§ Commons' amendments to Lords' amendments and Commons' reasons for disagreeing to some of the amendments made by the Lords further considered (according to order).
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I stated on Tuesday night the reasons why I thought it necessary to ask your Lordships to adjourn the debate until I had had an opportunity of consulting with my Colleagues as to the course which ought to be pursued. Her Majesty's Government are of opinion that the decision of your Lordships that night was one of a very grave character; but they have been unwilling to incur the responsibility of preventing your Lordships discussing the further Amendments which have been sent back by the House of Commons. My Lords, I can only say that I will endeavour to approach that discussion on the part of Her Majesty's Government, while adhering to the principles of the Bill, in a spirit of peace and conciliation. I not only hope, but I believe that we shall be met in a corresponding spirit by noble Lords on dif- 407 ferent sides of the House. My Lords, my first duty is to propose that this House will not insist on your Amendment substituting the 1st of May as the date of disestablishment, instead of the 1st of January, which the Government originally proposed. It was a matter of observation the other night that the fact of the House of Commons having insisted on this Amendment was a proof of want of conciliation on their part; and that observation was repeated when I assented to the remark of the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns), that the alteration was not very material. Now I venture to remind your Lordships that this is a point of the Bill on which the House had not a very decided opinion. In the first place, when it was proposed by the most rev. Primate, I stated what appeared to me to be a strong objection to deferring for one year more the operation of this portion of the measure. I think your Lordships will admit that, although you have shown singular personal indulgence to me, which I feel the more sensibly since I believe you were, in some degree—at all events in your individual capacities—actuated by a sympathy for "unavoidable suffering and calamity," yet that with regard to the suggestions which I made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, they were not very much attended to by your Lordships. I do not think however, considering the feelings your Lordships entertained when the Bill was introduced, that such a course was perfectly unreasonable on your part. The Amendment of the most rev. Primate was carried by a considerable majority. I did not endeavour to reverse that decision during the early stages of the Bill; but I found that there was such a general feeling of doubt, to say the least, as to the expediency of this particular date, that I made an appeal to the most rev. Primate and to a right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), who has shown such a thorough acquaintance with the subject of the Irish Church, the latter responded by expressing a decided opinion that it was desirable to retain the date proposed by Her Majesty's Government, This appeared so much to be the feeling of the House that a noble Earl on the opposite side of the House (the Earl of Carnarvon) moved the restoration of the original date. Thereupon the noble and learned Lord 408 opposite (Lord Cairns) proposed a compromise, which was accepted at once without any discussion, based very much on a practical reason—for, on examination, it has been found that his proposal, having reference to the time when the rent-charge is paid, would not affect the position of the clergy on the day when, according to the proposition of Her Majesty's Government, the Bill would come into operation. Her Majesty's Government put themselves into communication with the Irish Church, it being entirely a matter for the Church itself to consider, and they found that the most active members of that Church wish the Bill, if passed, to take effect as speedily as possible. We have, therefore, thought it better that your Lordships should have one more opportunity of considering the matter. I now move that, in Clause 2, your Lordships do not insist on the substitution of May for January; but if the feeling of the House should be strongly against the restoration, I shall not only not divide the House but shall withdraw the Motion.
§ Moved, in Clause 2, not to insist on the Amendment to which the Commons have disagreed.—(Earl Granville.)
§ LORD CAIRNS
I trust your Lordships will allow me to say somewhat more than what relates to the precise Motion which the noble Earl has made. On a former occasion the noble Earl threw himself on your Lordships' indulgence; and though it may be a somewhat strange thing wherewith to begin what I have to say, I must also on this occasion throw myself on your Lordships' indulgence. I do so for this reason. Since the adjournment of the House on Tuesday night I have had an opportunity of conferring with the noble Earl opposite, and it appeared to him as it appears to me, that it was better that I should state to your Lordships exactly what has occurred between us. I throw myself especially on the indulgence of many noble Lords who have honoured me with their confidence, and of those noble Lords who have more than once in regard to this Bill acted in unison with us. I should have been glad, had it been possible — but it was not possible, to have held more conference with them before making any public statement on the subject to which I am about to refer. My Lords, it was 409 clear to me that after the vote of Tuesday night the questions which remained to he discussed upon the Amendments to this Bill were not many in number, and that they were questions by no means incapable of solution. My Lords, I was glad to find that a similar spirit actuated the noble Earl opposite; and I have felt —what I am sure every one must have felt—that, whatever we might think of the principle of this measure, nothing could be more culpable on the part of either side of the House than to encourage or promote controversy on the details of a measure of this kind, where the materials for the solution of the controversy were at hand. It was in that view and with those sentiments that any communication which has occurred in conference between the noble Earl and myself was conducted. I agree with him that the Amendment to which he has now referred is of very secondary importance. Not only so—it has always appeared to me that if one of the most important provisions of the Bill—that with regard to commutation—were placed on a satisfactory and intelligible basis, the result would be that, for the purpose of that commutation, as well as for many other reasons, the earlier the day named for the disestablishment of the Church, supposing it to be disestablished, the better. As far therefore as that Amendment is concerned, I own that, for my own part, I am quite ready to accept the date of the 1st of January, 1871, if the noble Earl proposes that we should not insist upon our Amendment which fixes the 1st of May. I now come to an Amendment which I have before described, and would still describe, as one of great consequence—the Amendment proposed by my noble Friend below the Gangway (the Marquess of Salisbury) with regard to the relative position of rectors and curates. I took the liberty of stating to your Lordships on Tuesday night that the alteration made by the other House appeared to me to make the relative position of rectors and curates somewhat worse than before, for it provided that if an incumbent had, for the purpose of the ecclesiastical tax, made a return claiming a deduction for a curate in one previous year that curate was to be stamped for ever as a permanent curate, so as to become a permanent deduction from the income of the incumbent. I 410 supposed a case, which was a very probable one, of a rector having employed a curate for a transitory or accidental purpose during one year, and having claimed a deduction in consequence of that employment. The sum paid to him would be claimed as a permanent deduction. Another provision in the clause, which was also referred to, suspended the annuity of a curate during a period of ill-health, and I believed the Government would not be unwilling to remove some part, at all events, of the objection which I entertained to the clause. I understand from the noble Earl that they would be willing in substance to provide that no curate should be stamped as a permanent one unless under two circumstances—first, unless he be adjudged a permanent curate after consideration of the various matters named in the original clause— namely length of service and the duties discharged to the benefice, and the non-residence, infirmity, or other incapacity of the incumbent, and his habit of employing a curate; and, secondly, unless he has returned the curate for the purpose of the ecclesiastical tax, not for one year, but for five years previously. I ought to mention, also, that I think this reference to the ecclesiastical tax, provided you carry it sufficiently far back, is a considerable advantage; for, as your Lordships may be aware, no living in Ireland is subject to deduction for that tax unless it amounts to upwards of £300 a year. The result of the proposal would be that with regard to livings under that sum there would be no deduction in respect of a curate, if there should happen to be one, from the income of the incumbent—and I believe we all agree that we should be especially anxious to afford the largest possible advantages to small incumbencies. As I have said, I have had a very insufficient opportunity of communicating with my noble Friends during the progress of my intercourse with the noble Earl opposite, but I trust that my noble Friend below the Gangway will not be unwilling to take the same view of the matter as myself—namely, that this is an offer on the part of the Government which we ought not to refuse, but ought rather to accept. My Lords, I now come to another Amendment, which I have before described as of very great consequence—indeed, I venture to regard 411 it as the most important in the Bill— that of the noble Earl below the Gangway (the Earl of Carnarvon), dealing with the subject of commutation. Your Lordships will recollect generally that this Amendment proposes a commutation upon a scheme for the payment to the representative body of the Church of fourteen times the aggregate annual value of all the life interests of the Church. That scheme was objected to in the other House on this ground—it was said that in order to give effect to the scheme two things must occur. In the first place, if any incumbent, or any number of incumbents dissented from the commutation, there was an obligation on the Church Body to purchase a Government annuity or annuities for such dissentients; and it was said that if there should be, as no doubt there might be, a very large number of dissentients, that the new Church Body might find itself in