Page 32, line 42, leave out sub-section 1." (Sir C. Dilke.)
§ * SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
The Amendment I rise to move—that sub-section 1 be omitted—is one of very considerable importance, but there is no necessity I think for my troubling the Committee 478 with any long speech. This sub-section is one that disqualifies not only the clergy of the Disestablished Church and Roman Catholic priests, but also the "regular ministers of any religious denomination." I very much doubt whether it is possible to define exactly what "regular ministers" would be included under these words. I am told that in Ireland there are many of the Roman Catholic priests who would not themselves desire to be elected as members of these local governing bodies; but, however that may be, I object to the principle of this exclusion. My view, I am bound to say, is that in England the very best members that we have at the present time of boards of guardians and district councils, and in some cases county councils, are clergymen, priests of the Roman Catholic Church, and ministers of Nonconformist bodies. I can speak of them from a rather long experience of them as colleagues on different local governing bodies. My view is that all these exclusions by law are impossible to justify, and that, having given an extended franchise, the electorate should be trusted absolutely.
§ DR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
This sub-section is clearly aimed at the priests of the Roman Catholic Church, although in terms it also excludes Nonconformist ministers. The Nonconformist ministers of Ireland take less part in political matters than their colleagues in England do, but I fail to see why the same liberty should not be extended to Nonconformist ministers in Ireland as that which is enjoyed by their brethren in England and Scotland. The point, however, is that this sub-section could not possibly affect any large part of the Protestant clergymen in Ireland, and, therefore, it must be deliberately aimed at the Roman Catholic priests. Why, I ask, should you exclude from local government matters a particular body of men who can exercise an enormous influence among the electors? If the clause were so drawn that it simply prohibited ministers of religion from any intervention whatever in elections, I could see 479 some reason in it; but it does not refer to that at all. It leaves them free to support any candidate they like, but they must not themselves sit as county or district councillors. I agree with the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean that ministers of various denominations make excellent and useful members of the English bodies, and there is no reason to doubt that that would be the experience in Ireland. It is very important that there should be nothing in this Act which will create friction, and I am convinced that nothing is better calculated to create friction than this exclusion. For these reasons I support the Amendment.
§ MR. DILLON
The conduct of Roman Catholic priests at Parliamentary elections is quite foreign to the issue we have to deal with. The whole question is this—whether the Government can justify their position in departing in an exceedingly important matter from the law of England. Had it been proposed in this House to apply this principle in an Act extending to the whole kingdom the issue would have been still a debatable issue; but in this case the Government are departing from the principle of the English Acts, and that departure involves an insult of the grossest character to the Irish people. On the First Reading of the Bill the Chief Secretary, in dealing with this clause, said that he held the opinion that the election of ministers of religion to the county councils would not tend to economy of administration or the smooth working of the new bodies. That is the only justification that the Government have so far advanced for this subsection. The Government apparently were under the impression, at least one so gathers from that statement, that this provision would be accepted, or at any rate tacitly acquiesced in, by the clergy in Ireland; but a fortnight or three weeks ago, at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, a resolution was passed protesting against the proposal, although the resolution was prefaced by the statement that it was not likely, so far as the committee could foresee, that clergymen would seek election on these bodies. My own view from the beginning 480 was that the priests of Ireland would not, to any great extent at all events, seek to be elected on these county and district councils. Undoubtedly they are very well qualified to look after the interests of the poor, but I feel certain that they will not be anxious for election on the councils. When the Government, however, most unwisely, as I think, put the priests of Ireland into the same category as uncertificated bankrupts and men who have been sentenced for disgraceful crimes, we feel bound to protest against such a slur being cast upon them. True, the provision applies to ministers of all religious denominations, but I agree with the honourable and learned Member who has just sat down that the sub-section is especially pointed at Roman Catholic priests. Whether that be so or not, it is a very serious thing to lay down the proposition that because a man is a minister of religion he forfeits his rights as a citizen, and especially so when you are just establishing these new local governing