§ (Mr. Dodson, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. John Bright, Mr. Chichester Fortescue, Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ COMMITTEE. [Progress 19th April.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 14 (Compensation to ecclesiastical persons other than curates).
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
said, as the clause now stood it would work great injustice upon those incumbents who from ill-health, age, or other good reason, might desire to exchange their livings. In order to remedy this defect he proposed the following Amendment in page 5, line 23— 1365After 'or preferment' insert 'or other equivalent duty to which he shall have been duly appointed in respect of the Protestant Church in Ireland.'
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he had on the Paper an Amendment embracing all that the hon. Baronet asked for, but going to some extent further than the hon. Baronet proposed. He would suggest, therefore, by way of saving time, that the hon. Baronet should permit him to move his Amendment. He need not trouble the Committee with many reasons for his Amendment, because its principle had been recognized by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, who said that it was not his intention to tie down those who were entitled to compensation to the same local duties in which they were now occupied. It was evident that the Church in her new position would require to make great changes in the distribution of her powers, and, therefore, it was but fair that every facility should be afforded her for doing so. Amendment moved in line 23—After 'preferment,' insert 'or any other spiritual duties in Ireland which may he substituted for them, with his own consent, and with the consent of the representative body of the said Church hereinafter mentioned, or, if not discharging such duties, shall be disabled from so doing by age, sickness, or permanent infirmity, or by any cause other than his own wilful default."—(Sir Roundell Palmer.)He trusted that the Government would agree to the Amendment.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, that the Government were of opinion that the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment might be safely adopted. The words of the clause made the income of the Archbishop, Bishop, or incumbent dependent upon the discharge of his duties; and the Government agreed with the hon. and learned Member that that income should not be forfeited in the event of an exchange of livings, or of the recipient being disabled from discharging his duties through no fault of his own. The Government had carefully considered the Amendment, and it appeared to them that it might safely be adopted.
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
would with pleasure withdraw his Amendment in favour of the one proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, which was to the same effect as the one he had himself proposed, only 1366 that it went even further, therefore the object he had in view—namely, the fair protection of the Irish clergy was equally attained.
§ Amendment (Sir Roundell Palmer) agreed to.
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
said, the next Amendment that stood upon the Paper was also in his name, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would accept it, or, at all events, words intended to have the same effect, as it rested on much the same grounds as the last. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to place himself in the position of the unfortunate persons who were to be deprived of their means by this Bill, and to say whether, in the event of an incumbent dying within six months of the time of the passing of this Bill, it was just that the parish of which he had spiritual charge should be left without any minister to perform the services of the Church? The only permanent endowment under this Bill would be given to the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth, every other compensation given under it being only for life. In the case of Maynooth the compensation was made in a lump sum, which, if invested, would give a very considerable permanent income. Under these circumstances he begged to move the following Amendment in page 5, line 24—After' as aforesaid' insert 'and at the death of such incumbent or other avoidance of such benefice or preferment, his successor, if any such be duly appointed, shall be paid a similar annual payment from the same source, and by the same authorities, and such annual payment shall continue to be so paid to any duly appointed successor so long as the duties of such benefice or preferment are properly and adequately performed.'Nobody could gainsay the justice of these words, because they merely proposed to provide for the parish that which had been hitherto provided for partly by the generosity of the landowners and partly by the tithe-rent-charge. The House had heard from the Prime Minister that the sooner the Irish Church was remitted to the liberality of its members the better. To a certain extent he admitted that proposition, although there might be two views even with regard to that. This measure proposed to take away a great proportion of the funds that had belonged to that Church for 300 years, and even to take 1367 away private endowments. Having thus shorn the Church, it was proposed to turn her out naked to gain fresh wool—in time, probably, to be shorn again. He objected to that sheep-shearing process, and he hoped the Prime Minister would agree to his Amendment.
said, he must commence by assuring the hon. Baronet that, as far as the Government were concerned, there was not the slightest intention to grant any permanent endowment to Maynooth. If the hon. Baronet objected to the form of the clause making compensation to that College, he might propose to amend it when that clause came on for discussion. The principle of this Bill was to take away all permanent endowments, without inquiring what crumbs and fragments the parties receiving compensation might save out of the wreck in order to establish a permanent fund for their support. In looking at the Amendment proposed by the hon. Baronet, he could scarcely suppose that it could have been put forward seriously. It was possibly susceptible of two constructions—the first and mildest construction being that, upon the vested interest with which the Committee had now to deal should be put another generation of vested interests; and the second being that, having already passed the general clauses of the Bill disendowing the Church of Ireland, the Committee should now insert words into this clause which would perpetuate endowments at the present rate in every parish in Ireland. He need scarcely say that the Government could not assent to such a proposition.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he was not sure whether it would be proper here to advert to a subject which he regretted had not been referred to on a former clause that related to life interests in lands and hereditaments belonging to the clergy. What they had already done was to allow property to vest in the Commissioners, and by words in the former clause to reserve to the present holders all the corporeal hereditaments which they possessed for their lives in the same manner as if this Bill had not passed. He understood that a considerable part of the income of some of them was dependent upon fines; that was to say, they had leasing powers and 1368 they received fines on the renewal of the leases. A doubt had occurred to his mind whether the effect of the Bill had been hitherto to save the leasing power at all, and, if so, whether it was to remain with all its former incidents. It seemed to him that if a doubt existed upon the point the matter could be set right upon the Report.
§ MR. PIM
said, he had given notice of an Amendment, the object of which was to increase the annuities to be paid to the holders of very poor benefices. There were in Ireland 297 benefices of under £100 a year, 421 of between £100 and £200, and 356 of between £200 and £300. In fact, about two-thirds of the benefices in Ireland had a net revenue of under £300. There were about 1,000 of the Irish livings in the patronage of the Bishops; and there could be no doubt that a considerable number of these livings must, in course of time, be given to the rev. gentlemen whose claims he advocated. It was utterly impossible that the Bishops could avoid giving at least some of those livings to those gentlemen, however much they might wish to bestow their patronage on their own particular friends. He therefore thought that clergymen who held very poor benefices were entitled to compensation for the loss of their chance of preferment. It should be remembered that by the Bill, these gentlemen were bound to perform duty for life; and, as the scheme of this Bill destroyed the prospects of promotion which they would otherwise have had, their case required some consideration from Parliament. Certainly they had a strong claim, and he trusted that the question would not be treated on merely technical grounds of law, but on liberal terms of equity. He thought they were entitled to something for the loss of their hopes of improvement; being now left in narrow circumstances, and in a much less favourable position than they might have anticipated. He had received several letters on the subject, not only from clergymen but from others. He had received one from Dr. Longfield, late Judge of the Irish Landed Estates Court, who remarked that a clergyman could only earn his bread as a clergyman or a schoolmaster, and they should offer him compensation not only for existing rights but also for the loss of future prospects. In the Library of the House he had seen 1369 an able pamphlet on the subject, and the writer held very much the same opinion as Dr. Longfield, and proposed something of very much the same character. Some holders of benefices had accepted less income than they had received when curates, in order to get into the way of promotion, and it would be hard if they should be placed in a worse position than they would have occupied if they had remained curates. He was anxious to have the principle established, because he thought it was not right or just that the holders of very small livings should get nothing more than a life annuity of the same amount as their present income. He had fixed on £250 a year as the average income for which those clergymen might reasonably hope, and he had put down twenty-five years as the term after which the increased annuity should commence to be paid, because he believed that term to be about the average of the number of years' service after which a clergyman might, under ordinary circumstances, expect a better position than that enjoyed by holders of those small livings. He trusted hon. Gentlemen would not be impatient. Indeed, if a provision limiting their own incomes to £100 a year for life were under consideration they would not think even two or three nights wasted in its discussion. His right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in a speech which he once delivered, referring to the interests of the parties of whom he then spoke, said that though it was not a legal interest, it was one with which the House were bound to deal generously, and he (Mr. Pim) hoped to see that sentiment applied to the present case. The interest for which he pleaded—that is, the expectation of preferment—was not a legal interest, but he submitted that, like the claims derived under the Regium Donum, it was an interest of a kind with which the House ought to deal generously. He therefore moved the following addition to Clause 14, page 5, line 24:—Provided always, That where the net income of the holder of any benefice does not at present amount to two hundred and fifty pounds per annum, the Commissioners shall increase the annuity to be paid to the holder of such benefice to the aforesaid sum of two hundred and fifty pounds as from the first day of January next succeeding the day on which he shall have completed the term of twenty-five years in the discharge of the duties of a clergyman in the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland.
said, he was sorry the Government were unable to accept the Amendment proposed by his hon. Friend. He did not deny the difficulty of the case. When a Church Establishment, involving so many interests, or oven when a small establishment, involving interests on a smaller scale, was dealt with on the principle of abolition, there was always a great risk of inconvenience to individuals in the loss of the prospect of promotion, but it was impossible for Parliament to undertake to offer compensation for that loss. One reason for that was the extremely indefinite nature of those prospects. They had heard that all curates in Ireland received preferment; but the rule was not without exceptions, because he had received a letter some short time since in which the writer stated that though he had served under six Bishops in the same diocese, none of them had been sufficiently long in possession to provide for those in whom they felt a more natural and special interest, and, consequently, the writer had never been promoted. Supposing, too, that curates did get preferment, that preferment was of a very unequal character, though he agreed with his hon. Friend that, if they could deal with this matter at all, the case of the poor incumbent was a subject as worthy of consideration as that of the permanent curate. But let the Committee look—though he acknowledged that the analogy was somewhat imperfect—at the manner in which they dealt with the civil servants when Government offices or situations were abolished. When a Civil Service was abolished its duties were destroyed altogether, and the men were thrown out of their career altogether, except so far as superannuation was concerned, having no title to appointments elsewhere. He was bound to except from the statement of his hon. Friend that this Bill, although for disendowment and disestablishment, cut the parties off from all hope of improvement. He did not admit that those who received £150 or £200 a year as clergymen in Ireland could never hope for anything better in the Disestablished Church. When a civil servant in this country was dismissed he was compensated for his vested interest, and not on his prospect of preferment, although his prospect was secured by the fixed usage of the public service. A clerk passed from 1371 class to class by seniority, and even in that case the Government declined to compensate him, because his loss was not of a character which the law could measure, and to which a given amount of compensation could be adopted. In the case of the clergyman, he did not deny that much might be said in favour of the view advocated by his hon. Friend; but it would not only be a total departure from the usual practice to add fixed scales over and above those for vested interests, but it would raise such a diversity of claims, that we should probably end by creating greater dissatisfaction by the refusal of claims which it would be impossible to allow than we should confer pleasure by acceding to others which might be regarded as just.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the civil servants under the circumstances alluded to received their compensations absolutely and without any condition; whereas in this case the compensations were given on the express condition that these recipients should continue to perform the duties they had hitherto discharged.