considerable difficulty as to the means of obtaining money for the purpose of purchasing these Government annuities. It might indeed be said that the money could be obtained by means of the sum to be paid over to the Church Body for the compensations; but that sum is only payable in eight instalments, extending over a considerable space of time, and there is no doubt the Church Body might find itself in want of immediate funds for buying such annuities. Another objection was that, for the purpose of the whole operation, the Amendment required the consent of all the incumbrancers upon the incomes of any incumbents—which no doubt in words was the case—and that as some of the incumbrancers might dissent the whole scheme of commutation might be interrupted. Now, my Lords, admitting to a certain extent the weight of both these objections, I think a sufficient answer for the purpose of legislation is that the Church Body is willing to take the risk. They might lead to some difficulty in working out the arrangement, but if that difficulty could not be surmounted by the Church Body it would be that Body that would be injured, and not the funds which had formerly belonged to the Church. A proposal however was made in the House of Commons proceeding upon a totally different plan—a proposal for what I might call diocesan commutation, which was applicable also to Nonconformist bodies. If a certain por- 412 tion— four-fifths being suggested — of the clergy of any diocese in Ireland assented to commutation, the Commissioners under this Bill were to pay to the Church Body not merely the tabulated value of the lives of the incumbents, but also a further sum of 7 per cent, which was to represent the value of the greater probability of duration in the case of clerical lives as compared with lives taken indiscriminately from any considerable population. Now, stopping there, I think the observation I made the other night was a fair one— that, in the first place, you have but small inducement to call upon four-fifths of the clergy of any diocese to assent to commutation, and in the next place, that the addition of 7 per cent was after all, nothing more than the bringing up the value of the annuities to what you admit to be their true and proper value. Then the observation was apparent, that if this scheme of commutation were to be undertaken—as it is most desirable it should be—on a large scale, and undertaken by the new Church Body, very large expenses would necessarily be incurred by that Body in the way of negotiation, in legal expenses, and in the various financial arrangements which would be necessary before you could persuade a large number of beneficed persons to come forward in a limited time and assent to the commutation. No provision, it was obvious, was made to cover that large margin of expenditure which was necessary on behalf of the Church Body. Now I have reason to believe on this head that Her Majesty's Government are willing to propose to the other House that in the event of commutation in the different dioceses, by consent— not of four-fifths, but of three-fourths of the holders of preferments, there should be paid not merely the addition of 7 per cent but a further addition of 5 per cent, making 12 per cent in addition to what was originally proposed. Here again, I feel myself — and I hope my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) will forgive me if I have gone beyond my proper province in informing the representative of Her Majesty's Government that I thought the proposal was, upon the whole, a fair one for the Church, and that if it were one which the Government were prepared to support I did not think we ought to come to an issue with them in favour of the alternative pro- 413 posal of my noble Friend. With this proposition, to which, as I understand, the Government are willing to accede, there is connected another—I mean the Amendment respecting residences. My Lords, as all schemes of commutation have hitherto stood, the result of accepting them would have been this—there would of necessity have been included in the commutation the value for their lives of the residences of the clergy and of any land occupied by them—for the principle of the Bill is to save to all life holders not merely their own interest in the tithe rent-charges, but their full interest in their residences and in lands belonging to those residences. Now, it has appeared to those who have considered this matter in the interest of the Church that it is likely to lead to great difficulty in the way of a general commutation, if it is made a condition of that commutation that there should be included in it not merely the interests of the incumbent in the tithe rent-charge, but also his life interest in his house and land; because if you did so he would be obliged to give up his house and land to the Commissioners, and would have only the chance or risk of getting them back through the medium of the new Church Body. Her Majesty's Government, as I understand, are willing to assent to a provision that if any incumbent desires it, there may be excepted out of his commutation his life interest in his residence and in any land which, on the 1st of January of the present year, was in his own occupation as appurtenant to that residence. Of course, if his land was let out to tenants, there would be no right to deduct it from the commutation, since he would get the full value for it by the commutation; but he may, if he pleases, except his residence and land in his own occupation, from the commutation, and become in that way the owner either of the whole of the commuted value, or of such part of it as he may agree with the representative of the Church Body—at the same time not being disturbed in his residence or in his occupation of such land during his life. That connects itself with the Amendment regarding residences, and it is the only mitigation of what I have throughout felt to be a very great hardship—a hardship much greater than the actual value of the property concerned 414 in the proposal of the Government as regards residences — for I understand that the Government are not willing to make any concession as to the terms upon which they will give up the residences to the Church Body. They still desire that they should be dealt with in the manner originally proposed by the Bill—namely, by the payment, where there is no building charge, of a certain number of years' value of the site as land, and by the payment, where there is a building charge, of one or other of two sums mentioned in the Bill. I am not going to enter on debatable ground, but I have felt throughout that, both upon the merits of the case and on the pledges given by the Government in former years or months, the proposition contained in the Bill on this subject was one which I could not help thinking even to the last they would abandon. Her Majesty's Government take a different view, and the question which I have had to ask myself—I beg again your Lordships' indulgence for having taken upon myself without consultation with you to express an opinion on the subject—was this—The life enjoyment of the residences and land being provided for through the exception from the commutations wherever it is desired, would it be right that we should come to an issue upon a matter of this kind, involving, as I believe, a sum of not much over £100,000? I do not undervalue the question as divested of its financial aspect. I say again that I regard as one of the severest hardships of the Bill the way in which it deals with residences; but, at the same time, I am not prepared to advise your Lordships, upon an isolated point of this kind, supposing the other questions to be capable of a satisfactory solution, to push the matter to extremities. There remains one other matter only to which I will refer—for, of course, I will not trouble you upon mere technical points—the vote at which your Lordships arrived two nights ago, when you decided by a very large majority to strike out of the Preamble the statement that the property of the Church or its proceeds—Should be held and applied for the advantage of the Irish people, but not for the maintenance of any church or clergy or other ministry, nor for the teaching of religion.And also the statement that it was expedient— 415That the said property or the proceeds thereof should be appropriated mainly to the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering, yet so as not to cancel or impair the obligations now attached to property under the Acts for the relief of the poor.The effect of your Lordships's vote was that the Preamble should run thus, that—After satisfying so far as possible upon principles of equality as between the several religious denominations in Ireland all just and equitable claims, the property of the said Church of Ireland, or the proceeds thereof, should be applied in such manner as Parliament shall hereafter direct.Now, the arguments on which your Lordships arrived at that conclusion were in substance these—First—and this weighed most with some—that a negative declaration was inoperative, unnecessary, and objectionable, and further that it was absolutely necessary with regard to any appropriation of this large sum of money that the absolute control of Parliament over it should be preserved until the occasion arose for its application. Now we shall by-and-by approach the 68th clause, which, when it first came up to us, provided for the application of the income, at all events, of the surplus, through the medium of Orders in Council and of the Poor Law Commissioners of Ireland. A certain check was afterwards interposed by the House of Commons in a rather unusual manner on the efficacy of Orders in Council, requiring them to be laid on the table of the two Houses of Parliament, and providing that they should not take effect till a certain number of days after they had been so laid on the table. Her Majesty's Government, as I understand, now desire that in this clause your Lordships should introduce a statement to this effect—I am speaking from memory, but I believe I am tolerably accurate— that it is desirable that the surplus should be applied in the main to the relief of unavoidable calamity, but not so as to impair the obligations now attached to property under the Acts for the relief of the poor, and that it should be so applied in such manner as Parliament shall hereafter direct. My Lords, I conceive that that is in substance in harmony with your Lordships' decision, and, for my part, I should not be prepared to offer any opposition to the introduction of these words into the 68th clause. My Lords, I have now gone 416 through my statement. I end as I began. My strongest inducement to my conference with the noble Earl was my belief that the concessions which I have mentioned are such as this House, in a spirit of conciliation, would be disposed to entertain, and that, as far as I was concerned, and those with whom I act, they would be willing to entertain these concessions upon this footing. I trust that in this step I have not gone beyond what I was entitled to do in thinking that I had the support of those behind me. If I have I can only crave their indulgence, and ask them to consider the difficulty of the position in which I stood, and the short time there was for consultation with them. I will only add that, much as I object to this Bill, much— although I do not desire to use hard words—as I detest every part of it, I believe that if it is to pass it is not desirable for the public interests of this country, or for the particular interests of the Irish Church, that there should be a struggle prolonged for months upon minor details, if we are able to secure, as I think the suggestions I have made would secure, the most reasonable terms which the case admits of in favour of the Church of Ireland.