bodies. What is the object of this exclusion? Believe me, no more foolish, fatuous idea ever entered into the mind of a statesman than to suppose that you are going to diminish the influence of ministers of religion in politics if they choose to enter into politics by imposing disabilities of this kind. It is not by becoming members of these bodies, or even by becoming members of this House, that ministers of religion exercise that influence in political matters which is thought by some to be undesirable. My conviction, therefore, is that if the Government have any such end in view they are making an egregious mistake. If that is not the object, what is it? The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in the speech from which I have quoted, spoke only of county councils; he did not refer to boards of guardians. He thought that economy would not be promoted by having ministers of religion on the county councils. On what ground does he base that? If the interests of economy demand the exclusion of ministers from the county councils, how is it that the interests of economy are to continue to be neglected in the case of boards of guardians? And, again, take the case, of the visiting committees for lunatic asylums. At present those committees are 481 appointed by the grand juries, and almost invariably include some ministers of religion. Now, the powers of the grand juries are to be taken over by the county councils. Clause 9 of the Bill contains the provision that one-fourth of the members of the visiting committees may be "persons not members, of the council." How is it that the Government have now provided that no minister of religion shall be a member of these committees? Sir, I think that this sub-section is put in by the Government without any sufficient justification. I object to it because it is an insult to a respected section of the Irish people, but it is more than that—it is an insult to the whole people of Ireland. Why do you put this sub-section into the Bill? It is because you wish to proclaim to the world that we are a priest-ridden people, and that we cannot conduct our local affairs unless we are protected against our own clergy. I repudiate with indignation that charge on behalf of the people of Ireland. If that view were correct, then you would indeed be justified in refusing us the claim we make to a Parliament of our own, and I for one would not be here in this House to ask for Home Rule. If I believed that to secure freedom of election we required your protection against our own clergy I would never appear in this House again.
§ MR. J. REDMOND (Waterford)
Before the right honourable Gentleman replies I should like to trouble the Committee with a few observations, because I think that after the speeches to which we have listened I ought not to content myself with a silent vote. In the first place, I am not impressed at all by the argument that has been based on what has been done in the English Bill. I think that is a fallacious argument. These proposals are to be judged by what is suited for Ireland, and not by what is or is not right in an English Bill. It would be a great pleasure to me to be able to say nothing at all on this Bill, but I think that for me to take that course would be to act a cowardly part. It is my duty to state the views I entertain and the reasons why I propose to vote against the Amendment that has been proposed. The honourable Member for East Mayo spoke about the views of 482 the clergy of Ireland, and he disclaimed any desire to sit in this House by means of their overweening influence.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
I have no desire to misrepresent what the honourable Member said. I understood him to say that if the influence of the clergy in Ireland were a paramount influence he would not be here in this House to represent that influence.
§ MR. DILLON
What I said was that if I thought it was necessary to seek protection for the Irish people from their own priests I should wish not to be here.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
I quite accept that explanation of the honourable Gentleman's position. My own opinion is that from the point of view of the clergy themselves, and the mission they have before them in Ireland and in every country, it is unwise for them to take part in the public life of the country in the way they would have to do if they were members of these assemblies.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
I do not wish to enter into any controversy. As I have said, I should have preferred taking no part in the discussion, but I felt that I could not give a silent vote in this matter, seeing that I have spoken upon it in Ireland. I believe it to be in the interest of the country, and of the smooth working of the new bodies that are to be set up, that the provision of this subsection should be maintained, and I shall therefore vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I am going to oppose this provision in the interest of the Protestant Church. I have a better light to speak about the interests of the Protestant Church in Ireland than any other Member of this House. I could not write my own name without remembering that I come from a Protestant family. I would not for any consideration support a clause of this kind, which is, I say, a deliberate insult to all the clerical cloth, and purposely meant to be. I see the right honourable 483 Gentleman the Member for Dublin University dissents from that. He knows perfectly well that he is returned by a constituency three-fourths of whom are Protestants.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
