§ The Noble Viscount stated, that His Majesty had signified his assent to those parts of the Bill by which any interest appertaining to him might be affected.
§ The preamble was postponed, first and second clauses agreed to.
§ On the third clause, which provides "that all lands subject to the payment of tithe compositions shall be charged with an annual sum by way of rent-charge, equal to seven-tenths of such compositions, to be payable by the party having the first estate of inheritance in such lands," being read—
§ Lord Lyndhurst
rose to move, as an amendment, that" seven-tenths" be struck out, for the purpose of substituting "three-fourths." It was only fair, with reference to the landlords and. to the in- 447 cumbents of parishes in Ireland, that some reduction should, under existing circumstances, be made, but not to the extent proposed by the Bill. As the landlords took upon themselves the liability, in the first instance, they ought to receive some benefit for that liability, and a distinct understanding should be come to on the subject. Considering that liability, it had been proposed formerly that 25 per cent., or one-fourth of their incomes, should be given up by the incumbents; to that they had consented, and the landlords, on the other side, also expressed their assent to the arrangement. The Bill framed by Sir H. Hardinge and the Bill which was introduced into that House in the last Session of Parliament, both recognized 25 per cent. as the amount of reduction, and he could see no reason whatever for extending it from 25 to 30 per cent. The noble Viscount, in moving the second reading of the Bill, had thought it necessary to give some reason for the alteration from 25 to 30 per cent., which was now proposed. The reason which the noble Viscount alleged was this—namely, that the longer the arrangement of this question was postponed, the greater would be the difficulty of collecting tithe. Therefore it was, that the noble Viscount wished to extend the reduction from 25 per cent. to 30 per cent. This he conceived to be a most extraordinary argument, now that they were coming to a permanent arrangement—an arrangement that was to endure for all time—on this subject. To be told, at such a moment, and under such circumstances, that they were to be guided by what had taken place at this or that particular period of time, did appear to him most extraordinary. But the noble Viscount's argument would apply rather to a reduction than to an increase of the amount per cent. to be taken off; for it was a matter of notoriety, which no man disputed, that a greater quantity of tithes was collected in this year than in the last. The vigour of the law had done that which the supineness or the coldness of the Government never could have effected. Having thus briefly, and he hoped clearly expressed his view, he should, in justice to the tithe-owner as well as to the tithe-payer, call on the House to fix the reduction at 25 instead of 30 per cent. The noble and learned Lord concluded by moving, that 3–4ths be substituted for 7–10ths.
§ Lord Hatherton
said, he had heard that it was the intention of the noble and 448 learned Lord to move an amendment of this nature, which appeared to him to be inconsistent with the measure of last year, and with the Bill of 1834. He called on the House to look to the course that had been adopted with reference to this subject. Four measures had at different times been submitted to Parliament with reference to it. Sir Henry Hardinge had introduced one Bill to the House of Commons, but nothing had been done with it. In 1834 he (Lord Hatherton) introduced a measure to the House of Commons with reference to the Irish Church. By that Bill he proposed a rent-charge or tax on the land of 77½ per cent., in lieu of tithes. That amount of income was secured to the Clergy by his measure, and an assurance was given to them on the faith of Parliament, that it would be paid to the day. As their Lordships would perfectly recollect, that proposition was for a payment to the Clergy of 77½ per cent without any appropriation clause, and that was rejected. He would ask any of the opposers of the present Bill if they thought that the clergy were likely to obtain any better terms? When the next Session commenced the reins of Government were in the hands of the party whose opinions were represented by the noble Lords opposite, and the right hon. Baronet who was at the head of the Ministry in the other House brought forward a measure for commuting the tithes of the Irish Church into a rent charge, the amount of deduction proposed in which was 25 per cent., the rent-charge proposed to be levied in lieu of them being only 75 per cent.; and on the retirement of that Government from office the same proposition was taken up by the succeeding Ministry, and the clause by which 25 per cent. was permanently deducted from the tithes was agreed to by their Lordships.—He begged distinctly to repeat that the clause, as he had stated, was agreed to, for he could call to mind no motion against it, nor any division upon it, during the progress of the Bill in Committee, and he certainly should expect some explanation to be given of the reasons by which noble Lords had been actuated then, as compared with those by which they were now impelled to support the present amendment. He must, however, declare that he did not feel any surprise on finding that the House of Commons had determined upon making an alteration in favour of the landowners to the extent now proposed by the measure, 449 He recollected very well, when the Bill was originally brought forward, the strong feeling of dissent and dislike which was shown by the majority, if not all, of the Irish Members and landlords to being fixed with a rent-charge in lieu of tithes, even with so large a deduction in their favour as was at first proposed; nor was he surprised that such objections should be entertained by these parties. The present measure was most certainly not so favourable to the landlords as the original measure, and yet they had consented to make the sacrifice, rather than prolong the present condition of things. With respect to the clergy themselves, their incomes, on an average, even after they had been subjected to the reduction at present proposed, would be quite equal to what they now were, and they would have the additional advantage of being punctually paid.
§ The Earl of Ripon
said, that the fluctuations which the amount proposed to be deducted in settling the rent-charge were varied and remarkable; the Bill which was brought forward by Earl Grey's Government proposed that 22½ per cent. should be the amount sacrificed by the tithe-owners, in return for the benefit conferred upon them; the next proposal increased that deduction by 2½ per cent.; and the Bill introduced by the right hon. Baronet in the beginning of last Session confirmed the deduction at 25 per cent. Then came the Bill of the noble Viscount opposite, in which the amount was increased to 30 per cent., the sum now proposed to be permanently deducted from the clergyman's revenues. He considered that 25 per cent. was the just medium between 22½ and 30 per cent., and that was the sum he would agree to as the maximum of reduction. But it seemed that their Lordships were called on to agree to 30 per cent. being deducted, not because it was just and reasonable to do so, or because the clergy could afford it, but because it was called for by the pressure from without; or, forsooth, because the popular party (whose influence, let him observe, had been for the first time that evening avowed as a moving cause in their Lordships' House) desired that such should be the amount sacrificed by the tithe-owner. Now such was his feeling upon this sort of argument, that if he wanted a reason by which to be guided in 450 his determination not to vote for a reduction of 30 per cent., but to prefer 25 per cent., this of the pressure from without would be alone sufficient to induce him to do so.
§ Viscount Beresford
was of opinion the liberal landed proprietors in Ireland would be quite satisfied with a reduction of twenty-five per cent upon the tithes, and that they would readily agree to the rent-charge of seventy-five per cent.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
remarked, that the great objection to the Bill for the payment of seventy-seven and a-half per cent was not that that sum was to be paid by the landlords, but by the nation generally. Parliament and the country had had three years to reflect upon that, and up to the present moment nothing effectual had been done towards advancing its enactment into a law. That objection against the payment being made out of the consolidated fund appeared to him valid, for if such a payment had ever been consented to, it would have made the clergy dependent upon the Government for the time being, and whatever amount were fixed on as payable out of the consolidated fund would have been treated as a surplus available for any purpose to which the dominant party might think proper to apply it. He and those with whom he was in the habit of acting had formerly, did now, and would ever continue, to object to the clergy being considered as the stipendiaries of Government.
Lord Fitzgerald and Vesey
said, that he had objected to the Bill of the noble Baron opposite, not because he did not admit the principle, but because its details were impolitic and unjust. The principle he had admitted, and would again agree to, as he had shown by giving his support to the measure which was brought forward by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), who represented for the time the Government of Earl Grey in the other House of Legislature.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
had understood the noble Lord opposite (the Earl of Ripon) to say, the mere circumstance of a measure being acceptable to the popular party in Ireland would form with him a sufficient reason for voting against it. That appeared to him most extraordinary. Who were the parties interested in such a result as it was the object of the Bill to accomplish? None other than the landlords and the people of Ireland, and their opinion was, therefore, of the utmost importance; 451 most wisely, then, did his noble Friend (Lord Hatherton) in preparing his measure on the subject of tithes, refer to them, and modify the provisions of that measure by what was known to be their wishes and their necessities. Surely it would not be maintained that the institutions of this country, civil or ecclesiastical, existed for any other purpose than the public good, the benefit and advantage of the people; and for what purpose did the Established Church in Ireland exist, unless for the benefit of the people? The popular sentiment, therefore, in Ireland was a matter of the very utmost importance, and the character of that sentiment was anything but a reason against the measure before their Lordships. He should merely observe further, that the House could not have forgotten that ever since the year 1799, every law relating to tithes had pressed upon the landlord.
§ The Earl of Ripon
observed, in explanation, that the Government of Lord Grey had proposed twenty-two and a-half per cent reduction for the clergy; that was the exact representation of the fact as given by him. The next Government proposed a reduction of thirty per cent. The difference between Lord Grey's Government and the present, as regarded this portion of the Bill, was exactly the difference that lay between twenty-two and a-half and thirty per cent. Now, he favoured the medium. He was for twenty-five per cent. He had certainly alluded to the pressure from without, and declared, that if he wanted a reason against the present measure, demands so made would have furnished him with that reason.
The Marquess of Westmeath
said, that he differed entirely from the assumption of the noble Marquess opposite with respect to the Irish landowners. He would give an instance. In the parish where he resided, the land was as fertile and as fruitful as in any part of Ireland, and what was the amount of tithe paid? Only sixpence an acre. He thought it neither common honesty nor morality to reduce the incomes of persons placed, with respect to their property, under the circumstances of the clergy of Ireland. Although he undoubtedly thought the moral of the principle bad, yet he would agree to a moderate reduction. The noble Viscount had urged as an argument in favour of the Bill, the state of disturbance in Ireland. He would charge that state of disturbance upon the noble Viscount, and upon the declaration 452 that tithes ought to be abolished. He thought it now rather too much for the noble Viscount, in consequence of a state of disturbance created by himself, to bring forward a measure to rob the clergy of their property.
was understood to say, that the noble Marquess opposite had made an accusation—for such he must consider it—against the Government, which was not substantially true. He had said, that the conduct of the Government was the cause of the ill consequences and disturbances that had so long prevailed upon the subject of tithes in Ireland, and that the phrase "extinction of tithes" had originated in one of the Members of that Government. Now he must beg to say, it was not true that this expression first proceeded from the present Government. On the contrary, the expression originated with the Government of which the noble Earl (Earl Ripon) opposite formed part; and, moreover, he must say, that as long as he could remember Ireland, he could also remember the determined disposition which the people had shown to get rid of the tithes. As to the phrase "extinction of tithes," he begged to say, that he was on the Committee of their Lordships' House to which the original Tithe Bill was submitted, and he very well recollected that some word sufficiently expressive was for some time sought for to convey the unanimous impression of the Committee with respect to the necessity for imposing a payment in lieu of tithes. At length a noble Earl, whom he did not then see in his place, suggested the word "extinction" as the only appropriate word that could be used, and it was at once forthwith unanimously assented to as proper.
§ The Earl of Harrowby
believed he was in order when he took the liberty of asking the noble Lord opposite if he alluded to him?
§ The Earl of Harrowby
Then I beg most distinctly to be understood on this point. The word extinction did not originate with me. I admit that I adopted it when it was once suggested as an appropriate phrase, but I most certainly did not suggest it. I have before often heard that its first use was attributed to me, but I must beg to say this is altogether incorrect.
begged pardon for having 453 quite unintentionally misrepresented this point, but his impression was most decided, and would have so remained, but for the correction of the noble Earl, in the manner he had stated. However, the noble Earl, as Chairman of the Committee, most certainly was the person by whom the phrase was first sanctioned, and under whose authority it was first used, and, therefore, the imputation cast by the noble Marquess upon the Government under which it came into use was not fair nor sustainable. Let him, however, put it to their Lordships, whether every postponement of the Bill did not subject the clergy of the Church of Ireland to fresh dangers? There had been four variations in the measure since it was originally introduced, and every variation had been marked by some additional concession being demanded from the clergy. Let him call the attention of the House to the circumstance, that measures proposed for the benefit of the country had been deferred till the favourable period had been lost. Thus measures receiving the universal assent had been so long postponed that they were at last carried in a way which their original projectors could never have thought of. The question of Parliamentary Reform was, most strenuously opposed, and was not carried until after a delay which he hoped would not be the case with this Bill. If it were known that a Bill would ultimately pass, what folly and imbecility it was, vexatiously to oppose it. He would refer to the Roman Catholic question, when Mr. Fox, Lord Grenville, and Mr. Grey, those distinguished patriots, supported that Bill; and he would ask the House if that measure had been agreed to when they recommended it, would not the question have been settled much more satisfactorily to the country? But the Government was long opposed to that Bill, and now it had not produced the effects which were anticipated from it. The chaplet had been stripped from the brow of those patriots, and it had been put upon the brow of an individual—it had made him the favourite of a country, because his course had been identified with that of the people of Ireland. A noble Lord had made some observations respecting the services of popular persons. He (Lord Plunkett) would say, that any Government that refused to avail itself of the popular party in Ireland—that party which represented the feelings of the people—would deserve the character of being insane. Who were the persons interested in the question? The people of Ireland. 454 And with respect to the Church of Ireland, that Church was established merely for the benefit of the people of Ireland. The case, in short, amounted to this: a measure of this kind was necessary to the safety of the country, and it was to be considered how it could be successfully carried, and he would say, that no measure could be successful unless it were supported by the feeling of the people of that country. Every year, he would repeat, made the question more difficult of settlement; and if this measure were not adopted, next year the House would be compelled to adopt a worse one. He should, therefore, support the clause.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, My Lords, I am desirous of calling the attention of the House to the question before it. The question is not upon Parliamentary Reform, nor is it upon Catholic Emancipation, nor is it upon the question whether the Catholic question was settled too late or too early. The question is simply, whether the composition for the tithes being paid by a rent-charge, that rent-charge is to be seven-tenths or three-fourths of the amount of composition. Now, my Lords, I beg you to recollect, that a very large proportion of the landowners in Ireland are now under the necessity of paying the whole amount of the composition—say, perhaps, 100 per cent. My Lords, I do not say that all are in this situation, but a very large proportion are so. Some, undoubtedly, have made bargains to collect the tithes for fifteen per cent; and those, therefore, of course, pay eighty-five per cent on the amount of composition. This Bill proposes a rent-charge of seven-tenths, and my noble and learned Friend behind me has proposed to your Lordships, instead of that amount, keeping in view the propositions which have been made to your Lordships on former occasions, that the amount of rent-charge should be three-fourths, or seventy-five per cent. Now, I ask your Lordships, is that, or is it not, a fair proposition, considering the relative situations of the two parties, what has been done up to the present moment, and that which has been in contemplation? The noble and learned Baron (Lord Plunkett) has urged that the proposition made on a former occasion was, that the payment should be seventy-seven and a-half per cent; but he forgets that of that a great portion was to come out of the Consolidated Fund—and the Consolidated Fund was to be repaid in a manner which rendered it exceedingly doubtful whether that repay- 455 ment ever would be made. I think that was a speculation which would have turned out a failure. But, my Lords, it is also urged that we agreed last year to a composition of seventy-two per cent. Now, my Lords, I beg to call to your recollection that in the Committee I made a motion upon that subject, which was not carried, that is to say, it was postponed. The noble Viscount subsequently thought proper to withdraw the Bill, and consequently I had no opportunity of renewing my motion. If the noble Baron recollects, that is what took place upon that occasion. As to the amount of rent-charge, my Lords, I cannot doubt that you will consider seventy-five per cent a fair compensation to the Church, and a fair amount also to the landowners, and I cannot think that you will pass the present clause. I thought it proper to say these few words simply for the purpose of calling your Lordships' attention back to the real question before the House, whether the rent-charge should amount to seven-tenths or three fourths of the composition.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, there could be no doubt that the question before the House had been correctly stated by the noble Duke. At the same time, considering the importance of the subject, and the interests which it involved, he thought their Lordships would hardly be inclined to consider the remarks of the noble Baron behind him inappositely or inappropriately introduced, or that his observations as to the conduct of noble Lords upon former measures could not be applied to the present occasion, or were not worthy of their Lordships' attentive consideration. The question was with respect to the amount of rent-charge. Now it was not an easy matter to produce any arguments to show why 22½, or 25½, or 30 was the proper sum. His noble Friend (the Earl of Ripon) said, that he would take 25½. as the medium between 22½ and 30. Now, if by medium his noble Friend meant middle, he thought he was somewhat incorrect in his calculation; for it appeared that the amount he took rather leaned to the latter of the two extremes. But this Bill came from the House of Commons with the assent of that House, and of the large proportion of the Irish representatives; it offered to their Lordships for adoption a full and fair settlement of this question; and he would appeal to that House whether it was worth while to disturb that settlement, which was so much to be desired, by an alteration, in itself somewhat doubtful 456 as to its Parliamentary legality—and an alteration which would at the same time have a tendency to unsettle this measure? It was said this was done for the sake of the landlords of Ireland. They were in a situation of very considerable risk; but he would not now more particularly advert to that subject, which deserved well their Lordships' consideration, and was one of very great delicacy. Now it had been said, that the illiberal landlords were not those who avoided the payment of tithes, and that the liberal landlords only opposed the payment. They heard much about the willingness of the illiberal landlords to pay the tithes on this side of the water; but he apprehended that they were not quite so ready to pay their tithes when they got on the other side of the water—and he felt inclined to think that they would not be unwilling to have some reduction from the rent-charge. He (Lord Melbourne) had often told their Lordships that, with all their attachment to the Clergy, with all their devotion to the interests of the Church, and their zeal for the Bible, he did not believe that a single meeting had taken place in Ireland, at which the payment of tithes had been made the subject of resolutions. There was plenty of attachment to the Church, plenty of attachment to the Clergy, plenty of attachment to the Bible; but attachment to tithes had never been put forward at any of the numerous meetings in Ireland. But the noble and learned Lord who had made the present motion had said, that the clergy of Ireland were in a much better state at present than for many previous years, and that the energy and power of the law had not been suspended by the supineness and neglect of Government; it appeared to him to be a strange thing, to put in opposition the Government and the law. The Government was appointed under, and could not act separately from, the law. He apprehended, however, that there had been no progress made in the collection of tithes from the occupying tenant; and those compositions which had been effected were made under the measure for compulsory compositions. The only question now for their Lordships to determine was, whether for the sum of a mere five per cent. they would consent to disturb an arrangement assented to by the other House of Parliament—and one which, in all probability, would be satisfactory to the people of Ireland, as well as to the people of this country.