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, as the author of one of the Amendments which have been rejected by the other House, it is right I should say one or two words as to my feelings with regard to this matter. I wish to state that in moving that Amendment I was solely actuated by the information given me that it was desired by the Irish Church that the date at which the Bill was to take effect should be deferred. When I found it was doubtful whether this was the case, and that there were probably as many unwilling that the date should be altered as those who wished it to be altered, I was of course quite willing to bow to the decision of the House on the matter. It is a question of little consequence, and I am therefore perfectly willing to agree to the restoration of the original date. My Lords, another Amendment was intrusted to me, which related to a far more important subject — namely, the private endowments of the Irish Church, and under the head of those private endowments the Ulster glebes. I was unfortunately absent on Tuesday evening, when an announcement was made 417 to your Lordships that, upon the whole, it was the opinion of those who sit opposite that the House should not insist on its Amendment as to the Ulster glebes. I came down to the House to-night quite ready to insist upon it, had that been the wish of your Lordships, and am still ready to do so. At the same time, it is obvious from what has happened in the course of the various debates that there is a very grave question with regard to those Ulster glebes. It is obvious that we have the highest legal authority on the one hand as to their being private endowments, and the highest legal authority on the other side as to their being public endowments; and between the two it seems to be exactly one of those cases in which a compromise ought, if possible, to be accepted. Now it is true that in name no compromise has been offered; but I am free to admit that with regard to private endowments generally a very fair compromise was offered, and I accepted with the greatest satisfaction the proposal that £500,000 should be given down at once in payment of private endowments. Your Lordships were not slow to perceive that the payment of £500,000 at once, without waiting for the expiration of the various lives, raised that £500,000 to a sum of nearly £800,000. Now, as calculations had been made by the Prime Minister that these private endowments, even subsequent to 1670, were worth £500,000, it at first appeared to be no great concession, but merely the concession of the difference accruing from their payment at once, and their being postponed till the lives had expired—or some £300,000. On the other hand, however, it was contended by us that the Prime Minister had altogether miscalculated the value of these private endowments, and that they amounted to a much smaller sum than £500,000. When, therefore, the sum of £500,000 was offered, it was obvious that there had been a very great concession—not, indeed, sufficient to counterbalance the advantage which would have been derived from the retention of the Ulster glebes, but still one going a considerable way in that direction; and as I understand, from what passed early on Tuesday evening, that it was scarcely the intention of your Lordships to contend for the Ulster glebes, I could not help 418 feeling that, upon the whole, we had made not a bad bargain by obtaining this £800,000 for private endowments. With regard to the other matters in dispute, it is very satisfactory to learn that they have been arranged, and that a proposal is to be made by Her Majesty's Government to conduct the commutation of life interests upon terms as satisfactory as those proposed by the noble Earl below the Gangway (the Earl of Carnarvon); so that the Irish Church will lose nothing by accepting the proposal of the Government to add 12 per cent, in addition to the commutation at some twelve years' purchase. The question of curates, so far as I could gather from the noble and learned Lord's statement, seems to have been arranged satisfactorily. There remains, therefore, only the question of the glebe houses. That is in the hands of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), and it is no business of mine to trespass upon that field. With regard to the Amendments which I have had to submit to your Lordships, I must express—not, indeed, my entire satisfaction, for I should have been very happy to have been the instrument of retaining the Ulster glebes—but my satisfaction that, on the whole, we have got as good terms as we could expect. My Lords, the noble Earl (Earl Granville), speaking on Tuesday night of some words I had used, said it was not necessary for me to have apologized for having come forward as the advocate of the mere pecuniary interests of the Irish Church, because, as he clearly saw, behind those pecuniary interests there were far higher interests which could not be maintained if those pecuniary interests were sacrificed; yet it is impossible to conceal from oneself that the fact of having had to speak so much on matters connected merely with pecuniary interests does place us—especially those of us who occupy a position like mine —in a somewhat invidious position. I still regard the sacrifice of an Established Church in Ireland as a great misfortune. I hold as strongly as ever that the right policy for Ireland would have been to maintain the Established Church there in moderate proportions, and to give the people of Ireland the benefit which the sanction of religion by the State must confer upon a nation. To say anything more however on that point, would be 419 to go back to the principle of the second reading of the Bill and to call in question the decision of the House. But when the Established Church was gone it still remained for us to consider whether we ought not to endeavour as much as possible to maintain an endowed Church; and I am thankful to believe that, by some means or other—in truth, not in name, because we are not allowed to mention such a thing as endowment— we shall be able to maintain an endowed Church of a very moderate character. These endowments, I grant, may be small, and the Church will have great difficulties to contend with; but I regard the possession of these endowments as a matter of great importance for the religious, social, and political well-being of Ireland. The evil of an unendowed clergy is confessed by all. I will not trouble your Lordships with statements as to that evil, but I will read one or two extracts which I trust at this time may not be without effect on any who are so infatuated as to desire that we should adopt the voluntary principle altogether in England as in Ireland. By the voluntary principle I mean the entire dependence of the clergy on the offerings of the people. I hold in my hand the opinion of a Roman Catholic priest on the effect of the voluntary system as carried out without endowments in Ireland itself, and his words are these—Can it be said that the present state of clerical dependence for support upon a capricious multitude had no share in determining this unbecoming conduct on the part of the Irish Catholic priesthood? The multitude held the strings of the clerical purse, and woe betide the unfortunate priest who had set himself in opposition to their wishes. As a body they became all powerful in this respect. The common cry among them was that they would not uphold any priest who would not back them in their proceedings; and instances could be produced where this threat was carried into execution; and upright individuals of the clerical body were made the objects of every species of injustice and persecution,All men who understand what the office of the clergy is greatly deplore the fact that when they are so stripped of all endowments they become the mere servants and tools of those whom they should teach. Whether, therefore, it is to be called endowment or not, I am thankful that, through some means or other, there is to be retained something which is to be placed in the hands of a Church Body for the benefit of the Church of Ireland to carry on its minis- 420 trations, independently of the offerings of the congregations. Lest I should be supposed to speak in any spirit of unkindness of the Roman Catholic priesthood in maintaining that doctrine, allow me to read a passage with regard to a totally different set of people. It comes from the Life of Crabb Robinson, a well known Dissenter—I asked the landlord of an inn in Bohemia about the Hussites.' 'They are,' he replied, ' the most loyal and peaceable of all our people. In former days they were always breeding disturbances. Their priests were very poor and lived on the peasants, and so they went from house to house beggars and paupers.'The result was that, instead of teaching the people to live according to the laws of the land, and giving their whole time to their religious, social, and political improvement, even these inoffensive Hussite ministers were forced to become agitators and to forget the high mission which God had given them. Crabb Robinson goes on to say—When the Emperor Joseph II. came to Prague to be crowned he issued a decree the first day that the Hussite priests should be allowed the same pay as the lowest order of the Catholic clergy, and since then we have never had a disturbance in the country.Nothing, of course, is easier than to sneer at these poor Hussite priests because they dropped all their agitation as soon as they received any endowment; but after all human nature is human nature everywhere, and men who have to depend for their daily bread upon the passions of the people over whom they are set cannot well fulfil their high mission, whether they are tempted to appeal to the superstition or to the fanaticism of those amongst whom they are placed. I think, therefore, all experience proves that it is a great religious question whether or not the clergy shall be entirely dependent upon their flocks for their subsistence; and I am thankful to believe that if this Bill passes, according to what I am willing to say are the conciliatory proposals of the Government, though they may not be satisfactory to all, something will remain