§ Lord J. Russell
said, that the House would doubtless expect, that he should make some communication with respect to the deliberations of the Government in consequence of the debate that took place in the House the last time the tithe bill for Ireland was debated. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin having made a proposition to the House with respect to the arrears of tithe, and his noble Friend the Member for North Lancashire having supported a proposition, not the same, but of a similar kind, he then stated to the House, that there were in his opinion three objections to the course proposed to be pursued; that was to say, that there were three objections to a course which required a sacrifice of public money in order to satisfy the owners of tithes in Ireland as to part of the bill which they proposed to pass this year upon the subject of the future arrangement of tithe composition in Ireland. He stated, first, that no sums had been stated as the amount which was ascertained to be due, or was likely to satisfy the claims due. He stated, in the second place, that on the hon. and learned Member for Dublin's own showing, it was not likely, that this would be considered by the great body of the Roman Catholics of Ireland as a final and satisfactory settlement of the question relating to the 230 Church and tithes, and that, therefore, it would be inexpedient to make a large sacrifice of public money on that account, He stated, in the third place, that he thought, as to the future working of the measure, that it would be a bad precedent to begin with a grant to the tithe-owners which must likewise be a remission to all those who had resisted the law, and who had refused to pay tithes in compliance with the provisions of the law, while those who had complied with the law, and who had paid their tithes, were to be losers by so doing. He had stated, also, that one consequence he thought would be, that in any future collection of rent-charge, the landlord would be likely to look to Parliament in case of a deficiency, or in case of obstacles being thrown in the way of the collection, Parliament having once before in such a case interfered, and by a grant from the public treasury, satisfied the debt. But, those statements of his, although he thought them well founded, did not meet with the general acceptance of the House. With regard to one of them, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, made a proposition, by which he proposed to limit the amount to be devoted to this purpose. The first objection which he had stated, was not applicable to that proposal. The right hon. Baronet also entered into a detail as to the manner in which the object was to be accomplished. Now, the motive which induced him and his colleagues to modify the course which he before took upon this subject was, that it did appear to them to be a very general opinion in the House that some sacrifice on the part of the public, of the nature proposed, would tend to the general settlement of this question, and would promote the cause of peace and harmony between the different parties in Ireland. He thought, whatever their opinions were, or whatever his own individual opinion might be, that if there was a feeling in that House on the part of those persons who entertained very different political sentiments, and different sentiments with regard to the Church of Ireland, that a proposition of this kind, of a limited amount, would afford a better chance for the future peace and tranquillity of Ireland, it did not become the Government to stand in the way of such a proposal, but they should endeavour to conform to what they took to be the opinion of the House, and attempt to adjust the sub- 231 ject of the arrears of tithes, and if possible, to set the matter at rest. In the proposition which he would make on this subject, he had thought it in the first place necessary, that he should deviate so far from the right hon. Baronet's proposition as that it should not be optional with the tithe-owners to accept the sum proposed to be granted or not. If they made it optional, and a certain number accepted the offer, and another portion enforced their claims, the main object which he had in view would be defeated, and they would be making a sacrifice to very little purpose. He thought, with regard to another point, namely, the issuing of a commission for the purpose of settling the claims, that the object might, perhaps, be effected by some persons holding official situations. He should now proceed to state the proposition which he intended to make to the House, and upon which he should propose that the House go into Committee, with the view of agreeing to a resolution. The first part of the subject would be the amount of 640,000l. which had been already advanced under the authority of a former act to the tithe-owners of Ireland. Combining, as he should do, this proposition with another which would affect the arrears of tithe, since the passing of that act, it did not seem expedient to him to make a proposition similar to the clause of the former act, namely, the doing away with the repayment of this sum by instalments, but that the sum should be entirely remitted and forgiven to the occupying tenant, while the landlords and the persons liable for rent-charge under the present bill should be obliged to pay by instalments, and that the Treasury should be empowered to collect the payments. But when he said, that with regard to the landlords, the sums were to be collected by the Treasury, he did not mean to propose, that the Treasury should collect these sums for the benefit of the State, or that the repayments should finally remain with the Exchequer; what he proposed, was, that these sums should go in part to the satisfaction of those persons who had claims for arrears of tithes, which had accrued since, and which were to be paid by the occupier. The next part of his proposition related to the remainder of the million as connected with the arrears of the tithe composition. The amount was rather different from that which was stated the other day in the course of the 232 debate. As he had already stated, the sum of 640,000l. had been actually advanced to the owners of tithes. A further sum had been applied by a subsequent act of Parliament; and in consequence of a loan made by the Treasury out of a sum granted for public works, for the use of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners not being enabled to meet the demands made upon them, were allowed to receive 100,000l. from the Treasury and by a subsequent act proposed by his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that sum of 100,000l. was not to be repaid by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but was to be appropriated to public works out of the remainder of the million voted by Parliament; and, therefore, the sum altogether was, not 640,000l., but 740,000l. which had been already voted by Parliament. The remaining sum, therefore, was 260,000l. What he proposed was, that this 260,000l., together with that part of the 640,000l. which might be recovered from the landlords, should be applied to the liquidation of the arrears of the tithe composition for the years 1836 and 1837. He believed he had already stated, and he wished now to state more explicitly, that with regard to the sum of 260,000l. and the other sums to be repaid, he proposed, that they should only go to the liquidation of those arrears of tithe composition which were due from the occupying tenant. With regard to the landlords who had undertaken to pay tithe composition, and with regard to those landlords from whom, by the operation of his noble friend's (Lord Stanley's) act, tithe compositions were due—with respect to those persons there should be no remission of arrears. The amount, therefore, of his proposition was this, that to cover the payment of the arrears of tithe composition for the years 1836 and 1837 due by the occupying tenant, there should be applied the sum of 260,000l., the remainder of the million, and that portion of the 640,000l. which was due by the landlord, and likewise, he should say, what was due from lay impropriators who held property in their own hands. It was impossible for him to say certainly what these sums would amount to, but he thought he was making a low estimate when he said, that, adding the 260,000l., the whole together would amount to 233 300,000l. He proposed that in consideration of this sum, the whole of the arrears of tithe which now existed, should be at once abolished by this act, and that there should be no claim for arrears of tithes except such as were reserved by this act, It certainly appeared to him, with regard to any arrears that accrued due before the year 1836, that although attempts had been made to levy them, those attempts not having been successful for the last two years, it was not probable that such attempts would be made now; and, in the second place, they could hardly be made after the passing of an act of this kind without exciting resistance and disturbance. He had now, therefore, stated the proposition which he proposed to make on this subject, namely, that the state should grant the sum which he had mentioned for the extinction of the arrears of tithe; and that in consideration of the grant of this sum they should extinguish by law all claims to arrears of tithes which persons might have. In making this proposition he had only to repeat again, that he did not think that he should be justified in withholding a proposition from the House in favour of which there seemed to be so general an opinion that it would tend still further to mitigate the evils attending the collection of tithe composition in Ireland. He would not withhold his opinion that he did not think this proposition one which was so favourable to the Church in Ireland. The objections stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), upon a motion which arose under the Million Act—objections which at that time did not appear to him (Lord J. Russell) to have been well founded—had certainly since appeared to him to have much weight, namely, that the abolition by law of claims in favour of persons who had resisted the law did tend to a certain degree to weaken the power of those persons who held that particular species of property. He thought, certainly, that it would not be right in him to withhold this opinion, an opinion which evidently was not entertained by those who always in that House professed to be the preservers of all the rights of the Church. There was one thing more. With respect to the future harmony and peace of Ireland he could not but advert to a question which had been put by the hon. Member for Kilkenny concerning what had taken 234 place only a few days ago; it had certainly been represented to him, in a letter which he had received from the Lord-lieutenant that morning, that he had received information that not only were orange flags exhibited upon many steeples, but upon some of these steeples there was the firing of guns or muskets. He could not believe, that it was not in the power of the clergy, if they had taken pains, to have prevented such demonstrations, and he must say, that if under this act, or any other act, they were to look to the future peace and tranquillity of Ireland—if they hoped to allay the hostile feelings that existed between the Protestant clergy and the Roman Catholic people—the Protestant clergy must refrain from demonstrations which, by the great majority of the people, were felt to be an insult. There would really be no chance for the future of restoring peace and harmony in Ireland unless some disposition were shown by persons of both sides to forbearance from all party demonstrations. Unaided by conduct of this sort, the expenditure of ten times 30,000l. would not effect the pacification of that country. The noble Lord concluded by moving, that the House resolve itself into Committee upon the 3rd and 4th, William 4th, (the Million Act), and the act for appropriating 100,000l. to the ecclesiastical commissioners for Ireland.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, that if the hon. Member persisted in objecting to the motion upon that ground, he might, perhaps, be strictly justified; but he thought, that the notice which he (Lord J. Russell) had given of the intention of Government on this subject had, for all useful purposes, been sufficient.