attempted to secure the consent of the landlords by handing over to them the property upon terms making the transfer a gift and not a sale. The proposal he regarded as wrong in the sight of God. As such, it could bring neither contentment nor prosperity to Ireland.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, there was no one acquainted with Ireland who did not sympathize with the hon. Member for East Gloucestershire in the observations which he addressed to the Committee in regard to absentee landlords, but he was unable to see what was the effect of the hon. Member's argument in relation to this clause, and he did not think that the hon. Member had put the case very fairly when he traced the misfortunes of Ireland in the absence of the landlords. That these absentee landlords did not contribute to the support of religion in that country was no doubt a lamentable circumstance; but it was only one of the results of a richly endowed Church Establishment, that it dried up the fountains of private liberality. How was it possible, he would ask, to make this tithe rent-charge, purchaseable at twenty-two and - a - half years, affect the question of the absentee landlords of Ireland? How could the omission of that portion of the clause which made the tithe rent-charge payable by instalments in relation to the purchase-money lessen the evils of absenteeism? The evils of absenteeism must be met by stronger measures and different means. With respect to what had fallen from the right hon. Member for North Northampton shire (Mr. Hunt), it was to be observed that the Commissioners under the Act would not become masters of the impropriate tithe rent-charge, but of the tithe rent-charge. The impropriate tithe rent-charge was private property, and the House could not compel the owners to sell except upon equitable terms. The reason why facilities were given for the sale of tithe rent-charge was that the State was master of that property, and could deal with it without invading any private right. It was desirable that the tithe rent-charge in Ireland should cease, and the sooner it was put an end to the better. The reason why it sold at a low figure was the universal distrust that existed as to the security of this species of property, the result of that insecurity 33 being that it had sold as low as twelve and seventeen years' purchase. The Act 1 & 2 Vict. took 25 per cent off, and people argued that the same thing might occur again; but the circumstances were very different when this tithe rent-charge became the property of the State, and; when the State dealt with it. The quit- rent was redeemed in Ireland at twenty-five years' purchase; why, then, should not the tithe rent-charge be redeemed at twenty-two and-a-half years? The effect of payment by instalments would simply be to enable the landlord to borrow money at 3½ per cent, and this was in accordance with all the other clauses of the Bill. The purchase and the instalment would go hand in hand.
§ DR. BALL
said, that according to the Amendment of the First Minister of the Crown he allowed a deduction from the annual payment equivalent to an average of the poor rates for the last five years; and he wished to know whether that deduction was to be on the entire sum paid each year, for the fifty-two years, or how?
said, that, in lieu of paying to the Commissioners, or the body representing them after they had ceased to exist, the tithe commutation vent-charge gross, the landlord would be able to deduct the amount fixed by the words of his Amendment—namely, the sum which he had been, on an average of five years, entitled to deduct for poor rates.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, he regarded this discussion as a most humiliating squabble for Irish laud-lords to be engaged in. He quite agreed with his hon. Friend (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) that the clause was nothing less than bribery and sacrilege. The Irish landlords were, in fact, asked to take a bribe and assist the Government to pass the Bill; but, if they did not accept the terms offered to them, they would put the Government in a position of some difficulty. The tithe rent-charge was a first charge upon property, but involving a religious obligation. He would ask those Irish landlords who felt inclined to fall into the trap of the Government, whether the purchase of the tithe rent-charge would improve the title by which they held their property? If the property of the Irish Church, which had lasted more than 200 years, could be re-opened, would the property of the landlords, 34 when it included the property of the Church, which had cost them nothing, be more secure? One great reason of the insecurity of property in Ireland was that the owners of property in that country were so few. He would rather that the tithe rent-charge should be sold to the public than see the owner of land buying up property which never was and never could be his. He should like to know what was to be the result in the case of the owner of entailed estates? He wished to ask the Prime Minister, in the case of a landlord who bought a. tithe rent-charge, would that rent-charge become part of his property, or would it partake of the nature of an entail under which he held his property.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, he thought that the Irish landlords would not object to the proposition of the Government in a pecuniary point of view, but he would like to see the tithe rent-charge extinguished long before fifty-two years. That was a time which no hon. Gentleman in that House could look forward to see the end of and it was a considerable period in the life of a nation. But suppose the proposition were accepted of selling the tithe rent-charge at eighteen years' purchase. It would be always more or less a source of quarrel as long as it lasted. If the thing were to go on for fifty-two years, the time might come when some one—some powerful Minister would come down to that House and propose the repeal of this Act. He was a lay impropriator, and 25 per cent had been taken off his property. Not that he had any objection to it—he did not say a word against it; but what he wanted was that, by making these purchases easy, they might get rid of the thing at once. If these tithe rent-charges were to be sold at eighteen years' purchase, and it was to be made a first charge on the land, he believed he might turn to an hon. Friend of his, and ask him to lend him £5,000 to buy the tithe rent-charge, and the thing might be extinguished at once. But as long as the tithe rent-charge was to be paid, so long would the Protestant landlords of Ireland feel that they were paying double—that they were paying to the Government what they should have given to their clergyman, and that feeling would always act as a cheek on their liberality. The a there was another serious thing that ought to be taken into account, and that 35 was the non-resident landlords. He did not expect that they would ever give 1s. for the support of the Church in Ireland. He had some knowledge of absentee landlords in connection with his own county (Tipperary), and his experience was that they did not subscribe to anything. It was with the greatest difficulty that from the very largest absentee proprietors even a nominal subscription could be obtained. The noblemen in this country who were drawing large sums of money from Ireland gave nothing to charity in that country, and therefore he did not think it likely they would give anything to religion. The whole charge, therefore, for supporting the Church would be thrown on the resident landlords. He was not asking the Government to get rid of the tithe rent-charge for less than the value. He should be very happy to sell his own lay tithes for eighteen years' purchase. If the Government were to sell the thing at once and thus get rid of it, they would be doing more for the Church in Ireland than by anything that was to be done under this Bill.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, if he understood his hon. Friend who had just sat down rightly he had stated that he was a lay impropriator, and that his tithe had been reduced 25 per cent by the action of Parliament. He understood from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland that it was utterly impossible to touch private property. Now, the case which pressed so hardly with respect to this clause was this—suppose the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had a property in parish A which paid £600 a year, and he (Colonel Barttelot) had a property in parish 13 which paid £600 also; by this clause, after a certain time, by paying £100 a year tithe, the right hon. Gentleman would cease to pay that lithe, while he himself would have to go on paving £ 100 a year to a lay impropriator. When they came to deal with Church property us they did under the present Bill they were sowing broadcast over the country notions which never would have arisen had they not touched it. The right hon. Gentleman shook his head, but this was just, one of those things which were great grievances, and for which they were bound to propose a remedy.
§ MR. AGAR-ELLIS
said, there appeared to be an idea that this Bill did 36 a great deal for the landlords, but lie did not think so. Hon. Gentlemen ought to remember that, at the present moment, the landlords paid, the rent-charge, and that they were the most aggrieved, as it was they who would have to make up the deficiency between what would be necessary for the support of the Church and the Church property. Let the blow fall as lightly as possible on those who suffered most. When they promoted a revolution — for this was one—when they carried through Parliament such a great measure, they ought to do away with every mark of that which they should have destroyed. They ought to do away with the expression "tithe rent-charge," and, if only for that reason, he would ask his right hon. Friend to let them have the tithe rent-charge at a cheaper rate.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, that the district of New Ross, which he represented, would derive no benefit from the Bill. He thought the Government ought not to propose to abolish the tithe rent-charge at the end of fifty-two years, until they were in a position to abolish the impropriate tithes. If Government were going to buy the impropriate tithes they would be valued at thirty years' purchase at least, and therefore when the landlords were allowed to buy up the tithes at twenty-two years' purchase, they were getting a good bargain.