But it tells the people that they shall not elect a clergyman for the mere reason that he is a clergyman. It says that because a man is devoted to piety and religion he is unfit to have a place on a local government body. Now, if the right honourable Gentleman—who is a philosopher—holds this view with regard to the clergy, why does he not turn his attention to the House of Lords; why does he not begin with the bishops? Why does he not go still further and disfranchise Dublin University altogether? Sir, not one argument has been addressed to the Committee to show that the clergy of Ireland are unfitted to serve on the councils. I do not say whether they would wish to be members of these bodies, but I do say that there are no persons more competent to represent the views and needs of their particular localities. From the point of view of the Catholic clergy of Ireland, I think that this clause aimed at them is one of the most malignant and bigoted creations that could possibly emanate from an English Government. I do not say that they in any way wish election to these bodies, but it would be a very great outrage to disqualify any of them who might desire election. There are remote districts in Ireland in which the Catholic clergyman is the administrator and the guardian of his parish. He really superintends the work of the parish, he is the protector and guide of the poor in a way that is almost inconceivable to people who do not know the country; and I ask, why should such a man be excluded from a seat on his local council if the electors see fit to place him there? I ask the right honourable Gentleman, why should a priest, because he is a priest, or a Protestant clergyman, because he is a Protestant clergyman, be excluded? All I can say is, this provision is most absurd and most unjust, and I trust it will be struck out of the Bill.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
The honourable Member says that he can claim to speak on behalf of the Protestant clergy of Ireland.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I am surprised at it. I think I know as much about the clergy of the Church of Ireland as the honourable Member for South Donegal, and I can say that they have no desire to be members of the county councils, and they do not consider the provision in this sub-section to cast the slightest slur upon them. I think I am in closer connection with the clergy of the Church of Ireland than the honourable Gentleman, and if they had thought that I am sure they would have let me know. The honourable Member referred to the fact that the bishops have seats in the House of Lords. That is true of the English bishops, but the Irish bishops have not.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I think the honourable Member fails to appreciate the enormous power that the Roman Catholic priests possess. They possess a power over the consciences and the actions of the Irish people which no other clergy possess in any other country in the world. When you find that every altar in a Roman Catholic chapel is a political platform, when the people are directed to vote for a particular candidate under all sorts of pains and penalties, it is impossible to deny that the Roman Catholic priests in Ireland rightly or wrongly possess a power over the mind and conscience and actions of the people which no other ministry possess. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean says that in England clergymen make excellent members of boards of guardians, district councils, and county councils. I dare say that is so, but you might just as well draw an analogy in these matters between England and China as between England and Ireland. I do not know that ministers 485 of religion in England ever make use of their pulpits to denounce their political opponents. Undoubtedly the position of the Roman Catholic priests in Ireland has given them an enormous authority over their people, and they have exercised it without the least disguise, and the result is, without doubt, that we have in this House a large number of Members who, if it had not been for the aid of the Roman Catholic clergy in their constituencies, would not have been in this House. If you had two candidates standing for a county council seat in Ireland, and if they started perfectly fair—which I imagine is the object that this Bill has in view—I ask the House to imagine what would be the position if some independent man stood for the seat against his own parish priest? Clearly the independent man would not have the smallest chance. I do not pretend for a moment that a priest on the county council would not do less harm than out of it, but I say that if you permit a priest to stand for the county council he would start as a candidate with an advantage which would leave his opponent hopelessly behind. Our object ought to be to, as far as possible, remove any possibility of friction in the working of this Bill. For that reason I trust that the Government will stick by this sub-section. If the Amendment were carried, and priests were permitted to stand for the county council, would it tend towards peace in Ireland? I do not think so, and I venture to hope that the Government will refuse to accept the Amendment, which I believe would bring about friction and import religious bitterness into local government controversies.
§ * MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts,) Mansfield
I should like to point out that the honourable and gallant Member directed his criticisms entirely against the enfranchisement of the Roman Catholic clergy: not a word fell from him against the enfranchisement of the Protestant clergy. Now, I have been throughout my public life very largely engaged in endeavouring to remove civil disabilities on religious grounds, and therefore I feel no doubt as to the course I should adopt in regard to this Amendment. I am not anxious that ministers 486 of religion should be members either of county or district councils. I know that in many cases they are among the most competent men in the locality to occupy such positions; in fact, in some instances they are the only fit persons to be elected. But, on the other hand, I think that ministers of religion, no matter to what particular persuasion they belong, had better avoid the turmoil and controversies of a contested election. But, Sir, it is quite another thing for the Legislature to intervene and to disqualify them as a class. The question is one that should be determined by the electors themselves, who should have absolutely full liberty of choice. This proposed exclusion is contrary to the principle on which the Legislature has acted for the last fifty years. We have given political freedom to Roman Catholics, to Jews, even to agnostics and unbelievers. It is because we have thus opened wide the doors of this House that it is entitled to bear the proud name of the House of "Commons." We are now asked to act upon the exactly opposite principle. This seems to be a distinctly retrograde step, and one from which it is certain that evil consequences must follow. Reference has already been made to the extremely loose wording of the sub-section, and to difficulties in deciding who should come under the description of "regular ministers." While regular ministers are to be disqualified, there may be irregular ministers, perhaps persons of very shady reputation, who may be held to be competent to sit. I do not wish further to detain the Committee at this late hour. For the reason I have stated I have no hesitation whatever in supporting the Amendment.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
To judge from the language used by the honourable Gentlemen who have spoken in favour of this Amendment, one would imagine that the Government were doing an unusual and unheard of thing, and excluding some large class of the people of Ireland from some of the elementary rights of citizenship. There could not be a greater error. It certainly cannot be called an elementary right of citizenship to sit in a deliberative assembly. We all know that Roman Catholic priests and clergymen of the Church of 487 England are not allowed to sit in this House. Ministers of religion are excluded in England from sitting on the councils of municipal boroughs, and in Ireland there has not been a single case where a priest has been allowed to sit on a local governing body. The right honourable Baronet who moved the Amendment seemed to think the Government were making fin unheard of proposal in this clause; and a phrase which he used shows the misapprehension he is under as to the actual condition of affairs in Ireland. A similar clause to this has, as a matter of fact, actually been in operation under the Poor Law Act, in which occur the words, "provided always that no person being in holy orders, or a regular minister of any denomination, shall be eligible as a guardian." The fear, therefore, that any difficulty will be created by the further application of a principle which has been in existence for generations seems to me absolutely chimerical. The language used in the Municipal Corporations Act is similar. That being the condition of affairs, I stated, in introducing the Bill, that I had no reason to believe that this exclusion was otherwise than accepted and acquiesced in by ministers of all denominations in Ireland, and, so far as I am personally concerned, the only representation adverse to the Bill which has reached me, with the exception of that from the Standing Committee of Bishops, came from a body of Protestant clergy. I have received no other protest whatever. It is perfectly true, as the honourable Member for East Mayo has said, that the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops passed a resolution condemning the exclusion of priests from the county and district councils in Ireland, but I am bound to say that, from various statements which have reached me, I do not think that represents by any means the unanimous opinion of Roman Catholics in Ireland, either in holy orders or laymen. I am confident that there are in Ireland a great many Roman Catholic priests and laymen who think the Government, in excluding ministers of religion from these new bodies, have taken a wise course. I cannot help referring to a remark which was made by the honour- 488 able Member for Waterford. It is unquestionably a very difficult and very invidious thing to state reasons why any particular class of the community should be excluded from particular posts or privileges; but it is positively impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that Ireland and England stand in this matter upon an entirely different footing. Religious animosity in Ireland reaches a height of which we happily know little in this country, and the power which the Catholic priesthood exercises over its congregations is also something utterly unknown in this country. Well, now, I am afraid that if ministers of religion were admitted to county and district councils, and allowed to sit on those councils, it would tend to introduce into the business of administrative bodies, which have nothing to do with religious matters, certain sectarian bitterness which they would be very much better without. Then we are told that by excluding priests and other ministers of religion from these elected bodies we are depriving them of an elementary right of citizenship. But I am afraid that what my honourable and learned Friend the Member for North Armagh has said is absolutely true—that a priest in Ireland would not stand at an election as an ordinary citizen. It would be impossible to separate his spiritual functions from his position as a man, and not only would that be the case in the matter of the candidature of a minister of religion, but it would also be the case, I think, if he were elected. I think a minister having a seat on a county or district council or board of guardians would influence inside a body which he could not possibly influence outside. The honourable Member for South Donegal and the honourable Member for East Mayo referred to a time when I said that the presence of ministers of religion on these councils was undesirable from motives of economy. I did say that, and I repeat it; I repeat it for this reason: the ordinary layman who is elected on a county or district council or board of guardians is returned as a representative of the ratepayers; a minister of religion would not be a representative, as a minister, of the ratepayers. It would be impossible to sepa- 489 rate his spiritual functions from those motives which would dictate the action of an ordinary layman. The ordinary layman feels that he is bound to protect the interests of the ratepayer. A minister of religion would not have that feeling in the same degree. I know the honourable Member for Donegal sneers at that, and thinks I am only giving one additional proof of hardness of heart; but I do say it would not be in the interests of economy that ministers of religion should have seats on these bodies, and I am also persuaded that it would not be for the smooth working of local administration in Ireland that this Amendment should be adopted.
