§ Earl Grey
having moved the Order of the Day for the second reading of the Church Temporalities (Ireland) Bill, proceeded to say, that it then became his duty to address their Lordships on the subject of the very important Bill which had already taken up so considerable a portion of their Lordships' time that evening. From what had passed even on the present occasion, it was utterly impossible that he should not be deeply impressed with all the difficulties of the circumstances in which he was placed. Under these difficulties, his consolation and support must be, that the time had at last come when the feelings, and the motives, and the principles, which had governed the proceedings of his Majesty's Ministers might be fairly explained; and when an answer might be made to those imputations which had been thrown out against them, ascribing to them conduct, which was as far removed from their intentions as it would be at variance with the most sacred obliga- 726 tions, both of their private and public duty. He was well aware of the feelings, and the prejudices, from which those imputations arose and he was also aware of the sensitive, and, in many respects, laudable affections which must agitate men's minds on the mere mention of any interference with the institutions of the Established Church. He well knew the dread with which many sincere and conscientious men listened to any proposals for changing what they had been accustomed to regard as sacred. He did not blame those feelings nor wish to diminish them, for he knew that they arose from a virtuous principle, and that, when duly controlled by calm reason, by enlightened policy, and comprehensive charity, they were salutary. God forbid, that he should do violence to them, or in any manner shake or affront them; he would rather, on the contrary, call them to his aid in the discussion of measures, which he could assure their Lordships was brought forward with a sincere desire not to impair or weaken, but by averting the dangers with which it was threatened, to strength, en, to increase, and to uphold the Established Church. To this discussion he would endeavour to address himself in a temper suited to the subject, and if any heat had already manifested itself in the course of the evening, he trusted that none would again be elicited, and that they should act under that sense of duty by which the noble Duke (Duke of Newcastle) had so emphatically recommended them to guide their conduct, and that prepared to act firmly, they would hear patiently, examine calmly, all the grounds on which this measure was proposal. A singular proposition indeed had been made to their Lordships, or rather to the right reverend Bench from the other side of the House, a proposition which would equally preclude taking counsel from the past, and providing for the future. The right reverend Prelates had been called on entirely to shut their eyes to all which had hitherto passed, and to pay no regard to the consideration of future consequences in deciding upon this question. The doctrine to be addressed to their Lordships was a most extraordinary one; and those who had adopted it must, he conceived, have done so without having properly weighed it. They adopted as their maxim the motto "fiat justitia ruat cœlum;" they wished to oppose improvement without regarding the consequences, and to decide upon the question without reference to the 727 interests of the Church, or the welfare of the country. This was a somewhat extraordinary recommendation to give to an Assembly of Statesmen, to a deliberative body, whose duty it was, to look at the consequences of past legislation and examine all its probable bearings in future. He would advise their Lordships to approach the discussion deliberately, to weigh and well consider all that was proposed, to take into view all the bearings and consequences of the measure, before they decided upon its adoption or rejection. That was what he would recommend them to do, and not, as the noble Duke recommended, give no hearing to the arguments which were to be advanced on the one side or upon the other. He trusted they would proceed to the consideration of the important question both as Statesmen and Legislators, that they would view with due anxiety the circumstances in which the Church establishment of Ireland was placed, and what alterations might be requisite to be made in it, and endeavour, so far as they could consistently with their other obligations, to avert the evils and dangers which threatened its security. Having premised thus much, he would proceed to state at once to the House the abject of the present measure. He had before stated, and he would again state, that the objects which his Majesty's Ministers contemplated in framing this measure were threefold, but that its main object was to effect such alterations in the Church Establishment of Ireland as the present circumstances seemed to render necessary. Did such necessity exist? For answer he would bid them look at the state of affairs in Ireland—he would bid them recall the various deliberations which had taken place in Parliament on the subject, and then say whether it was not in consequence of various abuses, that the Church establishment in Ireland was encompassed with dangers, and whether, it was not their duty, by removing the abuses, to lessen the dangers. Could any reasonable man, looking at the present state of affairs in Ireland, say that some measure was not necessary? And if danger was threatened, and if no man could say abuses did not exist, why refuse to endeavour by kindly methods to remove some of those grievances which occasioned general discontent, and diminished the security of the Church? In the beginning of the Session his Majesty, in his most gracious Speech, in adverting to the condition of the English and Irish Church recommended Parliament to ap- 728 proach the consideration of those important subjects with calmness and deliberation. His Majesty said, "In your deliberations on these important subjects, it cannot be necessary for me to impress upon you the duty of carefully attending to the security of the Church established by law in these realms, and to the true interests of religion." In that spirit of salutary caution did his Majesty, in his paternal benevolence, wish them to consider the subject, and in that same spirit he adjured their Lordships to discuss the measure then before them. With respect to the Church of Ireland more particularly, his Majesty said, "I recommend to you, in conjunction with such other amendments of the law, as may be found applicable to that part of my dominions, the adoption of a measure by which, upon the principle of a just commutation, the possessors of land may be enabled to free themselves from the burthen of an annual payment." To this last recommendation he (Lord Grey), in the first place, intended to call the attention of their Lordships, and in doing so he could not avoid saying a few words on the arguments founded on the Union of the Churches of England and Ireland, and on a pretended violation of the Act of Union, by the introduction of the present measure. It was acknowledged on all hands that the Church of England and of Ireland was established by law, but he had vet to learn that the Act of Union precluded the Legislature from making such alterations in the general distribution of the Church Temporalities as might be applicable to and consistent with the interests of both those Churches. Was the Act of Union to bind down the Legislature against ever effecting any alteration which might tend to the benefit of the Church itself? It was the necessity of adopting some measures for the security of the Church which his Majesty felt when, on the advice of his Ministers, he ordered them to introduce the present Bill into the other House of Parliament. His Majesty, he repeated, was then convinced of the necessity for adopting some provisions for the security of the Church—a conviction which was almost universally entertained. On this subject he would quote an authority which pleased him the more because it emanated from a political opponent; but, though an opponent—a man than whom he respected none more sincerely—he alluded to an opinion delivered in the other House of Parliament when this measure was first in- 729 troduced by a distinguished Member of that House, in reference to something being necessary to effect an alteration in the temporalities of the Church of Ireland, and which was to this effect:—' He admitted, that the time was now come when the whole state of that Church must undergo an enlarged and comprehensive consideration. The time had come when it was desirable that it should undergo that consideration, not so much for the purpose of conciliating any party hostile to the Church, but for the purpose of determining whether anything could be done to add to its stability and security. He had come down prepared to consider favourably any plan which might tend to correct the abuses of the Church—such as the holding of pluralities, the duties of which could not be satisfactorily discharged by the individuals holding them, or the conversion into sinecures of functions which ought to be actively discharged. He was prepared to receive, favourably, any scheme of Reform, which, whatever might be its tendency to diminish the utility of the Church as a source of patronage to Government, might tend to propagate and extend the blessings of the Protestant faith.'* That was a statement recommending the immediate consideration of the subject before the House; but if he wished to go further, he might cite in his favour the testimony of the highest authorities of the Church itself—the testimony of Prelates, who had expressed a sense of the dangers surrounding the establishment, and an earnest desire to concur in such alterations as were demanded by the interests and advantages of the Church. Such was the object of the present measure, and such were the authorities he could cite in support of the views of his Majesty's Ministers. They were convinced, that this necessary work could now no longer be delayed, and their chief regret on the subject was, that it had been delayed so long. He had referred to some authorities, but if other and stronger reasons were necessary for the adjustment of this question, he might cite the vast majorities which, in the other House of Parliament, had supported this measure in every stage [cries of "Oh, oh!" and "No."] If any noble Lords thought him out of order, they ought to rise and state their opinions, and not interrupt him in that unusual manner.
The Earl of Guildford
said, that the* Hansard (third series) xv. p. 600.730 present did not seem to be a fit time to quote those divisions with a view of influencing their Lordships judgment.
§ Earl Grey
It surely could not be considered an improper time to show the general feeling which prevailed as to the necessity of taking the question into serious consideration, with the view to the interest of the Church itself. He certainly did not mean to refer to those divisions for the purpose of controlling their Lordships' decision, but there was some respect due to the decisions of the House of Commons, which would not allow their Lordships to disregard a strong expression of its opinion. Their Lordships might feel themselves obliged to adopt a different conclusion; but the knowledge of the opinions of the other House before rejecting a measure sent up from it, should induce their Lordships most carefully to weigh and consider it. More than that he did not contend for. To give force to that view he was about to quote the votes of the other House when he met with what he must call an improper interruption. He would then proceed to refer to the votes of the House of Commons as laid on their Lordships' Table, and as official documents to which no objection could be taken. On the first division which took place on the second reading of the first Bill in that House, there were 187 Ayes, and 46 Noes; leaving a majority of more than 4 to 1. On the second reading of the new Bill, on the 6th of May, (for the first was withdrawn in consequence of an informality) there appeared Ayes 317, Noes 78; leaving a majority of 4 to 1. After the Bill had gone through Committee, the last division, on the question that the Bill do pass, showed 274 Ayes, and 94Noes, a majority of nearly 3 to 1—though in this last division, as their Lordships would recollect, the Minority was made up of those who thought the Bill went too far, and also of many of those who voted for the principle of the Bill, but voted against it on the third reading, because that it did not go far enough, and was a pure delusion. Here, then, was a case almost unexampled in Parliamentary history, that while the progress of the Bill was so much contested, the majorities in favour of it were never less than three to one, and in some instances four to one. There were two other divisions on the subject, the first of which, on the Church property Clause, was more than eight to one; the numbers being Aves 126. Noes 16, and the last upon some other clauses, in which the numbers 731 were, Ayes 177, Noes 86 being a Majority of two to one. Their Lordships would do well to take these facts into consideration in forming an idea of the necessity of taking some steps to secure the Protestant Church in Ireland. He would next advert to the provisions of the Bill adopted by the other House of Parliament, and conceived, as he had said, by the Ministers, with the best intentions, for the purpose of securing and maintaining the Irish Church Establishment. The objects to be accomplished by the Bill were first the removal of an injurious tax which pressed heavily on the people, occasioning great complaint and animosity, and which, more than any other cause, promoted the spirit of insubordination and violence which existed in Ireland, and which was fraught with danger to the best institutions of the State as well as to the best interests of the Church; the second was a more equal distribution of the temporalities of the Church by the augmentation of small livings; and the third was, to provide means for the building and repairing Churches and glebe houses, thereby securing the residence of the Protestant clergyman and promoting the Protestant faith. These were all objects of the greatest importance to the Church itself. In the first place, then, the Bill abolished the Church-cess, intended by the Act of the 47th of George 3rd to provide for the repairs of the Church, but which had been proved by experience, as was well known to all who attended to Irish affairs, to be a fertile source of evil, occasioning dissension and discord such as were never he believed before created by so small a sum of money as the amount of the tax levied. On this point too he could refer to the; highest authorities to show, that an absolute necessity existed to repeal this tax. Even the primate of Ireland, and the clergy of the diocess of Armagh, had admitted, in petitions lately presented to the House, the necessity of the abolition of the Vestry-cess, and they stated, that they would not object to such a diminution of their income as was essential to the maintenance of the Church Establishment, getting rid of those assessments, if it should appear to Parliament that such assessments were a source of disunion, dissension, and strife. That was an opinion of a high authority, in favour of putting an end to the Church-cess. He could also refer to an opinion in favour of this part of the measure, expressed by the same distinguished Member of the other House, to whom he had before referred, as 732 expressing an opinion in favour of some measure of Church Reform. Sir Robert Peel said, on February 12th 'He was prepared—and he now only repeated those sentiments which he had expressed in the last Parliament—he was prepared, he repeated, to admit that he thought that no settlement of the question relating to the Church would be satisfactory and consistent with the safety and security of the Establishment, which did not involve an arrangement on the subject of Churchcess, and Vestry Rates. He thought that it would be an immense advantage to remove the Protestant Church in Ireland from contact and collision with the Catholic peasant. As the landed property of that Church was chiefly in the possession of Protestants, he saw no injustice in placing upon the Protestant holders of land in fee those charges which both law and equity imposed, and to which the Church had as much right as the landlords of Ireland had to the enjoyment of their property. Even if they should succeed in removing all complaints arising out of the exaction of tithes from the Roman Catholic tenant of the Protestant landlord, they must not suppose that their arrangements would be complete unless they also released the Roman Catholic tenant from the payment of Church-cess. Though the amount of that cess was not great, yet it would be considered a still more aggravated grievance than it was at present if it should be retained after tithes were abolished.' * That this tax had been