HL Deb 06 April 1838 vol 42 cc437-53
The Earl of Ripon

, in rising to move for certain accounts connected with the receipts and expenditure of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland, said, that he was one of those who, in 1833, had concurred in recommending to Parliament a measure which was generally known by the name of the Irish Church Temporalities Bill. He had always felt a great interest in the working of that law, not merely for the sake of consistency, as he had shared in recommending its introduction, but because of his being actuated by a strong feeling that the good working of that measure was, in a great degree, essential to the maintenance of the Church in Ireland, and that no measure had yet been proposed, or could be brought forward, for the Settlement of the Irish Church question, which did not bear a direct and intimate connexion with the principles and provisions of the law to which he referred. The bill of 1833 originated in advice given to his Majesty by the Administration of that period; and the recommendation which his Majesty gave to Parliament in consequence, at the commencement of the Session, was in these words—"That in your deliberations upon this important subject, it cannot be necessary to impress on you the duty of carefully attending to the security of the Church, as established by law in these realms, and to the true interests of religion;"—words in which was unequivocally announced the principle upon which it was expected that Parliament should proceed to carry the recommendation into effect. It was perfectly true, that in the following paragraph notice was taken of the peculiar circumstances in which the Irish Church was placed. But when he read the paragraph their Lordships would perceive that there was nothing in it which tended, in the slightest degree, to separate the Church of Ireland from the general principle laid down in the previous paragraph. The paragraph to which he referred was as follows:▀×In the further reforms which may be found necessary, you will probably find, that although the Established Church of Ireland is by law permanently connected with the Church of England, the peculiarity of its circumstances will require a separate consideration." Why, this very paragraph reiterated in the strongest terms the permanent union by law of the two Churches of England and Ireland. In clear conformity with these principles was the language used by the Ministers of the Crown in explaining the views with which they introduced this measure. The then First Lord of the Treasury (Earl Grey) observed, that "any apprehension which might be entertained by the friends of the Church was guarded against by the very construction of the King's Speech; and assured the House of his desire to provide for the Church of Ireland on truly Conservative principles." Such were the sentiments entertained by the Government of that day; and it was this language which induced him, in common with many others, to become a party to the sweeping change effected by the Bill. The law itself was embodied in terms expressive of this Conservative principle. He did not mean to say, that there were no objections made to its progress in Parliament. What he meant to convey to their Lordships was his conviction, that, considering the nature of the measure—considering that it swept away no fewer than ten bishoprics, and dealt, with an unsparing hand, with various ecclesiastical corporations in Ireland, it was not likely that such a measure would have been permitted to pass, unless the language of the Government and the wording of the provisions of the Bill were such as to give to the friends of the Church a security that the rights of the Church would be preserved inviolate. The sentiments of the noble Earl were repeated emphatically by the other Members of his Government, and by none in terms more distinct than by the noble Marquess who was then, and is now also, President of the Council. The Bill, although strenuously opposed, was finally carried. The preamble of the bill detailed the objects for which the bill sought to provide, and recited that means could be secured by an improved management of the funds of the Church itself, out of which it proposed to provide the necessary expenses for the administration of divine service, for the annual repair of the churches now in existence, the erection of new churches and glebe-houses in places where they might be required, for the formation of small livings, "and other objects, which were essential to the efficiency, permanence, and stability of the union between the Churches of England and Ireland." The preamble, therefore, stated first, that it was essential to the permanence and stability of the Church: and, secondly, that it was the duty of Parliament to give effect to this principle. In short, a distinct pledge was given for the attainment of these objects. How came these words into the preamble of the bill? It could not be by accident. It was not surely for delusion. It was not merely to secure the passing of the bill without caring one straw for its effects. The character of the noble Lord who was then Secretary for Ireland—the character, in short, of all the parties concerned, forbade so injurious a supposition. The words must have been advisedly introduced. It was