did not say that the analogy between the two cases was perfect, but did not think that the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman had altered the analogy in a sense unfavourable to his argument. Why did the House impose duties on these individuals? Not for its own sake. It would have simplified the matter very much if Parliament had been able to adopt the principle of the public establishments, and to give an annuity and ask for nothing. But they had to consider that a clergyman belonged to a body, and was desirous of discharging his duties as one of that body; but, as against the body itself, Parliament imposed no duties whatever. Only let the clergyman and the body agree, the clergyman might receive his annuity and go scot free all over the world.
said, he did not know what was the case in Ireland, but in the case of many of the small livings in England the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be increasing the incomes up to a certain amount, and where this was being done the holders, though possessing no vested interests, had an expectancy which in character very nearly approached it. If the clergyman had a 1372 reasonable expectation that an increase would be given to him from the Church property, it came as nearly as possible, to a vested expectancy, to which they should give some attention.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, it was quite true that by the law in Ireland the Ecclesiastical Commissioners did augment small holdings; and to the full extent to which they would augment them up to the passing of the Act the holders would be entitled to compensation. The augmentation given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners up to the passing of the Act would be considered a part of the income to be compensated for.
reminded the right hon. and learned Gentleman that his question referred not to augmentations which had been completed, but to those which were in progress.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, that the point should receive consideration.
§ DR. BALL
said, that the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) was of great importance in principle, and the question was not whether the exact sum suggested as compensation should be adopted, or whether the particular proposal was exactly feasible, but whether the principle should not be accepted of giving some compensation for the utter and total destruction, of the possibility even of promotion to benefices. He had expected that since the other evening the Government would have re-considered the question of compensation, founded upon the hopes of promotion which the clergy in the Irish Church might reasonably entertain. On a former occasion he had cited, from Hallam, who, in discussing this very question of the suppression of religious Establishments, excepted from his principles one class of persons—namely, those in whom the succession is either probable or designated. He believed that in the case of curates the succession was, not only probable, but he would go so far as to say he believed it to be designated. Mr. Stuart Mill, a politician of extreme opinions also, in his essay on Corporation and Church Property, was disposed to respect and consider the expectations of all persons actually in Orders. After all, it was not satisfactorily to be met merely by a majority, and the assertion—" We 1373 cannot do it." But every thinker said—"You ought to do it," and it was no answer to say that it was difficult to do it. He would accept with gratitude a small compensation; but the Prime Minister said he would give none, and that he would confine himself to forcing the performance of duty at such a miserably low payment that it was neither a compensation nor a benefit. He drew a distinction between the case of civil servants and the case of a clergy. Property of this nature must be dealt with on different principles from a sum paid by the nation out of its own resources, and of its own free will and pleasure. The Irish clergy had a designated right of succession in this property; but they would have no right of succession where the nation owned the property, and in respect of which they were dependent on the will of the State. The case of the civil servants was wholly different from the case of the clergy. They were like persons in a great mercantile establishment, who served a firm for years on the faith of the honour and generosity of that firm at the expiration of the service, but they could not be viewed as having the same right to compensation as if the property were their own.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's (Dr. Ball's) proposition covered a much wider field than the conclusions he had drawn from it. If the spes successionis was a good ground for compensation, why should they stop at the small livings? If it belonged as right to the clergy of Ireland, it must belong to every member of that Church who had not reached the dignity of Archbishop of Armagh. It was obvious that, taking the ordinary chances of life, there was a certain number of incumbents who must sooner or later become Bishops, and a more limited number who must ultimately become Archbishops. The spes successionis, as put by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, as a legal basis of compensation could not be maintained for a moment. He was sorry his right hon. and learned Friend had rested his case upon that ground, because he hoped the Committee was something more than a court of law administering merely legal rights. He thought they might be regarded as doing something else than merely awarding compensation, either as a court of law or as a court of equity, 1374 according to the strict and narrow principles of distributive justice. The High Court of Parliament was something higher than that, and they had a right to dispense the generosity and bounty of the nation according to principles of sound policy. His right hon. and learned Friend had inconveniently mixed up two classes of rights—the freehold rights of incumbents and the rights not freehold which belonged to curates. When they came to the clauses dealing with curates he should appeal to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government whether some different arrangement might not be made in the terms of compensation offered, but it would be inconvenient to deal with that question upon this clause. This clause dealt simply with freehold rights; and he did not see on what principle they could distinguish between such rights, and say that a person who had a small freehold should have a larger compensation, while a person with a large freehold should have a smaller proportionate compensation. Though they were all desirous of acting in a spirit of fairness and generosity in carrying out this act of public necessity and political justice, he did not see how the distinction which had been suggested could be drawn in this case.
said, his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Harcourt) did not seem to be aware of the fact that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England had recognized the right of clergymen to the spes successionis by fixing the sum of £300 a year as the amount to which the incomes of all small livings should be raised. The hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) simply wished by his Amendment to raise small livings in Ireland to to £250 a year under analogous circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government claimed an analogy between the cases of civil servants and the Irish clergy; but in that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten the expression he himself made use of on a former occasion, when he said the clergy belonged to an indelible profession. The civil servants, when they left the service of the Crown and were compensated, could go into other professions, and had other means of earning money which were not open to the clergy.
said, he hoped the Committee would not assent to the 1375 Amendment. They must not be generous at the expense of justice, and they must recollect that the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland were the property of the Irish nation. The practical effect of Amendments of this character would be to leave little or nothing to be applied for national purposes. The principle of commuting life interests was open to grave objections, because they might be commuted on a scale which would altogether defeat the objects proposed by this Bill, and which would endow the Protestant Church of the future almost to the same extent to which it was endowed at present. If the principle of commuting life interests required the absorption of all, or nearly all, the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland, that principle ought to be abandoned and things maintained in their present position during the lives of the present incumbents, and at their death the undiminished revenues of the Church could be applied to national purposes. They ought not to advance beyond the bounds of compensation proposed by this Bill, which, in his opinion, gave to the Irish. Protestants considerably more than in justice they were entitled to.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had confused the principles of the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) and the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole). The two things were quite different. The suggestion of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge stood on its own merits and would be considered by the Government; but the proposal of the hon. Member for Dublin was to deal with certain claims for compensation on an arbitrary rule and scale invented by himself, which would be an anomaly and inequality of which many would complain. If it were right to apply the principle of this Amendment to livings under the value of £250 a year, why should not the same rule be applied to other livings? It was clear that such a mode of compensation was one of the most arbitrary and unequal character. The hon. Member for Whitehaven suggested that the Irish clergy were under a disadvantage because they were confined to one profession. That was true; but it was equally true that their professional prospects and career were not de- 1376 stroyed by this Bill. The Committee must not suppose that there would not be a large demand for clergymen in Ireland after the passing of this Bill. It would, indeed, be a miserable state of things if the change now in progress were to have the result which some hon. Gentlemen seemed to fear. On the contrary, he was convinced that there would be a large demand for the services of clergymen, and although their pecuniary prospects would be affected by the Bill, they would certainly not be destroyed. The supply of clergymen to the Irish Church within the last five or six years had been largely diminished. The number of curates had decreased from 800 to under 500, and no doubt since the carrying of the Irish Church Resolutions last year the entrance of new members to the clerical profession in Ireland had received a great check. But the number of clergymen still in that Church was far beyond the reasonable necessities of the Irish Church. Their prospects and emoluments were by no means put an end to in other parts of the country and in the British Empire; and that was not an unimportant consideration in fixing their compensation by this Bill. As to the continued enforcement of religious duty on the clergymen receiving compensation, which had been referred to as another point of contrast between the treatment of civil servants and the treatment of the Irish clergy, there had been great exaggeration on that point. He denied that by this Bill they forced the perpetual performance of their present duties on the clergy of the Irish Church. It depended on themselves and the future governing body of the Church whether they should be discharged from those duties or not. If it seemed good to the incumbents and the governing body of the Church, those clergymen might either be transferred to other spheres of action within the Church, or be discharged from duty altogether; while they would continue during their lives to receive the compensations provided by this Bill.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had shown them that there were more clergymen in Ireland now than were required, and yet he thought so well of their prospects and spoke of the good future before them. It had been admitted that two-thirds of 1377 the clergy of the Irish. Church had these very small livings. What, then, became of the argument which was so often used concerning their inordinate pay and their great prospects? The fact was that, though the case of the curates was a hard one, the case of the holders of small livings was quite as hard. The curates and. the holders of small livings had a good chance of removal to better livings; for there existed in Ireland a common practice of promoting a clergyman from one living to another, as though they were in the army or navy, and that led to reasonable expectations of promotion. He hoped the Government would support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim), seeing that the amount involved was small, and that they would like to have the satisfaction afterwards of having done their duty to a class of hard-worked and ill-paid gentlemen.
§ MR. SAUNDERSON
pointed out, as an objectionable feature in the Amendment, that it would benefit a clergyman who had fulfilled his duties for twenty-five years, but would not be of the slightest advantage to a clergyman who had been in the Church twenty-four years and eleven months.