the cause of discontent and agitation, of bitter complaint, and even of violence, and was much to be lamented, no man attending even casually to the passing events of the day could doubt, and the only question really remaining was as to the best means to be adopted for its removal. The Bill now proposed to their Lordships presented this remedy, but the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Buckingham) had urged that it amounted to spoliation, because it went to appropriate some part of the property and revenues of the Church for the purposes of relieving the people from this impost, and put an end to the violence and outrages of which it was the cause. The noble Duke might, of course, characterise the measure as he pleased, but if that were spoliation which promised such beneficial consequences, he could only say, that the noble Duke would convert him* Hansard (new series), xv. p. 601.733 into an advocate for spoliation. The next object for which the Bill professed to provide was the augmentation of small livings; which, it could not be denied, was of immense importance to the welfare of the Church. It would be completely consistent with the object for which the Church revenues were granted, that some portion of the revenues, at present so unequally distributed, should be applied (and from such an application it could not surely be said any violence was perpetrated) to augment the stipends of those who had laborious duties to perform, and yet were suffering in penury and with incomes hardly sufficient to maintain a decent existence. This was an evil which had been urged as a reproach by the enemies of the church, and for which a remedy was recommended by its best friends. The last object of the Bill was the building of Churches and glebe-houses, in addition to which, of course, provision was contained in the Bill for effecting necessary and proper repairs. It must be obvious to their Lordships, that such a provision was so immediately necessary, with a view to the best interests of the Church, that it would he superfluous for him to endeavour to persuade their Lordships to coincide in that which seemed to be so established a proposition he would, in the next place, call their Lordships' attention to that proposition which seemed most likely to be most warmly contested—ho alluded to the conversion into perpetuities of the leases held by tenants under the Bishops. This proposition in the Bill he could not think would be opposed as an act of spoliation. Nothing would be taken from the Church—on the contrary, all the revenues which the Bishops now enjoyed from those leases would be fully secured to them. It was also clear, supposing that anything were taken from the Bishops, it must be so small, that, with their remaining revenues, the Bishops of Ireland would be amply and sufficiently provided for, not only for the proper and lit execution of their duties, but also to maintain themselves in that situation and condition entitling them to that respect he should wish to see continued towards them. He felt that this was of great importance both to the country and to the church itself, the Bishops would lose nothing, the Church would gain much—gain both by the manner in which the proceeds of the sale of the Perpetuities was to be applied, and by the stimulus which the conversion would give to industry and 734 trade. He was aware it had been considered generally, and had been so stated, that Bishop's leases were nearly as good as perpetuities, but the difference between the value of one and the other was apparent from a comparison of the state of different lands at the present moment. It was an observation almost proverbial in Ireland, that yon might know from the state of cultivation, in merely passing through the country, which were the lands held under Bishops' leases, and which were those held in perpetuity. This was a conclusive proof that tenures under Bishops' leases were not regarded in the same light as tenures in perpetuity; and the cause was obvious, for no man not holding a freehold in the property, would have the same inducement to improve the estate as the individual who might possess the freehold. He would say, therefore, that tills proposed alteration was not only a boon to the Church itself, in securing it against those causes of complaint which had created agitation amongst its enemies, and which had been deplored by its best friends; but would also be greatly advantageous to the community itself, by affording employment to that active and industrious people—the people of Ireland, whose want of employment had over and over again been stated to be the cause of those evils which that country had suffered for so many years. He was at a loss to conceive any cause of opposition to this part of the Bill, and though he would admit it would be an alienation from the Church, yet the alienation was to be applied to Church purposes. He was aware that a great deal of dispute had arisen upon this point, and that it had been stated that by limiting this proposition, the best principle of the Bill had been sacrificed. To that proposition or statement he could not subscribe, and, on the contrary, he would state that so far from any interest being sacrificed by (hat alteration (to which he was ready to consent, in order to remove objections, and which he thought was a wise course, when it could be followed without any injury to the efficiency of the measure) the reverse would prove to be the fact. The alteration involved no part of the principle of the Bill, but avoided the declaration of a principle which had been sedulously excluded from the Bill, for the Government were anxious to avoid the assertion of abstract principles of right, and the discussion of a point on which so much diversity of opinion prevailed, us, whether the property of the Church could be taken and 735 applied to purposes other than Church purposes. The time might come when this topic could properly be discussed, and should such a period arrive, he hoped—nay was satisfied—that their Lordships would meet and discuss the point with perfect fairness and candour. At present, however, he saw no reason for entering upon that discussion, for, after consideration, it had been decided that this new value given to Church property could be disposed of more properly by a future Parliament. In alienating in the manner proposed, the property affected by the part of the Bill he had referred to, it could not be said, that there was any departure from principle, or anything approaching to injustice. He had, however, some examples and precedents of similar alienations of Church property, which he begged to quote in support of the present Bill. It could not be forgotten by their Lordships that two years ago a Bill had passed through their Lordships' House, under the sanction of a right reverend Prelate, and which another right reverend Prelate supported, by which part of the property of the Chapter of Durham was sold for the purpose of establishing a college in that diocess. He had subscribed to the propriety of such an application of the revenues, and to the benevolence of the object in view; and no man gave more credit than he did to the right reverend Prelate for the liberality he had manifested upon that occasion; and he would further state, that, as in this instance, the property of the Church might, without any breach of the Coronation Oath, be yielded up with immense advantage to the Church itself, by the consequent promotion of good, moral, and religious education of the community. He thought he was sanctioned by this precedent alone, in applying the same principle in the same way, and in calling upon their Lordships to consent to a measure so strictly warranted of the part of the Legislature, and which observed the rights of the Church as a Corporation, while it paid a proper attention to the interests of the religious establishments of the country. He was convinced that the alienation proposed by the Bill would be a great advantage to the Church itself and to the community at large, and that his Majesty, in giving his assent to it, had not in any manner violated his coronation oath, nor had his Ministers, in advising him so to do, lost sight of their duty to the Church or their duty to the country. The next point in the Bill to which he now had arrived was 736 one to which he was afraid, from what he had heard, still greater objections would be raised. He meant the reduction of the number of Bishops. It was proposed by the Bill, that as soon as certain bishoprics should fall vacant, they should be united to other sees, by which means the number of bishoprics in Ireland would be reduced from twenty-two, the present number of bishoprics in Ireland, to twelve. On principle nothing could be offered against and in opposition to this reduction, provided it should be found to be expedient. It was by the view of expediency—a word which the noble Duke opposite would now proscribe—a word which grated on the ear of the noble Duke, and which the noble Duke, it would now appear, abominated—that he (Earl Grey) was actuated in this reduction. He was prepared also to show, that there was nothing in law, in right, in principle, nor even in usage, to prevent the adoption by their Lordships of this measure, provided it was shown that it was expedient; and what their Lordships had to consider was, whether that reduction was expedient in reference to the general interests of the Church and the community at large. With reference to the number of Bishops, he must remind their Lordships, that in Ireland the number had never been uniform up to the time of the Union. The number had once been no less than thirty-three, and from that had fallen below the number at which they at present stood, and the alterations had been effected both on different principles and in different modes. The present number of Irish Bishops, however, was twenty-two, and each see consisted of several unions of dioceses made at different times, under different circumstances, and by different parties. He should show their Lordships, that they were not only at liberty to deal with this subject, but even further, that but for an Article in the Act of Union, regulating the relative number of Irish Bishops to sit in that House, it might be regulated by his Majesty without the interference of the Legislature at all. He had found that, in two instances, the union of dioceses had been effected by acts of Parliament. The archdiocess of Cashel and the bishopric of Emly were united by an Act passed in the 11th year of Elizabeth, and, being a private statute, was not of record, but its title was to be found in Ball's Index to be "an Act for uniting the bishopric of Emly with the archbishopric of Cashel, passed in the 11th year of the reign of Elizabeth." The next union of 737 sees was in the case of Meath and Clonmacnoise, which took place in the 11th year of the same reign, also by a statute, the title of which was to be found also in Ball's Index under the authority of Pope Eugene 4th, the diocess of Down and Connor were united in the year 1441, and that union was sanctioned by Henry 6th, under his letters patent, now on record in the Tower of London. The diocesses of Waterford and Lismore were consolidated in 1316, by Pope Urban 5th in the same way; and the sees of Cork and Ross had been held together since 1678, in commendam, without being otherwise united. So also, in 1660, with the sees of Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe, with Clonfert and Kilmacduagh; and with Killala and Achonry in 1667. In 1645 the sees of Ardagh and Tuam were held in commendam, and in 1752 Killaloe and Kilfenora were so held, though never before united. From the precedents which he had now stated, it appeared, that the bishoprics of Ireland could be united and held in commendam, by the authority of the Crown alone without the interference of the Legislature, precisely in the same way as was proposed by the Bill then before their Lordships. He had called the attention of their Lordships to those facts in order to show that the diminution of the Bishops by unions of sees, where the interests of the Church would not suffer, was a measure warranted by experience, and by precedent, and was not inconsistent with law; and then the question came merely to one point, whether the diminution proposed by the Bill was expedient. If that expediency were proved, as he thought it would be, it would be sufficient to induce their Lordships to give their consent to the proposal which had been made. He had already said, that the number of Bishops had been higher as well as lower than at present. The number now was twenty-two, while, in the reign of James 1st, the number was eighteen, comprising four Archbishops and fourteen Bishops; and of that number it was worth attention, that many of the unions of sees then existing were the same as it was proposed to make in the present Bill. The 43rd clause of the Bill proposed, in the first place, to unite the dioceses of Kilmore and Ardagh, both of which were held together from the year 1003 to 1727, with the exception of a short interval in the years 1693 and 1694. The dioceses of Cork and Cloyne were united from the year 1401 to the year 1553, and the sees of Cork, Cloyne, 738 and Ross, were united from the year 1638 to the year-1673. It was proposed by the Bill to unite the dioceses of Derry and Raphoe. Now, those dioceses were held by the same Bishop from the year 1605 to the year 1610; and with them was also united the bishopric of Clogher. It was proposed in the Bill to unite the diocess of Down and connor with Dromore. Dromore had been formerly annexed to the diocess of Down and Connor from 1606 to 1611, and, subsequently, after the Restoration, from 1660 to 1667. It was proposed by the Bill to unite the diocess of Waterford and Lismore with Cashel and Emly. These dioceses had been united at two different periods, from the year 1552 to 1589 and from 1592 to 1607. It appeared, then, that, of the unions proposed to be established by the Bill, five had hitherto existed; and with that evidence before them, the expediency of the measure being once proved, their Lordships had a perfect right, without the infraction or contravention of any principle whatever, to pass a measure for the due regulation of the number of bishoprics in Ireland. He would contend, upon the evidence that he had produced, that they had full authority upon precedent, if they should so think lit, to reduce and consolidate the number of bishoprics in Ireland. It was indeed said, that the Union provided for the maintenance of the Irish Church, but he denied that the Article of the Union which was relied on stood the least in the way of the regulation proposed by the Bill. The right of the Legislature to interfere with the number of Bishops being proved, he came next to the question of the expediency of the reduction proposed. The question was, could ton Bishops be taken from the number now existing in Ireland without detriment to the interests of the Irish Established Church, or without detriment to the spiritual wants of those persons who were the objects of the care of that Church? In addressing himself to that part of the subject, he thought that in common with their Lordships he should derive some advantage from comparing the number of Bishops in Eng-land with the duties which they had to perform, with the number of Bishops in Ireland and the duties which they had to discharge. In England there were, in all, twenty-six,—namely, two Archbishops, and twenty-four Bishops. He would just state the number of benefices which were under their charge, as it was given in a return laid before the House of Commons in 739 1833, premising, that he believed it was rather short of the number that had been returned to the ecclesiastical commissioners. According to that return, the total number of benefices under the charge and superintendence of the Bishops in England was 10,533. A right reverend Prelate near him suggested, that they were upwards of 11,000, and he believed that such was the fact; but he would take the lowest estimate, in order that the comparison he was now instituting should be made to the greatest possible advantage of the Church of Ireland. There were twenty-two Bishops in Ireland, while the total number of Bishops in England, as he had already staled, was only twenty-six. Now, if they looked to the mere superficies of the two countries and to the number of benefices in each sec, the disparity must be evident; but if they looked to the comparative amount of population to whose spiritual wants those Bishops had respectively to minister, the disparity between the number of Bishops in the two countries would be found to be still greater. The population of England, he believed, was about 12,000,000, and on a former occasion it had been stated, by a right reverend Prelate, that the members of the Established Church formed two-thirds, or 8,000,000.
The Bishop of London
They form three-fourths; indeed, I should say more than three-fourths, of the whole population of the country.
