§ The Order of the Day for the Second Reading read,
§ EARL GRANVILLE:
My Lords, although I never was more convinced of the wisdom of any measure than I am of that of the Bill to which I am about to ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading, yet on many grounds I feel my own unfitness to bring the case before your Lordships. I think, however, that it will be better for me, instead of making apologies for myself, to attempt to explain as clearly and as shortly as I can the grounds upon which Her Majesty's Government have decided to adopt this Bill as their own, and to recommend it to your Lordships' attention. This tax of ministers' money was imposed in the reign of Charles II. for the purpose of supporting Protestant ministers in eight of the principal towns in Ireland—towns in which, for political reasons, it was thought desirable to establish Protestant communities—and it was therefore a tax upon Protestants to support the 1961 ministers of their religion. I cannot help thinking that this is one instance among many which show how utterly futile are legislative attempts to coerce the people in their religious belief; because we see such towns as Cork, Waterford, and Limerick flourishing in spite of being subject to this tax, while some of the greatest and most prosperous towns, such as Belfast, have sprung up and reached to a high state of civilization and prosperity without being fostered by any such aid. I will first glance at one point which has been raised on this subject to the effect that the tax was originally imposed upon Protestants, and that therefore it would be unfair to release from it persons who bought property subject to its operation, but who avail themselves of religious scruples to evade its payment. Now although this consideration may be of some importance as regards the abstract rights of those concerned, it is of small practical effect with reference to the settlement of the question. But in the first place the fact is not sufficiently proved; because, although undoubtedly according to law no property could be held in these towns except by Protestants, yet I believe that, as in the case of most similarly arbitrary enactments, this law was not enforced; and much property was in fact held by Catholics. Twenty-eight years the tax had been imposed; in the reign of James II. an Act was passed to repeal it, and it was there described as "a new imposition of a very oppressive character." I do not quote this Act as an inducement to your Lordships to follow in the footsteps of that ill-advised king; but considering how soon after the imposition of this tax the Act for its abolition was passed, and considering that that king was not very likely to have the interest of the Protestants very much at heart, it is some evidence that even at that early period the tax was felt as a grievance by the Roman Catholics. This tax continued for many years, along with the questions of tithe and church rates, to excite in a most deplorable degree political and religious discord in Ireland. In the year 1833 an Act was passed which was of the greatest benefit to Ireland, and certainly of the greatest benefit to the Established Church of Ireland, for which great credit is due to the Government of Lord Grey, and more particularly to the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland. One great point of that Act was the 1962 abolition of the church cess, which, he might remind their Lordships, was an imposition of far more ancient origin than ministers' money. It produced a far larger sum—£70,000 a year, and it was far more equally distributed, being borne by the whole country—by Protestant Dissenters as well as by Roman Catholics. Every reason that can be alleged in favour of the abolition of one is infinitely stronger in favour of the abolition of the other. However, the noble Earl will explain to your Lordships, I have no doubt, in what sense these two questions are different, and he will, I hope, give some information to the House as to whether it really was the intention of the Government of Lord Grey to omit the question of ministers' money from that Act. If such was the intention of the Government I will venture to ask the noble Earl the meaning of the 73rd clause in that Act—a clause which I confess has puzzled me and others very much—And be it further enacted, that in all parishes and places where, by virtue of any law, statute, or custom, provision may heretofore have been made, by vestry or other assessment, for the maintenance of any curate, lecturer, clerk, or other minister or assistant in the celebration of Divine worship, or attendant or sexton, such provision by vestry or other assessment shall from and after the passing of this Act wholly cease and determine; and it shall and may be lawful for the said Commissioners under this Act, by and out of the proceeds of the said annual tax, and the other funds as aforesaid by this Act vested in them, to provide for all such purposes in such manner and proportions as to them shall seem fitting.Not being a lawyer, I do not understand very clearly what is meant in this clause by the words "out of the proceeds of this tax," seeing that the tax had just been repealed; but, above all, I do not understand how it is that ministers' money could continue to exist after the passing of this clause. I have no doubt that excellent technical reasons may be given for it, and I have no doubt that the noble Earl can clearly state the intentions of the Government, and how far the clause was meant to go; but at present I cannot see why it does not include ministers' money, for the objections to the principle of ministers' money are quite as strong as to any of the taxes which it actually did abolish. I hope, therefore, that the noble Earl will be kind enough to explain what the Government intended to be the meaning of that clause. I do not wish to weary your Lordships by references to Hansard or by any quotations of 1963 that sort; I will, therefore, confine myself to stating that the Church Temporalities Act was advocated by Lord Althorp and his colleagues on the broad basis of the general state of Ireland and the tendency of the measure to remove the political and religious discord which convulsed that country. The noble Earl himself most ably and most eloquently advocated it on the principle ''that the advantages to the Established Church are far more than counterbalanced by the odium attending its enforcement." He quoted the recommendation of the Committee—But, without discussing the abstract question of right, your Committee are of opinion that there might exist in Ireland funds, under the direction of a board of first fruits, if rightly managed, sufficient in themselves for the whole of this charge; and it concludes by recommending the substitution of the first fruits of a certain annual tax, from 5 to 15 per cent, on all benefices of a certain annual value, and proposes that the fund so raised should be applied to the removal of church cess.And he went on to say, "upon that very principle this measure proposes to provide for the church cess. Every single argument of that sort applies in an infinitely greater degree to the principle of ministers' money.
Some little time after that—about fifteen years ago—the question of ministers' money was brought before Parliament; but the proposition to abolish it altogether was negatived. In 1848 a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to examine into the whole question. That Committee, as far as one can judge from the Report and the Minutes of its proceedings, appeared to be unanimously of opinion that the evils of the tax were great, although they differed as to the exact mode of removing them. After that the opposition to the tax went on gaining ground by the good sense of the House of Commons and by the ventilation which it obtained, and various propositions were made for its repeal, which were met, not by a direct refusal, but by different objections, generally based on the principle of postponement until the funds from which the tax might be replaced had grown more ample. At last it got to such a point under the Government of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) that a promise was given that a Bill should be brought in to settle the question. I know very well that a Government has no right to ask another Government to state in what way they would remedy an evil; but when the noble 1964 Earl opposite, with his weight and influence in this House, takes upon himself to ask your Lordships to reject altogether the proposition of Her Majesty's Government, I think it will be desirable that he should state what the measure of his Government was, or, at all events, the general principle of it—whether it was exactly the same as the measure which was shortly afterwards passed into law, which has to a certain extent failed, or whether it contained other provisions which would have met the difficulties of the question. The noble Earl's Government was succeeded by the Government of the noble Earl below me (the Earl of Aberdeen). This question was considered by them, and a Bill was brought in on the subject and was passed. The objects of this Bill were excellent, but I hope it is not humiliating to say—having been a party to the passing of the next Bill—that, though some of its principal objects have been most efficiently secured, others have entirely failed. The principal objects of that Bill were, in the first place, to secure a fixed income to the clergy in lieu of the precarious incomes hitherto received by them; next, to relieve them of the unpopularity to which they were exposed by having to collect this tax by their own collectors; and, thirdly, to release from the tax altogether certain classes of poor householders. It is worth while to see, first of all, how far this last object has been carried out. The proportion of houses in the different towns relieved by that Act is as follows—Dublin, 3–7ths; Cork, 4–5ths; Clonmel, 8–9ths; Drogheda, 10–11ths; Kilkenny, 10–13ths; Kinsale, 6–7ths; Limerick, 13–14ths; and Waterford, 5–9ths. In all, seventy-four per cent, or three-quarters of the whole number of householders have been relieved. But although the ministers were mulcted of 25 per cent of their incomes, yet it has given them the greatest satisfaction to have paid directly from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners that reduced income, which is, in fact, much greater than they have ever succeeded in collecting themselves. The great evil which the Act failed to meet was the difficulty of collecting the tax. It was enacted that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should be repaid by the corporations of the towns subject to the tax, which should themselves collect it and pay it to the Paymaster of the Civil Services, who should hand it over to the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commission. This provision has entirely failed. Dublin has 1965 collected the tax under peculiar circumstances which I do not think it advisable to go into your Lordships' House, but the other seven corporations have absolutely refused to collect it. It was not an agreeable thing for the Executive Government to have to call upon large public bodies to make themselves the instruments of enforcing the payment of a tax from their fellow-citizens which individually they looked upon as unjust and unfair, and which they had in their resisted; but the duty of the Government was to see the law carried out, and from this they did not abstain. They brought an action against the principal offender, Cork; they got a judgment to the amount of £3,000, accompanied, however, by a declaration from the Judges that the law was, in their opinion, inoperative, and that its machinery was inadequate. Some of the most learned counsel in Ireland—among them gentlemen opposed to Her Majesty's Government—advised an appeal. Notice of an appeal was given, and according to the information which I have received, that appeal is not likely to be settled in less than two years; so that the result will be four years' arrears of the tax—two already due, and the two that will elapse during the hearing of the case. Now, I put it to the good sense of your Lordships whether, in such circumstances as these, the Government had any other alternative than that which they have adopted. It is clear that if this tax were collected for Imperial purposes, it would be infinitely more wise and more advantageous to Her Majesty's Treasury to charge the whole amount on the Consolidated Fund than to raise it in the manner now done, and to be compelled to resort to expensive legal proceedings for a very doubtful issue in the end. I ask whether there is any noble Lord, being a friend of the Church of Ireland, or of England itself, who is prepared to suggest a course that it would have been more desirable for Her Majesty's Government to have adopted. For myself, I must say I am at a loss to see the alternative that was in the hands of the Government.