§ MR. O'NEILL
supported the Amendment, believing that the compensation to curates and the holders of small livings ought to be increased. The holders of good livings took their benefices with the idea that, they might remain in them probably for the rest of their lives; but the great majority of curates and the holders of small livings expected to be promoted, so that that drew a distinction between the two cases.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he regretted he could not support this proposal. He felt very strongly, as in the case of the curates, that there should be some kind of compensation for these parties; but he could not help thinking it must be given, if at all, in a manner which should not operate injuriously on the interests of the Church at large after disestablishment. The present proposition was to enable every clergyman now in the possession of a small living to refuse all commutation of his life interest, and remain in his living beyond twenty-five years, in order that he might hereafter 1378 obtain an increased annuity. Now, that might tend to be an obstacle to those re-arrangements of duties and that commutation of the interests of the whole body, which he deemed of paramount importance; and, therefore, though certainly not unwilling to support any proposition of another kind, which, without having this effect, might give due and reasonable consideration to this class of claims, he, with great reluctance, felt unable to vote for the proposed Amendment.
§ MR. PIM
, in replying, said, the discussion had satisfied him that the Amendment was right in principle, and that he had done right in proposing it. It was very important to convince the clergy that that House and the head of the Government meant nothing unfair towards them, and what had occurred tended to produce that effect. As he saw no hopes of carrying the Amendment he had proposed, he would not trouble the Committee to divide upon it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, the words "permanent curate" were not known to the law, but a phrase was wanted to express a distinction that was required for the purpose of the Act, between the curates who might be said to be on a footing of permanence and those who stood on a temporary footing. The Amendment he had to propose referred partly to the circumstances of the incumbent and partly to those of the parish, and they defined the nature of the service of the curate. It would, at all events, give the Commissioners the mind and intention of Parliament, so as to enable them to decide who were to be regarded as permanent curates. He accordingly moved, in line 31, after the word "curate," to insert the words—Having regard to the length or term of his service, to the nature and extent of the duties needful to be discharged in the Benefice, and to the non-residence or infirmity, or other incapacity of the incumbent, or his habitual employment of a curate to assist him as heretofore.Amendment proposed, in line 31, after the word "curate," to insert the words—Having regard to the length or term of his service, to the nature and extent of the duties needful to be discharged in the Benefice, and to the non-residence, or infirmity, or other incapacity of the incumbent, or his habitual employment of a curate to assist him as heretofore."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, that, at that stage of the proceedings, he begged to put to the right hon. Gentleman a question of considerable importance, and he believed that, if it was discussed upon the principles of common charity, it would tend very much to simplify their dealing with the next clause. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman how the Government proposed to deal with those who were not permanent curates, and whether they meant to adhere to the provision in the following clause, that those gentlemen should only be compensated with the pitiful sum of £200?
said, the question was not strictly relevant to the present clause. But, at the same time, he could easily understand that hon. Gentlemen might wish to know more distinctly what was the view of the Government with respect to non-permanent curates; and he would, therefore, at once, state that they were prepared to modify the proposal they tad made with respect to that class. They did not think it desirable to adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dublin. (Mr. Pim) as it stood, but they believed that with some slight alteration that Amendment might meet the justice of the case.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that this was not a question of party spirit, but of strict justice. They wanted to find out, first, what was the vested interests of the incumbent; and, next, to compensate him for that interest. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing his measure on the 1st of March, said that incumbents were to be secured in the receipt of a certain annual income, and that certain duties were to be discharged in return. An Irish incumbent was thus to be compensated according to the amount he received, the duty he performed, and he was to remain subject to the laws by which he was bound. He was bound to discharge the duties of his sacred office, and if he did not the Bishop might interfere. He (Mr. Cross) believed they were all agreed as to the desirability of carrying out the object contemplated by the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman; but it appeared to him that that object would be better attained by substituting for the words proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the words of the Act of 5 Geo. IV. with respect to the duty of incumbents. Those words were as follows:— 1380The Commissioners shall have regard to the number of churches or chapels belonging to the benefice; to the distance of such church or chapel from the residence of the spiritual person serving that church or chapel; to the difficulty of personally attending the same, and to the negligence or mental and bodily infirmity of such spiritual person.For the purpose of illustrating the caution, with which they ought to proceed in. that matter, he might state that in the diocese of Armagh there were twelve parishes, having each a Church population of over 1,000, with an average area of 9,000 acres, and. in which the average income of the incumbents was £600 a year, while not one of these incumbents employed a curate. In the same diocese there were twelve other parishes of the same average acreage, but with a Church population averaging only 380, and in which the incumbents, who had similar incomes of £600 a year, all employed curates, although they had a much smaller Church population. Now, if the proposal of the Government were carried into effect, the result would be, as he understood the matter, that the incumbents who had not availed themselves of the services of curates for the better discharge of the duties of their several offices, would have no deductions made from their incomes, and would thus be placed in a better position than those clergymen who had taken care to supply themselves with proper spiritual assistants, and who would on that very account be subjected to the payment of a fine. He appealed to the Committee and to the Government whether that was a principle which it would be fair and reasonable to adopt? To be strictly just, the first inquiry should be as to what a man should have in the way of compensation, and when that had been decided it was time enough to inquire where the money should come from. It was no justification of the course proposed to say that it was not clear where the money should come from if the incumbent was not fined for it.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he wished to ask his right hon. Friend what was the precise intention of the Amendment? He put the case of a living where a curate was always employed, and presumed that, in such a case, the Government did not intend to fix upon the curate who happened to be there on the passing of the Act, and consider him as the permanent curate; because it 1381 might become necessary, for a variety of reasons, that he should leave: the incumbent, for instance, might require him to leave on some ground involving difference of doctrine, and, presuming the living required a curate, as a matter of necessity, a new one would have to be appointed and paid. This state of things should be borne in mind.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
stated, with reference to the criticism of the hon. Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. A. Cross) that a clergyman with an income of £800 a year, out of which he had systematically paid £100 to a curate, should be regarded as having had an income of £700 only. The object of the Amendment was to guide and not absolutely to fetter the discretion of the Commissioners, and for this purpose he, believed it was desirable that the words should be susceptible of a large interpretation. But that, he thought, would not be case if they were to adopt the words of the Act of George IV., as suggested by the hon. Member. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had raised a somewhat different point. He had regarded the curate as an office, and conceived the ease of a curate who had been in office but a short; time. As length of service, however, was one of the circumstances the Commissioners would have to take into account, the case his hon. and learned Friend had conceived was met. And, inasmuch as the incumbent had always had a curate, and his income had always been depreciated to the extent of that curate's salary, the depreciated income would represent a fair basis for calculating compensation. On the other hand, there was no injustice in compensating the curate found in possession of the office at the time of the passing of the Act. A particular curate might gain an advantage; but it was impossible to follow with precision the multitude of cases that would come before the Commissioners, and it was much better to lay down a general rule.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he did not consider the answer he had received from his hon. and learned Friend by any means satisfactory; the course proposed was most unreasonable, and would work injuriously to curate and incumbent. The fallacy of the Solicitor General's reasoning was patent. For the convenience of expression he treated a 1382 curate as the holder of a permanent office, and then used this convenient expression in a way false in logic and principle. His hon. and learned Friend had not met the case he had put of an incumbent who changed his curates in the hope of securing the best possible man for the purpose. In the case assumed there had never been any freehold in the curacy, there being only a sort of moral obligatian upon the incumbent to keep a curate for the benefit of his parish; and so it would continue to be after the disestablishment of the Church had been effected. The clergyman could part at present with his curate at will; but, under the words of the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, when a curate had served six months in a parish before the passing of the Act he was to have a sort of windfall at the clergyman's expense, and was to receive a permanent annuity charged upon the clergyman's income, whether he gave satisfaction or not, whether he conformed to the doctrine of his incumbent or not, and whether he made himself agreeable or the reverse. The effect would be to compel the clergyman either to keep a curate whom he objected to or else to pay an additional one to discharge his duties. He thought that it was utterly unreasonable that a curate should be held to have a permanent charge upon the income of the clergyman, unless he had served such a reasonable time as would prove his fitness for the place.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, nothing could be more plain than that the words proposed by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would compel the incumbent in many cases to pay two curates instead of one. He thought that the words at the end of the clause were perhaps the most important in the whole Bill that they would have to discuss, so far as the compensation clauses were concerned. They were as follows:—The Commissioners shall determine the cases in which a curate is to be deemed a permanent curate, after hearing any objections that may be made to the permanency of the curate by the ecclesiastical person under whom he has been or is serving.He thought that some more accurate definition of the word "permanent" should be given than those words afforded.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
, as there were several matters of moment to be 1383 discussed in this clause, said, it was necessary to distinguish accurately between them. He could not help thinking that the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) was discussing, under Clause 14, a subject which might be more appropriately discussed under Clause 15. The question which arose under the present clause was, what deductions were to be made from the incumbent's income; but the question as to who was to get the deductions so made was not now before the House, as that would have to be discussed on Clause 15. The Committee had already decided that deductions were to be made in respect of permanent curates; and the question before them now was whether the words proposed to be added to that clause of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government were sufficient for the purpose of carrying out that conclusion. It was a curious circumstance that the word "permanent" was to be found in several old Irish Ecclesiastical Acts as applied to curates, and that in 14 & 15 Vict. c. 73, s. 2, it was declared that in ascertaining the net income of the clergy for the purposes of the Act, the "salaries of permanent and necessary curates" were to be deducted. The words used in the present case were mere amplifications of those words, the word "permanent" standing alone being considered too vague. It was perfectly true, as was contended by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) that length of time of service formed an essential part of this clause, but the particular length of time was not denned. It might so happen that a clergyman who had kept a curate for twenty years might lose him some year or so before the passing of the Act, but surely it would not be right to say that, under these circumstances, his new curate was not to be regarded as a permanent one. It was the permanent employment by a clergyman of a curate that was intended to be looked to, and not the length of service in that capacity of any individual.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, it was idle to attempt to separate the words "permanent curate" from the individual curate who was to receive the deductions to be made from the incumbent's salary. In order to bring the matter to a precise issue, he should move, as an Amendment on the right hon. Gentleman's Amend- 1384 ment, to insert after the word "service" the words" and also."
§ Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, after the word "service," to insert the words "and also."—(Sir Roundell Palmer.)
said, the Government could not agree to the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend, because it would make a certain length of service by a curate a condition of the declaration under this Act that he had been a permanent curate. In the 14 & 15 Vict, the words "permanent curate" were used in precisely the same sense as that which the Government proposed they should have in this Act. The question whether the particular curate who might be holding the office at the time the clause was to come into effect had held it for a particular time, though an element of consideration in another respect, was not at all an essential element in the consideration of the question whether there had been a permanent curate. The object of that part of the clause now under discussion was not to determine the question to whom the salary was to be paid, but to determine whether the case was one in which a deduction was to be made from the incumbent, on the ground that there was a permanent curate. Lower down there were words which contained a provision that the rector was to be heard when the Commissioners were considering these matters.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, he thought it would be well that the Committee should decide on what grounds the Commissioners were to determine the status of the curate.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
remarked that the words merely pointed out, for the consideration of the Commissioners, where there was any element for determining whether there was a permanent curate or not.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, he thought the confusion had arisen from the words stating that the Commissioners should decide who were to be deemed permanent curates. The Commissioners were to pay the person so long as he discharged the duties of his office a certain annuity; and he had to suggest the insertion of words, to make it clear that they should deem that person a permanent curate who had been employed 1385 in any particular parish for a length of time.
§ MR. LEFROY
objected to give the Commissioners power to decide who were or who were not permanent curates.
§ MR. J. H. PALMER
said, that the clause connected too closely the personality of the curate with the nature of his office. They ought, in his opinion, to make as little alteration as possible in the language of the clause, and he should therefore suggest that these words should be used—"Having regard to the length of time during which such curate had been employed," instead of the words, "having regard to the length of term of his service."
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, what the hon. and learned Gentleman had proposed was exactly contrary to his view of the question. His object was to take from the incumbent and give to the permanent curate; but that if the permanent curate did not comply with the conditions, then the money should revert to the incumbent, who might then find another curate. He trusted the Committee would adhere to the clause.
§ GENERAL PERCY HERBERT
said, he wished to know what was proposed to be done in the case of a curate who had been in Holy Orders for only eight or nine months, and who had been fortunate enough in that time to be appointed to a permanent curacy; and what would be the nature of the treatment accorded to the curate who had been in Holy Orders for twelve or fifteen years, but who at the last moment had undertaken the duties of a curacy which evidently was of a temporary character?
said, he thought the hon. and gallant Gentleman could not have heard it stated that the Government purposed altering that portion of the Bill which related to non-permanent curates, with a view to bringing their condition nearer, although not identical to that of the permanent curates.
§ MR. G. GREGORY
suggested that this section of the clause should be postponed until the Committee had dealt with Clause 15.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 128; Noes 221: Majority 93.1386
MR. GLADSTONE moved, in line 33, after "serving," to insert—
Provided always, That where deduction has been made under this section in respect of the salary of 1 permanent curate, and the salary of such curate ceases in the lifetime of the person in ascertaining whose yearly income such salary has been deducted as aforesaid, the Commissioners shall thenceforth pay to such person, so long as he lives and continues to discharge the duties of his office, a further annuity equal to the amount of such curate's salary, subject to the provisions for commutation hereinafter contained.
The right hon. Gentleman said, this proviso would repair a pardonable omission in the Bill. The omission was pardonable, because the circumstances of this part of the clause were so many, various, and complicated that it might be excused. It was, of course, entirely contrary to the intention of the Bill that an incumbent should be Placed in such a condition as that, having had a deduction of the salary of his curate made from his income, and then, in consequence of the decease or departure of his curate, should find himself deprived of that part of his income.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 15 (Compensation to curates).
MR. PIM moved to omit the first part of the clause, which provided that the Commissioners—
Shall, as soon as may be after the passing of this Act, ascertain and declare by order, the amount of yearly income received by any permanent curate who has been or is serving as such curate on any day between the said first day of January one thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine and the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, both days inclusive, and shall pay to every such curate during his life an annuity equal to the amount of yearly income so ascertained as aforesaid, subject to the proviso that the annuity of such curate shall cease if, owing to his misconduct, or by his own free choice, he quit the curacy in respect of which the annuity is given to him.
The hon. Member said, it appeared that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) was prepared to accept, to some extent, the principle suggested in the further Amendments of which he had given notice. His object in moving them was to secure the payment of a lump sum to each curate, so that the compensation he received should not be dependent upon his remaining in the curacy. He had received communications from curates in the dioceses of Cork, Ossory, and Cashel, who complained of the hardship of tying them down for life to
one spot, and complained that the method of compensation proposed pressed with great severity upon the curates of longest standing. There did not appear to be any provision for old age and sickness, so that if a curate was incapacitated by sickness he would lose his annuity, which would be a great hardship, He (Mr. Pim) thought that, instead of a life annuity, a lump sum ought to be given to them, without enforcing any conditions, by way of compensation for their expenditure in preparing themselves for an office which they had expected would continue to be supported by the State.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the first paragraph.—(Mr. Pim.)
said, he understood the hon. Member wished to collect what were the precise arrangements which the Government proposed with regard to the non-permanent curates. He wished to say, then, that he thought the Amendment might be adopted with one alteration, which would cause the increment to grow more slowly, because £50 a year was undoubtedly too rapid, and the effect of such a proposal would be to place the non-permanent curate in many cases in a better position than the permanent curate, The greatest difficulty in the Bill was not how to apply it as between the State and the body of the clergy, but to observe an accurate proportion in dealing with the various classes concerned. Now, clearly, non-permanent curates must not be treated quite so favourably as permanent curates. Under this Bill the permanent curate would receive on the average, as nearly as could be estimated, an annuity which would be commuted at between £1,300 and £1,400, subject to the condition that he was to perform his duty according to arrangements with his incumbent, during the lifetime of the incumbent. Subject to this condition, and to the consent of the incumbent and of the Church Body, he would be able to commute his annuity, and the commutation would vary according to the age of the curate and the amount of his salary, but the average would be about the amount stated. Of course, in commuting the annuity, the obligations of service would be considered. The incumbent would say—"You cannot commute without compounding in respect of the 1388 service from the obligations of which you are going to be altogether relieved." A great portion of these permanent curates would be young men in the full vigour of life, and, supposing that the rector obtained from them one-half or one-third of the commutation money as the condition of releasing them from service, they would have £500 or £700 in their pockets—no very large sum, Heaven knew, for men of education, but still a much larger sum, probably, than many of them had ever commanded in their lives, and they would have the world before them. It could not be said in this case that in taking away their particular employment you took away all employment, for Ireland was only a small portion of the field open to them. There were in Ireland not more than 500 curacies, but in England there were more than 5,000, for every one of which the Irish curate, dismissed with £500 or £700 in his pocket, would be at liberty to compete upon terms of perfect equality. He was far from saying that any of them would get more than, or even as much as, they deserved to get, but he was sure that there were many hundreds of English curates whose mouths would water at the mode in which the Bill dealt with curates in Ireland. Assuming, then, that on a rough estimate—though he admitted this to be mere conjecture—the permanent curate on commutation would receive £1,300, of which he would surrender one-half to be relieved from duty, it was plain that the compensation paid to the non-permanent curate must be below that. In dealing with him there would be this important distinction—the sum paid to him would be coupled with no obligation; he would receive it unconditionally. Consequently, though it might be very fair to give a minimum of £200, in consideration of displacement from office, to every curate in Ireland, the sum should not be allowed to rise to £600 except where the non-permanent curate has served so long that he might be said to have ceased to be capable of transplantation. A man from twenty-five to thirty-five might go to England, Scotland, the Continent, or anywhere else, but at fifty a man's muscles were stiff, and he was not so ready to move into other countries. He should therefore propose that, instead of £50 for every year's incre- 1389 ment, £25 should be substituted, the effect of which would be that the maximum of £600 would be reached after twenty-four years' service—that is, when a man was approaching fifty years of age. He was bound to say on this subject, that with certain happy exceptions, the clergy were the most underpaid labourers in the country, but then it was impossible for the Government to make any change in their position, and it would be not only foolish but criminal to prevent it. The Amendment, however, modified as he suggested, would, he believed, be one of the most liberal arrangements to be found in the Bill. The Committee would be justified in going so far, but he thought they would then be going far enough.
§ DR. BALL
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was under some misapprehension as to the effect of his own clause. Under Clause 23 the value of the annuity would not be paid to the permanent curate, but to the representative body of the Church, and would they not at once seize it for the benefit of the Church? He suggested that the capitalized sum should be paid to the curate with the consent of the Church Body. In either case the consent of the Church Body would be necessary, but Clause 23 seemed to make the Church Body owners of the amount for Church purposes.