impossible to look at this Act without feeling that it did establish a Parliamentary pledge that its objects should be attained. According to the terms of the Act, the Church could not acquire the character of security or permanence until those objects were secured. The Act created a Commission, to which it gave great powers—powers which many persons were disposed to dispute the propriety of conceding. The Commissioners were, however, placed by Parliament in the situation of guardians and protectors of that Church; and the circumstances which had since occurred had increased tenfold, nay, a hundredfold, the importance and responsibility of their duties. Was not the Church of Ireland now assailed in a manner unheard of before? Did not the, language held by her opponents now consist, not merely of complaints of the inconvenience resulting from the collection of tithes—not merely of a general and vague dislike—but had it not swelled into positive denunciation? Had not the Church of Ireland been stated to be a positive grievance, and so stated, too, in a high quarter? Were not the friends of the Church, therefore, naturally most jealous with regard to any encroachment on her rights? The Church of Ireland was affected, he believed, very injuriously by the resolution which passed the House of Commons in 1835—a resolution which, if (consistently with his respect for the other House of Parliament) he could express fully what he thought of it, he would say, was the most absurd, the most impracticable, and the most mischievous resolution to which a Legislative Assembly had ever come. That resolution was hailed with triumph by the enemies of the Church, but was received with alarm by her friends. By that resolution his Majesty's Government were bound hand and foot, and year after year they had vainly introduced measures with the view to carry that impracticable resolution into effect. And, for his part, he could see nothing in those measures but that the vain imagination that a surplus existed induced them to endeavour to create a surplus by first creating a deficiency. Successive schemes were tried, each exceeding the other in absurdity; and as the question as to the necessity of coming to arrangement, upon which all parties were agreed—that of tithes—was left unsettled, because the principle of that impracticable resolution was still thrust forward. To return to the commission, which was appointed in 1833, it was required that they should make an annual report in the month of August to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, which the Commissioners accordingly made year after year. These reports, which he held in his hand, contained at the end a balance-sheet of each year's receipts and expenditure. It might be interesting to their Lordships to hear the details of this subject. In the first year the receipts from various funds provided by the Act were rather more than 20,000l. In the following year they were something more than 32,000l. in the third year, 37,000l.; and, during the last year (1837), they amounted to nearly 38,000l., excluding, of course, all money borrowed from any public fund; and also excluding all that portion of their receipts which were derived from the sale of perpetuities. He alluded now to the bishops' lands, the perpetuity of which the Board was empowered to sell out to the tenants. According, however, to the mode in which the Commissioners were directed to deal with the monies which came into their hands, the produce of the sale of the perpetuities was not to be applied to the current expenses of the Commission, but was to be invested in some security bearing interest and there was to be applied the current expenses merely the interest of the capital sum produced by the sale of those perpetuities. If, therefore, the Commissioners had been obliged to pay to the Government any sums borrowed by them for the purposes of the Commission, it was clear that they had been living on their capital. The income then of the Commissioners under the Church Temporalities Act amounted, as he had said, to rather more than 131,000l. in four years. Now, then, for the expenses of the Commission. Of course in the expenses he included all disbursements made in repayment of debts which had been incurred. A sum of 100,000l. had certainly been paid to the Government, but the funds at the disposal of the Commissioners were not in a much better state on that account, for he believed that a second 100,000l. was borrowed, merely for the purpose of paying off the first. But with regard to the expenses incurred, it would appear, that in the first year, the income, rejecting hundreds, being rather more than 20,000l., the expenditure amounted to 31,000l. In the second year, the income amounting to 32,000l., the expenses were 74,000l. In the third year the expenditure swelled up to 108,000l,. while the income at the disposal of the Commissioners was but 37,000l.; and in the fourth and last year, the income received being 38,000l., the expenses incurred amounted to 123,000l. being for the whole four years 357,000l. If, then, their Lordships would deduct the receipts from the expenditure, they would find that the expenditure exceeded the income by no less a sum than 229,000l. Now, that was not a very flourishing condition for persons to be in