The Earl of Winchilsea
would only trouble their Lordships with a few observations, in reference to what had fallen from the noble Viscount, as to the illiberal landlords of Ireland, and he would assure the House that he knew at least of one meeting—a meeting consisting of persons of the very highest respectability, and representing the whole property of the county—at which the only reason that the subject of tithes was not introduced into their resolutions was this—that it consisted of those who were the avowed and true friends of the Protestant Church, and there was but one feeling amongst the Protestant landlords throughout Ireland—a determination to render to the Clergy of their Church their first and undoubted rights. He challenged the noble Viscount to produce one single supporter of the Irish Church, that had refused to pay to the Clergy the full amount of what was justly due to them. He knew there were others, nominal Protestants, who cared not whether the Church were maintained in Ireland or not; they might have withheld their payments; but for the real sincere Protestant landlords, he could safely negative the observation of the noble Lord. The question before their Lordships was, whether five per cent. more was to be taken from the Clergy than had been taken last year. Now he had not heard one single argument in favour of that proposition. It had been admitted, that no body of men had ever been move liberal, more generous, in regard to claiming their just dues, than the Clergy of the Irish Church; and was this their return to those who had acted thus liberally, who had patiently endured persecution upon persecution—all of which he directly laid and charged at the foot of his Majesty's Government; for had they put the law into execution, such evils would have been repressed. Again, then, he begged to ask, upon what ground he could be called upon to take away from the clergy five per cent. more? Not one single argument had been advanced to justify that further deprivation. Such arguments only could be used as were employed by that individual who, he maintained, did direct and control his Majesty's Government; and he (the Earl of Winchilsea) doubted not, that next year the Ministers would come down to that House, and ask their Lordships to consent to a sum of 60 or 65 percent. He called upon their Lordships to spurn such conduct. They had now the knowledge, and strength, and character of the country with them; 458 and he was sure that they would act honestly and fearlessly with respect to this question, upon which hung the fate of his country, and of that Church which, as they had hitherto, he was sure they would continue to maintain.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
wished to know whether the noble Lord would promise that this should be a final measure? If any reliance was to be placed upon the discussions which had occurred in another place, this could not be looked upon as a final measure. Indeed, his Majesty's Ministers had been told, that it was not, and never could be a final measure, but only an instalment, and a step towards something more. Had it not been said, that whatever might be done, all would be in vain, until other and more serious questions respecting the establishment in Ireland were disposed of; and that they must come to those other questions at last?
The Marquess of Lansdonne
considered the observations of the noble Earl (Winchilsea) to amount to a distinct confirmation of that which had fallen from his noble Friend (Lord Melbourne). That noble Earl had alluded to a meeting composed, as he stated, of all the property and respectability of the county, at which resolutions concerning the general state of the county were unanimously adopted; and that which was omitted, he stated to the House, was the tithe question, from which the noble Earl had proceeded to infer, in the view which he took of his remarks, that that which the meeting appeared unanimously to resolve, had reference to questions upon which differences of opinion existed; but that that which they most carefully avoided altogether was, in point of fact, the real question upon which they were agreed. That might, indeed, be called by scoffers on this side of the water, a truly Irish meeting. But it was not for this that he had risen to address their Lordships. Speaking for himself, he did not think that this was the most important part of this Bill. But when so great a national settlement was offered—and only as a national settlement could he view it—whatever might be the opinions of individuals to whom the noble Baron (Wharncliffe) had alluded, and what measure, he would beg to ask their Lordships, had not been attended with such declarations, which, if they had been attended to, as the noble Lord desired upon the present occasion, would have hindered and destroyed the passing of every great question with which the noble Lord had himself 459 been concerned during the course of his political career. He defied the noble Lord to look back for the period at which there had not been some discontented, enthusiastic, exaggerating individuals, who had protested against settlements as imperfect, insufficient, and insecure, which had, however, become highly beneficial by the wisdom of Parliament, which, without paying attention to such protestations, had looked at the question in a large and enlightened point of view—considering the circumstances of the country which it concerned, and relying for the permanence and duration of its success upon the practical result of the benefits which the measure might be calculated to produce? Again, he would contend that this measure was founded in no arbitrary desire to reduce the income of the tithe-owners, whether lay or clerical. Now, this measure regarded two parties—the tithe-owner and landowner—upon both of whom it had an important operation. Undoubtedly it entailed a considerable sacrifice upon the one; but it also imposed a new and undoubtedly very arduous undertaking upon the other. Now what was the value of tithe property? According to every calculation which he could make, the value of tithes was certainly not more than sixteen years' purchase. That was the case, not only now, but under the most energetic Governments, the most Orange Governments, under the Government of the Irish, and subsequently of the English Parliaments, they would not find that tithe ever had a greater value than sixteen years' purchase. Now it was proposed to give to the tithe-owner the security of land, though to a somewhat diminished amount. If a landowner were by means of a mortgage to pay the value of his tithes, he would pay the interest of that mortgage at 64, or not more than 70. To make himself more intelligible, suppose that the tithes were worth 100l. a-year, the value would be 1,600l. at sixteen years' purchase; and the landowner would have to pay by a mortgage on land, interest only at 4 per cent., 64; or, at 4½ per cent., something more than 70. Thus, then, the Bill would give to the tithe-owner an increased security for a small sum, instead of his present insecurity upon a larger one. Then he contended that that was not an arbitrary principle, it was a fair and intelgible principle; there was a difference in the amount to be received, but they must deduct from that the difference between security and insecurity. As a landlord himself in Ireland, he would be the last person 460 to stand upon the value of any trifling amount—but he would not admit that there was anything unfair, anything unjust, anything ungenerous, in the specific clause then under their consideration.
The Marquess of Westmeath
denied that he had ever attempted to underrate the value of tithes, but at the same time he would ask whether any capitalist would advance a single sixpence on tithe, even at the promised rate of four per cent., or four and a-half per cent, mentioned by the noble Marquess?
§ Lord Alvanley
begged to ask the noble Viscount whether he could hope that any settlement could be effected now, if they consented to reduce the income of the clergy five per cent.? When they came to throw out the appropriation clause, as they naturally would do—the only result would be that His Majesty's Ministers would come down next year with a demand for further concession, and with the appropriation clause again. If they wished really for a final settlement of the question they must overthrow that appropriation clause; it was supported by a very small majority of the other House, and a majority which, if nicely analysed, would not be very satisfactory to the Protestant people of this country. For his own part he would be glad to give up the thirty per cent., if by that means some settlement of the question could be attained; but he was convinced that the only object was to procure this reduction, in order that a still farther one might be demanded next year.
§ Their Lordships divided on the amendment:—Content 126; Not-Content 48: Majority 78.
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|The Lord Chancellor||Charlemont|
|Thanet||Say and Sele|
§ Amendment agreed to. Clause as amended agreed to.
§ Clauses up to 10 inclusive agreed to, with verbal amendments.
§ On Clause 11, relating to compositions for tithes,
§ Lord Lyndhurst
wished to remind their Lordships of the history of the Tithe-composition Acts introduced by Mr. Goulburn and Lord Stanley. The number of compositions entered into under the first Act was 1,500, out of which only thirty-nine cases of appeal had arisen, of which fifteen were withdrawn. The composition had been reduced in only three cases. Lord Stanley's Act came into operation in 1832, under which, power was given to re-open compositions, and after an interval of eight years another opportunity of appeal was given. But there were only six appeals entered, four of which were dismissed; one composition was increased, and the other reduced. Would they consent to re-open the tithe-compositions under such circumstances as these? There would be a great risk of doing injustice to the parties concerned, as well as considerable difficulty in attempting to re-open those compositions. This was felt in the year 1823, in consequence of the peculiar mode in which tithes had been paid in many instances. To call upon the House to rip up transactions, and to overturn agreements that had been settled twenty-one years ago, appeared to him to be the height of injustice. He also objected to the mode of appeal as expensive and unsatisfactory. Under the former Acts appeals were decided by the Privy Council, but now there were to be three barristers sent about at an expense of five guineas per day besides travelling expenses, and the wretched incumbent who was not able to get in his tithes was to be subjected to all the expenses and costs attendant upon the visits of those barristers. He called upon their Lordships to reject these clauses—namely, from clause eleven up to clause twenty-four inclusive. It had been said that some of the compositions under Lord Stanley's Act had been hastily made, so that concealment and fraud had been practised; if so, such cases ought to 462 be revised, not by three barristers, but by a proper tribunal. The noble Lord concluded by moving, that the eleventh clause, and other clauses consequent upon it, be omitted.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, the clause in the present Bill was similar he believed to the clause in the former Bill presented to their Lordships. He must confess he had felt that this was the most objectionable clause, in point of principle, of any to be found in the Bill. He considered that it was a clause which must rather be viewed as an exception, founded on special circumstances, than as one that could be said to stand on its own intrinsic merits. He must say, however, that the noble and learned Lord had made his case so strong against opening compositions at all, that he had scarcely left himself any grounds to go upon for agreeing to that point to which he did accede. There had unquestionably been very great neglect in entering into these compositions; power of appeal had not been efficient, it having been generally thought that tithe was never to be paid again. It had been represented to him, and on that information the clause had been framed, that whatever compositions had formerly been entered into they were in fact extremely unequal, and in many cases extremely oppressive. It appeared to him that when they were contemplating a departure from principle, it was much more satisfactory to comprehend as many cases of redress as possible. He thought it better, then, that their Lordships should adopt the Bill as brought up by the other House; but if the noble and learned Lord persisted in his amendment, he should not take the sense of the House upon the question.
said that the tribunals before which appeals were made ought to be local, otherwise great hardship and expense would be entailed upon parties.
said, he had reason to know that the operation of Lord Stanley's Bill had produced great expense and inconvenience to parties.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
suggested that the Assistant Barristers might hear appeals, with an appeal from them to the judge of assize.
§ Lord Hatherton
said the whole time of the Assistant Barristers was already fully occupied. His own opinion was, that appeals should be heard in the respective parishes, by what number of barristers might be settled upon a future occasion. This would be the most cheap and efficient way.
§ Amendment agreed to, and clauses up to 22 inclusive were struck out.
§ Clauses from 23 to 49 inclusive were agreed to, with verbal amendments.