SIR JOHN ESMONDE
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. H. A. Herbert) would not call upon the Committee to divide upon the question. The Bill should be regarded as a whole. The residue was appropriated by this Bill, and if the residue were lessened the character of the Bill would be changed,
§ MR. W. SHAW
said, he had heard no reason why these national funds should be apportioned amongst the landlords. The hon. Member (Mr. Agar-Ellis) said the Bill was not intended to create a surplus, but he (Mr. Shaw) maintained that it was not intended to fritter away a surplus, and the Bill in its present shape would tend to limit the fund which might be retained for the relief of local taxation in Ireland. The tithe rent - charge amounted to about £350,000 a year, and the other Church property to a similar sum, making between £600,000 and £700,000, and he maintained that the commutations proposed in the Bill could be 37 carried out by a sale of less than £200,000 a year. But instead of this, they were about to destroy a great national fund, which, if properly husbanded, would go near paying the entire poor rate of Ireland. The advantage the landlord would get by this clause would be a mere bagatelle compared to what he would have got if this fund were preserved. One thing, at least, would be admitted, that the Church funds were spent in the country, and he did not wish to see them frittered away. It was quite easy to see that if they had about £7,000,000 as a capitalized sum, what contention and jobbery it would give rise to. This was essentially a local tax, and he did not wish to see a centralizing process adopted. He hoped the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) would persevere with his Amendment.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, the clause would depreciate the property of the lay impropriators. The impropriator's tithe should be included in the operation as well as other tithe rent-charges; the tithe, in fact, should be dealt with ns a whole, if at all.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. FAWCETT moved, in line 13, to leave out from "upon" down to "same lands" in line 24. The principle involved in this Amendment was a very important one. There was no one who was more anxious to support this measure than himself, and he had voted with the Government in every division, he believed; but, in moving this Amendment, he was acting in accordance with the declaration of the First Minister of the Crown on the 2nd of March, that he would welcome all suggestions from either side of the House, provided they were calculated to promote the welfare of the people of Ireland. He regarded this as a "financial puzzle," and he thought financial puzzles should be looked on with suspicion. They might complicate the matter as much as they liked; but they could not get rid of this, that for no valid reason or purpose whatever did they allow the permanent obligation to pay a sum of money to be commuted into the payment of the same amount of money for a period of fifty-two years. The right hon. Gentleman' (Mr. 'Gladstone) said—"You cannot commute it at twenty-two and a-half years' purchase;" and supposing that the landlord
had not the power to pay the money, the right hon. Gentleman went on to say— "We will manage the transaction for you, and will accumulate money to pay off the charge." But why should that money be devoted for the benefit of the landlords in Ireland, and for their benefit only? The transaction was simply this —that £2,250 was appointed to be lent to the Irish landlords who had rent-charges of £100 a year; the right hon. Gentleman said he would put down £78 15s. as interest on the money lent, or £2,250, so that the landlord should have £21 5s. each year; in fifty-two years this would reach £2,250, and this was to be given as a present on condition that the landlord applied it in commuting the tithe rent-charge. This tithe rent-charge was £365,000 a year. If this clause were passed, at the end of fifty-two years Parliament promised to make a present to the landlords of Ireland of £8,500,000, provided they would commute the tithe rent-charge. He did not think that either justice or policy demanded this arrangement. He was astonished when he heard the proposition made; he had consulted distinguished Members of the House about it, and they said—"We know it is making: an enormous present to the Irish landlord, but we must do something; to 'grease the wheels' to conciliate hostility, to buy off opposition." That was a principle which he was not prepared to sanction, because it was based on that most dangerous, most insidious, and most pernicious doctrine of statecraft that the ends justify the means. If they once introduced this doctrine, how were they to get rid of electoral corruption? They were not generous to their opponents if they thought their opposition was to be conciliated in this way. He believed that their opponents were as sincere as themselves, and acted upon principle, and that they would oppose it until they saw the nation had decided against them, and that resistance was of no use. No one could tell what effect the passing of this Bill would have upon the Established Church in this country. Some people thought that the passing of this measure would strengthen the Church of England; other people thought that this would form a precedent which would, sooner or later, be followed in this country. He would not express an opinion upon the subject, but no one could deny
that the contingency might happen that the Church of England might be disestablished and disendowed; and, if so, this Bill would become a precedent. In such case he, for one, was not prepared to say that, if the English Church ever was to be disestablished and disendowed, at the end of fifty-two years, without paying for it the English landlords should become the owners of the tithe; and that the surplus, directly or indirectly, should be given to them. Although he did not mean to say that he was a strong Churchman, he would not seek to hasten the disestablishment or disendowment of the English Church by a single year by offering to a body of gentlemen who were naturally and historically the defenders of the Church a pecuniary inducement to give up their opposition. Not only did this proposal give an enormous been to the Irish landlords, but four-fifths of the surplus revenues were going to be given towards the reduction of the county cess, and if there was any truth in economic science, sooner or later, this must benefit greatly the landlords. He felt that, in asking the House to reject this portion of the clause, he was not interfering one title with the general principle of the Bill. He thought the principle of the Bill had been secured, and he thought that, following the advice of the First Minister of the Crown, they ought to endeavour to unite in devoting the funds of the Irish nation to those purposes which would be best for the people of Ireland. Every Member of the House must consider himself a Minister; and he did not think this trust could be discharged if they permitted a great amount of national property to be alienated for the purpose of conciliating opposition. He wished to refer to a remarkable letter which had appeared in The Times of last Thursday fortnight under the signature of "C," and dated from Lincoln's Inn, in which the writer said—
Mr. Gladstone said it was desirable to extinguish the tithe rent-charge. I deny this. As a mere question of economic science, no arrangement is more worthy of preservation than one which gives the capitalist a safe and permanent investment in land, and at the same lime does not invest him with any of a landlord's rights over its culture, and does not interfere with the possessor's title; as a fiscal device, no source of revenue can be be better than reserved rents of fixed sums issuing out of land; but whether it is desirable or not to extinguish the tithe rent-charge, it cannot be good to surrender it for
nothing, and to the landlords of Ireland of all men in the world. The unquiet ghost of Cobbett ought to disturb Mr. Gladstone's dreams at this suggestion—to give away for nothing the inheritance of the nation.
He cordially endorsed those sentiments; and, in order to carry out his views, he begged to move the Amendment of which he had given notice.
§ MR. MORRISON
said, this tithe-rent-charge amounted to £365,000 a year, or about half the total revenue which would be gained by the disendowment of the Irish Church, and he was not prepared to assent to the proposed application of this fund. With the exception of supporting asylums and trained nurses, the whole of the surplus was to be given to the Irish landlords, and to the reduction of the county cess. He thought his hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) had not put the case quite strongly enough. It was only fair to say that the Irish landlords had never asked for the advantage which was now offered to them, and the responsibility for the proposal must rest with the Government. He had placed on the Paper a Notice to move as an Amendment that the annual charge should be £5 10s. instead of £4 10s. per cent, and that Amendment, if carried, would provide a bonô fide sinking fund; but, not believing that the Government would accept his Amendment, he should vote for the proposition of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). He wished to see the funds applied to unsectarian education, and he asked whether it was necessary for Government to "grease the wheels," seeing the largo majorities by which the Bill was supported.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, he thought that the Government were only endeavouring to carry out an economical arrangement, which was likely to be as beneficial to the Commissioners in working the scheme as to the landlords. Unless facilities were given to enable the owners of property to purchase the rent-charge there would be great difficulty in carrying out the arrangement. The fact was that twenty-two and a-half years' purchase was a very large sum to give for a rent-charge. You might buy ground-rents amply secured to pay you 5½ per cent, or at less than eighteen and a-half years purchase. And as the Government in this case were borrowing the money of the Savings Bank at 2½ per cent, why 41 should they not lend it at 3½ per cent. The arrangement proposed could not be called one to "grease the wheels." A public object was to be attained, as in the case of drainage improvements; and as the Government would lose nothing, and would get all their money back, he thought it was quite right, if the payment were fixed at twenty-two and a-half years' purchase, to give the landlords facilities for borrowing the money.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) which would make the tithe rent-charge perpetual, was based on the assumption that the State would lose, and the Irish landlords gain, by the arrangement proposed in the clause. That was erroneous, because the State made a good bargain by lending at 3½ per cent, while, on the other hand, if the tithe rent-charges were put into the market they would not at the most fetch more than eighteen years' purchase. The present price was only sixteen years' purchase. The transaction, securing to the State twenty-two and a-half years' purchase, was a perfectly fair one.
§ MR. CAWLEY
said, it had been fairly put by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government that it was simply an extinction of the payment at the end of fifty-two years of the tithe rent-charge by the annual payment of 25.s. more for every £100 during that period. It was perfectly clear that that was the meaning of the clause, and it would have been much better if it had been as clearly stated in the Bill. He could not support the clause as it stood, and should vote for the Amendment to expunge this portion of it.
§ DR. BALL
said, he should support the clause as it stood. The Irish Church Commissioners were unanimously in favour of extinguishing the tithe-rent-charge—first, in order to put an end to the complaint, in any case, that a Roman Catholic proprietor was compelled to support the Church; and, secondly, because, through the operation of the In-cumbered Estates Court, much of the land of Ireland had been split up into small properties, and the tithe rent-charge was payable in such small sums in respect of those properties that, in some cases, it was hardly worth while to enforce payment.
