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Commons Chamber

Volume 135: debated on Wednesday 19 July 1854

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, July 19, 1854.

MINUTES.] PUBLIC BILLS.—l° National Gallery, &c. (Dublin); Friendly Societies Acts Continuance; Admiralty Court.

Reported—Jury Trial (Scotland).

Business Of The House

Mr. Speaker, I rise to move that the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to the Oxford University Bill be taken into consideration to-morrow se'nnight. In making this Motion, I will take the opportunity of making a statement relative to the business of the House. My attention has been called to a Resolution of the House of Lords of May 2, which is to the effect that no Bills coming from the House of Commons be read a second time, except Bills of Supply, after the 25th of July, unless they be measures of peculiar urgency, or are brought in in consequence of recent circumstances, which must be stated to the House. I am not now quoting the words, but that is the substance of the Resolution of the House of Lords. Well, I do not know that we can much complain that, after the 25th of July, there should be an unwillingness on the part of the House of Lords to consider new measures, but at the same time there is some difficulty in making the business of this House accord with that Resolution. I have thought it best so to arrange the business of this House, that the measures that we can send to the other House shall be sent up by Monday next. There is one Bill more especially which is of the greatest importance to the three kingdoms—the Bill with respect to bribery and corrupt practices at elections. This House has given a great deal of time to that Bill, and I hope it will go through this House without much more discussion. But there are two important points still to be considered — namely, whether this House will sanction in any way, or will withhold its sanction from, any expenses for refreshment or allowances for travelling, and likewise whether any declaration shall be made by Members, either at their nomination or in this House. Still, I hope that we may settle this question, and fix the Bill for a third reading, so that it may arrive in the House of Lords in time. That Bill stands for twelve o'clock to-morrow; and if we do not get through the consideration in Committee of the whole of the clauses, I shall propose to take it again at the evening sitting, and to proceed with it in such a manner that, possibly on Friday, or at the latest on Monday, we may send it to the House of Lords. There are various other Bills of considerable public importance that it will be necessary to take before Committee of Supply, which I had proposed to take on Friday. I will take care that they are placed on the Orders of the Day for to-morrow, so that the House may know what Bills are to be first proceeded with. With this statement, I move that the Order of the Day for considering the Lords' Amendments of the Oxford University Bill be now read, in order that it may be postponed until to-morrow se'nnight, and I think that the consideration of any other Bills coming down from the House of Lords had better be postponed, in consequence of the Resolution of the House of Lords to which I have called attention.

Motion agreed to; Consideration of Lords' Amendments deferred from to-morrow till Thursday, 27th July.

Church Temporalities, &C (Ireland)—Adjourned Debate (Third Night)

Order read, for resuming adjourned Debate on Question [13th June]—"That leave be given to bring in a Bill to alter and amend the Laws relating to the Temporalities of the Church in Ireland, and to increase the means of religious instruction and church accommodation for Her Majesty's Irish subjects."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.

said, that, notwithstanding the impracticability of considering a measure of such importance at this advanced period of the Session, he considered it right that an opportunity should be afforded to the hon. and learned Mem- ber (Mr. Serjeant Shee) of answering the statements that had been made, and he therefore thought he had discharged his duty by moving the adjournment of the debate on the previous occasion.