secured as a means of subsistence for the clergy of the disestablished Church of Ireland. It has been remarked in the course of these debates that the religion is not worth preserving which looks to the secular arm or the mere prop of pecuniary endowment for its maintenance. Now, our religion requires nothing of the kind; 421 but it is quite possible that if we should neglect opportunities of good which God has given us our religion may not be presented to the people in the purest form. I believe that evil will be averted in Ireland, partly, I trust, by the fact that some endowment will still be left for the clergy, and still more by the fact that the clergy who will first have to administer the concerns of that Church will have been brought up in a totally different system from the voluntary system. If they had had to start on this voluntary system I should have despaired for the religion, for the social improvement, and for the political security of the country; but bred as they have been in a totally different system, educated, trained in habits of intimacy with the clergy of the English Church, and commanding, as they do, even from a Roman Catholic Prelate, that tribute to their honour which has been more than once quoted "elsewhere," and which shows that they are quite unlike those fostered on the voluntary system, I believe they will be able, if any men can, to import into this Free Church something of that spirit which they have learnt in a nobler, higher, and far better system. I will conclude by reading the words in which that Roman Catholic Prelate bears his testimony to the Irish clergy, and which I trust will still remain characteristic of them, and distinguish them from all persons who live by pandering to the passions of the people—In every relation of life the Protestant clergy who reside among us are not only blameless, but estimable and edifying. They are peaceful with all, and to their neighbours they are kind when they can; and we know that on many occasions they would be more active in beneficence, but that they do not wish to appear meddling, or incur the suspicion of tampering with poor Catholics. In bearing, in manners, and in dress, they become their state. If they are not learned theologians, they are accomplished scholars and polished gentlemen. There is little intercourse between them and us; but they cannot escape our observation, and sometimes when we noticed that quiet, and decorous, and modest course of life, we felt ourselves giving expression to the wish—talis cumsis, utinam noster esses!"Here you have the testimony of an excellent Roman Catholic Prelate to the same great truth which was maintained by the great leader of the Free Church in Scotland, and I believe is maintained also by the best Dissenting ministers— that there is a spirit in the clergy of 422 the Established Church which those who belong to Free Churches may well envy.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
My Lords, I will trespass but for a short time on the indulgence of the House. No one who remembers the slight part I have taken in the discussion of this Bill can doubt my earnest and sincere wish, if possible, to settle this most difficult question by some process of conciliation. I have had before now the misfortune of offending, in some degree, the feelings of many noble Friends with whom I have long acted, because I wished to push that conciliation to an extent which perhaps they thought was hardly justifiable, and I am satisfied, therefore' that you will not suppose that I am in any degree under-rating the value and importance of conciliation on such a question as this. I admit the difficulties as regards the critical and dangerous position of the Irish Church, and I admit the difficulties as regards the honour and consistency of this House—difficulties so great that they are a justification for the unusual course, as I am bound to regard it, of my noble and learned Friend who leads this side of the House. I fully admit that, if possible, some compromise should be arrived at. The only question is, what the terms of that compromise are, and whether they are—I will not say satisfactory in all respects, but as satisfactory as, under the circumstances of the case, we are justified in requiring them to be. I will not trouble your Lordships with any statement as to the Ulster glebes after what has fallen from the noble Earl on the other side. If my noble and learned Friend is content to waive that Amendment, I for one shall not urgently insist upon it. And with regard to the Amendments of my noble Friend the noble Marquess behind me (the Marquess of Salisbury), he is perfectly competent to explain to the House how far the proposed terms are satisfactory. My Lords, the alteration of the Amendment which I took charge of, and which was carried by a considerable majority of this House, has been explained by my noble and learned Friend. As I understand it, it amounts to this— that in lieu of the compulsory commutation which my Amendment carried with it, and in lieu of the fourteen years' purchase which that Amendment also gave to the value of a clerical life, the com- 423 mutation shall occur when three-fourths of a diocese are agreed upon it, and it is to be at 7 per cent in the first instance, with an additional allowance of 5 per cent, calculated, as I understand it, as a margin upon the clerical lives, in order to cover the risks and contingencies of insurance. When my noble and learned Friend (Lord Cairns) stated this, he said he hardly knew what I should say to this alteration in the Amendment. I must really echo the words of my noble and learned Friend, and avow that I hardly know myself what to say to the alteration. On the one hand I cannot flatter myself that the 12 per cent is really a sufficient and complete substitute for the two years' additional purchase which my Amendment would have given, and I doubt very much whether the consent of three-fourths of the clergy of any diocese is really equivalent in value to a compulsory commutation such as I proposed. At the same time I feel bound to say that, as far as I understand the nature of the alteration which has been effected, it is probably, on the whole, more satisfactory than any which has been proposed on any other Amendment, and therefore I think it would be ungracious in me to hold out and refuse my assent to the terms which have been offered by the Government. With regard to the amended measure, as a whole, I can only say that I sincerely hope and trust it may be for the best. I have no desire except to advance the interests of the Irish Church, and if the Amendments as they are now proposed to be altered do, as a whole, secure to that Church some little competence out of the wreck of her fortunes, I, for one, shall rejoice. I own I cannot think that the altered Amendments are, as a whole, equivalent to the Amendments as they formerly stood; but I feel that in the position in which I and others are placed there is no alternative but to accept the Amendments as they are now proposed by Her Majesty's Government.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I confess, my Lords, I have listened to the statement of my noble and learned Friend with a feeling of very considerable embarrassment and some slight regret. I ventured the other night to say —and the noble Earl opposite objected to the statement—that the Irish Church Bill had been framed in a spirit of hard-fistedness that even Shylock might have 424 envied; and having listened to the statement of my noble and learned Friend, I cannot help thinking that he has rather played the part of a gentle Antonio to a too exacting Shylock. I fear we have hardly received a full equivalent for those glebe houses, to which we were entitled on account, not merely of the original rights of the Church, but also of the distinct and unmistakable promises of Members of the present Government to their constituencies. Still I think that in a situation such as this great regard should be paid to the peculiar position in which my noble and learned Friend was placed. Whenever great differences of opinion divide the majority of one Assembly from the majority of another Assembly the fact involves the necessity that the questions in dispute shall not be fought out on the floor of the House but committed to plenipotentiaries who can decide them in the comparative freedom of a private room. And I feel that we ought to entertain the greatest sympathy for the position of my noble and learned Friend. It is all very well for us who have no responsibility in the matter to wish to fight somewhat further in behalf of our opinions, and to endeavour to obtain, as we thought we could, better terms for the Church which we love; but we must not forget that my noble and learned Friend who engaged in these negotiations had a tremendous responsibility on his shoulders. I do not speak merely of the constitutional situation. That is not a subject on which I should like to dwell, and considerations respecting it ought not, I think, to have much weight with an Assembly like this. But if the result of my noble and learned Friend refusing the terms which the Government has proposed had been that many months or years were wasted in the discussion of these details amid an atmosphere of political bitterness and sectarian animosities, it must, at least, have happened that many of the lives on which we depend for the value of the extra commutation afforded by the Government must have fallen in, and the Church of Ireland must in consequence have been very much poorer in the future. If the Government had adhered to the same terms, every year's delay would have made a considerable difference in the ultimate heritage of the Church of Ireland. Then there was the prospect of mischievous agitation and disturbances in Ireland, of 425 the discredit attaching to a Church which would be charged with keeping up a struggle for the mere sake of obtaining more money, and the injury which must thereby arise to its future spiritual mission. I can well conceive that all these considerations must have pressed with overwhelming force on the mind of my noble and learned Friend. My own inclination would be to demand somewhat better terms, but I cannot dispute the discretion of him who knew the whole of the negotiation, which I do not. I am quite sure he has acted with an earnest desire to obtain the best terms for the Church to which he belongs far more closely than I do, and his zeal for which has always been well known. I feel that no good could arise to that Church if we, who are bound as much as we can to support him, were on this occasion to break away from his lead and refuse to accept the compromise he has conditionally assented to. The result of the conference leaves much to be lamented; but it is at least satisfactory to feel that the Irish Church will enter upon its new career without the addition of any further period of distracted and embittered controversy to turn its attention away from its high and lofty mission.