§ Earl Grey
was inclined to concur in the statement of the right reverend prelate, but he would, on the present occasion, and for the purposes of the argument he was adducing, take them at two-thirds, though he certainly believed that they at least amounted to three-fourths of the population of England. It appeared, then, that they had in England twenty-six Bishops, for administering a Church with 8,000,000 of persons. Now, in Ireland, there were twenty-two Bishops, and according to the last census of the population of Ireland, taken in 1831, the amount of the whole population of that country was 7,784,536, and he believed, that the total amount of the members of the Established Church in Ireland could not be fairly stated at more than 1,000,000 of persons. They had, therefore, in Ireland twenty-two Bishops to superintend the spiritual wants of 1,000,000, while in England twenty-six Bishops performed the same duty for a population of not less than 8,000,000, Then let them look at the respective num- 740 ber of benefices in the two countries. He had already stated, that the number of benefices in England under the care of those twenty-six Bishops was 10,000 and odd. The right reverend Prelate had stated (and no doubt he was correct in the statement), that there were upwards of 11,000. But the number of benefices in Ireland under the charge and superintendence of the twenty-two Bishops was 1,456, and if from that number they were to subtract such as were sinecures, and to which no cure of souls was attached, they would reduce the amount to 1,306. It appeared, then, that twenty-six Bishops in England were charged with the superintendence of about 11,000 benefices, while twenty-two Bishops in Ireland had under their charge only 1,456. Now, what was the proportion which the duties that devolved upon each Bishop in Ireland bore to the amount of duties with which each individual Bishop was charged in England It appeared, from a comparison of the returns to which he had already referred, that while each Bishop in England had on the average to superintend 370,000 members of the Church, and 400 benefices, each Bishop in Ireland had only on an average 45,500 members of the Church, and sixty-six benefices to attend to. Notwithstanding this great disparity, he was sure it would not be said by any one, that the duties which devolved upon Bishops were better or more efficiently performed in the Church of Ireland than they were in the Church of England. If the number of Bishops in Ireland were reduced to the number proposed by the Bill, each Bishop there would have only 83,000 persons and 121 benefices to attend to, which was less than one-fourth of the amount of population that each Bishop in England had to superintend, and scarcely more than one-fourth of the benefices that were under his charge. Suppose even that the number of Bishops in Ireland should be reduced to four the did not wish or propose a reduction to that extreme amount; but as this had been put forward as a strong objection to the measure, he would carry the comparison he was instituting between the two Churches to the extreme point)—suppose, he repeated, that the number of Bishops in Ireland was reduced to four, still there would be confined to the superintendence of each Bishop a smaller number of members of the Church, und of benefices, than was committed to the care of each Bishop in England. Each Bishop in Ireland would then 741 have 250,000 member of the Church and 364 benefices to superintend. It could hardly, then, under such circumstances, be maintained, that twenty-two Bishops were necessary for administering to the spiritual wants of the members of the Church of Ireland; and he thought it would be equally impossible, in the face of such facts, to contend, that the number proposed by the Bill would be too small for the government of the Church of Ireland. He thought, consistently with the interests of the Church of Ireland, that it would not be necessary to retain more than twelve Bishops in that country. He had already compared the Established Church in this country with the Established Church in Ireland; but, if they would compare a particular see in England with the Church of Ireland, the disparity would appear to be still greater. The single see of Lincoln contained almost as many benefices as were to be found in the whole of Ireland. The number in Ireland was 1,456; and if from that number they took those to which no cure of souls was attached, the total would only amount as he had already mentioned, to 1,306. Now, in the diocese of Lincoln alone the number of benefices was 1,273, being within thirty-three of the whole number of benefices in Ireland. It would scarcely be said, that the number of Bishops in England was too small; he had never heard a complaint made to that effect. He was ready to admit, that the present arrangement of the dioceses in England might be improved, that arrangement might be amended, and that the dioceses might be better distributed in this country, so as to reduce the amount of labour where it was too great upon some Bishops, and to increase it where it was at present too small upon others. But he conceived, that twenty-six Bishops, if properly distributed, were amply sufficient to attend to the spiritual wants of the members of the Church in this country, and he had never heard it contended, that they were too few. He would say, then, that it was inexpedient to keep up such a number of Bishops in Ireland, the utility of which was not apparent; and when the utility of so many was not apparent, he would maintain, that it would be for the advantage and interest of the Church of Ireland that their number should be reduced. He thought, that without reducing the number of Bishops in Ireland below the amount that was necessary for attending to the spiritual wants of the members of the Church there, the Bill 742 proposed to remove from the establishment in that country what had always been a reproach to it in the eyes of the people, and to do that which had been long called for by the most sincere friends of the Church of Ireland. He did not think, that the income of the Bishops in Ireland should be reduced, in any instance, below 4,000l. a-year, which was the minimum fixed by the Bill. The measure in that respect did not aim at perfect equality; at the same time he thought, that means should be taken to remove that immense disparity in value which was to be observed between different sees, not only in Ireland, but in England, and which was the cause of so much odium to the Church and of imputations being frequently cast upon the Bishops of both countries. Upon all the grounds he had enumerated, a reduction, which he considered a safe reduction, of the number of Bishops in Ireland, was proposed by the Bill, and it was further proposed, that the revenues arising from the sees that were to be so reduced should be applied to purposes connected with the Church, and which were specified in the measure now before their Lordships. He would next come to a much disputed part of this measure—he meant the tax which it proposed to impose upon all future incumbents of livings in Ireland. He was aware, that this was a part of the measure which had created a great sensation, and he was equally well aware, that very serious objections had been urged against that particular part of the measure. He understood the noble Duke opposite, to allude particularly to that part of the Bill when he spoke of the measure as one of spoliation. The point which their Lordships had to consider was, whether or not they were competent to entertain a proposition for diverting certain revenues of the Church of Ireland, without injury or injustice to that Church, from the purposes to which they were now applied, and applying them to other services connected with that church. That their Lordships were competent to legislate upon such a point was by no means a new principle—it had been asserted and acted upon before. He did not mean to say, that he agreed with those who said, that all the property of the Church was public property, disposable to whatever purposes Parliament might think fit. He would not canvass that opinion at all on the present occasion, he would merely observe, that that question was not raised by the measure now before their Lordships. The Bill, without divert- 743 ing the revenues of the Church to any purposes that were not ecclesiastical, proposed to apply a portion of them to purposes which had long been contemplated by persons whose station and authority, when he should name them to the House, would show, that they were not likely to act under feelings or upon principles adverse to the interests of the Established Church in Ireland. He would beg, in the first place, to state, that in the year 1832 the evils of the Church-cess in Ireland were so strongly felt, and the dangers arising from it were so imminent, that at a meeting which was then held of the clergy of the diocese of Derry, a resolution was carried recommending the abolition of the Church-cess, and that provision should be made for it out of the Church funds, including a new valuation of the first-fruits. There was a proposition for imposing a tax upon the Church, and the noble Duke opposite had characterized the present measure as one of spoliation, because it acted upon a principle thus laid down by the clergy of the diocese of Derry. He was glad to see the noble Lord opposite (Lord Maryborough) in his place, as he was about to refer to matters some of which occurred when he was Secretary for Ireland. It was known, that several propositions had been made from time to time for establishing an extensive system of education in Ireland, and for providing means for supporting it. Their Lordships were aware, that by the 10th of Henry 8th it was provided, that every clergyman in Ireland, in charge of a benefice, should keep, or cause to be kept, a school in that benefice, defraying the cost out of his stipend. Their Lordships would observe, that there was no stipulation made as to the amount to be paid by the clergyman. Since the passing of that Statute every clergyman in Ireland, on his induction to a benefice, was obliged to take an oath that he would keep or cause to be kept a school in his parish, as prescribed by the Statute in question. Now, let them see how far that obligation had been complied with. In the year 1787 it was recommended from the Throne that some regular and comprehensive plan for the general improvement of education should be established in Ireland, and Mr. Orde, the then Secretary for Ireland, in proposing a measure with that view, stated, in his speech on that occasion, that since the passing of the 10th of Henry 8th scarcely any minister had complied with the terms of the Act, but that a contribution of 40s. from each minister towards the maintenance 744 of a school had been uniformly considered by them as a compliance with the obligation imposed upon them by the oath they had taken. Mr. Orde then said, that taking 40s. as an amount to guide him, he would propose, that towards the maintenance of schools throughout the country, a contribution of 40s. should be levied on all livings not worth more than 150l. a-year., that upon all worth 200l. and not worth 300l. a-year, 3l. per annum should be imposed; and that 6d. in the 1l. should be levied on all livings with more than 300l. a-year. Here, then, was a direct proposition to tax the clergy. He would now refer their Lordships to the 14th Report of the Commissioners of the Board of Education in Ireland. It was made, he believed, in 1812. The Commissioners were the late Primate of Ireland, the Archbishop of Cashel, the Bishop of Killaloe, the Bishop of Ferns, and Mr. Leslie Foster, now one of the Barons of the Exchequer in Ireland. Their Lordships would not say, that those were persons likely to consent to a violation of the rights, or a spoliation of the property, of the Church. What did the Commissioners say? That, for the support of parochial schools in an adequate manner, it was impossible to look to the contributions of the clergy alone, notwithstanding that it was desirable their contributions should be paid with more regularity; however, the Commissioners thought it not unreasonable that the clergy should be rated towards the support of the schools to the extent of two per cent upon their incomes, the amount to be ascertained and determined by the Bishops. Here, then, was a direct proposal to impose a tax upon the incomes of the clergy for the general purposes of education,—a proposition which was made by individuals, neither unfriendly to, nor prejudiced against, the Church, but directly the reverse. In 1811 the noble Lord to whom he had just now alluded, introduced a Bill into the House of Commons on this subject, and in doing so referred to the last Report of the Commissioners of Education in Ireland, which gave an unfavourable account of the state of the parochial schools established under the Act of Elizabeth, and which the clergy were bound to keep up. 'It was a most important fact,' said the noble Lord, 'that up to this day, no 'clergyman could be inducted into a living 'in Ireland without taking an oath, that he 'would keep or cause to be kept a school 'within his parish; instead, however, of 'keeping a school, the usual course was 745 'for the clergy man to pay 40s. a-year to some person to keep a school, or put the money in his pocket, just as he pleased. * Out of 1,120 parishes, 827 had sent Reports to the Board of Education, and of these only 361 had parochial schools. In 1809, the Commissioners stated in their Report, that in 736 benefices from which Reports had been sent in, there were 549 schools. In the latter instance the matter appeared to be so far upon a better footing, but the improvement was only in appearance. It appeared, that the schools were not well regulated. The noble Lord concluding his remarks, said.— That he had no hesitation, however, in saying, in this early stage of the business, that in considering how this matter was to be brought to bear, he should look to the oath taken by the Protestant clergymen; and see whether they ought not to a certain degree, to bear the expense of the Establishment.'† Here was a plain proposal to tax the clergy for a purpose not directly Connected with the maintenance of the Church. In 1813, the noble Lord stated, that 'in presenting his Bill in 1811, he had looked to the parish schools as the foundation upon which a general system of education of the lower orders could be best erected, and he then declared, that he thought the clergy should contribute a part of the funds which would be necessary. He was glad to find the principle on which he proposed to act, in some degree recognized by the Board of Education. In the Appendix to the 14th Report they recommended 2s. in the pound to be assessed on each clergyman for the support of the parish schools.‡ Here was a proposal to tax the clergy proceeding from a quarter perfectly clear from all suspicion of unfriendly or hostile feelings towards the Church. Further, he would quote a very high authority. Dr. Magee, late Archbishop of Dublin, who, on his examination before the Select Committee of 1825, distinctly admitted the reasonableness of the principle of rating clergymen to the extent of two per cent on their incomes for the support of parochial schools. The recommendation of the Commissioners of the Board of Education was mentioned to him, and he was asked if he concurred in it. His answer was—"I do." Here, then, were sanctions to the principle of that part of the measure, and* Hansard, vol. xx. p. 149.† Hansard, vol, xx. p. 150.‡ Hansard, vol. xxv, p, 267.746 with these sanctions to the principle of a rate or tax on the clergy for purposes conducive to the public interest in quite as great a degree as to the interest of the Church, he asked whether in proposing to substitute for the first fruits a different tax on the incomes of incumbents, he was fairly liable to be charged with an act of spoliation? But the soundness of the principle for which he contended would be still plainer when they considered what was the nature and origin of the first fruits, Their Lordships were well aware that the first fruits were originally a tax of one year's income (and was still supposed to be such) imposed on the incumbent's induction to a benefice, and which, by law, was payable by instalments in four years. Was this tax levied for church purposes? No such thing. It was first levied by the Pope for the maintenance of his temporal authority elsewhere. After the Reformation, the right to levy this tax was transferred to the Crown by an act of the Legislature, which according to Black-stone, considered the tax due to the King of England, inasmuch as he had become head of the Church instead of the Pope. Under this title the first fruits were held by the successors of Henry 8th, down to the period when it was converted exclusively to Church purposes, as "Queen Anne's bounty." Originally, then, the first fruits was a tax raised not for church purposes, but for temporal objects; and not until the period referred to, when it was very properly set aside for the augmentation of small livings, and the building of churches and glebe-houses, did the first fruits cease to be part of the revenue of the State, applicable to public purposes. The first fruits were granted by Queen Anne for the augmentation of small livings in England, and for the building of churches and glebe-houses in Ireland. The fund clearly arose from a tax on the clergy, and the new tax was proposed as a substitution for the first fruits. Noble Lords might say, that the first fruits were not susceptible of increase, while the present tax might be augmented, and might extend further than the first fruits. In England, certainly, the valuation of livings could not he increased, because it was specially provided by Act of Parliament that there should be no new valuation, but no such provision existed with respect to Ireland. Sir John Newport, to whose virtues and merits it was impossible for him to do adequate justice, whose long life had been devoted to the further- 747 ance of the public good, who had never swerved from his duty, or been influenced by private or selfish motives, and who pursued every object he undertook with unwearied zeal and ability; that right hon. Baronet had frequently brought the subject of the first fruits before Parliament, and always contended that there was a right of revaluation, which might be effected by the King's commission. Considerable difference of opinion, however, existed on this subject. In 1822, on an application for a revaluation by Mr. Shaw Mason, one of the patentees of the office of clerk of the first fruits in Ireland, the subject was taken into consideration. Mr. Allen, a counsel of considerable eminence and authority, expressed an opinion decidedly favourable to a new valuation: it was true his noble friend behind him (Lord Plunkett), who was at that time Attorney General, and Mr. Joy, the Solicitor-General gave opinions the contrary way; but the opinion of the Solicitor General was expressly limited to the right of the patentee, and, as well as he recollected, it admitted the power of the Crown to direct a new valuation: his noble friend's opinion, he believed, was more doubtful on that point. The subject having been revived, the