said, it would not be respectful to his hon. Friends who 42 had proposed and supported this Amendment, were he not to say a few words respecting it. The speech of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) was certainly of an heroic character. Indeed, it was difficult to speak in plain prose after declamation which rose to so lofty a height. The hon. Member had mysterious communications with Gentlemen in the lobby, who vindicated the clause, not on any principle that could be stated in public, but because they believed that the Government had found it necessary to supply directly an illegitimate and interested motive to the Irish landlords in order to buy off their opposition to the Bill—a policy founded on the pernicious doctrine that the end justified the means. Now, it was kind of the hon. Gentleman, while attacking the clause, to put into the months of the Government a defence of it, but he (Mr. Gladstone) declined to accept it. He cared nothing about the "end justifying the means." He said, let the arrangement stand upon its own merits. To that arrangement there were three parties—The Exchequer, the Church fund, and the landlord. The Exchequer had to lend money at 3½ per cent. In ordinary times that was not a bad transaction for the Exchequer. As regarded the Church fund, a property usually sold at seventeen and a fraction years' purchase was to fetch twenty-two and a-half. That was not a bad transaction for the Church fund. As regarded the landlord, instead of a perpetual annuity, he was to pay the tithe rent-charge for fifty-two years. That was not a bad transaction for the landlord; and, at the same time, a great object of public policy was attained — namely, the extinction of the rent-charge. The proposal of the Government, therefore, required no veil or cover. It could not be too clearly understood to be what it was—and it was such as he had described it in relation to these three parties. But the Committee must bear in mind the effect of the Amendment. If they were throwing away the tithe rent-charge, that was done already. He could understand the hon. Member for Brighton proposing to omit the clause, but that Amendment he had withdrawn. [Mr. FAWCETT: No.] He understood the hon. Gentleman to say so; but that was immaterial to his argument. The Committee had already provided for the sale of the tithe rent- 43 charge at twenty-two and a-half years' purchase; if, therefore, that price was too low a one, it had been resolved on, and resolved on unanimously. Having thus laid down the vicious principle, they were now asked to cut out that portion of the clause which did no harm to anybody. After having adopted the principle that it was desirable to extinguish the tithe rent-charge and cause it to merge, and after having fixed on the rate of purchase, the Committee were now asked to refuse the Exchequer the means by which the purchase of this charge could alone be made uniform and effectual. If the Amendment were carried, the Committee would be bound to the principle of twenty-two and a-half years' purchase, but nobody would be able to buy who had not a command of money; the consequence of which would be that the whole country would be spotted and dotted over—one parish with the tithe rent-charge redeemed, another parish with the charge unredeemed; yea, one field with the charge extinguished, and the next field with the charge still existing; whereas, if the Committee adopted the provisions in the clause, it was quite plain that they would be generally acted upon, and an object of State policy would be attained in the extinction of the tithe rent-charge. He hoped, therefore, the Committee would not agree to the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
On Motion of Mr. GLADSTONE, the word "forty-five" was omitted in line 17, and the word "fifty-two" inserted in lieu of it: and in line 18, the words from "equal" to "instalments" in line 20 were ordered to be left out, and were replaced by the following words:—
Calculated at the rate of four pounds nine shillings per centum on the purchase money, less such sum in the pound as such owner shall be ascertained by the Commissioners to have been on an average of five years preceding the passing of this Act entitled to deduct for poor rates from the tithe rent-charge payable by him.
MR. BRODRICK moved, after "instalments," in line 20, insert—
Or for such less number of years as may be agreed upon at an equivalent annual sum, so as to discharge the principal and interest in such less number of years.
The object of the Amendment was to enable the landowners to make terms with the Commissioners for the extinc-
tion of the charge within a shorter period than that prescribed in the Bill at a higher rate of interest.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ On Motion of Mr. DISRAELI, in line 23, after "manner", the words "and be subject to the same deduction in respect of poor rate" were inserted.
§ On Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill,"
§ MR. RAIKES
said, he wished to move the addition of certain words to the end of the clause, of which, he regretted to say, he had not been able to give notice in the regular way—although he had communicated the nature of the Amendment to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government as soon as he was able to frame it—enabling any owner of property in Ireland, out of which a rent-charge issued, to decline the bargain which the Commissioners were empowered to offer him, with the view that the proceeds of that rent-charge should henceforward be applied to religious purposes. He might be told that such a proposal would run contrary to certain words in the Preamble of the Bill, and he was willing to admit that such, was the case; but there were parts of the Bill itself which must, he thought, be considerably modified if the Preamble and the clauses were to be entirely in accord. His Amendment was not more inconsistent with the Preamble of the Bill than several clauses which had been framed by the Government. It might be objected that his proposal ran counter to the general principle of the measure, but that objection would hardly be a fair one. His proposal accepted disendowment, because it proceeded upon the assumption that the Church property had been already transferred to the Commissioners. It could not, therefore, be fairly said to run counter to the main principle of the Bill, while it afforded the means of enabling some of its most painful consequences to be avoided. It had been repeatedly asserted that "justice to Ireland" demanded the disestablishment of the Irish Church, but surely it did not also demand such an infringement of personal freedom of action as to compel the owners of property to purchase the tithe rent-charge whether they wished to do so or not. He could not see that the House would be doing anything which militated against religious equality 45 if they empowered every landowner to support the creed which he happened to profess. If the words he proposed were added to the clause, it would be open to Roman Catholic as well as Protestant landowners to name the Church to which the rent-charge should be given and thus to make provision for the spiritual necessities of himself and neigh- hours. This, he urged, was a totally different thing from what had been termed ''levelling up," inasmuch as it was not the State but individuals who would subscribe the money, while it would tend to preserve that local character of endowments on the desirability of which the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government insisted so strongly last year. He agreed with hon. Gentlemen opposite that tithe rent- charge was, in a certain sense, national property, but contended that it could not be diverted from its original religious purposes without grievous injury to the nation as well as to the Church. Indeed, this point had been recognized to a certain degree even by Her Majesty's Government. His position was that tithe rent-charge was national property; but, as that property had been consecrated to religious purposes, it could not be justly administered under the provisions of the Bill as they stood at present. If the State resumed the property, on the ground that the Church had been a bad trustee, it was incumbent on the State to apply it in such a manner as to attain the religious object, originally aimed at. His proposal was analogous to that adopted in the case of church rates, which, like tithe rent-charge, constituted a charge on the land. The right hon. Gentleman stated, in reference to church rates, that it was a hardship to force people to contribute to a Church to which they did not belong; but, at the same time, he retained the old machinery in order that they might not be prevented from contributing to Church objects of their own free will. The landlords, on whom it was proposed that a slight additional burden should be thrown in the way of yearly charge, and who would have at the same time to provide for a minister in their own locality, might, at all events, be entitled to say that they declined to accept the bargain which the Government offered them, because they preferred that the money should follow its original destination. He was not one 46 of those who had applied harsh words to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, but had wished to give him credit for acting solely from a sense of public duty in regard to that Bill; but, on the other hand, he thought the right hon. Gentleman should show some consideration for the feelings of those Irish landlords who did not wish to be compelled, against their will, to become accomplices and abettors in the carrying out of a scheme which they sincerely looked upon as sacrilegious. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the addition of words at the end of the clause to give effect to his object.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he hoped his hon. Friend would, withdraw his Amendment on the present occasion, and again bring it forward on the Report. The Committee had never seen it in print; and it was too important to be disposed of without duo consideration, and also while so many Members had gone to dinner. He must also express a hope that the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Pawcett) would insist upon dividing against the clause, which would give the reversion of the tithe rent-charge at the end of fifty years to the landlords for nothing.
said, that the hon. Gentleman who spoke last appeared to forget that the hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Raikes) had already made his speech, and could hardly be expected to go through the operation of making it again. The Amendment was perfectly intelligible; but it was not one which either now or on the Report could be entertained, because, as its author had intimated, it went to the root and foundation of the Bill. By the Amendment every owner would be empowered, instead of purchasing the rent-charge himself, without the payment of a single farthing of his money, to divert the rent-charge from the public fund and require that it should be applied to the maintenance of religion and not to the maintenance of the religion of the people of the district, but of his own religion. That would, in fact, be a grant to the landlord of the absolute ownership of the rent-charge, subject to one limitation—namely, that it must be devoted to the support of the minister of some religion or other. He could conceive that such a proposal might have recommendations in the eyes of Gentlemen opposite; and even then it 47 would be more in place in a speech against the second or the third reading of the Bill, but it was wholly incompatible with the present measure.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, he rose to call attention to the position of the lay impropriator, which he submitted was the same as that of the lay patron. The First Minister of the Crown intended to do away with all tithe rent-charge; but he did not assume the same line with regard to tithe rent-charge belonging to lay proprietors. The result of that would be that the lay proprietor would be left in the lurch. He would have to raise his rent-charge as best he could, when they were encouraging in Ireland a universal feeling against the payment of any tithe rent-charge whatever. The unfortunate man who was the owner of those tithes would thus lose his property, or have it greatly damaged by that legislation. That case ought to be fairly considered with a view to granting compensation, as was done in regard to the other interests affected by the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, with drawn.
said, they took property from the lay patron by that Bill, and consequently they were bound to compensate him; but they took nothing whatever from the impropriator They did not propose to destroy all rent-charge, but only the ecclesiastical tithe vent-charge. If the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Conolly) wished all the tithe rent-charge to be merged over the whole of Ireland, that would be a matter very difficult to arrange. It was easy to make such an arrangement with reference to ecclesiastical lithe, because the State would become the owner of that, and could lay down to other parties proposing to purchase it the terms on which it was ready to deal with them; but, with regard to the lay impropriators, the State would have no locus standi for dealing with them. Besides, to introduce a fixed provision relating to impropriate tithes, would be to go beyond the scope and purpose of the Bill. If however, the hon. Member thought he could draw up a provision which would effect his object the Government would be happy to give it (heir best consideration.
