said, that before the House should resolve itself into Committee upon this bill, he rose for the purpose of moving an instruction to the Committee, which he considered to be an indispensable preliminary, and without which he saw no chance whatever of the successful working of the bill. He would not for a moment delude the House by the supposition that this bill was calculated to work well: on the contrary, he thought, that it would increase the existing amount of dissatisfaction and disturbance in Ireland, unless they agreed to the resolution which he was about to propose, and which he should most certainly feel it to be his duty to press to a division. He felt, that the House must listen with natural reluctance to a renewed discussion upon Irish affairs, a lengthened discussion having not long since taken place upon this particular subject; and he (Mr. O'Connell) would gladly omit any fresh allusion to those topics, if he were not impressed with the deepest sense of their importance. It was for the House to take into consideration the present state of Ireland, to examine how far the proposed remedy was applicable, and to see whether in the attempt to amend a mischief they did not positively increase the evil. At the present moment the affairs of Ireland were pregnant with the utmost danger. It was true that for the last three or four years a system of conciliation had been carried on by the Government of that country; that the policy of that Government had been that of vigilance in the detection, united to firmness in the suppression, of crime, accompanied by a soothing and conciliatory spirit towards the mass of the people. For the first time in the lapse of centuries the people had become reconciled to the administration of an English Government. Great, however, as were the advantages of that novel system of policy, it had by no means cured the evil, the substantial evil—which consisted in real unmitigated oppression, and in the deep-rooted conviction of the people that they were suffering under downright injustice. So long as the fact existed that nine-tenths of the Irish population consisted of Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, it was idle to think of forming any scheme for reconciling them to pay for maintaining the re- 85 ligion of the other tenth. It was undoubtedly true, that the resistance to tithes had of late assumed more of a passive than an active character; but no man could dispute the fact, that the opinion of the people of Ireland on the subject of tithes still remained unchanged. He devoutly believed it to be unchangeable. When he last addressed the House upon this subject he had spoken of ten anti-tithe meetings which were advertised as about to take place within a few succeeding days. Since that period no fewer than thirteen of these meetings had taken place. At each of those meetings from 50,000 to 150,000 of the people had assembled, and recorded their immutable hostility to tithes. A striking circumstance at all these multitudinous assemblies was, that they were neither characterised by disturbance, nor by the slightest violation of the peace; and the expression of their determination not to pay tithes was only rendered the more emphatic by this total absence of tumult. The resistance to tithes might, therefore, be fairly assumed to be now as great as ever. Government proposed this measure as a soother, as calculated to diminish the existing mischief. It had intended to strike off thirty per cent. of this burden, which was dwindled down, however, by a vote of that House to twenty-five per cent. It had been said, forsooth, that this was not a question of pounds, shillings, and pence. But was it not made a question of pounds, shillings, and pence? A miserable contest had been carried on upon this wretched remaining five per cent, and a paltry party triumph had been gained—640,000l. of the tithe million remained unpaid, and arrears had accrued since that period. By their new system the landlords of Ireland were to be made tithe proctors. Was this a system calculated to promote peace and that tranquillity in Ireland? Did they think they were establishing friendly relations between the landlord and tenant by making the landlord sue his tenant for tithes? Why, it was self-evident that they would convert into hostility to the landlord, the odium which had been hitherto directed exclusively against the clergy. The odium would now be shared by both, or rather the burden of it would be borne by the landlord. He asked any man who knew Ireland whether that was a system calculated to produce tranquillity there? Whether, on the contrary, there could be any more fertile source of agrarian dis- 86 turbances, of the most horrible crimes' with all their fearful consequences, including the punishment of the innocent for the guilty? Was the house prepared to inflict that mischief upon Ireland? He (Mr. O'Connell) would take the arrears as hey stood; and he would ask of the House whether they should look for the payment of the arrear of 640,000l. Who were they that owed that arrear? Must lot the answer be, that they were the most lenient and forbearing of the Protestant clergy in Ireland—men who preferred the peace of their neighbourhood to the chance—perhaps the certainty—of disturbing it by enforcing their claims—who chose the course of Christian like meekness and forbearance in preference to violence and tumult? If there was any class of men who deserved in an especial manner the kind consideration of the House, it was this set of peacefully disposed Protestant clergy. It was not to be expected that these men should pay back that arrear without having recourse to those who were the original debtors; and, having been made the victims of their ow forbearance, to call upon them now for payment of this money was to make a continuation of that forbearance impossible. He could not conceive anything more mischievous, anything more likely to be productive of serious consequences, than the idea of applying for this 640,000l. to men, many of whom could ill afford to pay it. When this tithe million was first proposed, he had announced that they would never get it back, and he told them now that they would never recover it. Was not the House aware of what had happened to the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, who had lent 60,000l. or 70,000l. to be distributed among several parishes? He had since tried every means to recover it, but found it impossible. To be sure, the sum of 12,000l. was recovered, but at an expense of 29,000l. Did they wish to make a similar experiment by way of conciliating Ireland? But in order to enforce legal proceedings, the assistance of a military force would, in almost every case, be necessary. Did any man dream of introducing horse, foot, and artillery into Ireland for this purpose? He implored the House to look calmly and dispassionately at the question; and if their object really were, to produce quiet in Ireland, and to make the burthen of tithes as lightly felt as 87 possible, he asked them whether they should leave this festering sore—this national blister—this canker—preying upon the vitals of the country? Instead of conciliation, increased disturbance must result from any attempt to levy this 640,000l. If they persevered in the proposed system, with reference not only to that sum, but to the arrear which had since accrued, they compelled the parties to do all they could to recover every farthing of the money. It would be better to leave matters as they were, than, under the flimsy pretext of conciliation, to make it not only the interest but the duty of every tithe-owner to look for his arrears. They urged the tithe-owner, in fact, no longer to forbear. They might take this course if they pleased; but let them not remain for a moment under the delusion that they were establishing a system of conciliation in Ireland. They might talk as they would of the impropriety of allowing men to set the law at defiance; they might talk of submission to the constituted authorities, and of the necessity of enforcing the majesty of the law—all admirable phrases, truisms of the most perfect and undoubted excellence, but utterly inapplicable to any statesmanlike attempt at governing Ireland by the policy of conciliation. What did the people care for such phrases? The more they talked of abstract justice and abstract law, the more would the people recur to the abstract injustice of making one, and that the greater, portion of the inhabitants of a country pay for maintaining the religion of the remainder. When they came out with these fine phrases, the people of Ireland would say in reply, that they saw the church in England supported by the people—a church which was the church of the majority of the people; that the church of Scotland was paid by the people—a church