opinions of the present Attorney and Solicitor General were taken, and they were decidedly against the power of the Crown to issue a Commission for a new valuation, with this reserve, that although there existed no right to revalue benefices already valued, there was no pretence for saying a valuation might not be made of benefices which had never been valued. The number of benefices which had never been valued in Ireland was very considerable; and if they were to pay upon a valuation to be now made, while others paid only according to the valuation of Charles 1st, (the period of the last valuation), the effect would be to produce great inequality in the burthens supported by different benefices. Without setting himself against the high authorities on the other side, he must be permitted to say, that he thought there was a great deal of weight in the opinions which maintained the power of the Crown to effect a new valuation. But, however that might be, and although the Crown did not possess the power of issuing a commission for a new valuation (a point which he did not altogether admit), Parliament had an unquestionable right to puss an Act for a new valuation of benefices in Ireland, and the clergy would have no reason to com- 748 plain of such an act as a violation of right or justice. If benefices were so revalued, he believed that the tax of first fruits would amount to within 1,000l. of the proposed graduated assessment to be levied under this Bill; but it would be much more inconvenient than the tax substituted for it, inasmuch as it must be paid by equal instalments during the first four years of incumbency, whereas this impost was spread over the whole period of incumbency. These were the grounds on which he thought that without the violation of any right, or the establishment of a dangerous precedent, such a tax might be imposed on the clergy, the effect of which would be to relieve the Church from the attacks of that hostile and discontented feeling, which was most prejudicial to its interests, to provide for many church purposes in a proper manner, and after all, in a mode which would not burthen the clergy to a greater extent than Parliament had a right to impose, and which would not much exceed the amount of the first fruits if duly and properly levied. He was afraid, that he had wearied their Lordships by the many details he had been obliged to introduce, but it was his wish to leave no part of the subject unexplained. The principal objects of the measure, as he had stated in the outset, were the abolition of Vestry-cess, the augmentation of small livings, and the abolition of first fruits. The means by which he proposed to carry those objects into effect were the sale of the perpetuities of Bishops' lands, the consolidation of the revenues of the Bishops, and a tax on incumbencies. The sum to be provided in order to effect the before-mentioned objects he calculated at 136,500l. per annum. The items of that charge were as follows:—Church-cess 60,000l.; augmentation of livings, 46,500l.; building churches 20,000l.; glebe-houses, 10,000l.: total, 136,500l. It could not be pretended that all the objects to be attained by this expenditure were not Church purposes. Church-cess embraced a variety of matters directly connected with the celebration of religious worship. The number of livings from 30l. to 200l. being 465, it was calculated that to raise them to the latter sum, the average augmentation would he 100l., which gave a total of 46,500l. for the whole; 20,000l. would be devoted to building and repairing churches, estimated on the average of the last three years; and a sum of 10,000l. would be applied to the erection of glebe-houses—a very necessary 749 expenditure, in as much as not one-half of the benefices in Ireland were provided with glebes. Some additional expense would be incurred by the commission, but be trusted not much, and, the amount being uncertain, it had not been included in the estimate. To meet these expenses there would be the proceeds of a sale of the perpetuities of Bishops' leases, of the consolidation of the Bishops' incomes, and of the tax on incumbencies the annual value of fines of all descriptions on Bishops' leases was estimated at 100,000l. This sum was calculated as one-fifth of the value of the beneficial interest of the tenant, which latter, therefore, amounted to 500,000l. Taking the perpetuity at two years' purchase, it probably might be sold for more; but as there was to be a deduction of four per cent, on the purchase money, he would cut off against this any value that might be obtained above the two years' purchase, which might therefore be taken as producing the net sum of 1,000,000l. The fund, therefore, to meet the charge before stated would be—
|Interest of 1,000,000l. of the produce of perpetuities, taken at four per cent||£ 40,000|
|Produce of the suppressed Bishoprics||50,780|
|Tax on those which remained||4,600|
|Tax on incumbents||41,800|
|Repayments for fifteen years||8,000|
|Immediate reduction on the Bishopric of Derry||4,160|
|Future reduction on the same Bishopric||2,000|
|Future reduction of Armagh||4,500|
|Making in the whole||£155,840|
|Of this, however, there would be immediately available only, from the Bishopric of Waterford||£4,000|
|(This was to be available from the 1st of February, 1834)|
|Making in the whole||£16, 160|
§ To this might be added whatever might be realized from the early sale of perpetuities. The rest would only accrue gradually as the tax took place, and as the suppressed sees fell in by the death of the present incumbents. When the whole of the funds destined to these purposes became available, there would be a small sum beyond the charges to be provided for. In the mean time the deficiency might, to a certain degree, be supplied by an advance of money to the Commissioners, on the security of the funds which would fall to their disposal. There would however, he supposed, be enough to meet the more pressing exigencies. From what he had stated he trusted it would appear to their Lordships that this 750 tax on incumbents could not be considered as a violation of any right of those incumbents. All benefices under.300l. a-year would be exempt from this tax. That would reduce the number of taxed benefices to 694 out of 1,456; and as the tax was to be on a graduated scale it would not impose any grievous burthen on any of them. The great object was to raise the small livings to a scale which would afford the means of something like adequate payment to those who were the active labourers in the Church: it was on these grounds that he proposed this measure to their Lordships, not as an innovation on the rights of the Church, but for the sake of the Church itself. One great object was, to relieve the country from a tax which could not be continued without producing great excitement and irritation in Ireland. It should be considered that the Vestry-cess was levied by select bodies, exclusively Protestant, on a population which, in many parts of that country was exclusively Catholic, ft was not a fixed tax, to be paid at the same rate every year, and to which men might get reconciled in time—it was a tax levied every Easter, and varied every year in amount, according to cirumstances, over which the great mass of the payers (the Catholics) could exercise no control. At every fresh annual levy therefore, there was created a new cause of discontent. He would ask, therefore, whether, in relieving the country from such a tax they were not doing a service to the Church itself, by withdrawing from it that odium which almost necessarily followed its collection? 'The application of the funds to be thus derived would be a benefit to the Church, when the objects of that application were considered. There was another source from which some addition to the fund he had named would be derived—that was from the suspended livings. To this he under stood there were strong objections; the number of these in the returns was 144. It had been said, that there were many hundreds; but the fact was as he had stated it from the returns. Out of these 144 there were thirty to which the 117th clause of the Bill would not apply, as being lay-impropriations. There were twenty-six others which were either united with other parishes, or which had had divine service performed in them within the time mentioned in the Bill. There were, besides these twenty-two which were sinecure appointments, and to which were attached small portions of land, some of them 751 in other parishes these altogether made seventy-eight, which, deducted from 144, would leave only sixty-six subject to that clause which he had just mentioned. There could be no injustice in applying the revenues of parishes in which Divine service never was performed, and in which, perhaps, not a single Protestant inhabitant was to be found, to the general funds for the objects stated in the Bill. That surely could not he called spoliation. All these funds were to be vested in a body of Commissioners for ecclesiastical purposes appointed under the Bill. Some objection had been made to the constitution of the Board of Commissioners. He would mention who they were. They were the Primate, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench, four Bishops, and three Commissioners to be added by the Crown. It was not, however, to be assumed, that these three Commissioners must necessarily be laymen. They might be laymen or Prelates; but even supposing they were to be laymen, he did hope that, abused as his Majesty's Ministers had been with respect to this Bill, taunted as they had been with recommending a violation of the King's Coronation Oath, they would not be suspected of recommending persons for appointment as members of this Board of Commissioners who would be disposed to use their power to the injury of the Church. The authority of the Board was defined by the Act. The Commissioners had authority to apply the funds, to authorize the building of churches, and the purchase of glebes, and to apply the funds for such other services as the Church-cess had been applied to. He could not see how it was in the power of the imagination of man to object to such a disposal of Church property, as not being for Church purposes. There were some other points of detail in the Bill, such as the provision for dividing parishes, which, he would not then enter into, as a more fit occasion would occur in a future stage. He had touched upon the most important which had occurred to him, but if there were points which he had omitted, or which the remarks of noble Lords might suggest, he hoped he should be allowed the privilege usually granted by their Lordships to those who brought forward a measure of such importance as that which he now submitted, and that he might mention anything he had left unsaid in reply. Having said thus much, he would only add, that he submitted 752 this measure as one which he firmly believed would strengthen and secure the Established Church. It was said, that the sanction of this measure would be a violation of his Majesty's Coronation Oath. On that point he differed from the right reverend Lord who urged it, but he would not enter into that discussion at present. He would wait until he heard some arguments to make out that case, and would take the opportunity of replying to them. There were other objections which he had heard named, for which he should also wait until he had heard them put forward in argument. The Bill which was now before their Lordships was not a new thought of Ministers: it was in perfect accordance with the principles on which they had declared they would act from the moment of their entrance into office. It has been said by a noble Earl, on a former night, (the noble Earl continued) that he saw in this measure the symptom and consequence of that policy which had been acted upon on another occasion—alluding, as I presume, to the question of Parliamentary Reform. The principles on which that measure was proposed are well known—they were professed by the present servants of the Crown when they took the reins of Government. We came into power under the strong impression, or rather under the decided conviction, of the necessity of carrying Reform into execution—a necessity which, I believe, was felt and acknowledged by all, though many might and did disapprove of the extent to which Reform was carried. The necessity of some Reform was felt and acknowledged by almost everybody in the country, with the exception of the noble Duke opposite. Looking to the nature of the question itself, we thought that, if carried, it was eminently calculated to promote the liberties of the country, and to secure the best interests of the Constitution. It was taken up on a deliberate view of the circumstances of the limes, and the necessity of meeting the opinion which universally prevailed, and of restoring the confidence of the people to a Legislature which had become an object of distrust and suspicion. Acting upon the same policy, we did not contemplate that measure as the limit of our Reform. We looked upon it rather as the means to an end, and we thought that any man must be mad who considered, that Parliamentary Reform having been carried, it would not be necessary to adopt other Reforms, in order to give satisfaction to the country, and security 753 to the Monarchy. In that spirit we have acted—that has been our policy, although it has been imputed to us by the noble Duke as dangerous. I do not deny the sincerity of that opinion, but I deny its soundness and its wisdom. We have come to a situation in which one of two principles of Government must prevail. We must either take the bold, hazardous, and as I think, fatal determination of suppressing all desire for Reform, by severe coercive measures; or we must comply with the spirit and feeling of the times, and endeavour to correct those abuses which have crept into the Constitution, and into the various institutions of the country. The first was a line of policy which every Government ought to repudiate, and we never could be parties to a system which must lead in the first instance to the establishment of another "Holy Alliance," to extinguish the spirit of liberty throughout Europe. It would be a vain and futile attempt, ending in a war of opinion, and perhaps, for a time, the destruction of the liberty and independence for the maintenance of which this country has made so many sacrifices. The other alternative, therefore, only was left to us; and we have endeavoured to bring forward those measures of Reform which have been submitted to your Lordships, and to the other House of Parliament, strictly, if I may use the word, upon Conservative principles—wishing to strengthen the Executive against the attacks of its enemies, and to secure the confidence of its friends—to remove what even its friend deplored, and to oppose those wild and extravagant projects which, while they promised peace and freedom, would end in despotism or anarchy. This is the line of policy we have adopted; we have pursued a straight and steady course, and having only the permanent good of our country at heart, we have thrown ourselves with confidence on the generosity of our countrymen. We have reformed where we thought Reform necessary; and we have exerted the powers of the law, and the extraordinary powers which Parliament intrusted to us, to suppress a spirit of insubordination and violence, and to protect the Constitution from the attacks directed against it. Upon that measure we rest the principle of to-night. The noble Duke certainly has a right to say, that it is a necessary consequence of our policy: it is part and parcel of our system, for the adoption of which the present Ministry came into office, and from which, as long 754 as his Majesty honours them with his confidence, they will never depart. We feel ourselves bound in honour, in duty, and in conscience, from a sincere conviction of its propriety, to persevere in our course; and on this ground we introduce the Bill upon the Table. But I feel it more strongly in reference to the immediate question of Ireland, in consequence of the necessity the unfortunate necessity—under which we found ourselves at the beginning of this Session, of proposing a law, which, we did not conceal from ourselves or from the public, was a measure of extreme severity—a departure from the spirit of the Constitution only to be justified in a case of extremity. Give me leave to add, that I never would have proposed it, unless I had intended to remove those causes of complaint and grounds of disturbance which rendered the Coercive Law necessary. God forbid, my Lords, that that law should become permanent, since its continuance can only be rendered expedient by the continuance of evils which ought to be remedied in the interval of tranquillity which it affords. I remember that on a former occasion, a noble Lord opposite alluded to the policy formerly pursued with regard to Ireland: he complained, and justly, of the alternation of severity and relaxation. Such, lamentably, has been the fact: while harsh and unconstitutional measures were adopted, the causes of complaint were allowed to remain: they were suffered to grow to a fearful height without any attempt at eradication. Under this accumulation of evil we have been called upon to act: we cannot be responsible for the misconduct and neglect of former Governments; and all we have attempted is the removal of the causes of disturbance and discontent. It is, therefore, our imperious and paramount duty, in the interval of peace afforded by the coercive and protecting measure, to make use of that tranquillity to remedy existing abuses, which, if not removed, as certainly as day succeeds to night, will re-produce the evils under which Ireland at present labours. We are anxious to avoid the alternation of severe and lax policy resorted to as occasion seemed to require, because there was no disposition to resort to any effectual and general Reform. We have been subjected to much obloquy—and in Ireland, where the people have been misguided and misinformed, we can hardly be surprised at it; but we have been reproached here also for our measures, though I am conscious that, 755 sooner or later, justice will be done not only to the intentions of Ministers, but to their measures of Reform, brought forward under difficulties to which, I believe, no former Government was ever exposed. The effect of the Coercive Law in Ireland has been immediate: it has produced peace and tranquillity there: only a single Proclamation has been issued under it, and not a single Court-martial has been assembled: we brought it forward with great reluctance, and only from a sense of duty arising out of an imperious and inevitable necessity. I have now only to thank your Lordships for the patience with which you have heard me. I trust I have explained our motives and objects clearly, and without using any expressions that can provoke a feeling of hostility. Much opposition I am prepared to meet; but it has been my wish, as indeed it is my duty, to discuss this important question with calmness, and I hope to witness among your Lordships that degree of forbearance which ought to belong to a deliberative assembly. Having said this, I will not trespass further upon the attention of the House; but humbly move that this Bill be read a second time.