who were charged with the completion of objects of so much importance as the efficiency, security, and stability of the Established Church in Ireland. Their Lordships would, therefore, not be surprised to hear, that so far from these objects having been completed, nothing had been begun. Nothing had been done towards the building of new churches, the building of glebe-houses, or the improvement of small livings. Now, let them look at these three objects. There was, in the first place, the building of glebe-houses. It appeared from the report of another Set of Com- missioners, who called themselves by the coxcombical title of Commissioners of Public Instruction, no such name being given to them by the instrument of their appointment, that in 534 benefices in Ireland there were no glebe-houses at all. Now, let their Lordships recollect what benefices were in Ireland. A living did not consist of merely one parish, but of unions of parishes in many cases; and if these 534 benefices were divided, as they ought to be, into parishes, and these absurd unions were broken up, there would be a necessity for a great increase of glebe-houses, and it would be necessary to build such glebe-houses in at least a thousand parishes. From the statement which was returned of the number of applications made to the Commissioners to build glebe-houses, of the number of applications granted and the number refused, it appeared that the Commissioners inherited from the Board of First Fruits forty-seven applications, which were under consideration when the Board merged in the Commission, and that since that period there had been forty-three new applications, and, therefore, in all there had been ninety applications for assistance of this nature. Upon this statement the Commissioners made this very satisfactory remark—"All these applications have been deferred, as by the provisions of the Church Temporalities Act all building of glebe-houses is to be deferred, till there is a surplus income." But with the statement which he had laid before their Lordships of the relative amount of income and expenditure, would any man tell him the time when it would be possible to do it? Who would venture to fix the period when a surplus would accrue? He was sure that none of their Lordships then present, would live to see it done. Then, again, with respect to the building of churches, it appeared from the same report which he had before quoted, that 210 benefices in Ireland had no church at all, and looking, as he had before recommended their Lordships, at the number of parishes instead of the number of benefices, they would find that the number of new churches wanted would be greatly increased. He would add, while speaking of the deficiency of churches, that it was not the mere want of churches in benefices or parishes which the Church of Ireland had to lament. In many of the churches now built there was not room enough for the Protestant inhabitants of the parish, who, as appeared by the report of the Commissioners themselves, were most anxious to attend. Upon this head there was a circumstance worth adverting to, which was to be collected, or rather extracted, from the report of the Commissioners of Public Instruction. One of the matters on which they were ordered to report was, whether in each of the parishes the members of each church in Ireland were increasing, stationary, or diminishing. Now, there were about 2,400 parishes in Ireland, and out of these there were 1,200 in which, comparing the number of Protestants in these parishes in 1834 with those living at the time of the census in 1831, the number of Protestants was stated to be increasing. Why, then, if the Protestants were increasing, it followed as a necessary consequence, that increased Church accommodation would be required. If, then, what he had stated with respect to the funds at the disposal of the Commissioners was correct, their Lordships would see that they could provide no funds for building new churches, and that although they had applied much money towards the repairs of old Churches, they would not be able to give anything for the rebuilding of old churches which had gone too far for repair, or for building new churches in parishes where there was no church at all. And, their Lordships would observe, this was not from any want of applications—quite the contrary. Repeated applications had been made to the Commissioners on the subject, stating that the applicants were ready to bear a part of the expense, but the Commissioners could only say, "We are very sorry for you, but we can give you nothing." Then with respect to the improvement of small livings. It was stated in the speech from the throne at the time, that it was desirable to effect an improvement in the small livings, and the more equal distribution of the revenues of the Church. From that recommendation it was to be inferred that it was intended that the larger livings should be reduced, and the smaller ones augmented. Now how stood the nature of the demand in that respect? Out of 1,485 benefices in Ireland, no less than 465 varied from 30l. to 200l. a.-year. The act authorised an augmentation to the extent of 200l.