§ MR. CONOLLY
thanked the right hon. Gentleman for his courtesy. He would, on the bringing up of his Report, propose) a clause which he had no doubt 48 would meet with the approbation of the light hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown had just now characterized his remarks as being "heroic." If in so doing the right hon. Gentleman intended to pay him a compliment, he was obliged to him for the honour he had done him; but if he used that word in another sense, he should feel bound to justify the observations he had made when he stated that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman appeared to be based upon the principle that the end justifies the means, and that it was simply brought forward in order "to grease the wheels." In making these observations he had merely quoted the words as nearly as possible of many hon. Members who occupied seats on his side of the House, and who from the relations in which they stood to the First Minister of the Crown were more likely to know that right hon. Gentleman's views upon the subject than a private Member was. The right hon. Gentle-had stated that there were three classes of interests which had to be considered in connection with this clause: those which concerned the national Exchequer, those of the Irish landlords, and those of the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman said that the provisions in the clause could not be bad as regarded the national Exchequer, but, with the utmost humility, even in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman, he felt bound to say that it appeared to him that it was not a good thing for the national Exchequer to lend money at 3½ per cent per annum, upon property which, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own statement, was only worth twenty-two and a-half years' purchase. If money were lent at 3½ per cent per annum, it ought to be lent upon property worth thirty years' purchase at least. Then with regard to the Irish landlords the right hon. Gentleman said that, at the end of fifty-two years, they would get possession of the tithe-rent-charge without paying a single farthing for it. But it was for that very reason that he objected to the arrangement. The right hon. Gentleman had urged that he was justified on grounds of policy in making this proposal, in consequence of the tithe rent-charge being so unpopular in Ireland. In the old times, per- 49 haps, there might have been some force in that statement, and it might have been desirable to get rid of the tithe rent-charge; but now that the Irish Church was going to be disendowed and disestablished, there no longer existed a reason for the abolition of that charge. The Irish people had objected to the charge formerly, not because it was derived from land, but because its proceeds were given to a Church with which they had no sympathy; but now that the proceeds of the charge would be applied, not for the support of a particular form of religion, but for what had been described by the right hon. Gentleman himself as works of charity and mercy, and for the relief of the poor, the charge would no longer be unpopular among the population of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman stated that when fifty-two years had elapsed the landowner would come into possession of the tithe rent-charge without paying anything for it; but what would the Irish people say when the event occurred? They would would say that the Parliament of 1869 had taken away from posterity the sum of £360,000 per annum, and that they had no right to do so upon any principle of justice. He did not mean to say that the scheme of appropriation devised by the right hon. Gentleman was the best that, could have been proposed, but it might be described as a proposal to devote this great national property in such a way as to effect a great diminution of national suffering. Therefore, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own statement, this property belonged to the nation; if it did not, the House had no right to deal with it. If it did belong to the nation: why should Parliament barter it away for nothing? The Irish people and the Irish landlords did not wish that they should do so. It had been remarked that by a kind of financial hocus pocus—he had not used that language himself—the tithe rent-charge was to be put into the pockets of the Irish land-lords without their giving any equivalent for it, and he thought such a course should not be adopted. The right hon. Gentleman had alleged that, if the changes he had proposed in the clause were to be effected, Ireland would be, dotted over with proprietors paying tithe rent-charge while others did not pay it. But if that, was a good objection, he should wish most particu- 50 larly to urge it. The right hon. Gentleman did not in this clause attempt to touch the tithes paid to lay impropriators. Supposing that one man had to pay £500 per annum to the Commissioners, and that another had to pay a similar sum to a lay impropriator, then, under the clause, the former would find at the end of fifty-two years that his property was free from the charge, while the latter would have to go on paying it for ever. He could imagine no principle for this distinction between the two cases. He warned those who held tithe rent-charges, both in this country and in Ireland, that if they sanctioned the principle of this clause they would immediately strike a severe blow at the security of this class of property, because it would give rise to an agitation on the whole subject which it might be difficult to resist. If, however, this large sum of money were administered wisely, and in a manner calculated to promote the welfare of the people of Ireland, no change would be less burdensome to the country; and for his part, he declined to be a party to throwing away the inheritance of posterity without securing some equivalent compensation for it. He had another observation to make upon the subject of this clause. Since he had brought this question forward many hon. Members—at least a dozen—had told him that they agreed with every word he said upon the subject, but that, whatever views they might individually entertain, they could not vote against the right hon. Gentleman. They had said to him —"We believe your reasons are sound; we think your objections have not been answered; we think it wrong to give up this amount of national property, but we must support the right hon. Gentleman." Under these circumstances, he must make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman himself. No one in the House loved more sincerely than the right hon. Gentleman political justice and political sincerity. If there was anything in his proposal winch in the least degree interfered with the principle of the Bill, no- thing should have induced him to have brought it forward; but by adopting it the principle of the Bill would really re- main unaffected and untouched in any way. This being the case he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to release hon. Gentlemen who believed they were bound to him hand and foot, and to say 51 to them—"I, as a lover of political justice, do not wish that you should vote for any clause which you think obnoxious or objectionable as long as the principle of the Bill is maintained; but I wish, in accordance with what I said in my opening speech upon this great measure, that you should, where it can be done without interfering with the principle of disestablishment and disendowment, omit or amend any clause you think requires to be so dealt with, and thus modify the Bill in such a manner as to cause the funds of the Irish Church to be applied in the way most calculated to promote the welfare of the Irish people."
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that without anticipating for a moment what might be the reply of the right hon. Gentleman to the appeal of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), he thought that the Committee might congratulate themselves that, in the course of the discussion, some light had been thrown upon two points. In the first place, they had heard what confusion and chaos were likely to arise with regard to quasi-ecclesiastical affairs in Ireland in consequence of the operations of this Bill; and, in the second place, they had heard from the hon. Member who had just sat down that many hon. Members sitting near him although they had no sympathy with this portion of the Bill, nevertheless would feel bound, in the event of the matter coming to a division, to support the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. Thus, their desire to support truth and justice was exceeded by their desire to support, the right hon. Gentleman. This was a most important admission from an hon. Member who was a very sincere supporter of this measure. But it was quite possible that the country might be apt to ask if this, were true with regard to Clause 32, might it not also be true with regard to many other clauses? Was it not possible that the not inconsiderable majorities which had sanctioned what he and those who sat on that side of the House thought to be opposed to all right, equity, and reason, had been, owing to precisely similar causes, and that hon. Members had voted in favour of certain clauses not because they believed them to be right and just, but because they believed that, they were bound to support the right hon. Gentleman. He felt in considerable difficulty with regard to 52 the Amendments moved by the hon. Member for Brighton. He understood the object of the hon. Member for Brighton to be to perpetuate the tithes, though he would alter their destination. If he voted with the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, he would be voting for the termination of tithes. He (Lord John Manners) wished to perpetuate them as ecclesiastical tithes, and not believing in the permanence of this revolutionary measure, he would vote with the hon. Member for Brighton.
said, that, to his amusement, the noble Lord (Lord John Manners) commiserated the condition of hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of The House who were coerced to give up their own private judgments in order that they might support the measure now under discussion. He supposed the noble Lord had never heard of any such operation at all in the political connection to which he belonged. It was marvellous and delightful that, after more than a quarter-of-a-century in that House, the noble Lord should still remain in a state of such infantine simplicity. Those who belonged to the Liberal party had always been particularly jealous in asserting their individual liberty. That had always been a characteristic of the Liberal party, and he did not hesitate to say that he hoped it always would be. In reference to this Bill, his hope and expectation was that their independent votes would be given in consequence of their independent judgment. If any hon. Gentleman were willing to merge their own individual opinions on secondary points, he trusted it would be, for the sake of those that were primary, and to ensure the success of a great measure, not in any spirit of subservience to the Government. As to the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, he must still recommend this clause to the Committee as a fair adjustment of the several considerations which bore upon this matter. There was not a clause of this Bill which would stand, if he might say so, a microscopic investigation. The Bill, as a whole, had been framed with the object of obtaining the medium between conflicting views and interests: and that, in his opinion, formed the only wise and safe rule for constructing such a legislative measure as this. He took his stand on grounds of general 53 equity, and on these grounds he asked the Committee to adopt the clause.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, the question was one of figures, and had nothing to do with political justice or equity. The Government were not giving away any of the inheritance of posterity in what they had proposed. Anyone who looked at the figures would see that in fifty-two years, at 3½ per cent, the Government would get back its capital.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he thought there was a great fallacy in the argument of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett); for, while the; owner would get the rent-charge back, he did not think the Government or the Irish people would lose anything by the process.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, he thought that the Bill dealt fairly with the three parties interested, and he thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the course he had taken on the question.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 181; Noes 33: Majority 148.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 33 (Power of commissioners to sell their property)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, that was provided for by the interpretation clause, and he could see no necessity for the Amendment. Though he should no!: oppose the insertion of the words, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. SYNAN
, in rising to move in page 16, line 22, after "seventy-one" to insert—Provided, That such owner or lessee, as the case may be shall, when and if so required by his under-lessee, sell to such under-lessee the rents received by him from such under-lessee, upon the same terms and conditions, and at the same rate of purchase, 'mutatis mutandis,' as he may have purchased the rents so payable by him as aforesaid,said, power was given to the lessee to pay one-quarter of the purchase money 54 and 3½ per cent upon the remaining three-fourths, and, upon the same principle that these terms were given to the lessee, they ought to be given to the intermediate lessee, down to the very occupier of the land. At one time the First Minister of the Crown seemed to be more in favour of the occupying tenants than of the middle men; and, if this Amendment were adopted, the occupying tenant would have the opportunity of doing that which was in accordance with the principle the Government sought to apply to Ireland—the principle of making as many proprietors as possible and giving persons a substantial interest in the country. He, therefore, begged to move the Amendment.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, it appeared to him that the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Synan) had made a great mistake in proposing this Amendment. The object might be a good one, but it was not fair that the Government should be called upon to sacrifice probably £1,000,000 in order to bring it about. That appeared to him to be the effect of this Amendment. He hoped the Attorney General for Ireland would enter somewhat fully into this question, in order to show the Committee in what position they stood with respect to this Amendment.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, he could not agree to the Amendment, which, he felt sure, went much further than the hon. Member supposed. It would destroy the rights of every person who held property under a see. Nothing could be fairer than that the purchase of the rental under leases held from the Bishop should be offered to the man who paid the rent; but, by the Amendment, it was proposed that every tenant in a see should have power to compel his landlord to sell him his rent. This was not a Bill to adjust the rights of landlords and tenants, and he could not conceive an thing more extraordinary than the proposal or more tremendous in its results. The Amendment struck at the root of all property, and he hoped it would be withdrawn.