said, he considered he was entitled to call the attention of the House to any subject in which a large constituency were interested, but more especially when he had been charged with such misstatements and exaggeration, he was bound to vindicate himself. He should proceed at once to reply to what had been stated by the opponents of the measure. The House would recollect that when he introduced this question he stated the object was to transfer a portion of the surplus income of the Irish clergy of the Established Church to Commissioners composed of Presbyterians and Roman Catholics, for the purpose of employing it in a manner similar to that in which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland employed a large portion of their revenue —namely, in rebuilding, repairing, and refurnishing places of worship for the Presbyterian and Catholic communities. He proposed that the accounts of such Commissioners should be laid before the House annually, and that they should be appointed by the Crown. He had also gone into various statistics, and quoted the opinions of Dr. Paley and Bishop Warburton, that the Established Church of Ireland had failed in its object, and he had submitted that, there being at the most only 882,000 members of that Church out of a population of 6,500,000, it did not effect the object of civil utility, on which alone, according to the opinion of Bishop Warburton, a Church establishment was justifiable. He had also quoted the opinions of Lord Brougham, Lord Grey, Lord Campbell, the noble Lord the President of the Council, and the right hon. Baronet the Colonial Secretary, that the present state of the Church Establishment in Ireland was indefensible. In reply to that, the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland (Sir J. Young) said, that the opinions in question only applied to the state of the Irish Church at a very distant period, and not at the present day; but he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) would remind the House that those opinions had all been given after the settlement of the Irish Church in 1833; and that in 1836 Lord Morpeth brought in a Bill on the subject which differed in no material respect, except the manner in which the surplus revenue was proposed to be appropriated, from the Bill which he now asked leave to introduce. In a question of such importance, he asked, could the House blame him, representing as he did a constituency of 150,000 souls, of whom 8,000 alone were Protestants, for wishing to bring in a Bill on the matter, when he found the whole of the ecclesiastical revenues of his diocese in the hands of the clergy of those 8,000 persons; while the clergy of the members of his own creed had neither houses to live nor churches to worship in, unless they provided them out of their private resources? What was he there for if he had not a right to bring this shameful grievance before the people of England? And he believed that when they were informed of it, they would be the first to correct the abuses he complained of. What he asked was, whether they would maintain their Establishment in dignity and honour, and not whether they would in any great degree deprive it of its funds? This was the first time that an attempt had been made to bring this subject before the House, without in any way exceeding the liberty given to the Roman Catholics by the oath which they took on entering the House; for the proposition which he made to them was quite consistent with the maintenance of the present Established Church in honour and dignity. He was astonished that, after the description he had given of the state of things in Ireland in moving for leave to introduce this Bill, there should be any objection to allowing him to lay it on the table; for that step did not in the smallest degree pledge them to an approval of its principle. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) had accused him of overrating the income of the Irish Church. He would, however, prove that he had done no such thing. He had stated that the permanent revenue received by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was 95,000l. per annum, and that there was also an additional revenue of 15,000l. per annum not of the same permanent character. Now, this was actually quoted from Archdeacon Stopford's book, and he had it on better authority even than that, for it was stated in the last Report of the Commissioners themselves. Then, again, he stated the income of the archbishops and bishops at 68,000l. That also was taken from a paper which must have been supplied by the Ecclesias- tical Commissioners themselves; and he had a return made by the archbishops and bishops, stating their net income, after making the most ludicrous deductions, such as insurance on their houses, interest at 5l. per cent on account of money expended on their houses, poor rates—only fancy that!—and various other small deductions, at 64,430l.; therefore he could not be considered to have been very far wrong in stating it at 68,000l., because he did not admit the justice of the deductions in question. Then, again, he had stated the parochial revenue of the Irish Church at 438,000l., and there again he based his calculations on the figures in the Archdeacon's book, who, he must say, had shown great courtesy in the controversy, and behaved in a manner very different to that which had been misrepresented of him. He might also justify in the same way his statement of 12,000l. for the revenue of dignitaries, and 9,000l. for prebendaries, &c. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman said he was wrong in his surplus; now, he could show that he was quite right. In addition to the 95,000l. now disposable by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as permanent income, there was a sum of 15,000l. a year not considered as permanent, but which presented a prospective increase up to 18,000l. or 20,000l., and there was also a sum of 35,000l. put down by the Ecclesiastical commissioners for expenditure in church requisites, such as surplices, candles, bibles, prayer-books, &c.; and he must say, that considering the indifferent manner in which the churches of Roman Catholics—the bulk of the population—were furnished, they ought to blush and be ashamed of such a charge. They might economise that item, and also effect a considerable saving by reducing the income of the archbishops of the Established Church in Ireland to 4,000l., and that of bishops to 2,500l. annually, which he thought, considering the small proportion of the Protestant population, would be amply sufficient. At present the aggregate amount of their incomes was 64,000l., and some of them had more patronage than the Lord Chancellor; for, as they well knew, in Ireland the Crown exercised very little patronage comparatively. He spoke with great respect of those eminent prelates, who were not at all disliked in Ireland, who lived at home and were personally very charitable; still he submitted, that the sum he had named would be amply sufficient. They could also save 50,000l. a year upon the various benefices in certain dioceses of Ireland without depriving any one of the means of religious instruction. There were 395 benefices in those dioceses, the population of which, before the famine, was 998,000 Catholics and only 16,700 Protestants of all denominations. The income derivable from them was between 80,000l. and 90,000l. The churches were very close to each