—that was to say, that all livings below that scale should be augmented by the Commissioners. But besides these livings, varying between 30l. and 200l., there were 118 benefices, of which the income varied from 200l. to 250l. Now, their Lordships would not have forgotten that part of one plan for the settlement of tithes, which had been submitted to Parliament for its consideration, was to diminish the tithe composition by three-tenths. They would see in a moment, therefore, that this principle, when applied to this latter class of livings, would bring them all down below 200l., and that the maximum of income derived from such a living would be about 175l., Then again, if all livings were to be reduced in the same proportion they would have a minimum income of about 20l., and a maximum of 175l. Now, he believed, that if it was intended to raise all these livings to 200l., there would be required for that purpose alone an annual income of 60,000l., and there was not a farthing available. He did not mean to say that he felt called on to suggest any mode of increasing the revenues thus placed at the disposal of the Commissioners; it was not his business to do so, but he did say that whenever, and by whomsoever, their Lordships might be called upon to deal with the tithe question, they would be bound to keep in view the destitute condition in which he had demonstrated the Church of Ireland to be placed. They would recollect that, by way of substitution for the first-fruits and tenths, a charge was laid on benefices, by a gradual scale of taxation, varying from 1 per cent. at the lowest to 15 per cent. at the highest. The produce of that tax was estimated at the time the act was introduced at 40,000l. a-year but it turned out that that was found to be an erroneous, calculation, and it appeared that the Commissioners estimated it at 22,000l. Now, out of this sum 9,000l. was raised by a percentage on bishoprics, therefore the amount of 13,000l. was produced by the tax laid on benefices. While, however, a tax of three-tenths of the tithe composition was laid on the smaller benefices, the revenue was diminished out of which the augmentation of small livings was to be effected. He did not pretend to suggest, as he had said before, any mode by which this deficiency could be made up. It was no part of his business to do so; but he would say, that if Parliament could not assist the clergy, he thought they might expect, and he did not say that they would not receive, something of kindness and favour from the Government, and a bold declaration of their determination to support the Church. That would, he admitted, not build churches, or glebe-houses, or augment the income of the man who was reduced to a pittance of 20l. a year; but it would give the clergy heart and spirit, and, with God's help, it would perhaps enable them to surmount the dangers to which the Church of Ireland was exposed. The noble Earl concluded by submitting his motion for certain accounts connected with the receipts and expenditure of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in Ireland.

Viscount Melbourne

said, there could be no objection to the production of the papers for which his noble Friend had moved, and certainly there was no necessity for giving notice of a motion for these returns. His noble Friend had made a number of observations on the act of 1833, to which measure, however, his noble Friend was a party, and, therefore, he did not feel called upon to reply to his noble Friend's observations. He could not help feeling, however, that the observations in reply to his noble Friend would fall more appropriately from other noble Lords opposite, who opposed that measure, and who said that it would prove dangerous to the Church, and injurious to its best interests. For his own part, he adopted entirely the view that his noble Friend took of the subject, namely, that the bill was calculated to uphold the Church, and had had that; and he also agreed with him that as far as that bill afforded the means it was the duty of her Majesty's Ministers to carry out the principles of it, and to give stability to the Church establishment. He did not, however, think that it was the duty of the Government to take those steps relative to the tithe question that had been advised by his noble Friend. It must be in the recollection of their Lordships that the contests relative to the tithe question existed long before this measure was brought forward, and that it was supposed that this bill would put a stop to them. He thought that it would not be denied that the tithe contests had rather diminished than increased since the period when that measure was passed. With respect to what his noble Friend had said in relation to the Commissioners, he did not understand his noble Friend to censure the mode in which they discharged their duties, but only regretted that the amount of funds at the disposal of the Commissioners was not so great as it had been anticipated would be the case when the measure received the sanction of the Legislature. It could not be denied that in this respect the bill had something of a speculative character, and that it was often the case in railway bills and others of the same description, that the amount of money to be supplied from the probable resource was found to be greatly below the amount that the framers of the measure supposed. It appeared, however, that the probable amount of increase