The Earl of Roden
, in rising to move an Amendment upon the proposition just submitted to the consideration of their Lordships, assured the House that, often as he had addressed it upon important subjects, he had never felt greater anxiety in addressing it than he did upon the present occasion. He would not follow the noble Earl through his various statements, but would confine himself to the particular points of objection to this measure, which he had found in the different petitions which he had himself presented upon this subject. These objections appeared to resolve themselves into three distinct classes. The first class related to the imposition of a tax on the clergy for benefits which were common to all. Now, the petitioners considered that to be unjust and partial, and to that objection he had not heard the noble Earl give any answer. The second class related to the destruction of ten Protestant Bishops. He had not heard the noble Earl give any explanation of the causes which led him to support that part of the measure, save his opinion that it was expedient to destroy that number. The last and most important class of objections related to the appointment of a commission of laymen and ecclesiastics, to regulate not only the temporal but also the spiritual concerns of the Church. To these three 756 heads of objection he should, in the few remarks he was about to offer to their Lordships, beg leave to call their particular attention. The present question, with one exception, was a question involving more important interests, and more valuable principles, than any other question which had ever come before Parliament since he had had the honour of a seat in that House. It involved our safety as a nation, and our character as a people; and he trusted that their Lordships before they agreed to it, would consider all the consequences which were likely to result from it. He had heard the noble Earl that evening make a strong statement of his own attachment to the Protestant Establishment; he had likewise heard the noble Earl, on a former evening, make, on his own behalf, and on behalf of his colleagues in the Government, a declaration of their anxiety to spread the Protestant religion in Ireland; but he thought that it would require something more than the assertion of the noble Earl, and something more than the logic of his Majesty's Ministers, to convince the moral and religious part of the community that they were influenced by such views—that they were Protestants in principle and looked to Protestant objects, when they proposed a plan of Church Reform, which did not in any wise improve the discipline of the Church, or amend any of its institutions which from lapse of time stood in need of amendment. He had a well-matured conviction that a conspiracy had long been going on in Ireland against the Protestant Church Establishment. He was convinced more and more every day of the existence of that conspiracy, and he trusted that he should be able to show to the House that there were abundant grounds for coming to that melancholy conviction. He held in his hand at that moment a letter from an individual whom he knew to have been a correspondent of the noble Earl, with regard to the settlement of the plan of education for Ireland. Whether the same individual had been also his correspondent on the subject of Church Reform in Ireland he could not say; but that individual was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Maronia, Dr. M'Hale. In August, 1831, that individual had published a letter, stating that the people of Ireland, leaving to the people of England their favourite Church Establishment, would petition the Reformed Parliament for the Repeal of the Established Church of Ireland. He declared his object to the noble Earl at the head of the 757 Government in an open and manly manner, and made two demands of him, to which he wished to call the notice of their Lordships. The first demand related to the abolition of the system of scriptural education adopted in the schools of the Kildare-street society. Here the noble Earl read an extract from Dr. M'Hale's letter, in which, speaking of the Kildare-street society, he said, that while these remnants of ancient intolerance were permitted to exist, the relief extended to the Catholics of Ireland would be a relief in name only—that emancipation would he but a mockery, and that the people would be insulted with the shadow of liberty, while the substance would be withheld from them. Speaking of the support to be given to, or withheld from, the Kildare-street Society, Dr. M'Hale said, "it was a question which would decide on the sincerity of Earl Grey's attachment to Ireland." Dr. M'Hale then proceeded to heap invective upon the Protestant Church Establishment, and particularly upon the episcopal members of it. In his examination before their Lordships, in 1828, this Catholic Bishop had said, that if emancipation were granted, he should look upon the Bishops and clergy of the Established Church as brethren labouring with him in the same vineyard. Yet, in this letter, he said that the people of Ireland looked, and ought to look, upon the Protestant Bishops as mere laymen. He called for their immediate downfall, and he said, that the poor would rejoice on finding the funds which the Bishops had so long wrung from them, restored to their proper owners; and he further added, that the Prelates of the Irish Church, if they were not called upon, like St. Martin of Tours, to part with half their robes, would certainly be called upon to part with half their superfluities. Now, here their Lordships had a Roman Catholic Bishop before them, who commenced by demanding the extinction of tithes; well, tithes were now extinguished; he had next demanded that scriptural education for the poor should be abolished; well, that too had been extinguished: he had then said, "from a Reformed Parliament we must demand the extinction of the Established Church;" and now a bill was brought into Parliament, and was proposed to be read a second time, in accordance with the prediction and the demand of that right reverend Catholic Archbishop. He did not say, that his Majesty's Ministers were privy to the conspiracy which he had just denounced, but he was afraid, that they 758 were the dupes of those who were most deeply interested in carrying it on with success: for the measures which Dr. M'Hale had said, that he would take for the extinction of the Protestant Church of Ireland were the very measures which the noble Earl said, that he was now taking for its defence and preservation. He wished to call their Lordships' attention to the circumstance, that this Bill would destroy ten Protestant Bishops. These Bishops, however, were resident gentry in Ireland, watching over the best and dearest interests of its population, and spending the produce of their sees on the poor among whom they lived; and he maintained that, in a country like Ireland, where absenteeism was the great evil, it would be a most dangerous measure to get rid of ten Bishops, for no reason whatever, save that the noble Earl thought their destruction expedient. This Bill, he contended, was a boon to the Catholics. It was a hollow expedient, invented by incompetent politicians to meet the evils which their own misconduct had brought upon the country. He maintained, that this, and nothing else but this, was the object of this most destructive measure. The noble Earl had spoken of his affection for the Protestant Establishment in Ire-land, yet he proposed to constitute a Board of Commissioners, appointed by the Crown, and removable by the Crown, to watch over the temporal and spiritual affairs of the Church. To that Board, powers were given which must be galling to every sincere Protestant. So far from taking a Protestant Minister from those benefices in which divine service had not been performed for the last three years, it was the duty of a Protestant Government to place Protestant pastors in those parishes where hitherto there had been none. So far from giving power to that Board to prevent a Protestant Minister from being placed in a parish, they ought to give that Board power to place a minister in every parish where there was but a single Protestant to bear the truth preached. He asked their Lordships what would be the case had this measure been passed in 1807? Since the year 1807, in the diocese of Cork and Ross, there had been sixteen churches built in parishes where there had been no place of worship, and no divine service performed for the three preceding years. That was the case in one diocese alone; but that was not all. He had that morning received a letter from a right reverend Prelate, whom he had not the pleasure of then seeing in his place, but 759 who would have attended in his place to oppose this Bill but for his advanced age—he alluded to the Bishop of Killala. The noble Earl read an extract from a letter from this right reverend Prelate, stating the anxiety which prevailed in his diocese for the erection of new churches, and the applications which he had forwarded to the Board of First Fruits for the erection of them. He was for his part prepared to contend, that it was the duty of a Protestant Government to take measures to establish the Protestant faith, and to increase the number of Protestants, not by force or injustice, but by having in every parish an individual qualified to preach the truth of the Gospel. It was not a Protestant principle that one religion was as good as another, and no Protestant Government ought to act upon such a principle. It was the belief of faithful Protestants, that their creed was the true creed, and it therefore became all such as aspired to the name to spread their faith as much as possible. It was the duty of the Government, therefore, if it felt a real attachment to the interests of Protestantism, not to cripple the Protestant Church Establishment, but to render it more efficient. Being himself a Protestant by profession, by oath, and by practice, he protested against the anti-Protestant measure proposed by the noble Earl, the provisions of which were most uncalled for, and most tyrannical. The Ministers of William the 3rd, made the most strenuous exertions to support the Protestant faith; the Ministers of William the 4th seemed exerting their utmost efforts for its suppression. He considered it to be an act of tyranny to arm a Commission with the power of saying, that in such and such a parish there should not be a resident Protestant Minister. He trusted, that before the measure passed into a law, the country would be made aware of the dangers likely to result from it, and that it would come forward, in co-operation with the Irish Protestants, with countless petitions against it. He was opposed to that Bill on principle, and not from any party feeling. He could lay his hand to his heart and say, that, as an honest man, he was opposed to this measure on conscientious motives, and not as a partisan. He begged, also, that it might be understood, that he was not opposed to all Reform in the Established Church of Ireland. The Protestant clergy of Ireland were no more opposed than he was to a sound and salutary system of Church Reform. He and they were friendly 760 to every reform which would spiritualise that Church more and more. With regard to the Irish Protestant clergy, he would say, that they had suffered, and were indeed still suffering, great privations; but that did not deter them from the discharge of their duties—on the contrary, they acted as if they had but one object before them, and that object to labour more and more in their master's cause, and to uphold the truth of the Gospel. This, however, he must tell the House, that the Irish clergy, though they were not opposed to Reform, were opposed to destruction—were opposed to the suppression of truth—were opposed to a partial tax upon the Church, because it was unjust in principle—were opposed to the abolition of ten Protestant Bishops, because it would enable ten Catholic Bishops to occupy their palaces, and to stand forward on all those occasions in which the Protestant Bishops had hitherto demanded, received, and merited, the respect of the country; and they were opposed to the project of taking a Protestant minister from any parish, because they recollected that it was the mandate of their divine master, that the Gospel should be preached to every creature. These were their sentiments, and these, he was proud to state, were also his sentiments—and, acting under their influence, he felt himself bound to move as an Amendment, that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
The Earl of Wicklow
was anxious to take advantage of the earliest opportunity to state the grounds on which he meant to support the present Bill. In doing so, he could assure their Lordships, that he never felt more pain than on that occasion, because he should by supporting the Bill, in so far separate himself from those with whom he had hitherto acted, and who had proved themselves as anxious as possible, but, he would maintain, not more anxious than he was to promote the interests of the Protestant Church. He was pained, also, because he apprehended that his voting in opposition to those with whom he habitually voted might be considered as vacillation, or political unsteadiness, on his part. Such, he emphatically declared, was not the case. He would vote for this Bill, because he, in his conscience, believed that he should thereby promote the best interests of the Church of Ireland. He begged, however, that he might not be misunderstood, as agreeing in opinion with the framers and more eager abettors of that Bill. He denied, that there was 761 anything in the discipline or practice of the Church of Ireland which demanded the Bill as remedy. He maintained, that the system of pluralities was not greater nor proportionally as great in Ireland, as in England and he denied also that the abuses of non-residence were greater or as great in Ireland as in England. Let their Lordships consider the peculiar circumstances by which the Irish clergy were surrounded before they rashly pronounced on their merits. A more exemplary body could not be found, and though encompassed by bigotry, ignorance, and intolerance, they discharged their sacred functions, even at the hazard of great personal danger. He maintained also, that the Bill was not called for by what was termed "public clamour," which, indeed, was directed against the tithe system (not touched upon by the Bill) but not against those points which the Bill particularly involved, with the exception of the Church-cess. His noble friend (Lord Roden) therefore, was in error in alleging, that public clamour was more directed against the landed property of the Church than against any other species of landed property in Ireland; but if the Bill was not called for by public clamour, it certainly was demanded on other grounds, above all, by the present state of Ireland. It was impossible to view the peculiarly unfortunate state of that country, and assert that some such measure could longer be withheld. The question was not what produced that unfortunate state—he firmly believed that the Government was the chief cause—but whether it could be remedied without this or a similar measure. In his opinion it could not. He would ask them whether, after the emphatic manner in which the attention of Parliament was directed to the Irish Church by the King's speech at the opening of the Session, and still more, after the House of Commons had passed that Bill by a very overwhelming majority, it was possible to avoid consenting to the present Bill. He could not be taken to be a supporter of Ministers, because he meant to vote for their present measure. He conceived that every act of theirs bore upon it the stamp of revolution—the present no less than others; but he would for that very reason vote for the present Bill, because, if he did not, he might on a future occasion—like him with the books of the Sibyl—have to pay a higher price for less value. There were two features of the Bill to which he wished to direct their 762 Lordships' attention; the