My Lords, I have now stated, as clearly as I can, the course of proceedings by which Her Majesty's Government were led to the conclusion that they ought to adopt this measure. It is not for me to anticipate objections, but I am bound to bear in mind that the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) has given notice of a Motion 1966 that the Bill should be read a second time this day six months. The noble Earl will, with the great, ability that characterizes him, discover every possible objection that can be brought, in the slightest degree to influence your Lordships against the Bill, and I have no doubt he will state those objections in that clear, minute manner, and with that particular charm that will oblige your Lordships, not certainly to assent to his arguments, but to listen most carefully to every word he utters. I reserve, of course, my right to reply afterwards to such objections as may be urged against the measure, unless, as is most probable, they are met by some of my noble Friends beside me; but in the meantime there are one or two arguments employed to which I shall take the liberty briefly to refer. The first of these is based on the great principle that it is wrong to diminish the property of the Church in any way whatever. I do not believe that this argument will be raised to-night. It appears to me impossible to urge it after the course that was taken on the Church Temporalities Act. Another argument was, that raised the other evening by the noble Earl opposite (Earl of Ellenborough) and by the noble Earl below the gangway (Earl of Wicklow), that we are transferring this amount to a fund which is not adequate to bear it. The noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) has no objection to the principle of that transference, but I am afraid that if he waits till it is undeniably clear that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have ample funds on hand to meet the transference, he will never arrive at such a result. It is only necessary to look at the report of the Commissioners themselves as to the mode in which they deal with the expenditure committed to their charge, and the common-sense view they take of their duties, to enable us to judge of the means which they have at their disposal under the Act. The Commissioners have a difficult part to play. Some of them are the most eminent men in Ireland, but some are ex officio Members resident in Dublin, and I appeal to your Lordships whether ex officio Members of a Board like this can really give to details of this sort any other than a general and superficial superintendence. One of the Commissioners is unfortunately dead; another is above eighty years of age, and a third was represented as unfit for work, because of the immense labours that had been thrown upon him. The Government immediately 1967 on becoming aware of these circumstances, proceeded to take steps to make up the deficiency that existed; but they were informed that this interference had become unnecessary, as the gentleman who was laid aside had recovered his health. The first thing the Commissioners appear to have done, under the Church Temporalities Act, was to issue a requisition to the incumbents of the different parishes, asking each of them to state the requirements of their particular parishes under the Act. Your Lordships all know how unsatisfactory any general inquiry of that sort must be. If any of your Lordships were to write to his cook, his coachman, and his bailiff, requiring a particular account from each of all that was necessary to be done in his particular department, you are perfectly aware how unsatisfactory the inquiry would be. It must have been still more in a case like the present, while the application of the relief afforded by the Commissioners could not fail to be a most difficult question. I find that the Commissioners erected fifty Protestant churches with sittings for 10,041 persons, in parishes containing a population of 264,673 souls, of whom only 14,323, of all ages, were in communion with the Established Church. I do not mean to say there was no reason for erecting a church in any one of those cases, for I admit it would be a melancholy thing to find 100, or fifty, or twenty Protestants in any part of the kingdom unable to obtain the religious comforts and instructions that they might require; but I say that if you go on on this scale it is impossible that any fund can be found of magnitude enough to meet such engagements. The noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) said the other night that it was impossible to come to a conclusion on this matter without information as to the state of the funds of the Commissioners; and the noble Earl near me (the Earl of Wicklow) thought it necessary that Returns should be laid on your Lordships' table giving further information. Now, my Lords, I am quite willing to admit that, as the case stands, the expenditure of the Commissioners does not leave a balance. And here I would refer again to a declaration made by Lord Althorp, in which he says:—The amount of church rates or cess does not, I believe, come to more than between £60,000 and £70,000 a year, and as far as I can calculate the means I have placed at the disposal of Parliament, they will amount to about £69,000 a year, and there is therefore some deficiency in the 1968 means to be provided in lieu of church rates. I am satisfied, however, that the expences to which that cess is applied might be diminished, and in that case the means in the hands of the House would be sufficient for the purposes intended.Now, it is quite clear that, having saddled the Commission with the church rate, you have diminished the power of building churches to the extent of £60,000 or £70,000 a year, and it is also clear that if we take away £12,000 more from the fund for ministers' money, you will to that extent still more diminish the fund for building churches. It is, however, impossible to examine the Return without perceiving that savings of various kinds may be effected. I see with regard to clerks and sextons' salaries there is a sum of —23,000 charged, and it seems possible that a consolidation of those offices may lead to considerable economy. There are then sums paid for various services, and for the sacramental elements, in which savings may be effected. Supposing that reductions can be made in these expenses, I am sure every sincere and pious Christian will desire to see them made, in order that this apple of discord among the Irish people may be removed. I am not sure that there are not other points, even including the constitution of the Board itself, in which reduction may not be effected; but beyond that I find from the Commissioners' Returns that there will be a future increase in their revenues to the extent of at least £12,205 within the next few years. The annual payment to be made by any successor of the present Archbishop of Armagh (who, I hope, will long remain with us) is £4,500; taxes upon the see of Armagh, £2,343; taxes on dignities and benefices not avoided since the passing of the Temporalities Act, £4,000, and from the suspension of fourteen benefices, £1,360; making a total of £12,205. Therefore, my Lords, not denying that by passing this Bill you will for the moment, to a certain extent, diminish the income of the Church in Ireland, still I do believe that by proper economy it will be possible to replace the amount subtracted by this Bill, and that in future years an increased revenue will more than meet any deficiency which it may create.
My Lords, I have now stated some of the grounds why I think the objections which have been raised are invalid, and why Her Majesty's Government have felt bound to pursue the course they have. I may venture to put it to your Lordships 1969 whether, considering the question with regard to the practical result of your Lordships' vote, you will withhold your assent from this measure. If this House shall adopt the Bill, you will at once remove the only sore which now exists in Ireland, the only rankling ground of irritation against the Church establishment in that country. At the same time, you will be adding a charge, not of £12,000, because the Commissioners only receive £5,000, but of a lesser amount upon the Ecclesiastical Fund, which, however, may be more than met by a proper economy on the part of the Board. If, on the other hand, your Lordships should reject this Bill, you will be placing yourselves in collision with the other House of Parliament upon this point, which I cannot but think would be a course pregnant with evil, and injurious to the Church itself in Ireland. The great majority of your Lordships, I believe, are desirous of maintaining that Church, and I need not recite the reasons which appear to render the maintenance of that Church desirable. But there are those who oppose it, and one reason assigned by them, of the validity of which I give no opinion, but which is obviously a formidable one, is, that there is a large endowment for the religion of the minority, while the religion of the majority in Ireland is entirely disendowed. Some years ago there was strong feeling displayed in Ireland, and the Church in that country was placed in circumstances of considerable danger. I believe that feeling has entirely passed away, and I ask your Lordships whether it will be wise or statesmanlike that, for the sake of a paltry tax like this, we should risk the revival of that feeling of irritation throughout Ireland. Even under the present Act the Commissioners do not receive the money, although the Government has not hesitated to put the law in action; but the difficulties attending the enforcement of the law are immense. Not only are the proceedings expensive, but we are informed, upon the highest authority, that the machinery of the Act is inoperative; and if this Bill be rejected the Government will incur in future the odium of prosecuting corporations (many of which have no property) for a tax which the House of Commons, by a majority of 139, has declared to be an odious tax—one that ought to be entirely abolished. Leaving comfort out of the question, I ask will it be decent to place Her Majesty's 1970 Government in that position? No doubt, the noble Earl opposite will suggest a useful and practical alternative for this Bill, although at present I am entirely ignorant in what way it can be done; but I never was more sincere or more earnest than I am now in asking your Lordships to accede to the second reading of this Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I must confess it is not without some reluctance that I present myself to your Lordships to offer my most unhesitating, uncompromising opposition to the Bill, the second reading of which has just been moved by the noble Earl. I am ready to admit upon the low ground of expediency, upon which alone the noble Earl has relied, there are not wanting plausible arguments, of which I must do the noble Earl the justice to say he has made the most, in support of a measure which arises out of general and exceptional circumstances. I admit that the amount in question at present is very inconsiderable. I admit that in the localities where that tax is levied it has been the cause of considerable irritation and difficulty. I admit also that if this Bill do not pass, and the Act of 1854 were to be repealed, the clergy would experience great difficulty in levying this tax. But, my Lords, I am not without hope that I shall succeed in convincing your Lordships that, even upon the low ground of expediency, upon which my noble Friend defends this Bill, there are arguments which will afford a complete reply. But beyond that I shall base my opposition upon higher grounds than that of expediency—I shall rely upon principle, to which this Bill is diametrically opposed. If this Bill can be shown to be a violation of the most sacred rights of property—of property not only enjoyed for a long succession of years, but the right to which has been confirmed within the last three years by additional legislation—then I think it will be unworthy of this House to decide this matter upon such grounds as the noble Earl has suggested, and which, I may be permitted to say, without disrespect to the noble Earl, are unworthy of a Government which undertakes the responsibility of conducting the affairs of a great nation.
My noble Friend has told us truly that this ministers' money is a tax which was imposed upon certain descriptions of property as long ago as the reign of Charles 1971 II. It was imposed upon certain towns in Ireland, and has continued from that time to be levied upon certain houses in those towns. It will, perhaps, be a proper moment for me to take an opportunity of replying to the challenge of the noble Earl to draw the distinction, which he says must be drawn to warrant opposition, between ministers' money and those charges which were dealt with by Earl Grey's Government in 1832 and 1833. I have the recollection of that period clearly in my mind; for in the responsible situation which I filled in that Government, the arrangement of Church affairs in Ireland cost me no little anxiety and uneasiness. But I am happy to believe that those measures, stringent as they were, and opposed as they were by the friends of the Established Church, by the adversaries of the Church, and also by some members of that Cabinet in which I held a seat, are now acknowledged to have rescused that Church from a position of great danger. I will just venture to bring before your Lordships the circumstances in which the Established Church in Ireland found itself in 1832 and 1833. At that time there was a violent crusade against the very existence of the Established Church, and in every possible way it was assaulted by a large and powerful political body, led and encouraged by the late Mr. O'Connell. That opposition was directed against tithes, against vestry cess, against ministers' money; in short, against every form in which pecuniary provision was made for the Protestant Church in Ireland. It is unnecessary to remind your Lordships of the very painful circumstances in which the clergy of that country were then placed. It is sufficient to say that tithes, which were not then commuted, had to be collected in kind from the very lowest classes of the population; for in consequence of the extraordinary subdivision of land, which prevailed then to a greater extent than at present, the clergy were obliged to collect their tithes directly from the occupiers. Of course, that was a state of things which gave great facilities for practical opposition, as well as great ground for complaint as to the policy of the existing system. The result was that nine-tenths of the clergy in Ireland were absolutely deprived of their incomes, or, if not deprived of them, they experienced the most violent opposition in collecting their tithes, not only from their own parishioners, but from large bodies of men who came from other 1972 districts to aid those who refused to pay. The opposition which was then offered to the levy of tithes was much more formidable than that which is now offered to the collection of ministers' money; yet according to the principle of the noble Earl, because it was extremely hazardous and expensive to collect the tithes, we ought to have given way to those who resisted the operation of the law, to have abolished the tithes altogether, and to have deprived the clergy of their revenues. The opposition which the Government of that day had to encounter was a thousandfold greater than any little paltry opposition which the Government of the present day have to meet in maintaining the law and discharging what I believe to be the duty of the Executive. But what was the course which we pursued at that time? We determined to give every support to the clergy. I do not mean to say that the police were employed in the collection of tithes, but both the police and the military were actively, diligently, and constantly employed in protecting the persons of those who, in the discharge of a lawful duty, exposed themselves to risk and danger. Nay, further, when the tithes, which were taken in kind, were seized and brought into the market no purchaser was found who would venture to come forward and buy, in consequence of the universal excitement and dissatisfaction which prevailed. What was done? The Government became purchasers of the tithes, and they supplied the military with forage from the hay and corn so forced into the market. They were purchasers whom no intimidation could deter, and thus the combination entered into to prevent the sale of those