§ Upon Clause 50 (the appropriation clause),
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, that the House, in arriving at this fiftieth clause, had come to an entirely new subject. The forty-nine previous clauses had all closely related to the measure for the commutation of tithe in Ireland—a measure admitted on all hands to be most desirable, and which was stated by the noble Viscount, in the strongest terms, to be a measure most beneficial to Ireland, in being eminently calculated to effect the very important object of securing to that country that peace and happiness, the absence of which had for so long a period been made the subject of general complaint. It would, therefore, be very naturally asked, why this measure—entire and perfect measure as it was—a measure unanimously assented to by every Member of their Lordships' House, and all but unanimously assented to by the House of Commons—it was made a matter of very natural inquiry, why a measure in itself so perfect and so desirable, and so unanimously assented to by both Houses of Parliament, had not, long before this, been passed into a law? A noble and learned Lord, a distinguished Member of the Government, had exhorted noble Lords on his (Lord Lyndhurst's) side of the House to pass this measure into a law; and he would very earnestly give the same exhortation to the noble and learned Lord and his friends. What could be the reason why this beneficial measure, this measure so warmly eulogised by all parties, had not been finally adopted by the Legislature? The answer was as ready as it was complete; it was simply because his Majesty's Ministers had thought proper to engraft upon this desirable measure a proposition of a very different character, a proposition which had no natural or necessary connection whatever with it. Year after year the noble Viscount had reproached those Members of the House with whom he (Lord Lyndhurst) had the honour to act, with rejecting a measure which he described as so essential to Ireland; but he would altogether deny that they had rejected it; on the contrary they had adopted the measure. In the last session of Parliament they had expressed themselves quite willing to consent to its being passed, but they then, as now, absolutely refused to consent to the other proposition which was engrafted upon it—a 464 proposition so widely different from it—and this was the reason why the measure had not been passed into law. What was the reason of all this? That reason had its origin in, and was fully borne out by, the fatal resolution which had been passed upon the principle involved in the House of Commons. He was far from wishing to speak disrespectfully of any measure adopted by that body, but in reference to those who originated and framed, and carried through the measure of which he spoke, he must call to the recollection of the House the fact, not denied even by the party themselves, that they had acted together in recommending it to the House of Commons in the view and determination thereby to overturn the then Ministry, and to put themselves in office. Of such a proceeding as this (looking to its object merely) he would leave the House to judge; all he would say of it was, that it did not appear to him to be a very laudable one. But when he considered that the party in question must have known, at the time they were forming their plan and putting it into execution, the fearful consequences which were likely to result from it, and which, in fact, had resulted from it—the mischievous effects which it must infallibly produce, not only upon the present but the future condition of the country—when he considered that this party must have been fully aware that in what they were doing they were acting against the best interests of the country, that they were introducing a proposition which must infallibly become the grounds of serious discord between the two Houses of Parliament—a proposition which was eminently calculated to form a bar to the passing of that very measure which they themselves so loudly cried for as almost amounting to a panacea for the misfortunes of Ireland—when he considered all these circumstances, he must at once fairly say that there were no terms of reprobation sufficient to mark his sense of the conduct of those who had been instrumental in bringing forward the proposition in question. The case being as he had thus stated it, he hoped, and, indeed, confidently expected, the more particularly when he called to mind the language and manner of the noble Viscount opposite on bringing forward this measure the other night—he hoped and expected, he would repeat, that that noble Lord would now consent to abandon this most obnoxious principle; that the noble Lord, seeing the 465 fearful consequences—the disasters which must necessarily befal the country if that principle became a law—would have the good sense, the patriotism, and the manliness, which so corresponded with his character, at once to free himself from the fetters, to throw off the bonds by which he was unhappily confined, and manfully abandon a proposition which was so mischievous and fearful. If any arguments were wanting to show the impropriety of this proposition, they were fully supplied by the circumstances to which he had adverted. At the time the resolution spoken of was passed the state of the Irish Church was totally misunderstood. The grossest, the most absurd exaggerations, had for a long time existed on the subject. It was unnecessary for him to advert in detail to the statements made in Dr. Doyle's often-quoted letter; the general summing up of that letter was, that the revenues of the Church of Ireland amounted to several millions sterling; and that the Protestant population of that country, meaning that part of the Protestant population which conformed to the Established Church was only 320,000. This was one of the absurd exaggerations which were industriously circulated. Again, in the year 1834, a Member of the House of Commons, a gentleman who had honoured the present Ministry with his support upon great occasions, but who, it was to be remarked, had within the last day or two exhibited some alarming symptoms of wavering—a gentleman, moreover, who had no inexperienced head at figures—he alluded to the hon. Member for Middlesex—this gentleman, in 1834, actually stated to the House of Commons, as the result of sundry close calculations he had made, that the precise amount of the revenues of the Irish Church was no less a sum than 3,300,000l. Such being the exaggerations carefully set abroad, it was no great matter of surprise, certainly, that a very warm feeling upon the subject should have arisen. It was true, no doubt, that since that period, these statements had been subjected to the correction of facts; and that, consequently, such representations had been very considerably modified; but what the House had to consider was, that at the time the mischievous resolution in question was passed by the House of Commons, these misstatements were in full operation, and had given rise to the existence of a very general impression, that 466 the revenues of the Irish Church, as compared with the members of that Church, were most extravagant and enormous. It being now, however, made clearly apparent that these statements were gross exaggerations, that the revenues of the Irish Church were not more than were necessary to provide for the care of the 900,000 souls under its charge, common sense and reason loudly protested against the idea of longer adhering to a resolution the foundations of which were laid in the grossest misrepresentation of the real state of the Irish Church. Upon these grounds he confidently submitted to the noble Viscount, that he was fully justified in throwing over, and entirely abandoning the principle involved in the present clause; and he firmly trusted that the noble Lord would never consent to sacrifice the best interests of the country for what might, in fact, now be looked upon as a mere punctilio. There were other grounds for abandoning this principle, which he would beg to submit to the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount had told the House on a former night, and had told it, moreover, with great emphasis, that all his measures were his own; that he suffered no dictation, no influence, no control, direct or indirect, to bias his conduct. This was a declaration which it had given him great satisfaction to hear; he had, of course, never for a moment supposed that the noble Viscount, upon any occasion, would permit direct dictation to be exercised towards him by any individual or any body of men; but at the same time he must observe the House was pretty generally aware that there did exist an individual—an individual described by the noble and learned Lord opposite as the favorite of the country—the House, he would repeat, well knew that there did exist an individual who at this point of time was placed in such a position as to be able either to uphold or to destroy the present Administration—by that individual's fiat must the Government stand or fall. Such being the case, such being the position of the noble Viscount and his colleagues, trembling under the sword, which hung suspended over their heads—the House might entertain some apprehension that—however decidedly the noble Viscount might repel direct interference—some indirect influence or control might, by possibility, be exercised upon the proceedings of the Government by the indi- 467 vidual alluded to. Our great dramatic poet had it,—That when the lion fawns upon the lamb,The lamb doth never cease to follow him,He rejoiced in the assertion made by the noble Viscount, and in the statement, not only that he had no direct control exercised over him, but that he was not subject even to indirect influence or control from any quarter; and he appealed to the sound and manly understanding of the noble Viscount with some confidence that he would consider well the position in which he stood, in which the country stands, and that he would not suffer this idle scheme—for he trusted he should be able to show their Lordships that it was an idle scheme—to stand in the way of giving effect to the measure which everybody admitted the state of Ireland required, and which everybody admitted was necessary for the tranquillity of that country and the security of the empire. There was another personal argument which he should address to the noble Viscount, and which he also hoped would have some weight with him. The noble Viscount sometimes condescended to give advice to noble Lords at his (Lord Lyndhurst's) side of the House. He sometimes read them lectures as to the prudence and propriety of the course they were following. Now it was not very long since the noble Viscount, pursuing that strain, directed their attention to the decrease of their numbers in the other House of Parliament as the touchstone by which they should be guided, and the test by which they might measure the prudence and the propriety of the course they were following. That was the argument which had been made use of by the noble Viscount. True it was, that that argument had been addressed to them in a moment of temporary elevation and excitement, when the party barometer stood very high, when it was, in fact, up to eighty-six, when it had attained the point of movement heat. It had since, however, sunk down to twenty-six, which, according to his recollection, was something below the freezing point; and if the principle were correct as applicable to eighty-six, it could be no less correct when applied to the number of twenty-six. Now, the noble Viscount must recollect, that when this Resolution was first proposed in the other House of Parliament by a person in the 468 opposition, with all the influence and power of Government against him, it was carried by a majority of thirty-nine or thirty-seven. A year and a-half had since elapsed. The noble Viscount had been during the whole of that time in possession of office, and all the power, control, and influence that belonged to it; yet the majority on this question had been reduced to twenty-six. If, then, they were to take advice and counsel from the declining numbers on their part in the House of Commons, he would take the liberty of presenting to the noble Viscount this position of things as a reason why he should consider well whether it was fair and proper for him to adhere to his former course. But there was another observation to which a noble Lord near him had directed his attention, an observation which was a matter of most material consideration—namely, that in taking the numbers of the other House of Parliament as a guide to the course of conduct they ought to pursue, they were not to consider the numbers only of the majority and minority, but of what they were respectively composed. The other House of Parliament had unfolded the means of analyzing the majority, and had shown of what it consisted. When he informed their Lordships that the majority of Protestants in that House, including his Majesty's Government, were opposed to this measure, he thought that such a circumstance should weigh strongly with the noble Viscount. When he informed their Lordships that the majority of the English representatives, including Catholics and Protestants, were against that measure, and lastly, when he mentioned, that upon withdrawing from the division the names of His Majesty's Ministers, there appeared a clear majority against the noble Viscount, he thought that these circumstances would also have some weight with him. When the noble Viscount considered how that majority was composed, and of what materials it consisted, and when he recollected the statement which he himself had made in that House—namely, that the whole Church was against him—that the Universities were against him—that he had against him the landed interest of the country—that he had against him the gentry of the country, and that the great majority of the peerage was against him—when he recollected all this, was he not entitled to infer that the noble Viscount would pause 469 before he ventured to persevere in the course he had hitherto pursued? He now came to the consideration of the measure before their Lordships' House. He considered it a distinct measure. It was in itself distinct, and ought not to be encumbered with a measure altogether of a different nature, uniting, as it were, the living with the dead. He thought that those who looked carefully into the provisions of this Bill would agree with him in looking upon it as the most mischievous measure that had yet been presented to their Lordships' House; the object of which was, by a new arrangement of the benefices of Ireland, and of the incomes of incumbents, to squeeze out a surplus, to be appropriated to the provisions of this Bill. Assuming that a surplus could be created, it was not to be so appropriated, to use the words of his noble and learned Friend, until a proper and ample provision should have been made for the clergy of the Irish Church. First of all, assuming that something could be saved—that they could reduce the standard of the payment of the clergy of Ireland, and that something could be thereby saved, allow him to point their attention to the manner in which that, in the first instance, was to be done. The Church Temporalities Bill had been passed for a laudable object. It was supposed that by the reduction of ten sees, and by other means suggested in the Bill, a great and important object would be attained. That reduction was to be directed to the payment of church cess; it was to be applied, to the augmentation of small livings, the building and repairing of churches and glebe-houses—objects all of which had been described by the noble Earl (Grey) when he moved the second reading of the Bill, as great and important to the welfare of the church itself. They all knew what had been the result of that measure, and that, with the single exception of church cess, not one single sixpence could be applied from that fund before the year 1873—a period of nearly forty years from the present time—to any of these great and important objects connected with the welfare of the church—namely, the building and repairing of churches and glebe-houses, &c, all of which must be postponed to the time he had mentioned. There was at this very moment moved for by his right hon. Friend in the other House of Parliament, a return of the Eccle- 470 siastical Commissioners, describing the deplorable state of things in reference to this subject. He believed it had not been yet laid upon the table of that House, but he had seen it, and knew what were its contents. There was at this moment a sum of 57,000l. and upwards wanted for the repairs of churches. A large sum wag also required for the building of churches; a large sum was most pressingly wanted, and had been most urgently applied, for the enlargement of churches in extensive and populous districts. If there were any surplus, if they could by any process extract a surplus, to what was it in the first instance to be applied? Was it not understood that it should not be applied to other than ecclesiastical purposes until all these necessities had been amply provided for? and until they were provided for, any surplus that might arise should certainly not be applied to the provisions of this Bill. This subject had been considered over and over again in the other House of Parliament. It was a question of figures, and it had been shown to absolute demonstration that there could be no surplus. Indeed, he might say it had been admitted by the noble Viscount himself the other evening, not certainly in terms, but undoubtedly admitted by the manner in which he conducted himself on that occasion—by his very gesture and tone, and by the very style in which he told the House—"There is a surplus for you!" No one, he (Lord Lyndhurst) well knew, could see through an absurd or ridiculous question sooner than the noble Viscount; and it was very evident that, on the occasion alluded to, he did not so much as desire that any one of their Lordships should suppose he had any other notion of the question than that it was a ridiculous one. He would ask their Lordships whether the noble Viscount did not actually himself ridicule and laugh at the idea of a surplus? Let them now see how this surplus was to be created. The first process was, to reduce the number of livings from 1,385 to 1,250. Now that reduction had been formed upon an obvious, and indeed admitted, mistake; for it was supposed, when it was made, that each of the 1,250 livings contained only 10,000 acres, and about fourteen square miles. Now, instead of 10,000, each living contained 16,000 acres; and instead of fourteen, the number of square miles in each was twenty-two or twenty-three, so that that process 471 had utterly failed. Take the extent of Ireland to be 20,000,000 acres, and divide that by 1,385, the number of livings, and they would find the result to be 14,440 acres, or about nineteen square miles, to each benefice. If they then divided the same number of livings into the amount of that part of the population which adhered to the church establishment, viz., 852,084, they would give to each benefice 615 persons. Now he took that as the basis, and asked if the existing state of things in Ireland warranted this proposed reduction in the number of benefices? The average extent of every living would be nineteen square miles, aad the average amount to each living of members of the Church of England would be 615. Did this call for any reduction in the number of livings? Most undoubtedly not. The very first principle of the calculation proved it to be entirely false; and showed that there was no ground whatever for reducing the number of livings in Ireland. It was idle to say that there was, in some places, but few Protestants. The object was to augment small benefices, and in making calculations they should take the average amount of the whole, not individual instances. With respect to remuneration, he would take the sum slated to be applicable to the parochial clergy of Ireland—namely, 459,550l., including tithes, ministers' money, Primate Boulter's fund, and glebe lands, stated at 86,500l. If they divided that sum, after making an allowance for the present curates, as provided by this Act, amounting to the sum of 84,400l., thereby reducing it to 375,150l.—if they divided that by the number of livings, 1,385, they would find the result to be nearly the sum of 274l. for each living. Now if, as his noble and learned Friend had stated, the clergy of Ireland ought to be properly paid, he (Lord Lyndhurst) would ask whether 274l. to the rector or vicar of each benefice could be considered as too large a remuneration? That sum was less than the sum mentioned by the noble Viscount, who stated it at 295l., exceeding the amount stated by him (Lord Lyndhurst) by 21l., which, multiplied by the number of livings, would give, instead of a surplus, a real and absolute deficiency of upwards of 26,000l. Even taking the statement and principle that had issued from the Government itself, he thought, upon that statement and principle, he should be able to satisfy their Lordships 472 that so far from there being a surplus, there was a real and positive deficiency. The sum to be applied was 459,550l., and the charge upon that fund, according to the statement made by the noble Viscount, was 362,148l., which left a balance of 97,612l., although the noble Viscount made the amount of surplus about 75,000l. It was, in truth, 97,612l., according to items from time to time stated by the noble Viscount. He, however, could show their Lordships, that items had been omitted which would at once destroy that balance; and he would now state what they were. The sinecures and suppressed livings under the Church Temporalities Act, amounted to 22,500l.; the sale of advowsons, for which no provision had been made,—the calculation upon which was, that one-half the income would be lost upon every sale—was, as stated by those conversant with the subject, not less than 25,000l. The glebe was overstated, according to the report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in the amount of 9,700l.; it being, according to their calculation, 76,800l., instead of 86,500l.; tax upon livings, 20,000l.; allowance for opening compositions, 10,230l.; and amount of curates' income understated, 6,962l., added to the foregoing items, none of which were included in the account, would give the sum of 103,492l. to be deducted from the gross income, which, allowing the supposed surplus to be, as he had stated, 97,612l., would show, instead of any surplus at all, a deficiency to the amount of 5,882l. With regard to the tax upon livings of 20,000l., he knew it might be said, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would remit it; but they could not afford to do so. He defied the noble Lord, whom he perceived looking at the figures, to get rid of one of the items to which he had called the attention of their Lordships. They were then talking of a non-existing surplus and of a real deficiency, and yet, taking the calculation according to Government, how did it stand? What were they obliged to do?