HL Deb 10 March 1876 vol 227 cc1793-5

asked the Under Secretary of State for War, Whether Her Majesty's Government will take into consideration the question of making some payment for the use of sittings occupied in churches in garrison towns in Ireland, where no salary for a chaplain is provided, by soldiers belonging to the Church of England or the late Established Church of Ireland? The noble Earl said, this question formed part of a larger subject which had lately engaged the attention of a Committee of the General Synod of the Irish Church, of which he had the honour of being Chairman—namely, the pay and status of chaplains who were clergymen of the Church of Ireland. As regarded what might be called the civil chaplaincies, he had been in communication with the Chief Secretary for Ireland, but this appeared to him to belong more exclusively to the War Department. It was thought to be a hardship upon clergymen whose duty it was to attend to the spiritual wants of Her Majesty's Army in garrison towns where no salary for a chaplain was provided, that there should be no remuneration, although they often had to perform very unpleasant duties. That, however, was the case when the number in garrison did not exceed 25. He was told by noble Friends near him that in the case of Roman Catholics some allowance was made, although a salary was not paid, and that such was the case also with regard to the Militia, and formerly obtained with regard to the Army. He had received a memorandum from a clergyman, who was also a member of his Committee, who urged that if some payment were made the money could be expended in the repairs of the churches. It would be unwise to enforce payment by refusing soldiers proper facilities for attendance at church; but it would not be unreasonable, in cases where there was no salary, that some small contribution per head should be made based upon the average attendance by soldiers belonging to the Church of England, or the late Established Church of Ireland, during the year. He had no doubt that some clergymen would rather the payments should be made to themselves; but, at the same time, it was necessary that the line should be drawn somewhere, and 25 seemed as good a number to draw it at as another, and to meet any difficulty that might arise he suggested that the small sum of 5s. per head should be granted by Her Majesty's Government towards the funds of particular parishes, to be applied as might be thought fit. In no case would this exceed £6 10s. a-year, and in some cases less, and he thought that the cost for all the garrison towns where no chaplains were provided, taken together, would not exceed £100 a-year. He did not ask the Under Secretary for War for a definite answer to-night, still less did he want one in the negative, for he thought those whom he represented would not be inclined to take "No" as an answer; but his object in bringing the question forward was, that it might be considered by the War Office, with the view of seeing whether some relief of the nature indicated might not be afforded.


said, that the noble Earl had quite correctly stated the matter as it stood at the present time—that no capitation was allowed in garrison towns where the average attendance of soldiers each Sunday was under 25. He was aware that it had previously been suggested that all sittings might be paid for at the rate of 5s. each, and he might state that four or five years ago a proposal was made to remove this limit of 25, and that capitation should be paid for every soldier attending church in garrison towns. But he might remind the noble Earl that there was another Department of the State besides the War Office which was interested in this matter, and that was the Treasury; and when it was considered in 1871 it was found impossible to carry out the proposal, because, although a small question in itself, it would involve a large additional grant. Since 1871 no circumstance had occurred to render it probable that the Treasury would alter their decision and meet the views of the noble Earl; the Secretary of State was therefore indisposed to move further in the matter.

House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Five o'clock.