§ MR. DOWNING
said, the tenant's right of renewal remained under the clause, the operation of which was to substitute the first lessee in the place of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The 55 Amendment could never be carried into operation, and, therefore, he trusted that his hon. Friend would withdraw it.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he had heard no argument against the principle of his Amendment. The Government were pro-posing to deal with some of these rights, and his Amendment was based upon the principle adopted by the Government of treating all persons affected by the Bill equally; but he admitted that there might be some inconvenience in carrying the principle out down to the man in occupation. His object in proposing the Amendment had been more to ascertain the opinion of the Government than to force a division, and knowing that it would be absurd to press it against the views of the Government he would withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, he had to propose rather a long Amendment— namely, in page 16, line 34, at end to insert—Provided always, That, where land shall be held immediately from or under the Commissioners, by virtue of any lease which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland were required to renew under the Act of the twenty-third and twenty-fourth years of the Queen, chapter one hundred and fifty, or which has hitherto been usually renewed from time to time by the Archbishop, Bishop, or other ecclesiastical corporation under whom the same was previously held, then, until the tenant of such land shall have purchased the fee-simple and inheritance of the said land under the hereinbefore mentioned Act of the third and fourth years of William the Fourth, chapter thirty-seven, and Acts amending same as hereinbefore is provided, or until such sale of the fee-simple of the said land as is hereinbefore authorized to be made by the said Commissioners shall have been made, it shall be lawful for the said Commissioners, and they are hereby required, from time to time to renew the lease under which such immediate tenant holds the said land, at the same periods, subject to the same annual rent, and upon the same terms and conditions, as are provided by the Act of the twenty-third and twenty-fourth years of the Queen, chapter one hundred and fifty, to the intent that every such tenant may, when any such sale as aforesaid shall be agreed on, be entitled to the said land for an unexpired term of not less than twenty years: And also provided. That, if the Commissioners (on the refusal of the tenant to purchase) sell to the public or to any person or persons other than the said tenant or lessee, such purchaser shall be bound to renew the said lease in the same manner, and on the same terms, as the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland are bound to renew the leases of lands vested in them, and shall hold the said lands, when purchased from the Commissioners under this Act, subject to all the rights of renewal and all the provisions of the Act of the third and 56 fourth years of William the Fourth, chapter thirty-seven, and the Acts amending the same, so far as the said provisions are applicable to renewals.The Amendment dealt with the vexed question of Bishops' lands. He would not inquire how the lessees or tenants obtained possession of those lands, for his Amendment depended upon their having possession. He would deal with them as they stood before the passing of the Church Temporalities Act. The, Commissioners reported that these lands were rented at £204,000, of which £142,000 belonged to the Bishops, and £62,000 to the clergy. Some 150 years ago, the Bishops of Ireland were in the habit of letting their lands on lease—in towns for forty years, and in the country for twenty-one years. Those powers were conferred by the 1st Charles I. c. 3, and other Acts. The Church Temporalities Act stated in the Preamble that it was expedient that the tenants of Bishops' lands should be empowered to purchase the fee of those lands; and for ten years after the passing of that Act the Ecclesiastical Commissioners dealt very liberally with the tenants and lessees, and a great many conversions took place under the statute. Afterwards, they dealt on less liberal terms with the tenants, and the consequence was that conversions decreased and ultimately ceased. The Church Temporalities Act suppressed several sees, and the lands attached to them were vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, so that there came to be two distinct classes of Bishops' lands, those belonging to the suppressed and those belonging to the existing sees. The tenants of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had, by statute, powers to renew their leases, but the ordinary Bishops' tenant could only renew by custom, every year paying a fine. It was a mistake to suppose that the lands wore always let at an unreasonably low rate, inasmuch as the rent often represented the actual letting value before the land was reclaimed and improved by the exertions of the lessee, and when the land was changed and improved, the same rent was continued, a line for renewal being imposed. As regarded these ecclesiastical leases, many complained of the operation of this clause. A deputation on this subject had found their way to that repository of ecclesiastical law on the opposite Bench (Dr. Ball), and poured their grievances into his 57 ear; they had also waited on him and urged him to bring forward the case, in the hope that he might soften the heart of the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister; the result was the Amendment he had placed on the Paper. He did not intend to divide the Committee upon it, if the Government opposed it, because he had confidence in his Chief; but, at all events, he would as certain what the views of Her Majesty's Government were on the subject. What he complained of was this—Numbers of people thought Clause 31 dealt too stringently with their rights. They were tenants under sees, and had leases renewable by custom per sœcula sœculorum. They were not to be allowed to renew again; and the power of purchasing the perpetuity must be exercised within three years. These parties insisted that there was injustice in both restrictions. There was a vast amount of property depending on these leases. It appeared from Table XVI. of the Report of the Church Commission that the amount of rents reserved in perpetuity grants from lands held under Bishops amounted to £36,121 19.s. 11d; from lands held under dignitaries, £3,296; and from lands held under the Ecclesiastical Com- missioners, £32,936 8s. 11d.—in all, £72,354. These were the annual rents of the "converted" lauds—the only "conversion," he believed, which had ever been effected under the Established Church. The lands which had not been "converted" amounted to £66,699. So that about one-half of the Church lands had been "converted." Then let them turn to fines. To show why the Bishops were unwilling to run their lives against the leases, he would trouble the House with a few figures. In Armagh, the annual rent of the Church lands was £2,773, whilst the fines amounted to £6,711; so that the Bishop, if he doc-lined to renew, would lose £4,000 a-year. All these privileges would be taken from the leaseholders by this Bill. What was the effect of this clause? The renewable lease by custom was abolished by the Bill. It also forced every man who held his lands in Ireland under a Bishop to buy the perpetuity within three years; whereas, practically, before the power was illimitable. It might be urged that for the purposes of winding up the Established Church, a stringent clause of this sort was necessary. But the rope in 58 such a winding-up might be so tight as to snap and, in that case, the whole thing would come down with a run. There was also another large class of leaseholders who held under the lessees of the sees and the Ecclesiastical Commission, those who held under toties quoties—leases so called; because, as often as a man who held under the see got his lease renewed, he was bound to renew the lease of the man who held under him. He was not, however, legally bound to renew his own lease, and if that clause passed into law, they would not only destroy his estate, but the estate of the man who held under him. There was only one instance, to his knowledge, of a toties quoties leaseholder being disturbed. That was in the see of Kilmore. A person named Jones held a large quantity of land, a portion of which he sublet to a tenant with a toties quoties covenant. As this sub-tenant would not contribute his fair share of the renewal fines, that part of the property was, at Jones' request, omitted from the renewed lease, and he was consequently deprived of his sublease. Well, the Bishop of Kilmore, who was appointed by Lord Palmerston to be Archbishop of Armagh—and was still the Archbishop, so there could be no difficulty in identifying him—took care to look after this little lease, and six weeks before undergoing the operation which Bottom underwent—that of being translated—made it over at a moiety of the value to his nephews, Mr. George Lestrange and Captain Beresford, who acted as trustees for him. With the £150 a year, of which he thus deprived the incoming Bishop, he walked over to the see of Armagh. That was the only case he knew in which the Bishop ran his life against the lease successfully—or, rather, ran away with the rent. And yet the supporters of the present Bill were called by hon. Gentlemen opposite spoliators of Church property. That was the only instance with- in his memory in which a Bishop did not renew this sort of lease. It. illustrated the position in which sub-lessees stood, and likewise showed with what care Bishops provided for themselves and their offspring. The provisions of his Amendment were, that a tenant, purchasing at the end of the term of three years allowed him in which to purchase, should be put in the same position as though he effected the purchase 59 in the first of those throe years; and that when he did not purchase, and the land was sold to a stranger, that stranger should buy it subject to the rights of renewal that previously existed. He trusted that the Amendment would be favourably considered. His object in submitting it to the Committee was to remove a misconception which appeared to prevail; but, if it were not acceded to by the Government, he would withdraw it, for he was not there to throw any obstacles in the way of the present measure; and he was certain that, if not by the present, at all events by some future measure, the case of the leaseholders must be favourably dealt with.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, that the Amendment was of great importance, as the amount of property held under these leases was very considerable, and the interests not only of the tenants, but of the sub-tenants were very large. He was glad to have the opportunity of removing a misconception, under which some of these tenants laboured. They were trader the impression that their rights of renewal were interfered with by the Bill. That was not the case. The Bill transferred to the new Commissioners all the property subject to every right of renewal existing at the present moment. Before the Church Temporalities Act passed, the state of things as regarded ecclesiastical leases was most unsatisfactory, because, although the Bishop and his predecessors might have renewed from time to time, no right of renewal was vested in the tenant, and the Bishop's successor might at any time cut off the renewal. When the landed property of the suppressed bishoprics became vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners under the Church Temporalities Act, it was provided that tenants holding under the see whose leases had been customarily renewable might not renew, but buy the perpetuity upon certain terms indicated in the Act. That was an enormous boon, but of late advantage had not been taken of it to the same extent as at first was the case, and it was asserted that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, availing themselves of certain powers granted to them, exacted too much for the perpetuity. They had certainly adopted a plan which caused much dissatisfaction by refusing to state the basis on which their valuation rested. In his opinion 60 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in fulfilling a public trust, should act openly in this matter, and state fully the grounds on which they acted. If they did so, he believed that the process of conversion would be much more rapid than it had been. However, what they did was simply to tell the tenants—"You must pay so much for your interest," and that mode of dealing with the tenants had caused considerable dissatisfaction. He admitted that the terms respecting conversion would require re-consideration, and his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) had pointed out with the greatest fairness and judgment why the rides should be remodelled; but that change was not to be effected by the Bill before the House. By the operation of this 33rd clause, and the 11th clause, with words that would be introduced, every tenant, whose right to renewal or to purchase a perpetuity existed on the day the Act passed, would have that same right preserved to him. So far as the perpetuities were concerned, this Bill would come into operation in 1871; and wherever there existed now a right of conversion into a perpetuity against the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Government would make it clear that the same right should continue under the Bill. It was considered of importance to fix a time within which these tenants must convert, and accordingly three years from 1871 had been fixed as a reasonable time within which conversion was to be effected. The main point, however, was the terms of conversion; and, if these were made more reasonable, he did not think there was one of these leases which would not be soon converted. Every man with a toties quoties clause had a right to turn it into a perpetuity, and all they had to do was to adjust the terms of doing so: but this question as to the terms of conversion was one to be dealt with by separate legislation. A great anomaly was that all the lessees under the suppressed sees should have a perpetual right of renewal, while no such advantage was possessed by other tenants of see lands, and it would be well, he thought, to embody in the Bill, to adjust the terms of perpetuity, a provision under which one uniform and simple plan would be adopted, and both classes of tenants should be put upon an equal footing.