§ EARL RUSSELL
My Lords, I rejoice to see the approaching termination of this great controversy, and I cannot but think that, notwithstanding all the calumny which has been poured upon us, the conduct of the House of Lords on the subject of the Irish Church does them the highest honour. It was obvious that the plan of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church could not be welcome to your Lordships, and yet your Lordships, acting in accordance with the opinion of the country, affirmed the principle of the measure by a considerable majority. I cannot but add that in Committee the most rev. the Primate of England, representing, as he did, the Church of England, and naturally having great sympathy with the Church of Ireland, behaved with the greatest moderation, and did not ask for anything unreasonable on behalf of the Church. There are two points which I cannot refrain from mentioning. One is that to which the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) has adverted—the question of the glebe houses for the clergy. For my part I should have been glad 426 if those glebe houses could have been granted without any payment to the clergy of the Protestant Church. But if this been had been granted solely to the Protestant clergy, it is obvious that the principle of equality would have been departed from, and therefore, when it had been determined that no clergy or ministers of any other Church should have residences, it was obvious that Parliament could not make such a grant to the clergy of the Protestant Church. The other point which I wish to mention relates to the Preamble and the 68th clause. With regard to the words of the 68th clause, as they will stand as the clause has been amended and accepted by the Government—that after all claims have been satisfied the surplus shall be applied to the relief of unavoidable suffering and calamity, in such a way as Parliament shall hereafter determine, I cannot think that these words have, in reality, any force. I cannot suppose that, after many years have elapsed, and it is found that there is a considerable surplus, Parliament will not be at liberty to see whether there are any objects likely to be of advantage to Ireland which have superior claims to those of "unavoidable calamity or suffering," and to decide freely in what manner that surplus shall be applied. On the whole, I look upon this as a most just and beneficial measure, and I rejoice that after three centuries of injustice to Ireland we have reached the century of reparation for that unhappy country.
§ THE DUKE OF CLEVELAND
My Lords, in the main purpose of this Bill I have throughout agreed with Her Majesty's Government, although on some points I have entertained a different opinion from theirs. The Preamble, as altered by your Lordships, is, I understand from the explanation given to us to-night, agreed to by the Government; and I gathered from the remarks of my noble Friend and from those of the noble and learned Lord opposite—who did not appear to me to be quite explicit on the point—that something is to be introduced into the 68th clause which entirely confines the future disposition of the surplus, as far, at least, as one Parliament can bind another on such a matter. I hope the noble and learned Lord—whose speech was in all other respects so admirably 427 clear, and who seems to have adopted so conciliatory a course, and one forwhich this House, I think, is much indebted to him—I hope when we arive at the 68th clause we shall hear from the noble and learned Lord an explanation of the precise nature of the alteration which it is proposed to make in it. I do not now desire to revive the controversy as to the question of what has been called concurrent endowment. I think, after all that has occurred, that this would be a most inopportune moment for doing so. I thought, however, that the Preamble was originally framed in a manner that was highly objectionable, and it has been said that it was drawn with a view, to exclude the possibility of concurrent endowment. I should therefore like to know what are the precise words which the noble and learned Lord intends, in conjunction with the Government, to introduce into the 68th clause—if, indeed, he has entered into any engagement on that subject.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
My Lords, I must say, on my own part, that often as I have congratulated myself during this Session on having abdicated the responsible position which I lately held in this House in connection with the great Conservative party, I do so this evening more than ever when I consider the line taken by my noble and learned Friend, who, with his judicial mind and his great abilities, has effected what, I venture to think, perhaps no other noble lord on this side of the House could have succeeded in doing. My Lords, we ought all to be grateful to him for the manner in which he appears to have carried on this important negotiation. Nor would I be stingy in the expression of my gratitude, but I would extend that feeling to Her Majesty's Government for coming forward at this moment, ready to meet my noble and learned Friend in a fair spirit. When matters had arrived at the critical point which they had attained, I think it would have been a scandal, not only to this House, but to the whole country, if a compromise could not have been effected on the subject between the two Houses of Parliament. My Lords, after the division upon the second reading, in which the Conservative party were defeated in this House, the House of Lords admitted the principles of this Bill. Whether it be a good or a bad Bill, 428 they admitted the principles of disestablishment and disendowment; and I say that, after the many debates which have followed the adoption of those principles, it would have been most inexcusable—most shameful, I think—in reference both to the Parliament and to the country, if we had been unable to arrive at some settlement on points of detail. I congratulate your Lordships, therefore, on the settlement which has apparently been come to; and if the terms of that settlement are not altogether satisfactory to this side of the House—and, probably, no such negotiation can ever be carried out in a way that shall be perfectly satisfactory to either party—yet, I must congratulate your Lordships on having reached a point, which, bad as I think this Bill is in its principle and also in its details, will make it less baneful to the country which Her Majesty's Government, no doubt, believe it will benefit. I think, my Lords, that this House has hitherto conducted this great controversy throughout with a due regard to the duty which it has to perform. Without too rigidly insisting on the personal opinions of its Members, it has shown that it holds itself to be still an independent element of the State. That it has acted independently, honestly, and fairly, has been evinced by the great mixture of political opinions which the divisions which have taken place have exhibited. The discussions and divisions on various points of detail, prove that this has not been treated by your Lordships merely as a party question, but one on which individual Peers have spoken and voted according to their conscientious views of its merits. I think we may, therefore, look with indifference upon the criticisms of those who charge us with failing to do our duty. We may also disregard the language of those who say that the House of Lords must do this and must do that because the whole nation is against them. My Lords, I deny that the whole nation is against the House of Lords on this question. At least two-fifths of the House of Commons are opposed to this Bill, and as they represent, according to the spirit of the Constitution, two-fifths of the country, it is impossible to maintain, with any truth, that the opinion of the House of Lords on this measure is opposed by the whole nation. My Lords, I will not 429 trespass any further on your attention, but simply congratulate you again on the prospect of terminating this great controversy.
My Lords, I confess that I concur with my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) in not wishing to abandon the hope that when we come to the 68th clause, both sides of the House may agree that it is inexpedient to introduce words which can have no real effect. But, at the same time, I, for one, am not prepared—at all events, without the consent of all parties—to press for any alteration of that clause, as assented to by the noble and learned Lord behind me. But I rise now, merely for the purpose of expressing the great satisfaction with which I listened to the speech of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns). I rejoice to think that this great question is now settled, in a manner which—though I cannot say it is altogether satisfactory—though I cannot believe that it will prove so final and complete a settlement as might have been accomplished—though I fear it will leave behind for future years some difficult discussions and perplexing questions— though I feel all this, still I am, upon the whole, satisfied that a matter of so much difficulty and so much embarrassment— is likely to be settled in a manner which, at all events for the present, will relieve us from the difficulty in which we were involved. I must say that, in arriving at that settlement, great credit is due, both to the noble and learned Lord and also to Her Majesty's Government; and as what I said on a former evening gave great offence to the Friends of Her Majesty's Government, I am anxious to take this opportunity of saying that I think to-night they have made the best and a complete answer to the charge brought against them. When I look back to all the circumstances of the ease, to the nature of the answer that was returned by the House of Commons on the advice of Her Majesty's Ministers to the Amendments which we had made in the Bill, and to the manner in which that decision was recommended to the other House, I think they have no right to be surprised that I, and many besides myself, should have believed that some, at all events, of Her Majesty's Ministers— I never believed it of my noble Friend the Leader of this House, or of any of my noble Friends near him—were not 430 anxious for a settlement of this question without a triumph over this House. But I have the greatest satisfaction in declaring that, by the course they have now taken, they have completely dispelled all suspicion of that kind from my mind, and I have the greatest pleasure in thinking that they have acted in a manner that will promote the advantage of the country and the honour of both Houses of Parliament. I must be permitted to add one word more, and it is this — it is now thirty-four or thirty-five years since I first pressed on Parliament the opinion —which I have on various occasions since again and again insisted upon— that it was absolutely necessary, if we wished to restore tranquillity and prosperity to Ireland, to deal with this question of the Irish Church. It is, therefore, to me a matter of extreme satisfaction to find that this advice has been at length acted upon. But it is a satisfaction not altogether unqualified with regret, because I feel that, if only two or three years sooner, both parties would have looked at this question in a dispassionate spirit. They might have arrived at a more satisfactory settlement, and the Church and the country might have been left in a better position.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