other, there being often five or six within a circuit of three or four miles. In the diocese of Cloyne, where there were sixty-five churches, he had ascertained, by having them actually counted, that the number of attendants of all ages, on Easter Sunday, was under 4,000 out of a population of 250,000. By forming the churches into unions—which could be done with great facility, and with no inconvenience as far as church accommodation went—the sum he had mentioned might be saved, and they could still pay the clergymen, on the average, 400l. per annum, and give them a house to live in. Such was the plan which he wished the House to adopt, and which he believed would tend to the benefit of the country. He was, indeed, quite aware that it would not be acceptable to the Irish country gentlemen, who were in favour of the continuance of the Established Church in its present condition and with its present abuses, because they knew that they were now certain to get a good living, or, perhaps, a bishopric for one of their sons. He would prove to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland, that the sum he had mentioned could be economised beyond all question. In 1848, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners made a return of the benefices which, by the death of the incumbents, had become subject to the tax imposed under the Church Temporalities Act, and also of those which had not so become subject, and he found that 283 were not liable to the tax. Some of them had enormous incomes, and the surplus above 300l. a year was 56,000l., the whole of which might be saved. Then, again, with respect to the expenses of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, a saving might be effected. The members of that Commission were Bishops, and received no salary; yet, he found that, while the amount of money dealt with by the Commissioners was 992,000l., the expenses amounted to no less than 127,474l., or 12¼l. per cent, which he considered intolerable. If this Bill should pass—and he firmly believed that, before long, either this Bill or some similar measure would be adopted—he proposed that the charge of 35,000l. now paid for the sacramental elements should be defrayed by the rich Protestants of Ireland. He further proposed that 30,000l. should be paid annually to the Catholic Ecclesiastical Commissioners, 10.000l. a Year to the Presbyterian Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and that 5,000l. a year should be placed in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant and the Irish Privy Council, to be distributed among other Protestant communities. There would still remain a sum of 169,000l. to be hereafter realised on the death of the present prelates and incumbents of the Protestant Church, and he proposed that this sum should be divided into six parts, three-sixths being placed at the disposal of the Catholic Ecclesiastical Commissioners, two-sixths remaining in the hands of the present Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland, and the other sixth being paid over to the Presbyterian Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with the view of building churches for the Irish Presbyterians, by whom such accommodation was greatly required. Very large sums of money had been expended upon the churches of the Establishment, and it appeared from the Reports of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners that a sum of 35,000l. or 36,000l. a year would be amply sufficient to keep those churches in repair for the future. Even after that deduction, however, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the Established Church would still have in their hands an annual income of 60,000l., which he thought would afford ample means for the augmentation of small livings. He thought he had now disposed of the objections of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, and he must express his astonishment that that right hon. Baronet, on the part of the Government, should have opposed the introduction of this Bill, and should have said that the present arrangement with respect to the temporalities of the Established Church in Ireland was final. If the right hon. Baronet entertained that opinion, he would find himself very much mistaken, and if the present Administration persisted in such an idea there would soon be an end of their Government. He would tell the Government that the doctrine of finality with reference to this question would not do, and, for his own part, he would endeavour by every means in his power, consistently with the solemn oath he had taken at the table of the House, to put an end to the shameful grievances to which he had called attention. It was quite true that no Government could stand which had the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) for their Attorney General, for he, far more than Lord Derby, was the cause of the downfall of the late Government. Still he remembered that the leader of that party in the House of Commons (Mr. Disraeli) had once stated—he had, it was true, given no proof of his intention to carry such a policy into effect—that the only way to deal successfully with Ireland was to set this question at rest. But let that be as it might, it was impossible that the present Government could continue to hold office on the principle of upholding the present Irish Church. By so doing they deprived themselves of the support of himself and of many other hon. Gentlemen, who, while sympathising with them on almost every other subject, were prevented, by their policy on this, from enlisting themselves in the ranks of their supporters. The late Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. G. A. Hamilton), whose absence on this occasion he regretted, had made some very severe criticisms upon his speech, and had accused him of misstatements and exaggeration. The hon. Gentleman said that he had stated that the episcopal and parochial clergy in the diocese of Ossory shared among them a revenue amounting to 60,000l., while the Parliamentary returns showed the revenue to be only 50,307l. The hon. Gentleman, however, made several deductions, the justice of which he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) did not admit, and be found that he had actually understated the revenue, which amounted to about 61,500l. The hon. Gentleman had also taken exception to his statements with respect to the income of the episcopal and parochial clergy of the diocese of Cashel, which he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) had stated at 42,000l., and, on further investigation, he found the actual amount was 42,611l., the hon. Member (Mr. Hamilton) having made deductions which he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) contended ought not to be allowed. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the diocese of Limerick. He (Mr. Serjeant Shee) stated the episcopal and parochial revenue at 31,500l., while the hon. Member said that it appeared from the returns to be only 26,215l. In this case, however, the hon. Gentleman made deductions which were not justifiable since the passing of the Rent Charge Act, and he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) found that the actual revenue was 31,880l., instead of 31,500l. The hon. Gentleman further charged him with a misstatement respecting the revenues of Armagh, Clogher, Down, Derry, and other dioceses, which he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) had estimated at 170,000l. annually, while the hon. Gentleman said that those revenues, according to the returns, amounted only to 139,686l. He found, however, that, including the episcopal and diaconal incomes, which were omitted by the hon. Gentleman, the actual revenue of these dioceses was 172,023l. annually. The hon. Gentleman also said that he had represented that the cost of churches in the diocese of Ossory had been 105,000l., whereas the Parliamentary return showed that it had only been 99,559l.; but the hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten the cost of churches built by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners since 1836 and 1837, when the return to which he had alluded was made. He found that, since 1836, seventeen new churches had been erected in the diocese of Ossory, at a cost to the Commissioners of 16,000l., so that he ought to have stated the expenditure at 115,000l. instead of 105,000l. The hon. Gentleman had fallen into a similar error with regard to the churches built in the dioceses of Cashel and Limerick. He found that the actual cost of churches in the diocese of Cashel had been upwards of 54,000l., instead of 51,000l., as he had before stated. With regard to the diocese of Limerick, he was ready to admit he had made a mistake. He had stated the cost of new churches in that diocese at 53,098l., and the hon. Member for Dublin University (Mr. Hamilton) said it was only 45,935l. He (Mr. Serjeant Shee) found on a more accurate investigation that the actual cost had been 51,421l. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) had thought fit to comment upon some of the remarks which he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) had made in bringing his Bill under the notice of the House. That right hon. and learned Gentleman was the bitter and irreconcilable foe of the great body of his countrymen. He considered that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was a man who rendered it impossible for hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition benches to conduct a Government; for he believed they might have had some chance of remaining in office if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not been a Member of their Administration. He thought that the best thing those hon. Members could do would be to give the right hon. and learned Gentleman an intimation that, at the earliest opportunity, he would be placed upon the bench, where, no doubt, he would administer justice with the impartiality which distinguished both Protestant and Catholic Judges in Ireland. The possibility of a Government of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman might be a Member was, however, out of the question, for the whole body of Irish representatives would oppose any Government which gave the right hon. and learned Gentleman a seat in Dublin Castle. The hon. and learned Gentleman then proceeded to reply at some length to the charge made against him by Mr. Napier that he had founded his arguments upon the population returns of 1834, as if, during the twenty years which had subsequently elapsed, there had been no change in the numbers of the Irish population; and referred to a pamphlet which he had published upon this subject to show that in every case of reference to population he had stated the increase or decrease in the population of the districts to which he alluded. The statements which he had made with respect to the attendance of Protestants at divine worship in their churches on Easter Sunday, 1853, were borne out by the facts of the case. Under the Church Temporalities Act, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had enormous funds for building churches, and they had actually built ninety-eight new churches, and repaired fifty-nine, but none of these was at Achill. Therefore he inferred that the statements of the Bishop of Tuam relative to the increase of Protestantism at that spot were founded on hallucination. With regard to another charge of misrepresentation, he had never stated that the Bishop of Cloyne had an income of 3,000l.; but he had stated, as was the fact, that he had an income of 2,498l. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, again, charged him with misstating the income of the Archbishop of Armagh; but that most rev. Prelate himself returned his gross income at 16,299l., and his net income, after all possible deductions, at 14,634l.,the amount he had named. It was not honest to endeavour to disparage a man who came forward openly to bring questions of this kind in a fair manner before the House. It was absurd to pretend that the Church Establishment could be subverted by a measure which left to every archbishop an income of 4,000l. a year, and to every bishop one of 2,500l. He was astonished at the manner in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman bad dealt with this case, and could only express his wonder that any one who was capable of doing so should ever have been Attorney General, or that any one who aspired to be Attorney General again should think of dealing with the case in such a manner. Whatever the meaning of the oath taken by Catholics might be, it was their duty and interest to observe it faithfully; but he could not admit that the construction placed upon it by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was the correct one. He did not believe it would be for the advantage of the community, that the Church Establishment of Ireland should be thrown down; for if it were, the Roman Catholics would be deluged with an army of proselytisers, who would publish all sorts of blasphemies against their religion, instead of having resident amongst them a body of amiable and well-educated gentlemen, who, though not agreeing in religious sympathies and opinions with the population generally, never failed in seasons of distress to stretch out a helping hand of charity to the sufferers. In every book he had published on the subject, he had avowed these opinions, and his hon. Friends near him differed from him because he had done so. His belief was, that they would not be well advised, if they sought the destruction of the Church Establishment through the means lately suggested; and they ought to be glad to connect themselves, he would not say as stipendiaries, but through the medium of an Act of Parliament with the Government of the country. For these reasons he regretted very much the proposals lately made for giving up the endowment of Maynooth. His conviction was, that there could be no hope of good government in Ireland, nor of any good understanding between the two countries, or of carrying on the system of public policy by a Liberal Administration, until Members representing Catholic constituencies were satisfied on this great question of the Irish Church. It was to promote this consolidation of the Union, for the purpose of getting rid of all distrust, animosity, and dissension, and of producing, so far as was consistent with the maintenance of the Established Church, religious equality in every benefice in Ireland, that he proposed this Bill. He was in the hands of the House as to whether there should be a division or not. He was quite willing to divide, and did not care about being in a minority, for his hope was hereafter to count the men who came over to him. He trusted in the good sense and justice of the people of England, that they would not long tolerate this great abuse.

