HC Deb 02 July 1888 vol 328 cc149-53

Order read, for further consideration of Postponed Resolutions [21st June].

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the First Resolution."

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

said, before the Report of this Resolution was taken, he would like to hear something said as to the charge which had been made in connection with the Chaplain's Department since this time last year. Last year, there was a Vote for Divine Service; but now they found that but one Vote was taken for the chaplains on the Army Establishment. That was a subject which he did not feel himself called upon to deal with. [Cheers from the Ministerial Benches.] It was more for the hon. Members opposite who cheered his remarks; it was more in their line. But let him call attention to one fact in connection with this establishment; it arose in the City of Cork. It was a point which he spoke about this time last year, and it was one on which he got no definite or satisfactory assurance from Her Majesty's Government. Now, in the City of Cork they had a very considerable number of troops. He was not going to question the policy of Her Majesty's Government which led to the troops being there; but, at any rate, there were many troops there, and those troops had to be supplied with chaplains. Many of the troops were Roman Catholics, the major part of the people who were resident in or about the barracks were Roman Catholics, and they were, he believed, entitled to the ministrations of the Catholic chaplain. What were the facts in relation to the Cork Barracks? The Protestant chaplain was provided with a residence, and he was provided with a very good salary. Now the residence was a very important point. The unfortunate Catholic chaplain, in addition to only receiving a certain capitation allowance, had to live down in the City of Cork, and in consequence of the sum which was paid to him being so miserably inadequate he had to attend to other duties. This was a great hardship, and he thought it was always better to ventilate a grievance than to let it go on unexplained. If the Government would give the House an assurance that the matter would be dealt with, a great deal more good would be done than by letting matters remain as they were at present. Now, the Catholic chaplain had to live down in the City of Cork, and his allowance was insufficient and inadequate. He had to take on duty as a clergyman in the City of Cork, and between the two duties which were imposed upon him he found it very difficult to attend to both. The Catholic priest was connected with the parish of St. Patrick on the lower road. There was a very heavy hill to get up. [Laughter.] Yes; it was a very fine hill—


The hon. Gentleman is not talking in any sensible manner relatively to the subject before the House. I must warn the hon. Gentleman.


Certainly. He was trying to draw the attention of the House to the miserable and inadequate provision made for the Roman Catholic chaplain attached to the Cork barracks. He brought the matter under the attention of the House last year by a series of questions, and the Chairman of Committees permitted him to speak upon the matter. What he wanted to insist upon was that if there was a chaplain appointed to deal with one religious section, that chaplain ought to be paid in as adequate a manner as the chaplain of another section—that the Roman Catholic chaplain should be paid just as well as the Protestant chaplain. Although a Protestant himself, he thought he was entitled to endeavour to see that justice was done to the Roman Catholic chaplain ministering at the Cork barracks. This gentleman was not properly paid; he was paid by a miserable capitation allowance. He had to ascend this hill daily in the performance of his duties, and often it cost him a considerable sum of money to get up the hill. He (Dr. Tanner) was trying to deal with this question in as reasonable a light as he could. Everybody knew that in the South of Ireland they had a great deal of rain, and everybody knew—


I ask the hon. Gentleman to discontinue his speech.

MR. O'HEA (Donegal, W.)

said, he knew something about what his hon. Friend had put before the House. He believed that everything his hon. Friend had said was perfectly reasonable and fair. In his opinion, it was nothing short of a downright and unmitigated scandal that a clergyman of one persuasion doing his duty in the spiritual interest of his flock should be treated in a different manner to the clergyman of another persuasion—that, in fact, fish should be made of one and flesh made of the other. That was what he believed his hon. Friend was directing his remarks to. He knew that the Roman Catholic chaplain doing duty in the Cork Barracks had a great and arduous work cast upon his shoulders. The rev. gentleman was obliged to live a considerable distance from the barracks, and he had in all weathers to climb the hill on his way to the barracks, which reminded one very much of an Alpine mountain. It might happen that he was called to the barracks in the night time, when he must either, to the possible detriment of his health, climb this extraordinary hill, or engage a car for which he would have to pay at least a half-a-crown. All this was completely lost sight of in the fixing of the remuneration of this clergyman. He (Mr. O'Hea) regretted that his hon. Friend should have in any way exceeded the limits of legitimate debate; but he ex-pressed his thanks to the hon. Gentleman for having, Protestant as he was, so generously and manfully spoken on behalf of the Roman Catholic clergyman at the Cork Barracks. He quite agreed with his hon. Friend that this rev. gentleman had not been either fairly, adequately, or generously treated in the matter of remuneration.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

said, that the mode in which the chaplains were paid was perfectly fair, and not only that, but exceptionally so with regard to Roman Catholics. The rule as to the appointment of a per- manent chaplain of the Church of England was that he should minister to every 1,000 men; but the permanent Roman Catholic chaplain was appointed to every 600 men. This rule was carried out universally, and it was impossible to depart from it in the case of Cork, although it appeared that there the Roman Catholic chaplain had to go up a hill to reach the barracks.


said, the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was somewhat inadequate. It was very cold consolation to the chaplain properly discharging his functions to be told that he was liberally treated. His hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) had complained that the Church of England chaplain received £300 a-year in addition to accommodation in barracks, and that the Roman Catholic chaplain had to pay a considerable sum for car hire, and other matters to enable him to discharge his duty. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to give some more definite reply than the statement he had made, and not turn off the inquiry by cheap observations as to the admirable manner in which the chaplains discharged their duty.


said, the hill at Cork was a very serious obstacle in the way of a person who had to reach the barracks more than once a day. He had himself been obliged to go up the hill, and he could assure the Committee that it was no joke to have to do so. The right hon. Gentleman claimed that the chaplains were treated with equity, irrespective of their persuasions, and that the Roman Catholic chaplain was treated more generously than the Church of England chaplain. He did not know how that might be, but the Church of England chaplain got £400 a-year, and the Roman Catholic chaplain in Kilmainham Gaol received only £75. One of the great questions in connection with that particular service was whether it was good economy or judicious to continue a system of chaplains on the Establishment, or to resort to the expedient of paying officiating clergymen in cases where they were required. He thought it would be better to utilize the service of the local clergy as officiating clergymen, a system which would save a considerable expenditure in connection with pensions. The pensions of clergymen on retirement formed a substantial item, every clergyman being, after a certain time, entitled to retire on £300 a-year. But there was a very much larger number of clergymen than was desirable on the Pension List, and, by the plan he suggested, the list might be very considerably reduced. There was a very trifling reduction in the present Vote, and the Vote showed that what the Government reduced with one hand they made up with the other. For these reasons, it was urged on the Government that they should do away with the present state of things, and fall back on the services of officiating clergymen.


said, this matter had been inquired into. The Secretary of State had given his attention to it, and it had not been found possible to diminish the number of chaplains. The chaplain on the Establishment had the spiritual care of all the troops under his charge; but the officiating clergyman's duty was confined usually to conducting the Sunday services; an important distinction, which he believed hon. Members would perceive.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 196; Noes 63: Majority 133.—(Div. List, No. 184.)

Consideration of Postponed Resolution further postponed till Thursday.