articles was counteracted, and great facilities were given for realizing the revenues of the clergy from such sources. But, undoubtedly, this was a state of things which it would have been unsafe, dangerous, and impossible long to continue. What, then, was the course which the Government took? They supported the claims of the clergy, and refused to yield to those who were depriving them of the means of living. In 1832 they took upon themselves the collection of the tithes upon a memorial from the clergy that they were unable to raise them. In that year a sum of £60,000, and in 1833 a sum of £1,000,000, were advanced to pay up the claims of the clergy upon the tithes of those years, which were collected by the Government themselves; but in the meantime 1973 the salient points of attack—the real objections to the operation of the law—were met by the measures which we adopted. Those measures consisted, first, in the compulsory commutation of the tithes for a fixed money-payment; and, secondly, in charging the landlord, instead of the tenant, with the burden of the tithes, prospective upon the falling in of each particular lease, and prospective in the case of a tenant-at-will upon the expiration of twelve or eighteen months. It was also provided that those landlords who chose voluntarily to anticipate the time when the burden would fall upon them would receive a reduction of charge to the amount of 25 per cent. The practical operation of those measures was this:—Foreseeing that the burden must in the course of a very short time fall upon them, the consequence of which would be that the feelings of the tenantry would cease to be excited, and the collection of the tithes would be easy, a certain proportion of the landowners came forward and voluntarily took the burden upon themselves, and, after considerable discussion, an arrangement was finally adopted by which the prospective change was made immediate, the whole burden being at once thrown upon the landlords, who received a reduction of 25 per cent. Such was the course which the Government pursued with respect to the tithes. They supported the claim, they maintained the principle, they defended the property, but they removed those portions of the law which rendered it open to serious objection, and liable to be easily opposed and successfully resisted. I beg pardon of your Lordships for occupying so much of your time in pointing out the difference in principle, unperceived by the noble Earl, between the course pursued by the Government of Earl Grey in dealing with the tithes and that suggested by the Bill before us.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
What I said was, that I could see no difference in principle between the present Bill and the measure proposed by the Government of Earl Grey relative to church cess. I said nothing about church rates.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I can assure the noble Earl that I shall not lose sight of that question. Well, my Lords, the next subject that had to be dealt with was the church cess. It amounted in all to about £60,000 a year, and its character may be briefly described. It was to be leviable by the vestries of the different 1974 parishes, according to their discretion; but there was this peculiarity connected with it, that if, as in England, all the parishioners in Ireland had been entitled to vote in vestry on the question of church cess, not a single farthing would have been received from one end of the country to the other. What, therefore, was the course pursued? Why, the Roman Catholics, the bulk of whom paid the church cess in every parish, the moment the ordinary parish business was transacted were compelled to leave the place where the vestry was sitting, and then the few Protestant, parishioners who remained fixed the amount of the tax for the support of the Church. That was a state of things which necessarily produced great irritation, great dissatisfaction, great unwillingness on the part of the Roman Catholic population to pay the cess, and great unwillingness, let me add, on the part of the Protestants to impose such a burden upon those who had no voice in the matter. But in Ireland there was another irregularity which could not be found in England. The law of twentieths, which was equivalent in principle to tenths in England, had been abolished by an Act of Queen Anne; yet the first fruits of all benefices in Ireland, in lieu of being paid over, as in this country, to a Board of First Fruits, were used for defraying those charges which fell upon the vestry cess, which was, in point of fact, subsidiary to the amount of the first fruits. I should say, also, that while, on the one hand, the clergy of that time were deprived of most of the proceeds of their benefices, the churches, on the other, were universally falling into decay; the amount of repairs was utterly insufficient; and about half the benefices in Ireland were without glebe houses. A third of the parishes in Ireland—about 450—were below £200 per annum, and there was an urgent demand in the first place for the repair of churches; in the next, for the enlargement of existing and the building of new churches; in the third, for the erection of glebe-houses for the clergy; and, in the fourth, for raising the miserable deficient income to a certain decent provision for a clergyman and his family. The course which the Government took was utterly to abolish the vestry cess, amounting to £60,000, and to relieve the clergy altogether from the payment of first fruits, which were liable to the payment of the same charge; but in lieu of first fruits and vestry cess, a 1975 prospective charge was laid upon all benefices, varing from 5 to 15 per cent, gradually rising according to the value of the living, but not touching those below £200 a year. It was also provided that, as we have seen done with certain canonries in England, certain bishoprics in Ireland should be superseded, the number being too large, and that the funds arising from those sees should be devoted to the purposes I have already mentioned—a measure in no way inconsistent with the interests of the Church. A further provision was also made by which the tenants of Bishops' leases, upon consideration of the payment of a certain sum of money down, were enabled to convert the leases which they held for a number of years, with a power of renewal at certain fixed periods, into perpetual tenancies, paying the money which they had agreed to pay for the renewal of their leases, together with an additional sum in consideration of the advantages which they might be expected to derive from the permanency of their engagements. The whole of these sums together were estimated by the late Earl Grey, in his place in this House, to amount to somewhere about £150,000 a year, and the following was the statement which he made of the charges which were proposed by the Government to be defrayed by that amount:—Church cess, £60,000; augmentation of poor livings, £46,500; building and repairing churches, £20,000; glebe-houses, £10,000; making in all, £136,500. These were the measures which the Government of Lord Grey thought necessary to introduce for the purpose of saving the Church of Ireland from the imminent danger by which it was at that time threatened. They have, I am happy to say, been greatly successful, and have contributed—it will be a source of lasting satisfaction to me to think that I have been in the slightest degree instrumental in contributing—to the permanency and security of the Established Church in Ireland. My noble Friend asks me what is the distinction which I draw between church cess and ministers' money, and he rightly says that he concludes the subject was not omitted to be taken into consideration by Lord Grey's Government. My Lords, the difference between church cess and ministers' money was not only seen and admitted by Lord Grey's Government, but by every Government since Lord Grey's, and there has been no Government until the present 1976 which has conceded, without compensation, the abolition of this tax upon property. The distinction between church cess and ministers' money is broad and clear. Church cess was a voluntary assessment, uncertain in amount, dependent on the will of the vestry whether they would choose to levy it or not, and to what amount they would choose to levy it; it was levied exclusively by Protestants, while it fell mainly on Roman Catholics, and consequently excited great ill-will and ill-feeling. But ministers' money was a tax 200 years old, of a definite amount, fixed upon certain property, and just as much attaching to the individual house as any chief rent payable by any one of your Lordships, in respect of any house you may have bought. The property was purchased subject to a definite charge, and I say I partake in the indignation with which the noble and learned Lord the Chief Justice expressed his condemnation in this House, a few days ago, of that species of religious conscientiousness which objects to any pecuniary charge. Supposing I bought a house liable to the payment of £50 a year for the support of a Jewish synagogue, I should like to know what would be said of me if, from conscientious motives, I refused to pay money for such a purpose. I wise man would call me a fool, and an honest man would call me a rogue, and the law would say that, being liable, I must put my conscientious scruples in my pocket, and take my money out of my pocket, and pay the amount. And what is the fact in this case? This charge does not fall exclusively on Protestants or on Roman Catholics, but on the occupiers of certain houses, the owners of which have bought those houses subject to the tax, and therefore liable to pay it. I think I have sufficiently answered my noble Friend as to the distinction of principle between church cess, uncertain in amount and voluntary in assessment, and ministers' money, a fixed charge on property which the purchasers contracted to pay at the time of the purchase. I know my argument will be lightly esteemed by my noble Friend, and I will therefore quote authority not of a very remote date as to the religious objections to the payment of this tax. In 1854 it was said,—This tax had nothing to do with any religious question. It was a tax upon property, and it would be perfectly preposterous to make the rate upon a house dependent upon the religion of its owner. The tax was one upon property, to which every man knew he was liable when he purchased 1977 it, and had really nothing whatever to do with religious feeling."—[3 Hansard, exxxi. 1378.]That was the opinion in 1854 of a colleague of my noble Friend—a colleague then and a colleague now—the present First Lord of the Treasury. Nevertheless, my Lords, I am not prepared to deny that up to 1854 there were very plausible objections at all events to be raised to the incidence of this tax. The houses which were liable were so liable according to the original valuation of the time of Charles II. There had been great change in the value, and some houses which were liable were so liable according to the original valuation of the time of Charles II. There had been great change in the value, and some houses which were valuable at that time had become quite valueless since. Furthermore, a large proportion was levied on proprietors of very small houses. And here I think my noble Friend hardly did the clergy justice when he said that, owing to the difficulty of collection, they abstained from collecting it; he might have given the clergy credit for some good feeling in refraining from collecting the tax from their poorer parishioners, and not put it merely on the ground of the difficulty and expense. There wore three objections urged against the tax. The first was the religions objection. The religious objection, although put forward in the Committee of 1848, was, as I have shown, repudiated by the noble Lord at the head of the Government in 1854. The second was the inequality of the rate, owing to its being levied on an obsolete valuation. The third was the large proportion of the tax which, numerically speaking, fell upon the poorest class of houses. I am not now going to defend all the provisions of the Act of 1854, but I am about to draw the attention of your Lordships to what the Act of 1854 did towards the removal of those most serious and valid objections to the tax. The Act of 1854, in the first place, relieved from the payment of ministers' money all houses under the annual value of £10, analogous to the power of magistrates to relieve occupiers of very small houses from the payment of poor rates. The second Amendment of the law made by the Act of 1854 was providing that a new valuation should take place, and that the per centage chargeable should be levied afterwards, according to the assessment of the poor rate, and not according to the old valuation in the time of Charles II. What was the result of the alteration of the law? Whereas there were liable to the tax before 1854, 51,019 1978 houses, there were exempted by operation of the Act, 30,873; and there remain liable 20,146; and of those 20,146 houses (I beg your Lordships to bear this in mind, as I shall have to advert to it hereafter) 15,517, or just three-fourths of the whole, are in the City of Dublin. In Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Drogheda, Clonmel, Kilkenny, and Kinsale there are only 4,629 houses liable to the payment of this tax. The nominal amount of the tax before the Act was something more than £15,000 a year, and by a provision in the Act, in consideration of the greater security in the receipt of their revenues, the clergy were to receive seventy-five per cent of the nominal income. The amount was to be paid by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were to be repaid by the corporations of the different towns, upon whom, whether wisely or not, the Act of 1854 threw the liability of collecting the tax. But while the Act of 1854 removed the objectionable features of the tax it maintained the principle that the property was still to be liable, and that the clergy should still be entitled to receive the income out of that property. I find Sir John Young, who introduced the measure, speaking in the following terms. He was asked why for so long a period, from 1833 to 1854, no remedy had been applied to that which was confessedly a grievance in the collection of ministers' money, and he said—The reason, he thought, why no remedy had been applied was this, that, although the amount was so small, amounting to no move than £15,000 a year, the principle of inviolability of property was involved, for it was impossible to take it away without violating property and spreading considerable alarm among persons attached to the Church. If this property were taken away it would be asked what, would remain inviolable."—[3 Hansard, exxxi. 