had been greatly exaggerated, and if the statement of his noble Friend was correct, there had been a lamentable falling off indeed in the calculation. When the bill was before Parliament some noble Lords opposite stated that there would not be any income derivable under this bill, and he recollected that in particular one noble Lord (Lord Ellenborough) stated that the funds under this bill would be found altogether insufficient for the purposes to which they were proposed to be applied. His noble Friend, however, showed that this view of the subject was also exaggerated, and he stated the case as it really was, and had also pointed out, what had exhausted all the funds that the Commissioners had obtained. His noble Friend said, that the present state of the Irish Church was very sad, and added, that it was not possible for him to suggest a remedy. For his own part he was ready to confess that he did not know how the present evils were to be remedied, but he was not willing to fall into such a despondency as his noble Friend. He thought, that, in the course of time, some means would be found to remedy these evils, and that no better step could be taken, in the first instance, than the settlement of the tithe question. His noble Friend had animadverted with great severity on the resolution of the House of Commons relative to the Irish tithe question, and on the measures that had been founded on that resolution. He would ask his noble Friend whether he did not recollect the measure of 1834, which did not embody that principle which was so objectionable to his noble Friend and the other noble Lords opposite, and still that measure had been rejected by that House on grounds which he confessed he did not understand. That measure, he repeated, had been rejected in that House on grounds which he had ever thought to be insufficient and unwise, and he must observe, that the opportunity was lost of settling the tithe question—which opportunity if it had been seized, would have led to more auspicious results than existed or than could be anticipated at the present moment. Admitting, however, the general correctness of the statement of the noble Lord, he did not take so desponding a view of the subject as his noble Friend had done, but he admitted, that it was the duty of the Government to turn their minds to the promotion of those objects which his noble Friend had truly stated to be so highly desirable. His noble Friend had also given a great deal of advice to her Majesty's Ministers as to the nature of the measures that they should bring forward and as to the language they should adopt. This appeared to him to be a new course taken by noble Lords who were generally supposed to be opposed to the policy pursued by the Government, and they had lately received a great deal of such advice as his noble Friend had that night favoured them with. For instance, a few nights ago a noble Friend of his, who was not then present, he meant Lord Haddington, favoured them with certain advice, and also another noble Earl (Aberdeen), who was then present, followed his example and gave them advice as to the course they should pursue with respect to the Church of Scotland. The noble Duke had also on that and other measures followed their example, and given her Majesty's Ministers advice, no doubt of such a nature as they believed was calculated to promote the stability of the Government in that and the other House of Parliament, and generally in the country. He believed, that the noble Duke, and other noble Lords, had given their advice in an open and candid spirit, and with the views and intentions stated. He believed that those noble Lords would be glad to see the Government strong, and would be gratified to see them bring forward such measures as they approved of, and which they believed would meet with the approbation of the country; but he would ask, how many of those who generally acted with those noble Lords agreed with them in their views—how many would they carry along with them in this advice? They must recollect that they were not alone, and they should also recollect what their advice was, and what would be considered its real meaning. Many of the supporters of the noble Lords would say to them, do not think that the people of this country will support you in this course of proceeding. Get rid of the present Government altogether, and do all you can to displace it. Was it likely that they should take the advice of those who were doing all they could to injure the Government, and to get rid of it? Was it the advice which the noble Duke himself was likely to follow under the circumstances of the case? But it might be said that nothing more had been done that night than following out the advice that had been given on many former occasions but he should reply that it was the determination of the Government to bring forward and support such measures as they thought right, not merely with the view of obtaining the support of this party or of that, but because they thought it was the right, and with the view of maintaining the Church Establishment as well as all the other institutions of the country. The noble Duke, a few nights ago, stated that a great change of policy had recently taken place in the Government with respect to the Church; and the noble Duke also