My Lords, there have been so many noble Lords who are opposed to Her Majesty's Government, who on the present occasion have expressed their satisfaction at the arrangement which has been come to, that I think it is only fair to my noble Friends below me that some one of those who, with a single exception, have supported them throughout the whole Bill, and who, on all other points, approve the Bill as it was introduced, should say—on the part I hope of others as well as myself—that we also are gratified with what we have heard, and that we are relieved from an anxiety which I confess I have felt, to a great extent, since the division of last Tuesday. I must also say I was struck by the conciliatory tone adopted by the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns) when perhaps some excitement and a little angry feeling might have been expected to remain in the minds of your Lordships, and I think he deserves every compliment which has been paid him from both sides of the House for having so materially, on a most difficult question, contributed to a decision with which, I 431 may say generally, we are all perfectly satisfied. I am glad my noble Friend on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey) has paid a just tribute to the conciliatory spirit which has been displayed by Her Majesty's Government, and has confessed that by their conduct to night they have removed all the grounds of suspicion to which he gave expression on a former occasion. I can cordially join in the congratulations which have been offered to your Lordships on the settlement of this great question. No question of this great importance can be settled without a compromise and without concessions on either side; and there is this great advantage in such a proceeding—that when both parties feel that they have had something to do with the final arrangements, they feel more bound than they otherwise would be to stand by and defend the settlement. I do not believe that any question of importance was ever yet satisfactorily settled except by means of concessions made by opposite sides, and the permanency of such a settlement is infinitely greater when it is made by the consent of both parties. I do not think it would contribute to the harmony which I am glad to see prevails to refer in any way to past events. I think that the terms proposed by Her Majesty's Government, and accepted by the noble and learned Lord opposite on the part of his Friends, are fair and equitable as between both parties, and I confess I should be very sorry if any question was raised on the 68th clause which might occasion any difference of opinion. When the matter has been so far settled, I do not think it would be wise to raise any further question upon it. I think, then, that it will contribute to the settlement of this question if we do not attempt to re-open the arrangements which has been come to with the consent of the Leaders of both parties. I entirely agree with what fell from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury)—that after having gone so far it would have been a disgrace to Parliament if the question were suspended for another year. Nobody can say what agitation and excitement might have arisen within that time. It would also have been no slight matter to disappoint the hopes which have been raised among those in Ireland who looked to this Bill as a message of peace and conciliation. And if once this agitation had 432 been raised no one can say to what extent it would have gone, or what other questions might have been drawn in. I am convinced that it is for the good of the Irish people, for the tranquillity of Ireland, and for the peace of the Empire, that this question should have been speedily settled.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
My Lords, having taken the responsibility of urging upon your Lordships when this Bill was brought before you for second reading to reject it altogether, and not allow it to proceed to Committee, I feel that perhaps it is not amiss that I should, for a few moments, trespass on your Lordships' attention in reviewing the position in which we are now placed. My Lords, I confess that, under the circumstances, I believe my noble and learned Friend has done the best. I say under the circumstances; I wish I could add that much has been really gained for the Church. All that has been gained is confined to one single point. The 5 per cent added to the 7 per cent is the whole of the boon. Everything beyond that is only what the Protestant Church had a right to, and was promised, not only by Her Majesty's Government, but by Mr. O'Connell, by Mr. Miall, and by many Members of the Government in various places throughout the country and within these walls, and by many Members of the Lower House when they appealed to the constituencies on the hustings. Therefore it cannot be said the Church has gained much by our labours. But this House has gained something by the deference it has shown to public opinion —although I cannot help feeling that our deference to that opinion has been too great, because I have a strong conviction that the public opinion, most strongly expressed at this moment, is not that of the electors of the most populous districts, who I firmly believe are not in favour of this Bill. Still, we have shown by our endeavours to do what our convictions urged us to accomplish, that an hereditary branch of the Legislature has a vigour, an individuality, and an independence which do not belong to a representative body; and we have shown that, even although our conclusions may not be approved by the country at large, some will applaud them, and the whole country must admit that we have acted disinterestedly. My 433 Lords, we are now told we may look for happier times; God grant we may not look in vain! But I believe few Irishmen can very heartily join in the hope that has been expressed. With one party rendered dissatisfied, and the other not satisfied, I cannot but believe that the interests of Ireland have been sacrificed—not to Irish wishes or Irish feeling, but to the impulse of Englishmen bent on gratifying English notions. I congratulate the noble and learned Lord behind me in having brought this matter to an end. I wish I could offer an unqualified congratulation to the country at large on the measure before us.
§ LORD ATHLUMNEY
said, he had not opposed Her Majesty's Government from any feeling of hostility to their policy—he thought that in pursuing the course he had he should have been assisting them; and he deeply regretted that what he believed would have been a message of peace to Ireland, the giving of residences to the priests, had not been adopted. Those of their Lordships who did not reside in Ireland did not know what it was to live in a country distracted by religious dissensions, and he hoped that by passing this Bill they had provided for peace and conciliation. He regretted that the course he had recommended had not been followed; but the only course now open to their Lordships was to accept the measure as it had been offered to them by the Government, on the basis of the compromise made by the noble and learned Lord opposite and the noble Earl below him, who had conducted their proceedings upon this occasion with so much ability. The day had evidently come when Protestant ascendancy could no longer be maintained in peace; he firmly believed that ascendancy was not worth the price the Church was paying for it, and that the future would see the disestablished Church re-established on the firm basis of the hearts of the people. He thought the result of their present legislation would be that the Roman Catholics would see that they might look for justice to the united Parliament; and he believed the Protestants would soon be of opinion that the position they had held was not worth the keeping.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
Considering the confidential position in which I have been placed with refer- 434 ence to my noble and learned Friend behind me (Lord Cairns), I cannot allow the present debate to close without expressing my thanks to him for the manner in which he has conducted the negotiations with Her Majesty's Government. My Lords, I could not but feel that the vote to which I was very glad your Lordships came the night before last, and for which I was to some extent responsible, has placed the question in a most critical position; it was evident that this measure was in the very throes of its birth or the throes of its dissolution —and I cannot but feel thankful that the Government has taken what I conceive to be the wiser course, and has not allowed the possible irritation of that moment to induce them to adopt a course which might have been fruitful of the very worst consequences. But I must say that if the Government had thought it consistent with their duty to throw up the measure in consequence of that vote, the responsibility would have rested with them and not with your Lordships. My Lords, if one thing is clearer than another it is this—your Lordships passed the second reading of a measure, which it is notorious a great majority of your Lordships did not believe to be advantageous. Your Lordships do not approve the destruction of a Church which has been established in Ireland for the last 300 years. I venture to say that the great majority of your Lordships do not approve of this. But your Lordships felt that a decision had been pronounced by the country, and you only recognized a constitutional position by yielding to the decision of the country expressed by the constituencies. I will go further, and say that your Lordships have done more than yield to the opinion of the country. This question, as originally submitted to the country, involved only disestablishment and partial disendowment; but as time has passed on the demand upon us has grown—Vires acquirit eundo —and your Lordships have been asked to sanction, not partial, but total disendowment. Your Lordships have yielded that also, with exceptions so slight as to be hardly appreciable; but you have done it with credit to yourselves as a deliberative Assembly. We, on our side, have washed our hands of responsibility; we have protested against the provisions of the Bill; we have contended that the modifications which were suggested by 435 the right rev. Primate who judiciously presides over the Province of Canterbury might have been introduced; and we have maintained that the Church of Ireland, which has been so beneficial to that country, might have been maintained there side by side with other religions in that country. The responsibility of this act is not upon ourselves; it is upon Her Majesty's Government; and I believe that responsibility is one of no ordinary magnitude. I do not believe that this measure will answer the expectations of its friends. There are clouds arising; there are other questions which are pressing; Irishmen will not be satisfied with this measure, but they will regard your weakness to resist their demands as a justification for urging other demands in the future. Viewing the gravity of this crisis, and viewing the consequences which would have resulted had the measure been again relegated to the public opinion of this country and of Ireland, I, for one, am gratified at the result which has transpired, and I tender to my noble and learned Friend my thanks for the judicious manner in which he has carried on these negotiations.
§ EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, considering the decision of the constituencies at the last General Election, and the agitation which would have arisen had this measure been rejected—considering also the improved shape which the Bill has at last assumed—much as I dislike this Bill, I do not hesitate to say I should have regarded the loss of it, under such circumstances, as a public misfortune. It would have been no benefit to the country to have remitted the question to it again. Among other evils, agitation would have re-commenced, and the Church of Ireland would probably have been placed in a worse position than that which, under the present Bill, it holds. Therefore I am disposed to join the noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) in thanking the noble and learned Lord, for the courage he has shown in taking upon himself the responsibility of acceding to the terms proposed. It does require courage to take upon one's self such a responsibility without any opportunity of consulting the party by whom one is supported. Great praise is also due to the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies (Earl Granville), who, placed as he has been in such trying 436 circumstances, has not been diverted from the conciliatory temper for which he is so distinguished. Nor will I deny a share of praise upon this question to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. I do not think it desirable to re-open the question of the several Amendments. Considering that in the other House there was an utter absence of support for the clause which stood in my name, and which was carried in this House, I do not think I should have been entitled to ask your Lordships to adhere to it; and that is the opinion of other noble Lords who supported me. I have heard, however, that at a private meeting of Irish Members of Parliament a very strong opinion was expressed as to the substantial merits of this clause, and it was felt that, but for other reasons, such as attachment to the Government which introduced the Bill and an implied compact with the Nonconformists, the clause might well have been supported on its merits. I think your Lordships have reason to be satisfied that you adopted that clause and sent it to the other House, for your acceptance of it showed that you are animated by a liberal spirit towards all the religious denominations of Ireland. The adoption of that clause did honour to the independence of this House; and therefore, in urging your Lordships to adopt it, I feel I gave you no advice of which I have reason to be ashamed. I rejoice that we have arrived at a settlement of this controversy upon moderate terms; and I shall most cordially rejoice if our apprehensions with regard to the operation of this Bill are not fulfilled. At all events, if it become law, it is our duty to do our utmost to make it work well.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
I must join in acknowledging the intellectual ability and the good temper displayed by the noble Lords by whom the terms of this compromise have been arranged; but no one has said a word for the advocates of what is called concurrent endowment. The provision for it went down to the House of Commons, but nobody took any notice of it. To my mind that measure was merely an act of grace to the Catholics of Ireland; it was by no means concurrent endowment. For thirty-five years it has been an article in the Liberal creed that the Church of Ireland should be disestablished; we expected the hour 437 and the man; the hour came, and disestablishment takes place; but the man who carries it does not go the length other statesmen would have done for the last thirty-five or the last sixty-five years, by giving some endowment to the Roman Catholics. Therefore, in that respect, I think the measure is a failure. I agree with what was said by the noble Earl in his letter to Mr. Fortescue, that the real mode of carrying peace to Ireland would have been to endow the Presbyterian religion, to endow the Roman Catholics, and to give one-eighth of the property of the present Church revenues to the Protestant Episcopal Church. I think that if something in the way of endowment had been proposed by Mr. Gladstone it might have gone down with the people, and it is the absence of endowment which will henceforth be the evil of Ireland. Mr. Pitt proposed it in 1800, but on that occasion his plan was thwarted by the unfortunate malady of his Sovereign. Mr. Gladstone has not attempted it now, though he might have done so had he not been thwarted by the fanaticism of the Scotch nation. The opportunity of carrying such a scheme has, of course, now passed away. My only object in rising is to ask for some explanation as to what is to be done with the 68th clause, and the mode in which the surplus is to be dealt with on the clause. In common with other Members of your Lordships' House, I desire to know whether the surplus is to be devoted to the charitable purposes defined in the Bill until Parliament provides some other mode of expending the money, or whether the subject is left entirely open for the decision of a future Parliament? In the latter case another Act of Parliament will, of course, be necessary, and it will be open to us, when that Act is proposed, to express our opinion upon the destination of the money. It certainly appears to me that the Government have thrown away this money because they were afraid of devoting it to any proper use. They could not apply it to education for fear it might involve questions of religion, and they could not apply it to public works for fear of jobbery. If they applied it to railways, in the same manner they are afraid of the adverse opinion of the people of England. I should, therefore, be glad to hear what is the exact understanding 438 between the noble and learned Lord opposite and the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies as to the appropriation of the surplus, and it is for that reason, and that reason alone, that I trespass upon the attention of the House.
§ LORD CAIRNS
In answer to the question which has been addressed to me by the noble Lord who has just sat down, and by the noble Duke below the Gangway (the Duke of Cleveland), I may say that the proposition made to me by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) was that the 68th clause should read in this way—And whereas it is further expedient that the proceeds of the said property should be appropriated mainly to the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering, yet not so as to cancel or impair the obligations now attached to property under the Acts for the relief of the poor, be it further enacted that the said proceeds shall be so applied accordingly, in the manner Parliament shall hereinafter provide.The interpretation which I then put, and which I still put, upon these words was that they contain a general abstract proposition by way of Preamble, which, while I cannot quite agree with it, appears to me to be innocuous coupled with what follows, which provides that not 1s. shall be expended until the consent of Parliament has been obtained. As I have risen, perhaps your Lordships will permit me to say a word or two on one other matter, although not actually concerning the precise portion of the Bill now before us. My noble Friend who sits near me (the Earl of Devon), on the third reading of the Bill, induced your Lordships to depart from an Amendment to which you had agreed in Committee, by which their seats in this House were secured for the lifetime of the present holders to the right rev. Prelates who represent the Church Establishment in Ireland in the rotation to which they were respectively entitled. I said at the time that the proposal, as it appeared to me, was not one to which we ought to agree unless the right rev. Prelates themselves expressed a willingness to relinquish their seats in this House. Some time before that Motion was made, I had a communication made to me by my most rev. Friend who presides over the Province of Dublin, on behalf of himself and all the Irish Prelates, which I think it only due to them to mention. He stated to me on behalf of 439 the Irish Prelates that they had no desire whatever to retain their seats in this House, or to make the retention of those seats a subject of struggle for their own sakes; or for any additional dignity or personal advantage that might be supposed to accrue to them for the retention of their seats in this House. But they said they looked upon this whole question as one which must, sooner or later, in the event of the Bill becoming law, be the subject of some arrangement, and they said that if concession on their sides could be made the ground of any benefit whatever being obtained by the Church to which they were so much attached, they were perfectly ready to make that concession, and would willingly make it in order to obtain any such benefit. Owing to the manner in which the Motion of my noble Friend was brought forward, it was, of course, impossible that any such consideration as that should be mentioned, and I was therefore unable to state that this was the desire and the wish of the right rev. Prelates, and it is only right that I should mention it now.
§ THE EARL OF FINGALL, on behalf of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, begged to offer his warmest and most heartfelt thanks to their Lordships for the decision to which they had come that evening. When the news of that night's proceedings reached Ireland cries of joy would ring from one end of the country to the other.
§ THE EARL OF BANDON
desired that it should be known that he, at least, was no party to the compromise that had been proposed that evening, by which the Irish Church had been deprived of property which belonged to it by the prescription not of 300, but of more than 1000 years—of property which was guaranteed to it by the Magna Charta of Ireland — which was guaranteed to it at the time of the Reformation —which was guaranteed to it by the Act of Settlement and by the Act of Union. So far from agreeing with the noble Earl who had just sat down, his opinion was that when the telegrams conveyed to that country the news of the decision of that evening a deep and wide-spread feeling of sorrow would be occasioned amongst the Protestants of that country. What were they to gain by the compromise they had just heard of? He contended that they 440 would gain literally nothing. Indeed, the only thing the Church of Ireland was alleged to have gained was the power of commuting. It was more than twenty-five years since he had first spoken in the House of Commons in defence of the Irish Church, and he was glad that he was still able to say a word—it might be for the last time—on its behalf in the hour in which so great a calamity was about to overtake it.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, perhaps I may be allowed to say in one word how singularly gratifying it has been to me to find by the speeches on every side of the House the entire absence of party spirit which has marked our proceedings to-night; and it is singularly gratifying to me also to hear the noble and learned Lord say that when he was good enough to ask to speak to me confidentially and with perfect frankness I met that proposal in the same spirit in which it was made. I need not say how glad I am to have this opportunity of bearing testimony not only to the perfect accuracy, but likewise to the remarkable clearness and succinctness with which he stated to the House what had passed at that interview. With regard to the suggestion of the most rev. Prelate that the proposal of 12 per cent came from Her Majesty's Government, I think it is only fair to us that the House should not be in any doubt on the subject. That was not a proposal made by us, but a proposal made by the noble and learned Lord; and though we have agreed to recommend it with all our power to the House of Commons we do so only as a concession to your Lordships' House, and as a means of arriving at a speedy settlement of this great and important question.