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it ought not to be him, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who should stand forward to protect the public purse; but when he saw that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, instead of interfering, actually connived at the contemplated act of robbery, he was bound to stand forward. He was ready to make any sacrifice which might fairly be expected to lead to permanent peace in Ireland; but he was so convinced that the peace which would be purchased by this grant would 235 only be a truce of a very few months, that he could not for a moment think of consenting to it. It was not upon a mere matter of form that his objection was founded on the present occasion. It was manifestly against all the principles and practice of Parliamentary dealing, to be hurried into grants of this large description without due previous notice. From the statements of the noble Lord, it appeared that the whole of his proposition was in reality that of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and not of her Majesty's Ministers. His noble Friend had now thought proper to come into the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet; but he totally differed from the noble Lord, as to the sufficiency of the grounds upon which he had done so. All he could say was, that if the two great bodies of Whigs and Tories now joined in thus attempting this act of robbery, they ought at least to give them sufficient notice of it. Under these circumstances, he threw himself upon the House, and begged the protection of its universal rule and practice on the present occasion.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that at this late period of the Session he was not disposed to throw any impediment in the way of this measure on a point of form. At the same time, whilst he should consent to the motion of the noble Lord for going into Committee, he begged it to be understood, that he did not pledge himself to the contemplated arrangement upon the first statement of the noble Lord. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had done an injustice both to the noble Lord and to himself, when the hon. Member said, that the Government had adopted his (Sir R. Peel's) proposition. Whether the noble Lord's proposition was better or worse than his, he would not pretend to say, but it was certainly not his proposition. His (Sir R. Peel's) proposition as he stated it the other day, was to the following effect, namely:—there was about 307,000l. remaining out of the million grant, which they had yet to deal with. This sum, or rather a larger sum, 500,000l., he proposed to place in the hands of a commission, who would then proceed to take a review of the arrears due from occupying tenants for the last two years, and, having ascertained their amount, draw a proportion between that amount and the 500,000l. in their hands; and, according to that proportion, ascertain what rateable por- 236 tion per cent, could be offered to the tithe-owners on account of their arrears. Supposing, that the commissioners found they would be able to offer 60l. in the 100l., the tithe-owners would be offered this amount, to whom it would be quite optional either to accept the composition, or to resort to the law to recover their whole claim. Having thus explained the proposition which he was inclined to submit, he would not sit down without observing, that he had heard the latter part of the noble Lord's speech with some regret. He thought it would have been a great deal better if the noble Lord had abstained from mentioning the fact, that the Orange flag had floated from the steeples in some parts of Ireland. The noble Lord had frequently declined answering questions relating to Irish affairs, on the ground, that he was not at the moment fully informed on the subject; and he must say, that if the noble Lord had, in the present instance, stated, that he was not as yet informed whether the clergy had consented to these demonstrations, it would have been a sound exercise of discretion. He had no hesitation in frankly avowing, as he always had declared, that whether clergy or landowner, he thought both were alike bound to do all in their power to discourage such party demonstrations. But until it was ascertained, that the clergy had in the present instance acted otherwise, he felt bound to defend them from the general impeachment which the noble Lord had made of them.
had received a letter from a most respectable gentleman residing in the county of Antrim, assuring him, that no such manifestation as that to which the noble Lord had adverted had taken place in that county, and he thought it right to mention the fact, in order to show the House, that the proceedings of which the noble Lord had complained were not so universal or general as he seemed to believe.
wished to know from whence the letter to which the hon. Member alluded was dated? [Mr. Irvine: from Lisburne.] It was not a little singular, as Lisburne was near Belfast, where the troops had been actually called out to quell the rioters after they had broken the windows of the house of the Roman Catholic bishop, and committed other outrages.
§ Mr. Dunbar
said, that the occurrence which took place in Belfast, so far from being deserving of the name of a riot, 237 was nothing more than a momentary disturbance which sprang up among a parcel of boys while at play.
said, that the noble Lord was not the only Member of that House who entertained the belief, that such displays had taken place, but it was no more than was due to the clergy of Ireland to state, that so far from encouraging the exhibition of hoisting flags on the day in question, they did all in their power to prevent it.
§ Mr. Ward
, as they seemed to be diverging from the real question before them, felt it his duty to recal their attention to the object which his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, had in view. For his own part he did not believe, that the proposition of the noble Lord would lead to an adjustment of this question, and he must add, that he concurred with his hon. Friend in thinking, that it would prove nothing better than a delusion on the people of that country. It was true, that the Government plan was less objectionable than the plan of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, but still, when there was a million of money to be dealt with, he did not think they would be justified in departing from the rules of the House. They were not voting upon an abstract principle, but the application of the public money for church purposes; and as the Government had inverted the principle with which they set out, it was only right, that proper time should be given for the consideration of this new proposition. He hoped his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny would persist in his motion, and if he did he should have his support.