said that they did not, in consequence of what had occurred in another place, encourage the Church of England, they did not encourage the Church of England in Ireland, they refused to adopt measures to encourage the Church of Scotland, and they also withheld support and encouragement from the Established Church in the colonies. The noble Duke said, that the Government did not encourage the Church. Now he did not think that the word encourage was the right word to use on such an occasion. Encouragement might be very proper for a nascent establishment, the stability of which was not known or ascertained; but in language which might be properly applied, it was the duty of the Government, as it was the intention of himself and colleagues, to support the Protestant Church as it was established at the Reformation, and the Church of Scotland as it was established by law. If the noble Lord desired that they should devote to Ecclesiastical purposes a much larger income than they possessed at present, he doubted whether it would prove real encouragement, or whether it were consistent with sound policy that they should pursue such a course; but he was sure that there never existed a Government more determined than her Majesty's Ministers to promote such measures as were calculated to support the establishments of the country, lay and Ecclesiastical

The Duke of Wellington

was surprised the noble Viscount opposite had not made the speech he had just concluded three or four evenings ago, when as the noble Viscount had said, he had charged on the noble Viscount (and he confessed he did not feel inclined to withdraw from the statement to-night) a departure from that ancient policy of this country, which for the last 200 years had been to protect, maintain, and encourage, the Church establishments in England and in Ireland, and for the last 150 years in Scotland. That he had charged upon the noble Viscount, and though he did not now propose to enter again into the discussion of the other night with reference to the condition of the Church of Scotland, still the more he reflected upon that question, the more he was convinced that the noble Viscount had not done his duty by the Church of Scotland, in neglecting to adopt some measure for the support and maintenance of religion in the large towns of that country. With respect to the question now before the House, the noble Viscount said, that he (the Duke of Wellington) had not supported the bill to which the noble Viscount had alluded; now, he had supported the bill, though he had objected to some of its details; but whether he and some of his noble Friends had supported the bill or not, still they were entitled to claim for the Church of Ireland all the benefits of the; and he agreed with his noble Friend near him (the Earl of Ripon) that the Church of Ireland did not receive the benefits of the enactments of that measure, nor of the promises held out to the friends of the Church in that country. His noble Friend had stated most clearly to their Lordships, that according to the system of taxation which Church livings in Ireland were to undergo, even according to the best plan ever proposed in either House of Parliament, a great part of the resources of the Church under that bill would be lost to the Commissioners, and the resources for the augmentation of small livings would be entirely done away with. That was a fact, and the noble Viscount opposite had replied, "Oh yes, but the reason is, that you on your side of the House, would not adopt the plan proposed in the year 1834." But the noble Viscount forgot, that the greater part of that measure was intended for a settlement by redemption, and that the redemption clauses had been struck out in the other House of Parliament, and the plan came to the House, shorn of all those benefits that were expected to result from the measure by its framers and introducers. Of that fact the noble Viscount had lost sight altogether. It had been a portion of that plan now suggested elsewhere, that the Church was to part with its property, and it was to go into the hands of the Government, and the ministers of the Church were to be placed on the consolidated fund. To that plan, as far as he was himself concerned, he would at once say, he should object; he had always said so, and he never would adopt such a measure. But the noble Viscount said, there was a desire in Parliament to see art arrangement, not only of this, but of every other question which for years past, had occupied the attention of both Houses regarding Ireland; and he was sure those questions would receive from their Lordships due consideration, in order to put au end to them and to strengthen the Government in Ireland on all those questions. The noble Viscount had said, that their Lordships, who were opposed to the noble Viscount, took a view contrary to the views of the people. Now, he (the Duke of Wellington) believed, that the noble Viscount was mistaken: he believed, that a very large number of persons in this country entertained the same views on these subjects as these noble Lords; and he assured the noble Viscount he wished to see those questions settled for the benefit of the Government, taking it in the largest sense of the word, and not caring one pin in whose hands the Government was placed.