—Why, to reduce 130 livings to 100l. a-year. Men of education, brought up to a learned profession, who were expected to live decently, to keep in practice the laws of hospitality, to maintain the same respectability as persons amongst whom they lived, to support and educate a family—men of that class were to have their stipend reduced to 100l., in order that the Government might be able to extort something 473 like a surplus. This was the kind of "proper allowance" his noble and learned Friend was to confer upon the clergy. Why, that was a sum which their Lordships would give to an upper servant. Well, there were 800 of the clergy, rectors and vicars, who were to receive less than i 200l. a-year. The income of two-thirds of the clergy of Ireland was to be reduced below 200l. a-year. Were their Lordships prepared to approve of that? If this money were to be drawn from the consolidated fund,—if it were to come from out of the public purse, and that they were providing in the first instance for the clergy, when they might perhaps justly say that they could afford no more, then indeed there might be some reason for this scanty provision; but they were taking from those men the property they actually possessed. Would their Lordships descend to such a measure? He remembered that his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack had some time ago introduced a bill respecting imprisonment for debt, under which there were some merely ministerial offices requiring to be filled by persons, not of any previous education, but having some habits of business; and how did he propose to remunerate them? Why, according to the schedule of the Bill, they were to have 300l. a-year; and yet here they were taking away from persons such as he had described their own property, reducing their income in some instances to 80l., for the purpose of creating a surplus. The noble Viscount ought, therefore, in a manly way, to abandon this idle project at once. But when was this ideal surplus to come into operation? Not during the lives of the present incumbents. They must all die off before this ideal surplus could be realized. So much for that part of the case. The livings of Ireland were to be cut down and new modelled to correspond with the feelings and opinions of noble Lords opposite. By what machinery was that to be accomplished? By a Board composed, in the first instance, of a Committee of the Privy Council, the number of the Board to be unlimited, to be depending upon the will of the Government for the time being, and to be removeable by that Government. They would, no doubt, have some security, while the noble Viscount continued at the head of the Government; but how long would that be? His reign might be short; it was uncertain by whom he might be succeeded; and was it to the nominees of 474 future Governments—for this was a Bill operating in futuro,—was it to persons of whose characters they could know nothing they were to intrust this delicate task, and at whose mercy they were to place the Church of Ireland? The noble Viscount, forsooth, had given a security. He said, that they should be members of the Established Church. Why, some of the worst enemies of that Church were to be found amongst its own members, and he should be sorry to place it at the mercy of any set of men, upon that security alone. After the opinions he had heard broached in particular quarters, he could feel no confidence, no reliance upon such a security. He should not forget that, in addition, it had been proposed that the Archbishop, if he happened to be a member of the Privy Council, should be a member of the Board, and have a double vote. It was provided, that the majority should decide; and what in that case would become of the single or double vote of the Archbishop, in an assembly, the number of which was unlimited, and which was formed at the dictation of Government? This was the power, this the authority, to which the Church of Ireland was to be consigned. They reduced that church by the provisions of this Bill to the lowest ebb. But it did not stop there. The decisions of those persons were to be final. They might make arrangements from time to time for new modelling all the benefices in Ireland. They might still further cut down the incomes of the incumbents. It did not even stop there. In addition to the reduction of thirty per cent.—in addition to the 97,000l. surplus, they had the power of reducing incomes of 100l. to any sum they might think proper—of 200l. to 150l., of 400l. to 300l. and of 500l. to 400l. If their Lordships would take the trouble of making a calculation on this head, they would find that those persons were to be vested with a power of reducing the income of the Church of Ireland, beyond what it was now proposed, to the extent of 74,000l. Was not all this a subject of great delicacy? But they were to have, besides, a control over the glebes of Ireland, an object to which they knew certain persons looked with a good deal of hope and expectation. They were empowered to dispose of as much of these glebes as they pleased, and if they were not given to incumbents, they were to form so much of the general funds of the 475 country. They had heard that the Catholics of Ireland asserted, that their lot should be that of the glebe, and they looked to have the glebe in their own possession. What the result of all this was, their Lordships would see by referring to the documents to which he had taken the liberty of directing their Lordships' attention. In the first place, there was the supposed surplus of 97,612l. to be taken from the Irish Church; then there was to be deducted thirty per cent., which amounted to 153,450l.; by glebes a deduction of 86,500l. would be made, and a still further deduction was within the power of the Privy Council to the amount of 74,600l.; making in all no less a sum to be deducted from the revenues of the Church of Ireland than 412,162l. The whole revenues of the parochial clergy at present amounted to only 613,000l.; so that by the powers conferred on this Board, at the mercy of which the Church was to be placed, the property of the Irish Church might be reduced in the proportion of six to four, and two-thirds of it entirely taken away and devoted to other than ecclesiastical purposes. If the noble Viscount (Viscount Melbourne) upon a former occasion last year felt bound to confess that the measure he then introduced would inflict a heavy blow on Protestantism in Ireland—if he was forward to admit that it would operate great discouragement to the Church, and give great triumph to its adversaries—if that was justly said respecting the measure of last year, what was to be said of that now under their Lordships' consideration? He would be no party to such a measure—he would be no party to dealing such a blow upon Protestantism in Ireland—he would be no party to inflicting that discouragement upon the Church established, nor would he assist in administering materials of hope and triumph to its enemies. And for what was all this intended? For the purpose of conciliating the agitators of Ireland. That was the avowed purpose—a vain and idle hope. Those agitators had declared themselves that they would not be conciliated. They had said they would take this Bill only as an instalment of the debt of justice which they represented to be due to them—and that nothing would satisfy them short of the extinction of tithe in substance as well as in name, in whatever form or shape it might be found to exist. They had proclaimed in terms too distinct to be misunderstood, that as long as the Estab- 476 lished Church remained an Established Church, they should continue to disturb and agitate the land. It was impossible—it was vain—it was idle to attempt to quiet and conciliate spirits of that description; instead of putting an end to the system which they were now pursuing, this measure of concession would only tend to increase their eagerness in the pursuit of their favourite but destructive schemes. Such were the observations with which he had thought it his duty to introduce the amendments he was now about to propose. He did not intend to strike out these clauses without substituting any thing in lieu of them; and what he proposed to substitute in their room, he would shortly describe to their Lordships. But before he did so, there was one clause to which for a few moments he begged leave to call their attention,—he alluded to a clause (the 53rd), by which, in consideration of the sums taken from the benefices of Ireland to be paid into the consolidated fund, a sum of 50,000l. a-year was to be advanced from the consolidated fund for the purposes of education in that country. He had no objection to large, liberal, extensive allowance in money for education in Ireland. When he had the honour of being a member of his Majesty's Government the grant for that purpose was by that Government increased from 30,000l. to upwards of 50,000l. a-year. There was no indisposition to do anything that was necessary in order amply to provide for so important an object. There were large and rich endowments in this country directed to that purpose; but in Ireland they were scanty and few; and he had no objection to supply the deficiency. But under the provisions of this measure, the moment they did that which was necessary with this view—the moment they struck out the few first lines of the clause in question, they altered its whole character; they made it a money clause—a clause of taxation; and then they would be told they were going beyond the constitutional powers of that House. Nothing could be more fatal to the whole question than sending down the Bill amended to the other House of Parliament with this clause so altered; for instead of discussing the matter on its substantial merits, they would be met in limine with taunt and objection, and their Lordships would be charged with having committed a breach of the privileges of the House of Commons. He was therefore prepared to state that it would be necessary to strike out that clause altogether. 477 Having stated thus much with respect to that clause, he had now to refer more immediately to the clause under consideration. He proposed, then, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should have the power—and that power was given to them by the clause he had prepared—of diminishing or extending particular benefices in Ireland, with reference to the extent of parishes, the duties to be performed, and the circumstances of the population, with power to diminish or augment the income of incumbents in those respects. He could not better describe the object of the clause than by referring to a noble Lord (Lord Stanley), a Member of the other House of Parliament, whose secession from the Government the noble Viscount took occasion the other night to declare had been to him a source of deep regret; it would be sufficient, therefore, to say that the clause had been framed to give effect to the wishes and intentions of that noble Lord, and from the encomium pronounced upon him on the occasion to which he alluded, he trusted the proposition would receive the support of the noble Viscount. There would be a power of reducing benefices not in towns which were upwards of 500l. to 500l. per annum, and to apply any fund that might arise from such deductions in augmenting smaller benefices, provided they were not increased beyond 300l. a-year; and he very much feared there was no fund that could possibly be collected from reducing the higher livings which would enable him to raise the poorer benefices to the proper and barely adequate scale. It was not necessary for him at present to do more than state the general outline of the clause; but he could not sit down without entreating their Lordships to take the measure thus altered and modified into their favourable and candid consideration. He entreated the noble Viscount, and his associates near him, to receive the measure in the same spirit. Never were men, never was a Government, placed in a situation more enviable than that in which the noble Viscount at present stood. [Ironical cheers from both sides of the House.] He did not mean to sneer—such was not his practice or habit—he spoke in sober seriousness. By accepting the Bill as it now stood, they would tranquillize Ireland, they would put an end to the discussion of this great question which had so long disquieted and agitated that country, and provide for the security of the empire at large. The noble Viscount might live long, he might per- 478 form much, but nothing he would ever achieve could exceed the good he would accomplish by adopting this measure as it would be modified by the proposition which he called upon their Lordships to sanction by their approval. The noble and learned Lord concluded by moving that the 50th Clause be struck out, for the purpose of substituting that which he had prepared for the purpose of carrying into effect the objects above stated.
§ The clause having been read,
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, notwithstanding the various modes of persuasion and attempts to convince, adopted by the noble and learned Lord in the course of his very laboured and eloquent speech—notwithstanding the ridicule in which he indulged in one part, and the entreaties he addressed in another, it was perfectly impossible for him to comply with the request, or adopt the course, which had been so forcibly recommended by the noble and learned Lord. The same request had been made by a noble Friend on the cross-bench, which had cut short and nipped the hope rising in his mind during the whole debate, that instead of asking concession from him, noble Lords on the other side would have been prepared to concede the principle of appropriation, to what he undoubtedly regarded the general wish which the country felt upon the subject, and the necessity of at length concluding the discussion of this question, and which might easily be effected if the noble and learned Lord would only give way on the present occasion. The noble and learned Lord had stated many arguments—he had made many attacks on the Government in various parts of his speech, and he had also, besides criticising and expatiating on the measure of Government, opened much matter of his own. He would not attempt to follow the noble and learned Lord through the details of his speech, but he would observe, if the noble and learned Lord persisted in striking out the clause which he had expressed his intention to move the admission of—if he succeeded in inducing the House to agree with him in removing those clauses from the Bill, which he seemed to think could be done without involving the principle of the measure, he begged to state that he should consider that the measure was virtually destroyed. He begged to state that these clauses could not be struck out of the Bill without being fatal to its efficiency. The noble and learned Lord seemed to think that they could not continue these clauses in the Bill without its proving fatal to it, but that they might 479 attain all that was required by Ministers, by striking them out, and by substituting his amendment; but for his part he would say, that if they omitted these clauses he would wash his hands of the Bill, and would not persist in the measure, which, would be deprived of the principle to which indeed, he was pledged, and which he deemed necessary to make it effective for the purpose to which it was directed. The noble and learned Lord had taunted him with some arguments he had used on a former occasion with respect to the increasing majority for Ministers in the House of Commons. The noble and learned Lord endeavoured to turn his argument against himself, by stating that a falling-off in the number of the majority might now be urged against him. The noble and learned Lord did not attach much weight to this argument when it was applied against himself, and he (Lord Melbourne) did not see why it should have more effect when urged against him. He had on the occasion to which allusion had been made referred to the progressive increase in the number of the majority in the other House in favour of Ministers—namely, that it had gone on increasing from seven or ten to eighty-six; but the noble and learned Lord had taunted him because the majority in favour of the appropriation clauses in this Bill had declined from thirty-seven, which it was last year, to twenty-six. Now this might be matter of accident, but whether it were so or not is immaterial; but he would tell the noble and learned Lord that he and his colleagues stood on that principle—they stood on the principle on which they had received the support of a majority of the other House—they stood on that to which they were pledged; and if they were not longer supported in the maintenance of that principle they were immediately ready to resign the offices they held; but they would not resign while they believed that they were supported by a majority of the other House of Parliament, and by a majority of the country. The noble and learned Lord had also adverted to another argument which he supposed he had used on a former occasion. He did not then admit what he had stated as a fact, but had made the admission for the sake of argument. He then said, that he would admit that the bulk of the gentry were opposed to them, that the bulk of the clergy were decidedly opposed to the Administration, but that he would not go into any calculation as to the amount in number on each side; but supposing this to be the case, he 480 requested the noble and learned Lord not to rely too much on that circumstance, because, in fact, on looking back to the history of this country, it would appear that the bulk of the nobility and gentry had never opposed themselves to the general feeling and opinion of the country, but that they had been beaten in the long run. This was what he meant to state, and what he said with perfect sincerity, and from his anxiety to preserve the constitution and to promote the welfare of the country. He could not help feeling that it was a sound and wholesome truth, and he had stated it without intending to say anything in the least degree insulting, or to hold out anything like intimidation. He repeated, he conceived it to be a wholesome truth, which he thought should be present in the minds of noble Lords, and should be alive in the recollection of their Lordships. He had stated the general grounds on which he intended to rest with respect to the surplus. It would be impossible for him to go through all the figures to which the noble and learned Lord had adverted. He had before him very long calculations in support of the view of the subject which he had taken in regard to a surplus, and in accordance with the principles laid down in the present Bill. For his own part, he firmly believed in the accuracy of these calculations. The noble and learned Lord said, when he (Lord Melbourne) stated that there would be a surplus on a former occasion, that it was perfectly evident from his manner of doing so that he was not sanguine in his belief that there would be a surplus. He owned that there was considerable difficulty as to arriving at anything like an accurate estimate as to the amount, for it must obviously be very difficult to calculate accurately what would be the sum derived from such a variety of sources. As to whether the sum would be large or small, it might happen, as often happened in other calculations, that the surplus which they calculated to amount to only a small sum might be of large amount, and consequently much more than they had anticipated; and it might happen, on the contrary, that a different result should be attained. It was only the general result that he meant to express, but he could assure noble Lords that, as far as he was able to judge, if they acceded to the measure, and adopted the principle of appropriation as laid down in the present Bill, the peculiar effect which he had stated to the House would be produced. It was not his intention to make many observations in re- 481 ply to the remarks or insinuations which had been thrown out as to the influee under which he was supposed to act. He had before alluded to this subject, and had directly contradicted the various statements that had been made; but he must again say, that if such influence as had been described was exercised with reference to the present Administration he was utterly unconscious of it, and he did not know anything whatever of the existence of such control; and, of course, for that of which he was unconscious, or which was unknown to him, he could not be held responsible. He would only state in reply that which he had repeated on a former occasion, that the noble and learned Lord had given credit to a statement without credit or foundation. But the noble and learned Lord now said, that the part of the measure before the House to which he objected had been adopted for the purpose of conciliating the agitator of Ireland. [Lord Lyndhurst had said agitators, he had used the word in the plural sense.] Well, then, as for the conciliation of agitators, he begged to deny the observation, as he formerly did, and to remark, as he had done when he had brought forward the proposition, that his object was to conciliate the whole country, and for the purpose of settling a question which the noble and learned Lord had himself said they should make any sacrifice to set at rest, which had so long distracted the country, and so long produced so much discord and dissention in that House. He had felt himself called upon to make these observations when he found that the noble and learned Lord had determined to persist in his intention to strike out of the Bill those clauses which he believed absolutely vital and essentially necessary to make the Bill satisfactory to the people of Ireland. After this he would not follow the noble and learned Lord into the plan which he had proposed as to the reduction of benefices; but he did not think that there was anything unfit or untenable in the proposition which he had made. With respect, however, to what the noble Lord had said regarding the stipends which he alleged would fall to the lot of many clergymen, he had some observation to make. The noble and learned Lord, after alluding to the character and learning of the clergy of the Church of Ireland, stated that they proposed to grant them incomes less in amount than 482 the salaries which noble Lords allowed to their upper servants. Was that, he would ask, the way to consider the question? How many public functionaries were allowed but a small income? He could not help thinking that this was one of the worst comparisons that could be adopted. He believed, that if the matter were carefully examined into, it would appear that the average amount proposed to be allowed to the Irish clergy was considerably superior to that which was made to the clergy in England. He believed this was the case; and noble Lords ought also further to recollect, that Ireland was a country in which everything was much cheaper, and the scale of prices much lower than was the case in this country. He would not attempt to follow the noble Lord into a statement on the details of the measure, for this probably would be done by other noble Lords; and he readily admitted that there were many of his noble Friends near him who were more conversant with the details of the Bill than he had had an opportunity of being. But he stood up to declare his adherence to the great and decided principle of the Bill which he had adopted, and which he had determined to abide by, and from an adherence to which he could not depart without a sacrifice of his character and reputation, and the success of which he firmly believed would be beneficial to the country, and which he and his colleagues were determined to stand by. Allusion had been made to a resolution on this subject which had been adopted in the other House, and it had been censured as highly reprehensible. He knew that the resolution had been adopted at the end of a long political contest, but he contended, and he firmly believed it to be the case, that the resolution was framed in milder language than such things generally were at the end of a political contest. Noble Lords must be fully aware that great heats arose in contests of this nature; but notwithstanding the length of the debate, he did not think that there was any violence or harshness of language in the resolution, and he certainly did not agree in the censure passed on it by the noble and learned Lord, who had resorted to more invective and contumely with respect to it than any violence of language it contained. If, however, there was anything violent or rash in this resolution, he thought that noble Lords opposite were 483 blameable, if not to the same extent, at least nearly so, as those who drew up the terms of the resolution. His own opinion was, that they should have resigned on the first vote when it was shown to them that they did not possess the confidence of the House of Commons, for there was hardly a vote of importance which the House of Commons came to when they were in office which did not mark a decided want of confidence in the Government which had called it together. If, therefore, there was anything violent or indiscreet in the language of the resolution, it was as much owing to the pertinacity manifested by noble Lords opposite, in attachment to office, as it was to the feeling of the party opposed to them. But he was of opinion that the resolution in question was not indiscreet—he was of opinion that the resolution was not rash and violent, but that it was calculated to set the question at rest, on grounds which would be really satisfactory to the country. Therefore, not only in point of honour, but in point of feeling, in point of every regard which they could consider binding on themselves as public men, he and his colleagues felt bound to adhere to the principle and to the letter of the resolution; and on these grounds he should give his decided negative to the proposition of the noble and learned Lord.