§ MR. KILBRIDE (Galway, N.)
The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary has failed to explain to the House how it is that on the only board in Ireland which gives anything like universal satisfaction, there are two or three ministers of religion. I should like to hear, as I did expect to hear, some explanation how it is that both the present Government and the preceding Government have appointed on the Congested Districts Board the Bishop of Raphoe and Father Dennis O'Hara, a parish priest of the West of Ireland. I should also have liked to hear something as to the position on the Fisheries Board of the Rev. Mr. Green, a Protestant clergyman, who is also a member of the Congested Districts Board. It has not been contended by anyone who has spoken that, even if you allow clergymen to be eligible for county or district councils, many of them will seek the position; but, representing as I do a partly congested district in the West of Ireland, where, in some cases, it will be very difficult to find an eligible man for district councils, and still more so in the case of county councils, I would point out that it will be a great consideration in such a county as Galway to find persons who will be prepared to go 40 or 50 miles to attend a council meeting, and that if you exclude gentlemen like Father Dennis O'Hara and the Rev. Mr. Green from representing the districts in which they reside, you will exclude those who 490 are among the best able to undertake duties which will be doubly onerous on that ground. Moreover, these gentlemen, like the Bishop of Raphoe, have the confidence of the Government. Will anyone deny that the Government have that confidence? Of course they have otherwise why do they continue to appoint them as members of the Congested Districts Board, which is not elected but nominated? These gentlemen are colleagues of the Chief Secretary upon that board, and the right honourable Gentleman must know more of their administrative capacity and their fitness for their positions than anyone else in this House. Yet the right honourable Gentleman, by the provision which he has introduced into this Bill, makes his own colleagues ineligible for positions which are certainly of as much consequence to the poor in these districts as are their positions on the Congested Districts Board. While listening to this Debate I have heard it stated as an argument for rendering clergymen ineligible that they would have too much influence. But will this ineligibility to sit do away in any way with the influence they will have? I did expect that some honourable Gentleman would explain to the Committee how it is that making them ineligible will deprive them of that influence; and I would say to those who are not in favour of the exercise of priestly domination that it would be far better from their point of view to have clergymen exercise their influence from within rather than from without. Does anybody say that making them ineligible will prevent them from exercising their influence from without? If it would, I could understand the position, but the position is this: that, while the provision of the right honourable Gentleman does not minimise one iota the influence of any clergyman, Protestant or Catholic, who chooses to exercise it, he gratuitously insults them by refusing to make them eligible to be members of these bodies. It is because this provision will deprive many districts in the West of Ireland, and Donegal especially, of the services of men like the Bishop of Raphoe and Father Dennis O'Hara, that I oppose this portion of the Bill.
§ * MR. GEDGE (Walsall)
I wish to occupy the attention of the House only for a short time, in order to explain the reasons which compel me to dissociate myself from the Government on this occasion, and to support the Amendment. I associate myself with, but will not repeat, the arguments of the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and wish also to urge that it is most desirable to allow the clergy of all denominations to take part in citizen life. It is a great evil generally with the clergy of all denominations that they are very apt to grow into an isolated life, having objects distinct from the people among whom they work. This narrows their aims and renders them less capable citizens and less good clergymen, and I have always been of opinion, therefore, that it is good for the clergy to interest themselves in secular and civil affairs, so that their minds may be enlarged to the utmost extent, and they may find themselves more in touch with those among whom they labour. Now, it is said, "Why should you alter the law in Ireland?" You have altered the law in England. It is only 10 years since you passed the Local Government Act in England, and by that Act you altered the law by allowing clergymen to be members of the councils established by that Measure, and many have been so elected, to their own advantage and that of the councils and the community. This is the first time that we are giving local government to Ireland; why should we not, then, do in Ireland as we have, done in England? The only answer I have heard to that question is that, while this clause takes in ministers of all denominations, it is specially aimed at the clergy of one. That is evident from my right honourable Friend's speech. I think it exceedingly hard, to begin with, to exclude all other denominations because you want to aim at one. If you must take such a step, I would rather boldly say, "We will exclude all Roman Catholic priests." Then we are told that these priests have too much power, and therefore ought not to be allowed to become members of these boards; and my honourable and gallant Friend painted a terrible picture of an election in which 492 the parish priest put up on one side and some parishioner on the other, and declared that the life of the latter would be a burden to him. But will it be more tolerable if he opposes the priests' nominees? What will be the result if the priest is made ineligible? It will simply mean that if he really has so much power he will put up a puppet of his own. That puppet will get elected through the priest's influence, and them the wirepuller, without incurring any responsibility, and working in the dark, will get all his evil and malign designs; carried into effect.