§ Mr. Lucas
, on the part of his side of the House, must disclaim the imputation which the noble Lord had thrown out against them. He denied, that they were desirous of encouraging resistance to the payment of tithes, and, for his own part, he would not concur in any plan the object of which was not to do justice to all parties. With respect to the noble Lord's plan, he was not to be considered as pledged in any way to it, and should he have objections to it, he should claim his right of urging them hereafter.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that although the Government had considered the plan of his right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth, they had not 238 adopted it. The question now, however, was, how could the Government most conveniently put the House and the public in possession of their resolution, with a view to its being fully understood. The whole difficulty arose out of the want of notice, for if his noble Friend had, during the morning sitting, when this subject was last before the House, stated his intention of going into Committee on the resolution that night, the present objection could not exist. But what was the object which the Government had in view? Why, to give the House information, and this could only be done by enabling them to bring forward the clauses, with a view to their being printed and circulated, by which they meant to carry their intention into effect. For this purpose it was indispensable, that they should go into Committee on the resolution, and, then, when the clauses to be founded on it were brought in and printed, hon. Gentlemen would be able to see the whole scheme by which the Government intended to carry their proposition out. At the earliest, no discussion on the subject could take place before Thursday; and as that was the case, and as without knowing what the plan was, they could not decide upon it, he hoped his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny would not persist in his opposition.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that what his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, wished was, that the resolution should be proposed without pronouncing any opinion upon it at present. This could be done if the Chairman were, as soon as it had been proposed, to report progress, and ask leave to sit again to-morrow. So far from there being unanimity of feeling on the part of the House with respect to this proposition, he believed, there were many hon. Members on both sides who strongly objected to it. Even the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, gave it only a qualified assent, for, though he concurred in the principle involved in it, he kept himself wholly unfettered as regarded the details. Such being the state of the case, he must express it as his opinion, that the course pursued by his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, was a proper one.
§ Sir E. B. Sugden
said, that the original resolution, with respect to compensation, was brought forward for the relief of the clergy of Ireland exclusively, and as he had some difficulty as the extending 239 this principle to the other tithe-owners, he should like to see the point properly considered.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, that his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, did not seem to understand what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as it was clear, from what the right hon. Gentleman had said, he had no wish, that any opinion should be pronounced at the present time on the Government proposition. It was, indeed, impossible, that the right hon. Gentleman could expect such a thing, and, therefore, what he said was, that when the resolution was brought in, the Government would allow that House and the country sufficient time to reflect upon it. Without having before them the resolution and the machinery by which it was to be carried into effect, it was impossible, that they could take the matter into consideration; but as regarded the proposition itself, all he could say was, that this country would be as much astonished at it as the Government themselves were, when they first heard of it on Friday night. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had dexterously led the Government into this plan, but now he as dexterously avoided pledging himself to it. He liked his own plan, but not that of the Government, and he predicted, that the only advantage which the Government would derive from the course which they had taken, would be an increase of unpopularity.
§ Lord J. Russell
would not object to the course suggested of going into Committee, proposing the resolution, and taking the subject into consideration at a future period.
said, that there was a point on which he was desirous of information. If he understood the noble Lord rightly, he proposed to remit the 640,000l. which had been advanced to the clergy where the clergy had abstained from levying from the landlord or occupying tenant any part of the arrears due to them. Did the noble Lord mean, that the Government might levy that amount only which was due to the clergy from the landlord, and not from the occupying tenant? By the Million Act under which the advance was made, the party liable was defined; but when that act did not come into operation until 1834, and in 1833 the liability for the tithe rested, not with the landlord, but with the occupying tenant. He might 240 be labouring under some mistake, but it was, at all events, right that the House should know the amount of remission on which they could reckon.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that there was another subject of misapplication on which the noble Lord ought to obtain information. He would not ask any question at present relative to it, but merely say to the noble Lord, that he ought to obtain some information as to the 100,000l. which had been granted to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, that they were not to be exempted. With respect to what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite, all he could say was, that in many cases, the landlord would be liable to the repayment of the instalments, and that in many others, the advances, for instance, to lay impropriators were not made recoverable. He should be very glad to find, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were in a condition to refund the 100,000l. alluded to by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth.
§ House in Committee.
§ Lord J. Russell
, having proposed the resolution, which was agreed to, and the House having resumed, moved, that the House should go into Committee on the Tithes (Ireland) Bill, for the purpose of considering the remaining clauses of the Bill. House in Committee.