503.]My Lords, it is upon that principle that this tax is inviolable. In conformity with the principle adopted by all preceding Governments, the noble Earl who was at the head of the Government in 1854 (the Earl of Aberdeen)—to which most of the noble Lords opposite belonged—not only refused to do away with the liability of occupiers of property to pay charges to which they were justly liable, but he went a step beyond his predecessors, and confirmed by Parliamentary sanction the right of the clergy on the one hand, and the liability of the taxpayers on the other, and gave an additional legislative sanction to the tax 1979 by enacting new modes of collecting it. That was so recent as 1854; and yet in 1857 the members of the same Government which in 1854 made the arrangements for greater security come down upon grounds of expediency, and expediency alone—and expediency of the lowest description, namely a tame and passive submission to the successful opposition of those whose duty it was to levy the tax—and ask your Lordships to take away that property which in 1854 they themselves declared to be inviolable. My Lords, I say that for my own part I should be quite prepared to rest this case upon the ground of principle—upon the same ground which has been laid down by successive Governments, and upon which the members of the present Government abstained from abolishing it by an expedient so manifestly convenient as the course now proposed. I say, my Lords, I should be content to rest my opposition to this Bill upon the ground of principle, however plausible may be the expediency pleaded in its favour. But, my Lords, I am prepared to meet the noble Earl upon his own ground—to deal with him on the question of expediency and to demonstrate the insufficiency of the existing fund to meet the charge imposed upon it by this Bill. What is proposed is, that whereas the tax was charged previously by the Act of 1854 upon the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and it was provided that they should be recompensed out of the funds of the corporations raised by levying this tax, by this Bill the funds in the hands of the Commissioners are to be made liable to pay the incomes of the clergy, and that towards these funds no contribution shall be made by the corporations. It is said to be expedient to alter the law, but my noble Friend has not stated the grounds on which he thinks it expedient to do so. I will take the question as to the sufficiency of the fund on which my noble Friend proposes to throw this additional charge of £12,000. I beg, however, in passing, not to be supposed to admit that, even if the fund were sufficient to meet the proposed charge, the principle on which the Bill is founded is such as to be deserving of your Lordships' sanction. I am prepared to show that the fund is not now and never can be adequate to meet all the legitimate purposes to which it is applicable. I have stated to your Lordships, and I may here be permitted to 1980 repeat, that the charges, as estimated by Earl Grey, were £60,000 a year for church cess, £46,500 a year for the augmentation of small livings, £20,000 a year for the building and repair of churches, and £10,000 a year for the building and repair of glebe-houses; making in the whole £136,500. To meet this charge Earl Grey supposed there would be £150,000 a year in the hands of the Commissioners; but instead of that the fund now at the disposal of the Commissioners amounts to no more than between £99,000 and £100,000 exclusive of any sum they may receive for ministers' money. The miscalculation would be extraordinary, but that the estimate was made previous to the Act by which twenty-five per cent was taken from the total amount of the incomes of the clergy (reduced from £600,000 to £430,000), forming the fund from which the greatest portion of the fund was to be derived; and subsequently another ten per cent was deducted, while the tax by which it was raised was not to be levied on incomes under £200 a year. That being the case, it is not strange that the fund estimated at £150,000 should have produced less than £100,000. And here I must notice an extraordinary misconception of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Horsman), in estimating the fund at the disposal of the Commissioners at £150,000, which I can only account for by supposing that he has included a sum of £60,000 paid to the Commissioners as the purchase of perpetuities. It is singular that the right hon. Gentleman should have fallen into the blunder of supposing that sum to be income instead of capital, which the Commissioners cannot touch. If, therefore, as I have stated, the income at the disposal of the Commissioners is under £100,000 a year, let me refer to the charges which are actually imposed, exclusive of ministers' money. The actual revenue, exclusive of ministers' money, amounts to £99,376, and the charges imposed by the Act upon that fund amount to £79,526, leaving, therefore, a surplus of £19,850. Let me remind your Lordships of the purposes to which, according to Earl Grey, the surplus was to be devoted, and which so long as they are unsupplied should prevent your placing any new charge upon the fund. For building new churches and chapels, for which the estimate was taken by Earl Grey at £20,000 a year, the sum put down for 1981 the present year is £9,464. Let me explain under what circumstances it is proposed to expend that sum. The Act provides that, in every case where new churches are to be built, one-fifth of the cost shall be derived from the inhabitants in the locality; but, owing to the inadequacy of the fund at the disposal of the Commissioners, they have been compelled to require, not one-fifth, but one-half, from the inhabitants of the locality. The Commissioners propose to apply £9,464 a year to the erection of new churches, and £3,636 a year to the enlargement of existing ones, making a total charge for new churches and the enlargement of existing churches of upwards of £13,000 out of the surplus at their disposal, estimated, as I have shown, at something less than £20,000 a year. But the Commissioners say—The expenditure on 'new churches and enlargements' must depend in each year on the funds available for such purposes, after provision shall have been made for necessary repair. The sums now charged for those objects are the amounts expended on an average of the last three years to August, 1856; but these sums fall far short of what would be required were the Board enabled to provide for many urgent cases which have been repeatedly brought under their notice. And it is to be further observed that, from the apprehension that the source of revenue arising from ministers' money will be withdrawn, and which amounts to a sum nearly equal to the proposed expenditure under these heads, the Commissioners have, at a late special meeting of their Board, been most reluctantly obliged to suspend any further grants for such objects, although in two cases, greatly pressed on their attention, assistance from private subscriptions to the amount of nearly £2,000 will be most probably lost by delay.So much for the building and enlargement of churches. With regard to the augmentation of small benefices which Earl Grey estimated at £46,500, the Commissioners have not been able during the whole period of their administration of the funds to apply more than £4,000 a year in the relief of ninety livings under £100 a year, and for glebe-houses nothing at all. There remain, then, to be supplied out of the fund in question, in order to meet the purposes contemplated by Earl Grey, the difference between £46,000 and £4000 for small livings, the difference between £20,000 and £9,000 for new churches and repairs, and the difference between £10,000 and nil. for glebes, &c.; that is, altogether not less than about £63,000 a year remain to be supplied out of the fund. And now, that being the state of the fund, I am 1982 gravely told that upon the ground of expediency it is desirable to throw this additional charge upon it, and that in the opinion of the Government the fund is well able to bear it. My Lords, I appeal to the highest authority in Ireland—the Lord Chancellor, Maziere Brady, who certainly has no peculiar leaning towards the Protestant Church, nor any anxiety to represent its claims in too favourable a light. I hold in my hand the last Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland, dated August, 1856, which is signed by the Archbishop of Armagh and the Archbishop of Dublin, and between the names of those most rev. Prelates is the signature of "Maziere Brady," Lord Chancellor of Ireland, attesting the accuracy of the statement contained in the Report. Now, what does the Report say? In a case of this kind, where the argument of the Government turns altogether upon the sufficiency of the funds, your Lordships will permit me to read the evidence given by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland:—The difficulties (he says) with which they (the Commissioners) have had to contend in this respect, and the dissatisfaction occasioned by their refusing to comply with many reasonable demands, are likely to be much increased during the ensuing year, owing to a considerable defalcation in their funds from the non-receipt of a large portion of the moneys which, pursuant to the provisions of the Act of the 17 Vict., cap. 11, should have been levied by the collector-general of rates in the city of Dublin, and the respective Boards of Guardians and other bodies, for the payment of ministers' money, the amount received by the Commissioners from the Paymaster of Civil Services being but £4,939 10s. 1d., while the payments made by them to the clergy entitled to ministers' money have amounted this year to £12,369 17s. 9d., making the total sum paid on this account since the passing of the Act in 1854, £21,300 7s.; and we have to inform your Excellency that, having regard to the objects to which the funds vested in the Board by the Church Temporalities Act had been dedicated prior to the Act which imposed on the Board the payment of ministers' money, and also to the insufficiency of the funds at their disposal to provide adequately for those objects, the Commissioners felt it necessary in the month of March last to call the attention of the Government, for the second time, to the large advances which had been made by them for payments on this account, and to the small proportion which had been lodged to their credit by the Paymaster of Civil Services; but we regret to state that, notwithstanding the directions then given by your Excellency for the recovery of these moneys, a very small amount has been since received. Under these circumstances we would take this opportunity of observing to your Excellency that the Commissioners cannot continue to make similar advances without serious detriment to the numerous objects for which they have to provide,1983 There, my Lords, is the evidence of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, whose appointment was confirmed by the present Government; yet in the face of this evidence, showing that the funds of the Commissioners are insufficient, and representing the impossibility of their continuing to make advances without serious detriment to the object to which those funds were primarily devoted, the Government state to your Lordships that, in their judgment, the funds are amply sufficient, and that they may fairly be charged with an additional payment of £12,000 a year, to increase the deficiency pointed out by the Lord Chancellor.
So much for the question of expediency with regard to the sufficiency of the fund to meet the demands upon it; but I now come to the expediency of the pretences on which Her Majesty's Government rest the abandonment of the principle upon which, in 1854, they thought it right to insist. My Lords, I will venture to say, that whatever temporary advantage they may gain from the course they propose, is, in point of expediency, infinitely counterbalanced by the inexpediency of teaching the people of Ireland that passive resistance to a legal charge is sure to secure the sanction and support of the Government, and that if they resist, or refuse to obey the law, the law will be altered. I have already stated that four-fifths of the houses liable to this tax are situate in the city of Dublin. The total sum raised is about £12,000, of which £8,490 is chargeable upon Dublin, £2,270 upon Cork, and an amount of £1,416 is divided among six other towns. It is, however, in consequence of the resistance of Cork and the other six towns liable to this impost, which pay about £3,000 out of the £12,000, that the Government propose to abolish the tax. The noble Earl admits that, in Dublin, circumstances rendered the collection of the tax less difficult, and passing over a city which pays £8,400 of the whole tax, he grounds the expediency of the Bill on the resistance of the towns which pay only £3,600 of it. My Lords, I regard this Bill as a confession, on the part of the Government, of their inability to maintain the law. I cannot conceive anything more damaging or injurious to the character of the present, and of all Governments, than the measure now under consideration. I venture to say that the Government have abundant means of enforcing the law. Why, with regard to nearly three-fourths of the tax, there is 1984 no resistance on the part of the persons upon whom it is charged, but the opposition proceeds from certain corporate bodies upon whom the duty of collecting the rate is imposed. They tell the Irish Government that they will not obey the law, and they are at once authorized by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to suspend the collection of the tax. Was such a thing ever before known as a public body informing the Lord Lieutenant that it was their deliberate intention not to obey the law, and requiring him, on that ground, to obtain an alteration of the law in accordance with their views? If ever such a suggestion was made, can an instance be adduced when a Government did not reject the proposal with indignation, but, on the contrary, tamely yielded to the request, and themselves brought forward a measure for carrying it into effect? Don't tell me that the Government have no power to enforce the tax. The existing law provides that, in default of payment half-yearly, the amount shall be recoverable as a debt due to the Crown from the city of Dublin, or any other city or borough in which default may occur, and that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland may order all sums duo to the Crown to be recovered and paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Am I to be told that, with the powers of recovering the tax as a Crown debt, the law or the Government are so impotent in Ireland, that £12,000 cannot be collected in these eight cities? In Dublin, however, which contributes three-fourths of the tax, no difficulty was made, either by the payers or the collectors; and I will venture to say that, if the Government had not themselves encouraged the suspension of the collection, by far the larger portion of the sum now due in Dublin would have been paid without hesitation. The Act of 1854 enabled owners of property to commute these annual payments upon very easy terms—fourteen years' purchase; but the Commissioners state in their last Report that only one proposal for commutation had been made in Dublin. I do not wonder at that; for, if the Government sanction the non-payment of the tax, it is clear that no man will purchase an exemption which he can obtain for nothing. The effect of the abolition of the tax will be to increase the value of the property liable to it in the city of Dublin alone to the amount of £8,000 a year. The owners of that property will be the persons chiefly benefited, because no house under £10 a 1985 year is at present chargeable with the tax, and among them is a right hon. Friend of mine (Mr. Sidney Herbert), who owns a considerable portion of Dublin, and I believe is the last man who would desire to derive any personal advantage at the expense of the property of the Church. There are many others also, who, like my right hon. Friend, would not, I am convinced, desire to derive advantage from, a law which is founded, not upon justice, but upon injustice. My Lords, I oppose this Bill upon the ground of principle, inasmuch as it takes away from the Church property which belongs to that institution by a sacred right, and abolishes the tax for the benefit of the owners of property, in the collection of which there is now no abuse, no hardship, no real grievance. I have proved to your Lordships, upon the evidence of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, that the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, so far from being able at the present moment to bear an additional charge, are wholly inadequate to the charges imposed upon them by Parliament, and that the most laudable objects must be given up if the Bill passes; and, lastly, I have presented to your Lordships this consideration—that nothing can be more dangerous than that a Government should yield to the mere clamour of one or two corporations, in a case where there is no proved necessity for an alteration of the law, when the Government have all the authority of law, having already obtained judgment for the Crown in the Court of Exchequer, and where, therefore, the law cannot be doubtful. The noble Earl rested the Bill mainly on the difficulty of enforcing the collection of the tax—and upon such grounds I cannot consent to alter a law which the Legislature, under the sanction of a Government many of the Members of which sit opposite, deliberately enacted so late as 1854. My Lords, upon all these grounds of principle and expediency, I feel it my bounden duty to give my voice against this Bill, and to move that it be read a second time this day six months. Allow me, my Lords, to add that the position of the individual clergymen will be precisely the same whether this Bill be passed or not. They will receive their incomes, but they will receive them from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners at the expense of other great objects, which were the primary objects of the Act of 1834, and which must be abandoned if you consent to deprive the Commissioners 1986 of the funds which it is proposed to take from them by this Bill.