The Earl of Mansfield
spoke as follows: As the noble Viscount has declared his intention of opposing the amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord (Lyndhurst) I beg leave to trespass on the indulgence of your Lordships for a few moments, with observations on the Bill now under consideration; the objects of which, as they were most perspicuously detailed by the noble Viscount, on a former occasion, appear to me not to be necessarily combined in one Bill. If I entertained the opinion which appears to be held by his Majesty's Ministers, that no settlement of the tithe question will be satisfactory, unless it be accompanied with a new distribution of the Church revenues, and the appropriation of a surplus which appears, consequentially, to spring from that distribution, I should still have thought it better to divide the subject into two separate Bills, and should have directed your Lordships to the unfettered consideration of the tithe question, on which, although we entertain different 484 opinions, we might eventually have come to some agreement. In the Bill of last year his Majesty's Ministers held out to the clergy the advantage of a remission of the arrears due from them in consideration of their consenting to a clause which they knew would be objectionable, and upon the propriety of which I will not now argue. Your Lordships were incapable of listening, unmoved, to the details of the sufferings endured by the unfortunate clergy, who were, in some cases, actually obliged to till the ground for the maintenance of themselves and their families; details which were, on the contrary, met by some of the supporters of Government with little short of the most insulting levity. I do not recollect the particular provisions of that Bill, but it seemed to me to be drawn up with some recollection of the opposition they had previously received; the clergy, however, are now rather in a better situation, owing to the operation of Lord Stanley's Act. I have always been favourable to a consideration and settlement of the tithe question, particularly in a country where religious opinions are so various and opposed as they are in this. We have lately passed a Bill for this purpose applicable to England, and a meritorious one it is. His Majesty's Ministers excused themselves for not having completed it last year, on the ground of the great difficulties attendant upon the question. We have now, however, happily completed it; and although the circumstances of England and Ireland are certainly different, the equitable principles of that Bill are equally applicable to both countries. In the English Bill, your Lordships have recognised the validity of the property in tithes, and repudiated the idea of their being only the property of those who officiate in the Church. You have recognised the right of the lay impropriator, as well as of the incumbent, ascertaining only as far as possible the amount of tithes to which they are respectively entitled. Your Lordships, in this Bill, are required to apply the same principle to the patrons of advowsons which are to be purchased. In order to do this it is necessary that you should know the real amount of the deductions to which the tithe is subject, that you may ascertain its real value; and it is on that ground I am not averse to the re-opening of the commutations in some particular cases; and I am sorry that a suggestion 485 of mine was not adopted, to the effect that the Commissioners should not, in all cases, strictly abide by them. I quite agree with the noble Duke, who so clearly discriminated between the commutations effected under Lord Stanley's, and those effected under Mr. Goulburn's Act. This is an important measure. Whether it will tend to the pacification of Ireland or otherwise I know not, but we have considered it deeply, and done what we think to be just. I agree with the noble and learned Lord (Lyndhurst) as to the effect which will be produced by reducing the incomes of the ministers. I believe that the landlord will be the only person who will profit by the change. The next point which presents itself for consideration, is the distribution of the revenues of the Church; this is a subject of some difficulty, and one has a natural reluctance to acknowledge the principle involved; but under all the circumstances of the case, I must conclude that the time is come when we can no longer, with propriety, refuse to make a fresh distribution of the revenues of the Church, for the purpose of rendering that institution more efficacious, and extending the Protestant religion. This was the principle on which the Church Temporalities Bill was founded; a Bill to which I never assented, in all its parts. To a re-distribution, however, of these revenues, made by persons who are the most capable of judging of the matter, I am not disposed to object; but I have a different opinion upon the subject from that which has been expressed by the noble Viscount. I cannot admit that the labours of a minister are to be estimated merely in proportion to the number of his parishioners; the extent of his parish must also be taken into consideration. There may be a small number of Protestants in proportion to the whole population, but those Protestants may be dispersed over a very wide circuit; and is the small-ness of their number any reason why the Church should be suffered to fall into decay, and to be left without a minister to officiate in it? I do not think that where the number of Protestants is so low as twenty-five, even a minister will be stationed among them in vain. I am acquainted with Ireland only through the descriptions given of it by those who belong to that country; but speaking from information thus acquired, I believe I may with confidence ask even Roman Catholics 486 themselves, whether the ministers of the Church of England have made any difference between them and their own Protestant flocks in those seasons of sickness and distress which render all men alike objects of sympathy and compassion; and yet this Bill seems to proceed upon the assumption that they have been exclusive in their attentions, and that they shall now be dealt with in the proportion of the numerical amount of one profession, as compared with the other. The Bill assumes that there is a superabundance of revenues to be dealt with; if so I would claim out of it a decent and becoming stipend for the ministers of the Established Church. I will not enter into any details for the purpose of ascertaining whether there be this surplus or not. I think that the noble and learned Lord (Lyndhurst) has shown that we cannot calculate upon it. I should even, at one time, have thought it ridiculous to argue upon it; but as the Bill is formed upon the assumption of its existence, and enacts that an advance shall be made out of the Consolidated Fund on the credit of it; and as we are now discussing that Bill, I fear, not for the last time, some observations on the subject may not be totally irrelevant. I would not engage the House in any unnecessary dispute upon the nature of Church property. I will not presume to impugn the power of Parliament, to deal with the property of the individuals now holding it, and of their successors; but I must say that any violent and capricious interference with it, without providing proper compensation for the parties interested, not only for their pecuniary loss, but for their wounded feelings, would be an unwarrantable interference with the property of the country, would diminish its security, would prevent its beneficial investment, and would excite a general indignation against the injustice of Parliament. Trust-property and church-property are differently situated. A temperate and wise interference by Parliament with trust-property may not, at times, be utterly indefensible. I consider this property to be as sacred as our own; but there are cases of malversation in which the Courts of Law have interfered to make a distribution more consonant with the will of the founder of the trust, and I believe that in such cases as those the Parliament may justly interfere. Whether or not the property shall return to the family of the founder of the 487 trust, if the objects to which the property was originally to be applied, shall have ceased to exist, may be matter of debate; but I believe that even in those arbitrary Acts of Henry 8th.—proclaiming the suppression of the monasteries—there was a reservation made of original rights. The property of the Church rests upon this basis, that it must be vested in the Church, and appropriated to the uses of the Church. It has been stated by a great authority that our duty is, in the first instance, to apply the funds of the Church to its own benefit; that when we have provided for all its wants, we may see to what other purpose the remaining portion may be applied, and that we cannot apply them to a better purpose than that of moral and religions education connected with the Established Church. To this proposition I assent. I estimate the importance of national education so highly, that upon the mere abstract question of the advantages which the community would derive from it, I should have no hesitation in consenting to a grant of money to be applied to that object; but I look upon the property of the Established Church, as property which must be exclusively appropriated to the purposes of that Church—a Church which I must regard as the Church of the majority of this realm. It is not, certainly, the Church of the majority if we confine our attention to Ireland alone; and if the Union had been merely a federal union, and not one of consolidation, I admit that the property of the Established Church in that country would not have stood upon the same ground it now does. But even supposing that we were disposed to make a distinction between England and Ireland in this respect—to sequester the property of the Church, and say that both Protestants and Roman Catholics shall respectively support their own Churches, what reason have we to suppose that this would satisfy the Catholics? Have they not declared the total subversion of the Established Protestant Church to be the object at which they aim? And, of course, it is not for your Lordships to legislate for such an object as that. In distributing the revenues of the Church we must proceed as if all were belonging to it; and as if there was no difference of opinion among us. If I may rely on the evidence of Mr. O'Connell, the Irish people do not demand to be freed from the payment of 488 tithes on religious grounds; but that tithes would be equally objectionable to them, whether paid to the lay impropriator the clerical incumbent, or to persons of their own persuasion. Dr. Murray says, that the distribution of the revenues of the Church is not connected with religious feeling; he makes it a mere matter of political economy. Your Lordships, by this Bill, have relieved the people from the pressure of tithes; and there is another relief you have given them—that of the vestry cess, which they had no right to claim. I have no objection to appropriating the revenues of the Church to the purposes of education, provided that that education be given under the direction of the Established Church, and by the hands of her ministers. It is imposed upon them, indeed, as a duty, by an Act of Henry 8th., although as I think, rather for the purpose of substituting the English for the Irish language, than of giving the people such a moral and religious education as your Lordships wish to bestow upon them. I have no wis to speak with any disrespect of the Commissioners of education in Ireland, although I know that severe complaints have been made against them which will afford good grounds for inquiry. I am not satisfied with the practical effects' of their operations, because our object should not only be the maintenance of the Protestant religion in Ireland, but we should also legislate for the maintenance of the principles of the Established Church. The persons who have the direction of these schools, should be orthodox members of the Established Church. The spirit of the Reformation, I admit, was a spirit of inquiry, but it was an inquiry into truth, as embodied in the doctrines of that Church. I have as unqualified a respect for the Universities as I have for the right Reverend Bench; but I do not think that the Universities should be made an arena for theological discussion; nor do I think it an improvement to put persons of discordant opinions upon the Bench. I go further, and say, that in preparing the clergy for the higher episcopal duties of their sacred office, I do not think it likely to conduce to reform, to place persons of heterodox principles in the theological chair. The noble Viscount having left us some time in doubt, has at length declared that he will abandon the Bill, if we resist the appropriation principle. I am sorry to hear this, because I think that the discussions which have taken 489 place in this House, and which must be universally known, would have the effect of persuading the other House to accept of certain portions of the Bill upon which there is but little difference of opinion. That the settlement it contains of the tithe question would be acceptable to a great portion of the people of Ireland, cannot be denied—although complete satisfaction, I am afraid, is more than can be expected from any measure we may think proper to adopt. The threats of civil war which have been held out will have no effect upon me. In retiring from this House, I think we may say we have done our duty; which must be our consolation should we meet with censure where we think we are entitled to praise. We are supported cordially by the landed gentry; and I believe that the people—whose interests are surely as dear to us as our own—will do us justice, seeing that we have been always ready to accede to any reasonable projects of improvement, will not condemn us for rejecting those we have deemed to be of an opposite character. I do not think they will condemn us when they see our readiness to extend to Ireland the principles of an Act for the Commutation of Tithes which we have passed for England; but, should the feeling of the majority unfortunately be the contrary, we must submit to it with patience. For my own part, as long as I have a seat in this House, let there be censure or let there be praise, to be earned by the conscientious discharge of my duty, my vote shall correspond with my own feelings and opinions, as well as with those of my noble Friends, of whose patriotism I entertain no doubt, and with whom it is at once my pride and my pleasure to act.