§ On Clause 9,
§ Mr. Lefroy
rose to propose the omission of clauses from 9 to 19, and to substitute for them one clause which he had prepared. These clauses proposed to open all compositions. He thought that any attempt to open these compositions would lead to great inconvenience and injustice. If they opened the compositions under Goulburn's Act they must go back to a period so remote as 1814. That act was passed in 1821, and the compositions were founded upon the average of the preceding seven years. Now if they re-opened these compositions they would be obliged to take the average over again, beginning at 1814. Now the Goulburn Act gave the right of appeal under proper restrictions, and wherever there had been ground of objection appeals had been made. Under the Stanley 241 Act a right of appeal was given in all cases of voluntary composition, and several appeals had taken place. This Bill, however, proposed to open all compositions, whether they had taken place under voluntary composition or by means of commissioners. Now it should be recollected that since those compositions had been originally made, several of the incumbents had died and had been succeeded by others. There was no record existing, in many instances, of the principle on which these compositions had taken place. There was no calculation by which to be guided, and it was easy to conceive the difficulty to which opening compositions that had so long ago taken place would now lead. But this Bill also proposed to open the compositions that had taken place under the Stanley Act. Now under the powers given by this act no less than 39 appeals had taken place, and of this number three only had been allowed. When such ample opportunity of appeal had been given, there was no ground to suppose, that these compositions had taken place on any extravagant valuation. He (Mr. Lefroy) proposed to exclude from the operation of the present Bill all the compositions which had been made under the Goulburn Act. He had no objection, in a limited manner, and under certain restrictions, to allow the more recent compositions under the Stanley Act to be renewed. He would conclude by moving the omission of the clauses from nine to nineteen, and he would move, to substitute instead, one clause providing for the review of the compositions in the limited way that he had stated.
§ Viscount Morpeth
would not deny, that there was some force in the arguments of the right hon. and learned Gentleman with respect to the inconvenience of opening compositions made at a period far back. These arguments had been submitted to the Committee in former sessions and notwithstanding the Committee felt, that it would be desirable to continue the power to re-open these compositions, he admitted, that there would be considerable inconvenience and anomaly in opening cases decided so long ago, and in which a power of appeal had been given. But then the anomaly did not affect any side of the question in particular. However, there were, he believed, several cases of great hardship, and with a view of making a permanent and enduring settlement of 242 the tithe question, he thought it would be for the advantage of all parties, that a power of appeal should be given. Now this view was not confined to one side of the House, but appeared to be felt by the Gentlemen opposite. In his amendment the right hon. Gentleman proposed to leave the power of appeal in a certain class of cases under the Act that went by the name of Lord Stanley's Act. An objection had been made to allow appeals in cases where there had been voluntary composition, but he thought voluntary an erroneous term to apply to compositions where parties merely gave their consent that a composition should be made without any agreement as to the amount of the composition. These compositions had not been made with reference to any amount of payment that had been previously made, but with reference to sums agreed or adjudged to be paid, and besides this the commissioners were given a power at their own discretion to add one-fifth of the whole amount. Now, in many cases, they could not do substantial justice unless they allowed the compositions to be re-opened. The difficulty of going back to 1814 would not be so great as was imagined, as the averages would all be found published in the Dublin Gazette. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that he was willing to give an appeal in any case of fraud or concealment, but he said also, that he wished that the appeal should be limited to the Lord-lieutenant and Privy Council. Now he (Lord Morpeth) thought, that it would be a great advantage and convenience that the parties should go before a barrister, who would inquire upon the spot, with a facility of hearing evidence at both sides, and a great saving both of time and of expense to the parties. The Government had been anxious so to guard the bill, as that there would be no chance of any appeal which was not bona fide, and made upon the strongest grounds. The Government were more liable to the charge of having almost frittered away the power of appeal than of having unnecessarily enlarged it.
§ Mr. Goulburn
urged upon the Committee the inconvenience and danger of disturbing engagements which existed under an act of the Legislature, and so far shaking the public confidence in the faith of an Act of Parliament, Nothing could be more dangerous than to introduce such a principle. With respect to 243 the compositions made under the Act that went by his name, both parties chose a commissioner, and the composition was the result of their mutual voluntary agreement. Now, in many instances since these compositions had been made in 1821, the original incumbents had died, and had since had, in some instances, two or more successors, who came into the receipt of their income upon the faith of an existing agreement. Were they now to be called on to have that agreement re-opened without having the means of bringing forward evidence with respect to transactions that occurred in the time of their predecessors? It was easy to see the inconvenience to which this would lead in Ireland, considering the spirit of resistance to the payment of tithes, which at present prevailed there. He had continued to reside in Ireland from the passing of that act until 1827, and so far from any complaints against the working of that Act, there was, on the contrary, throughout the country, a general feeling of obligation towards the Government, for the advantages which had resulted from it. He repeated, that it would not merely be doing injustice to individual parties, but it would be introducing a most dangerous principle at this distance of time to re-open agreements that had been entered into with the voluntary consent of both parties, and upon the faith of an Act of Parliament.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
thought that the apprehensions of the right hon. Gentleman were exaggerated. If the alteration proposed interfered with agreements made under the right hon. Gentleman's Act, he should support them with very great reluctance; but as they only contemplated revision in cases where compositions had been unfairly effected, he could not see that their adoption would impose any hardship on the clergyman. The right hon. Gentleman should recollect that the application for revision was not to come from the majority of numbers in the parish, but from the owners of the greater value; and this being the case, he did not think there need be any apprehension that the application would be made on unjust or trivial grounds.
