§ Order for Second Beading read.
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY)
I will not detain the House more than three or four minutes in explaining to it the object of this Bill. In 1870 an Act was passed subsequent to the Irish Church Act called the Glebe Loans (Ireland) Act, 1870. The object of it was to enable the Board of Works, acting on the part of the Treasury, to make loans for the following four purposes:—First of all, for the erection or improvement of dwelling-houses or offices of a glebe; secondly, to purchase glebe land not exceeding 10 acres; thirdly, to purchase dwelling-houses; and, fourthly, to pay 1651 off debt incurred in this way. The loans are repayable by half-yearly instalments extending over a period of 35 years—£5 for every £100 advanced. They repay principal and interest at a certain rate over a fixed period. In practice the house and the land descend from one parish priest, or clergyman, or minister to his successor as parish property. The administration of the Act requires the Board of Works to satisfy themselves as to the title to the land, and also as to the solvency of the security offered, and, further, that the premises shall be kept insured, a great deal of work being thus thrown upon the Department. There are three securities required, of whom one must be other than the clergyman who makes the application. The total issue under the Act, as it has been renewed since 1870, has been £371,787. Of that very large sum the amount outstanding on the 29th of January last was no more than £373 0s. 10d. By this time, or by the 31st of this month, it is supposed that even that small arrear will have been made still less. The Act of 1870 was limited to expire in five years, and was, unfortunately, so worded as not to be capable of being continued by the annual Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and so it has been re-enacted by successive Governments in 1875, 1878, 1880, and 1883. This last Act, the Act of 1883, expires on the 31st of August next, and what the present Bill proposes to do is to continue the Act for two more years, until the end of 1888—two and a-half years more—and then further to enable it to be continued, as other Acts of a similar kind are continued, in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. These are the two objects of the Bill which I now beg to move be read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. John Morley.)
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
I would wish, before this Bill is read a second time, to bring to the notice of the right bon. Gentleman a question connected with it which, I think, he himself will see the necessity of considering. Several deputations, representing clergymen of different persuasions and from different parts of Ireland, waited on one of his Predecessors in Office, the present Se- 1652 cretary for Scotland (Mr. Trevelyan), and upon Earl Spencer, complaining that the annual payments were not extended over a longer period of years, and thereby saving or relieving clergymen who had purchased under the Act from the old owners from the very large responsibility cast upon them. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the case of clergymen purchasing and erecting houses under the Act. Well, these gentlemen complain of the great hardship which is put upon them to have to contribute large repayments during their own life-time, and having to leave to their successors an entirely free residence in their respective parishes. They think it would be far more desirable and convenient—and I would not confine this to any one denomination—to have the period extended over a certain number of year. Several representations of this kind have been made to the Irish Government from time to time. I do not know whether the subject has yet been brought under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary, owing to his having been but a very short time in Office; but now that I have referred to it, I trust be will give it his attention.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. H. H. FOWLER)
I understand my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. J. Morley) to say that it is not in our power to alter the Bill.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.