said, in explanation, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had professed to state the incomes of the bishops and clergy of Ireland as they stood under the Church Temporalities Act; but, according to that Act, the deductions to be made from the income of the Archbishop of Armagh amounted to 6,000l., and, therefore, the hon. and learned Serjeant had stated the income of that Prelate at 6,000l. more than the proper amount, as appeared on the face of the return.

said, that fact was no doubt stated in a note, which note also appeared in the printed copy of the speech as circulated.

said, he could speak from his own knowledge as to the numerous attendance in two churches lately built in Achill, and it was his belief that if more Protestant churches were supplied in Ireland, congregations would be found to fill them.

said, that as a matter of courtesy, he would, if the House divided, vote for the introduction of the Bill, but he must, at the same time, express his conviction that the measure would continue unacceptable to the great body of the liberal Roman Catholic Members. He much regretted that the noble President of the Council should have enunciated the proposition that the question of the Protestant Church in Ireland had been finally settled. Finality upon all such matters was a term which the noble Lord might well have learned to avoid; and he must warn the noble Lord that it was not by any such propositions he could hope long to retain the support of a large body in that House who at present rendered him their aid. The noble Lord would do well to bear in mind that there were many Members of that House who supported Ministers, not so much from love to them, as from hostility to their antagonists over the way, and the noble Lord would act wisely in not overtaxing the patience of those who for such reasons supported him.

said, that the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat had addressed his observations to the Government, who, on the present occasion, were represented by empty benches. The hon. Member had said, that the conduct of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who was Attorney General for Ireland under the Government of Lord Derby would have prevented Liberal Roman Catholics supporting that Government; but he was happy to say that in the estimation of the people of England, the brightest part of the Administration of Lord Derby was the conduct of the Irish Executive. The hon. Member had, with great good sense, deprecated the course taken by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Serjeant Slice). The misstatements which had been made showed that there were those who, with terms of peace on their lips, sought for nothing less than the overthrow of the Established Church in Ireland. They were seeking to effect that at a time when the population of the country had been reduced, and when, as admitted by the hon. Member for Cork, the Roman Catholics were not much more than a half of the population. [Cries of "No, no!"] He believed that the hon. Member had said that they were five-eighths. It appeared that nearly 2,000,000 of Roman Catholics had gone to the United States, the greater part of whom had in that country abandoned the Roman Catholic faith. [Cries of "No, no!"] That, however, was the statement of Priest Mullins. He wished to know, therefore, whether the present was a proper time for the hon. and learned Serjeant to propose the suppression of nearly 400 benefices of the Established Church? [Mr. Serjeant SHEE: The consolidation of 395 benefices]. The diminution by consolidation of 395 benefices. Surely that was interfering with the Church of Ireland. Moreover, it was a notorious fact that the Roman Catholic people in the west, as stated by the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Frewen), were joining the Protestant Church, and were becoming sensible of the blessings which it conferred on Ireland. Those blessings could not be denied, and yet lion. Members were trying to undermine an Establishment, the merits of which were daily acknowledged by the accession to it of hundreds of thousands of the people. Surely, then, hon. Members could not deny that conversion was going on rapidly in the west of Ireland, that the Roman Catholic population had enormously diminished, and that the number of persons belonging to the Established Church in Ireland was now much greater than it was when they were returned at 800,000. If there was any feeling of liberality among Roman Catholics—if they were not actuated by a blind desire to assail the religion of their fellow-countrymen—the last thing they would attempt to do would be to seek to deprive their fellow-countrymen of the benefits of a Church which hundreds of thousands of them had made the Church of their choice, and which had conferred such blessings on the country.

