HL Deb 06 May 1836 vol 33 cc615-30
The Earl of Ripon

wished to call the attention of their Lordships to what appeared to him to be a most important subject. Their Lordships Mould recollect, that his Majesty was graciously pleased, at the beginning of this Session to recommend to Parliament the subject of tithes in Ireland; and, in all probability, an attempt would soon be made to give effect to that recommendation. It was, therefore, indispensably, necessary that the House should be previously furnished with the requisite information for explaining the whole of this question. To enable their Lordships to come to a sound decision, the motion with which it was his intention to conclude, had for its object to bring before the House some information of which, at present, it was not in possession. He apprehended that under the peculiar circumstances belonging to the question of tithes in Ireland, it was impossible to enter upon its discussion without taking into consideration, not merely what might be the best mode of proceeding as regarded not only the owner of tithes, but also the payer of the tithes; not only what was the best mode by which that property might be secured and realized, but also the present condition generally, and the future prospects, of the Church. It appeared to him that it was the more incumbent upon them to take this view of the question, particularly if it should happen that any proposition were to be made to their Lordships that should involve an appropriation of sums for any purposes not belonging to the Church—for an appropriation of any portion of the tithes; and, above all, it was necessary for them to look to this, if it should happen that such a proposal was founded on the assumption that there existed a surplus in the funds of the Church. It appeared to him to be the more necessary to do this whenever they were called upon to discuss that proposition, to which he was not going to advert further on the present occasion. It was the more necessary, whenever they were called upon to do so, that they would bear in mind the condition of the Church, the means of maintaining it; and when the question of tithes came before them, it must be the more necessary for them to keep those points in view. Their Lordships would see that the question of adequacy or inadequacy of Church property, involved not merely what was required by the clergy, but what was required for worship. It appeared to him that there was a great mistake committed by those who talked upon that subject. When Church property was mentioned, persons seemed to consider it as if it belonged to the individuals now receiving the revenues derivable from it. He thought that such persons took a most erroneous view of the matter. The Church property was not the property of individual ministers of the Church; but it was the property of the whole body of Christians professing that particular creed. It was true that the law regulated the disposal of that property with a view to the public advantage. That was the great object for which it was interfered with—for the public advantage, and for the benefit of the Church. That property belonged to the Church—a Church united to which there are 853,000 souls, and to whom the present appropriation of this property was of vital importance, and who never would consent to alienate it for any other purpose. It would then be a question which their Lordships, he was sure, would weigh well, how they were to treat that property. He was sure that their Lordships would never consent to its application to any other purposes than those legitimately and truly belonging to the Church. Now, so far as regarded that part of the question, that belonging to the income of the clergy as it now stood, they had information, he believed, on the Table of the House sufficient for them thoroughly to understand that portion of the subject. A Commission had been appointed five or six years ago to inquire into the revenues of the Archbishops and Bishops and the various dignitaries of the Church. Another Commission was appointed in 1834, which took upon itself the rather affected title of Commissioners of Public Instruction; and it could not be doubted, that those Commissioners together gave a great deal of useful information concerning the parochial clergy of Ireland, the limits of cures and benefices, and the number of the congregations, so that on that subject information was not required. There was another branch of the subject to which a great deal of attention ought to be paid, and on which the information was very far from being complete—it was that which respected the portion of the Church revenue, applicable to the per- formance of divine worship, and to the payment of the inferior officers of the Church, such as clerks and sextons, together with the increase of small livings, the providing a decent residence for the clergy, and decent places of worship for divine service, where-ever the wants of a growing congregation required new churches. It was manifest that these were material objects to be considered, objects without which divine service could not be properly performed. Now the information their Lordships had at this moment was not sufficient for them to understand the whole of this case. It was not that they were without all information; because it was perfectly true that Commissioners had been appointed in 1833, under the Church Temporalities Act. They had laid upon the table two Reports of their proceeding, but the last Report of those Commissioners did not bring any information beyond August 1835; and the object of his motion was this—he wished to call for an account of the funds