which was the church of the overwhelming majority of the people; while in Ireland the church of the people had no connexion whatever with the state—and God forbid that it ever should—while the state establishment (of which he did not at all mean to speak disrespectfully) was the church of a miserable minority. Under these circumstances, what was it that he proposed? The House had drawn the line; tithes and tithe composition were now to disappear for ever. They were entering on a new plan, and he (Mr. O'Connell) proposed 88 to enter with them; but he called on them in the first instance to blot out all the encumbrances which had embarrassed the former system. He called on the House to remit the 640,000l., of which they ought never to have demanded payment; and with respect to the remainder of the arrears, he proposed that a committee should have the power of diminishing it at least to the extent of the diminished rent-charge. He proposed that they should strike off twenty-five per cent. Let there be a committee or commission to investigate how much was due to each of the clergy, and by whom. Wherever solvent persons were discovered, let them be obliged to pay their arrears, and let the arrears be remitted in those districts in which there were likely to be disturbances. In the meantime let the operation of the law be suspended. As to the residue, the arrears which had since accrued, he proposed to remit no more than twenty-five per cent. to any solvent person; but there should, at all events, be an inquiry as to the places in which the suing for these arrears would give rise to disturbances. The report of the commission might be completed by the first day of next Session. Two or three intelligent men would be sufficient to conduct the inquiry. By this means they would remove the irritating process of litigation, they would be enabled to ascertain with accuracy in what districts disturbances were likely to take place, and in what districts it was probable, that they would be unable to levy the tithes under the present system. By the first day of the next Session they would be enabled to devise proper means for recovering all the solvent arrears. If it were to be a new system, let it be altogether new. Let it not be a partial and piebald system, with so much of the old system as would tend to produce vexation, and so much of the new as would create embarrassment and confusion. He had trespassed at greater length upon their attention than he had originally intended; but he could not help conjuring the House to make this concession in a spirit of genuine conciliation. Let no man taunt him with desiring to take English money. It was true that he did; but, when they looked to the advantages which would result from the sacrifice, they would not hesitate to make it, if they were actuated by a sincere desire to win over the people of Ire- 89 land by conciliation. Notwithstanding all the veneration in which the Marquess of Normanby was held in Ireland—notwithstanding the perpetual counsels which the people received from the clergy, and their commands, where that was possible—not, as it were, to tarnish the administration of the noble Lord by offence or outrage—it should still be remembered, that as yet the people of Ireland had obtained no real measure of legislative relief. The Municipal Bill they had not yet passed. All that they had given them was a poor-law. He had seen it reported that the noble Lord at the head of her Majesty's Government had stated it in another place to be the great objection to the Poor-law that it would become a burthen on the landlords of Ireland. There never was a more fatal mistake. The real objection was, that the burthen was imposed upon the occupiers of the land, who must pay in every case one half of it. From placing the burthen on the shoulders of the landlord he should not be at all disposed to shrink. What he did shrink from was, placing it upon the occupying tenant; and he denounced it as another ingredient in the cup of Ireland's misery. It was also proposed under the new system of tithes to levy these arrears; and here was another source of discontent and disaffection. He knew that insurrection in Ireland would be put down. He should be sorry to think, that it should not be suppressed. No undisciplined force could resist the mighty army of this country; but since they talked of their wish to conciliate, he took them at their word. He called on them to do so, and to agree to their resolving themselves into a Committee with an express instruction to take this matter into consideration. He hoped that his plan was wide enough to embrace the opinions of hon. Gentlemen at every side of the House, and he should therefore move, "That it be an instruction to the Committee to provide for the means of discharging the arrears of tithes now due in Ireland."
§ The Speaker
observed, that the motion appeared to him to be informal, inasmuch as it was, in point of fact, asking for a grant of public money.
replied, that he did not want the House to make any grant of money. All that he wanted was a receipt for money which had been already granted. As there was an objection to his motion 90 in point of form, he would give notice of his intention to move an address to her Majesty for the remission of the 640,000l., and would now move, that it be an instruction to the Committee to make arrangements for the diminution or discharge of the arrears of tithes now due.
§ Lord John Russell
was very doubtful as to the formality of the hon. and learned Gentleman's motion, and, even if it were carried, he did not think that it would obtain for him the object which he proposed. His right hon. Friend near him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had a proposition to make with regard to the arrears of tithes, and when that proposition was submitted to the House would be the most proper time to take the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposal into consideration.
said, that if the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite pressed his motion to a division, and if it were consistent with the forms of the House, he should feel it his duty to support it. He wished to guard himself against more than expressing an opinion, in which he fully concurred with the hon. Gentleman, that the bill would fail in a beneficial result, even in a larger degree than was anticipated, if it did not involve some provision for the settlement of the arrears. The immediate object of the acts which had been already passed was, to promote the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, by substituting a payment to the clergy from the landlords, the majority of whom were Protestants, for a payment by the occupying tenants, who he was ready to admit were very little able to bear the burden, and were, besides, of a religion different from that of the Established Church. In his opinion the whole benefit to be derived from the bill must depend on the condition, that from the period when the bill shall have come into operation there shall be no more demands made by the Protestant clergy upon the Roman Catholic population. The bill, he repeated, would fail in its object if the House either allowed or compelled the clergy, in vindication of their rights, to proceed against the occupying tenants for the arrears now due. The question for the House to consider was a grave and serious one—namely, in what manner, doing justice to all parties and injustice to none, it was possible to provide for the payment of those arrears. His right hon. Friend opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had 91 stated to the House the other day the outline of a plan for remitting to the clergy the arrears, if they would consent to remit to the people the whole of what was due to them. But it was not fair to the clergy, who had waited with exemplary patience for the fulfilment of the hopes which were held out to them of a final and satisfactory settlement of the question, and who had upon the faith of these representations forborne to put their claims in force; it was not fair to them to say, that the condition of remitting the arrears or debt due by them should be their remitting to the occupying tenants not only all the arrears due to them up to 1835, but also those which had since accrued to the present year. To exact such a condition was imposing upon the clergy terms grossly and manifestly unjust. His right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) proposed to relieve the occupying tenant at a grievous expense to the clergy, and none to the landlords, and without any assistance from the state. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin proposed to relieve them and the clergy to a certain extent at an expense charged to the State alone. He (Lord Stanley) knew the difficulty of dealing with questions like the present in such a manner as not to give occasion for invidious observations or irritating discussion. This he was most anxious to avoid, but he must say, that there was one consideration which both his right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Dublin should not leave out. There was this additional objection to both plans, that those who pertinaciously resisted the law would obtain a benefit which those who had complied with the law would be deprived of. He admitted the force of all the arguments against calling upon the occupying tenant for the payment of those arrears, which for a long time they had been taught to hope they would not be called upon to pay. He saw the importance of the case, and he thought that the State ought to make a sacrifice if the peace of Ireland was to be obtained by it. As an Irish landlord, he would say, that they had no right to call upon the State to bear their burdens. He would say, that although the Irish landlords might not have derived any pecuniary advantage directly in their own pockets, they had yet derived an advantage to some extent. In those districts where the opposition to tithes was greatest, and none were paid, 92 the landlords received their rents better and more satisfactorily than before. That such was the fact was notorious. He said, then, that they had derived some advantage from the state in which the law had been left by the tithe agitation and the non-payment of tithes by the occupying tenant. Having derived this benefit, the Irish landlords had no right to call upon the clergy to make a large sacrifice upon their parts, nor upon the State to make a sacrifice of the public money, and contribute nothing themselves. He understood his right hon. Friend to say, that until he knew the amount of the arrears due and payable by the occupying tenant, he could not tell whether the 360,000l. remaining would be sufficient or not. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin proposed to make the landlords liable to a certain per centage of the arrears due by the tenants. [Mr. O'Connell: Due by themselves and all solvent tenants.] He was afraid the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition would lead to a general declaration of insolvency throughout Ireland if insolvency were to be the exemption from the payment of the arrears. He thought that where the arrears were due from the landlords themselves, they ought to be paid without deduction. He hoped he understood his right hon. Friend to say, that the arrears should be paid partly by the landlord and partly by the State; that the landlords should pay a portion, say 20 per cent., of the arrears due to the clergy upon their estates, and, that in consideration of the sacrifice thus made by the clergy, a discharge be given to them by the state of the amount of arrears now due. Without some such provision, which it was the duty of the Government to propose, and of Parliament to agree to, with a view to the peace and conciliation of Ireland, the bill would fail to produce any beneficial results. His object in supporting the motion was, to express his opinion, that without these arrangements the measure would not succeed. It was most material, that after the bill came into operation, no levy should be made by the clergy upon the occupying tenants. In justice, the House could not deprive the clergy of this right, nor refuse to assist them in the exercise of it, unless they made with them some fair and reasonable compromise. He felt confident, that the clergy would not be found hard or unreasonable in the exaction of this compro- 93 mise, and he hoped, that Parliament would do everything they could for the settlement of this painful and embarrassing question.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
agreed entirely with his noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley), that the present measure would be defective, unless they made some provision for the payment of the arrears. He also agreed with his noble Friend, in thinking the question one of great difficulty and importance. Before he explained his plan, he wished to meet an objection made by his noble Friend, but which applied to his noble Friend's suggestion as well as to his own plan. Nothing could be more plausible than to say, that the House ought not to countenance a principle the effect of which conferred a reward upon those who had pertinaciously resisted the law. He felt strongly (none could feel it more) the inconvenience of calling upon the House to affirm by Act of Parliament a measure producing such a result. He must say, however, that every plan for the settlement of this question was open to the same objection, and they could only get rid of it, by rigidly enforcing all the arrears from all the parties. His noble Friend had come to a conclusion which had certainly surprised him very much. His noble Friend had stated, that the plan which he proposed, involved no sacrifice from the state. Why, it involved no less a sacrifice by the state than giving up the right to the recovery of a sum of 640,000l. That perhaps might not be considered any very great sacrifice, but to say, that there was none, was altogether a misapprehension. He was prepared at the proper time fully to explain the proposition which he had thrown out. At the risk of anticipation he would do so now. He wished, however, first to call the attention of the House to the principle of the present bill. That principle was this—that with respect to tithes, they ought to relieve the occupying tenant. From the owner of the land they ought to collect whatever Parliament should determine he ought to pay. He admitted, that there was a difficulty, amounting almost to an impossibility, to recover the tithes from the occupying tenant. This difficulty arose partly from his being of a different religion from the minister, partly from his poverty, the smallness of the sum, and various other causes. With respect to the owner of the 94 land, however, the case was different. He was assumed to be a person of intelligence and education, of the same religion as the clergyman, and therefore identified with the Church establishment, so that in respect to him, there could be no difficulty about the collection, or the effectual service of legal process. Let them apply this principle in respect to the arrears due by the clergy. In considering the settlement of this question, were there any grounds of public expediency or public policy, to require from the occupying tenant the arrears due to the clergy? It was utterly impossible to collect these arrears from the occupying tenants, without endangering the peace and tranquillity of the country. There were two inquiries to be made—first, what was the amount of the proposed sacrifice? and secondly, what was the nature and extent of the compensation given for it? If it should turn out, that the sacrifice was not great, while the compensation was considerable, he did not think there ought to be much difficulty about the adjustment. They had heard it stated by several hon. Gentlemen at the other side, that the great bulk of the tithes was paid by the owners of the land, who were Protestants. From the owners of the land the clergy could and ought to recover the full amount due to them; but did any one believe, that if Parliament left to the clergy the full power which they now possessed, they could recover the arrears from the occupying tenants? No; past experience taught them the impossibility of such a thing. For this sacrifice of those arrears Government was willing to give them compensation by the remission of 940,000l., while they would have in future to look for their payments to a new rent-charge upon the landlord. The first equivalent for the sacrifice was, in point of fact, the better security of the property created by the statute, and while the sacrifice was transitory the benefit was durable and permanent. He said, further, that there were cases in which, if the House acted with rigour, the clergy ought to be made to pay the whole amount of the advance, and get the money due to them from those who owed it. It was for the benefit of the clergy themselves, and the peace of Ireland, that the claims against the occupying tenant should not be pressed. There was a modification of his plan to which he saw no objection; he proposed the 95 remission of 640,000l., if the clergy consented to abandon the amount, not of the whole tithes, but of those due from the occupying tenant. The modification to which he alluded was, to allow the recovery of the quinquennial instalments under the Million Act, so far as they were due, from the owners of the first state of inheritance; and this, not for the benefit of the state, but as a further consideration to the clergy for the sacrifice of their arrears.