said, he was prepared to vote for the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend, because he thought he ought at least to have an opportunity of laying his Bill before the House. At the same time he objected to its principle, because he could not understand how any Roman Catholic Member could bring in a measure respecting the Irish Church which had not for its object the getting rid entirely of that abuse and standing nuisance in the country. He would not go into the question of the oath, because that was a subject which savoured somewhat of casuistry, and was rather a matter for individual conscience. At the same time he could not conceive that the oath could ever have been intended to fetter the Members of that House in their legislative capacity, because that would be entirely unconstitutional. The whole question had been fully discussed with regard to the coronation oath. It had been very cogently argued that the King, having sworn to maintain the rights of the Established Church, could not consent to a measure affecting its privileges. That consideration pressed much upon the conscience of George IV., but he was told by his gravest advisers that his oath did not bind him in his legislative capacity. The same principle applied also to Members of Parliament. It had been always maintained that one Parliament could not bind a future one; nor could one part of the Parliament bind the rest. By parity of reasoning it followed that the whole Parliament could not bind any Member of it. He thought, therefore, that the invective of hon. Members on the other side was not justifiable. Besides, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other Prelates had all taken an oath not to consent to the alienation of the property of their respective sees; yet they did consent to a measure which had that effect. It had been wittily remarked by Sydney Smith, that he could not make it out how the Archbishop could have assented to such a measure; but he had found out that his Grace had only taken the oath by proxy. That the unfortunate attorney who had taken the oath for the Archbishop and had received his fee for doing so, had since consulted many eminent divines, but that they had all assured him that he must suffer the pains of eternal fire for the Archbishop; that he had therefore been daily going to Lambeth Palace with the fee in his hand to entreat the Archbishop to take it back, and to relieve him from the responsibility he had so incautiously assumed, but that his Grace had refused to do so, and had left him in his miserable plight. He (Mr. Bowyer) did not wish to charge the right rev. Prelates with perjury; because he did not think that this oath was ever intended to bind them in their capacity of Members of the House of Lords. But he did ask for Roman Catholics the same interpretation of their oath as Members of the House of Commons. If he were to bring in a Bill to reform the Church of Ireland, it would be one to abolish it altogether; because that Church, though established originally by force, and since bolstered up by law, was in no true sense of the word a national Church. He was far, however, from coveting the wealth of the Establishment either in England or in Ireland. The Roman Catholic Church was in a far wholesomer condition than would be the case if it was possessed of State patronage; and her bishops with incomes of 400l. or 500l. a year were as learned, as active, and as saintly as any bishops in the world. The hon. and learned Serjeant said he wished to improve the character and position of the Established Church by taking away what appeared to him to be a blot; but he (Mr. Bowyer) thought that the Protestants were the best judges of that themselves. He did not wish to interfere with their affairs, just as he had wished the Protestants not to interfere with the monastic institutions. With regard to this Bill, he could not concur with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Serjeant Shee) in the principles upon which it was founded, because he thought that no measure relating to the Established Church in Ireland could satisfy the people of that country, if it did not deal root and branch with that injustice, that abuse and scandal, and completely settle the question. Now, the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend would not settle the question, and could not, he believed, satisfy the people of Ireland. Nevertheless he should vote for the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend for leave to bring in the Bill, which he thought was a measure framed with great ability and with the best possible intentions, and which deserved full consideration on the part of that House.

said, he rose to contradict a statement made by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), which would lead the House to believe that the people of Ireland were fast becoming Protestants, and were daily and hourly forsaking the Roman Catholic religion. So far from this being the case, the fact was that for one Roman Catholic landed proprietor who existed in Ireland twenty years ago there were at present twenty.

Question put; The House divided: Ayes 31; Noes 117: Majority 86.

Reformatory Schools (Scotland) Bill

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 1 (Sheriff or Magistrate may send vagrant children to school, unless security is found for their good behaviour).

said, that these schools were viewed with the greatest suspicion by the Roman Catholics, of whom there were not fewer than 100,000 in Glasgow alone, and 250,000 in the whole of Scotland. He had been desired by one of the highest dignitaries of the Church to which he belonged to oppose the further progress of the Bill. It must not, however, be supposed that he was averse to the principle of reformatory schools; on the contrary, he believed that the plan was one of the wisest and most benevolent that could be devised for the reforming young criminals, who were often rather the victims of accident than of their evil passions. The statement which he was about to make referred chiefly to the school at Edinburgh. In 1847, the Rev. Dr. Guthrie published in the newspapers an eloquent address; calling upon persons of all denominations to unite for the succour of this unhappy class. That appeal was most successful; it was responded to by Catholics as well as Protestants; but the cloven foot of fanaticism soon made its appearance. A demand was made to know the principles on which the schools were to be conducted; and the Committee, after much pressing, admitted that the reading of the Bible was to be accompanied with such comments and explanations as were fitted for Protestants. Dr. Guthrie himself admitted that of the 297 children in the school, one-half were Catholics; and this declaration of the Committee excited the greatest astonishment and displeasure, not only amongst Catholics, but also among the supporters of the schools generally. The late Lord Jeffrey, amongst others, addressed a remonstrance to the Lord Provost, showing that a large portion of those for whom the schools were designed were by this measure practically excluded from their benefits. This description of the Edinburgh schools applied to all similar schools, whether in Glasgow, Paisley, or elsewhere. The Edinburgh United School was conducted on an entirely opposite principle. There the faith of the Catholic children was respected; religious instruction was given to Protestants and Catholics separately, and they were each allowed to attend their own places of worship. Let the promoters of this Bill adopt the same principles, and every Catholic gentleman would say, "God speed your blessed work." In Dr. Guthrie's school half the children were Catholics, but they were supplied with food, and this secured their attendance. The attempt was made to educate them in a sort of nondescript faith called "the great Catholic faith," which was neither one thing nor the other. When the children left school, they were at liberty to choose their creed; but it was easy to see what would be their choice, looking at the parties by whom they had been trained. This was nothing but a miserable attempt at proselytising by sweeping the very streets. Unless a provision were introduced into this Bill for protecting the faith of Catholic children, he should continue to oppose it. It was said the Catholic children might go to some other school; but there were no other schools; perhaps the Edinburgh United School was the only one in Scotland to which Catholics could send their children. Let the Government take security for protecting the faith of the Catholic children in these schools; he had no confidence in the promoters of this Bill, and recommended that it should not be proceeded with this Session.