THE BISHOP OF TUAM
My Lords, as it does not seem probable that a division will be taken on the subject of this night's debate; and as therefore there may not be the opportunity of shewing one's opinion by a vote, I cannot remain silent, and thus appear to sanction what I so completely disapprove. I wish to free myself from all blame, or from the imputation of acquiescing in the turn which things have taken. I do not intend to occupy your Lordships' time for more than a few minutes, but I desire emphatically to protest against these proceedings, as explained to us by the noble Earl (Earl Granville) on the part 441 of Her Majesty's Government, and the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns). It is not a pleasant duty, when all seems so smooth, and arranged to mutual satisfaction, to rise and express unqualified dissent; still, in so doing, while compliments are passing between the two sides of the House, it is not my intention unnecessarily to use harsh words. First, I must say that I do not accept the terms of the agreement as consonant with the high principles on which we should be found acting, or as advantageous to the cause of the Irish Branch of the Established Church—soon, I now conclude, to be disestablished; on the contrary, I believe that in many respects the Irish Church has, by this agreement, received very bad and disadvantageous terms. Though I feel it right to say this, and acquit my conscience, I am quite aware that the agreement deals with mere matters of detail, comparatively worthless; and though I attended, and took part in every night's proceedings while we were in Committee, and did what lay in my power to prevent or mitigate the injurious action of this Bill, still I felt, and would wish again to declare, that everything which was worth defending had been given up when you passed the second reading of the Bill. With my present protest ends the duty which I have thus desired to fulfil as regards the Bill, affecting so injuriously as it does, the interests both of our Church and nation. It will become my duty, should the Bill pass into law, then to struggle in our altered condition for the best interests of our true religion, and I trust I shall not be wanting in zealous endeavours to render our Church as effective and useful as possible. But still, I enter my protest against every part and every enactment of this shameful Bill. I protest against what I regard as a national sin—the separation, I mean, of religion from the State—a national sin likely to draw upon us national calamity. I protest against the Bill, because it admits the principle that you have a right to touch property conveyed by solemn compacts for special purposes, which have been faithfully carried out. I protest against it, because it applies to secular purposes what has been dedicated to the service of Almighty God. I protest against it, because I believe it involves a violation of the Coronation Oath. I protest against it, because I 442 believe it involves a violation of the Act of Settlement. I protest against it, because I believe it involves a violation of the Act of Union between England and Scotland; I protest against it, because I believe it involves a violation of the Act of Union between England and Ireland; solemn compacts in which national honour is, I believe, bound up. I protest against it, as doing grievous injustice to the laity of Ireland. I protest against it, as consigning to stereotyped poverty a large number of our best clergy with blighted prospects; and then, moreover, I protest against it, as a violation of the rights of property—draw what distinction you will between corporate and private property—still it invades these rights which are entwined through all our social system. This feature of your Bill is already bearing bitter fruit in Ireland; it is educating the people, by thus making light of the rights of the property of the Church, to anticipate a speedy and easy settlement of the land question according to their favourite views. You tell us that this Church Bill is to be a message of peace to Ireland, and to heal all its maladies. But what fruit has it as yet produced? Why, the few months during which you have been dealing with this measure have been marked with agrarian crimes, greater in extent, and more formidable in character than for many years. Nay, the fruit of your rash legislation has been this—to give confidence to the disaffected, and a sense of insecurity to those who are the bone and sinew of a nation's strength. Government such as this reverses the Scripture character of government, and becomes the praise of evil doers and the punishment of them that do well.
§ Motion, That the House do not insist upon the Amendment, agreed to.
§ Clause 27 (Enactments with respect to ecclesiastical residences).
§ Moved, Not to insist on the Amendment to which the Commons have disagreed.— (Earl Granville.)
THE ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN
said, that he could not consent to the Commons' Amendment in this clause. The sum of money involved was very small, and at whatever inconvenience to the House, he must divide upon it.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, that concessions had been made on both sides, that many noble Lords had left the House on the understanding that a settlement had been arrived at, and under these circumstances he trusted the most rev. Prelate would not divide the House.
§ THE EARL of BANDON
said, that the clergyman of the Free Church might be the only person in a parish who would have a difficulty in finding a house. If the houses were handed over free, as originally promised by the Prime Minister, it would involve a sum of only about £100,000. He hoped, therefore, the noble Earl opposite would not refuse to give the houses free of charge.
THE ARCHBISHOP of DUBLIN
said, it was only through ignorance of the rules of the House that he had not given warning of his intention to divide on this matter.
§ THE EARL OF COURTOWN, though cordially agreeing with the most rev. Prelate, hoped he would not divide the House.
§ VISCOUNT DE VESCI
said, it would put the House to great inconvenience if the most rev. Prelate should divide; and, as the noble Earl had stated, many noble Lords had left the House in the belief that there would be no divisions.
THE BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER and BEISTOL
said, that those on the right rev. Bench could be no parties to the arrangement which had been made. He regretted extremely at all times to disturb the harmony of any assembly, but this was a very grave case, when the Primate representing the Irish Church in that House came down and found that arrangements had been made of which he could not be fully cognizant.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, that he had the honour of being the author of the Amendment which had been so unceremoniously burked. But as the commander of the numerous forces on that side of the House had come to an arragement, he did not think there was anything else for himself to do but to yield. He did not like the arrangement, but the noble and learned Lord had acted for the best.
said, that the only question before the country at the late elections was that of disestablishment. The details of disendowment certainly were not before it, with the 444 one single exception of these charges upon the glebe houses, and nobody disputed that these houses were to be delivered up free of charge. While anxious not to disturb the harmony of the House, which was like shaking hands after a quarrel, if the most rev. Prelate should go to a division he should feel bound to vote with him. He totally denied that this Bill would conciliate Ireland, or that it would establish religious equality in that country. It did not follow because the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian clergymen were not to receive glebe houses that therefore the Protestant clergyman should be deprived of his.
THE EARL OF LEITRIM
thought the Bill dangerous in all its principles and all its branches, and it had been carried through the House by the help of statements totally unfounded. It was most desirable that these houses should be retained for the Protestant clergy. He was sure that this country would not give up its Protestant principles and that there would be a great re-action before long.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, after what had taken place, he thought it would be seen that a Parliamentary title was not a very secure one, and that a title by purchase would give little better security.
THE BISHOP OF LICHFIELD
said, he objected to the Bill on principle, but he was in the hands of the House. He could not but say that the Irish Church had been sacrificed.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided: — Contents 47; Not-Contents 17: Majority 30.445
|Hatherley, L. (L. Chancellar.)||Morley, E.|
|Beaufort, D.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Cleveland, D.||Halifax, V.|
|Marlborough, D.||Sydney, V.|
|Norfolk, D.||Torrington, V.|
|Normanby, M.||Chester, Bp,|
|Camperdown, E.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork and|
|De Grey, E.||Cairns, L.|
|Devon, E.||Camoys, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Carew, L.|
|Granville, E.||Charlemont, L. (E. Char|
|Kimberley, E.||Clandeboye, L. (L. Duf-|
|Lichfield, E.||ferin and Claneboye.)|
|Colville of Culross, L.||Northbrook, L.|
|De Tabley, L.||Ponsonby L. (E. Bess-|
|Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)||borough.) [Teller.]|
|Foley, L. [Teller.]||Seaton, L.|
|Granard, L. (E. Gra-||Somerhill, L. (M. Clan-|
|Hylton, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Lawrence, L.||Stratheden, L.|
|Leigh, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Lurgan, L.||Sundridge, L. (D. Ar-|
|Dublin, Archp.||Clements, L. (E. Lei-|
|Bandon, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Denman, L|
|De Vesci, V.||O'Neill, L|
|Gough, V.||Redesdale, L.|
|Lifford, V.||Sherborne, L.|
|Derry and Raphoe, Bp.||Silchester, L. (E. Long-|
|Lichfield, Bp.||ford.) [Teller.]|
|Tuam, &c, Bp.|