at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in Ireland, and their revenues and expenditure from August last up to May in the present year. That Act (the Church Temporalities Act) had made the most important changes in Ireland, and amongst them not the least inconsiderable was the relief which it had afforded to those not connected with the Church, on removing that which had been stated in 1825 to be one of the great grievances under which they laboured—the payment of church-cess. That Act was also one of regulation for the church itself. It relieved the people from church-cess calculated to excite much ill blood and render the Church odious. So far, the Act was a relief to one party, but then it deprived the Church of all the advantages which it derived from the tax then levied. For the tax that was taken, it was proposed to impose a tax upon all clergymen whose income exceeded 300l. a-year. In addition to that, it, as some said, suppressed, but as he should apply the word, it "amalgamated" no less than ten bishoprics, and the possessions belonging to them were assigned to the Commissioners. For what objects were the funds thus given to the Commissioners to be applied? To provide an adequate maintenance for the poorer clergy, to provide suitable residences, to uphold proper places of worship, and other requisites without which any Church, whether established or not, could not be properly preserved. It was for purposes of vital consequence to the Church, The funds of the Church were by that Act made applicable to Church purposes. The preamble of the Act declared that it was expedient that first-fruits should be abolished, and an annual tax be substituted in lieu thereof; that a compulsory assessment—by vestries, for certain purposes should be put an end to; and also, as the number of bishops was about to be diminished, their revenues should be applied to the building, rebuilding, and repairing of churches, and to such like ecclesiastical purposes; and for the augmentation of small livings, and such other purposes as might be conducive to the advancement of, and effectual permanency and stability of, the Established Church in Ireland. Was it possible, he would ask, for words to describe more distinctly what were the objects of the Act, or to place those objects beyond the possibility of a doubt? It was upon the words of the preamble that he relied; and he begged to ask again, upon what other principle was it that the Act was recommended and vindicated against the objections urged, with no small zeal and ability, in opposition to it? It had been, it would be remembered, discussed for three days before their Lordships, and the principle laid down by its supporters was, that it would benefit the Church. It was described by its opponents to be a measure fraught with the most formidable danger to the Established Church, if not directly aimed at its destruction. But how was that argument met? First, by the denial that such was the object of the Bill; and, secondly, by the statement that its practical effects would be diametrically the reverse. Their Lordships were asked.—what would have been the condition of the Church, and its capacity to cope with the dangers to which it was stated to be exposed, if 'at the time of the Union such a Bill had been passed; if, as provided in that Act, so many thousands a-year had been assigned for the building of new-churches, so many to the erection of glebe-houses, so many to the increase of small livings? It was further contended, that the benefits of the Bill would not be confined to the Church alone, but would be extended to the Roman Catholic population itself, who (it was maintained) were deeply interested in the respectability of a resident Protestant clergy; and, finally, the argument in favour of the Bill was wound up by asserting that a resident parochial clergy would be most beneficial in its results; that even, though they might not be the ministers to the greater part of their parishioners, their utility would be very great; that the Protestant clergyman would be to his parishioners a minister of peace, for that he would, by his station and constant residence, have opportunities of conciliating their goodwill, by sympathizing with their wants, their cares, and their necessities, and by the performance of a variety of good offices, the importance of which (it was truly said) it would scarcely be possible to exaggerate. He had entirely concurred in those arguments, and he was entitled to conclude that they influenced the final decision of the House, because, after a long discussion and a vigorous opposition, the Bill was passed into a law. The Act bore upon the face of it that it was a Parliamentary contract; he so considered it; and until this contract was completed the Church did not obtain that which it was positively entitled to, and which their Lordships were bound in honour to see effected, and before which they could not take away any portion of its property. What, then, was the actual condition of the funds? He was not going to throw any blame upon the Commissioners, he believed they had done all they could; and if they had not succeeded in completing all the purposes assigned to them, it was not their fault; because, from the very nature of the provisions of the Church Temporalities' Act, and the peculiar circumstances of the case, their resources bore no relation to the extent of the demands upon them. But their Lordships would bear in mind that the objects for the promotion of which the Commission was constituted, were declared by the Act itself (as he had before stated) to be essential to the efficiency, the permanency, and