said, he should move the insertion of words which would give the magistrate the power to make inquiry of the children as to the condition and residence of the parents previous to their being committed to the reformatory school.

had no objection to the insertion of the words, and which were proposed in the Bill first introduced, but were struck out upon consultation with some of the promoters of the Bill.

said, he thought that a case of greater oppression could not be conceived than that a magistrate should be empowered by Act of Parliament to send a child to Dr. Guthrie's proselytising school, where it should be kept till the age of fifteen under the penalty of whipping and imprisonment.

said, that the Bill would, undoubtedly, give the magistrate the power of sending a child to Dr. Guthrie's school; but he did not consider that to be a proselytising school. He had to add that he meant to introduce a proviso under which the magistrate would be obliged to send the child to any particular school selected by the child's parents or guardians wherever there might be more than one school; and he had no doubt but that Roman Catholic schools would be established in all towns in which Irish labourers were found in considerable numbers.

said, he feared that there was some further object in view than appeared on the face of this Bill. He certainly thought that it would be very easily perverted into nothing but a scheme to kidnap the souls of young children. Such a scheme could never lead to any good whatever. Irish children were not to be turned into Protestants in that manner; they might, while young, appear to be perverted, but, in the end, it would be found that their minds were filled with a farrago of religions, and that they were, in truth, of no religion whatever. A little knowledge of ethnological science would, however, show that their work in this respect would be perfectly useless; for they might as well attempt to operate upon a young gipsy as upon a young Roman Catholic child.

said, he wished to ask whether, under the Bill, Roman Catholic children could be sent to Dr. Guthrie's school, which was admitted to be a proselytising school?

said, that it appeared to be entirely forgotten that the very large proportion of the children who would come under the operation of this Bill were of no religion whatever, and it appeared to be trifling with a great question to argue its effect upon the children of the Roman Catholic religion. Nothing could, in his opinion, be more fair or reasonable than the proviso of the hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. Dunlop) to give to magistrates the power of sending children to any school which the parent or guardian might prefer. If Roman Catholics thought proper to follow the laudable example of Dr. Guthrie, and establish Roman Catholic Reformatory Schools, there was a wide field open for the exercise of their philanthropy, and he would advise them to adopt such a course.

said, he felt greater distrust than ever in this Bill, after the observations which had fallen from the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate. The Irish Members had not opposed the Government Bill on this subject for England, because the Government had promised to add a clause providing for Catholic children on the third reading. That promise had not been kept; why, it was for the Government to say. He trusted that the Irish Members would not allow themselves to be misled in that way again.

said, he must deny that the object of the Bill was to tamper with the religion of Roman Catholic children. Its real and its only object was to reclaim destitute and helpless vagrants. The course which the Roman Catholic gentry ought to take in that matter was to accept the Amendment proposed by his hon. Friend the Member for Greenock, and to build schools to which children of their persuasion would be sent. He (Colonel Blair) wished to ask the hon. Member for Greenock whether he had any objection to change the age fifteen years to fourteen years?

said, he regretted to find that the opposition to this Bill was founded on such grounds as would prevent any attempt to provide for the reformation of a mixed population. Surely the Roman Catholic Members would not prefer that the children of that persuasion should remain plunged in crime, rather than that they should come in contact with the Members of another religion. He could hardly believe that any person would rather see the children exposed to the perils which now beset them than to the chance of a modification of their religion. It would be different if they said, "We do not wish to oppose you, but we desire certain safeguards." If they had met the Bill in that spirit, he felt certain that the promoters would have done everything in their power to satisfy them. Those Gentlemen incurred a fearful responsibility who sought to defeat the pre- sent attempt to rescue the children in the large towns from their present state of crime and misery. He was sorry to find the good intentions of the promoters of this measure frustrated. They had had many difficulties to contend with, and it was too bad, when they sought to take a wretched infant from the streets, to be told that their object was to proselytise him. Men actuated by such a motive would not have made the sacrifices they had.