§ Amendment moved to leave out "now," and insert "this day six months."
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, that his noble Friend opposite had shown much reluctance to grapple with the question as to what distinction there was between the case of church cess and that of ministers' money. The only distinction, that his noble Friend could show was that in the case of church cess the rate was variable, while in that of ministers' money its amount was fixed and certain. How this small distinction could make any difference in the principle, or how it was to support the whole weight of the argument which his noble Friend had raised upon it, he (the Earl of Harrowby) was unable to conceive. At any rate, this argument was favourable to the abolition of church rates in England, because they were not a fixed charge upon property, and therefore, according to his noble Friend, might properly be dealt with. By the adoption of this line of argument it appeared to him that his noble Friend had thrown the Church of England overboard. He was prepared entirely to abandon that argument in favour of the maintenance of church rates which rested upon the fact that everybody had taken, inherited, or bought property subject to them, because these rates were not fixed in their amount. If there was any value in the distinction, he (the Earl of Harrowby) congratulated those who wished to abolish church rates that they had in the person of his noble Friend found the most important ally who had yet joined them. The real and only distinction between church cess and ministers' money appeared to him (the Earl of Harrowby) to be this—that whereas the burden upon property to maintain the churches was an aboriginal one, of which we could not find the date, and which had grown up with the growth of the constitution and of all our social habits, ministers' money was a burden, the date of which was known, and was not a very ancient one. In the reign of Charles II. the Parliament of Ireland thought it desirable to maintain the ministers in certain towns by a particular charge on property; in 1857 the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland thought it better to maintain them in a different manner. That was the amount of the difference, and he appealed to their Lordships whether it was 1987 not much in favour of church cess as compared with ministers' money. Then, with regard to the principle of this impost. If that principle were so important, so sacred, and so inviolable, how was it that his noble Friend opposite consented without a murmur to the Act of 1854, by which, according to his own account, 30,000 ratepayers out of 50,000 were relieved from this charge. If it was merely a burden on property it ought not to have been touched. If this measure was a violation of principle, so also was the Act of 1854, and in that violation his noble Friend concurred.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I beg that my noble Friend will not father on me every act of the late Government which I did not oppose.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
never said that his noble Friend passed that measure; he only said that his noble Friend was a constant attendant in the House, and the leader of a great party; and therefore he was justified, seeing that the noble Earl acquiesced in passing the measure that he agreed with its principle, and in saying that if it involved a violation of principle he neglected his duty in not resisting it. He did not understand how his noble Friend could exempt himself from responsibility. If he were an ordinary Member of the House, who sauntered down on great occasions, he should be unwilling to saddle him with responsibility, but being a leader in that House of a great party, which took particular interest in all questions which concerned the Church, more especially the Church of Ireland, he was not entitled to disclaim connexion with any measure affecting the interests or the property of that Church against which he had not remonstrated. He asserted that his noble Friend did acquiesce in the Bill of 1854, and that by agreeing to that he acquiesced to the full extent in the principle which the Government was now asking their Lordships to carry a little further. Why did his noble Friend acquiesce in that principle? Because of the exceeding inconvenience of the then state of things. The Government now asked their Lordships to carry the principle still further for a similar reason, because of the great inconvenience of the state of things which now existed. ["Oh, oh !"] It was easy to meet the arguments of a speaker by hooting—a practice which belonged rather to a more 1988 tumultuous assembly than to their Lordships' House—but he hoped that this would meet with some more intelligible response. The inconvenience of the present state of things was not to be trifled with. No one knew better than his noble Friend the danger of provoking political or religious hostility in Ireland, for he had himself on different occasions on which his reason was not convinced been obliged to yield in deference to the political inconvenience of carrying a logical conclusion to its extreme results. The inconvenience of the present state of things was that you had to compel Roman Catholic corporations to levy an impost, hated on religious grounds, upon several of the most populous Roman Catholic towns of Ireland. All the materials for legislation on this subject were ready in Ireland, and if you employed the machinery of the law for the purpose of enforcing this impost, you would run the risk of raising an agitation from which the most dangerous consequences might result. Would it be wise, then, to compel the Government to go on forcing the corporations to levy this impost, at the risk of exciting the religious animosity and discontent at the absence of which we had now so much reason to rejoice? Yet such would be the result of the rejection of this measure. He thought he had shown the necessity for a change, and the only question was what alteration should be adopted. He did not see so much difficulty as other noble Lords pretended to see in dealing with this question; and if he could see any practical proposal other than that which had been made by the Government, he would willingly accept it. It was with great pain that he consented to impose an additional burden on a fund which was not adequate for all its religious intentions, and to interpose between the full developement of all the beneficial objects which Parliament had contemplated; but the question was whether an impost so grievous to the consciences of Roman Catholics should be continued. All the most important objects, however, of the Act, as regarded the existing churches, had been obtained, and although he should rejoice as much as any one to see the Church of Ireland expand itself all over the face of the country, yet to interfere with the means of its future expansion was a very different thing from diverting the provision for its present requirements. Had the Government of 1989 Lord Grey, at the time of the passing of the Church Temporalities Act, included the extinction of this tax among the purposes to which the funds of the Commissioners should be liable, nobody would have complained, and they would have got rid of a source of difficulty and danger, as well to those who were interested in this change as to the community at large. There was no fund of this sort in England, and yet the Established Church in this country was not found to suffer for want of it. The proposal of the Government was a perfectly fair one, and it might have been inserted by the noble Earl opposite in the Act of 1833, with the utmost propriety. If their Lordships should refuse to deal with the question now, they would leave open a dangerous sore, which might spread to any extent. The measure of the Government was supported by a large majority of the other House, and unless some other better mode of remedying the difficulty could be suggested he hoped their Lordships would adopt it, and not run the risk which might arise from having to compel Roman Catholic corporations to make themselves the instrument of collecting a tax so odious to their fellow citizens.
THE BISHOP OF KILMORE
thought that this Bill was calculated to do the greatest injury to the Irish branch of the Established Church. This, he believed, was the opinion of all the clergymen of the Irish Church, with rare exceptions, if any exception at all. The Bill proposed to take a sum of £11,545 from the revenues of the Established Church without any equivalent whatever, and to hand it over to those householders on whose property it had been a legal charge for more than 200 years. The principle involved in the Bill was of the most dangerous character, for if it were sanctioned in this instance there was no reason why it should not at once be extended to tithe rent-charges, and, in fact, to all the property of the Established Church. Expediency was the only argument urged in favour of the Bill, and expediency would equally justify the alienation of the remainder of the revenues of the Church. This question of ministers' money had been thoroughly sifted by a Committee of the other House in 1848, and three years ago there was an Act passed which was understood in Ireland to be a final compromise of the whole question. That Act removed every fair and legitimate objection 1990 which was taken by the Committee to ministers' money, with the exception of one which the Committee called "a paramount objection"—the religious complexion of the tax. The inequalities of the valuations, the collection by the clergy, and the extent to which the tax pressed on the poorer classes, were all remedied by the Act of 1853; but with the religious part of the question the Legislation did not meddle. Now, because the public bodies, consisting for the most part of Roman Catholics, to whom the collection of this tax was handed over by the Act of 1853, had refused to collect it, the Government, instead of making the obedience of the people conform to the law, proposed to make the law conform to the disobedience of the people. This Bill went a great deal further than the "paramount objection" of the Committee of the House of Commons; for, instead of merely relieving those who had religious objections to the tax, it exempted persons also who had never expressed any wish to be exempted. Notwithstanding the doubt expressed by the noble Earl below, he was still of opinion that this was a tax which had been imposed by a Protestant king on Protestant property for the support of a Protestant Church. The measure proposed in this Bill was condemned by a Committee, of which Mr. Shiel was chairman. It was proposed in that Committee, by Mr. Reynolds, that a Bill should be introduced to abolish ministers' money and charge it on the fund of the Commissioners. The Committee were equally divided on the question, and Mr. Sheil, the chairman, gave his casting vote against the Motion. The Committee having rejected Mr. Reynolds' proposal, brought forward one of their own, and, oddly enough, they arrived at the conclusion that the revenue of the Commissioners was adequate to their annual expenditure. That was a great mistake. Last year the expenditure of the Commissioners was £92,000. Mr. Quin put down the revenue, supposing all the money was collected, at£83,000, but, in reality, the money collected was only £71,000 to meet an expenditure of £92,000. Well, this very hostile Committee recommended—what?—that any surplus that remained in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, after expending what was absolutely necessary, should be applied to the extinguishment of the ministers' money. But there never had been, and never could be, any surplus, considering the many solemn trusts they 1991 had to perform. If the present Bill passed, no money would be left for building and enlarging churches. At this moment there were sixty-five applications for rebuilding parish churches. There had been subscribed privately £14,000 for that purpose, provided assistance could be got from the Commissioners, and if this Bill passed none of those churches would ever be built. It was said Protestants should themselves subscribe for the rebuilding of their churches. Now, a sum of £68,000 had been raised by the Protestants of Ireland for that purpose, and that sum had passed through the hands of the Commissioners. In addition to this he could state the case of two dioceses, in which £40,000 had been raised that never came into the hands of the Commissioners, but had been applied directly to church building by individuals. One great reason why there could not be a surplus in the hands of the Commissioners was the increasing expenses consequent on the higher price of material for building and the higher wages paid for labour in Ireland. Notwithstanding all this the demands of the Church were increasing. The Church was extending itself in every direction in Ireland, and he could say from experience that wherever a church was built it was immediately filled by an attentive and pious congregation, and he had received a communication from the Bishop of Derry stating, that in consequence of the want of accommodation in his diocese the Protestant population were driven to the Presbyterian chapels. The noble Earl (Earl Granville) spoke of 10,000 sittings having been provided for a small number of Protestant inhabitants; but, surely if there were fifty Protestants in one parish and fifty in another, these were not to be deprived of the opportunity of worshipping God according to the dictates of their conscience; and there was no reason why the Protestant population should not increase in those places. Protestant congregations had started up in the most unexpected places in Ireland, even in the wilds of Connemara, where formerly hardly a Protestant was to be found. To show how Protestant congregations increased, he would instance the case of Cavan. In that town there was formerly a miserable church, capable of holding 200 people, and the attendance was very bad. In 1816 a new church was built to hold 500 or 600; three years ago it was enlarged so as to hold 1,000, and it was now crowded every Sunday. Whatever 1992 the cause, certain it was that what had been a forest was becoming a fruitful field; the congregations of the Established Church in Ireland were increasing every day, and although the Commissioners might expect soon an increase in their funds of some £8,000 a year, yet that amount would be insufficient to meet the growing necessities of the Church. The Bill would therefore operate to cripple the means of the Established Church in Ireland, to injure her usefulness, and to deprive Protestants of the only fund from which places of worship could be built. He opposed the Bill because it was a contravention of the Church Temporalities Act, and which might now be regarded as the great charter of the Established Church in Ireland. He opposed it on the ground, that whereas Parliament had abolished the church cess in Ireland, in 1833, and had formed out of the possessions of the Church an equivalent for that cess, the measure then under their consideration would come upon that equivalent itself, and would seize upon one-tenth part of its amount. He opposed it because he believed that instead of producing peace and goodwill among the adherents of different creeds in Ireland, it would be regarded by one party as a triumph, and by the other as a grievous wrong—feelings which were not likely to conduce to more friendly sentiments. He opposed the Bill, also, because the funds it would alienate from the Established Church, although it would nominally be made good out of the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, must be taken from the stipends of clergymen holding wretched benefices of the value of less than £100 a year. The measure would prevent, and prevent for ever, any hope of increase in the miserable receipts of the poorer class of the clergy in Ireland. There were at present in that country not less than 302 benefices which were under the value of £100 a year, and which it would require a sum of £7,800 to bring up to that amount, while it would require £49,000 to bring them up to a sum of £200 a year, which, according to the Church Temporalities Act, was the standard it was desirable to attain. He most earnestly hoped their Lordships would pause before they passed a measure which would condemn many hard working and pious clergymen in Ireland, some of whom, too, had large families, to hopeless and irremediable poverty, and before they inflicted a severe, if not an irrecoverable 1993 blow on the Irish branch of the Established Church.