said, the point raised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman might deserve consideration when they came to the clause, but as to the intention of the Bill there was no doubt whatever. The obligation of the State was to satisfy these annuities; but it was not desirable to keep the State in direct personal relations with each member of the clerical body as paymaster and annuitant. Consequently, they looked to the Church Body as one which might conveniently undertake this agency for the State. For that purpose they were willing to overlook all questions of infirm I lives, chances of resignation, and vacancies arising otherwise than from death; and, the whole of these lives being calculated at their value, the State would acquit itself of the obligation by handing over that sum to the Church Body charged with the payment of the annuity. There would then be absolute freedom as regarded the State with respect to the disposal of the money, and it would be 1390 entirely a matter for the Church Body and the Bishop, the incumbent, or the curate, with the consent of the incumbent, to determine upon what terms the annuity should be surrendered and the commutation substituted. If they could reserve any of it for re-endowment they had nothing to do with that, their duty being to acquit themselves from their obligations the best way they could, and that was the best way that occurred to them. If more words were necessary to make that clear, the time would come for doing so.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
wished to know how the principle of the very salutary improvement which had been introduced into the last clause, on the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond, was to be applied to the case of the curates of the Irish Church, and how the difficulty was to be met of the competing claims of their original curacies and of the general work of the entire community? Let him take the instance, by way of making his question clear, of a parish which was tolerably well served by one incumbent, but better by two—self and curate—and assume that the rector, from conscientious motives, had hitherto deemed it right that the work should be done double rather than single-handed. But the altered circumstances of the Irish Church, after the passing of this Bill, would lead him to take another view, undertake his own parish single-handed and offer the use of his curate to the Church Body. Well, then, the curate happening to be removed elsewhere to a place where there was need of spiritual labour, was the rector, who was obliged to go on working all the harder because his duties were performed single-handed, to be mulcted in Munster for the service of his late curate done in Connaught, or, was, on the other hand, the curate because he served in Connaught to lose his commutation and have to work as a mere voluntary minister? Either alternative involved a hardship and injustice. He wished to add that he had not spoken on the second reading of the Bill, although he thoroughly disliked and repudiated the whole scheme. That opinion of it he thought, however, he could express as emphatically in three words as in 300; but now that the Bill was in Committee he perhaps might be allowed to offer a few observations on the practical ques- 1391 tion how it was likely to work with, such Amendments as would probably be made in it. A crying iniquity of the measure, from first to last, as he regarded it, was that it put the reasonable personal interest of the incumbent in unfair competition with the spiritual interest of the whole community. The one tempted him, for the sake of those depending on him, to take the life interest; the other urged, him to claim commutation, and so win a little endowment back for the Church. His right hon. Friend at the head of the Government had last year informed the House that when his scheme, which was then in embryo, was completed, it would leave the clergy of the Church in Ireland something like three-fifths of the property which they now held. That was the inducement which he placed before the House to adopt his Resolutions. This year the right hon. Gentleman stated, at the close of one of his speeches, that the clergy would retire from the scene of Establishment with a capital sum of £6,000,000, but the fact was that the Church would not get, besides the value of the churches and glebe houses—both of them offered because they were held to be unmarketable—600,000 farthings; nay, it would not have three-fifths of one farthing as a community. All the commutations proposed were commutations to men for their lives, calculated upon a plan which was in itself most unequal, because the raw young man who happened to have been pitchforked into a living at twenty-four—for the duties of which he might not be particularly well fitted—would receive a sum not much less in its value than the price of the living calculated as a freehold, for his interests; while the venerable ecclesiastic of sixty or seventy years of age would, as his compensation, have hardly more than a year or two's income of his preferment, although he might be a Bishop or other dignitary who had risen by his learning and merit to the top of the tree. Yet the old man could best afford the risk of commutation, and that, he contended, was a thoroughly unjust mode of proceeding. It was arranging the whole system of commutations on a basis of philanthropic selfishness, and then setting that selfishness against the general interests of the Church by calling upon everyone of its clergy to say whether he should consider most his own livelihood and that of his wife and chil- 1392 dren or the contingent benefit of the body corporate. He could not refrain from expressing before he sat down his entire concurrence in what had fallen from his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the City of Oxford, to the effect that that House was not a court of law, but a tribunal where reigned the higher law of charity and mercy, and of that generosity which was in itself the higher statesmanship. Had his right hon. Friend happily entered upon this question in that spirit as he might have done, and yet have carried the Bill as easily, he would have began by offering the new Church Body a moderate lump sum on the condition of its dividing the income equitably among the existing clergy. Then the alternative systems of life payments or of commutations might have been brought in, and given fair play as to the margin of income which lay between the original value of the livings and the stipends enjoyed out of the interest of this lump sum. Such a measure would not be a re-endowment, but a mere act of grace and mercy, just as when, at the termination of a long suit in the Court of Chancery, a man lost an estate which he had long enjoyed, and the successor to it made him a present. This would be reckoned to be not re-endowing him or annulling the decree of the Court, but simply doing an act of charity and kindness, and contributing to break a heavy fall. So, in accordance with the rules of practice of the higher court of charity and religion, the fall of the Irish Church ought to be broken in a generous and liberal spirit. There were many hon. Members on the opposite Benches who he had no doubt were animated by such a spirit, while there were others of whom he was afraid as much could not be said—Victorque Sinon incendia miscet "Insultans.He had simply, in conclusion, to ask his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government to be good enough to give an answer to the Question which he had put to him at the outset of his remarks.
said, no man needed less to apologize than his hon. Friend for the tone and the temper with which he pressed his views. His hon. Friend might occasionally use strong language, but he always used clear language, and that without giving offence. That was a happy facility which belonged 1393 but to few, and belonged to his hon. Friend as much as to any one. But he was not surprised that he and his hon. Friend did not agree, because they did not start from the same point. His hon. Friend said they ought to have contemplated the re-endowment of the Church, though on a more modest scale. But it never was their intention to do so. They had laboured, as far as depended on them, that the disendowment should be attended with no shock that could be avoided by their arrangements under the Bill; and if those arrangements could be so framed that the clergy, as he had said before, should be able to save something out of the wreck, the Government would not look on with an envious eye. That was, however, the furthest point to which the Government could go, and when he had stated, last year, that he believed three-fifths of the property of the Church would be given either to it or its members, he spoke in precise conformity with the course which was now being taken. He, however, explained distinctly at the time that the full value put upon glebe houses and churches with some reference to their cost was included in that statement. Another circumstance of a very satisfactory kind had since entered into the computation, which materially tended to disturb it, and that was that, speaking from the information which he then possessed, he was obliged to put the tithe commutation rent-charge at a lower value than that which it was hoped might be obtained for it by making a good arrangement. Having said thus much with respect to the general arguments of his hon. Friend, he must admit to him that there was a necessary competition in a case such as that with which the Committee were dealing between the interests of the incumbents and the general interests of the Church. The Government, however, did nothing to aggravate that competition. They, on the contrary, desired to soften it by every means in their power. It was undoubtedly very difficult to ascertain what was fair as between the people and the Church, but the Government were doing their best to ascertain this. They had agreed to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond not without some scruples, but in deference to the great weight of his authority. With regard to the immediate question 1394 raised by his hon. Friend, whether they could apply to curates a provision similar to that adopted at the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, authorizing a curate to carry, with proper consent, his services to other parts of Ireland, and at the same time to continue his annuity, he was afraid that would be difficult in consequence of the extreme complication which attached to the curates' case. Indeed, their case was peculiarly difficult to deal with. Vested interests might be dealt with easily enough, but it was very difficult to contrive means of treating as a vested interest that which was not one in the strict sense of the term. If a curate were allowed to circulate about Ireland while he was in receipt of a pension he would be placed in a false position with regard to the clergyman from whoso income his pension was deducted. What they had provided for was that the commutation of the curate should be his release from all complications. He did not say that there would be any objection in principle to applying to the curate the same provision as that which the hon. and learned Member for Richmond had given in the case of the rector; but he doubted very much the sufficiency of the object. He was afraid that complication would attend such a method of commutation, and he thought that the general consent of the Church Body and the incumbent would provide all that was necessary.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
admitted that this was a most difficult part of the question. When the point was discussed as to whether the curate's annuity should be deducted from the rector's income, it was most material to ascertain whether the curate had permanently occupied that position or not, but that circumstance was wholly immaterial when the position of the curate himself came to be considered. He did not see why any difference should be made between permanent and non-permanent curates. Why did they call a curate a permanent curate? A curate might have served in a parish only six months. Was he to be treated as a permanent curate, because there had always been a curate in that parish? On the other hand, there might be a man employed as a curate in one parish for twenty years; but before the Bill came into operation he might be removed to a parish where a curate had not hi- 1395 therto been employed, and his place supplied by another who had not been in the Church for six months. The Bill, as it stood at present, would regard the new comer as the permanent curate; and the curate of twenty years' standing as the non-permanent. Because the permanency was regarded not from the point of view of the service of the curate, but of the parish. Why not take the deduction from the living and pay it into a common fund, for distribution by the Commissioners among the curates according to their requirements and services in the Church? Agreeing as he did that it was highly necessary that the present Bill should pass, nothing could be more desirable than to temper its severity with as much liberality as possible. They had compensated the life interests of the Bishops, the incumbents, and the owners of advowsons—they had, perhaps, given too much to the landlords; and he should be very sorry to find that the hardworking and meritorious curates were to be the only persons who would not receive full and ample compensation. Their situation was such as entitled them to peculiar sympathy and consideration on the part of the House. As the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck) had pointed out, there were legal restrictions as to the occupations which a clergyman could follow, and there were particular reasons why curates in the Protestant Church should be treated with liberality. We set great store by the principle of the marriage of the clergy. Consequently the clergy of the Church of England generally were married, and frequently had very large families. In dealing with curates, therefore, they were dealing with a class of married men, and surely the compensation proposed to be given to non-permanent curates was inadequate. Originally it was proposed to give them a lump sum of £200. The hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim), however, proposed to give them £50 for each year they had served as curates; and the Prime Minister, splitting the difference, proposed £25 a year. A curate would then, after twelve years' service, get £300. The larger sum proposed would only take £4,000 or £5,000 from the surplus to be applied to national purposes, and that would not be a material deduction from £311,000 a year. He was sorry to hear from the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) a remark that Amendments 1396 of this kind were an injustice to the people of Ireland. It ought not to be forgotten that an Irishman was an Irishman, whatever his creed might be, and therefore he thought the hon. Member for Tralee ought not to say that this money would be diverted from Irish purposes if it were paid to Irish Protestant curates. The number of these curates was only 500 at the outside, but he did not know what proportion were non-permanent. Now, instead of adopting the principle of payment by annuity and tying the rector and the curate together, it would be better to pay a lump sum and leave both free. If £500 were given to each curate, instead of £200, as had been proposed, the additional £300 would when capitalized amount to no more than £150,000, which might be deducted from the residue of £8,000,000. How did the Government propose to appropriate this residue? First of all £200,000 a year was to be given to lunatics and idiots. The Irish Protestant curates might, perhaps, claim to share some small part of that sum with the lunatics and idiots. The next item in the proposed appropriation was £15,000 a year for monthly nurses; and if they gave the additional sum which he proposed to the Irish curates it would amount to something less than one-third of the money they intended to devote to the payment of the monthly nurses. Another portion of the surplus fund (£30,000 a year) was to be applied for the benefit of the dumb. What might be the proportion of dumb people in Ireland he did not know; he should suppose it was somewhat below the average in the rest of the United Kingdom. However that might be, the sum he asked for the curates would be only one-tenth part of that proposed to be given to the dumb. Then there were other large amounts intended to be appropriated to reformatories and infirmaries—institutions, no doubt, very excellent and deserving; but, when they were proposing to do things handsomely, he did not think it was too much—having regard to the extent of the total sum of £311,000 to be applied to the various purposes which he had mentioned—to ask that that total sum should be reduced £4,000 or £5,000 a year, in order to pay this moderate compensation to the Protestant curates—and this was the whole matter there in issue. In 1397 making these observations he felt satisfied that he should not be suspected of any hostility to the measure of the Government. The Prime Minister himself had invited suggestions which, consistently with the broad outlines of the Bill, would secure a more beneficial application of these funds to the welfare of the people of Ireland, and had also declared that, in framing the measure, the Government had not been actuated by a spirit of unkindness towards the Church of Ireland as a religious communion. Now, it was exactly in that spirit that he ventured to suggest to the consideration of the Government whether the proposed treatment of that special class of persons might not be somewhat varied in the direction of Liberality and generosity. The difficulties seemed to be almost insuperable to the payment of permanent curates by annuities, and it would be far simpler to give them a lump sum. The House was engaged in the performance of a great act of political justice. They were making by this Bill a great revolution. ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Member cheered that remark. It was not the first revolution which the Liberal party had made. They made one nearly 200 years ago, which was admired by the hon. Gentleman opposite who cheered; and some Conservative gentlemen opposite saluted that revolution with Kentish fire by day, and celebrated it with libations by night. Therefore let them not be frightened by the word revolution. But when they were effecting a beneficent revolution he trusted they would effect it in a liberal and generous spirit, and endeavour, as far as possible, to sever an act of public justice from any sentiment of individual hardship or private wrong.