§ Sir Robert Peel
observed, that this discussion related to arrears due to the Irish clergy, which might be considered under different heads. First, as to the arrears which were covered by the advance of 640,000l.; next as to the arrears which had occurred subsequently, and for which no provision had yet been made by Parliament. Singular as it might seem, he was disposed to give his support to the proposition made by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. He had no hesitation in saying, that as far as the proposition referred to the 640,000l., he entirely agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman. He conceived it to be utterly impossible to exact from the clergy of Ireland that 640,000l.; because exacting it from them would give them a corresponding right to recover the arrears. He, fo the sake of peace, and to avert the ill consequences that might arise from an attempt to recover the arrears, was prepared to say, that any attempt now to recover these arrears would be fraught with injustice. They ought on that point to relieve the occupying tenants and the clergy: there could be no question about it. The clergy of Ireland saw successive Governments bring in bills for the remission of the 640,000l., and the occupying tenants were placed under the impression that it would be remitted. Could it, then, be possible, after a delay of three or four years, to say to the clergy that they must proceed for the arrears? It would be absolutely impossible. An immense majority of that House thought that it was absolutely necessary for the treasurer to remit the claim of 640,000l., and also to deprive the clergy of recovering the amount of arrears covered by the 640,000l. He must also say, that where the clergy had recovered the amount of the arrears, they ought to repay the amount they had obtained. He was prepared, then, to defend this course, not merely as a favour to the clergy, but as one of justice to the 96 occupying tenants of Ireland. Whenever, then, the question was brought forward, he should be prepared to vote with the hon. and learned Gentleman for an absolute remission of the 640,000l. They then came to other arrears, which were not covered by the advance of 640,000l., and the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman was to waive the 640,000l., if the Irish clergy abandoned all claims on the occupying tenants, not only as to the arrears covered by the 640,000l., but also all arrears that had occurred since. He thought the proposition a manifestly unjust one, and he for one would never give his consent to it. The Irish Tithe Bills brought in, in 1835 and 1836, by Governments of opposite political opinions agreed in this, that they remitted the 640,000l., and deprived the clergy of the right to recover the arrears, and they made a provision as to the arrears which had subsequently occurred by applying to them the remainder of the million. Both bills agreed in giving 640,000l. for the former arrears, and 307,000l. for the arrears which had occurred in the intervening time. What was the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Why, that, upon the remission of the 640,000l., the whole of the arrears covered by that advance, as well as the whole of the arrears for the intervening period, should be remitted by the Irish clergy. What pretence was there for making a proposal that the whole burden should fall upon the clergy of Ireland? They had not been the cause of the failure of the bills proposed, for whomsoever the blame rested, they were not to blame. He was not about to censure the course which the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had so manfully taken, a course which he thought the best that could be taken, looking at the difficulties with which this great question was surrounded in Ireland. He believed really and conscientiously that they had taken the best course for the general interest of the country and the peace of Ireland. But the clergy had not been the party to obstruct the settlement of this question, and why should they bear the whole penalty of the delay that had taken place? This would be a manifest injustice. It would be just that the clergyman who had received a part of the 640,000l. in lieu of his tithes should remit the arrears to the amount received, but to expect the clergyman who never received part of the advance to give 97 up his arrears was gross injustice. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had admitted, that, if his proposal were adopted there might be acts of inequality and injustice; but he thought, that the Legislature ought to take care not to commit crying acts of individual injustice. It was perfectly just to say, that with respect to those who had received part of the 640,000l. they should not repay that advance, nor yet recover the whole of the arrears; but those parties who had never received any pecuniary advance, who had been forbearing, who had not pressed hard upon the tithe-payer, and who had not yet recovered their tithes, to say to them, "You owe nothing to the treasury, and the tithe-payer owes you a great deal; you shall remit the whole of your arrears, but we shall not give you a farthing for the remission," was manifest injustice. It was impossible, that the House of Commons could sanction such a proposition. This 640,000l. had not been spread equally over the whole of the clergy of Ireland. The benefit of the 640,000l. was confined to a certain particular class. They might ask those parties to remit their arrears; but there was no pretence for saying, that those who had never received anything, and to whom a great deal was due, should not be paid their debts, because others had been paid already. Again, they offered, in 1835, the sum of 307,000l. to cover the arrears, and now not only were they going to take back that, but they were going to punish the parties who had not taken it. It was impossible for Parliament, which protected the right of all classes, to take a course which would involve the committal of such gross individual acts of injustice. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his ingenious way of conciliating the clergy of Ireland to the adoption of his plan, said, that they would not be making a great sacrifice, that they could not get much of the arrears that remained due, for that the moment they passed this bill, which transferred the obligation from the occupier to the landlord, they would throw such discredit on the old mode, that the occupying tenant would not pay the arrears. Why, would not this be a very good reason for indemnifying the parties? Would it not be a good reason for saying, that the motives of state necessity compelled them to pass a measure which in- 98 volved existing claims, which deprived the parties of the means of recovering, and which, therefore, they must make good? But to compel a person, by the strong arm of power, to remit a debt that was due to him, involved a principle of such shameful injustice that he thought it impossible to consent to it. Those men, in the eye of the law, had a positive claim for the debts due to them, and they had a right to enforce that claim; but to step in by the aid of an Act of Parliament, and to throw such discredit on the old system, as to make it impossible to recover these claims, without, at the same time, making any compensation, was so monstrous, that he was sure, that nothing but the being accustomed to the injustice of the right hon. Gentleman's first proposition could have reconciled him to the enormity of the second. But, said the right hon. Gentleman, the clergy should consent to remit all these arrears, because they would have a better security for the payment of the rent-charge. What had the clergy given up the twenty-five per cent. for? Surely it was the hope, that they had a tolerably valid security for the payment by the landlord of the sums due to them. Why should the clergy be called upon, by the remission of an existing debt, to fortify their security for the payment of the seventy-five per cent? With respect to the course proposed to be taken for the remission of the 640,000l., if he thought that the remission of that sum, or of double that sum, would secure peace to Ireland, would confirm the rights of the Irish clergy, would prevent agitation, and facilitate the regular payment of tithes, he was quite sure, that the British people were prepared to make any reasonable sacrifice for bringing about the cessation of agitation, the acquiescence in just demands, and the wholesome operation of the laws. But the language of the right hon. Gentleman made him fear future concession. The right hon. Gentleman complained now of tithe agitation, and of those parties who encouraged that agitation, but did not place themselves in the front of the danger. He must say, that after the example of those whose influence in Ireland was very great, and who had withheld their tithes for five or six years, professedly on religious principles, it was not to be