the stability of the Established Church in Ireland. It was stated, on the one hand, when that Bill was first introduced, that the funds that would be at the disposal of the Commissioners would ultimately amount to a very considerable sum; whilst, on the other hand, the estimated expenditure which the Commissioners would have to meet out of those funds, would also be very considerable. It was supposed that 50,000l. a-year would result from the consolidation of the bishoprics; that the tax on the remaining bishops would produce 4,600l. per annum; the tax on incumbents 41,800l., and the interest of the money to be obtained from the sale of perpetuities 40,000l.; and the result of the whole, including one or two other items which it was not necessary at present to mention, would be, taking into consideration the effect of the arrangements made with respect to the Archbishop of Armagh, the Bishop of Derry, and some antecedent contracts of the Board of First Fruits—the result of the whole would be about 156,840l. The charge was estimated in this way:—The sum necessary to make up what had formerly been derived from church-cess was 60,000l. a-year, to provide for the repairs of the church, and every thing necessary for the ordinary performance of public worship; the augmentation of small livings required 46,500l.; for building churches, 20,000l.; glebe-houses, 10,000l.; making a total of 136,500l. He was perfectly aware that this statement had, from subsequent information, been proved not strictly accurate. First of all, the amount assumed as likely to be derived from the tax on incomes, was greatly overrated at 41,800/.; whereas the greatest amount that could in any imaginable circumstances, accrue was 32,000l. Another Act placed at the disposal of the Commissioners a fund which was estimated to amount to 22,000l.; but the Commissioners very fairly stated, that they had no means of ascertaining whether that was an accurate statement, and it was therefore impossible to say that the fund would ever be realized. On the other hand, material items of expenditure had been omitted; the expense, for instance, of the Commission itself, which in August, 1835, was not less than 12,000l., and therefore the balance might turn out pretty nearly as he had before estimated it. But there was this remarkable circumstance to be taken into consideration—that while the objects to which it was intended those funds should be applied were of urgent, pressing, and immediate necessity—many of them which could not be dispensed with, the funds themselves were distant, uncertain, and remotely contingent; and the Bill, therefore, contained a clause authorzing the Commissioners to begin their operations by incurring a debt; and up to August last, not only were their funds insufficient to meet the charges previously defrayed by the vestry cess, but there was not a single farthing for any of the other great and important objects for which the Bill was passed and the Commission instituted. The first Report of the Commissioners stated their receipts, as derived from all sources, for the year ending August 1, 1834, at 68,728l., and their expenditure at 51,043l.—thus leaving an apparent balance in their favour of 17,685l. But there were two sums included in their receipts which were not properly to be classed as income.—the sum of 46,000l. borrowed from the Government, and the sum of 2,365l. derived from the sale of perpetuities, which sum, so obtained, was originally destined to be vested in some securities bearing interest, and not to be applied as income and current expenditure. If these two sums, amounting together to 48,365l., were deducted from the above sum of 68,728l., their real receipts for that year would not exceed 20,365l. Instead, therefore, of a balance of 17,000l. in favour of the Commissioners, there would be a real balance against them of 30,677l. in the course of that year. Applying the same principle to the following year, ending August 1, 1835, a corresponding result would be found. The apparent income of that year was stated to be 185,713l., and the expenditure 120,253l.; but from the income were to be deducted the following sums—1st, the fictitious balance of 1834, 17,680l.; 2nd, money borrowed from the public, 46,000l.; 3rd, money obtained by the sale of perpetuities, 89,552l.; total, 153,237l. This would leave their real receipts at 32,476l. Deducting, on the other hand, from the expenditure the sum of 46,000l., repaid to the Government, their expenses for the second year would be 74,252l. The total result of the two years would therefore be as follows:—Expenditure, 125,294l.—Income, 52,839l. leaving a deficiency of no less than 72,455l. Their Lordships would therefore perceive that the means of the Commissioners had been totally inadequate for the purposes for which they had been appointed. By referring to the balance-sheet, their Lordships would find that the greater portion of the receipts which were obtained had been derived from the amalgamated bishoprics. The amount estimated to be derived sooner or later from that source was 50,780l., and including the archbishoprics of Armagh and Derry to 61,440l. The total amount received during the year, however, was only 16,000 and odd pounds, leaving a deficit under that head of 45,000l. or 46,000l. There had been very heavy charges thrown upon these Commissioners, which he was afraid but too characteristically belonged to that unfortunate country, namely, by the nonpayment of local dues. These had been vehemently and successfully opposed, the consequence of which was, that a very great arrear had been thrown upon the funds of the Commissioners, and