§ MR. LEFROY
said, the object of the Amendment which he had put on the Paper was to enable the curates to have their compensation as unconditionally as possible. He trusted, considering the large sum at the disposal of the Government, they would not be influenced by a feeling which he was sorry to hear expressed, though only for the first time, by one hon. Member that night, or by the consideration of a few pounds more or less. He hoped there was a generous feeling on the other side of the House, and a disposition that, if the principle of the measure were carried, there should not be a very close scru- 1398 tiny as to the sum to be granted by way of compensation to gentlemen who were, by this Bill, to be deprived of many comforts, and prospect of further promotion. He begged to move in page 5, to leave out from line 34 to line 11, page 6, both inclusive, and insert—Nothing in this Act contained shall affect or alter the right of any curate employed previous to the passing of this Act to recover the salary to which he would have been entitled by law if this Act had not been passed, so long as such curate shall continue to be so employed, and such salary shall be recoverable by action in any of the superior courts of law in Dublin, or by civil bill, if the amount sued for be within the jurisdiction of the civil bill courts; and it shall be lawful for the Commissioners, and they are hereby required, to make compensation to any curate who shall lose his employment after the passing of this Act (except such loss shall arise from his own free choice or from his misconduct), by an annuity of one hundred pounds per annum so long as he lives and continues to discharge the duties of a curate in the Church in Ireland with the approval of the representative body of the said Church, such annuity to be increased by a sum of pounds for each year that such curate has served in the Church over and above the period of ten years, or by a capital sum equivalent to such annuity at the election of the said curate, and any order of the said Commissioners for such compensation shall be subject to an appeal to the Court of Queen's Bench in Dublin.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, it would be impossible for the framers of the Bill to consent to such a proposal as that of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lefroy), for it was quite inconsistent with the principles of that part of the Bill. The effect would be, from such time as the clause became law, to give the strongest possible inducement to every rector in Ireland to dismiss his curate, knowing that so soon as the dismissal took place the curate would draw £100 a year from the common fund. He wished now to say a few words with respect to what had fallen from his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Vernon Harcourt). He could not agree with those who took little account of the surplus of the Church funds, which the Government considered to be the national property of the people of Ireland. He could not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that it mattered little whether the surplus was large or small. In dealing, therefore, with these several points of compensation—of which he admitted the case of the curates to be one of the most difficult and complicated—they ought to look to what was fair and just in the particular instance, and not 1399 to be carried away by vague declarations of indifference as to the surplus. The case of the curates was one of great difficulty and perplexity, and he could assure his hon. and learned Friend that the matter had cost those Members of the Government concerned in passing the Bill at least as much anxiety as it had probably cost himself. Before the plan now under the consideration of the House was adopted, various other plans had been examined and discussed, and, among others, the very plan of forming a common fund out of the deductions from the incomes of incumbents; but if his hon. and learned Friend knew with what difficulties of a practical and formidable nature the plan was beset, he would not have spoken of it with equal confidence. The Government had divided the curates into two classes—permanent and non-permanent. With respect to the permanent curates, there might be cases in which a curate had only just entered into the service of an incumbent, and would be fixed upon the benefice as a permanent curate, but that could only happen where the Commissioners, in the exercise of their discretion, decided according to the terms of the Act that the office was a permanent office in connection with the benefice. His hon. and learned Friend contended that compatability of temper between the curate and his employer could not in all cases be insured. He admitted that there was an inevitable difficulty, growing out of the connection which the Bill would create for a time between the incumbent and his curate; but that difficulty had been greatly exaggerated. And, in practice, there would be means of escape from the difficulty greater even than could now be foreseen. There was, first, commutation; and the incentive to establish relations upon a new footing would be all the greater if anything disagreeable arose between the incumbent and his curate. It was provided, under the Bill as proposed to be amended by the Government, that, with the consent of the incumbent, the curate might escape, and yet retain his annuity under the Bill. An incumbent, having strong reasons for wishing to let his curate go, would give that consent; and, in many cases, he would be able to do so without loss, by employing some curate who was charged upon some other benefice, and that by a matter of exchange. In extreme 1400 and rare cases, where the difficulty suggested would arise, exchanges would take place if commutation were not resorted to, and besides that they would be able, in some cases, to obtain the services of those non-permanent curates who were about to be compensated with a lump sum. Ample means of escape from the difficulty pointed out, though exaggerated, would be found in the working of the plan proposed by the Government. With respect to the non-permanent curates, his hon. and learned Friend was rather hard to satisfy. These curates had one great advantage over the permanent curates, for they were free from the first to devote themselves to any sphere of emolument they could find. He knew that at present the supply of clergymen to the Church of Ireland was absolutely at a stand-still; and it was inevitable that such should be the case for some time to come; but these young and active clergymen, the non-permanent curates, would doubtless find, if not in the Irish Church, in other spheres of ministerial activity, careers open to them, retaining, of course, the moderate gratuity given to them under the Bill. His hon. and learned Friend next alluded to what he called the small amount of compensation that would fall to the lot of curates of ten and twelve years' standing in the Irish Church. No doubt the greater the age they had arrived at in the condition of curates the more sympathy he (Mr. C. Fortescue) was inclined to feel for them; but he ventured to believe that such cases would be rare. The number of such curates would be very small indeed who would not come under the class of permanent curates.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt) had made a strong personal allusion to the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), applying equally to the other Catholic Members from Ireland, in which he charged them with being actuated by illiberal, and, perhaps, sectarian, motives. On his own part and theirs he repudiated the charge. The Catholic Members were actuated by the highest, the most liberal, and just considerations.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, he was at a loss to understand the hon. Member. He had never made any imputation upon the Catholic Members.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he was very glad 1401 he had misapprehended the hon. and learned Gentleman. He certainly had not mistaken the charge of illiberality made by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. B. Hope), and felt deeply complimented by the gentlemanly feeling and Batavian grace of his classical allusion. So far from the Irish Church being harshly treated, he maintained that it was treated with justice, with liberality, and even with generosity. Assuming that glebes were not a marketable property, they ought to have been put down at the value to the Church of at least £1,000,000. If he thought the Irish curates would be dealt with unjustly by the proposed Amendment of the Government, he would be the first to take their part. The argument with respect to it proceeded upon the assumption that the unendowed Church of Ireland would afford no field for the services of those gentlemen; but he thought they would be the persons to whom a new field would be opened. The incumbents, from age and long service, would disappear; and, in computing the compensation the curates would get under the Bill, the Committee must not forget that the curates were a body that would not disappear from the stage; but that they would, be transferred from one position to another, and in addition receive the compensation to be given under the Bill. He did not consider it was at all likely that the permanent curates would be in a worse position than the non-permanent curates.
§ Question put, "That the words 'The Commissioners' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 220; Noes 107: Majority 113.
§ MR. GLADSTONE moved to leave out at page 6, line 3, the words—"by his own free choice," and to insert, instead—"without the incumbent's consent." This was to enlarge the scope of the words. "By his own free choice" was not sufficiently extended.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that after the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman at an earlier period of the evening with respect to the 23rd clause, it would not be necessary that he should take the sense of the Committee upon the point then under their consideration.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that all that had been stated on the part of the Government, when they were dis- 1402 cussing the 14th clause, seemed at present to be forgotten. They were then told that when they came to the 15th clause they would arrive at the proper time for discussing the claims of the curates. But they were at present dealing with that clause, and giving a life annuity to a curate who was found to be a permanent curate at the period of the change, without the slightest attempt to carry on the arrangement in favour of the incumbent.
said, he did not think they were open to the observation of his hon. and learned Friend. At the time they were discussing the 14th clause, they gave it as their opinion that, under that clause, it would be open to the incumbent to object before the Commissioners on one or other of two grounds—either that there was no case for declaring that there ever had been a permanent curate, or that the clergyman acting at the time being was not such a curate. Beyond that they did not wish to go, and if anyone wished to proceed further it was for him, and not for them, to propose an Amendment to that effect.
desired to have a dear statement of the course the Government meant to take with respect to curates. After the able speech of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt), the Chief Secretary for Ireland addressed the Committee, but spoke in a very low tone. ["Oh, oh!"] Those hon. Members who cried out 'Oh!" were not in the House at the time. He should like to have a clear statement of the intentions of the Government.
said, that the hon. Member had been rather severe on those hon. Members who were not in their places at the time referred to, but he was sceptical as to the presence at that period of the hon. Member himself. [Mr. BENTINCK: I was present during the whole debate.] In that case it was unfortunate that he had not made the intentions of the Government understood by the hon. Member; but he had stated distinctly how far they could go in meeting the views of hon. Gentlemen with respect to curates. The plan of the 1403 Government was that a permanent curate, once declared to be so, should have his annuity; and with respect to a non-permanent curate, they met the proposal of the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) by substituting £25 for £50. Beyond that, with the exception of the Amendment of which he had given Notice, the Government had no change to announce with respect to curates; but any proposal made by any hon. Member would receive their attention.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
asked, whether any provision would be made for curates incapacitated from duty by mental or bodily infirmity?