THE EARL OF CORK
said, that from his connection with a city which had been foremost in objecting to the tax of ministers' money, he felt called upon to make a few observations upon the Bill before the House, He thought that even were the difficulties that would ensue from the abolition of the tax more considerable than had been alleged, or was even the injury likely to be inflicted upon the Established Church still greater than he ventured to believe would be the case, it would still be only right to make every attempt to repeal a tax which stood in the singular position of being odious alike to the receivers and to the payers—deprecated by Protestants and denounced by Roman Catholics, and which had been solemnly denounced by one of the Prelates of the Established Church in Ireland, as a festering sore in the bosom of that Church. The tax itself was objectionable, but even in its imposition it was unjust and irregular, the burden of it not being borne by the respective towns which paid it in due proportion to their respective means. From a Return laid before the House in 1855 he found that the amount raised in Limerick only exceeded by £3 the amount paid by Kilkenny, although the former city was twice as large and twice as wealthy as the latter. One of the pretended features of the Act of 1854 was the exemption from the tax of all houses of less rental than £10, but, in fact, those houses had been previously practically exempted from the tax. The attempt to make the corporations of the various towns collectors of the tax had been utterly unsuccessful, as might have been expected. It was natural that in towns where Roman Catholics predominated greatly in number over Protestants the corporations elected by the inhabitants would be chiefly adherents of the former religion, and equally natural was it that corporations thus constituted should decline to be the collectors of a tax which they regarded as odious and oppressive. The corporation of the city of Cork had so refused, and the Government had proceeded against them. The Irish Court had pronounced against the corporation, who, however, had given notice of appeal to that. House, and the question still remained pending—an irritating source of disagreement. Regarding the tax in its less obnoxious light of an impost upon property, he could state that it had been 1994 unfairly charged upon property which was not liable to it. He knew a case in which a parish in the suburbs of Cork, which had never possessed a church since the reign of Edward IV., was annexed to the adjoining parish in the city of Cork in 1824, and immediately rendered liable to the church cess. When that cess was abolished, the rector, in 1838, procured a valuation to be made of the parish which had been added in 1824, and upon that valuation made a demand for ministers' money. At present a large portion of the houses which were chargeable with the tax were not situate within the boundaries of the city, and therefore, according to the terms of the Act of Charles II., were not liable to the impost. Such were the principal objections to the tax. Some of them were comparatively insignificant; but he begged their Lordships to remember that a very wide principle was involved. He did not concur in the statement which bad been made, that the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were insufficient to sustain this additional burden; but even if they were, he thought that with judicious management a balance might be created large enough to do so, and certain he was that any money so applied by the Commissioners would not be diverted from its original purpose. He believed that the proposed change, so far from weakening, would strengthen the position of the Established Church, He believed, on the contrary, that by satisfying the requirements of justice it would draw closer the bonds of union between the Protestants and Roman Catholics, and remove many of those petty jealousies which the maintenance of the present charge contributed so strongly to develope. He trusted, therefore, that their Lordships would not, by rejecting the Bill, be the means of continuing a system which must always create a great amount of bitterness and ill-feeling in Ireland.
said, he believed that the principle involved in that Bill must vitally affect the interests of the Established Church in Ireland. He felt persuaded that an act of grosser injustice—a more flagrant act of spoliation under the plea of expediency—had never been introduced into either House of Parliament. It would prevent the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from expending their funds in aid of the objects which they were appointed to promote—and, what was far more objectionable than all the rest—would deprive the clergy of many of the 1995 rights which they thought had been secured to them by the Act of 1854. He had heard no answer whatever to the arguments put forward in the masterly speech of the noble Earl who had moved the rejection of the Bill. The property on which that tax was levied had been purchased with a knowledge that it was liable to the charge, and the purchasers had no right at present to come forward and claim an exemption, on the ground of a religious scruple, from a burden they had knowingly incurred, and for which a due allowance had no doubt been made to them at the period of entering into their bargain. He was at a loss to understand how it could be supposed that a measure of that description, which would inflict on the members of one religious persuasion a great and manifest injury, could tend to promote political and religious harmony. The truth was, the Bill was part and parcel of a system of injustice which had for many years been practised by the executive in Ireland against the Protestants of that country, and more especially against the members of the Established Church. He felt convinced that if the Bill should be passed into law a precedent would be established which would shake to its foundation the security of property of every description.
THE EARL OF WICKLOW
opposed the Bill. He would congratulate the noble Earl the President of the Council, that this Bill had not originated with the Government. It had been introduced by a Member of one of the corporations against whom proceedings had been instituted, and if it passed no one would be more surprised at its success than that hon. Gentleman. It was opposed to the principle of the last Bill introduced by the Government. It had, it was true, passed the other House by a large majority, but that vote was influenced by a statement, made wholly without foundation, that the revenues of the Ecclesiastical Commission were equal to this additional burden. As soon as that statement was published the Commissioners communicated with the Lord Lieutenant, and showed that the Attorney General for Ireland in his statement had included in their income the amount of voluntary subscriptions they received; and they had petitioned their Lordships not to pass this Bill without referring to them for information as to the amount of their resources. He believed that two-thirds of their charge were paid freely and willingly, and he could 1996 not but believe, that if proper measures were taken the whole tax could be enforced; at all events they ought not to legislate in this way, because a certain small number of persons refused to pay a tax to which they were legally liable.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
said, he thought it must be admitted that the whole course of the discussion that evening was in favour of the rejection of the measure. That was a tax leviable by statute upon property, and if this Bill passed there could be no security against a proposition to abolish the tithe-rent charge or any other charge to which property was liable, for they all rested on the same principle. He had been astonished to hear it contended that the principle of the Act of 1854 was identical with that of the present Bill. Why the Act of 1854 went upon the same principle as the Tithe-rent Charge Act of 1833; and while it removed all the reasonable objections to which the tax was then open—as, for example, the objection founded upon the excessive taxation of a very poor class, and that the tax was levied in a very unequal manner—it left the principle of the tax untouched. Certainly the Bill did not meet the objection entertained by certain Roman Catholic Members—namely, that Roman Catholics ought not to be called upon to pay for the support of a Protestant Establishment. But then if that doctrine were accepted, why ought a Roman Catholic landlord to be called upon to pay the rent charge. No; let them once give up the principle upon which the tax of ministers' money depended, and they gave up the principle upon which a Church Establishment was maintainable. Reference had been made by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Kilmore) to the Committee of 1848. Now, this much he would say of that Committee, that its report could not be said fairly to represent the evidence taken before the Committee, for of the majority of seven that signed it six were Roman Catholic gentlemen from Ireland. Having gone through the whole of the Reports of the Commissioners, he might also say that nothing could be more apparent than that the revenues of the Commission were insufficient for carrying out some of the principal objects for which the Commission was established. Commencing with the year 1842, and ending with the year 1849, he might show that in each succeeding year the language of the Commissioners 1997 was the same, always complaining of the inadequacy of their revenue for the building and repairing of churches. All that the Commissioners were able to expend upon the augmentation of small livings, one of their first objects, was £2,600 a year. There were 302 benefices in Ireland under £100 a year, and it would require £7,800 a year to augment them to that amount. There were 629 under £200 a year, and it would take a sum of £48,000 a year to raise them to that amount. Now, considering what were the wants of clergymen—considering that they were generally of good family—considering, too, the peculiar position of the Irish clergy, he did not hesitate to say, in the face of such a state of things, that their Lordships would be guilty of a breach of trust if they applied the funds of the Commissioners to purposes never contemplated by the Act of Parliament. The noble Earl had spoken of the great expediency of putting an end to agitation in Ireland. Now he would ask their Lordships to compare the position of his noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), when in 1833 he brought forward his great measure of Church reform in Ireland, with the position of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) that evening. In 1833 there was an agitation in Ireland—a dangerous agitation, but it was met by a large, ample, and well-considered measure; the revenues of the Church were preserved, and the principles on which the Establishment was founded were maintained. Well, but what was the agitation of these days? Why, it was an agitation proceeding just from seven towns, and the whole amount involved was £4,000 a year—the remainder being paid by the City of Dublin willingly and cheerfully. And had any one liable for the tax refused to pay it? Oh, no; but the parties appointed for the purpose by the Act of Parliament had refused to collect it. And who were these? Why the corporate authorities of the several towns, many of whom were elected under the direct influence and control of the Roman Catholic priesthood, and under that influence they refused to collect the tax. It was only right that plain language should be used upon such an occasion. These corporations had the impudence to go before the Lord Lieutenant, and declare that they would not collect the tax. And what, under such circumstances, ought to have been the conduct of the Lord Lieutenant, anxious to uphold the cause 1998 of law? Why, he should have said that, "for his part, his duty was plain, and that the law should be enforced." But, unfortunately, the representative of Her Majesty did not deal thus with the corporations; but he told them he thought they were altogether in the right. So that, because some seven towns refused to collect some £4,000 a year, their Lordships were called upon to confiscate Church property to the extent of £12,000 a year. The proper course would have been to say, "We will first make you obey the law, and then we will ascertain whether you have any real grievance." He admitted that the time was when the Government of this country had reason to dread agitation in Ireland, but then indeed the agitation was led by one of the ablest men that any country had ever produced. Now, however, Her Majesty's Government had no such determined opposition to encounter, and all he could say, therefore, was, that their policy must be dictated by a miserable expediency.
