HL Deb 24 July 1833 vol 19 cc1154-64

On the Motion of Earl Grey, the House resolved itself into a Committee on the Church Temporalities (Ireland) Bill.

On the 49th Clause being read,

Lord Plunkett

said, that by the Act of Union, it was declared that one Archbishop, and a certain number of Bishops of Ireland should sit in Parliament. Now, by the Bill, as it now stood, it might so happen that no Archbishop would, as was provided by the Act, be called on to sit in that House: he therefore should propose, as an amendment, that one of the Archbishops should, each alternate year, take his seat in the House.

Lord Ellenborough

said, that as, under this Bill, additional labours would be cast on the Archbishops, it would be very inconvenient for one of them to be absent from Ireland every other year.

Viscount Beresford

said, it would be extremely inconvenient to have one individual one year, and another the next year, to take in turn the duty of attending that House. The present, he thought, was a good occasion to fix on one Archbishop, who should permanently be a member of their Lordships' House.

The Amendment agreed to.

On the motion of Lord Plunkett, a new Clause was introduced in the place of

Clause 50, to meet the alteration caused by his Amendment.

Clause 51 agreed to.

Clause 52, which relates to the reduction of the revenues of Armagh and Derry, having been read,

Lord Ellenborough

objected to its preamble, which was not in accordance with the preamble of the Bill itself, inasmuch as it did not point out to what purposes the supposed "excess" of the revenue of those dioceses over the revenue of the other dioceses was to be applied.

The Duke of Wellington moved, as an Amendment, that "such excess shall be applied to the building and repair of churches, to the augmentation of small livings and to such other purposes as may conduce to the advancement of religion, and the efficiency, permanency, and stability of the United Church of England and Ireland.

The Earl of Haddington

was disposed to object both to the 52nd and 53rd clauses, because they went to regulate the incomes of the Bishops. He wished them to be wholly omitted: He should propose, on the report, that those clauses should be expunged, and also that an alteration should be made in the schedule.

Lord Ellenborough

said, the calculation of the noble Chancellor of the Exchequer, with respect to the sum likely to be realized by the sale of leases in perpetuity, differed greatly from that which he (Lord Ellenborough) had made, and indeed the noble Lord ultimately differed from himself. In the first instance, it was said that those sales would produce 3,000,000l., the amount then came down to 2,000,000l., and now it had dwindled to something above 100,000l.

The Earl of Ripon

said, that his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had, in the first instance, estimated the amount at 3,000,000l. provided the perpetuities were sold at six years' purchase. But, at the suggestion of a noble Lord, the estimate was afterwards made with reference to a two years' purchase, which necessarily reduced the amount from 3,000,000l. to 1,000,000l. As to the statement of 100,000l. he had never heard of such a reduction; and he knew not where the noble Lord had obtained his information.

Lord Ellenborough

said, if the noble Earl would look to the report made to the House of Commons last. Session, he would see that the noble Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken the gross, instead of the nett value.

The Amendment was agreed to.

On Clause 55 being put.

The Duke of Wellington

said, that, as livings were proposed by the clause to be handed over to parties who did not personally enjoy the right of presentation, an opportunity was afforded the Government of rewarding those to whom the education of the youth in Ireland was confided. The University of Dublin was composed of seven senior fellows, and eighteen junior fellows. A few years since, the number of students did not exceed 800, but they now amounted to 1,700. The labour of the junior fellows, therefore, who had alone the privilege of receiving pupils, had considerably increased of late years—so much so, that the number ought to be increased. There was no outlet for the junior fellows, except by vacancies occasioned at the board, or by presentations to livings which were in the gift of the college. These livings did not amount to more than twenty-one, and he thought Parliament ought to make some provision for those meritorious men, whose early years were employed in imparting education to the rising generation. He did not know whether the present period of the debate was the proper one to introduce the clause which he held in his hand, and which was to the following effect:—That a certain number of livings should be vested in the Lord-Primate and the Archbishop of Dublin, in trust, and that, upon their becoming vacant, they should nominate one of the junior fellows, or ex-fellows, of Trinity College to the same; but, in case that none of the fellows should be willing to accept the same, then that they should nominate some other gentleman distinguished for piety and learning. He hoped the proposition would meet with the concurrence of his Majesty's Government.