§ Lord Hatherton
observed, that there was no individual in the House who had less reason to lay down grounds to persuade their Lordships to give him credit for sincerity than the noble Earl who had just spoken. If he could bring himself to think that this Bill was in any degree calculated to do harm to the Church of England, he would be the last man in the world to give it his support. He advocated it, however, on the present occasion, because he entertained a sincere conviction that, surrounded as the Church of England in Ireland was by a hostile population daily dragging its abuses into light, and thus calling into question the expediency of 490 its existence altogether, there was no other chance of salvation for it save by giving to that hostile population some interest in that surplus of revenue above its actual wants, which of late years had been very clearly proved to exist. The Church of England and the Church of Ireland, though united in law, were in a somewhat different situation; and his Majesty had never been more wisely advised than when he had declared from the Throne, that though the two Churches were in law inseparably united, there were circumstances connected with the Church of Ireland which rendered it desirable that Parliament should give to the affairs of that Church a separate consideration. The noble and learned Lord who had commenced this discussion, and who he was sorry not to see at that time in his place, had stated, and had stated with considerable emphasis, that it was worth the consideration of their Lordships, that Ministers would have, been in a minority on the appropriation clause had the Catholic Members connected with Ireland been withdrawn from their majority. He heard with the deepest regret such an observation proceed from the noble and learned Lord, for it was aimed directly at the union now happily existing between the two countries. He would have put it to the candour and fair dealing of the noble and learned Lord, had he been present in the House, whether, if that clause had been to be decided by those only who were connected with Ireland by birth and property, there would not still have been a large majority in its favour. He contended, that, as an union had been effected between the two countries, it was the bounden duty of every Member of the united Parliament to consider upon every measure relating to Ireland what were the opinions of the people of that country respecting it. Could there be any doubt that the Church of England in Ireland would not be permitted to exist for another session with its present extensive establishment, supposing that the people of Ireland had a Parliament of their own sitting in Dublin? That was a reflection to which he had unavoidably been led by the remark, the lamentable remark, which had fallen from the noble and learned Lord. He was not going to question the propriety of the existence of the present Church Establishment in Ireland. He knew that it had long existed there; he knew that it had been planted and maintained there, not by the affections of 491 the Irish people, but by the influence and power of the British Government. Rights and interests had in consequence sprung up, which claimed consideration. He was not going to advocate their subversion, but he was going to say that there never was a clearer course marked out for a British Legislature, seeing that the population which conformed to the Established Church did not exceed one-fifth of the whole population of Ireland, than that of extinguishing all the abuses which had grown up under it, and of applying such part of its revenue as exceeded what was indispensable for its own purposes to the religious and moral education of the Roman Catholic population. He always approached details of figures and statements of finance with a feeling of regret in that House. The noble and learned Lord to whom he had before alluded had given their Lordships an impression—he must be permitted to call it an erroneous impression—as to the nature of the distribution of Church property proposed under this Bill, and had said, that if that distribution were followed up, there would be no surplus for the Bill to appropriate. Now, to an orator of that noble and learned Lord's ingenuity, nothing would be more easy than to maintain a system of distribution by which no surplus would be left out of the revenues of the Church, even if they were eighteen, instead of eight hundred thousand, pounds. There would be no difficulty to a person of the noble and learned Lord's acuteness in proposing a system of distribution which would make any surplus, however large, disappear. In order to show the fallacy of the noble and learned Lord's statement, the noble Baron entered into a detailed account of the revenue of the parochial clergy arising under the provisions of the Irish Tithe Bill, and the expenditure consequent thereon. From this statement, which was nearly the same as that made to the House of Commons by Lord Morpeth—it appeared that the gross amount of revenue belonging to the parochial clergy was 461,900l., and that the gross amount of expenditure required by the provisions of this Bill would be 385,425l., thus leaving a clear surplus revenue of 75,475l. Out of this surplus it was proposed to appropriate to the purposes of national education a sum of 50,000l., thus leaving a balance of 25,475l., which would be applicable to defraying the expenses of collection, and the management of the rent-charges, to compensating the owners of lay advowsons, and to paying off 492 the charges on existing benefices. Under this arrangement the fund provided by the Church Temporalities Bill would remain untouched, and that fund would, he contended, be much larger than had been calculated upon certain data furnished to Mr. Finlayson. He calculated that when this fund came into full operation, the total surplus would amount to 139,000l. His noble Friend near him (Lord Melbourne) had properly stated, and had stated very truly, that the clergy of the Church of Ireland would be much better off under this Bill than the Clergy of the Church of England. Under this Bill each clergyman in Ireland would have an average gross income of 294l., or an average net income of 282l. Now the average net income in England was 285l., but there the clergymen were liable to risks and losses, had the labour of collecting their revenue, and had also the task of paying their curates. Their average income was, therefore, less in point of reality, though it appeared larger in nominal amount. A noble Friend of his (Lord Fitzgerald), in a former debate, had made a reference to him, to which he had not adverted at the time, but on which he would say a few words on the present occasion. His noble Friend had quoted an expression of his in bringing in the Tithe Bill in 1834—namely, that in his (Lord Hatherton's) opinion it was desirable to keep the tithe question and the appropriation question distinct and separate. That opinion he sincerely entertained at the time, and he regretted that their Lordships by their own act and deed had rendered it impossible for the country to adhere to it. Their Lordships had then before them a measure giving to the clergy eighty per cent, on the gross amount of their compositions, without any appropriation clause at all; but that measure they had in their wisdom deemed it fitting to reject, and it was not for them now to taunt his noble Friend and himself for the failure of a measure which it would have been well for their Lordships and well for Ireland had they accepted. They might depend upon it, that the appropriation clause was the only price at which they could buy the settlement of this great question. It was the only price at which they could purchase the consent of the people of Ireland to it—it was the only price at which they could induce the representatives of large towns and popular constituencies in this country to agree to making the consolidated fund responsible for the payment 493 of the Irish clergy. If their Lordships would not consent to pay that price, they might rest assured that the question of suppression would take the place of the question of appropriation, and that in a few years they would hear of the principle on which that subversion was to be accomplished. He begged their Lordships to recollect, that the appropriation of the revenues of the Church of Ireland had been the real source of all the disputes and affrays amounting almost to civil war, which had so long obstructed Government in obtaining tranquillity in Ireland. The severity of the laws directed against this evil had only aggravated its intensity. The real cause of the evil was to be found in the universal sentiment entertained by the people of Ireland of the injustice of the existing appropriation. That had always been avowed by the Roman Catholic priests and the Roman Catholic agitators. The 4th of William 4th had relieved the lower classes of the occupying tenants of Ireland from the payment of tithe; but it had not lessened their dislike to the system. And why was this? Because every Irish tenant knew that the assessments which he paid to the repair of the roads on which he travelled, and to the maintenance of the police, were all institutions from which he at some time or other received benefit. It was from the opposite reason, because he knew that he derived no benefit from the payment of tithe, that the resistance to that payment excited the warmest sympathy among the peasantry of Ireland. What had been the course taken by the Legislature to subdue that resistance? Seventy years ago they had enacted, in point of legislation as to six or seven counties in the west of Ireland, the very same measures which they had recently enacted respecting them. Then their enactments had been attended with greater success than they had been attended recently, and for this reason, then their Lordships were stronger. Year after year they had loaded the statute-book with severe, and he might even say sanguinary laws, for the purpose of supporting the tottering fabric of the Church Establishment in Ireland. They had advanced a large sum for the support of glebe-houses in Ireland, and yet they had advanced but little in the consummation of their projects. They had taken military possession of the country by detachments of horse and foot and artillery, and after all that parade of force had succeeded in collecting 25,000l. of tithe arrears at an ex- 494 pense of 12,000l. They had voted 1,000,000l. as a loan to the clergy on the security of their tithe, and not one farthing of it had yet been, or ever would be, repaid. And now, when all the hopes of the Church rested on four Barons of the Exchequer and their drunken commissioners of rebellion, it was said that the affairs of the Church never looked better. He admitted that in some cases payment had been got, but did their Lordships believe that the same feelings would not again break forth into the same resistance, and that they would not produce the same results? In discussing this question their Lordships were bound to recollect, that the Reformation had never taken effect in Ireland. For 300 years and more, by laws of sanguinary operation, they tried to support and advance the Reformation in that country—oppression, imprisonment, confiscation, arming the son against the father, and the father against the son, disinheriting of brothers—fraud and treachery of every kind—all had been tried, and tried in vain. The Roman Catholic population had signally defeated their oppressors—step by step—item by item, they had re-conquered all their civil rights—and here their Lordships were, with the experience of 300 years before them, following the same blind course, debating, not the question whether the temporalities of the Church should be given to the religion of the majority of the people, for that was not asked of them—debating, not the question whether there should be some proportionate division of those temporalities among the different sects, for even that was not required—but insisting that not one farthing of the revenues of the Church should be employed to enlighten the minds of the Roman Catholics or the Dissenters, although they formed ten-elevenths of the community of the kingdom. He had quoted to their Lordships an extract from the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to show that there was a large number of Churches in Ireland in which there were either no congregations or only very small ones. He had shown that there was not less than 240 parishes which contained not more than ten Protestant families. Now, he would ask of those noble Lords who were connected by birth or property with Ireland, whether they had never seen that which he saw twenty years ago for the first time, which had then made a powerful impression on his mind, and which had never since been 495 obliterated from it—he would ask, he said, any of the noble Lords opposite whether they had never seen in Ireland a hundred Roman Catholic peasants on their knees on the cold ground, round a humble edifice too small to contain them, and yet built and maintained out of their scanty earnings, while the Protestant Church was either left entirely deserted, or only echoed to the footsteps of two or three worshippers pacing down its aisles? Whilst on this subject he would call their attention to another fact, which bore strongly on the same subject. He observed that some short time since, the right reverend Prelate, the primate, had presented a petition from the diocese of Kilfenora, praying for a redistribution of the Church property of Ireland. Now, on looking to the Parliamentary Returns, he found that in the diocese of Kilfenora the members of the Established Church formed scarcely two-thirds per cent of the whole population. They were in the proportion of two-thirds of an unit to seven. If a redistribution of property took place in that diocese, he thought that the clergy of it would not even have salt to their porridge. But was this a solitary instance in Ireland? Quite the reverse. In the province of Armagh they formed sixteen—in that of Dublin fourteen—in that of Cashel four—and in that of Tuam three per cent of the population. There were three dioceses in which they were less than one-fiftieth, and eight in which they constituted less than a twentieth of the population. Startling as these facts were, there would be something consolatory if there were any prospect of this state of things being reversed, and if there were any hope that the number of Protestants was on the increase. But there was no such prospect, no such hope. He had referred to documents to see what the number of Protestants were some years back, and what they were now. The facts which he was now going to submit to the House were extracted from a very able article on this subject, published in the Edinburgh Review, of last July by Mr. Lister. In the reign of Charles the 2nd, Sir W. Petty stated the proportion of Protestants to Roman Catholics to be as three to eight. In the year 1733, Dr. Maule, Bishop of Dromore, stated it to be as three to seven and a-half. In the same year, the hearth-money collectors made it to be as three to eight. In 1731, the Roman Catholic 496 Bishop of Ossory made it to be as three to five and three-quarters; but Mr. Lister abjured his authority, as liable to suspicion. "Thus," says he, "the least exaggerated of these estimates of the number of Protestants a century ago makes them to the Catholics as three to eight. The proportion which they now bear is only three to twelve and three-quarters." He regarded this as a proof, not only that the Reformation never had taken effect in Ireland, but also that it never would take effect under their past system of legislation, and that liberality, and liberality alone, was the course which their legislation ought to follow. It was not unimportant to ascertain what was the course of other Governments in similar circumstances—as, for instance, in Austria, where the majority of the people were Catholics. He would not repeat what his noble Friend near him had said to their Lordships on that subject. The argument employed by his noble Friend was an argument of great weight, and must have produced considerable effect upon their Lordships. He would only say, in addition to it, that there was no state in Europe, save Spain and Portugal, and Italy, with which their Lordships would blush to have England compared or assimilated, which had not pursued a course diametrically opposite to ours. In Saxony, where the royal family was Catholic, the ministers of four different sects were salaried and paid by the state. In France, in Holland, in Catholic Belgium, all religions were treated with equal favour by the State. He found that the King of Prussia, to whom several Catholic provinces had been ceded on the termination of the war, had not only established in them all the different religions on the same footing, but had also established in his Lutheran provinces Roman Catholic Bishops, and had attached to them chapters and canons, and also a seminary for priests; and thus those Catholic provinces, which it was feared would be a constant source of danger and alarm to him, had become part of his strength and defence. In Ireland alone it was deemed safe and prudent to disregard the religion of the majority; and the result had been, that the Roman Catholics had there formed for themselves an Established Church not destitute of wealth, and that their priests, smarting under a sense of injustice, were bringing up the youth intrusted to them for tuition in feelings of 497 hatred, if not of hostility, to England. He contended that the education of the lower classes of Catholics could not be neglected any longer with safety to the interests of the Established Church. The value which was attached to education in Ireland was proved by the establishment of the Kildare-street schools, of the Diocesan schools, and of various other similar institutions. Latterly the Government had entered upon a better and a wiser course. It had established what had been justly and properly called a national system of education. Among all the great boons which the empire owed to the Administration of Lord Grey, and he had only to mention the improvement in our representative system, the opening of the trade to the east, and the total abolition of slavery, to remind them how great those boons were—there was none of such invaluable importance as the introduction of the national system of education in Ireland. That system was conceived in the true spirit of benevolence and philanthropy; it rested on the everlasting basis of Christian love and Christian charity; it would be known to posterity by the feelings of peace and amity which it would generate, by drawing under the same walls children of different religions, and by establishing among them relations of mutual confidence and harmony. There could be no doubt that these would be the happy results of this system, and he, therefore, rejoiced that the House of Commons had sent up to them a second time a Bill on this subject, and that they had connected with it a measure so well adapted for the moral and religious education of the people of Ireland.
