§ Order for Committee read.
§ MR. LEA
pointed out that the majority in favour of the second reading consisted of 23 official votes. He regretted 1754 that anything should have been said about religious differences, for he opposed the measure on the broad ground that no public money should be advanced for any religious purposes whatever. He complained that contradictory explanations of its objects had been given by the Government.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that was merely an extension of the Act of last year, and embodied no new principle whatever. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) on examining the Bill, expressed himself satisfied that there was nothing in it inconsistent with his (Mr. Fortescue's) assurances last year. The Bill would merely remove certain anomalies, and provide a more convenient mode of carrying out the Act of last year. For instance, at present they might lend money to build a glebe, but not to buy one already built.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
admitted that the Bill was no advance in principle upon the measure of last year, but it was an extension of its operation, and in his view the operation of a law was as important as the principle on which it was founded. The Bill was founded on the system of liberal ignorance and wilful blindness, and was in opposition to the course taken by every other European nation.
§ MR. M'LAREN
objected to the principle of laying taxes on the people and lending the produce of them to any Religious Body whatever. One step in that direction led to another, and he deprecated that kind of legislation altogether.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
complained of the course taken by hon. Members for Scotland, who had remained in town for the express purpose of opposing all measures for the advantage of Ireland, although Scotland got more from the Imperial Exchequer in seven years than Ireland did in twenty. It had been stated that money was advanced and not repaid; but that was utterly untrue, for every shilling advanced had been repaid, and paid with interest. The Bill was an extension of an Act in operation for 40 years, the 1 & 2 Will. IV., under which a farmer or any other person might borrow money, with the exception of clergymen, and when power was given to the Presbyterian minister, the Protestant clergyman, and the Roman Catholic priest to borrow 1755 money, to be repaid in 35 instalments, objections were raised by Scotch Members and by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Newdegate).
§ MR. ANDERSON
explained that the ground of his opposition was that the Bill proposed to apply the money of the taxpayers for ecclesiastical purposes, and that would influence him if a similar Bill was brought in respecting Scotland.
§ MR. WATKIN WILLIAMS
explained that he had voted against the Bill of last year, but supported this because it was clear that it was supplemental to their previous legislation.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clauses 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 4 (Additional purposes for which loans may be granted).
§ MR. LEA
moved the omission of the clause, on the ground that it involved the new and objectionable principle that money might be advanced to pay off mortgages which existed before 1870, and thus scattered broadcast, as it were, money which had been collected for a different purpose among all the religious denominations in Ireland. If his proposal was accepted and the clause negatived, it would remove all the objections entertained to the measure.
§ MR. M'LAREN
, in seconding the Amendment, reminded the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing) that Scotch Members had voted with Irish Members in the divisions on the Irish Church and Irish Land Bills, and declared that he had never voted against the interests of Ireland. The charge of remaining to oppose the Bill could not apply to himself, because during the six years he had had a seat in that House he had always entered and left it with the Speaker, and had only been absent for a few days during the whole of that period.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
hoped the Amendment would not be pressed, because the clause contained the principle of the Bill, and if it was omitted, the Bill would remain a stringent measure dealing with the loans of last Session without conferring any advantages whatever. To strike it out would be worse than leaving out the part of Hamlet; it would be leaving out Hamlet, Ophelia, and all the other characters of the play. 1756 He acquitted the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) of staying in town for the purpose of opposing the Bill, but must advert to the fact that out of 103 Irish Members, including many distinguished patriots, only three were present on that occasion to support an Irish Bill of some importance.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
, alluding to a reference made by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing) to the course he had pursued with regard to the Maynooth Bill, asserted that in wishing to amend the Bill, he (Mr. Newdegate) had acted consistently, and that he desired the welfare of Ireland as sincerely as any Irish Member.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.