§ * MR. GEDGE
The honourable Gentleman does not seem to understand my argument. I am replying to the argument used in this Debate; and I say that if the priest has such dark designs as have been suggested, it is surely better that he should use his power in the light of day, and be responsible for what he does and says, than work in the dark through some puppet, while he himself, who is pulling the strings, has no responsibility and incurs no ill-will or unpopularity for the improper exercise of his power. Powder and responsibility should go together. I feel bound, having these convictions, and seeing in this clause a principle entirely contrary to them, to support the Amendment.
§ MR. S. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
I am sometimes almost inclined to doubt the correctness of my own views when they happen to be in accord with those of the honourable Gentleman who has just sat down, but on this occasion his reasons seem to me most excellent ones, and, notwithstanding that he is going into the Lobby in support of the Amendment, I also shall go into the Lobby. I congratulate the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary on having at last given the real reason why he has introduced this sub-clause into the Bill. The reason he gave at first—that he desired to exclude all ministers of religion on the ground of economy—was, if I may say so without infringing Parliamentary rules, mere fossil rubbish. Anyone who looks at this clause can see 493 that the intention is to exclude Roman Catholic priests. The right honourable Gentleman reminds us of the provision which excludes regular ministers from being on boards of guardians, but it is curious that in the very section which he quoted there are words making a property qualification a condition of eligibility for membership of boards of guardians. The right honourable Gentleman changes that point of the section, but wants to adhere to the other. He wants to exclude Raman Catholic priests. My reasons for voting for the Amendment are very simple. I hold the opinion that ministers of religion ought not, because they are ministers of religion, to be deprived of the ordinary rights of citizenship. In England ministers are allowed to sit on boards of guardians and county councils, the reason for eligibility in the latter case being that it was thought, when county councils were going to be formed for England, that it would be a very good thing to get clergymen of a particular denomination upon those councils. It was desired to see clergymen of the Church of England brought into the county councils of this part of the kingdom, just as the Government now desire to exclude the ministers of another religious denomination in Ireland. A good deal has been said of the evil and malign influence exercised by the priests in Ireland. So far as I have been able to observe, the influence of the priests in Ireland depends entirely whether they happen to be on the side of the people. If they are, then the authority they have is exercised because the people look up to them. We remember that the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, himself wrote some time ago a letter, and that it was not attended to by the people of Ireland. Now, if it were true that the priests dominated the people of Ireland, would it not have been found that, when the very head of the Church sent his orders that some particular thing should be done, the people of Ireland would follow the dictates of the Pope? A similar thing as to the exercise of ministerial influence has been said with regard to the Nonconformist ministers of Wales, and we know perfectly well that those ministers only exercise 494 influence where they can be the spokesmen of the people, and can be marshalled on the side of the people; and, so far as I can gather, that is the sole ground for the influence of the priests in Ireland also. I desire that the priests should not be excluded, because I do not think they should be under any religious disabilities at all because they belong to the Roman Catholic religion. Why should they? In this country you have ministers of religion sitting on county councils, and also on benches of magistrates; and, if that be right in England, why should it not be allowed in Ireland if a priest possesses the confidence of the people? What you are doing is not hurting the priests, but depriving the people of a certain number of eligible representatives. It may be that in a particular locality the priest is most eminently fitted to be on the district or county council. Suppose that here it were to be said that a Roman Catholic priest should not be eligible to sit on a school board. I could name over and over again Roman Catholic priests who would be most eligible for these purposes. Could it be said that Cardinal Vaughan would not be a good representative to have on a board of guardians? What would the right honourable Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham have said if it bad been suggested to him a few years ago, for instance, that the Rev. Dr. Dale was not a fit person to be put upon a school board or a board of guardians? If there is any illegitimate influence exercised by a priest at all, and you want to dissipate it, what you have to do is to bring the priest into the arena with the people, and I say that when you do that, and place the priest upon these popularly-elected bodies, you will find that he will demean himself there like an ordinary citizen; and, if he should act differently, his influence, instead of being increased, will be diminished in the eyes of those who in these matters follow him. I strongly support the Amendment.
§ * MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I do not mean to occupy time unduly on this question, but I confess that I should not be satisfied to give a silent vote in favour of the Amendment. It appears to me, from the speech of the 495 Chief Secretary, that what is really the cause for this objectionable clause is the analogy of the clause in the Poor Law Act which the right honourable Gentleman quoted. It is quite true that under that Act regular ministers of religion were excluded from boards of poor law guardians, but it must be recollected that that Act was passed 60 years ago, and that of late years the principles of democracy have been largely extended. But the Chief Secretary, if he has that analogy in support of the clause, forgets that there was no disqualification of ministers for serving on grand juries. I do not think that Catholic clergymen were ever summoned on grand juries, and that very circumstance shows that this clause is aimed especially at the Catholic clergy, though there is very little fear, I think, that they themselves would in many cases solicit election as members of county councils. But I will take the view which has evidently presented itself to the right honourable Gentleman's mind, and that of the honourable and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh—that the Catholic clergy had such an influence upon the laity of Ireland that it would not be safe to have them members of the county councils. But, if they have that wonderful influence, I would put this to the Committee: suppose a Catholic clergyman is elected as a member of a county council or district council, do you suppose he will have such influence at the council board that he will control all the other Catholic members of that board? If he has such influence, do you not think he will exercise it better and more effectually by not being a member of the council? Outside the council he will be able to exercise precisely the same or greater influence. I am convinced that the Catholic clergy, from their knowledge of the wants of their various localities, are likely to be most useful members of a council which is to control the administration of the poor law and the general administration of the county. With regard to the Protestant clergy, in the same way, could there be a more useful member of a county council than the ordinary minis- 496 ters of the Protestant religion in the different parishes where they enjoy the confidence of the electors? Surely the abject of the Government and the Committee ought to be to have county councils consisting of as intelligent and well-informed men as possible; and I would ask whether, in the remoter parts of Ireland, the ministers of religion are not superior to most of the other inhabitants in intelligence and education. It appears to me that this section exposes what is more or less latent throughout the whole of this Bill—that while the Government are anxious to appear to give local government to Ireland, they are really afraid of the policy they are engaged in. It seems as if the Chief Secretary shrinks from his own creation like another Frankenstein, and does not know to what this Bill may lead, or to what abuses the creation of these county councils may lead. I do trust that the Committee will, at all events, show itself independent and liberal enough to follow in this respect the analogy of the English Act. Whenever it suits the right honourable Gentleman's purpose he relies on the English Act as an argument in favour of his clauses, no matter how much they be contested on this side of the House, but whenever it suits his purpose to depart from the analogy of the English Act he is astute enough to discover some remote reason for drawing a distinction. I say this clause is an insult to the whole clergy of Ireland, Protestant and Catholic. I say that the instance given by the honourable Member for Mayo of the Congested Districts Board demonstrates how the Catholic clergy perform public duties when they are required to do so, and that the whole burden will lie upon the Government for the evils which will result from their unreasonable exclusion from the opportunity of doing so under this Bill. The whole object of the Measure is to inaugurate a new order of things, and to produce a council which will inspire the greatest confidence of the people, but the Government are beginning in a bad way by creating a feeling of disgust on the part of so large a section of the community as the ministers of religion.