first, was the distribution of the Church property; and the second, he consolidation of the bishoprics. He conceived the former would be extremely beneficial, particularly as far as it went to apply the Church funds to the bettering the condition of the inferior clergy—a benefit which no man, he took it, could question. With respect to the union of the bishoprics, he must say, that the noble Earl (Earl Grey) had clearly proved, that it was fully within the power of Parliament to effect such consolidation of the bishoprics as it might deem most advantageous to the general welfare. Parliament had done so before, and, of course, could effect such other consolidations as might be necessary; as far as that point was concerned, the only question which remained was the expediency of the proposed reduction. The noble Earl (Earl Grey) had shown, that the number of Bishops in Ireland had varied according to circumstances—that Parliament had first fixed thirty-two (one for each county) which number at one time was so low as eighteen, and was now but twenty-two. He was aware that some zealous friends of the Church had, in another place, contended, that it would have been right to have retained the present number of Bishops and at the same time to have reduced their salaries considerably below their present amount. He thought otherwise, and conceived the principle of church property would be much less objectionably interfered with by the proposed reduction of the number. Several objections had been made to the Bill, which objections, in his opinion, were untenable. In the first place, it was said, that it would be a violation of the articles of the Union. Undoubtedly, if those articles were to be taken strictly to the letter, it would be so. But it was not the mere words of any Act, but its spirit, by which he ought to be governed. If the spirit of the articles of Union was to maintain the interest of the Established Church in Ireland, he felt that he was acting in conformity to that spirit when he adopted a course which he believed in his conscience would be most beneficial to the interests of I that Church. Nor were the articles of the Act of Union more binding than the provisions of any other Act of Parliament. Whatever was beneficial to the public, it was the duty of the Legislature to adopt. If at some future period the articles of Union should become the subject of legislative consideration, and it should appear, 763 that the dissolution of the Union would be advantageous to both countries, the articles of Union ought to be held as mere cobwebs in that consideration. The Union ought to be maintained while its maintenance was conducive to the good of the United Empire, and no longer. There was one subject on which he begged to say a few words; he meant the Coronation Oath. It had been asked by some of the opponents of the Bill—" What! would you force your King to violate his Coronation oath? Certainly not; but it was his decided opinion, that the Coronation oath could not interfere so as to prevent his Majesty from giving his sanction to any Bill which was calculated, in the opinion of his responsible advisers, to promote the interests of the Church. He would also observe, in answer to those who put the question, that the question of violation did not originate with the Parliament, but with the advisers of the Crown, who made the present measure a prominent feature of the King's speech. If, therefore, there was any violation of the Coronation Oath implied in the present Bill, Parliament was not guilty of it, as it had neither taken the Oath nor originated the measure. With the question, therefore, of the violation of the Coronation Oath, he (Lord Wicklow) had nothing to do. All that he had to do was, to take care and perform his duty as a Member of that House. It had been said, not there, but elsewhere, that the number of Bishops in Ireland ought to be kept up in a greater proportion to the number of people in Ireland than the number of Bishops in England to the number of people in England; because the duties of the Bishops in Ireland were greater than the duties of the Bishops in England, the latter having Archdeacons to perform many of those duties which the Irish Bishops performed themselves. If this objection were a valid one, it would be very easy to meet it, by imposing on the Deans and Archdeacons in Ireland the duties which were performed by the Deans and Archdeacons in England. It had also been objected, that the proportion of Irish Bishops to sit in Parliament under the reduced number of Bishops was too large, and that, thereby, too great a weight of duty would be thrown upon the Bishops who remained in Ireland. He must say, that he considered this rather an imprudent argument, for it must be recollected, that all the English Bishops sat in that House. If, therefore, the argument were a good one, what became of the duties 764 of English Bishops? Out of the number of twelve Irish Bishops, he was certainly of opinion, that it was not too much to require that four should attend their duties in Parliament. With regard to the suggestions for reducing the income of the Bishops, rather than reducing the number of the Bishops, one strong reason with him for preferring the latter course to the former was, that it had been agreed to by a large majority of the House of Commons, and that any alteration upon that subject would be calculated to renew the agitation of a question which all must wish to see finally arranged. While, however, he gave his general approbation to this Bill, there were parts of it which he certainly desired to see altered. In the first place, he was sorry that a graduated system of taxation had been adopted with respect to the clergy. He thought it would be more just if, instead of such a graduated system, they were to establish a fixed scale of five per cent on all clerical income. Five per cent on the income of a clergyman would be precisely equivalent to the first-fruits of his living. By establishing a graduated scale in the taxation of the clergy, they would lay a foundation for the adoption of a graduated scale in the taxation of every other description of income; and he was convinced, that if it were established with reference to the clergy, it would be forced on his Majesty's Government with reference to every other class of the community. There was another change which he wished to see made in the Bill. He objected to the provision that the Government should have the nomination of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He admitted, that they ought to have the appointment of the lay-Commissioners; but the Ecclesiastical Commissioners ought either to be taken in rotation, or to be elected by the Bench. There was still one other subject to which he bogged to call their Lordships' attention. As a landed proprietor, he strongly objected to allow any part of the money resulting from the suppression of the Vestry-cess to remain in the pockets of the laity. To allow a sixpence so to remain, would be to establish a dangerous precedent. It was not the sum, which did not exceed 63,000l. a-year, but it was the principle, which he considered highly objectionable. He knew what would be the consequence if this objectionable part of the Bill were adopted. In the course of two or three Sessions, nay, probably early in the next Session of Parliament, it would be thrown 765 in the teeth of the landed proprietors of Ireland, and they would be told: "You supported the Bill for your own interest, and we now call upon you to disgorge your acquisitions." In his opinion it was a highly impolitic arrangement, and he hoped it would he altered in the Committee on the Bill. In having thus stated his opinions on the present measure, he had done that which, in his conscience, he believed it was his duty to do. On any occasion—and more especially with reference to Irish subjects—he never allowed party feeling to interfere with what he considered to be, the public good he did not deny that, on general subjects, he entertained strong party feelings; but the state of Ireland was much too critical, and the interests at stake in that country were much too important, to justify the admission of party feeling in the consideration of any great political question connected with them. He had the satisfaction also of knowing, that, while on the present occasion he opposed those with whom he generally acted, they agreed with him in opinion, that this was not a party question—that it rested on its own merits—and that they ought to do that with respect to it, which appeared to them to be most conducive to the general interests.
The Bishop of Durham
objected to the preamble of the Bill, which merely stated, in broad terms, that it was expedient to do so and so, without assigning any cause for the proceeding, or pointing out any benefit which was to be derived from it. Adverting to the subject of taxation, he confessed he could not see why it should be borne by the clergy alone, and why it should not be shared by the laity he had strong objections to the constitution of this Ecclesiastical Commission; which, although composed of clergy and laity, was to have control of those spiritual affairs of the Church which ought to be confided to the care of the clergy exclusively. All former Commissions of this nature were confined to inquisitorial purposes, and had no reference to the spiritual affairs of the Church. The Board of First Fruits would be a much preferable body for the purpose. He was not sufficiently acquainted with the subject to know how the dioceses in Ireland had been united; but he did not believe, that any precedent existed for taking away the Sees from the Bishops in the manner proposed. If the present measure had originated in a convocation of the clergy, and if the provisions of it had been described 766 by them as advantageous, it would have been a different thing. The declarations of the Bill, with respect to the property of the Church, might, at some future period, be applied to property of another description. For instance, it was merely stated, that the revenue of the bishopric of Derry was too large, and ought to be reduced. What would any of their Lordships say, if, at some future period, he should be told merely that his revenue was too large, and ought to be reduced; be could not conceive on what principle of equity the measure proceeded; for it had always been held that Church property was as sacred as property of any other description. If the object of the Bill were to suppress protestantism, and to raise Popery, no better means could have been adopted for the purpose. It appealed, in truth, to be a yielding to the clamours of Popery; and considering the rapid strides to power which, of late years. Popery had made in Ireland, he confessed that he thought it highly inexpedient to assist its efforts at dominion. The whole of this measure proceeded, and was founded on assumptions, not one of which had undergone any investigation or discussion. For instance, the first great assumption was, that the property of the church was not similar to the private property of individuals, but belonged to the public. This was an assumption; he was not going to discuss it, but it was a debatable point, and a point which had not yet been debated; and yet this formed one of the main features of the Bill. The second assumption was the right of Parliament to distribute the property of the church. Me denied, that the Church could be considered in the light of a sole Coporation, or that its funds ought to be considered as a common fund, to be distributed amongst the ministers of the Church as parliament might deem fit. The Church, so far from being a Corporation sole, was an aggregate Corporation, consisting of many Corporations sole, each constituent Corporation having its distinct rights and distinct properly. There were many more assumptions in the Bill, with which be would not detain the House at present. He objected strongly to the interference of this Bill with the Church. It was termed the Irish church Temporalities' Bill; but it affected its spiritualities as much as its temporalities. After the fullest consideration which he was able to bestow on the subject, he felt himself bound to vote for the Amendment. He did so with the purest and most un- 767 biassed motives, and be trusted the noble Earl would believe him when he said, that he did not oppose the Bill through any wish to oppose his Majesty's Government, but because he could not honestly and conscientiously pursue any other course. What must be the consequences of carrying such a measure no man could presume to say; for if this step were once conceded, it might not be in the power of Government to prevent it from being carried further. The result of former concessions proved this; for concession obtained by intimidation invariably led to fresh demands. And with regard to any difficulty respecting the violation of principles, there certainly could not be a much greater violation of principles than that contained in this Bill. He regarded this as a measure not only deeply affecting the interests of the Irish Church, but of England herself, and as tending to the immediate diminution of Protestantism, and the increase of Popery. He should, therefore, vote for the Amendment. Whether it would be possible to cut down the objectionable part in Committee, had it been deemed advisable to suffer the Bill to proceed to that stage, he thought very doubtful. For his own part, he should be unable to attend any Committee, as he was compelled to leave town very shortly; and he, therefore, embraced that early opportunity of expressing his sentiments upon so momentous a question.
The Earl of Limerick
said, that he had the misfortune to be a Member of the House of Lords in Ireland at the period of the Union, when a noble and learned Lord had warned that House of the consequences of placing Ireland under a foreign legislature. They were told at that time, that Ireland would sacrifice her independence to England, and place her religion, her property, and her interests, entirely at the mercy of a foreign people. They were told, however, to trust to the honour and the generosity of England. They did trust; but he regretted to say, their expectations had been disappointed. Their property had been shaken, their religion subverted, all confidence between landlord and tenant destroyed, and the prosperity of the country put an end to. The Protestants of Ireland were told, as one great inducement for them to support the Union, that where-ever they were before in the minority they would then become incorporated with, and part of the majority. But in what manner had they been treated? As the majority? 768 Certainly not. Almost all the defences of Protestantism were swept away, and the Protestant boroughs, once the great bulwark of the Church, were now almost all in the hands of Catholics. He trusted that House would uphold and defend the Church. It seemed they were now told, that the Church of Ireland had too many Bishops. Why not at once say, that no Bishop was wanted at all, and that the Catholics were ready to take care of the souls of the people of Ireland. The stipulations made at the time of the Union had not been observed, nor had those at the period of granting Catholic Emancipation been complied with. The Catholics were exalted at the expense of the Protestants. Ministers had thrown Ireland into a state of great irritation, and now they were compelled to bring forward sweeping measures in order to satisfy the clamour which they had raised. This Bill, he supposed, was one of the sops to be given to Cerberus, but he doubted much whether it would be successful in stopping the monster's mouth. This he would say, that never was a measure of this kind less required, for the Church of Ireland was never in a more improved state than at present. He hoped that in the observations he had made, he had said nothing to produce irritation. To do so was far from his wish, and he could not conclude without bearing testimony to the very proper and forbearing manner in which the noble Earl had introduced the Bill to their Lordships' notice.