expected that the mere readiness to pay off arrears would calm that agitation. The hon. and learned Gentleman 99 opposite (Mr. Sheil) had so refused the payment of his tithes, and he must ask, if Gentlemen of his station and influence refused payment, what effect would such refusal produce on the ignorant? It was very well to throw the blame on the occupying tenants, and to complain of their meeting in large assemblies; but when they saw the hon. and learned Gentleman promoted to a civil office, the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Government must bear some share of the blame of tithe agitation. With respect to the question of thirty and twenty-five per cent., the hon. and learned Member for Dublin said, that it was a miserable question of pounds, shillings, and pence. Now, he thought, that a great principle was involved in it. He thought, that they had no right to make a greater pecuniary remission to the landlord than he was fairly entitled to. He knew it was impossible to follow out this principle fully, and that some individuals must be benefitted to a greater extent than they ought, and that others must fall short. But the reason why he required, that the remission should not exceed twenty-five per cent. was, that he thought twenty-five per cent. a full indemnity for the burthen that was placed on the landlord. He did not think, that the landlord had a right to expect a greater remission than was offered, as he thought the indemnity corresponded with the burthen. They were throwing upon the landlord the payment of tithe, and they were making him a liberal allowance on that account. There were many who thought the existing allowance of fifteen per cent. sufficient. He, however, thought, that as they were about to place, by a law, an obligation on the landlord to which by law he was not subject, the indemnity ought to be liberal. He was, therefore, willing to consent to the allowance of twenty-five per cent., but he could not consent to give thirty per cent., because he thought, that that would be an unjust bonus, and he thought, also, that it was too much, and that it, therefore, involved the question of the appropriation of church property to secular purposes, and the very worst of secular purposes, the benefit of the landlords of Ireland. He, therefore, would certainly not consent to any such reduction of the payment due on account of tithe, as it was one which would manifestly be for the peculiar benefit of Irish landlords, and one which the 100 justice of the case did not require. It was on these grounds, and because it did not involve the principle of appropriation, that he consented that the reduction should be twenty-five per cent. But, although he was ready to consent to the reduction of twenty-five per ecnt. at the present period, he must remind the Houte and the noble Lord, that he was not to be bound, on any future occasion, by this admission. He was perfectly ready now, against the wishes of many of the Irish clergy, to consent to the reduction of twenty-five per cent., but he was not bound to consent to that reduction hereafter in case the proposal was now rejected. He said nothing about the future: all he meant to say was, that his offer of reduction extended merely to the present period, and that offer was made in the hope of peace and of procuring a final settlement of this question. With respect to the important question of the existing arrears, he must say, that with his view of the injustice of the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer it was impossible for him to consent to it. The effect of that proposal would be, to inflict a penalty on those who had obeyed the law. If they meant to administer equal justice, they ought to return the money that had been paid to those who paid it; but it was not only contrary to justice, but an invasion of justice, to make no repayment to the man that had obeyed the law, and to remit to him who had disobeyed the law to the whole amount of his obligations. At the same time he admitted, that if they allowed difficulties of this kind to interpose insuperable obstacles, they would never effect a settlement of the tithe question. He must contend, for the sake of the peace of Ireland and the just rights of the clergy, that in any arrangement for the remission of the arrears due to the Irish clergy, independent of those covered by the 640,000l., it was not the clergy of Ireland, but the public, who ought to bear the chief part of the expense. Whether they should abandon all the arrears he was not prepared to say. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin proposed, that the clergy should abandon all claims to existing arrears upon receiving seventy-five per cent. upon them. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would guarantee seventy-five per cent. upon the existing arrears due to the clergy, he would venture on behalf of the clergy to accept the proposal; and if the hon. and learned 101 Member for Dublin was empowered to make that proposal, and had the means of performing it, he should feel very much disposed to agree to it. But he could not consent to impose on the clergy the whole of the pecuniary penalty on account of those arrears. His noble Friend (Lord Stanley) proposed, that part should be borne by the landlords. With the utmost respect for the opinions of his noble Friend, he doubted the justice of throwing upon the landlord part of the payment due on account of arrears. As far as the gentlemen of Ireland were concerned, upon whom this burden was thrown, he would not remit one shilling. He would recommend, that they should be all brought before the Court of Exchequer and compelled to pay. He was perfectly convinced that the Irish landlords, who had felt the inconvenience of encouraging agitation to resist a due legal demand would not give much trouble, if the clergy civilly enforced their demand. And as to remitting one shilling, nothing, in his opinion, could be more fatal. They had, therefore, to deal only with the occupying tenant. If the Treasury would advance to the clergy, out of the public funds, seventy-five per cent. upon the amount of their arrears and if they would be content to recover fifty per cent. from the tithe payer, he would consent to such an arrangement. The only evil attending it appeared to him to be the necessity of recovering it from the occupying tenants. But upon the whole he decidedly objected to making the clergy solely responsible for the amount of the arrears. He doubted the justice of imposing any part of the liability upon the landlords. And if he were sure that the bonus of twenty-five per cent. would insure the peaceable settlement of this question, he doubted whether it would not be the best course to meet the difficulties of the case.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that the right hon. Baronet had, in the course of his speech, adverted to him in rather a pointed manner. He should not be provoked in consequence of this, more than to suggest to the right hon. Baronet himself, that perhaps some appointments had been made, when he was in power, of Gentlemen as distinguished for the vehemence of their partisanship, at least, as he was, not perhaps upon the question of the Church, but upon others quite as exciting in Ireland. But he would not, by pursuing this subject, interfere with the just and whole- 102 some spirit that appeared to prevail. It appeared to him to be agreed upon by all sides, in the first place, that the sum advanced to the clergy should be remitted to them, and that, to the extent of that remission, a remission by the clergy should be granted. The next point for consideration was, whether the surplus of the sum which had been originally granted for the pacification of Ireland, should be applied to the purpose for which it had been originally intended? The right hon. Member for Launceston (Sir H. Hardinge), proposed, in 1835, that the surplus should be appropriated to the payment of all arrears, and when the Whigs came into office they adopted the proposition, not of remitting what had been advanced, but of giving up the surplus of the million, amounting to 307,000l. to the settlement of arrears. Thus were the Whigs and Conservatives agreed upon these two most important points, namely, the remission of the money that had been advanced and the further grant of 307,000l. He could not conceive why the Whig Government should recede from that point. No name had been suggested; not a single individual connected with the Government had ventured to state any reason for the difference in the course taken in 1835, and that proposed to be taken now. He thought he had made out a case, founded on the conduct of the Whig and Conservative Governments, for the grant of the remainder of the million; but as to the liquidation of the arrears that had accrued beyond this, he was not insensible to the difficulty of inducing English Members to agree to a further grant. He thought, that when they were applying this