§ Mr. E. B. Roche
did not object to the clauses as going too far, but of not going far enough. That abuses had taken place under Mr. Goulburn's Act he needed no further proof than the petition he had had 244 the honour of presenting a few nights since. That was a petition from the parishioners of Castle Island, stating, that their Rector, the very rev. Archdeacon Ryder, had, by fraud and collusion, procured an unfair composition under Goulburn's Act. It appeared by that petition that the Archdeacon claimed 1,856l. as composition, and that his own Bishop, on being referred to as arbitrator, awarded him only 1,450l. This showed the necessity for revision.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that the facts contained in the petition mentioned by his hon. friend (Mr. Roche,) were, that the Bishop of Cloyne on having the matter referred to him awarded the Archdeacon 1,450l. instead of 1,865l. his claim. From this the right hon. Gentleman opposite might conclude, that the Archdeacon since that time had received only 1,450l., abiding by the arbitration; but what were the facts? He took the 1,450l. until 1832, but when the million was granted, he claimed, and obtained, the proportion of his own claim, 1,856l., and afterwards made his success in that matter a ground for enforcing the same amount from his parishioners. Surely such a case as this afforded some grounds for revision. He could not vouch for the statements in this petition as facts. Revision was absolutely necessary, if it were only from the fact of the time allowed by the right hon. Gentleman's Act being so short as to have caused great injustice and hardship. With respect to the hardship of interfering with settled agreements, he did not think it would be very great, as the clergyman could always rest on his composition, and the applicants would be obliged to produce facts before they could shake it. The fact was, that they were now putting the burden on the landlord, and they should give him every opportunity and facility for revision when revision was necessary. In 1823 Ireland was completely infested with tithe-proctors, and he must do the right hon. Gentleman opposite the justice to say, that his act went a great way to extinguish them; but at the time the composition was settled those 245 proctors were the acting parties for the clergymen, and they arranged the compensation, not according to the standard of the net sum which the clergyman had hitherto received, but according to what they had been able by every device to extort from the peasantry.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that the hon. Gentleman had just awoke from a dream of fifteen years, and forgot entirely what had occurred in the interval. Mr. Goulburn's Act certainly provided for a revision at the end of twenty-one years, but the answer to that was, that since the time of its passing another act had been passed by the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, and by that the compositions were made permanent. It appeared to him that the case of Archdeacon Ryder should Le put entirely out of consideration; from reading the petition he did not clearly understand the case, and certainly before any inference unfavourable to that clergyman was drawn, the allegation should be substantiated by proof. He did not understand how Archdeacon Ryder contrived to get 1,840l. out of the million, still less how he continued to enforce that claim from the tithe-payer. Why had not the parishioners appealed to the Privy Council, as they were empowered to do by Lord Stanley's Act. [Mr. Hume:—The case occurred in 1832.] The parishioners complained that there was a discrepancy between the statement of the Bishop's award and the Archdeacon's, the Archdeacon's stated that award to be 1,4501., provided all the rates were regularly paid, while the parishioners insisted that it was absolute. This was a very material difference, and sufficient to make them put the case entirely out of view until the real facts were ascertained. He objected to the proposal altogether, because he thought that the reopening of an agreement made under the sanction of an Act of Parliament would have a tendency to shake all agreements similarly circumstanced. He would venture to say, that, if the proposal were made in England or in any other country than Ireland, or in any other case than that of the Irish Church, 246 it would be scouted out of that House, The hon. and learned Gentleman alluded to the opposing interests of tillers and graziers; but those opposing interests in reality formed an effectual check to the claims of the clergy. The case was never left with either clergyman or parishioner, whether tiller or grazier, but referred to some respectable men as arbitrators. Under these circumstances, although in the case of a single parish, which could prove an improper arrangement, he would be willing to grant a revision; yet, to extend it beyond—to an extent, in fact, almost unlimited—appeared to him a measure fraught with danger to the title of every property that depended on the sanction of an Act of Parliament. On these grounds he should refuse to open the composition.