§ LORD TALBOT DE MALAHIDE
said, he would at once admit that if he could bring himself to believe that the two noble Earls opposite were correct in their opinions that the existing law was sufficiently stringent to secure the collection of ministers' money in Ireland, he would feel considerable hesitation in voting for the Bill. But he considered that the great difficulty with regard to this question had been occasioned by the Act generally known as Sir John Young's Act, which established a much more cumbrous machinery than that which previously existed for the collection of the tax. He did not see the force of the distinction which had been drawn between the foundations on which church cess and ministers' money rested. No doubt there was a difference, but he thought that a prescriptive title was quite as good as any right derived from a statute. The evidence taken before the Committee in 1848 showed that before the passing of the Act of 1854 the collection of this tax was impracticable, and that any such arrangement as the tithe commutation was impossible. If their Lordships had any doubt on the point, he could very soon satisfy them that that was the universal feeling of the Protestant clergy. He held in his hand a letter, written by the late Dean of Limerick, now Bishop of Derry, who said that from observation and inquiry he had arrived at the conviction that to transfer the liability to this tax from the tenant to the 1999 landlord would be attended with no beneficial result, for that "the fretting sore" would still continue, and be attended with the same inconveniences, and that the only effectual plan would be to place the burden where it ought to have been placed in 1834—on the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commission. Nothing could be stronger than this, nor was there in it anything inconsistent with the desire which must be felt by any zealous clergyman for the erection of fresh churches. For his own part, he deeply regretted that there was not a large fund applicable to the erection and repairing of churches, but he did not think that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were a proper body to administer such a fund. From their Reports, it appeared that they had made numerous grants for the building of churches in wild outlying districts, towards which no local contributions had been raised; and, to his own knowledge, much of the money which they had spent in rebuilding churches had been worse than wasted. In one instance they had dismantled a venerable pile, filled with most interesting monuments, when the congregation could have been better accommodated by building a small church at a few miles' distance. He believed that in Ireland, as well as in England, too little reliance had been placed upon voluntary contributions, and that their natural enthusiasm had carried the people of Ireland too far in favour of church extension, leading many of them to think that if they built churches in the wilderness they would immediately obtain congregations. Such acts had been productive, not only of great waste of money, but also of deplorable political evils. Considering the present prosperous condition of Ireland, he hoped their Lordships would not, for the sake of a few paltry pounds, run the risk of continuing religious agitation in Ireland, which must have the most deplorable effects.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
It appears to me, my Lords, that this question is surrounded with great difficulties. Whether you read this Bill a second time or not, hardly any one of us, I think, on either side of the House, who looks fairly at the whole merits of the question can be perfectly satisfied with the position in which the matter will stand. It is now nearly twenty years ago since I became acquainted with some of the circumstances connected with this tax, and from that time to the present I have always entertained 2000 the opinion that it would be most desirable to get rid of it. It is an offensive grievance. It is the last remnant of the old mode of maintaining the Church in Ireland, and it would be most desirable that it should altogether disappear. What are we to do if this Bill is thrown out? It is to be regretted that such great difficulties have been experienced in the collection of the tax, that the clergy have never realized all that was due to them; and it is still more to be regretted, that during the last three years there has been a very small proportion of it collected. But what is the consequence? Are we to go back to begin to collect the whole of this tax, and still more, to collect the arrears? That is a course upon which I am confident no Government, however bold, would embark. What I desire to see in Ireland is that which was the object of the Catholic Relief Act—religious peace; but I do not think that we shall advance religious peace if we begin again to collect this tax. It may be collected; I will assume it to be possible to place in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commission the whole of the sum which the tax ought to produce; but if we do collect the whole of these sums, small as they are, it will be at the expense of the ill-will of the country. An individual may find compensation in the collection of that which is his due, in the feeling that he is taking possession of that which is his own, without regarding the feelings of those by whom it is paid; but that cannot, or, at least, ought not to be the feeling of a Government. It is the duty of a Government to endeavour to establish tranquillity and good feeling throughout the whole country under its sway. Entertaining that feeling, I am naturally desirous that no further attempt should be made to collect this tax. At the same time, I must admit that there are also great difficulties and many things to be regretted in the surrender of it. It is much to be regretted that there should ever be a triumph of agitation over the law. I felt that when the Church Temporalities Act was passed, and I expressed myself in this House on the subject as strongly as any man. I am not now divested of that feeling; but looking at the whole question I think that, under the circumstances in which we are placed, it would be desirable rather to take the course of passing than of rejecting the measure. But there is another consideration, which ought not to be passed over. 2001 I am unwilling, certainly, to deprive the fund at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners even of the sum of £5,000, seeing that, according to the best judgment which I can form, they have no surplus; but, on the contrary, are at present in a deficiency. After taking into account all the occasional temporary charges and all the occasional temporary receipts, it appears to me that, taking credit for the whole of the £12,000 which might by possibility be collected on account of this ministers' money, their receipts would have been £107,000; whereas, charged as they are with the payment of ministers' money, their charges are £122,000; so that, supposing there should be no reduction of expenditure, and we are not to look for any material increase of revenue, there would be a permanent deficit of £15,000. I may observe that there is no limit that we can assign to the expenditure which may be incurred under the Church Temporalities Act. There is no end to the expenditure which may be incurred in building and repairing churches, and even then all the livings are to be raised to the amount of £200 a year. I know not what sum of money may be needed for this purpose, but I know that the larger collected the sum, the larger will be the expenditure, and that unless there is an absolute necessity for economy there will be, I will not say a mal-administration, but a loose and anything but economical management of the funds. I would not offer to your Lordships these doubts of mine, and the inclination of my mind to support the Bill, notwithstanding the objection which I feel to repealing a tax opposed in such a manner as this has been, if I were not prepared to offer a suggestion which, if it should be favourably received by the Government, would, I think, to a certain extent at least, do away with the inconveniences and losses which must be occasioned by the loss of ministers' money. I propose to find an equivalent for the sum to be taken away, and in this manner:—At the present time there is a perfectly separate and independent establishment for the administration of the revenues of the Temporalities Fund. They have their Commissioners, their secretaries, their treasurer, their clerks, their architect, and their solicitor, all separate and independent. We know how great the extravagance must necessarily be where, for performing acts which are of an analogous nature, instead of confining yourselves to one establishment 2002 you set up another, with all its separate paraphernalia. It will entail upon you great extravagance, and the work will not be so well done. I would suggest, therefore, that the administration of this fund should be transferred to the Board of Works in Ireland. They have their architect, their treasurer, and all the other means of performing the various operations which devolve upon the Commissioners of this fund. They have better means of ascertaining the most advantageous mode of carrying into effect the repairs of the different fabrics, they have their staff complete, and I apprehend that without any additional expense they will be enabled to perform all that is performed now by an expensive establishment. It really does strike me as most extraordinary, that in nearly all years previous to the year 1847, the expenses of management, such as I have described, amounted to £8,000 or £9,000—that is to say, to 10 per cent of the whole receipts. In these last years the sum does not appear to have been quite so much, in consequence of the omission of the charge of the solicitor; but I apprehend there can be no permanent reduction of that charge, and the amount will probably be much the same. By transferring the management of the fund to the Board of Works all this outlay may be saved. No doubt, there may be some jealousy on the part of the Church at such a transfer, but I see no objection to associating the episcopal members of the ecclesiastical corporation to the Board of Works on all matters referring to the Temporalities Fund, so as to preserve the ecclesiastical character of the administration; while at the same time you derive all the advantages of the possession of a perfect staff. I expect that if the administration of this fund were transferred, as I have suggested, you would have the work better done and more economically. In hopes that the Government will give their fair consideration to this suggestion, I vote for the second reading of the Bill. Should the Bill be read a second time, I shall again press the subject on the consideration of the House, and I shall probably then be prepared, should the Government not take it out of my hands, to suggest a clause or clauses by which this object may be carried out. It will then be open to your Lordships on the third reading to consider the whole subject again; but, under all circumstances, it is desirable that we should at least read this Bill a second time.
§ LORD BERNERS
was of opinion, that this question ought to be treated as one affecting not merely Ireland, but the whole empire. If they took away the property of the Church wherever it might be, they took away the foundation on which it rested.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, he would have been quite content to have given a silent vote upon this question, were it not that he had arrived at the conclusion to which he had come with regret and reluctance in reference to one point of considerable importance. But before he touched on that one point, he begged to be allowed to say a few words with reference to a portion of the speech of the noble Earl who had just resumed his scat. The noble Earl said there was little or no agitation on this subject in Ireland, and he compared the condition of that country in 1833 with that which it presented at this moment, and described it as exhibiting no agitation on this question and no disturbance. He must say he heard that remark with regret from the noble Earl, because surely he did not mean to maintain that no decision was to be taken on any question, however just it might be to do so, till there was agitation—nay, more, till there were disturbance and disorder in the country. They wore apt to object to measures of this nature on two grounds—either because there was no agitation, and therefore no demand for them; or else because there was agitation, and therefore they ought not to yield them. He maintained, however, that it was the duty of a statesman to foresee evil before it arrived, and to forestall agitation by conceding measures that were just and necessary. If, therefore, as stated by his noble Friend who spoke last but one, this question had reached a point which demanded their immediate attention—if it had been carried, as their Lordships knew it had, in the other House of Parliament by a very large majority, and was introduced to this House under the sanction of the Government—if, under those circumstances, they were satisfied that it was a question which must soon find its solution in some such terms as those now before them, then they were bound to endeavour to settle it now, and to do so in such a way as that it would not only prevent disorder, but produce religious peace. The noble Earl who moved the Amendment objected with great force to the doctrine that any man should be allowed to base his resistance to an 2004 impost on his religious creed. He agreed so far with the noble Earl; but at the same time he begged to observe that it was on this principle church cess was abolished in Ireland, because it was imposed by a Protestant vestry on Roman Catholics. He did not, however, rest his support of measures such as the present on that ground, because, in the same spirit in which he considered that Roman Catholics were bound to contribute to the Established Church in Ireland he equally maintained that this country was bound to support and maintain the establishment of Maynooth. The noble Earl also contended that we ought not to alienate any portion of the revenues of the Church merely for the purpose of relieving the owners of property. We ought not, certainly, to interfere with the Church revenues merely for that purpose, but neither should we be deterred from doing so because property will be thereby relieved. When we abolished church cess to the extent of £60,000 or £70,000 we provided a substitute, not out of the property of the country, but out of the property of the Church. It was not done for that express purpose, but it nevertheless greatly relieved the property of Ireland. In 1854 the same thing was done when a large portion of the ministers' money was surrendered. There was another point to which he wished to allude. The noble Earl spoke strongly of the material difference between the conduct of the present Government and that of the Government of Earl Grey in 1833; but it appeared to him that Her Majesty's Ministers were pursuing precisely the course which was taken then. He understood from the Lord President of the Council that the Government had maintained the law in Ireland on this subject, but, seeing the necessity that existed for a change, they, like the noble Earl in 1833, felt themselves constrained to introduce the measure now before their Lordships. The noble Earl opposite had certainly brought forward a very grave charge—namely, that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had given corporations license to hold their hands with reference to ministers' money, and to take no steps regarding it till the Legislature had decided upon the question. Now, as he (the Duke of Newcastle) intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill, he must, while doing so, protest against any such conduct on the part of the Lord Lieutenant. The duty of the Lord Lieutenant was to maintain the law 2005 as it stood, however strong might be his representations regarding it to the Government at home; and he trusted that if, contrary to his expectations, this Bill was rejected, the Lord Lieutenant would continue to enforce the law in Ireland. He hoped, and confidently expected that some explanation would be given upon this point by the Government which would be satisfactory to the House. The noble Earl who moved the Amendment laid down in forcible language the difference which existed, in his mind, between the church cess abolished in 1833, and the impost to which the Bill before the House had reference; but the arguments of the noble Earl did not produce conviction in his mind. If the uncertainty of the charge of the impost of church cess and the peculiar nature of its application placed it in a different position to a tax enacted 200 years ago, he could not see upon what grounds church rates could be maintained. But he fancied he could perceive a material difference. While the vestry cess in Ireland had been levied from the earliest days of the Church, and was incident upon all the property of the country, this tax of ministers' money, imposed 200 years ago, only applied to a small portion of the country, and was im-imposed, as history related, against the wishes and feelings of the people. But he trusted the Legislation of Charles the Second would not be considered of more authority than the law and custom of many ages. He now came to a ground upon which he certainly felt some reluctance at the vote which he was about to give, and this was, that it would withdraw from the Ecclesiastical Commission some portion of the funds which they so efficiently applied. But when they were told of the spiritual destitution in Ireland, he feared there were districts in this country of which the same remark could be made. The very Prelate whose letter had been referred to upon that point had, it appeared, since written another letter, stating, that in his opinion this charge might to be abolished. The noble Lord opposite (the Earl of Derby) at the close of his speech had reminded their Lordships that the Bill, if passed, would make no difference to the clergy, because their interests had been provided for by the Act of 1854, and, whether the Bill was passed or not, would receive their incomes just the same. That was undoubtedly the case, as far as related to that portion of the clergy who derived any portion of their incomes from ministers' money. 