§ Dr. BALL
said, that there were very important interests involved in the relations existing between ecclesiastical landlords and their tenants, and considerable alteration was, in his opinion, required in one portion of the law affecting those interests. The price at present charged for a perpetuity was, he thought, exorbitantly high, and in that view he was supported by several of the Commismissioners intimately acquainted with the subject, among others Lord De Vesci, the Earl of Meath, and Mr. Shirley. It was, therefore, with much satisfaction he learnt that the Government intended to reduce the price, while he also deemed it desirable that tenure by leasehold should cease, and that it should be turned into a perpetuity. He objected, he might add, to the system of fines and what he should like to see established was a system under which there should be a fixed annual rent payable for the land, and permanency of tenure secured on fair terms. Since the Commissioners' Report was issued, he had learned that the tenement valuation was different in different parts of Ireland, so that the effect of such a basis would be to make the prices too high in the North and too low in the South. In his judgment it would be fair to charge the immediate tenant of a sec four years of the occupation value as the price of the perpetuity, and let all persons holding by toties quoties leases have the right to purchase their perpetuities at a relative proportion of that price.
§ MR. MURPHY
said, he thought it hardly necessary to observe that the lessees in question should be placed upon the same footing as the tenants who now held under the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: though, instead of complaining of the Bill, those lessees ought, in his opinion, to be grateful to the Government for having introduced a measure that would enable them to acquire the perpetuity of lands which they heretofore held for a terminable period, and by an unsatisfactory tenure. Great uncertainty had prevailed in the dealings as to annual renewal fines; and very few indeed were aware of the large sums which had been not unfrequently paid to ecclesiastical dignitaries over and above those fines. He could not agree, as a rule, that four years' purchase should be taken as the fixed standard of value for the purchase of the perpetu- 62 ity. However, that was a matter which would, he presumed, be inquired into and settled by the Commissioners to be appointed under the Bill. As an instance of the dealings he referred to, he was personally cognizant of a case, where a lease for twenty-one years — made in the year 1809, at the rent of £30, and annual fine of £70, was not renewed until the year 1825. The annual fine of £70 was not paid for sixteen years — whether by the refusal of the lessee to pay, or of the ecclesiastical landlord to receive he did not know— but in the year 1825, the lease was renewed on the following terms—namely, the old rent of £30, an annual renewal fine of £400, and a private honorarium of £10,000 paid into the hands of the ecclesiastical landlord. The Poor Law valuation of the lands is £1,600 a year; and the immediate lessee who paid the £10,000 assessed the same upon his under lessees according to their interests; and they also contribute towards the annual fine of £400. It was quite clear that if this sum of £10,000 had been taken out in the shape of additional rent, or annual line, it would have added, according to the value of money at that day, at least £.500 to £600 a year to the revenues of the Church. He believed such instances were not rare; and perhaps such dealings, whether in consideration of private pecuniary payments, such as he had instanced, or of natural love and affection," might, if it was now thought necessary or useful to inquire into them, be found to explain the huge anomaly exhibited in the Returns to this House in 1835; by which, it appeared that the gross rental value of the Bishops' lands was £507,000 per annum, while the annual rent and renewal fines received by the Bishops was only £128,000—thus showing a profit-rent to the lessees of £379,000 a year, held only for twenty-one years; but which they have now the benefit of convening into a perpetuity, and will be moreover supplied on easy terms with the means of acquiring the fee-simple, discharged of all rent.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the progress they were now making. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Derry (Mr. Serjeant Dowse) who introduced this Amendment said one disadvantage it possessed was that it was a 63 long one. But, in his opinion, there was another disadvantage in it—it was not a real one. Almost the whole of the evening had been occupied in discussing Amendments on which the hon. Gentlemen who introduced them had never intended to ask the opinion of the Committee. It would be for the Committee to say what would be the consequence of their pursuing such a course. The fate of the Irish Church was a matter of great importance, and no one felt that more keenly than himself; but there was another question of importance which concerned the Committee—namely, the length of the term of relaxation which the House hoped to receive. They had been informed some time ago, and had acted on the sweet delusion, that Her Majesty's Ministers meant to consider the subject in "a gracious and generous" spirit. He regretted, however, to say that to-night their sanguine expectations had been somewhat disappointed. Nevertheless, there was a hope that, if they applied themselves diligently to the business before them, the expectations they had formed might still be fulfilled. It appeared to him that there was only one apparent way by which sufficient progress could be made in the discussions of the Committee, and it certainly was not by bringing forward Amendments on which even their proposers did not intend to ask the opinion of the Committee. To such a course he highly objected. What, for instance, had the hon. Member for Perry done to-night? The hon. Gentleman told the Committee with a frankness not only astonishing but almost appalling, that he had had communications with some of his constituents or clients, that he had heard their case, that he had told them it was a very bad case, but that he would, nevertheless, bring it forward and extract a declaration oft the subject from the Irish Attorney General or perhaps from the First Minister himself—a declaration, which, if not in favour of his constituents, would at least be flattering to their feelings. There was something captivating in the jovial profligacy of the hon. Gentleman; but, considering the present state of Public Business he did not think the hon. Gentleman perfectly justified in trying these experiments on the patience of the Committee in order to gratify the vanity of his constituents and clients. The hon. Gentleman had taken this opportunity of 64 sneering at the Report of the Commissioners on the Irish Church, but he could not at all agree with him on that heart. He had read the Report with great attention, and believed it to be one of the most valuable contributions ever made to our Parliamentary literature. Far from flunking that it would be superseded, if this unfortunate Bill should pass, he imagined it was clear from the admission of the Attorney General for Ireland and of the Government that we must have subsequent legislation on this subject and other subjects which grew out of it, and we must refer to that important document for authority and information. He wished particularly to impress on the Committee, that if they desired to make real progress in business they ought not to encourage these amateur Amendments, which merely gave an opportunity to the hon. Gentlemen who proposed them to make speeches, which, on nights when no important business, was before the House, might be extremely diverting, but which, when serious matters were under discussion, appeared to him to be wholly misplaced.
