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Glebe Loans (Ireland) Bill

Volume 203: debated on Monday 1 August 1870

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( Mr. Chichester Fortescue, Mr. Stansfeld, Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland.)

Bill 222 Consideration

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration."

Mr. Speaker—There has been one discussion only upon this Bill, and in that discussion the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury made the singular announcement that it was exceedingly undesirable that the discussion on the Bill should reach the country. The measure is, in fact, one which the House of Commons is invited to pass at the end of the Session, and under circumstances which preclude the possibility of the country understanding what is the exact nature of the proposition. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) also, after the debate, rose and said that it would have been absolutely fatal to the Bill if it had been introduced at an early period of the Session, and the country had thereby become aware of its provisions. [Mr. MAGUIRE: No!] The hon. Member says "No!" I am afraid, therefore, that he has been greatly misreported, for I find the same report of his observations in all the newspapers; and, if the hon. Member differs from the First Lord of the Treasury on the subject, all I can is, that all the reporters must have been mistaken. But I can easily understand the objection of the right hon. Gentleman to the country becoming aware of the nature of the measure. It is only two years ago that the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in removing from Office the late Lord Derby's Government, and that principally upon the ground that it had proposed to endow a certain Roman Catholic University. It was understood that that was to be the principle upon which Lord Derby's Government was to proceed—the principle technically called in the House "levelling up;" whereas the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury and his Government adopted the principle of "levelling down," and in deference to that principle disestablished and disendowed the Irish Church. The only excuse for the measure before us is that there was a failure in their intentions with respect to the Irish Church, so that the Irish Church was not entirely dispossessed of its glebes and manses; and then it seems to have been thought by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that, whereas with respect to Ireland he has adopted the principle of religious equality, and particularly with reference to the Roman Catholic Church, therefore it is necessary that he should proceed indirectly, as he says, but I believe directly, to endow the clergy of that Church with glebes, and with the means of erecting houses for their residence, of whatever nature those houses may be, and whether they are houses for communities of secular priests—as the Oratory at Brompton was described in the Committee on which I have lately been serving, and which we decided to be a monastic institution—or monasteries of any other kind. Sir, there is in the Bill no limit to the amount which the Treasury may dispense for these purposes; and it is a noteworthy fact—although the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland are exceedingly anxious that it should not be noticed—that this Bill incorporates no less than five statutes, which together contain 204 clauses. It would have been 206 clauses, but two are to be repealed; and I am perfectly certain of this, that there are not 20 Members in this House who have examined the statutes thus included. I have done my best, since the Bill went through Committee at a late hour of the night, to make it known, and now the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland tells me that he is so determined to force on the measure that he is prepared to take the Report at any hour. It is now 35 minutes past 2 o'clock, and, this being a measure which involves a very important principle—a principle which the Government are most anxious that the country should not understand—I must say that I think the proceeding one such as I have never before known to be taken by any Government. To say that these advances of money are to be loans! Why, they are money to be lent not only upon mortgage, but upon personal security, which is a novel principle. And, as to the repayment of these sums, why we know that in the case of Maynooth there was a debt contracted which has never been paid, and has had to be cancelled. The reason of the Government for forcing this Bill on is that it may be carried without the knowledge of the country. But at 35 minutes past 2 in the morning I will not detain the House longer than to say that, of all the measures which are inconsistent with the declarations on which the Government obtained power, this is one of the most extraordinary, and that the attempt of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury to force a measure of this sort through the House, in order to avoid discussion, justifies me in moving that the Bill be considered on this day three months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—( Mr. Newdegate.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

Debate arising.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—( Mr. Sinclair Aytoun,)—put, and negatived.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 24: Majority 17.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered.

Amendment made.

Bill to be read the third time To-morrow, at Two of the clock.

House adjourned at half after Three o'clock.