2006 The clergy so far had no interest in the matter, but the Church in Ireland had. It was as a friend of that Church—not as a political, but as a religious institution—desirous of seeing her spiritual influence not only continued, but increased, believing that the abolition of ministers' money would strengthen the Church in the affections of the people and remove a grievous sore from its bosom, that he should give his vote for the second reading of the Bill.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, when I rose to make my statement I reserved to myself the right of making replies to any observations which might not have been answered by other Peers. After the speeches of my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Cork), the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough), and the noble Duke who has just sat down, I find the ground almost cut away from me. I shall therefore only occupy a very few moments at this stage of the debate. In making my opening observations, I was very much in the position of the man who, being an excellent shot at a target, said he found a great difference when the mark held a loaded pistol in his hand. So in my opening observations upon a subject with which I had not previously been intimately acquainted, I could not help being conscious of the danger I was incurring when I knew I should be followed by the most eloquent and acute debater in this House, who possesses more knowledge upon this subject than perhaps any other person. I must admit it was not only bold, but rash in me, to offer a challenge or to make a request to the noble Earl for explanation upon various points, knowing as I did the admirable manner in which he avails himself of appeals of that sort when he can derive any advantage from it. I made four appeals to the noble Earl. I admit I had no right to demand replies to those appeals. A Member of the noble Earl's Government in another place having given an intimation that a Bill had been prepared to deal with this question, and having met a Motion for the abolition of this tax by moving the previous question, I asked the noble Earl whether he had any objection to state what were the general principles of that measure, as he was now inviting the House to adopt a contrary course. The noble Earl has exercised his undoubted right in not giving the slightest reply to that question. I made a similar indiscreet request, whether he could suggest any substitute for this measure to meet the admitted difficulty 2007 in which the Government is placed. Upon that point, also, the noble Earl remained absolutely silent, as he had an unquestionable right so to do. I made another request to him, upon which it is not quite clear that he ought to leave the House in entire ignorance. I referred to the clause in which he takes credit as having strengthened thereby the Church in Ireland—a credit which I most cordially accord to him—and I suggested that the very same arguments of danger to the Church were raised against that enactment as he uses now in regard to this Bill. I really thought the noble Earl, having had a principal share in framing that measure, would have given us some explanation of this clause, as I cannot at present understand his objections to the Bill, I now invite the House to read a second time—And be it further enacted, that in all parishes and places where, by virtue of any law, statute, or custom, provision may heretofore have been made, by vestry or other assessment, for the maintenance of any curate, lecturer, clerk, or other minister or assistant in the celebration of Divine worship, or attendant, or sexton, such provision by vestry or other assessment shall, from and after the passing of this Act, wholly cease and determine; and it shall and may be lawful for the said Commissioners under this Act, by and out of the proceeds of the said annual tax, and the other funds as aforesaid by this Act vested in them, to provide for all such purposes in such manner and proportions as to them shall seem fitting.I am sure the noble Earl meant no discourtesy, but he did not give any explanation. The other point upon which I asked for information from the noble Earl was, that he should point out to the House in what respect there was a difference between the abolition of Church cess, with a substitute provided from the revenues of the Church, and the course which the Government proposes now to adopt. I will not argue upon the reply of the noble Earl. He stated his reasons with great ability, but I think they have been shown by the noble Duke who has just addressed us to be utterly unavailing, except for the purpose of showing the dangerous tenure of church rates in this country. I will just notice one or two points which have been referred to in the course of this discussion. The noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) said this measure has been brought in upon the sole ground that the Commissioners have ample funds to meet the deficiency it will create. I am not aware of having stated such a thing; but the noble Earl pointed out that it was impossible for the Commissioners to have a surplus according to their present excellent 2008 mode of disposing of their funds. The noble Earl also expressed his surprise that the Government should make this concession to some corporations who refused to collect the tax. He was not always of that opinion, however, for I find that in the other House, in 1847, the noble Earl, in answer to a question from the noble and learned Lord near me (Lord Campbell) said—Therefore, although he admitted that it would be desirable to give a fair equivalent to the Protestant clergy in those cities for whom this was the only provision made by the law, yet the great difficulty was to obtain that equivalent, unless the cities themselves assented to a different mode of levying the tax.The noble Earl went further, for he said it was monstrous to alter the law because seven cities, which paid but a small proportion of the tax, objected to it, while Dublin, which paid the greater portion, offered no opposition. The argument of the noble Earl is a very sound one, but he is not correct as to the fact, because the Corporation of Dublin, including Whigs and Tories, Protestants and Roman Catholics, has come to the resolution to petition against the continuance of the tax. A noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellen-borough) has made a very important suggestion with the view of economizing the revenues of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and has stated that if the Government did not do so he himself would propose a clause for the purpose of carrying that suggestion into effect, I have some doubts whether such an arrangement as the noble Earl proposes, if possible, should be made by means of a clause in this Bill. I admit, however, that his suggestion is, to a certain extent, worthy of consideration, always taking care that the Board of Works is not allowed to have a real voice in determining the principle of distribution, or the amounts which are to be bestowed upon the different districts. The noble Earl may be assured that the Government will take his suggestion into consideration, and if they cannot see their way to the adoption of the measure which he proposes they may think it advisable to refer the subject to a Select Committee. The noble Duke who spoke last said that the Government ought to give some explanation with respect to the charge that the law has been suspended in deference to those who resist its operation. I know of no declaration such as that quoted as coming from the Lord Lieutenant; on the contrary, I know that the legal proceedings 2009 in question were pushed with the utmost vigour until the Parliamentary announcement was made by Her Majesty's Government that it was proposed to bring in a Bill on the subject, when, of course, the proceedings were arrested.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I have no right to answer the reply of the noble Earl, but I trust I may be allowed to give the explanation requested with respect to the meaning of the words inserted in the Bill of 1833. When the vestry cess came to be abolished, it was necessary to provide for all the charges imposed upon it. Among those charges was included—not quite regularly, but such had been the long practice—one for the maintenance of curates in Dublin. The words referred to by the noble Earl were introduced to cover the amount of that charge.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
The noble Earl has given a satisfactory account of the object which the words were intended to serve, but none as to how the clause differs in principle from the present Bill. He has not even shown how it does not apply to ministers' money.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I have given the noble Earl the best explanation in my power; if he wants any further information, I beg to refer him to the Lord Chief Justice, who, as Attorney General, assisted in framing the clause.
It is quite true that I had the honour to assist the noble Earl, who then filled the office of Secretary for Ireland, in framing the clause. The noble Earl showed himself at that time a true friend of the Church in Ireland; he was a skilful pilot in extremity; he resorted to Jonahism, throwing overboard church rates and bishoprics; and if he had only tossed over ministers' money likewise, the ship would have righted. With respect to the clause in dispute, I am not able at this moment to give any explanation. I sincerely believe that at that time ministers' money was overlooked. I rejoice now that this Bill is added to the excellent measure which the noble Earl passed in 1833. It completes the scheme. The noble Earl must regret that ministers' money was not included in his Bill, for it has been the misery of every Administration from that time to the present; and he must rejoice when the present Bill has passed, for he surely cannot wish when he is again Prime Minister—as he may be—to have ministers' money the torment of his new Government.
§ On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion? their Lordships divided:—
§ Resolved in the affirmative; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.2012
|Cranworth, L. (L. Chancelloor.)||Dacre, L.|
|Dartvey, L. (L. Cremorne.)|
|Leeds, D.||De Mauley, L.|
|Newcastle, D.||De Tabley, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Erskine, L.|
|Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)|
|Ailesbury, M.||Foley, L. [Teller.]|
|Lansdowne, M.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)|
|Abingdon, E.||Hamilton, L. (L. Belhaven and Stenton.)|
|Chichester, E.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)|
|Clarendon, E.||Kingston, L. (E. Kingston.)|
|Ducie, E.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Ellenborough, E.||Leigh, L.|
|Granville, E.||Lismore, L. (V. Lismore.)|
|Grey, E.||Lovat, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Lurgan, L.|
|Minto, E.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Munster, E.||Panmure, L.|
|Eversley, V.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]|
|Torrington, V.||Rivers, L.|
|Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird.)|
|Manchester, Bp.||Saye and sele, L.|
|Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Stafford, L.|
|Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Byron, L.||Stafford, L.|
|Camoys, L.||Stuart de Decies, L.|
|Campbell, L.||Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)|
|Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Churchill, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Clandeboye, L. (E. Dufferin and Claneboye.)||Vivian, L.|
|Bedford, D.||Lindsey, E.|
|Devonshire, D.||Radnor, E.|
|Grafton, D.||Yarborough, E.|
|Sutherland, D.||Carlisle, Bp.|
|Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.|
|Durham, E.||Alvanley, L.|
|Ellesmere, E.||Arundell of Wardour, L.|
|Gainsborogh, E.||Dorchester, L.|
|Dormer, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.).|
|Fisherwick, L. (M. Donegal.)|
|Penshurst, L. (V. Strangford.)|
|Fitzgibbon, L. (E. Clare.)|
|Gardner, L.||Stourton, L.|
|Godolphin, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Howard de Walden, L.||Ward, L.|
|Londesborough, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)||Wharncliffe, L.|
|Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)||Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford.)|
|Manchester, D.||Salisbury, Bp.|
|Northumberland, D.||St. Asaph, Bp.|
|Bath, M. [Teller.]||Abinger, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Ardrossan, L. (E. Eglintoun.)|
|Abergavenny, E.||Berners, L.|
|Amherst, M.||Boston, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Brooke and Warwick, E.||Castlemaine, L.|
|Carnarvon, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Derby, E.||Clonbrock, L.|
|Desart, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Erne, E.||Colville of Culross, L. [Teller.]|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)|
|Hardwicke, E.||Denman, L.|
|Harewood, E.||De Ros, L.|
|Harrington, E.||Dinevor, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Downes, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Dunsandle and Clanconal, L.|
|Romney, E.||Feversham, L.|
|Seafleld, E.||Gray, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Kilmaine, L.|
|Talbot, E.||Melros, L. (E. Haddington.)|
|Wicklow, E.||Polwarth, L.|
|Wilton, E.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Combermere, V.||Sandys, L.|
|Doneraile, V.||Scarsdale, L.|
|Dungannon, V.||Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Melville, V.||Sondes, L.|
|Chichester, Bp.||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Kilmore, &c., Bp.||Wynford, L.|
|Ailsa, M.||Poulett, E.|
|Stamford and Warrington, E.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Stradbroke, E.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Tankcrville, E.|
|Hillsborough, E. (M. Downshire.)|
|Howe, E.||Bangor, V.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Cloncurry, L.|
|Macclesfield, E.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Orford, E.||Grantley, L.|
|Grinstead, L. (E. Enniskillen.)||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Middleton, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Plunket, L. (Bp. Tuam, &c.)||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcares.)|
§ House adjourned at a quarter to Eleven o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.