balance to the liquidation of arrears, they ought to distinguish between the various classes of arrears. He was of opinion, that the landlord who had received his rent, and with it the tithe, ought to be allowed no remission, not a single farthing. Supposing he let his land at 40s. the acre, and that 3s. were to be paid to the parson, and he received the 40s., only 37s. of it belonged to him, and he was bound to pay the balance to the clergyman. He thought this was but common justice, and he was not liable to the imputation which the right hon. Baronet had insinuated against him without the slightest foundation, namely, that he had refused to pay his tithes. He had been unable to recover his tithe, as was the case with other pro- 103 prietors greater than himself, and in support of this he might refer to the statement of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), who was a landlord in Tipperary, and who had made considerable abatements to his tenants. Every body knew, that there was not a better landlord than the noble Lord. He would not be so unjust as to withhold his testimony to the high merit of the noble Lord on that point. The noble Lord had stated, that he had made an abatement to his tenants, and that he had fixed the rent with reference to tithes, at a certain sum; and that he had great difficulty in enforcing payment. But others had not the same means of enforcing payment as the noble Lord, because the noble Lord gave a beneficial interest to his tenants, who were also tenants at will. He had, therefore, the power of removing them, and of course he had the power of obtaining the balance due to him for tithe, whilst others had not that power. But what was the condition of other landlords? A noble Earl in another place (Earl Roden), had given a description of the condition of a Protestant gentleman, one of the olden time, with an income nominally of 5,000l. a-year, who, however, never got more than 700l. a-year for his support. The Earl of Roden had declared, that many men of this class would be crushed by the operation of the poor-law. If the poor-law would crush such men, how much more would the compelling them to pay tithes which they had not obtained, crush them? Suppose land to be let at 20s. the acre, and supposing, and he spoke from experience, that the tithe was 3s., the tenant paid 17s. to the landlord, but refused to pay the tithes, and the landlord, who had to pay the 3s. to the clergyman, would in fact receive only 14s. the acre for his land. This was a statement of facts, and every Gentleman who belonged to that part of Ireland (Tipperary) could corroborate this statement. There were three classes of persons whom the House ought to consider. There was the landlord, who received his tithes; there was the proprietor of the fee-simple in possession of the fee-simple. Let them pay their tithes; it was but fair, because they received it; but the landlords who, in point of law were liable, who de jure were liable, but who de facto had not received their tithes, were entitled to the indulgence of the House. Let them remember 104 the state of the south of Ireland; let them recollect the meetings that had taken place. He thought he had made out a case for the landlords of Ireland which that House ought to take into account. He was throwing overboard those who had got their tithes—he was throwing aside those who had got possession of the land; but he thought the House ought to take into account those landlords who were liable for tithes, and who had not received one farthing of them. It might be said, let those landlords sue their tenants, and compel them to pay. But he would ask, would not the landlords find it hard to recover these tithes which the state found it so impracticable to obtain with the aid of the police, the military, and all the machinery which the Government could bring to bear upon the recusants? Had not the Government said, that they found it almost impossible to recover the arrears of the million, and if they could not, how could the landlords recover them, surrounded as they were by an excited and hostile peasantry? It was untrue—he begged pardon for using so strong a phrase—it was a mistake to say, that he had not paid his tithes. He had paid a large portion on the simple application of the clergyman to him, and he had in his possession a letter from a clergyman in which he returned him (Mr. Sheil) his thanks for asking him for his account in order that he might discharge it. He was, in fact, willing to pay every farthing of tithes incurred by himself, but he objected to be made responsible for those of his tenants who refused to pay him. But enough about himself—enough of individual cases. What he wished to impress upon the House was this—if they were to have the balance of the million applied to the extinction of the arrears, let them not confine it to the occupying tenant, but grant a portion of it to the landlords who were in the predicament to which he had alluded.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that in his opinion the people of England were about to be defrauded of a large sum in order to support an Establishment which ought to have been reduced long ago, but, at the same time, Ireland and England were in such a situation that every friend of peace must desire to see an end put to agitation. Did the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, mean to say, that the sacrifice of 307,000l. would restore peace to Ire- 105 land? He begged to remind the House of what had passed a few days ago. His opinion was, that for a while the money might put down agitation, but in a short time agitation would arise again. In his opinion, the interests of England were about to be betrayed. He saw no reason why they should remit arrears of tithe to the amount of 640,000l., with the additional sum of 307,000l., unless upon the conditions which were pointed out on the Ministerial side of the House, when they succeeded in 1835 in ousting the Government. Let the Church be reduced, let the reforms that were then pointed out be adopted, and let the surplus arising, after the purposes of the Church should have been provided for, be applied to the repayment of the million, and he should be willing to consent to it, but beyond that he did not think, that the House of Commons ought to go, and he doubted much whether the people of England would sanction the giving up of a million of money to the landlords of Ireland. The Church of Ireland was rotten at the core—it was an incubus, which ought not and could not maintain its existence in spite of the feelings of the people. He could promise the right, hon. Baronet opposite, that all his expectations of peace would be disappointed unless he agreed to the appropriation clause and the abolition of sinecures in the Church. Until this was done he would never agree to give one shilling of public money to the clergy of Ireland.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
said, that there was not a more laborious and conscientious body of men than the clergy of Ireland. He denied, also, that they were overpaid; their incomes did not average more than 250l. a year. He took the liberty of saying a few words in explanation of what appeared to him to be the meaning of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, in reference to the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary. In touching upon this point he must frankly bear testimony to the gentlemanly deportment which invariably distinguished the part which the hon. and learned Gentleman took in their discussions. The hon. and learned Gentleman never allowed his political feelings to carry him out of the strict line of straightforward and gentlemanly dealing. As the observation struck him, however, the right hon. Baronet had not objected to the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary, on au- 106 count of his being a partisan; but had complained of her Majesty's government that they had promoted parties who had been engaged not only in the violation of the law themselves, but in encouraging others to violate it. The hon. and learned Member fell under this description, for he surely could not forget the speeches which he had made in Tipperary and elsewhere invoking resistance to the claims of the Church, and calling for its entire abolition. It had been declared by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin that Ireland never was in such a state of imminent danger as at the present moment—that she was like a charged volcano ready to burst forth at any moment. And was this the state to which Ireland was reduced in spite of all the kind and healing measures, all the popular proceedings, of the new Government of that country? He feared, indeed, that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin spoke truly, when he said, that Ireland was in a bad state. But why was it so? It was because the Government had not taken the proper and obvious means to enforce obedience and respect to the law; on the contrary, they had not only winked at repeated violations of it, but had actually from time to time promoted the very men who had been guilty of them. He knew of two parties who had been foremost in resisting the law in the matter of tithes, and who had subsequently been promoted to offices in the Exchequer Court. He could assure the House, that in consequence of such proceedings as these it was a received opinion in Ireland that the Government of the country was merging into the hands of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that at his bidding the magistracy was cleared out, and the police made use of, not as the legitimate means of protecting the peace of the country, but as a ready source of patronage in the hands of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Lord John Russell