§ Amendment agreed to.
said, he had now to move an Amendment which would serve as an answer to the inquiry just made by the noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton). He proposed, in line 4, after "him," to insert the words, "or by ill health or otherwise become incapable of discharging the duties of such curacy."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. PIM,
who had given notice of an Amendment in the clause by leaving out, "£200" and inserting "£50 for every year during which he shall have served as a curate," observed that the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government to insert £25 instead of £50, was a satisfactory one, and he was quite prepared to accept it.
said, he was prepared to recognize £200 as the proper minimum, and to alter four into eight years. The Amendment of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pim) would then stand thus—Line 11, leave out 'two hundred pounds' and insert' twenty-five pounds for every year during Which he shall have served as a curate; Provided always, That in any case in which the period of service of any curate shall not amount to eight years, the Commissioners may make up such gratuity to the sum of two hundred pounds; Provided also, That such gratuity shall in no case exceed the sum of six hundred pounds.'
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ On Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill,"
§ MR. E. W. VERNER
said, he wished to ask a question which, he admitted, ought more properly to have been put when Clause 2 was under consideration. 1404 Under the Poor Belief Act for Ireland three chaplains might be appointed to workhouses, one connected with the Established Church, another connected with the Presbyterian body, and the third a Roman Catholic. He wished to know how the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government intended to deal with the chaplain connected with the Established Church when that Church was disestablished?
in reply, said, he thought that a provision would probably be required of a general nature, when they had ascertained all the cases of a somewhat similar kind as that referred to, which they would have to include. The clause would be framed so as to provide that where any person or officer is employed on behalf of the religious community which is now the Established Church, such person or officer shall continue to be employed hereafter in respect to the said religious community, although it shall have ceased to be the Established Church.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to introduce such Amendment in the present Bill?
replied that that would depend upon the circumstances of the case. Perhaps he would propose the clause in the present Bill; but, at all events, he would give notice of it.
§ DR. BALL
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that there were many cases in Ireland in which persons by virtue of the ecclesiastical office they held enjoyed certain privileges and prerogatives and administered trusts. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman in framing his clause would include all these persons in it.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 16 (Compensation to diocesan schoolmasters, clerks, and sextons).
§ Agreed to.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN) moved, line 25, to leave out "from any incumbent or incumbents in respect of his or their benefice or benefices," and insert—
Under any warrant of the Lord Lieutenant in Council made under the provisions of the Act of the Session of the fifty-third year of the reign of His late Majesty King George the Third, chapter one hundred and seven, or any statutory amendment thereof.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, that having had an opportunity of expressing his opinion, at an early stage, of the merits of the Bill, he had no wish to press unnecessarily upon the time of the Committee. The object of his Amendment was to do justice to a very small but deserving body of men, the diocesan architects, who were appointed under the 14 & 15 Vict., known as Napier's Act. The Bishop appointed one in each diocese, and their duty was to superintend all the alterations of the glebe houses, to make periodical inspections, to report on the repairs necessary, and to see that those repairs were properly completed. They were, indeed, such useful functionaries that he wished there were similar ones on this side of the water. There was no provision in the Bill for compensating these officers for the extinction of their employment. He had added the words "or emoluments" after "salaries," because they were not paid by definite yearly salaries, but by a commission on the repairs they had superintended. One gentleman, who had filled this office for fifteen years, told him that his professional earnings from this source, for the last three or four years, had exceeded £100 per annum. These offices would not be continued because, as the glebe houses fell in and were purchased under the provisions of the Bill, they became the property of the Church Body, which need not employ diocesan architects unless it chose to do so. It was a fair case for consideration, and, though he did not say that the diocesan architects were entitled to any large remuneration, they were entitled to something. He trusted that the House would on this subject emulate the spirit of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt) rather than that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had said that, although they were prepared to do justice to the Irish Church, yet that justice did not mean liberality; and that they would not legislate in the spirit of the First Minister of the Crown, who had declared that he was prepared to do justice, but that justice 1406 must also be done to the large and important interests—interests of his own creation—which had to receive the surplus after these claims had been satisfied. There was not above twelve or thirteen of these diocesan architects in the whole of Ireland, and their compensation would not amount to a very large sum. No other class had so great a claim to a first charge on the funds as those who were the first to suffer from the change. He moved, page 6, line 27, after "benefices," to insert—The amount of yearly salary or emoluments which any diocesan architect appointed under the provisions of the Act of the fourteenth and fifteenth years of Victoria is entitled to receive.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, the compensation for officers connected with the Church would be considered with the greatest care, and with the greatest anxiety to extend compensation to every case to which it could reasonably be extended. But it had been found impossible to recognize the so-called office of diocesan architect. There was no such office known. The only authority for such an appointment was the Church Building Act of 1851, which gave the Bishop power to appoint three or more persons, one being a competent architect, to view the ecclesiastical buildings and improvements. That was the provision under which these persons claimed to be diocesan architects; and, if they were to be compensated, he did not see why the other persons appointed on those commissions might not claim compensation also. Again, the Bishop had power to appoint a "competent tradesman." Did the hon. and learned Gentleman propose to compensate "competent tradesmen?" The Government could not accept this Amendment, because the clause was based upon the reasonable supposition that officers connected with the Church whose offices the law recognized were entitled to fair compensation; but this was an office which it had been found impossible to recognize. He trusted the hon. and learned Gentleman would not press his Amendment.
§ DR. BALL
concurred in the opinion that these could not be regarded as freehold offices, but it had been usual to name one architect in each diocese to perform the duties referred to. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (the 1407 Attorney General for Ireland) might put these persons in the 17th clause, and give them one year's emoluments.
§ Amendment negatived.
MR. CHARLEY moved in page 6, after line 27, to insert
(2.) The amount of yearly salary which each organist of any cathedral, or of any church or chapel in the said Church, is entitled to receive.
The effect of that Amendment would be to take the organists out of the 17th clause and to put them into the 16th. It might be said that the 16th clause dealt only with freeholds, and that the office of an organist was not a freehold; but the office was generally held quamdiu se bene gesserint and was therefore in the nature of a freehold. He held in his hand a list of organists in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, from 1595 to the present time, appended to which was a declaration of the chapter of that cathedral that the office of organist was a life appointment, subject to good behaviour, and that there had never been an instance of dismissal. Lord Stowell was of opinion that the salary of an organist could be charged upon a Church rate. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland, in the Return of their average annual expenditure, gave the sum of £1,410 as payable to organists, whilst the Irish Church Commissioners' Report contained a sum of £670 paid to organists out of the economy fund annexed to the several cathedrals. The organists, therefore, had as much vested interest in the property of the Church as the incumbents, and in some out-of-the-way places, such as Tuam, there was no private tuition on which they could fall back if they were deprived of their income. There were, he believed, about thirty organists of cathedrals in Ireland, and 100 of churches; he was willing to limit his Motion to the organists of cathedrals.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
explained that, in dealing with the question of compensation, the Government found that they should confine themselves to what might be called freehold offices. A person holding the office of organist could not be included among this class, and could not consequently be placed in Clause 16. He fully admitted that the case of organ- 1408 ists was deserving of the consideration of the Committee. Some of the most distinguished men had filled the position, and some of the persons who at present held the office were entitled to every respect and consideration; but he could not accede to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman. He could, however, propose for that class of persons better terms than those mentioned in Clause 17. In that clause one year's salary was proposed. On the representation and by the recommendation of several persons representing churches in Ireland, particularly representing the cathedral in Dublin, he had prepared an Amendment to Clause 17, which he intended to propose, and which he thought would meet the justice of every possible case, and would leave the Commissioners an unfettered discretion to deal with cases of a peculiar character.
§ MR. LEFROY
said, he thought the organists ought to have a life interest, as their appointment had always been for life.
said, he thought that they should not mix up non-freehold offices with those that were freehold. The duties of an organist were of an undefined character, and varied in different churches, and it was hard to say in what cases there would be a diminution of their emoluments, and in what cases no such diminution.
submitted that a great number of life interests which, strictly speaking, could not be called freeholds, existed in cathedrals, and the organist's post was one of them. It was not just that a person who had accepted a post on the presumption that it would be continued to him for life should be dismissed with a single year's salary simply because it could not be established in law that his interest in the office was for life. It was well, however, that the doubt as to whether the appointment was for life arose in other case than that of organists. It had always been a matter of doubt whether non-capitular members of new cathedrals—those re-founded at the Reformation—had a freehold in their office or not; indeed, that point was distinctly raised in the celebrated case of Dr. Whiston. Supposing that the principle of disestablishment were to be applied to the Church of England, what would be the fate of those permanent non-capitular 1409 officers of St. Paul's Cathedral who were not members of the minor corporations of the Church, but who nevertheless held appointments for life to all intents and purposes? By the clause it was proposed to leave these gentlemen in the hands of the Commissioners, who were to give them any compensation they might think fit. He should therefore submit that either the proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. Charley) be acceded to on the part of the Government, or else that they should insert words giving the organists a life annuity equal to their yearly salary.
§ MR. PIM
admitted that the Government was right in not embracing those gentlemen among those entitled to a freehold interest, but he trusted that the Commissioners would inquire into their case. He thought that the organists should be treated on the footing that they possessed a life interest in their situations. He proposed to amend the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman by inserting the words, after the word "compensation," "either by annual payment or by way of life annuity."
§ MR. CHARLEY
said, that having ascertained that his Amendment could be discussed with more propriety on Clause 17, which referred to the organists, he begged to give notice that he should move an Amendment upon the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government on that clause.
§ MR. J. B. SMITH
asked whether the hon. Member intended to include the organ blowers in his Amendment?
