HC Deb 29 July 1879 vol 248 cc1629-31

in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to amend "The Irish Church Act, 1869," and to provide further compensation to certain persons, being Priests and Deacons of the late Established Church of Ireland, said, the Bill would not at all challenge the general policy of the Irish Church Act, or in any respect re-endow the Irish Church. Its provisions simply aimed at redressing a grievance felt very severely by certain clergy of that Church. It was complained that although the Act did profess not to treat with harshness or severity individual clergymen, and professed to give them full compensation, yet that it failed to make provision for the loss they had suffered in being deprived of all hope of preferment. Amendments in this respect were brought forward at the time of the passing of the Act through the House, but the arguments in favour of these proposals were rather evaded than met. At all events, the Act did not contain any such provisions, and the object of his Bill was to introduce provisions remedying that grievance. By its clauses any incumbent or curate who believed himself aggrieved would be entitled to present a Memorial to the Irish Church Commissioners, and they would be required to entertain that Memorial, and bear in mind any amounts that might have been paid previously. Then, if they thought the Memorial well-founded, they would redress the grievance out of the surplus. This proposal made a very small demand on the Church surplus indeed, in comparison with others already submitted, or about to be submitted, to the House. He thought only about £300,000 or £400,000 would be required; and the Committee, whom he represented, were quite willing, if necessary, to agree that the total sum to be expended in this way should be limited to £500,000. He did not intend, either, that this Bill should conflict with the passing of the National School Teachers (Ireland) Bill. He rather desired, if he might use the expression, that they should run side by side; and, if the House co-operated, he trusted that both these Bills might pass that Session, late as the time now was.


said, he would not oppose the first reading of this Bill; but it was only to be expected he should look at it with a certain amount of natural hesitation. He remembered reading in the Conservative organ of Dublin, The Daily Express, at the time when the Chief Justiceship was vacant, and that paper was urging the claims of Mr. Whiteside, that it said that Protestants should look rather kindly on his promotion to that post, because he construed the Church Act liberally; whereas if he had construed it harshly the incumbents of the Irish Church would have got £1,000,000 less than they received. That seemed to him very strong evidence that the Act had not been harshly construed. He knew very well the incumbents in the town in which he lived were not harshly treated, and it was their opinion also. Although they spoke very strongly against the Bill, they admitted that its provisions were extremely liberal. Indeed, he believed that a number of the junior clergy only entered the Irish Church in order to obtain compensation. He could not allow that this Bill went on all fours with his. He had no objection to it as it stood; although he thought there should be some accompanying advantage introduced for other denomi- nations. When they came to ask for £500,000 it was a very serious matter for any one denomination to claim.


said, the noble Lord the Postmaster General had just introduced a Bill merely for the purpose of circulating it during the Recess. If the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Plunket) had introduced this Bill for the same purpose he should have no objection to it; but, at the beginning of August, it was utterly impossible that a measure of this kind could receive the consideration it ought to have at the hands of the House. He did not like, in courtesy to the hon. and learned Member, to oppose the first reading; but he hoped no attempt would be made to press it at that period of the Session.


said, the Bill would, when understood, have the support of a large number of Members on both sides of the House, and of his hon. and gallant Friend (Major Nolan).

Motion agreed to. Bill to amend "The Irish Church Act, 1869," and to provide further compensation to certain persons, being Priests and Deacons of the late Established Church of Ireland, ordered to be brought in by Mr. DAVID PLUNKET, Sir ARTHUR GUINNESS, Mr. MAURICE BROOKS, Mr. EWART, and Mr. KAVANAGH.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 266.]