The Lord Chancellor

said, he was willing to do everything in his power to make the measure palatable, and he had no objection that those persons who were employed in the education of the youth of the country should meet a just reward. He doubted, however, whether those who had spent the greater portion of their lives in college were the best possible persons to undertake, perhaps at fifty or sixty years of age, for the first time, parochial duties. He understood that the emoluments of the senior fellows amounted to 1,500l. a-year. He thought it quite clear that they, at least, would not be induced to change their mode of life, unless the income of the living exceeded their present revenues—even, supposing that any consideration could induce them to take upon themselves the labour of a parish minister. The junior fellows, taking the emoluments arising from professorships and pupils, might average at from 800l. to 900l. a-year. It was quite clear that the benefit must be great indeed that could induce any of those fellows to forsake their fellowships. Recently, a living of 800l. a-year passed all the fellows, and one at last took it upon terms, namely, that he should have the option of the next that fell vacant. He merely threw this out to show that the object which the noble Duke had in view could now be attained by his Amendment, as few of the livings to be vested in the hands of the trustees could be expected to average 800l. a-year.

Lord Wynford

said, that, by the statutes of the college at present, junior fellows were prevented from marrying. Many of them might wish to marry, and would, therefore, be satisfied to take small livings.

Lord Plunkett

would not offer any opinion adverse to the clause, even if he entertained it. He owed that college too much to allow any opinion of his own to stand in the way of a benefit to be conferred upon it. He owed that college a debt of gratitude, for having so frequently returned him as their representative, which never could be effaced from his memory. He would not, upon the present occasion, express any opinion with respect to the clause; but the question of celibacy, to which the junior fellows were subjected, having been introduced, he felt it necessary to say something upon it. That cruel restraint was contrary to the spirit of the times, and the statute respecting it was, for a long period, not enforced. The statute, however, was now in operation, and he deprecated it, as it had the effect of disabling those to whom the education of youth was intrusted from filling those relations in life which best fitted them for the discharge of their duties. They were debarred from that social intercourse which others enjoyed, and something ought to be done to relieve them. The statute was revived by Dr. Hall, the then provost, and Mr. Downes, the late Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland—than whom two better men did not exist—but they were both old bachelors, and lived and died in a state of celibacy.

The Duke of Cumberland

said, that the statute lay dormant for many years, and was revived in consequence of great scandal being given in consequence of the wives of the junior fellows not bearing their husbands' names.

The Earl of Wicklow

, after the manner in which the Amendment had been received, would request of the noble Duke not to press it at present, but to reserve it to some future stage of the Bill. He thought the proposition would have the effect of being highly beneficial to the Church, and was not liable to the objections taken to it by the noble and learned Lord (the Lord Chancellor). The patronage of the university was much smaller than was supposed, and ought to be augmented.

The Earl of Rosse

said, that in order to obtain a fellowship in the University of Dublin the greatest learning was required, and some provision ought to be made for the disappointed candidates. There were often five or six candidates for one vacancy—and those who were unsuccessful were men of great acquirements. He thought that providing for such men would be conferring benefit on the Church, as well as an act of humanity. It rarely happened that any of the aspirants for fellowships could go through the course of reading necessary for the examinations, without impairing his health.

Earl Grey

thought the object of the Amendment was of great importance: and, when a proposition of a similar purport was suggested to him by the provost of the University of Dublin, he had thought it would be beneficial; but, on further consideration, some difficulties had presented themselves to his mind. It seemed to him that the question was one of so much importance, that some little time should be taken to consider it, before the House came to a decision upon it. Trinity College, Dublin, consisted of seven senior, and eighteen junior fellows—and seventy scholars. He was not aware, whether any of the latter class were in holy orders; but if so, he thought it might be desirable that the selection for livings in the way proposed should include the scholars likewise. He merely threw this out, in order that it might receive timely consideration. Under every circumstance, he was of opinion, that it would be desirable that the noble Duke should consent for the present to withdraw his Amendment, as it might be introduced as a substantive clause in a future stage of the Bill. That would afford time for considering how such an arrangement could be made as would best tend to promote the interests of the very learned body to which it had reference.

Amendment withdrawn, and Clause agreed to.