The Earl of Wicklow

said, that as he was the only person sitting on that (the Opposition) side of the House who had supported the bill which had been alluded to, he certainly felt no small degree of anxiety for the well working of that measure. He had supported the bill under the conviction that under all the circumstances of the case, it would be a beneficial measure to the country, and in consequence of that support so given by him, he felt the greater surprise and disgust at the attempts subsequently made to interfere with the most wholesome provisions of that bill. He alluded to the measure proposed elsewhere, by which a direct interference with that bill had been established—he meant the resolutions which had been adopted by the other House, and to which his noble Friend (the Earl of Ripon) had alluded. His own opinion of those resolutions was, that however injurious they were to the working of the Benefices Pluralities Act, and however discouraging to the friends of the Church in Ireland, still his belief was, that those resolutions had only been introduced as the means for obtaining certain political ends for those who had proposed them—that they were not propounded with reference to the Church, but for the party-motive of placing the present Government in the position they now held. The noble Viscount had said, that those resolutions were matter of great embarrassment to her Majesty's Government. He believed no such thing; on the contrary, he believed the Government cared very little for the consequence of those resolutions now, and that they were ready to throw them over when it suited their convenience. In the resolutions which had since been proposed elsewhere, and communicated to the House, he saw nothing of the same kind; but he did see propositions contained in them which convinced him that they would never meet the approbation of their Lordships; on the contrary, he firmly believed, that the House of Commons itself, as now constituted, would never pass them into a law. He was perfectly satisfied that the House of Commons would never sanction any measure by which the revenues of the Church should be transferred from the Church, and that the clergy should be made pensioners on the consolidated fund. The noble Viscount had appealed to his (the Earl of Wicklow's) side of the House, and had called upon them to put their shoulders to the wheel to promote the great object of a settlement of these important questions. He would assert (whether the noble Viscount believed him or not) that he desired to see those great measures now in progress to promote the welfare of Ireland carried into effect, and he assured the noble Viscount that for the attainment of those objects no party feeling should interfere. He said this because he did believe, that at the present moment there was a better mode and opportunity of settling those questions than had ever presented themselves or existed before. He knew not whether any suggestions he could offer would have weight with the noble Viscount, but he would suggest, that there was one mode by which now these matters could be satisfactorily adjusted. There was a most important measure now before the other House, and which would shortly come under their Lordships' consideration—he meant the Irish Poor-law Bill—a bill which he confidently trusted would be discussed here with a total absence of anything like party spirit. By that measure an increased taxation was imposed upon the landed proprietors of Ireland, and it did happen, according to the cal- culations of the father and framer of that measure, Mr. Nicholls, that taxation so imposed, would come to about 1s. in the pound on the rental. That rental had been calculated by the Poor-law Commissioners to be about 10,000,000l., so that the taxation which Mr. Nicholls calculated upon that for the Poor-laws would give 500,000l. per annum. Now it also happened that the amount of tithe corn position in Ireland was 650,000l., from which making a deduction of twenty-five per cent. for payment on the landlords, the amount of tithe composition would be just equivalent to the sum calculated by Mr. Nicholls for taxation under the New Poor-law Bill. Under these circumstances, he (the Earl of Wicklow) must say, it appeared to hint that, if a measure was carried, throwing the whole of the tithe composition upon the landlords, and the whole of the taxation under the New Poor-laws upon the occupying tenants, both questions would be much more satisfactorily settled than by any other means. He was perfectly convinced, that there could be no hope of insuring the well-working of the Poor-law Bill unless the taxation under it was placed upon those who would have the management of it—viz., the occupying tenants, who would thus have an interest in the Act, which would insure that attention to its operation which such a measure necessarily required; and, indeed, otherwise it would be almost impossible to find persons who would execute the office of guardians. Then he would cast upon the landlord the whole amount of tithe-composition, and thus both those questions would be set at rest, and the landlords would get an equivalent for that burthen by being relieved from the weight of the taxation under the New Poor-law Bill. For his own part, he would say, as a landlord he should be willing to see a measure of that nature carried into effect; and he was convinced, that it would be likely to be satisfactory both to the landlords and the occupying tenants of Ireland. Again, such an arrangement, as fixing the Poor-law taxation upon the latter class, would establish a groundwork for carrying the Municipal Corporation Bill into operation, for it would establish a qualification for voters under that bill. He was anxious to see all those three great and important measures carried, as otherwise it would be impossible to free either House of Parliament from repeated discussions on Irish affairs. Having thrown out these suggestions, he had shown a readiness to put his shoulder to the wheel, and to exert himself to the utmost of his power to render those bills acceptable in that country.

The Bishop of Derry

was understood to defend the conduct of the Commissioners, though he had frequently had the misfortune, as one of the body, to differ from many of them. He trusted that an opportunity would be afforded for an investigation of their conduct, from which they would not shrink, and on a fitting occasion, perhaps on the tithe discussion, he should enter on the subject. He could not but express his regret, that the measure which had been introduced by his noble Friend and relative (Earl Grey), when at the head of the Government, had met with the discountenance it had received. He had thought it his duty to say thus much in the absence of the most reverend Prelate at the head of the Church in Ireland.

Motion agreed to.