§ MR. CHARLEY
said, that the observation of the hon. Member was conceived in the spirit of the 17th clause, in which the organists were classed with the vergers. He begged to withdraw his Amendment upon the present clause.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. VANCE moved the following Amendment, after line 30 insert (3)—
The amount of yearly salary which each vicar choral and choirman of any cathedral in Ireland is entitled to receive.
In many of the Irish cathedrals, particularly Armagh, they attracted, by large salaries, men skilled in music from England and other countries; they were almost as necessary for the performance of the cathedral service as the clergymen themselves. Their position was as nearly as possible a freehold one,
seeing that there was a fund for their superannuation and compensation. They were all gentlemen who had received a most excellent education, and in the event of the clause being passed as it stood, they would be left destitute at an age too advanced to obtain other employment, with the exception of the small provision which the Commissioners might make for them.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
observed, that the Amendment embraced two matters. There was a very great distinction between vicars choral and choirmen. Vicars choral were in many cases a corporation, and those who enjoyed freehold offices would get compensation upon that footing. On the other hand, stipendiary choirmen were in the same position as organists, and he saw no objection to putting them into Clause 17, under which they would be entitled to a gratuity.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
remarked that the clause provided for the remuneration of schoolmaster, clerk, and sexton, but only as long as they continued to perform the duties of their office. He thought that words ought to be inserted to insure them the remuneration even if they ceased to perform their duty, provided that they ceased so to do without any fault of theirs.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 17 (Compensation to organists, vergers, and others).
wished to insert, in page 7, line 2, after "fit" the words—And where the said Commissioners shall find that any such person is or may be deprived of any income derived from any property or fund vested in the said Commissioners under this Act, they may pay to any such person such further sum by way of compensation as they shall, with the consent of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, determine.
Another Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 2, after the word "fit," to insert the words—
And where the said Commissioners shall find that any such person is or may be deprived of any income derived from any property or fund vested in the said Commissioners under this Act, they may pay to any such person such further sum by way of compensation as they shall, with the consent of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, determine."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, by inserting in line 4, after the word "person," the words—
So long as he shall live and shall continue to discharge the duties of his office in the same cathedral, church, or chapel, an annuity equal to the amount of the income of which he is or may be deprived."—(Mr. Charley.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 199; Noes 314: Majority 115.
§ MR. PIM moved, as an Amendment to the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Gladstone's) proposed Amendment, page 7, line 2, after "compensation," line 4, insert "either by a single payment or by way of a life annuity."
§ Amendment agreed to.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
, in reference to the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Gladstone's) Amendment, said, he was at a loss to understand why, in this clause—and in this clause only—the free action of the Commissioners was to be made dependent upon the consent of the Treasury. The object was not certainly to increase the amount of extra compensation, but probably to diminish it.
said, that, in conferring a discretionary power on the Treasury, they had followed the course that seemed most consonant, and one that was also in accordance with precedent. The concurrence of the Treasury was of extreme utility, because they had a large and varied experience of money questions of this kind. The trustees of the British Museum, for example, were in the habit of consulting the Treasury, though they were under no statutory obligation to do so.
said, the British Museum Trustees dealt with money derived from public grants. In this instance, the proper plan was to take care that the Commission was so constituted 1412 as to inspire confidence in its decisions, independently of any influence brought to bear upon it by the Government of the day. In ordinary cases, he agreed that the control of the Treasury might be useful in cases of compensation; but in this case he should have thought that his right hon. Friend would have been the first to say that the Government ought not to be virtually a court of appeal. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would re-consider this point.
said, that though he retained his former opinion, he did not wish the House to pronounce a final judgment on the question at present; but the opportunity would be given for the fresh consideration of it. In the case of the law courts, although they were not dealing with funds from the Exchequer, the concurrent action of the Treasury was provided, not with power to decide anything, but simply as a check.
said, they were admitting here a principle of great importance for the first time. It was not a controlling power, but, on the contrary, they were going to take the power of increasing the compensation.
said, he thought the matter should be left in the hands of the Commissioners, and he hoped that before they parted with the Bill the point would be carefully considered.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 18. (Compensation to lay patrons).
§ MR. GOLDNEY
proposed, in the second line of the clause, to insert after the word "ascertain," the words, "as hereinafter mentioned," with the view to the adoption of a subsequent Amendment, fixing a basis on which to ascertain the value of the lay patron's interest.
said, the Government was desirous of doing what the hon. Gentleman wished—namely, to introduce positive and definite terms into the clause; but, owing to the great difficulty of arriving at a basis of calculation, the provisions in the Bill were the only provisions they could introduce. He should be glad to hear the words which the hon. Gentleman proposed to introduce, though he could scarcely hope 1413 that the hon. Gentleman had been more successful than themselves.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
accordingly read the words which he intended to propose, and, which he thought would have the effect he desired.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, the greatest pains had been taken in the case of advowsons sold under the direction of the Landed Estates Court to ascertain the basis to settle the value of these interests. None of these attempts had been satisfactory; and the Government, therefore, had thought it better to allow the Commissioners to act for themselves, and in case of the lay patrons and the Commissioners disagreeing as to the value of the property, to leave the matter to be decided by arbitration.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
complained that the Bill contained no provisions for compensating the laity. He could not see the justice of establishing a basis when it could work favourably for the purchasers, and refusing to establish a basis when it would act as a restraint upon their acquisition. It seemed to him that what is just in one case is just in another.
assured the hon. Gentleman that the Government had very carefully considered this question, and had obtained the best information they could respecting the sale of advowsons. If, however, the hon. Gentleman wished it, that information should be put into such a shape that it could be laid before the House; but he was bound to say he did not recommend the production of the records, as he believed they would prove unfavourable to the opinions expressed by the hon. Gentleman. It would be impracticable to fix a scale like that which the hon. Gentleman had referred to.
remarked that this question appeared to have puzzled even the right hon. Gentleman himself. They had been debating the Bill seven hours. It was then past twelve o'clock, and, to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of having the point cleared up, he would move that the Chairman report Progress.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, he was really anxious that this matter should be "thrashed out," as he was confident he could prove to the Committee that his 1414 views were right. The project of disendowing the Church had been in contemplation for a considerable time, during which no man in Ms senses would have thought of purchasing an advowson in Ireland. If the Government intended to take an advowson from one man in order to sell it to another the owner ought to receive as much as the Government were going to take. In Eng- land, at all events, and he presumed in Ireland also, the following was the simple method of calculation adopted in dealing with advowsons. The net value was first ascertained—namely, the amount arising from glebe lands and tithes, and then a deduction was made in respect of the charges thereupon. A sum was allowed for the cost of a curate, and then so many years' purchase, ranging ordinarily from nineteen to twenty-five, was taken. This fact was already before the House in the shape of a Return relating to Lord Westbury's Act, which authorizes the sale of a certain number of livings in the gift of the Lord Chancellor. Indeed, some of them fetched as much as thirty-five years' purchase, the calculation being made on the principle which he had endeavoured to indicate to the House.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the object of the Government was simply to ascertain the market value of these advowsons, and to give that sum, neither more than less, to the lay patrons. The common-sense method laid down in the clause, to leave the matter to the arbitration of three eminent gentlemen, was the best that could be adopted.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland sat in the House during the time the Incumbered Estates Court was in operation, and consequently he would remember the enormous depreciation of property which resulted from forcing a mass of property into the market at one time. Some properties were then sold at ten or twelve years' purchase or less; and, indeed, he knew of some properties which, by reason of the market being glutted by legislation, were bought at twelve years' purchase, and which were now worth double that sum. The present legislation would produce exactly the same effect on the property of advowsons. They would be forced into the market, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland took the market 1415 price it would have to be taken in a market unduly depreciated by the act of the Legislature.
COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would remember market value when the clauses were reached which related to glebe houses and Bishops' lands. Gentlemen on that side wanted no favour, but simply justice, and it was justice which they could not get from the other side of the House.
remarked, that the Government had entirely made up their minds on the clause, and he hoped the Committee would be permitted to divide upon it at once.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
called attention to the fact that they had not seen the Amendment in print, and thought the discussion ought to be adjourned till they had an opportunity of comparing it with the Bill.
said, if the hon. Member had not printed his Amendment, that was not the fault of the Government. It might be brought up on the Report.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Colonel Gilpin.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 176; Noes 289: Majority 113.
§ MR. FITZWILLIAM DICK
said, he had been the House since noon, and it being now half an hour beyond midnight he must move that the Chairman leave the Chair.
§ MR. H. A. HERBERT
said, he had also been the House since noon; but he thought it was now an early hour for such a Motion to be made as had just been proposed.
said, that notice not having been given of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Goldney), which raised a point that perplexed the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners), the proper and by far the most expedient course would be for the hon. Gentleman to raise the question he had brought forward upon the Report. He had stated the facts of the case as far as they were at the command of the Government, as well as at the command of hon. Members, and before the hand of the clock reached twelve a Motion was made for reporting Pro- 1416 gress. It was undoubtedly for the interest of all parties not to cut short discussion, but to proceed with all rational despatch. As it seemed to be so much the desire of the other side of the House that the Chairman should report Progress, he should not further oppose a Motion to that effect; but he hoped that hon. Gentlemen who had Motions on the Paper for to-morrow would give way, so as to allow the Bill to be proceeded with. One of the hon. Members for Suffolk (Mr. Corrance) had a Motion for tomorrow to which he attached considerable importance. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman would give way. Provided hon. Gentlemen kindly waived their privileges for to-morrow evening, he could promise that they would have the first night at the disposal of the Government, except in cases of questions of urgent necessity, after the Irish Church Bill had passed through Committee.
§ MR. DE GREY
said, he had the authority of the hon. Member for Suffolk for stating that he fully intended to proceed with his Motion.
said, the right hon. Gentleman was in error in saying that he had moved to report Progress before the clock struck twelve. The right hon. Gentleman having accepted the adjournment showed that he was not wrong in the Motion he had made.
said, he would tomorrow renew his appeal to the hon. Member for Suffolk to withdraw his Motion until a day should be given by the Government.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.