On the 61st Clause,

Lord Wharncliffe

said, that he would not object to the imposition of a tax upon the more opulent clergy for the purpose of making up for the deficiency of the incomes of their poorer brethren, but he was strongly opposed to the substitution of a tax upon the clergy for the Churchcess, which was now paid by the land. It appeared to him to be most unjust to re quire the clergy to pay for the sacramental wine and for the salaries of their clerks. It was no more reasonable than to compel them to supply their parishioners with bibles and prayer-books. There was a fund of 41,000l. to be placed in the hands of the Commissioners under this Bill, from which those expenses might be defrayed. He admitted, that some alteration of the Church-rates in Ireland was desirable, and he believed that many months would not elapse before Parliament would find it necessary to make some change in the levying of Church-rates in England also. They were considered a great grievance by the Dissenters, who, in some places, attended in great numbers at the vestry, and prevented the rate from being made. But, whatever the change was to be which their Lordships might see fit to make, he trusted that it would not be to throw the burthen upon the clergy. He should propose, that the produce of this tax should be solely applied to the augmentation of the small livings. He might, he was aware, be met in limine by the objection, that the other House would not consent to his Amendment; but, notwithstanding that, he trusted that their Lordships would show to the clergy that their case would be dealt with, at least in the House of Lords, fairly and honestly. He moved in the first instance, that the words of the clause providing for the application of the money be left out in order afterwards to move an Amendment to the effect that the proceeds of the tax upon the incomes of the clergy should be appropriated solely to the augmentation of small livings.

Earl Grey

objected to the Amendment, and thought that if it was right to raise the tax at all, there could be no objection to having it appropriated to the several purposes mentioned in the Bill. On that general ground he opposed the Amendment, and he maintained, that if it should ever be necessary to legislate respecting Church-rates in England, the present measure would form no injurious precedent.

The Earl of Wicklow

agreed with the remark of the noble Earl who last spoke, that it would be had to make a distinct appropriation of the tax. He had no objection that the Commissioners should apply the money to the purposes mentioned in the Bill; but he objected to a burthen being laid on the clergy, and thought that the landed proprietors should have their fair proportion of it. He trusted that some alteration would be made to relieve the Irish landlords from the invidious position in which they would be placed, if the Bill passed as it then stood.

Lord Ellenborough

entirely concurred with the opinion of his noble friend (Lord Wharncliffe), and considered that the Amendment was a most important one. If any other way could be found than that very unjust way of raising the money by imposing a tax on the clergy—if it were levied on the landlords or otherwise, a great objection to the injustice of the whole scheme would be removed. The Board of First Fruits had due to them, or in hand, the sum of 452,000l., which might be applied to the augmentation of small livings, and thereby do away with the necessity of imposing this new and unjust burthen on the clergy.

Lord Wharncliffe

admitted, that his Amendment would not remove the injustice done to the clergy in favour of the landholders, and he hoped that if ever Parliament thought fit to remove the Church-rates, that landlords would not be favoured in the way they were by the present measure.

The Earl of Haddington

thought, that if the Amendment of his noble friend were carried, it would do a great deal of good, and, besides, would ward off the establishing of a precedent for the time to come respecting an evil that was staring them in the face in England. He maintained, that the hunted and persecuted Irish clergy should not have their revenues taxed, nor be called on to pay what he believed the law contemplated should be paid by the landowners. He had long been of opinion that the pauper Catholic should not pay the cess, but he never supposed that the clergy were to be called on to pay it. The landlords ought to pay it, and he regretted that he did not see a greater number of them willing to pay the paltry tax of five' farthings in the pound on their income, which would be fully equal to the amount of the cess.

The Earl of Ripon

begged to remind the noble Earl, that he was talking about a matter which had been disposed of last night, when the 14th clause of the measure was agreed to. If noble Lords were continually adverting to clauses already passed, the debate on the Bill would never finish.

The Bishop of London

said, that if the clergy were to pay a tax, it would be much more in accordance with their feelings to pay that tax for the relief of their poorer brethren than for any other purpose; he should, therefore, vote for the Amendment.

The Committee divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause—Contents 56: Not Contents 36: Majority 20.