said, the first proposition made by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin was, that some arrangement should be made respecting the arrears due upon the advance made on account of the tithe properties, in order to their total discharge. Another question had since then been started respecting the portion of the million which had been actually advanced to the tithe-owners, and not repaid, Now, upon this subject he 107 must say, that, considering the time which had elapsed since the advances had been made, and that these advances were made on account of tithes due as far back as the year 1831, he did not think, that it would be either reasonable or expedient to insist in future upon the payment of the instalments. To do so would not only embarrass the clergy but inflict a hardship upon the occupiers. The hon. Member had made a proposition to which so much opposition had been shown, that he (Lord J. Russell) thought it better to go back to the proposition which had been made by Government, and introduce a clause for the total remission of the instalments due, whether from the occupiers or from those who held for the tithe owners. But the question was very different with regard to the arrears since incurred. He quite concurred in the opinion, that if by the advance of a small sum of money, it was likely they would put a satisfactory termination to this very harassing question, it might be well to pay the money. But the question even then became one of amount. On this point, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, seemed to consider, that the remainder of the million advanced in 1835, would not be sufficient; that is, if they were now to give up the remainder of the million, and forgive the arrears due on account of the 640,000l. already paid, the present difficulties of the case would not be met. Nor had he yet heard from any hon. Member, any definite sum proposed which was sufficient for the object in view. The only statement which he recollected to have heard made tending to this point, was by the hon. Member for Tipperary, who stated the arrears due upon tithes to be about two millions sterling. Under these circumstances, and with no better information on the subject, he owned, that on being called upon for an advance of money, he did not feel disposed to acquiesce in it. Supposing, that the arrears due were two millions, then, if only 75 per cent. were paid, a million and a-half of money would be required. But even supposing they were to make such an advance of public money, would it, in the opinion of the House, lead to a final settlement of the question respecting the Church of Ireland? On the contrary, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin asserted, that the question now was, and he was supported in this view by the reso- 108 lutions passed at the public meetings held in Ireland—whether the Church of Ireland should remain in existence at all, or whether its revenues should not be appropriated to other and far different purposes. Therefore, when the hon. Gentleman called for a sum of money in order to procure a settlement of this question, he, at the same time, told them, that it would not lead to a settlement at all; but, on the contrary, that the money would be given to those who had already violated the law, and were determined still to violate it. If, under these circumstances, the House were to acquiesce in such a grant, they would not have the consolation that they were making such a sacrifice with a likelihood of ensuring the future peace of the country. He came now to a third question for consideration, namely, whether such a grant would tend to the future good working of the present bill. In this point of view, as well as in the two which he had just stated, he did not consider it expedient to adopt this proposition. The hon. and learned Member for Tipperary had stated, with great appearance of reason, that considerable hardship was suffered by landlords who became subject to payments on account of tithes, which they were unable to recover from their tenants. But that was exactly the hardship which would still be liable to occur under the bill which they now proposed to pass; and he believed, that if the proposed advance were agreed to, the landlord would have to pay the 75 per cent. under this clause, which he could not, for some considerable time, be able to recover from his tenant. But he thought, that the landlord should look to his tenant for the future for the reimbursement of the rent-charge which he was called upon to pay. Some amicable arrangement might eventually be expected between landlords and tenants which would prevent the former from being losers in the end. But if the House were to say, wherever payment has not been made, we will advance a further sum in order to meet it, this would be a direct inducement to landlords to say, "We will not harass our tenants for the payments, because their not paying them will be a sufficient ground for us to make out a case of hardship which will ensure us the payment of any sums required for the purpose." On all these grounds, he thought, that it would not be advisable to make any further advance from the state 109 towards the settlement of this question. At the same time, however, he thought it would be hard to call on the landlords for the payment of arrears already due. He should, therefore, advise the entire remission of the 640,000l. already advanced; but should oppose the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin.
§ Mr. Lucas
had never heard a discussion with more pleasure, and he had no doubt that the debate of the three last hours would do more to the settlement of the Irish tithe question than all parties had been able to effect in the last four years. He hoped there was very little difference between the two parties composing the House on this question; at least, it appeared to him clear, that no hon. Gentleman desired to recur to the clergyman for the collection of the money advanced to him. His belief was, they would not be able to recur to that petty warfare between the clergy and the occupier. It would be utterly impossible for any government to carry out any bill with such a blot in it as a proposition for recurring to the occupiers of the soil for the recovery of tithes. If a recurrence were had to the occupiers of Ireland, the great difficulty would be with respect to a final adjustment of this measure. The noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire had said, that it was the duty of the State, for the purpose of procuring peace by an adjustment of this question, to make some concession; that the clergy should, on their part, make some sacrifice, and that a sacrifice should also be made by the landlords. In this opinion he fully concurred, and as far as he was acquainted with the clergy and landlords of Ireland, he was sure they would be satisfied with any reasonable arrangement which held out a prospect of a successful and satisfactory adjustment of the question. The hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Dublin, had not, in the observations which he had addressed to the House, stated any definite plan. As a sacrifice had been mentioned, he would venture to assert, that there would be no sacrifice—there would be no absolute loss incurred. It was merely a loan, and the thing was, to take care that there should be sufficient security for its repayment. The question of difficulty was not so much as to whether the amount should be moderate or otherwise, but as to the chance of recovering, and whether it was necessary, 110 under the present Bill, to recur to the occupiers of the land. Surely, if the rent-charge was a security for the clergy, it would be equally so for the Government. One observation had fallen from the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, which had not been characterised by his usual sagacity, namely, that the collection of rent had been benefited by the non-payment of the tithe. This was not the case; for though there had been an improved payment of rent, it arose out of the improved condition of the country and the increased communication between England and Ireland.