they had already paid upon this head 46,000l. In this manner had been applied the 46,000l., which they had borrowed from one department of the Government; upon which they availed themselves of another claim on the sum they were entitled to borrow, 100,000l., which in common parlance was what he would call "flying a kite." Then came the important question of repairs of churches, and it had been said that the longer they were delayed the heavier would be the charge, but the Commissioners had no funds to make those repairs. They stated that one of the most onerous and important duties they were engaged to perform was the repairs of chapels and churches—that they had deemed it prudent to enter into an engagement to the amount of 75,000l., but that they had not been able to keep that engagement. The Commissioners, however, could not help that. Having borrowed 46,000l. to pay off the same sum, they were now going to borrow 54,000l. in order to execute that which they should execute by drawing upon the funds of the church. This he would almost call, though he did not like doing so, a case of bankruptcy. It was, at all events, any thing but a case of financial prosperity. But there were other objects to which their funds were to be applied. The first of these referred to the increase of small livings. Their Lordships were aware, from accounts on the Table, that there were many livings which did not amount to 200l., many that did not amount to 100l., and some not even to 50l., but that altogether there were several hundreds of them which did not amount to 200l. a-year. One of the objects of this Bill was to give these Commissioners the power of augmenting these small livings. Another important item of their estimated receipts was the tax upon beneficed clergymen of different degrees; this was at first calculated to produce 46,400l. a-year; but the Commissioners had subsequently, upon more precise information, reduced this estimate to 22,000l. Still, however, this constitutes an important item in their receipts; and it would not be uninteresting to their Lordships to know how much had actually been received under this head. They would find, then, upon referring to their Report, that, during the year 1834, they received nothing under this head, and, in the year 1835, the enormous sum of 7l. 5s. 7d. Looking, therefore, at these two items of receipt, estimated to produce, ultimately, rather more than 83,000l. per annum, their Lordships would find that the Commissioners had obtained no more than 16,519l., or nearly 67,000l. less than the estimate. Turning from the revenue to the expenditure of the Commissioners, let their Lordships mark what had been the nature of the demands upon them, and the extent to which they had been able to meet them. They stated in their second Report, that "in the year ending August 1st, 1835, they had spent, under the head of things necessary for the celebration of divine service in each church and chapel for the year beginning at Easter, 1834, various sums to the amount of very nearly 30,000l.;" but they added, "that the payments under this head were not all completed within the year, so that in the current year, 1836, they would have to pay out of the income certain sums really payable for the service of 1835 out of the income of 1835." There was another very heavy charge which had fallen upon the Commissioners, and which deserved particular notice. Their Lordships were aware that from circumstances which in Ireland were but too characteristic of that unfortunate country, the payment of legal dues was in many cases successfully resisted. Accordingly it appeared, that for two or three years before the abolition of the vestrycess, in various parishes that impost had been withheld, and the objects to which it was destined had been left unprovided for. These arrears, though legally due, were remitted to the several parishes in question by a clause in the Church Temporalities' Act, and the payment of them was thrown upon the Commissioners. It appeared, that under this head they had already paid upwards of 46,000l.; but as their own funds were totally inadequate to meet this charge, they were only enabled to make these payments by borrowing from the Government the above sum of 46,000l.; thus commencing their operations by incurring a considerable debt. It was true that they had subsequently repaid that sum; but how had they done it? Why, by borrowing it from another department of the Government, under the provisions of another Act of Parliament; and thus adopting in regard to this debt, a course which, in common parlance, is called "flying a kite," paying one debt by contracting another. Another most important item in the regular and ordinary expenditure of the Commissioners was occasioned by the necessary repair of churches and chapels throughout Ireland. This was an object which formerly was provided for out of the vestry-cess, and constituted a principal demand upon that impost. The same circumstances which occasioned the great arrear to which he had just now alluded, caused this also to fall into arrear; so much so, that the exigency of the case became urgent to the greatest degree, and was adverted to with considerable emphasis by the Commission, in a paragraph of their Report, to which he would call their Lordships' attention. The Commissioners described their duty, as regarded this subject, as one of the most onerous and important that they had to discharge. They said that they had obtained detailed estimates of such repairs as ought to be immediately executed, but that, as the state of the funds only admitted of a selection being made of the most pressing