On the 76th clause, permitting the Commissioners to advance part of their surplus to build churches,

Lord Carbery

objected to a part of the clause which required the payment of one-fifth of the sum necessary for building churches, or chapels of ease by the parishioners, who, he said, in many cases, would be unable to meet the charge. He should move, as an amendment, that it be lawful for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to advance out of the surplus fund at their disposal such sums as they should think fit, for the purpose of building churches in Ireland, provided application were made to such Commissioners in writing from the Bishop of the diocess, accompanied by a plan and estimate of the expense of the building, and provided also, that the commissioners might employ an architect chosen by themselves to erect such building, subject to such regulations as the Commissioners should think fit; provided always that the sum advanced be paid by instalments, the last instalment to consist of at least one fourth part of the whole sum so granted; and such instalment not to be paid till the Commissioners were satisfied by the certificate of a competent architect, that the building had been completed in a sufficient and workmanlike manner pursuant to the plan agreed on; and also by a certificate from the ordinary, that he, upon inspection thereof, is satisfied with the execution of such work.

Lord Ellenborough

observed, that unless their Lordships altered this clause, they would nullify a subsequent clause for the augmentation of small livings, inasmuch as no living could be augmented unless there was a church in the parish, and this clause, as it now stood, tended to prevent churches from being built.

Lord Wharncliffe,

said, that the first object was to build a church, in order to attract a congregation, and he thought their Lordships bound to facilitate the accomplishment of that object by supporting the Amendment.

The Marquess of Clanricarde

observed, that parishes would be in a better situation under the new system than at present. Four-fifths of the entire sum required were given in this case, and only one-fifth was asked from the parishioners; but the First Fruits only lent the money, which must be afterwards repaid, therefore it was clear that the proposed provision was favourable to the parishioners.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

said, that it appeared to him the Amendment was proposed because it was considered that the original clause would leave it to the discretion of the Commissioners whether they would build churches or not. This he did not think a proper interpretation of the clause.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

said, that he would support the Amendment, inasmuch as he wished to support Protestantism in Ireland.

The Bishop of London,

said, that he also would, on principle, support the Amendment.

Earl Grey

declared, that nothing could be further from his thought than doing aught to discourage Protestantism in Ireland; and if it would give satisfaction, he should have no objection to reduce the number of persons signing the application to thirteen, instead of twenty, and the sum to be contributed by them to one-eighth instead of one-fifth.

The Lord Chancellor

contended, that the clause, as it stood, was a guarantee against an impolitic and unfitting application of the funds in the hands of the Commissioners. Exceptions ought never to constitute the rule, and the clause, as it stood, did not render the advance of money binding on the part of the Commissioners, but only chalked out, as it were, the way in which they might apply the funds.

The Duke of Wellington

was of opinion that the clause, rendering it compulsory on twenty persons to sign the application for building churches, and obliging them also to bear one-fifth of the expense, would have the effect of preventing churches from being built. Though far from being inclined to throw needless impediments in the way of the measure, he would support the Amendment, unless some other alterations, to obviate his objections, were made in the clause.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that it had been adopted as a general rule that persons requiring the building of new churches should meet the expense half way. Such was the principle usually applicable to private charities, where the parties calling for an issue of money for certain purposes were expected to advance a cerain portion of the sum required, in order that the whole of the outlay might not fall upon the fund. The question at issue was, how that portion of the Church property which was placed at the disposal of the Commissioners was to be made applicable? The very circumstance of the fund being Church property made it, a for tiori, stronger on the lay applicants for an outlay to meet the Commissioners half way. If the funds were only lay funds, then, indeed, the case might be different.

Lord Plunkett

said, that the object of the original clause was to prevent the fund applicable to the building of churches from being frittered away by jobbing; and the provision rendering it imperative that the application for the building should be signed by twenty persons, and that the applicants should bear one-fifth of the expense, was necessary to secure this object.

Lord Wharncliffe

thought it would be much better the clause should remain as it at present stood, provided there should be added at the end, that if it should appear to the Commissioners, from peculiar circumstances, that it would be expedient that a church or chapel of ease should be erected in any parish or place, it should be lawful for the Commissioners, on the application of the Bishop of the diocess, and they should be at liberty, to make advances of the monies or funds under their control for such purpose. The noble Lord moved an Amendment to this effect.

The Earl of Darnley

was of opinion, that the Bill should provide a stipend for the clergyman who should be appointed to any church that might be erected in the manner proposed. In his own neighbourhood a church would long since have been built if an income could have been found for a clergyman.

The Amendment proposed by Lord Wharncliffe was agreed to, and the clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The House resumed; Committee to sit again.

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