said, he must tender his sincere acknowledgments to the right hon. Gentleman for the assistance he had given him in regard to making progress with the Bill, because on subjects of this kind there generally arose, almost unconsciously, a disposition to enter into extraneous discussions which would simply result in loss of time. Still, he did not think his hon. Friend the Member for Derry was open to criticism on account of the course he had adopted, because, although he might not have intended to divide the Committee, his object was to bring to light a very important matter with which in his judgment the Bill did not deal completely. Indeed, his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Sullivan) had admitted that the Bill did not deal completely with the subject, and had intimated that, on a suitable occasion, he would meet the demands of the parties interested. He could not say, therefore, that time had been lost, as in the course of the discussion the Committee had had opportunities of hearing the opinions of the greatest authorities on both sides of the question. The time had, however, now arrived when he hoped the clause would 65 be submitted to the judgment of the Committee.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, that his intention in introducing the Amendment-was not to take up the time of the Committee, but to get the opinion of the Government upon the matter embraced in it. In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had said, his Amendment was a real one. He had yet to learn that it was an illegitimate course to press for an opinion on a subject deeply interesting, not to his clients or constituents, but to men in Ulster who had requested him to bring it forward. Probably the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire would have thought the Amendment more real had he done what that right hon. Gentleman had done over and over again—gone into the Lobby with a small following to be hopelessly beaten. Because he did not divide the Committee against the Government, and give an opportunity to people to say that the Liberals were forming fresh "Caves," and that their splendid majority was being broken up, his Amendment was declared to be a sham one, and he was told that he had been wasting the time of the Committee. Gentlemen on the opposite Benches ought not to complain of wasting the public time, for they were themselves as much to blame in this respect as any— ['' Divide!'' and "Oh, oh!"]. Those who sat on the opposite Benches were very much mistaken if they thought he was to be put down in that way. ["Oh, oh!" and "Divide!"] When a statesman of the genius and character of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire spoke of him as he had done, he thought it would only be a courteous thing for that right hon. Gentleman's followers to allow him to say a word in his own defence. He was glad to sec that he had placed hon. Gentlemen opposite in such a position that they dared not hear him. Gentlemen of property in Ireland, who were as warmly attached to the interests of the Established Church as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, had asked him to bring that matter before the House in order to ascertain the opinion of the Government, and also the opinion of the brains-carrier of the Opposition, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Dr. Ball).
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Dowse) should have so much misunderstood the not unfriendly remarks he had made. The hon. Member having had little experience of the House, he (Mr. Disraeli) thought it might not be unwise to remind him, that when they wished to get on with the Public Business, it was not the best way to expedite it to propose Amendments which were not meant to be pressed. But he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would profit by the experience of that night, and not persist—to use Ids own classic phrase—in sœcula sœculorum, otherwise he feared he would find the reception he had met with in that respect to be toties quoties.
§ Clauses 33 and 34 agreed to.
§ Clause 35 postponed.
§ Clause 36 (Compensation to nonconforming ministers).
§ MR. GLADSTONE moved, in page 17, line 21, after "Ireland," to insert "or which he would have been entitled to receive if such grant had not been discontinued."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. KIRK moved, in page 17, line 22, to leave out from "lives" to "of" in line 24 and to insert "and is continued in the ministry by and with the consent of the governing body."
§ Amendment agreed to.
said, he would propose to omit the second paragraph of the clause, the object of which was now attained by the first paragraph with the words inserted by his Amendment. And he proposed to insert a new paragraph, in order to include within the scope of the clause certain congregations who were going through what he might call a kind of apprentieeship under the rules of the Treasury, which required that a congregation should have been in existence under certain conditions for three years before it was entitled to receive the grant. In such cases, although the grant had not been actually received, yet the title to it had been created, and therefore it was necessary that words should be inserted rendering those congregations capable of procuring compensation for their ministers. He, there- 67 fore, in the first place, begged to move to leave out lines 26, 27, 28, and 29.
§ Motion agreed to.
said, he would move, after what was now the third paragraph of the clause, the insertion, for the purpose that he had described, of the Amendment of which he had given notice, namely—Line 35, after 'substituted,' insert' the Commissioners shall also ascertain and declare by order what Protestant Nonconforming congregations were on the first day of March one thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine, fulfilling the conditions necessary for eventually obtaining out of the Regium Donum the payment of yearly sums for their respective ministers, and what would have been in each case the amount of such yearly payment, and the time at which the same would have begun to be payable, and shall as from that time pay to the minister of each such congregation a life annuity, subject to the same conditions as aforesaid, equal to the amount of the yearly payment which he would have become entitled to receive on the fulfilment of the necessary conditions, if the grant of the Regium Donum had not been discontinued: Provided always, That no minister placed in a congregation, or becoming assistant successor for the first time after the passing of this Act, shall be entitled to any annual sum by way of compensation.'
said, that the date of March 1 was conformable to a general rule. It was the day of the introduction of the Bill, and any proceeding antecedent to March 1 could not have been prompted by anything in the Bill. He must, therefore, adhere to the date.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ On Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
MR. PEEL DAWSON
said, he believed that every clause in the Bill was fraught with mischief; but the present clause contained a double injustice. In the first place, it sanctioned the alienation of Church revenues for purposes distinct from Church objects, a principle against which he should not cease to protest. In the next place, he maintained that the compensation offered by the clause was of so scanty and niggard a character that it was unworthy of adoption by the Committee, and would not prove acceptable or satisfactory to those to whom it was offered. A capitalization of the 68 Regium Donum for fourteen years was a very inadequate realization of the just expectations of those Presbyterian Protestants whose ancestors in the beginning of the 17th century emigrated from Scotland to Ireland for the furtherance of British purposes, and who by their skill and industry reclaimed the province of Ulster from a state of semi-barbarism. A part of the inducement held out to them was a proportionable share of the tithes, and this share they enjoyed for many years. The Regiun Donum was afterwards given in exchange for these tithes, and now this clause would for fourteen years' capitalization put an end for ever to all claim and acknowledgment for the services so rendered. Representing a very large Presbyterian element in his own constituency, he should continue to remonstrate against the scantiness of the compensation given to them. This feeling was shared by a very large majority of the Presbyterian people of Ireland. Only last Thursday a meeting was held in Belfast, at which 10,000 Presbyterians recorded their deliberate disapproval of the whole Bill in its entirety, but especially the injustice which would be perpetrated and perpetuated under this clause. In the last Parliamentary contest at Dublin, Belfast, Newry, Derry, Carrickfergus, and Antrim, the Presbyterians who supported this measure were only one to three as compared with those who opposed it. Acting in the interests of that Church, for which he entertained great respect and sympathy, he should have preferred to see their compensation paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and still more the continuation of the endowment perpetuated.
said, he was not sorry the hon. Member had called attention to the great services of the Presbyterians, and the very moderate compensation they were to receive. Their conduct in reference to this matter had reflected great credit upon them; but he had not derived the same impression from it which the hon. Gentleman had conveyed to the House. As a body they had carefully abstained from opposing the Bill. Portions of them objected, but other portions were very warm in their support of the measure, and he held in his hand a Report of the Belfast Presbyterian Association—[Mr. PEEL DAWSON: The Liberal Association.]—No, the Belfast Presbyterian Association. They sug- 69 gested several Amendments, after which they said—"We ardently desire to see this grand measure made as perfect as human wisdom and forethought can make it." The Government were obliged to proceed in this Bill on certain rules, and he did not see how they could have made the compensation to the Presbyterians more liberal than it was. It was true that the salary of the Presbyterian ministers was a moderate one; but, still, recognizing life interests as the principle of the Bill, the Government had no power to take any higher standard as the measure of compensation. The Government had not shown an illiberal spirit, because they had taken the assistant pastors, who would have been the successors, to share in the compensation, and they had allowed congregations which had not yet earned their title to Regium Donum to qualify their ministers to earn it, provided they had begun to earn it before March 1. The hon. Member demanded a perpetual endowment to be secured to them, but that was opposed to the principle of the Bill.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, that the right hon. Gentleman might have received information as to the feeling of the Presbyterian body in towns being in favour of the Bill, because they looked forward with sanguine expectation to the success of the voluntary system. The Presbyterians of the thinly inhabited country districts were, however, much alarmed, and had a very black future before them. Upon one point they were hardly used by the Bill. They had spent large sums in the erection of glebe houses and Presbyterian meeting houses. He believed that not less than £40,000 was charged on these buildings, for a great deal of which the clergy were responsible. Bums of money were given to other religious denominations, and the Presbyterians had a strong-claim to receive some consideration from the Government in regard to this building fund.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON
said, that the Report quoted by the right hon. Gentleman emanated from the Belfast Liberal Association, which only represented the Liberal portion of the body, and not that large and influential section of the Conservative Presbyterians, who held the largest meeting ever convened in Belfast to protest against the Bill. The Ballymena Association had signed a 70 document opposing the Bill generally; its members objected to the Presbyterians being subjected to the odium which would attach to those who took part of the Church funds, and objected also to the College of Maynooth participating in them.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, that people were apt to suppose that the opinion of the Presbyterians as a body was identical with that of the Government. The hon. and learned Member for Deny (Mr. Serjeant Dowse) the other night assured the House that he represented a majority of the opinions of the Presbyterians on a certain subject; but it happened that a majority of the Presbyterians of his own constituency voted against him. The Rev. Hugh Hanna remarking at a Belfast meeting that the hon. and learned Member for Derry in the House had represented the Presbyterians as being in favour of the Bill, said that he had in his angelic innocence supposed or asserted the Presbyterian Association to be coextensive with the Church, and had thus imposed upon the Committee. Mr. Hanna proceeded to observe that he could confute the hon. and learned Member's statement by sending over the whole of the Ulster Association in half-a-dozen large bandboxes, and then they might be exhibited in the Lobby of the House of Commons, or at the British Museum. He mentioned this for fear the Committee should have accorded to the remarks of the hon. Member for Londonderry a greater weight than was consistent with fact.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, he had been so pointedly alluded to that he thought he should be allowed to say a few words. He wished to make two remarks. The noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) had done him injustice in supposing him to have said that he represented the majority of the Presbyterians of Derry.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that he represented the opinions of the majority of Presbyterians of Ulster on the subject.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
denied that he had said he represented a majority of the Presbyterians of Derry.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, he believed he had stated that all the Catholics, a large proportion of the Presbyterians, and an intelligent minority of the Episcopalians were in favour of the Bill. He had not said that he was supported by a majority of the Presbyterians of Derry, because he knew that the majority of them did not vote for him. When he said he represented the views of the majority of the Presbyterians, he meant the Presbyterians of Ireland. In his own constituency 288 Presbyterians voted against him, and 177 for him. But no matter who voted for him, there he was. If the House knew as much as he or the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston) did of the Rev. Hugh Hanna, he thought they would not think it worth while to put either him or his arguments into a bandbox. He had never stated in that House, or elsewhere, that the Belfast Liberal Association represented the Presbyterians of Ulster; on the occasion alluded to he had only referred to the Presbytery of Ballymena.
COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, he wished the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the First Lord of the Treasury) to be good enough to tell the Committee why it was against the principle or rules of his Bill to refuse the Presbyterians their just right—the amount of the debt upon their buildings—when such an allowance was made to Maynooth?
§ MR. O'REILLY DEASE
said, he had received communications from influential Presbyterians in the county which he represented (Louth), and they expressed their approval of the Bill.
§ MR. VANCE
said, he must express his astonishment at the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Serjeant Dowse) that the majority of the Presbyterians in Ireland were in favour of this Bill. He (Mr. Vance) knew the exact reverse to be the truth. In every borough and in every county of Ireland where there had been a contest, the majority of the Presbyterians had shown themselves against the Bill. The only Petition on the subject from Armagh was presented by himself against the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had inflicted an irreparable wrong on Presbyterians, the ministers of which had a right to their stipends in perpetuity from the Consolidated Fund, and instead of that 72 the Prime Minister gave them merely a life interest. There was a very great spirit of dissatisfaction among the Presbyterians against this Bill on account of the wrong it did to them and to the Established Church. The only institution that was really deriving any benefit from its provisions was the College of Maynooth.
§ MR. KIRK
denied that the Presbyterian ministers had a right in perpetuity to their stipends. He had had frequently to fight their battle in that House when the grant to the Presbyterian ministers was proposed; but he was of opinion that if the proposal for that grant had come before Parliament again it would probably have been refused.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, in reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Dungannon (Colonel Knox), he would recommend the hon. Member to wait until the clause with respect, to the buildings of the College of Maynooth was discussed. When the statement as to those buildings was made he thought the hon. Member would be of a very different opinion from that which he now held. It should be remembered that compensations under the Bill could only have relation to former grants or endowments; and if those grants or endowments had not been in existence, compensation could not take place. Now, the difference between Maynooth and the Presbyterians was this—that the building of Maynooth College had been provided for by Parliament through the Commission of Public Works; but Parliament had never undertaken to provide for the churches or manses of the Presbyterians, and, consequently, was tinder no obligation to give compensation.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, he understood the right hon. Gentleman (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) to say that because the Presbyterian body did not come to that House to ask for Parliamentary aid to build their manses or churches, they were not, therefore, entitled to consideration, although the annual sum they received from Parliament was pledged, in a manner, for the interest of the money they required for that purpose. On the other hand, because the College of Maynooth had come to Parliament for funds, it was entitled, according to the right hon. Gentleman's notion of justice and fair play, to much 73 more favourable treatment than the receivers of the Regium Donum.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 37 (Compensation in respect of salaries of professors and college buildings at Belfast).
said, that all those, including himself, who had Amendments on the Paper with reference to this clause, were of opinion—although, doubtless, for different reasons—that the mode of dealing with the Belfast Professors proposed in the clause should be altered. The Government proposed to alter the mode of dealing with those Professors at their own request. He therefore proposed to omit the clause, with the view of dealing with the Professors in another part of the Bill, and would say "No" to the clause.
§ MR. SINCLAIR AYTOUN
said, he objected to the clause being negatived, because he saw that, by an Amendment in Clause 39, the right hon. Gentleman proposed to give a capital sum to the Pro lessors of Belfast, instead of giving them an annuity. Therefore, if they negatived this clause, which provided for an annual payment, they would be sanctioning the principle of the payment of a capital sum. If such a proposal were to be agreed to, it would be impossible to prevent the Professors of Maynooth being dealt with in a similar manner, and to that he should have the greatest objection. He had given notice of an Amendment to Clause 39, the object of which was that the Professors, of Maynooth, instead of a capital sum being paid on their account, should be compensated by annual payments. He could not see why the Professors of these Colleges should be placed on a different footing from that occupied by the clergy of the Disestablished Church and of the Presbyterian Church, who were to be paid by annuities, and not by a capital sum. If the right hon. Gentleman persisted in his proposal to withdraw the clause he should divide the House against him.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, that to negative this clause would be to prejudge the questions of which the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown had given notice on Clause 39. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government ought to postpone this clause until the principle 74 upon which Professors were to be compensated had been settled. If a capital sum were to be handed over to Maynooth, it would be applied, not for the purposes intended, the maintenance of the Professors, but to the purposes of the Roman Catholic Church. He appealed not to the House, still less to the country, but to the right hon. Gentleman to redeem his honour as the First Minister of the Crown, after the declaration he had made in that House, and not to hand over the property of the Established Church to the Roman Catholic Church, but to allow the Maynooth Act to be repealed. It was proposed to repeal the restriction upon the corporation of Maynooth, but to leave that part of the Act which constituted the corporation in full force.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Sinclair Aytonn) should move some specific Amendment to the clause. He had no intention of affirming the clause, and unless the hon. Member moved something specific, he (Mr. Lowther) should do so.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, hon. Members were under a mistake if they thought that, by negativing the clause, they would lose the opportunity of objecting to a particular mode of compensation. They would be able to raise the same question on Clause 39.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he begged to move the omission of all the words of the clause after the word "when" in line 36.
said, it was incompetent for the hon. Member (Mr. J. Lowther) to make the Motion, for two; reasons. First, because he was too late. The question had been put that the clause stand part of the Bill, and, unless the Committee permitted the Motion to be withdrawn, no Amendment could be proposed. And if that difficulty were removed, the Amendment was not such as could be put to the Committee, simply because it left only one word of the clause.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun) objected to the withdrawal of the clause, because he was anxious that the Committee should negative not so much the terms of the clause, as the principle of payment by a lump sum instead of by annuities. If it was not the intention of 75 the Government to abandon payment by annuities, but to embody it in a new clause, the First Minister of the Crown could very easily relieve the Committee from all difficulty by stating that he adhered to the principle of the clause, which was the payment of those Professors by annuities. That was the principle which pervaded the whole Bill; with reference to the clergy of the Established Church. He objected to the payment of a lump sum, and the payment to trustees by retaining certain portions of Acts now in force—not, however, to establish Maynooth as an ecclesiastical establishment, but to establish the Roman Catholic College exactly on the principle which the right hon. Gentleman objected to so strongly when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire hinted at the incorporation of a Roman Catholic University. He supported the First Minister of the Crown on that occasion, and the President of the Board of Trade followed him and agreed with him, and aided his (Mr. Newdegate's) poor expressions by his great eloquence—by his condemnation of those who then constituted Her Majesty's Government. The policy so objected to was denounced on every hustings in England. But if the Government adopted the plan of a lump sum they would be adopting, in the most objectionable form, the very principle they had sanctioned him in condemning. The principle of compensation by annuities ought to be applied to the Professors of both Belfast and Maynooth.
said, he thought the observations of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) were very wide of the mark. There was nothing in the Bill to incorporate any Roman Catholic College or University, or to make Maynooth College an establishment. The Government proposed to omit the clause, not in consequence of Amendments of which his hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) and other hon. Members had given notice, but because they had received from the Synod of Ulster various requests with respect to Amendments to the Bill, which the Government were desirous should be adopted, if it could be done without any serious departure from the principle of the Bill. One demand was that the Professors of the College of Belfast should be dealt 76 with by a fourteen years' payment all round, instead of by annuities. It was an extremely small matter, and one which there was no reason to suppose would make any material difference one way or the other; and in due time notice would be given of a new clause for that purpose. If they had attempted to give effect to the fourteen years' commutation in this clause, it might have been said that they did so in order to have the case of Maynooth prejudged, and a decision given in favour of the plan by which the Government intended to deal with that institution. Accordingly they proposed to bring forward the fourteen years' arrangement at a later stage, when the Committee would be able to judge of it without prejudice. His hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun) would not be in the slightest way fettered in opposing the fourteen years' payment by consenting to negative this clause.
§ Clause negatived.
§ Clause 38 agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter after Twelve o'clock.