cases, and as delay only increased the evil, they had deemed it prudent and indispensable to enter into engagements to the amount of 75,000l., which engagements they proposed to meet in this way:—they set aside, out of their incoming funds, the sum of 21,000l., and the remaining 54,000l. was to be obtained by a loan from the Government, being the residue of a sum of 100,000l., which the law allows them to borrow, and of which they had previously borrowed 46,000l. to pay the arrears of vestry-cess. Having thus borrowed the whole sum of 100,000l. for the execution of a purpose for which that sum was confessedly inadequate, they might be described as being in a state of bankruptcy, and although he might be unwilling to apply to the case so strong an expression, he was, at all events, warranted in contending that they were in anything but a state of financial prosperity. There were, however, other objects of equal importance to which the Commissioners were bound to attend, and in respect to which they laboured under precisely similar difficulties—he alluded, first, to the increase of small livings, one of those points, be it remembered, which were described in the preamble of the Church Temporalities Act as being essential to the efficiency and stability of the Church. Their Lordships were aware, from documents already on the Table, that out of the 1385 benefices in Ireland, there were very many under 50l. a-year, many under 100l., many under 150l., and upon the whole several hundred livings under 200l. per annum. Surely, 200l. per annum was but a small pittance for the remuneration of a respectable and well-educated gentleman, called upon by the duties of his situation to reside amongst his parishioners, and to exercise amongst them the rites of hospitality and the obligations of charity? In speaking of this sum of 200l. a-year, he was not stating merely his own view of what was reasonable, he was founding upon the Act, which although it limited to 200l. a-year, the sum to which small livings might be augmented, nevertheless exempted from the tax upon benefices all livings under 300l., thus establishing, by an unquestionable proof, the fact, that Parliament did not deem even 300l.. to be an unreasonably large income for a clergyman to enjoy. But, then, what had the Commissioners been able to do in this matter?—absolutely nothing! It was true, that in a very few cases some slight augmentation had been afforded by the dis-appropriating benefices from sinecure dignities, and by the application of Bishop Boulter's Fund: but the latter was a private fund of a very limited amount, and the former mode of increase could be applicable to very few cases only. Here, then, were several hundred livings, at least one-third of the whole, with an income confessedly inadequate, and without any existing means of increasing them: and this was a Church described by some persons as wallowing in wealth, degraded by luxurious indolence, and existing with a surplus of revenue. The next topic touched on in the Report was glebe-houses: and their Lordships would find, upon reference to the Report of the Commissioners of Public Instruction, that there were no less than 536 parishes in which there was no glebe-house whatever. Now, he would ask, what was the condition of a clergyman, as an official minister of religion, if he had not a proper residence? How could he be expected to perform his duties towards his flock if the want of a residence interrupted his habitual intercourse with them It was not that he would wish to see the clergy dwelling in palaces of extravagant dimensions; but every consideration of fitness and propriety gave them a right to a comfortable and decent house. The last topic to which he had to advert was Church accommodation, and he must premise that what he was about to notice was independent of any question affecting the keeping in repair existing churches. There were in Ireland 210 benefices out cf 1385 in which there were no churches whatever; and if their Lordships were to look at this question with reference to the number of parishes, and not of benefices, the extent of the deficiency would be greatly increased, and he had no doubt that, at least, 359 or 400 parishes would be found destitute of a church. This was a serious injury to the Church; and the Commissioners felt it to be so, for they spoke of it in their two Reports in very strong terms— In connexion with the subject of churches, the Commissioners say in their first report, they cannot but express the satisfaction they feel in having to report to your Excellency, that many applications have been made to them for aid for the erection of additional churches; it appearing that the accommodation at present subsisting in those districts or parishes from which the applications have been received, are quite insufficient for the congregation of the Established Church; and whilst the Commissioners have to mention that, in many cases, the parties have expressed their willingness to contribute, or cause to be contributed, certain proportions of the expenses of building, in some cases amounting to a fifth, in some to a half, and in others, to three-fourths of the expenses requisite for the purpose, they cannot but reject that, as their surplus funds alone are applicable to the objects now under consideration, they could hold out no immediate prospect of the application in question being favourably entertained at present. The Board have, however, given every assurance in their power, that as soon as there shall be any available fund for such purposes, these applications shall receive the earliest consideration; and they are fully satisfied, from