said, they were all agreed as to the desirableness of correcting frauds, and the only question was, the extent to which they should go in endeavouring to do so. It would undoubtedly be a fraud if the tithe-owner were allowed to receive one-fifth more than he had a right to, and it was not too much to ask for the power of appeal in cases of existing imposition, when the tithe-owner was receiving 20 per cent. more than he ought properly to receive. Surely this was fair, and when a proposition was made for what hon. Members contemplated as a final and perpetual settlement of the question, they should not leave in the bill that which would be the cause of future collision and contests. When the tithes were sprinkled with blood as had been the case at Rathcormac and elsewhere, it was not to be wondered at if re-action should take place. Hon. Members should learn experience from the past, and endeavour as much as possible to remove all cause of complaint. If by any of the existing compositions the tithe-owner received upwards of 20 per cent. more than he ought to receive, the composition must have been a fraudulent one.
contended that the clauses if agreed to would allow the compositions to be opened if it were alleged that they exceeded even by the amount of a single halfpenny. It would be too hard thus to open compositions which had been entered into nearly twenty years ago. Legal inquiries would be instituted, barristers sent down, and the clergyman would be saddled with all the expenses of an inquiry 247 into a composition made by his predecessor upon views and statements which could not be now adduced. It had been asserted that there was no valid appeal under the existing law, and this in the teeth of several instances where appeal had been made, and made successfully. In his opinion it would be most unwise to re-open compositions which had been made at a time when no agitation existed, and made too, after cool deliberation on the part of those who entered into the contract. Such a proposition was calculated to shake the very foundation of property, and he, for his part, could not agree to the extent of the provisions made upon this point by Government.
§ Sir E. Sugden
, as allusion had been made to the affair of Rathcormac, would take the liberty of saying a few words on the subject. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin had published it to the world as his opinion, that the homicides which had taken place at Rathcormac were murders. Now, he would as a lawyer, state his opinion on the subject. He would state to the House that the opinion published by the hon. and learned Gentleman was not founded in law, and the publication of that opinion had been productive of great mischief in Ireland.
admitted, that he was not so fortunate a lawyer as the right hon. Gentleman. With respect to the opinion which he gave in the transaction at Rathcormac, it was given after he had been consulted upon the subject professionally, and if those who consulted him thought fit to publish the opinion which he gave, he could not prevent them. By that opinion, however, he would still stand. From the statement made to him when he was consulted upon the point, it appeared that a more foul and horrible murder had never been committed. It was a murder most base and horrible. From the statement made to him it appeared that the field was enclosed. [Sir E. Sugden—No, No.] He was glad to hear that denial. The right hon. Gentleman was too good a lawyer not to know the value of the fact. Eleven witnesses proved to the enclosure. There certainly was trespass, and a murder had been perpetrated, which was still unavenged. For his part he was glad that the question of enclosure had been agitated by so eminent a lawyer as the right hon. Gentleman. In charging the case as a murder he did not mean to im- 248 pute anything to the soldiery who were employed on the occasion. They only acted in obedience to orders. When the army were employed in Ireland they never exceeded their orders. The observations of the right hon. Gentleman, so far from overthrowing, vindicated his opinion. Murder had been done in the case at Rathcormac, and many others had been committed in Ireland, without retribution. In Rathcormac seven human lives had been lost for a sum of three shillings and fourpence. Such a thing could not occur in any other country in Europe.
§ Sir E. Sugden
was sorry this question had arisen, but by whom was it raised? By the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who could not regret more than he (Sir E. Sugden) what had taken place at Rathcormac. The hon. and learned Gentleman might turn round and cry "Oh," but he did not care for the hon. and learned Gentleman's acting. It would have no effect but to lessen the respect which he might otherwise feel for him. The hon. and learned Gentleman had given his opinion, and it was published, with his name attached to it. On what ground did the grand jury ignore the bill? It was an easy matter for an hon. Member in his place in that House to detract from the purity of a judge, and the integrity of a jury; but such a proceeding would reflect little credit on him who did so. The hon. and learned Gentleman said there was an enclosure. This he denied. There was no enclosure; but, on the contrary, there was fair access. There was an open way which was blocked up from the inside by carts and other obstructions, which it was quite lawful to remove. Again, he would insist that, in point of law, there had been no murder.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman could not have read the charge of Justice Foster, who did not use the argument of there being no enclosure. The speech of Judge Foster, which was a long and rambling one, made no allusion to an enclosure. He had done that learned personage injustice, forsooth. A man who had been twenty-five years a barrister without a brief, and was then by a hop, step, and jump, transferred to the bench. With respect to the question of enclosure, there was a Gentleman in the House who had seen the spot, and could testify to the enclosure. He was glad that the question had been raised, as it 249 elicited an opinion from the highest Chancery lawyer England ever produced, that if the place was enclosed a murder had been committed.