§ Sir R. Peel
The importance of the subject is my only excuse for trespassing again on the indulgence of the House. I do not despair, that some settlement of this question, consistent with justice, may be arrived at; and I beg to submit to the consideration of the Committee, a proposal offered with that view, and the main grounds of which I shall now state. In the first place, as you can do nothing without a commission, let one be appointed. It is impossible, unless you mean to act blindly, that you should proceed in this case without intrusting to some such body the necessary powers for carrying the plan, which I mean to submit, into operation. Do not guarantee to pay the amount of the arrears, but place at the disposal of this commission 307,000l., I should rather say half a million. Ascertain, then, the total amount of the arrears of the occupying tenants, and determine what proportion the defined sum which you place at the disposal of the commission, bears to the whole amount of the arrears. Supposing the sum fixed upon for disposal by the commission to be 307,000l., and the whole amount of arrears to be 640,000l., of course you can only meet fifty per cent. of what is now due. Then introduce an optional principle into the plan—offer to purchase the arrears by a tender of fifty per cent, the Government standing in the position of the tithe-owner in respect to the arrears. Give the parties two months, or a certain definite period, to decide. In my opinion, a great number will be found ready to sink their right to arrears in consideration of the immediate payment of the sum which you offer. The State will then be in possession of the existing right of the tithe-owner to the arrears. You will thus be enabled to look at the particular cir- 111 cumstances of each place, and to see where it is right to enforce the law, and where it would be more expedient to avoid its enforcement. Let you, the State, be the party to enforce to the utmost the claim of the tithe-owner, and to make such arrangements as that you can say to the landlord—"There are 100l. of arrears due to me by your tenants; let a portion of this be paid, and we shall remit the remainder." This plan would do no injustice to the clergyman, because he is to remain in possession of his remedy for the recovery of his tithe, in case he refuses the offer made him by the commission. I venture to say in nine cases out of ten he will accept your offer. In the few cases in which he shall decline, there remains the objection, that the tithe arrears are to be recovered by the clergyman from the occupying tenant; but how infinitely smaller will that proportion be than when you leave the clergyman altogether to the enforcement of his own rights, without any interference on the part of the Government. By this course you introduce an optional principle; you place yourselves in the position of the clergyman; where the circumstances of the opposition given by the occupying tenant are such, that you do not think it right to enforce the claim to arrears, you can abstain from doing so; but where, on the contrary, the tenant is solvent and refractory, and you seek to make a public example of enforcing the law, then you have the means of compelling payment. But, above all, do not bring into collision the clergy and the occupying tenants. Do not levy for arrears extending over an indefinite period. Some allowance should be made for bad debts and other circumstances, and, therefore, I think you should limit the arrears to those which have occurred within two years. See what an advance we have made by this preliminary discussion. All have agreed, that the sum of 640,000l. must be remitted, and I cannot help thinking, that if we address ourselves with earnestness to the remainder of the question, we shall be enabled to devise some plan by which the offer of a defined sum may be combined with an optional principle as to the enforcement of claims for arrears.
thought there was a great deal of truth in what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, and that his 112 proposal might form an admirable basis for arrangement. When on a former occasion, the million was advanced, it was found, that 640,000l. sufficed; which proved, that the arrears had been greatly exaggerated, and he believed, that to be the case now. He entertained a sincere hope, that the 307,000l. would be enough to defray them; and he was happy to see the feeling which seemed to pervade the House for an amicable settlement of the question; with the exception, indeed, of a little anger on the part of the learned Sergeant, the Member for Bandon (Mr. Sergeant Jackson). In cases where the landlord had received tithes from the tenantry and not paid to the clergy, undoubtedly, punishment and not encouragement, should follow. But he believed such cases to be very rare. He had never heard of one. It had been rightly said of him (Mr. O'Connell) that he did not expect this measure would settle the question of tithes as regarded time to come. He should have acted with great injustice insincerity, and criminality if he had said any such thing, for he did not feel it. He had no objection, however, to give the measure every chance of success; but though, for his own part, he had no hope of it, he would aid them in the trial. The hon. Member for Bandon had alluded to him, and said, that the police force were under his control. So far from that being the case he had not made a single nomination to that force in any instance. With regard to the spread of Ribbonism in Ireland, it was completely strangled. It did exist to a considerable extent in the vicinity of Dublin, but had been suppressed more by the exertions of the new police force than anything else. He now came again to the spirit in which this discussion had taken place, and he hoped, that enough had been done to induce the Government to pause and consider whether they might not adopt some plan for getting rid of the arrears, for if they attempted to enforce them they would do anything but conciliate. He trusted they would consider the proposals thrown out on both sides. It might be a sacrifice to be made by England, but it was an arrangement which would tend to a salutary result, and he trusted the House would consider it fully in committee.
begged to say a word with respect to the amount to be required. He understood his right hon. Friend did 113 not intend to enter into the arrangement any portion of the tithe composition at present leviable from the landlord. He differed, however, from the hon. Member for Kilkenny and the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary in thinking, that there were no circumstances, under which the landlords of Ireland were entitled to any indulgence. Because in no case could they have become liable for the tithe composition without entering into a new arrangement with their tenants. The landlord let the land tithe free to the tenant, and the hon. and learned Gentleman complained, that landlords were not able to make a corresponding increase on their rents. He could not consider very deeply the case of persons who had charged more for their land than their tenants were able to pay. He meant to apply himself merely to the arrears of the last two years. Now how was it possible, that the amount of these arrears could come near what was stated by the hon. Member for Kilkenny? Why, the amount of the tithes altogether was not above 500,000l., and it was notorious, that considerably above 100,000l. of that sum was payable by the landlords. In his opinion 307,000l. would be a very large amount; but it was clear, that the amount paid even by the occupying tenants was 50 or 75 per cent. He hoped the hon. and learned Member would see the propriety of not pressing his instructions to a division.
The Chancelor of the Exchequer
hoped the House would treat the matter as a grant of public money. One thing he would object to was, the Government undertaking to levy the tithes from the occupying tenant. To that proposition he had very great objections. He thought it was also worthy of consideration whether the House in its generosity would relieve the landlords from that liability which they were under, having partaken of the loan. The question, though it appeared to have the concurrence of both sides of the House, was well worthy of grave deliberation. As to the 640,000l., it should be recollected, that there was a portion of it for which not the occupier of land, but the owners of the tithes were liable.
was happy that an 114 arrangement was made likely to be entered into, and would throw no obstacle in the way. He would, however, reserve to himself the right of hereafter giving deplorable proof in contradiction of the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. He should feel it his duty to call the attention of the House to the distracted state of Ireland.
§ Lord J. Russell
agreed in the proposition made by the right hon. Baronet, but the matter required to be gravely considered. He would give the subject his best consideration, and hoped to be able to propose something to the House which would prove satisfactory. As to what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, with respect to the loss which would accrue to the revenue, he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would in consideration thereof, do his best in any future debates which might take place on the question of tithes to render the proposed adjustment a satisfactory one.
§ The House went into a committee pro forma, and resumed. Committee to sit again.