The Marquess of Conyngham
said, that no man was more firmly attached to the Protestant Church than himself; but he considered the best mode of evincing that attachment was by endeavouring to remove those abuses which at present endangered its prosperity, and even its security. The noble Lord had called this Bill an act of injustice and spoliation—in his opinion it was an act of strict justice. The noble Lord had objected to the abolition of a certain number of Bishops. Now he thought if any reasonable man would only take into consideration the extent of services required of the Irish Bishops, he would at once admit that the Bill left quite enough to attend to the spiritual welfare of a Church mustering only 800,000 members. The labours of the Irish Bishops would be very light when compared to those of the English Prelates, and their resources would be sufficient for the maintenance of even splendid establishments. As to one provision of the Bill—that for the abolition of 769 Church cess, and also that for reducing the revenues of the see of Derry—he believed even the bitterest antagonist would agree in their justice. Nothing could be more impolitic or unjust—nothing could tend more to exasperate the already irritated people of Ireland—than to tax the catholic population for the maintenance of places of worship which they never visited; or to wring from the hard hands of the industrious peasant, a portion of his earnings to swell the pomp and splendor of a Church from the doctrines of which he dissented, and with whose professors he had not one religious sympathy. It was singular that the extremes of both parties opposed this measure; a circumstance which alone ought strongly to recommend it to all moderate men. Some time since, that House had passed a Bill called the Coercion Bill, and certainly it was one of the strongest measures ever passed through that House. Surely, therefore, when the people of Ireland now came before their Lordships, with a Bill of relief from abuses which had provoked many of those disorders which rendered coercion necessary—a Bill which proposed to lop a few branches of the Church Temporalities, without injury, nay, even with advantage to the tree itself—surely the House would not now turn round, and say, "No, we have given you coercion, but we refuse to give you conciliation." As an Irishman, he most earnestly implored their Lordships to weigh well the consequences of refusing their assent to a Bill which had passed the other House by a great majority, and of which at least nine-tenths of the people of Ireland were in favour. As so many noble Lords wished to address the House, he would not delay them any longer. Indeed, he would not have troubled their Lordships at all, but for the great importance of the subject, and the deep interest which he felt in its satisfactory settlement.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, that after the violent and unconstitutional mode adopted by his Majesty's Government to force through that House a most revolutionary measure, by which the independence of the House was virtually destroyed, and its utility as a deliberative assembly put un end to, he had almost determined upon withdrawing himself from his place there. It was with the greatest reluctance that he bad been induced to forego his resolution, and take his scat before the period arrived—as arrive, he doubted not, it shortly would—when their Lordships, by the 770 justice and unanimous voice of their deluded countrymen, who were now beginning to awake to a sense of their delusion, would be replaced in that station, and in the full exercise of those powers, which legally and constitutionally belonged to them. Nevertheless, so important did he feel this question to be, that no inducement could prevail on him to absent himself from that House tonight, or refrain from taking that line of conduct which justice imperatively demanded. They were called on by the noble Earl at the head of the Government to give a rash and hasty consideration to this Bill, without any arguments being adduced to show the necessity of it, or to show that, if adopted, it would be for the benefit of the country. The noble Earl wished them to consent, by the present measure, to appropriate the property of the Church of Ireland, which had hitherto been deemed inviolable. That would be the result of the first branch of the Bill. The consequence of the other would be to affect the interests of that religion which the Sovereign of this country had taken an oath to preserve. He should take the liberty of calling their attention to the words of that Oath which their gracious Sovereign had taken. First, it was, that he would, to the utmost of his power, maintain the law of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant Church as established by law; and, secondly, to maintain the Church of this realm and the clergy of the said Church in possession of all the rights and privileges which should and did by law appertain to them. With respect to the first part of this Oath, the maintenance of the laws of God, and the true profession of the Gospel, he should not occupy their Lordships' time with an attempt to prove that which no honest man would attempt to deny—namely, that if this measure was in any degree opposed to the maintenance of those things which the Sovereign had sworn to support, it would be a direct violation of that Oath to consent to it; and he would not insult his gracious Sovereign by supposing, that if it were proved to his Majesty to have any such effect, his Majesty would hesitate to reject ii at once, and to spurn from him those rash and daring men who had had the temerity to advise the adoption of such a measure. With respect to the second part of the Oath, be maintained, that those words which he had quoted went expressly to declare that the King would protect the protestant church established by law from 771 any such attack as might be made on its property or privileges, part of which privileges consisted in the having a voice in the government of that Church. Having made this declaration of the view he took of the Coronation Oath, he was ready to admit, that there was nothing in that Oath which went to deprive the Crown of the power, with the consent of the Upper House of Convocation, to submit to Parliament such measures as would render that Church more efficient, or tend more widely to extend its spiritual influence. He should like to challenge the noble Earl at the head of the Government to show which of these principles the measure now before them did not violate, or to show the consent of the Upper House of convocation to its introduction. The noble Earl had quoted cases of changes in Church property, and in Bishop's sees, but he had not shown that any of these had taken place without the consent of the Bishops and clergy being first obtained. There had been no instance of the kind since the Revolution. Even if their Lordships looked to the despotic times of Henry 8th, they would find, that before that great tyrant ventured upon committing the wholesale spoliation of the Church, which he commenced first on the smaller religious houses, he had thought it necessary to have the consent of the Archbishops, Priors, and Bishops, then forming the Upper House of Convocation; and that till he obtained that consent, he had not touched one particle of the church property. That consent was obtained through giving; to the clergy of that House promises and hopes that the interests of the Church would be preserved, and that the remaining property of the Church would not be touched. In corroboration of what he bad advanced, he should read a few extracts from a history of the proceedings of the Church of that day. The noble Earl then read an extract, in which it was stated, (hat the monasteries could not be plausibly dissolved without the consent of the twenty-eight mitred Abbots, and the other clergy, forming the Upper House of Convocation. The inferior houses were branded with the guilt of various offences that might serve as an excuse for their punishment. It was strange that the Members of the Upper House of Convocation did not see that this proceeding would but be the precedent for the destruction of their own Houses. They learnt that when it was too late. They resembled the trees, in the tale of the Woodman, who, having lost the 772 handle of his axe, requested, most piteously, that the trees would have the generosity to give him a small bit of wood. They were foolish enough to consent; he converted it into a handle for his axe, and in a short time the noblest trees of the forest felt the effects of their folly, for he left neither large nor small trees standing. He left the application of that fable to those noble Lords who were disposed to give credit to the strong professions of attachment to the church on the part of those who proposed this measure, which went to the destruction of the ten Bishops, many Protestant livings, and considerable Church property. The Bill was entitled a Bill to alter and amend the Law relating to the Temporalities of the Church of Ireland. He only wished briefly to direct their attention to that clause by which the ten Bishops were to be abolished; and when they had looked at that, he wished them to say, whether they could honestly and conscientiously answer, that that clause did not directly affect the spiritual interest of that part of our Established Church. The 117th clause went to the extinction of livings where service had not been performed for three years previously. Now, considering the state of persecution under which the clergy had been suffering during that period—persecutions directed not merely against the property, but often attended with a melancholy and fatal loss of human life—it was clear that many benefices must have been deserted, and many livings must necessarily be extinguished. If the Ministers wished to devise a course which should operate as an encouragement to such things, could they have produced a measure more likely to produce the effect of the destruction of our fellow-countrymen in that part of the kingdom? The first consequence of this measure would he to excite the people to violence, that the clergy might be prevented from performing their duties; and then the next consequence would follow, that the livings would be extinguished. He had little more to say. Of all the questions which had come before their Lordships, this was by far the most important—none could, in that respect, be compared with it, whether as affecting the Protestant interests in one country, or the very Establishment itself in the other. He implored them, if they valued their Church—if, from bitter and past experience, they were convinced how fruitless it was to attempt to conciliate those who wished to destroy that Church—he implored them, by the 773 duty which they owed their country, and, above all, by the sacred duty they owed their God, to resist this measure, which tended directly to weaken that Protestant religion, which, he boldly maintained, was the groundwork of that character that distinguished this country above all others; which was the foundation of those blessings that flowed upon us from our God; and which was the only link of connexion between the two countries. If they weakened and destroyed that link, Ireland would he no longer united with this country. He repeated, that this was a question of the deepest importance, and though they might have once lost what was deeply valuable to them, their own independence, but which, he was sure, would soon dawn on them again, still the brightest gem of their character would be maintained if they did their duty honestly and fearlessly. If a fear of the consequences prevented them from a conscientious discharge of the duties they were called on to fulfil, they would lose that respect which they now obtained, and they would sink in the estimation of men whose good opinion was worth having, and, what was still worse, they would sink in their own esteem. The principles of this measure were opposed to the principles of the Constitution of this country, and were a direct violation of that sacred Oath which their Sovereign had taken. He trusted—he hoped in God—that on this night they would preserve at once their Constitution, and the sanctity of the Oath of their Sovereign.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
felt so much the importance of the subject, that he thought it his duty to speak on it with temperance and moderation, and therefore he should not follow the noble Karl who had just sat down, either as to the tone he had adopted, or the discussion into which the noble Earl had wandered, respecting the Coronation Oath; the only object of which seemed to be to divert their attention from the real question before them. The right reverend Prelate who had spoken third had called this a Bill of spoliation, and had denied the right of the Legislature to interfere with Church property. Yet such an interference was by no means new in the history of this country. In the time of Edward 1st a tax had been laid on the property of the clergy, and paid without resistance or objection. Subsequent to that period numerous similar examples might be adduced, but the alterations made in the mode of their receiving and enjoying their 774 property were too numerous for him to trespass upon their Lordships' time by any attempt to refer to them individually. The noble Earl opposite, who took up the same line of argument, had spoken of the conduct of Henry 8th in the terms which it de" served; but it should be at the same time remembered by the noble Earl, that if Henry 8th had not given the Reformed religion to this country, it would probably not now have been in existence here, and the noble Earl would not have had to stand forward as the champion of the inviolability of the property of the Reformed Church. It was needless, however, to go back to those times. He would, however, notice the Act of Uniformity, which slated, that if by if certain day the clergy did not adopt that Act, they should all be driven forth from their livings. Was not that an interference with the Church and its property, and an interference upon no ground of temporal expediency, but on the ground of religious principles? That Act, too, was passed without the consent of the Bishops. Yet, when they now talked of effecting a more fit and proper distribution of the Chinch property for a temporal purpose, having no reference to the doctrines taught, they were told, that they had no right whatever in any manner to interfere with it. Were they, then, to be told, that no circumstances, whatever, could justify any further alteration in the distribution of Church property? If they were, the principle went to this—that if there was not one Protestant in Ireland, the laws relating to the Church, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, were unchangeable, and the Church Establishment must still be kept up there. Would they say that to the people of Ireland? Would they tell the people of Ireland, that the property of the Church was beyond the power of the Imperial Parliament? Such was the effect of the argument of the noble Earl, who said, that the Church could not be taxed but by the Church, and not for the support of the Church. Why, the clergy alone were not the Church. The right reverend the Bench of Bishops would surely support him in that. He asserted, that the whole of England was the Church; and we (the people) were to have the advantage of it. If it performed its duty, and the people received benefit from it, then it fulfilled the object of the Establishment; if not, it should be made to do so. As to the time for the Reform of the Church, they had the authority of the right hon. Baronet, 775 which had been quoted by the noble Earl, for saying, that the time had now conic to give the Church stability—that some alteration was necessary, so as to (such was his terra) "spiritualize the Church." The right hon. Baronet, and the right reverend Prelate were on the same side; they belonged to the same party; yet one said, that the spiritualities, the other, that the temporalities of the Church were not to be meddled with. The great point now was, to consider how the pressure of the temporalities might be diminished. The people loudly complained of them, and the Bill proposed to remedy the evil. There were noble Lords who would not touch those temporalities now, because they had long been established. Yet, would any man say, that if he had now to propose for the first time, the establishment of a Church in Ireland, that he would provide an establishment of twenty-two Bishops? The number of Bishops required for the country was a matter of detail, depending on local knowledge; and if it was proved that the present number was too large, it ought to be reduced. Another great grievance was the Church and Vestry-cess. On that subject, the noble Earl at the head of the Government had spoken so warmly and truly, that he should not say more than that a rate to build and support Churches which were never entered by the people who paid it, must be felt by them as most oppressive. First Fruits had also been alluded to. He thought that that was a most important part of the subject, and if nothing had been done with it in this Bill, he should have made it the subject of a Motion. The Board of First Fruits in Ireland had not latterly done its duty. That was much felt in Ireland, and there were persons who were inclined to bring that matter before Parliament, independently of any general and Government measure. He certainly was of opinion, that the measure would further the interests of the Protestant religion. A reference had been made to the former policy of the English Government. What was the condition to which that former policy had reduced us? Why were we to adhere to it unless it could be distinctly shown to have been productive of advantage. A noble Lord had called the Pope, Cerberus—he had before called the lawyer so, but now he gave the name to the Pope, imagining, perhaps, that as the Pope had three Crowns, he must have three heads. But it was not shown that with all the 776 wealth of the Church, Popery had decreased. Indeed, notwithstanding the great number of Bishops, it was said that Popery had increased in Ireland. He was not prepared to admit that. The Quakers had increased; the Dissenters from the Church of England had increased most enormously. He was glad they had. Some of them had lately come into that part of the country where his property lay, and he found them such fair men to deal with, that he wished there were many more of them. But he did not believe that Popery had increased; it had not, however, diminished. All the expensive and immense establishment had failed of its promised effect. They had tried to gain their point by the bribery of the people, but it failed. They had offered a bribe to the son, who, if he would desert the religious tenets of his father, might dispossess him of his property; but the day for continuing that was now gone by. They must now give religion fair play, which they had not hitherto done. If they had. Protestantism would have increased in Ireland. Let them look at all the rest of Europe, where such had been the effect in spite of much opposition, except, indeed, in Spain and Portugal. All the cumbrous and expensive machinery of the English Church had not done that in Ireland for-the Protestant religion, which the religion had done for itself in the rest of Europe. The clergy of Ireland were meritorious men, but the system was odious; and, as the effect of the system attached itself to individuals, it made them odious. If they agreed to this measure they would not diminish the utility of the clergy by diminishing the oppression of the Church; and, looking to past experience, he should say, that the Church would then gain that support from the people of which it was now deficient. The character of the ministers of the Church was such as to give them authority and respect in the eyes of the nation. If that advantage were extended to the system, and if the ministers of the Church had a fair chance, the Church would reap the advantage of it; and that he was sure, would be the case if their Lordships redressed the grievances, and conferred on the people the boon which it was the object of this Bill to give them. He should only add, that the landlords of Ireland had been ill-treated in the attempt to confound tithes with rent; but the attempt was as vain as it was injurious—the people would not confound them. If this Bill were granted, the affections of 777 the people would be conciliated—they would be disappointed if it were not.