§ Mr. E. B. Roche
knew the haggard, and could state distinctly, that it was as well inclosed as any other haggard in Ireland. He saw it before and after the transaction, but was not there at the time when the murder took place. He agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin in characterizing it as a most foul murder.
§ On the Question that the clause, as amended, stand part of the bill, the Committee divided. Ayes 103; Noes 88 Majority 15.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||James, W.|
|Archbold, R.||Jervis, S.|
|Baines, E.||Langdale, C.|
|Bannerman, A.||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Blake, M. J.||Macnamara, W.|
|Blake, W. J.||Maher, J.|
|Bowes, J.||Melgund, Lord|
|Brabazon, Lord||Mildmay, P.|
|Bridgman, H.||Morpeth, Lord|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Morris, D.|
|Brotherton, J.||Muskett, G. A.|
|Bryan, G.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||O'Connell, J.|
|Chalmers, P.||O'Connell, D.|
|Childers, J. W.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Clements, Lord||O'Connell, M.|
|Collins, W.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Crawford; W.||Ord, W.|
|Crawley, S.||Parker, J.|
|Curry, W.||Parnell, Sir H.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Pechell, Capt.|
|Duckworth, S.||Pendarves, E. W.|
|Easthope, J.||Philips, G. R.|
|Ebrington, Lord||Power, J.|
|Evans, G.||Pryme, G.|
|Finch, F.||Reddington, T. N.|
|Fitzgibbon, Col.||Rich, H.|
|Fleetwood, Sir P.||Roche, E. B.|
|Gordon, R.||Roche, Sir D.|
|Grattan, J.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Grey, Sir C.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Salwey, Col.|
|Handley, H.||Seymour, Lord|
|Hawes, B.||Smith, R. V.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Somerville; Sir W. M.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Hector, C. J.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Stewart, J.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Strangways, J.|
|Hoskins, K.||Thompson, C. P.|
|Howard, P. H.||Thornely, T.|
|Howick, Lord||Townley, R. G.|
|Hume, J.||Troubridge, Sir E.|
|Hutt, W.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Hutton R.||Wallace, R.|
|Warburton, H.||Wood, Sir M.|
|Westenra, J. C.||Wood, G. W.|
|White, A.||Wyse, T.|
|Williams, W.||Yates, J. A.|
|Williams, W. A.||TELLERS.|
|Wilshere, W.||Steuart, R.|
|Wood, C.||Sheil, R. L.|
|List of the NOES.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Bagge, W.||Hope, G. W.|
|Ballie, Col.||Hotham, Lord|
|Baker, E.||Hurt, F.|
|Baring, hon. F.||Ingham, R.|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Blackburne, I.||Jones, T.|
|Blennerhasset, A.||Kelly, F.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Broadley, H.||Lockhart, A. M.|
|Brownrigg, S.||Lucas, E.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Chandos, Marq.||Mahon, Lord|
|Chute W. L. W.||Meynell, Captain|
|Codrington, C. W.||Nicholl, J.|
|Compton, H. C.||Norreys, Lord|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Packe, C. W.|
|Corry, hon. H,||Pakington, J. S.|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||Palmer, G.|
|Darby, G.||Parker, R. T.|
|De Horsey, S. H.||Parker, T. A. W.|
|Dunbar, G.||Peel, Sir R.|
|Eastnor, Lord Visc.||Peel, J.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Perceval, G. J.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Polhill, F.|
|Estcourt, T.||Powell, Colonel|
|Fellowes, E.||Praed, W. T.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Pusey, P.|
|Freemantle, Sir T.||Rose, Sir G.|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Rushbrook, R.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Goulburn, H.||Stanley, Lord|
|Graham, Sir J.||Sugden, Sir E.|
|Grant, F. W.||Teignmouth, Lord|
|Greene, T.||Trench, Sir F.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Grimston, hon. E.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Grimstone, Visct.||Villiers, Lord|
|Hale, R. B.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Hawkes, T.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Wood, T.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Young, J.|
|Hinde, J. H.|
|Hogg, J. W.||Perceval, Col.|
|Holmes, W.||Lefroy, rt. hon. T.|
§ Clause added to the Bill.
§ Remaining Clauses agreed to, and Report to be brought up.
§ House resumed.