the inquiries which have been made at this office, that had they been enabled to hold out any present encouragement to the building of churches, the applications on this subject would have been, under such circumstances, far more numerous than those they have now to refer to. Could anything, in a matter of this kind, more imperatively require assistance than the case he had just stated? The Act authorised, nay, required such assistance to be given; the parties seeking it showed, the sincerity of the feeling with which they urged it, by undertaking to share in the expense; and yet all that the Commission were enabled to answer to their application was, that when they had the means they should be happy to apply them! What he had just stated referred to the year 1834. Let their Lordships' now see how the matter stood in the year 1835. The Commissioners, in their Second Report, expressed themselves as follow:— The Commissioners have also to state, that applications have been received for aid, not only for the enlargement of several churches, where the accommodation has been reported to be quite insufficient for the respective congregations, but also for the rebuilding or erection of sixty churches; and in many of these applications, the parties have expressed their willingness to contribute sums varying from 60l. to 600l. Here was the same eagerness of application as in the first year; the same readiness to contribute on the part of the applicants. He was not surprised, he confessed, to find, in the First Report, that a negative answer had been given to such applications: but when he read the above paragraph of the Second Report, he did flatter himself that at least a beginning had been made in forwarding this important object; he indulged hopes, that the prospects were more encouraging; but these were wofully disappointed:— Tolluntur in altum Ut lapsu graviore ruant. The paragraph of the Report concluded:— Several of these applications appeared to be so pressing, that the Commissioners have been induced to direct— What would their Lordships think?—that assistance should be immediately given?—not at all; but—— —that a special memorandum shall be taken of the cases, in order that, as soon as they have any funds available for such purposes, the wants of the parties may be provided for. Cold comfort this, for men who were seeking the attainment of an object in which what is most dear and important to them was involved. Cold comfort this, for men whom Parliament itself had taught to believe that adequate church accommodation was essential to the efficiency, the permanence, and stability of the Established Church. All he could say was, that for many years of his life it had been his lot to have at his disposal a share of official patronage; many of his noble Friends on both sides of the House had been similarly situated; and it had frequently happened to him (as doubtless it had to others) to be compelled, upon pressing applications for it, to answer—"I should be very happy if I had it in my power to comply with your wishes; but you may depend upon it that I will make a note of your application." He never knew an applicant satisfied with that answer. Could the Church of Ireland then be satisfied with it? Such, however, was the answer, and not a do it had the Commissioners given for the purpose. This matter derived additional importance from a circumstance to which he could not avoid referring. It had been over and over again stated that the Church of Ireland had failed in its object—that the numbers of its followers did not increase—and that it was preposterous to attempt to bolster up an institution which was so unequal to its professed duties. Was the fact so? By no means. If their Lordships referred to the Reports of the Commissioners of Public Instruction, they would find that, out of 2,405 parishes in Ireland, the members of the Church of England had increased in no less than 1,200 parishes, being one-half of the whole, in the year 1834, as compared with the census of 1831. This fact was an unanswerable refutation of the calumny urged against the efficiency of the Irish Church, and showed the wisdom of the law to which his remarks had applied, in laying the foundation for a provision for the wants of an increasing communion. He felt confident that what he had taken the liberty of submitting to their Lordships ought to be borne in mind in any future discussion upon this subject. He had shown what were the principles, the objects, and the provisions of the Church Temporalities Act—he had pointed out the nature of the arguments by which it was recommended and supported in the House—he had shown the nature of the compact which that Act established between the State and the Church in Ireland—and he had shown how imperfectly, up to this moment, that contract had been carried into effect. It involved an obligation by which the good faith of Parliament was bourn), and which he for one, could not shake off. He should conclude, by moving for an Account of all receipts and disbursements by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland, for nine months, ending 1st May, 1836; distinguishing the specific sources from which all monies have been derived, and shewing the total amount derived from each source, and the specific purposes to which the receipts have been applied;—and also, a Statement of the number of applications made to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the enlargement, rebuilding, and erection of additional churches, as referred to in their two Reports; distinguishing the locality and diocese of each parish from which the application has been made.