said, he must assert that his party had met the matter in a fair spirit. When the question first arose in the Middlesex Industrial Schools Bill, they had attended the Committee, and proposed an arrangement which they thought would be satisfactory to all parties. The clause introduced into the Bill to carry out that agreement was rejected by the Lords. When the Bill came back the bigotry of the majority of the House prevailed, and the Lords' decision was acquiesced in. They were prepared to adopt the same arrangement in the present Bill; the promoters had it in their power to obviate all objections. He had some time since suggested an Amendment to the hon. Member for Greenock to the effect that all the schools under the Act should be registered; if a school was intended for children of one denomination only, it should be stated, and those of any other religion should not be sent there. If a clause to that effect was inserted, all opposition would cease.

said, it was unfair to represent the Catholic Members as being bigots, and against the education of these children. All they wished was, that the schools should not be perverted from their proper and legitimate objects.

said, he wished to ask the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate whether, in his opinion, the Bill gave any guarantee for the protection of Catholic children?

said, it appeared to him that they were disputing about nothing. The main principles of the Bill were conceded. He knew Scotland, and was aware that there existed a necessity for these schools. He would suggest that the hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. Dunlop) and the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas) should come to some arrangement.

said, he wished the hon. Member for Greenock would read the proviso.

said, the proviso was this, that if the parent or guardian of any child should express a preference for any one school of two or more within the jurisdiction of the sheriff or magistrate, the child should be sent to such school.

said, that the proviso did not in any way obviate his objection. He did not wish the Catholic children to be sent to schools to be made Protestants, and the proviso did not meet this difficulty; it might if there were Catholic schools established in every district in Scotland, but such was not the case. He would not accept any Amendment but that which he had already stated.

said, he would remind the hon. Gentleman, who was so much afraid of proselytism, that a large number of Catholic children attended the parochial schools in Scotland, but there were no instances of their changing their religion.

said, that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had not answered his question.

said, he was not aware that there was any provision in the Bill to guarantee the children of Catholic parents against becoming Protestants.

said, that, under such circumstances, it was his impression that no Catholic Member would be justified in allowing the Bill to go further.

said, that those hon. Members who had opposed the Bill had said that they had done so from a paramount sense of duty; but where was their sense of duty when the Government Bill was carried through every stage?

thought the present Bill was a most extravagant one. He had been for some years a Member of the House, and he never saw a more wicked attempt to destroy a large class of his fellow creatures. If the Bill was worth anything, why was it not taken up by the Government, and its provisions extended to Ireland?

House resumed.

Committee report progress.

Admiralty Court Bill

said, he would now beg to move for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the process in the High Court of Admiralty. The measure had received the sanction of the Judge of the Court; the matter was urgent, and on the second reading, he would state the provisions of the Bill.

said, he objected to the introduction of the Bill. The Lords of the Admiralty were carrying matters with too high a hand, and he would not agree to give them any more power. A seizure had been made of some vessels in Scotland, which he was advised was clearly illegal. He saw that one of Her Majesty's ships had been sent to the Clyde to seize the property of one of his constituents, because he refused to surrender it without a guarantee against future claims. Under these circumstances, he could not consent to give any further power to the right hon. Baronet and his Colleagues till the matter was arranged.

said, he did not think the hon. Gentleman was aware of the nature of the Bill he (Sir J. Graham) wished to bring in. It did not seek to enlarge the powers of the High Court of Admiralty. The Act which the hon. Gentleman complained of was an Act exercised by the Government on their own discretion, and not under the authority of the High Court of Admiralty. But this Bill had nothing to do with that subject. It was a Bill to enlarge the power of the High Court of Admiralty merely to the extent of enabling it to appoint Commissioners in the country to take affidavits, similar to the power possessed by the Court of Chancery. That provision was required by reason of a doubt having been expressed in a court of law as to the efficacy of an affidavit taken by a Commissioner of the Court of Chancery in a matter cognisable by the High Court of Admiralty. That was the first provision of the Bill. The second was to legalise affidavits taken before our consuls and other authorities in foreign countries; the third provision was, to allow suits to be instituted without the arrest of the ships —this was a provision intended for the benefit of commerce; and the fourth and last provision of the Bill was to substitute stamps for fees.

Leave given; Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir James Graham, Admiral Berkeley, and Mr. Osborne.

Bill read 1°.

The House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.