The Marquess of Londonderry
felt sonic impatience to rise after what had been stated by the noble Marquess who spoke last and, as an Irish landlord, and an Irishman, he must protest against the noble Marquess's sentiments, the noble Marquess had represented the people of Ireland as suitors for this Bill. Did he mean the Protestant gentry and landholders? Who, then, were the suitors for this Bill? Why the Catholics. It was in vain to deny that ever since the passing of the Catholic Bill, which was to be the panacea of the country, matters had become worse. It was equally in vain to deny, that the effect of this measure must be to make things even worse than before; and, if their Lordships passed this Bill, who would say what the Catholics might require next? He felt it impossible, when he observed ail that had happened since the passing of the Reform Bill, to give his support to the present Bill. This measure, he was satisfied, would be the destruction of Protest-autism in Ireland. He could not but remind their Lordships, that clause 147, as it had originally stood in the Bill, had been given up by the noble Earl, because he well knew it would never have passed this House, and the noble Earl had said, that the time was yet to arrive when it might be necessary to discuss how far the revenues of the Church were applicable to the services of the State. Was not the cloven foot shown there? Short-sighted, indeed, must be the man who could not see the course of policy designed by the noble Earl's Administration. The noble Earl had urged the disparity in the value of the sees in England and in Ireland, and after the arguments which the noble Earl opposite had advanced, he would ask the right reverend Bench if they thought the sees of England would be held sacred? The Irish Bench was by this Bill to be decimated; and he would tell the Bench of Bishops, that if there were any argument on which it were possible that he would vote for their expulsion from that House, it would be if they allowed themselves to be influenced either by the King or by his Ministers. He would tell their Lordships, that the country looked to the conduct of the House of Lords at this crisis. They had been told not to attempt to reject this Bill, because it would displace the Ministry, and no other Government could carry on the affairs of the country at 778 present. Was that an argument which would induce their Lordships to accede to this measure contrary to their judgments? Good God! Was it to be supposed that no other Government could be found to carry on the affairs of the country. What had the present Government done for the country? Did not every one see that they had tampered with, or destroyed everyone of its institutions? Did not everyone sec, that they had so complicated the business of the country, that it would take years to recover? That which they had urged as a blessing, had proved a curse; and the most glaring fact of all was, that their own friends were now the most hostile to them, and they were obliged to look to their enemies to extricate them from their difficulties. This, he must insist, was a true picture of the noble Karl's Administration. As the noble Earl had brought in the present Bill, he (the Marquess of Londonderry) would beg leave to ask him the same question which he had asked him when the Reform Bill was brought in—would the noble Earl ensure him against further concessions? Would he ensure him from Vote by Ballot, Annual Parliaments, and Universal Suffrage? Would the noble Earl say, that; those demands would not follow from this measure. Let noble Lords look to what had happened in another place; and they would find that Motions had been made for the introduction of those changes; and he did not know but this measure might be the preliminary for such Motions in their Lordships' House. If, however, the noble Earl would state that the English Church should not follow the Irish Church in the measures proposed, that declaration would go far to obtain his consent to the present Bill. As he had no hope of obtaining any such assurance, as the Bill was, in his opinion, contrary to the Coronation Oath, and to the Act of Union, he would give it his decided opposition.
The Earl of Gosford
was well acquainted with the north of Ireland, and he could affirm, that there was not one Protestant in that part of the country unbiassed by political feeling, but was favourable to a Reform in the Established Church of Ireland. He could say, that the most influential and respectable men in that country were inclined to think the Established Chruch, upheld as it was, as little better than a farce. He firmly believed, that, if the Protestants of Ireland (he did not mean the political Protestants) were allowed to use their judgment, they would declare in 779 favour of this measure. He knew that in the part of the country with which he was connected, every means were taken to rouse the passions of the Protestants, and to incapacitate them from judging for themselves, and to degrade the character of every person opposed to them. He lived much in that country, and he was fully aware of the seductive artifices made use of to gain the people over; and he believed that there would be no disturbances in Ireland, were it not that religion was rather made a political engine, by which to inflame the minds of the people, than a means for religious instruction. He viewed the asperity with which the present measure had been met with sorrow, and regretted, that the opinions of honest, deliberate, and conscientious men should not be allowed fair play and fully brought into discussion; for, without that, however he might respect the individuals, he could not respect the opinions that might be sent forth to the Legislature through such means. He was convinced, that if this measure should be carried into a law, it would be productive of peace, harmony, and goodwill amongst all classes in Ireland—that one of the good effects of it would be, to shake off everything of a political character, that had so long adhered to and injured the Protestant religion in Ireland, to establish real religion and real Christianity there, and to put an end to those factions by which that country had been so long distracted and disgraced. He firmly believed, that the security of the Protestant establishment in Ireland could only be maintained by the adoption of some such measure as this. He would not say, that sonic of the details of the Bill might not be improved, but he would not depart from any of the principles contained in it he thought there had been too much of that already. He did not mean to say, that there had been any departure from the great leading principles of the measure. He concluded by repeating his opinion, that the interests of the Protestant religion, and of the Protestant Chruch in Ireland, would be more permanently secured by the adoption of this measure than by continuing the existing system as regarded the Church in that country.
The Marquess of Weslmeath
said, there had not been a single petition presented from the Protestants of Ireland in favour of this measure. He, therefore, doubted the statement of his noble friend who had just spoken, that it would give satisfaction 780 to any portion of the Protestants of Ireland. He thought that the infraction by the Bill of the articles of Union was the just ground whereon to rest the Amendment. He viewed this measure as a complete violation of those articles. He did not deny the competency of Parliament to deal with the property of the Church but when a measure was proposed like the present, that went to the demolition of that property, if words or language had any meaning, he would say that the articles of Union stood in the way of the adoption of such a measure. If the Act of Union was in this way to be violated, to be treated like an old almanack, the whole body of repealers might come in. He could not understand how any one that was practically acquainted with Ireland, could say, that a measure like this would not be dangerous to the Protestant Church in that country. The lower classes of the Catholic population in the west and south of Ireland, he was sorry to say, were in a state of extreme ignorance—they were also bigoted enemies of the Protestant religion, and should such a measure as this be passed, it would incite them to begin what they would consider the good work of putting an end to the Protestant establishment in that country. He had not heard a single reason or argument from the noble Earl in support of the measure, except the argument of expediency. The noble Earl had talked of the discontent that existed in Ireland. It was altogether confined to political objects. The Catholics in Ireland only raised a cry against the tithes, that they might get them for their Own clergy. In the reign of James 2nd, the Catholic Parliament which assembled in Dublin (he knew the fact, for an ancestor of his own sat in that Parliament) appropriated the whole of the revenues of the Church of Ireland to themselves. The noble Marquess, after observing that he sometimes sat on that (the Opposition) and sometimes on the other side of the House, and ought, therefore, to be considered impartial, he proceeded to read extracts from speeches made by Mr. O'Connell, to show that the Catholics of Ireland, in seeking for the abolition of tithes, only sought to get them for themselves. The noble Marquess also read an extract from Mr. Jacobs's Travels in Spain, relative to the collection of tithes in that country, which described them as rigorously exacted and extended to every description of agricultural produce. From the severity with 781 which tithes were enforced in Spain, he inferred that the Catholics of Ireland had no innate objection to the tithe system, but they wanted the tithes for their own clergy. He had no prejudices against the Catholics. He had come from a Catholic stock himself, and as long as the Catholics suffered under disabilities in contravention of the treaty of Limerick, he did what he could to assist them, but he went no further. He was now sure that there was a conspiracy formed to cut the ground from under every Protestant in Ireland, and he was determined to take his stand against it. The noble Marquess referred to the speech of Dr. Dromgoole at the Catholic Board some years ago, and to several recent speeches of Mr. O'Connell, to show the feelings entertained by the Catholics of Ireland, with regard to the Protestant Church in that country. If he had all the Irish papers there, he should be able to show their Lordships that the Catholics, in all their meetings and discussions, had evinced a determined hostility to the Irish Protestant etablishment. He objected to the amalgamation of the diocess of Elphin with the diocess of Kilmore. The present Bishop of Kilmore was a very old man, and if the Bishop of Elphin should die before him, how could he attend to the duties of such a distant diocess? He would have to travel thirty Irish miles to the Shannon, which separated the two dioceses he would ask his noble friend opposite to tell them how could the Bishop cross the Shannon If he did cross it, he would find very bad roads and had means of travelling in that part of the country, and where, he would ask, could the Bishop put up at night? If the other cases of unions of bishoprics were attended with similar circumstances, they would be most objectionable. If their Lordships passed that Bill it would drive all the Protestants that could flee, to Canada or elsewhere, out of Ireland.
The Bishop of Rochester
opposed the Bill: he objected to the clergy being called on apart from the rest of the community to pay for the repairs & of Churches. It would be quite as reasonable to ask the Lord Chancellor and the judges to rebuild Westminster-hall, if it happened to be burnt down. The noble Earl who moved the second reading of the Bill, stated, that bishoprics had been suppressed or united with other sees by former acts of the Legis- 782 lature; but that was done under circumstances widely different from the present, and with the consent of the Church. There was nothing in the preamble of the Bill stating the necessity of a reduction in the number of the Irish sees, and the noble Earl had not established the expediency of abolishing them. From the moment the clerk at the Table should, in reference to this Bill, here pronounce the words "le Roi le vent," his Majesty would have publicly violated the engagements of the Coronation Oath. The noble Earl on the other side had last year stated, that without, the assistance of the clergy neither the resident nobility and gentry, nor the magistracy and civil force, could have succeeded in repressing disturbance in Ireland. He trusted that, even if this measure became law, the clergy would evince their Christian feeling by persisting in well doing, although doubtless they might be held excusable for taking less interest in the public welfare under a state of things by which they were oppressed, and deprived of their just rights and privileges. Besides, it must be borne in mind, that the power of the clergy to promote the public peace would be lessened by a measure which deprived them of the ability to interfere with effect, or even to protect themselves.
§ The debate, on the Motion of the Bishop of Exeter, was adjourned.