Viscount Melbourne

said, as it was not his wish to throw any obstacle in the way of the motion of the noble Earl, and as it was not his intention to offer any thing like opposition to it, be did not consider it necessary to trouble their Lordships with more than a very few observations on the present occasion. He agreed entirely in the general statement made by his noble Friend. He concurred with his noble Friend when he said, that seeing what was the state of Ireland, and considering the state of the tithe question in that country, it was necessary they should have before them the fullest, clearest, and most distinct information bearing on the subjects that could be obtained. He concurred also in the opinion with which his noble Friend commenced his speech, viz., that it was a narrow, insufficient view, to take of this question, to say that Church property in tithes or in land was in any way to be considered the property of the ministers of religion. He agreed with him that it was the property of the whole of the community, who were bound together in the same bond of religious faith. He agreed with his noble Friend that tithes and other descriptions of Church property were the portion of the national altar, which had been set aside by the institutions of the country, by the piety or superstition of former ages, for the maintenance and security of the Established Church and the established religion of this country; and so being part of the national property, it was in the power of the State to increase it if it were too small, or to diminish it if it were too large, or to distribute it as it pleased, and to apply it to those purposes which were considered the fittest to promote the great end and object which its contributors had in view. He entirely agreed in the principle laid down by his noble Friend; it was indeed, the one which he had always held as the only safe principle on which the Government and the Legislature could proceed with regard to these subjects. He concurred, also, in the history given by his noble Friend of that great Act which passed, he believed, in 1833; he concurred as to the object of that Act and the means provided to effect them> But he must observe that the insufficiency of the funds to be derived under the Act was foreseen. At the time that Act was in this House, it was expected that the funds, in the first instance, and for a considerable period, would be insufficient for the purposes which were contemplated, but when his noble Friend affirmed that the Act was a compact between the Church and the State, he must say, that it was no more a compact than any other Act; and if his noble Friend mean by his assertion, that by passing that Act they entered into an arrangement by which they precluded themselves from entertaining any other measure till all the objects professed in that Act had been carried into effect, he, for one, could not concur with his noble Friend. He conceived the Act to have been passed for the regulation of those matters to which it was to be applied, but it left other matters open for the consideration of the Legislature. He must say, further, he did think that the statement his noble Friend had made, showing what had been the tardiness of the operation of the Act, and its insufficiency for the great purposes which it had in view, was proof and argument that however much some such measure was wanting at the time it had passed, it had proved insufficient for the attainment of the object for which it was introduced. He could not go into the detail entered into by his noble Friend respecting the proceedings of the Commissioners; but agreeing with him, that in all their Lordships' future deliberations on this subject, it was necessary they should carry in their minds the objects of the Act and its operation, he was happy to find that his noble Friend had turned his attention to the question, and had called for information connected with it, which, of course, it would be his anxious wish to assist him in procuring.

Motion agreed to.