The Bishop of Exeter
spoke as follows*: I rise more particularly at the present moment, because the noble Baron, who has just sat down, has put forth principles which have not yet been advocated by noble Lords on his side. He has left us nothing to conjecture; he has told us, plainly, that the Church must give way:—that it is useless to persist, and that there is no hope of peace in Ireland while we continue the Establishment in its present state,—that it is not likely to take any hold upon the people of Ireland. The noble Baron has especially challenged us to consider the progress of reformation in that country, telling us that the know-* From a corrected Report,498 ledge of true religion has not advanced there. Now, to such an assertion as this, I offer the most unqualified contradiction. True it is that the cause of religious reformation was not taken up in the first instance in such a manner as became those who wished to propagate religious truth;—true it is that Henry 8th, Queen Elizabeth, and perhaps all the Sovereigns of the House of Stuart, with the exception of King James 1st, neglected the first duty of their station,—that of endeavouring to impress upon their subjects the knowledge of religious truth,—upon which both the security of the Throne and the temporal and eternal happiness of the people depend. Shame to their memories for that neglect! Until within the last thirty-six years there has been too much of the leaven of human politics in every thing connected with the Church of Ireland: from an early period of her history until recently, the Church has been starved, notwithstanding what we now hear of its enormous wealth. Some noble Lords, I see, appear to be astonished at such a declaration as this, but that astonishment must be removed if they will call to mind what they have read; for I suppose there are none among us who would attempt to interfere in such matters, without having read the works of Sir Henry Sydney, and Sir John Davis, with Clark's History of Ireland, and all those other writers who give an account of the state of Ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; all of whom show that the Church was then in a state of disgraceful degradation,—disgraceful, not to the Church but to the Governments which had anticipated, or, until within the last half century, continued that infamous Resolution passed by the Irish House of Commons in 1734; a resolution which ensured the poverty of the Church, with the exception of the episcopal revenues, for after ages. At that time there had been hardly any tillage in Ireland; indeed, such had been the want of it, that there had been an Act in force, until a very recent period, making it penal upon every cultivator not to till at least five acres every year. The demand for tillage was so small that it became totally neglected; and Campbell, in his "Survey of the South of Ireland," states, that in the year 1775, the clergy of Munster were in a pitiable state of poverty, in consequence. To such an extent did this poverty prevail, that the Royal Society of Dublin, so lately as the year 1771, adopted, at one of its 499 most solemn meetings, a resolution, deploring the condition of the country. And still later, in 1772, this poverty still continuing, no less a sum than 600,000l. was expended in the importation of meal, corn, and flour, for its relief. At the discussion which took place in the Irish House of Commons, in 1793, a noble Earl, whom I do not now see in his place, distinguished himself by a speech, which was almost prophetic of the ills resulting from that disastrous vote of the Parliament, the resolution granting the elective franchise to the Roman Catholics. He stated, on that occasion, that tillage was of recent introduction into the country—the consequence of which was, the utmost poverty and total inefficiency of the Established Church in Ireland. Since the Union, however, the case has been very different; and in no country has there been so wonderful a spring as has been witnessed in Ireland, in religious character, owing to the diffusion of sound religious knowledge, in spite of the interruptions and tremendous persecutions which the clergy of the Established Church for the last few years have undergone. If it be, then, asked, what hope is there that any thing will be done for Ireland by the Established Church? I appeal to its present condition, there, for my reply. We have in it 2,000 ministers, who are an honour to the Christian Church. We have nearly 1,000,000 of professed members, who, in their religious character, and in their real attachment to the Church to which they belong, are very different from many of the so-called members of the Church of England. There is a strong and vigorous principle of religion in Ireland, which, although it is sometimes displayed with a degree of irregularity which I am not by any means disposed to applaud, is so vital in its character, that I have no doubt it will eventually sober down into the pure spirit of Protestantism. The condition of the Church is, therefore, an assurance to us of God's blessing that it will not be deserted by our High Master, but that he will eventually add to its followers from the multitudes of that benighted land. And I am not a little astonished, my Lords, when I consider what the party is which has been pursuing this amended course; most highly to their honour, when they were intrusted with the affairs of the Administration in 1806 and 1807, they were actuated by a laudable and earnest zeal to promote the best interests of the Church in Ireland. I hold in my hand a copy of a 500 letter which was sent by the late Lord Spencer, then Secretary of State for the Home Department, to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. It is couched in terms highly honourable to the Government who dictated it, in which honour more than one of his Majesty's present Ministers has a right to participate, and of that honour I freely give them their share. The letter is in these words—Among the important subjects involved in the Government of that part of the United Kingdom over which your Grace is appointed to preside, there is none on which his Majesty's paternal care for the welfare of his subjects leads him to look with more anxiety, than the present state of the Established Church in Ireland; and the obvious necessity of adopting without delay, proper measures for its support, and for remedying the evil which at present unfortunately exists. With this view, his Majesty is pleased to command me to write to you, requesting you to inquire into all such matters of information as may suggest themselves to you, or which may have occurred to the Bishops themselves, as useful in enabling his Majesty to give effect to his benevolent intention, of supporting the Established Church in that part of the United Kingdom.Such were the instructions given to the Lord-Lieutenant by the Whig Cabinet of that day, and the Lord-Lieutenant followed them up by a circular letter to the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church, in these words—I have the honour to submit to your Grace a copy of a letter I have received from Lord Spencer, intimating the command of his Majesty to communicate with your Grace, and the other Prelates of Ireland, upon the important matters therein contained. It will afford the most heartfelt satisfaction to me to be the instrument of promoting his Majesty's benevolent views towards the support of the Church, and to give effect to his paternal solicitude for the welfare of his people on a subject so vital to their interests, and in which the essential interests of the empire are so immediately concerned.In consequence of these letters, inquiries were made throughout the several provinces and dioceses in Ireland. His Majesty's Ministers indicating at the same time the liberal intentions of the Government—announcing their intention of proposing votes for the support of the Church, as well as for the building of glebe-houses. Those Ministers were shortly superseded; but the Government who followed them acted upon the same principles; and the Commissioners of Instruction reported, in 1831, that the 501 churches had increased from 636 to 1,838 in number. This eagerness to increase the number of churches is, however, still more apparent from a return now on your Lordships' table. In spite of the discouragements it was necessary for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland to give to such applications, by announcing the hopelessness of compliance with them;—it appears that there were no less than thirty-eight applications for new churches, 147 for enlargement, and 113 for rebuilding, and these demands were not made under any supposition that the whole cost would be furnished by the Commissioners; for in every case in which they gave assistance, they required that the applicants should themselves supply a certain portion of the necessary funds, which, notwithstanding all their distress and suffering, they most liberally did. Is this, then, such a mark of coldness towards the Church as destroys all hope of her efficiency? There is no indication so conclusive on the subject of clerical residence as the means which are provided for ensuring it; the increase of glebe-houses is a satisfactory proof of the extent of residence in the benefices of Ireland. At the beginning of this century there were no more than 291 glebe-houses in Ireland. It appears, however, by the Report of the Commissioners of Public Instruction, that in 1831 these had increased to 850, principally erected by the clergy themselves with but a trifling assistance from the State; and yet the noble Viscount tells us, that it is necessary to introduce a Bill for the reduction of the Church. The noble Baron, who spoke last, seems to think that reform is advancing with too rapid strides, that religion is travelling at too quick a pace; so much so, that it is absolutely necessary to check the eagerness on the part of the people to receive,—and on the part of the ministers of the Established Church to impart,—religious knowledge; for he has struck off one-sixth of the number of clergymen at a single blow. But is this in reality the object of the noble Viscount? Yes; the scheme which is to satisfy so perfectly the demands of justice, which is to produce so much tranquillity and effect so many glorious ends, consists in reducing the number of benefices from 1,385 to 1,250. The noble Viscount—and on this point he was followed by the noble Baron—has ventured to tell us, that the opulence of the clergy is so great, that it is necessary to give it some check; that the Church is in such an exuberant state of 502 prosperity—[Viscount Melbourne: No, no!]—You did not use those words; but you said that, from which I draw such a conclusion. I have a right to put the arguments of the noble Viscount in my own language. This is the real amount of what the noble Viscount says—he tells us it is necessary to reconcile the state of things in Ireland to "common sense and reason;" "that to enable us to defend it with decency and good faith, we must lop off a large portion of the Establishment;" and, therefore, I contend, that I am justifiable in using the word "exuberant." We have been further told, that the condition of the clergy in Ireland under the new Establishment, will be far better than that of the clergy in England. I have taken the trouble to ascertain how this stands from the figures of the noble Viscount; and from this calculation it appears, that the income allotted to the clergy will be 368,350l. per annum, to be distributed amongst 1,250 parishes, giving an average income of 300l. a-year. I beg your Lordships to look, however, at the real result. The noble Viscount has assumed, that in all cases the Commissioners will grant to the incumbent the full amount the Act permits; but that would truly be a violation of the instructions contained in the Bill, and, therefore, is not to be expected from them. Where the power of graduation is permitted, they will surely not feel justified in taking either the highest or the lowest scale; and it is also not to be over-looked that, in taking 300l. a-year as the income of the clergy, we cannot expect that the tax-gatherer should forget his claims—that the two-and-a-half per cent, deduction will be abandoned—that the payment to curates will be dispensed with, or any of the other charges inseparable from the existence of those incomes. Of the 1,250 benefices the Commissioners will be at liberty to fix the incomes of the clergy below 100l. I may assume that they will fix them somewhere about 75l.; this will be about the average. Forty-five pounds' worth of glebe is the highest amount that can be granted; and to small livings I do not suppose the Commissioners will assign more than 25/.; their incomes then will be, after the necessary deductions, somewhere about 98l. 2s. 6d.: that will be the liberal allowance to 123 livings! Then there will be 675 in which the population ranges between 50 and 500 Protestants; there the incomes of the incumbents will not be less than 150l. a-year nor more than 200l., with probably 503 30l. worth of glebe, from which, as from the rest, the necessary deductions are to be made. The next class will bring us to livings, of which the incomes vary from 250l. to 300l. a-year. Here I calculate that the incomes will be about 321l. 10s. I next proceed to a higher scale of livings, where the population ranges between 1,000 and 3,000, and where the Commissioners assign between 300l. and 400l. a-year, and in this class I calculate that the incomes will be about 385l. 10s. Lastly, I would call your Lordships' attention to the highest class, namely—that where the population exceeds 3,000, and where the income cannot, under the Bill, exceed 500l. a-year, with 45l. for glebe. The net income of this class of livings I would fix at 445l. 10s. Then there will be payment provided for 241 curates; these will, of course, be chiefly assigned to the larger livings, but the average income of all the livings cannot, as I have now demonstrated, exceed 240l. 10s. 6d. the largest being but 445l. 10s. Now, clearly, that would be placing the Irish clergy in a worse situation than the Scottish clergy, for in Scotland the Manse must always be kept in repair for the clergyman, whereas, by the Bill, all the glebes will at once vest in the Crown, and not one of them can be obtained by a clergyman, without the special order of the Lord-Lieutenant; and all this his Majesty's present Government are pleased to describe as a most liberal Church Establishment. In further confirmation of the grounds which I am laying before your Lordships for the vote I intend to give, I will call your attention to the state of the diocese of Tuam. In that diocese there are—
34 benefices, containing a superficies of more than 40 square miles each, on the average. £. s. d. 2 will be suppressed, having fewer than 25 inhabitants of the Church of England. 32 remain, having a superficies of 43 square miles each; of these— 2 are in Class I., the annual income of each at the utmost 142 10 0 24 in Class II., between 50 and 500 churchmen; (of these eight will have no glebe-houses) 240 0 0 in Class III., between 500 and 1,000 (one has no glebe-house) 224 10 0
At present there are forty-six working clergymen resident on these thirty-two benefices. By the Bill there will be only thirty-five. At present, one benefice, and one only, has an income exceeding 1,000l. per annum, namely, the wardenship of Galway, an union of seven parishes, having an income of 1,127l. per annum; a population of 1064 members of the Church among 56,503 Roman Catholics, and maintaining five clergymen (the warden and four vicars). By the Bill, these five will be reduced to two vicars—one living in the city of Galway, to sustain the interests and character of the Church, amidst 50,000 Roman Catholics, with an income, being (in Class III.) at the utmost of 324l. 10s. per annum, and without a glebe-house. The other will be in the rural part of the union (Class II.) having 240l. per annum, and no house. In the diocese, there are at present five other benefices, having an income exceeding 500l. per annum, each; of these, one having only forty-three churchmen, (the number increasing) will be in Class I.; the other four in Class II. At present these four maintain six resident clergymen. These, by the Bill, will be reduced to four. Such, then, will be the working of the Bill. Then it will deal extensively with patrons—it has much to do with patronage; for the buying up of which, at twelve years purchase, it proposes to make provision. A noble Duke, whom I do not now see in his place, is impropriator of nearly thirty parishes, and is patron of many of the vicarages. In the diocese of Lismore, alone, he presents to thirteen vicarages, having his portion in all the parishes as impropriate rector. His share in the compositions of these thirteen benefices amounts to about 6,000l. per annum. The vicars have somewhat more than 4,300l. per annum among them, besides glebes. Now, in dealing with these vicarages according to the Bill, it will be necessary to compensate the patron. Taking 4,316l. as the amount of the compositions, and deducting 30 per cent., according to the Bill, in order to reduce these compositions to rent-charges, (which 30 per cent, is allowed to the landlord on account of imposing this liability upon him,) the compositions are lowered to 3,021l. per annum; and then, taking two-and-a-half per cent, for collecting the rent-charges, the result is, that these com- 505 positions are reduced to 2,946l. per annum. Add to this the value of the glebes (which according to Erck, would average about 236l. per annum, upon thirteen benefices in the province of Cashel), the sum is 3,182l., being the amount of the annual value of the thirteen livings. These are to be compensated to the patron at the rate of twelve years' purchase; therefore 38,184l. will be paid to the Duke of Devonshire as patron. Of the thirteen benefices, three will be suppressed, not having twenty-five churchmen each; three will be in Class I., entitled, according to the noble Lord's statement, to 142l. 10s. each; seven in Class II., entitled to 240l. each. Thus, the amount paid to all the clergymen will be only 2,106l. 10s. per annum. The Consolidated Fund will have to pay the Duke's compensation, (38,184l.,) which, in three per cent. consols at ninety, will amount to a perpetual annuity of 1,280l. But as this fund will receive the difference between the present and the future value of the livings, amounting to 1,076l. per annum, its loss will be only 204l. per annum. The result of the whole operation may be thus briefly expressed:—The Duke of Devonshire as patron, receives 38,184l. in exchange for patronage; the minister gets the patronage of ten livings: the Consolidated Fund loses 204l. per annum; the Church loses 1,076l. per annum. Such are the results of this Bill with respect to patronage; and then with respect to vicarages only, they are enormous, indeed, when we come to the better class of livings. To say, therefore, that the scheme is one for the benefit of the Established Church, is ridiculous; to say that it will promote peace, is not only ridiculous, but glaringly false. If it be adopted with the view of pacifying those persons who would extort enormous concessions from the weakness of Parliament, it is a mistake; for it will only encourage these persons to make a vast increase in their demands. We have not heard one single noble Lord affect to say, that the scheme is a final settlement. It would be an insult to common sense to suggest such an idea. All that the scheme can do is, to carry the Administration over another year; after which they must trust to the chapter of accidents for something else; but let us, in the mean time, recollect what we are doing—we are encouraging a Bill which is opposed to the law of the land; we are encouraging a scheme of perjury and perfidy, as gigantic as ever stained the pages of history; and I have been greatly dis- 506 appointed, in observing the cautious abstinence of noble Lords on this ground of objection, which I consider to be the most essential of the whole—I mean the tremendous crime of which the Roman Catholic agitators are guilty—the burden of which is quite appalling to the imagination. To think that the British House of Parliament should even consult on a measure based upon such perfidy as this, without ever alluding to it, makes one think that one has not, indeed, fallen upon the happiest of times. But I must pause, and apologise to one Noble Earl who has alluded to the point with his usual eloquence; and I would do it in the most ample manner possible. That noble Lord is never backward in asserting the rights of the Church. Is there one noble Lord who has spoken, or is about to speak, who will rise up in his place, and say, that he considers that those who are driving on this measure, have not been guilty of treachery or perjury of the grossest kind? I defy any one to contradict me, when I say, that not a single agitator of Ireland has been free from the guilt of the most tremendous perjury. It is the condition on which they have received their civil privileges, to take an oath which I say they have most unscrupulously violated; and if there be any doubt on this subject, I will mention one or two circumstances to show the construction which is put upon that oath by the Roman Catholics themselves. All Catholic public functionaries are required to take this oath. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Malta was nominated by his Majesty one of the Council of that Island. The oath was tendered to him, accordingly; but when he saw the tenor of it, he felt that, as an honest Catholic, he could not observe it, and therefore he did what became him as an honest man—he refused to take the oath, and he is not a member of the Council. If I am wrong, the noble Viscount can correct me, as could the noble Secretary of the Colonies, if he were here; therefore we have, in this instance, the testimony of a Roman Catholic, as to the stringent nature of the oath. But I will cite another authority—it is that of a Roman Catholic Member of the other House (Mr. Wyse, the representative of Waterford), who has published a history of the Catholic Association. At the end of this history he gives a digest of various events which had happened previous to the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. Speaking of the 5th of March, 1829, he says— 507
3 in Class IV., between 1,000 and 3,000 (two have no glebe-houses) 385 0 0 32 A Bill was introduced to abolish the civil disabilities of the Roman Catholics by repealing the oaths of supremacy and abjuration, substituting for them an oath of allegiance to the Protestant succession in the House of Brunswick, and binding the Catholics to defend the settlement of property as established by law, and not to injure nor suppress the present Church Establishment.Such is the sense in which this Roman Catholic also views the oath. And let me ask those noble Lords particularly, who were parties to the passing of the Relief Bill, whether they would not, at that time, have scouted the idea of attaching any other meaning to it? And would any one, then, have dared to say, without exposing himself to the taunt of illiberality from all present, that within seven years this oath would be set at naught, and that every Irish Roman Catholic Member of the House of Commons would join in an attempt to subvert the Established Church; or, still more, that an officer of his Majesty's Government, a Roman Catholic Gentleman, the Attorney-General of Ireland, should be one who would join in bringing in a Bill for that very purpose—for the Bill bears his name upon the back of it as one of those who brought it in—the name of the Attorney-General for Ireland; a Roman Catholic who has sworn to do nothing either to subvert or to injure the Protestant Establishment in Ireland; and yet the very Bill which so bears his name proposes to cut up that Establishment root and branch—[Oh, oh!]—noble Lords may jeer me, but I repeat it; the Bill makes the Establishment dependent upon the will of a Committee of the Privy Council, which is, of course, to be nominated by the Secretary for Ireland—a Nobleman who, unless he be grievously slandered, is in the habit of taking recommendations of persons to fill all sorts of stations from those very gentlemen to whom I have alluded. I need not say, that they must consider themselves bound by this oath; others have said so. The noble Baron near me (Lord Holland) has said so, in a letter addresed to a friend of his. Dr. Shuttle worth asks him whether there will be any security, and whether they, the Catholics, are to be believed on their oaths, and will be considered to have abandoned all designs to subvert the Protestant Church, if they distinctly say so? I take this from a letter addressed to the warden of New College, Oxford, written by Lord Holland, and printed in 1827. The answer of the noble Baron is as follows:— 508I can only say, that for the last twenty years, they have been saying so distinctly, repeatedly, solemnly, and I believe sincerely, in all their petitions, declarations, and in their evidence upon oath; whether they will now say, they will continue to do so, is somewhat more problematical.The noble Baron says, that the oath has been uniformly taken, believing it to be binding. I call upon him, then, to assent to my assertion, that all those who have set forward the agitation which has been kept up against the Protestant Church have grossly violated their oath. All those who have been concerned in concocting this Bill cannot have lost sight of the injury they are doing the Church,—it is intended for the purpose of weakening it at least; the noble Viscount has declared this openly, for he said, it is a great discouragement to Protestantism. Will any one venture to maintain, after this, that the measure is innoxious to the Church? Does not common sense declare that those who have taken this oath have been guilty of perjury in forwarding if? And are not your Lordships bound to refuse to make yourselves parties to perjury and perfidy like this? Has there not been a solemn engagement entered into by the Ministers, as far as they are concerned, to preserve the rights of the Church inviolate? I have again the authority of the noble Baron near me on this point, for he says,—
"The Union does give a claim to the security of the Church of Ireland, and as long as there is a prospect of effecting, not a nominal, but a real Union, by which the Irish people shall be admitted to the full enjoyment of our constitutional privileges, so long on the ground of scruples, and in consideration of the article of Union though not from a sense of its usefulness, I am ready to maintain the Protestant Church with herenormous revenues." [Lord Holland, Hear! hear!"] I am glad the noble Baron, Lord Holland, cheers. I call upon him to fulfil his promise, now, in the presence of his Peers; by his honour as a Peer—by his integrity as a man—and by his faith as a Christian—to redeem the pledge which he has given; a pledge given—not in the heat of debate—but calmly and deliberately. And as a reason for making concession, he has thus pledged himself that if those concessions were made, he would, in consideration of the Articles of Union, "maintain the Protestant Church, with her enormous revenues." And does he think that he is doing so, by 509 joining in the concocting of this measure, and by maintaining it? It is extraordinary to me if he do. I am anxious to hear how he can do so. My Lords, the noble Baron (Lord Hatherton), seems to consider the Established Church as useless or idle, and that, therefore, it must not be kept up, but that its revenues must be equally distributed among all classes; and this, coupled with the declaration of the noble Viscount, that it is right the establishment should be that of the majority of the country, would lead us to suppose he means, that because the majority is Roman Catholic in Ireland, the Established Church ought to be so too.—[Viscount Melbourne "No"] Such, however, is the effect of the noble Viscount's argument, and it is quite a relief to my mind to be told he did not mean to say so; in the same speech I understood him to speak of the Bill as a discouragement to the Protestant Religion. So I understood the noble Viscount; but I will not press that construction, as the noble Viscount's disclaims it. In fact, I should have supposed that such could not have been his meaning, if his words had not conveyed the idea so plainly to my mind; because he used to be one of those who spoke of the necessity of maintaining the Protestant religion in Ireland. He would not, he said, consent to the passing of the Relief Bill, as it would check the spread of Protestantism in Ireland;—that is a declaration of sentiment which is ascribed to him, at least. He said it was "a consummation devoutly to be wished" to extend the interests of true religion in Ireland—that he was even ready to forego his hopes of the Catholic relief bill if he could be made to see that the consequence of it would be to check the spread of true religion.