§ DR. CLARK
I have sat on boards with ministers who have been most valuable members of those bodies. In my own experience a neighbour of mine in the county of Clackmannan has been chairman of that council for the last nine years, has been re-elected time after time, and I have never heard of anything against his conduct in that capacity. Why should not the same state of things exist in Ireland as exists in England and Scotland? Why should the clergy there, be disqualified? The only reason is, I suppose, that the priests in Ireland have too much power over the people. But that is not to say that that power would be exercised in any more baneful way than the power of the English and Scottish clergy is exercised. As far as our poor law boards are concerned, the minis-
§ ters have done remarkably good work, and I can see no reason why there should be this disqualification attached to ministers of religion in Ireland. They ought not to be debarred from sitting on these county councils. It is too late in the day to debar any class of men from public bodies.
That sub-section 1 stand part of the clause.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 146; Noes 68.—(Division List No. 118.)499
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Arnold, Alfred||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Hart||Loder, Gerald Walter E.|
|Baden-Powell, Sit G. Smyth||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Field, William (Dublin)||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Barry, RtHnAHSmith-(Hunts)||Fisher, William Hayes||Macartney, W. G. E.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Maclure, Sir J. W.|
|Beach,Rt.Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Fletcher, Sir Henry||McArthur, C. (Liverpool)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Folkestone, Viscount||McCalmont, Col. J. (Ant'm,E.)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Galloway, William Johnson||McKillop, James|
|Brassey, Albert||Garfit, William||Milbank, Powlett Charles J.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gibbs, Hn.A.G.H.(C.of Lond.)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Butcher, John George||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||More, Robert Jasper|
|Carew, James Laurence||Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs)||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Cavendish, R. F. (Lancs., N.)||Greville, Captain||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Mount, William George|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J. (Birm.)||Hardy, Laurence||Murray, Col. W. (Bath)|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Hayden, John Patrick||Newdigate, Francis Alex.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Heath, James||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hobhouse, Henry||O'Neill, Hon. Robert T.|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Hornby, William Henry||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Callings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice-||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)||Kenyon, James||Purvis, Robert|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. Wm.||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lafone, Alfred||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Lawrence, Sir E. (Cornwall)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Dane, Richard M.||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.||Robertson, Herb. (Hackney)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P.||Legh, Hon. Thos. W. (Lancs)||Round, James|
|Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Thornton, Percy M.||Willoughby de Ereshy, Lord|
|Saunderson, Col. Edw. Jas.||Tollemache, Henry James||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Savory, Sir Joseph||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray||Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W)||Valentia, Viscount||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Ward, Hon. R. A. (Crewe)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Smith, J. Parker (Lanarksh.)||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)||Young, Com. (Berks, E.)|
|Stanley, Lord (Lancs)||Waring, Col. Thomas|
|Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-und.-L.)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Healy, T. M. (Louth, N.)||Pease, J. A. (Northumb.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Caldwell, James||Holland, Hon. Lionel R.||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. C.|
|Carlile, William Walter||Horniman, Frederick John||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.(Caithness-sh.)||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Roche, Hon. J. (Kerry, E.)|
|Collery, Bernard||Jordan, Jeremiah||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Colville, John||Kilbride, Denis||Shaw, Chas. E. (Stafford)|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Shee, James John|
|Crean, Eugene||Macaleese, Daniel||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Daly, James||McDonnell, Dr M.A.(Qn.'sCo.)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||MacNeill, John G. Swift||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Doogan, P. C.||McCartan, Michael||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Doughty, George||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)||Tully, Jasper Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Maden, John Henry||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Mandeville, J. Francis||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Gedge, Sydney||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Murnaghan, George||Younger, William|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Nussey, Thomas Willans||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)||Sir Charles Dilke and Mr.|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||O'Keeffe, Francis Arthur||Dillon.|
§ * MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts,) Mansfield
It is now a quarter to two, and I beg to move that you report Progress. Substantial progress has been made, and in less than 10 hours' time we shall have to be again in our places here. We must have a few hours' rest, and I think that, considering the progress we have made, we are entitled to some consideration from the Government.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I cannot accept that Motion now. If during the next hour we get on there will be nothing to prevent Progress from being reported.
§ DR. CLARK
I think we ought to know how long we are going on; it seems to me that we may be kept here till four or six o'clock. It seems to me to be scandalous in the case of a Bill to 500 which there is not the slightest obstruction, and I think the Government have made a mistake in not better ascertaining and providing for the amount of work to be done. At the very least the Chief Secretary might indicate how far he intends to go before we can go home.
§ Clause 58 added to Bill.