HL Deb 10 July 1868 vol 193 cc972-3

seeing the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) in his place, wished to be permitted, without proper Notice, to ask him, Whether the Report of the Irish Church Commission was likely to be presented to Parliament before the prorogation; and, if not, whether it was likely to be circulated before the dissolution?


My noble Friend would more properly have addressed his Question to my noble Friend the Earl of Meath, the Chairman of the Commission; but, Lord Meath being now absent from town, I will very readily give the information the noble Lord seeks. I have, then, to state that the Commissioners on the Established Church in Ireland have agreed to their recommendations, and have settled even the very terms of their Report. There is only one reason why they have not been able to present their Report, and that is that it has reference to certain statistics, the entire accuracy of which can only be determined by a Schedule to the Report, which is not yet complete. Tour Lordships will agree that we ought not to present any Report on this important subject without being entirely satisfied of the accuracy of the statistics contained in it. We have, therefore, delayed the signatures until the Schedule has been obtained. One of our number is at present in Dublin to expedite that Schedule as much as possible; and we have every reason to believe that in a fortnight or three weeks the Report will be signed and presented, and that very soon after it will be in the hands of your Lordships. The noble Lord properly forbore to ask information as to the recommendation of the Commissioners; but there is one point which it will not be a breach of confidence to refer to, and it is that whatever our recommendations may be they will be unanimous, and that the Report will receive the signatures of everyone of the Commissioners. This is no unimportant result to have attained when it was remembered that the Commission was composed of men of very different politics, some of whom sit on opposite sides of your Lordships' House. I therefore hope that the unanimity which attends our recommendations, whatever they may be, will bespeak at the hands of your Lordships and of the country a respectful consideration. Without imputing that the question has been a little too much in the domain of party politics, and that it has sometimes been argued on that ground, we shall leave our Report to the dispassionate consideration of the Government and country, upon these two grounds—that it will contain much authentic information not at present known or accessible, and that it will bring forth some practical and useful recommendations.