I will not trespass longer on your Lordships' time on this occasion. I feel it to be an occasion of awful importance, for our conduct on which we shall have to answer. Your Lordships are this night called upon to declare whether you will adhere to the faith of your forefathers, or whether you will abandon it on the grounds of mere expediency? I am quite sure that you will reject this measure; I have no doubt of it; I never have had any. My only hope is, that you will not be thwarted in that quarter where it is of the utmost importance that sound principles should prevail. My only wish is, that your faithful adherence to the cause of true religion, 510 as well as to the constitution of this realm, will make converts of his Majesty's Ministers.
said, after the allusions that had been made to his conduct by the right rev. Prelate, he thought it necessary, in his own vindication, to say a few words. He rose for the purpose of redeeming that pledge which the noble and rev. Lord said he had made. He gave their Lordships his assurance that he should vote for this Bill, and he should vote for it for the purpose which the noble and rev. lord said he was pledged to fulfil—to take his chance of maintaining the Irish Church; and he considered he maintained that Church, though it might be in some small degree curtailed by this Bill of its enormous revenues. Enormous revenues, perhaps, the noble and rev. Lord did not consider them, who held such notions of Church reformation, glebe-houses, and agistment tithes: whose understanding seemed to be that a revenue of 600,000l. was not an enormous revenue for the Church. It might not be in the view of the noble and rev. Lord a matter of any importance, for large was the amount of the revenue in comparison with the number of the flock, their wants, and the duties to be performed. The noble and rev. Lord talked of the flourishing state of the Church and of the Protestant religion in Ireland; he told them of a great many churches that had been built, of a great many glebe lands that had been improved, and this was the evidence he brought of the progress of the Church. But the right rev. Prelate did not tell them of any increase in the number of the Protestants. He did not understand these abstract notions of the Church. What he understood a church to consist of was a great number of laymen and clergymen professing the same religion. He did not understand the Church to be flourishing because there were more churches and a less number of people to go to them than there were formerly. He did not think the noble and rev. Lord had adopted a decent or decorous manner of answering questions in the House. It was neither decent nor decorous to quote pamphlets, as his had been quoted on the present occasion; but the right rev. Father in God had set the example, and it was not impossible that he might yet some day find the inconvenience of having set such an example. If the right rev. prelate had done him the honour to investigate that pamphlet fully, he would 511 confidently say that no opinion would have been found in it at variance with any opinion that he had before expressed in that House. It was some years since he wrote that pamphlet, and the opinion he expressed in it was, that by granting Catholic emancipation, they had a chance of saving the Protestant Church; for the more concession they made the more likely they were to preserve it; but on the other hand, its preservation was impossible if they acted in a spirit of exclusion and distrust. The opinion he had expressed in the pamphlet on the subject of the Union was a little stronger than the opinion he should express now if he were to revise it. The article of the Union to which he referred said, that the discipline and government of the Church of Ireland should be the same as the Church of England. Not one word was contained in it relative to the Church temporalities. It was well known at the time of the Union, that Mr. Pitt contemplated two measures for the complete separation of the churches. It was impossible to look at the proceedings of that period and to contend that the Union was any bar to the present Bill. The Union reminded him of a man of whom he could not speak without respect, the father of his noble Friend the Marquess of Lansdowne. In a speech which he delivered, after much consultation with the government of the day, he stated—(in that forcible way in which he always stated everything—for his speeches contained much wisdom and thought) as one of the reasons for which he should rejoice in the Union, "that it would get rid of that curse and bane of Ireland—the tithes." The speech of Lord Minto, upon that occasion, was one of the most elaborate ever delivered in Parliament; "the advantages of the Union, he thought, were not only the removal of civil disabilities from the Catholics, but the settlement of those religious differences which prevailed in that country—Ireland." Perhaps, however, he was attaching more importance to the subject of the Union than a mere casual reference to it on the part of the learned and rev. Lord deserved. Let him ask their Lordships, were they sitting here in the character of the Parliament of a Supreme Government, or not? were there either here, or in the other House, men fettered in their votes, or not? The learned and rev. Lord talked of peace. Was it consistent with peace, or charity, for one man to set himself up 512 as the judge of another man's conscience?—were Members of that House to stand up, and arraign Members of the other House, on no less a crime than that of perjury—perjury, and for what? To what did the imputation amount, after all, but that the persons accused by the learned and rev. Lord did not apply the same construction to an Act of Parliament as the right rev. Prelate. A more religious, charitable, pious, and acute man, perhaps, did not exist than the Attorney-General for Ireland; and he was sure that, in proposing this Bill, that learned person believed it to be quite consistent with the oath he had taken. The rev. Lord had no right to put his own construction upon the Bill, and then charge that learned individual with a violation of his oath, because he did not take a similar view. A noble Earl opposite, in a speech which appeared to have made much impression upon the House, spoke of the conditions sought to be imposed upon the clergy by the House of Commons; but was it anything new in this country for the representatives of the people, when called upon either to grant money, or to remit that which was due to the State, to annex certain conditions to the grant, having for their object the security of their rights and property? Had they entirely forgotten the constitutional maxim of this country—"grant and grievance go together?"—and how did the case stand? The clergy on one side came to Parliament and said,—"such is the peculiar situation of our property, owing to the difference in matters of religion which prevails, that we cannot enforce our rights, we cannot recover our just debts, and therefore we call upon you, the Legislature, to grant us relief." To which, in the true spirit of the House of Commons of old, and of the Constitution, they reply—"You call upon us to pass laws for your relief, but we must have a grievance redressed, and until this is done we will not agree to your request." If Edward 1st, who was called the English Justinian, said to an able sophister like the noble Duke, or to a man of so distinguished a mind as the noble Earl, "I want my eighths or my tenths to carry on my wars in Scotland," they would say—"O, but we want our charters confirmed." "Your charters!" says the King, "what have they to do with my eighths, my tenths, or my fifteenths? Give me them first, and I will talk to you about your charters afterwards." 513 But if this system had been assented to, the country would never have had its Petition of Rights. When Charles 1st came for his subsidy, he said—"You must vote me the money, or I cannot go on." "True," said the House of Commons, "but we cannot vote you the subsidy until you grant us our Petition of Rights." If the thing were right, and the House of Commons were determined to have it, that was the right way to obtain it. He believed the measure was good for every part of the country, and he would put it again to the learned and rev. Lord, to consider whether it was not the only one which was likely to preserve such an anomaly as the Irish Church was; an anomaly, of which there was no example in the history of surrounding nations. If they would have an Established Church in the midst of a people not of its communion, the only way to preserve it was to court the affections of those who were naturally hostile to it.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, he must maintain, that the oath alluded to, had been intended by Parliament as a security for the Protestant Church, which he thought no man, in or out of the House, could deny. He agreed with the noble Prelate in believing that individuals had obtained power by taking that oath, which they had afterwards used in violation of it. If he would look for a proof of the correctness of the view which he took of that oath, he would look around that House, and he would say, that he saw not one member of another church taking any part in the present discussion. It proved that those noble Lords did regard the oath as intended to be a security to the Protestant Church, and that they considered the present measure to be one which aimed a fatal blow at the very existence of that Church. He admired their conscientious conduct, and would to God that all the Members of the other House, who were Roman Catholics, had paid the same regard to the oath as the Roman Catholic Peers of that House. The simple question before the House was, whether they were to have an Established Church or not? If any part of the property of the Irish Church were taken away, and given to any other purposes than those of the Church, from that moment the maintenance of the Church-establishment would be virtually given up. It was argued, that the majority of the people of Ireland were Roman Catholics, and that, therefore, the 514 Church could not be maintained. There were spots in the country where the Dissenters were predominant, and if the Establishment was to be given up in one case, he maintained that the Dissenters,—not the whole body of Dissenters, for he believed there were many of them who were in favour of the Establishment, believing that religion would not long be maintained in the country without it—but he believed that there was a portion of the Dissenters who had joined the revolutionary party in this country, and who wished to have similar concessions made to them with regard to the Established Church in England. The question was, whether they as Protestants, valuing the blessings which the Reformation had conferred upon them, by giving and securing to them a sound scriptural religion, would give up their rights and privileges? If they did so, they would be guilty of gross dereliction of duty to themselves, and to the country. If they gave up the Establishment, they would give up that true and enlightening religion which had conferred so many blessings on this country. The Protestant Reformation had been incontrovertibly proved to be the foundation of those liberties, civil and religious, which, as a nation, we enjoyed beyond any other country on earth. If they gave up that, they would give up the foundation of all their greatness. From the moment they surrendered any part of the established religion in one part of the empire, upon no principle could they support it in any other part, and therefore he felt bound to support the amendment of his learned Friend.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
thought, that if there was any foundation for so grave a charge as that of perjury, it ought to be brought forward in a solemn, distinct, and substantive form. He also thought it unfair to infer, that because a Peer happened to be absent from that Committee, he did not therefore take any interest in the question. He knew that a Catholic Peer was present during the discussion the other night, but though he did not vote, on a division having taken place, he might be fairly supposed to have been ready to vote. He knew of two Catholic Peers, of the highest rank, having distinctly paired off, and of another who had placed his proxy in the hands of one of his noble friends, to be used with respect to this very Bill. He distinctly recollected that Sir R, Peel, on one occasion, declared 515 that every Roman Catholic Member of Parliament was fully entitled to all the rights, powers, and authority of a Member of Parliament. Was it fair then to talk of the votes of Members of the other House as founded in perjury? A noble Lord who had spoken early in the debate, had declared that the decision of the majority of the other House was not satisfactory to the people. Was that, right? And then again to talk of Roman Catholic Members of Parliament not being allowed to interfere in questions affecting the Established Church, he would ask, why call upon them to pay tithes, if they were to take no interest in the Church? The argument used by a right rev. Prelate, that the Church was increasing, because new churches had been built, and others repaired, was most extraordinary, because all knew that when architects were sent out, they would be sure to find something to do. No one but the right rev. Prelate would have taken such an architectural view of the subject. The right rev. Prelate also took a view of the question, in respect to the number of acres under tillage. But he thought that was a most clerical and Irish view of the question. He would not go into the question of appropriation, but merely add, that if they wished to make the Irish Church efficient, they must make its duties commensurate with the revenues it received.
The Archbishop of Armagh
protested against the measure, which, professing to be a measure for the settlement of the Church, provided for the transfer of the property of the Church to other uses. It gave to the Privy Council the power of suppressing parishes by uniting them to others. The surplus revenues were to be employed, not for the uses of the Church, but to provide that education for the people which the State was bound to provide; an education, moreover, conducted on principles in which the Clergy could neither participate in nor sanction. He could not do otherwise than express the strongest condemnation of the measure.
§ The Committee divided on the original motion: Contents 47; Not-contents 138—Majority 91.
§ Amendment carried.
§ On the 77th Clause the Committee again divided: Contents 47; Not-contents 135—Majority 88.516
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Charlemont||Saye and Sele|
§ The Dukes of Norfolk, Devonshire, and Cleveland, together with 32 other Peers, paired off.
§ Clause rejected.
§ The remaining clauses of the Bill were disposed of; the House resumed; the report to be received.