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Bill 222 Third Reading

Volume 203: debated on Tuesday 2 August 1870

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Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—( Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)

said, he thought it was unreasonable to proceed with the Bill at that hour of the night, particularly as it was the last stage, and they had not as yet had an opportunity given them for discussing it fully. He, therefore, begged to move the adjournment of the debate.

, in seconding the Motion, said, that on the previous night an exception was taken to the measure that it was one which approximated to concurrent endowment. Hearing that, he ventured to substitute for the phrase "concurrent endowment" that of "concurrent loan;" and he believed he should not be contradicted if he said that the loan was to be given upon terms much more favourable than those upon which it could be obtained in the open market. That was not denied: he should not be contradicted, therefore, when he declared that it was an advantage proposed to be conferred on the religious communities who would be entitled, to avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill. He did not wish to prejudge the Bill, or to discuss whether it was advisable to make these advances; but, advisable or not, as they might be, he ventured to say that had the Bill been introduced at an earlier period of the Session, it would have provoked considerable discussion, and a determined, and possibly a successful opposition. ["Divide!"] The sounds which issued from the Treasury Bench must convince his hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire that there was no hope of getting the Bill dispassionately considered then: he trusted, therefore, that his hon. Friend would persevere with his Motion. But, before sitting down, he would indulge in a prophecy; and he asked Gentlemen opposite to treasure up the few words he was going to address to them, bold as they might be. The Bill, he presumed, would pass; and, after the lapse of a few Sessions, when they came to deal with the surplus revenues of the Irish Church, what would happen was this—"Here we have another opportunity of benefiting the Irish people. Debts have been incurred by those struggling religious communities; and, if you surrender them, you will be conferring an inestimable boon upon the people of Ireland." Thereupon Gentlemen seated behind the Minister will get up in their places and say, that they are opposed to concurrent endowment; but, as the British taxpayer had been induced to outer into such a bad bargain, they will, for the purpose of assisting him out of it, propose that he shall receive back his money out of the revenues of the Irish Church. ["Oh, oh!"] When what he ventured to predict came to pass, he hoped the Gentlemen who cried "Oh!" would call to mind what he now said. He believed that the Bill was opposed to the general feeling of the country, and that it would not have been proceeded with had it been introduced at an early period of the Session. He urged his hon. Friend, therefore, to persist in his Motion.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 16; Noes 60: Majority 44.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—( Mr. James Lowther.)

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

said, he wished to explain that the Bill originally included loans for the building of places of worship; but that that provision had been struck out, and the Bill now applied solely to residences for ministers of religion. He also contended that ample opportunity had been given for the consideration and discussion of the measure; for the second reading was taken at a Day Sitting at 2 o'clock; but the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire was absent.

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to my absence from the House on the second reading of the Bill; but that absence was perfectly unavoidable, and I certainly expected that an opportunity for discussion would have been given on the Motion for going into Committee; that, at all events, I should then have been permitted to say a few words on the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, however, made a most singular announcement with respect to the Bill. His right hon. Colleague the Chief Secretary for Ireland has explained that the Prime Minister declared last Session that a Bill of this sort was to be brought in; but why, I ask, did he not introduce it at the commencement of the present Session? Surely, if there were such a solemn pledge given, it should have been redeemed at the earliest moment. But, instead of doing that, the right hon. Gentleman stated that he was so perfectly aware that the Bill was adverse to the feelings of the country that, unless it were introduced late in the Session, it was impossible for it to pass; and in that statement the right hon. Gentleman was supported by the hon. Member for Cork and the hon. Member for Edinburgh. I must say, then, that I think this is singular treatment of a great subject. The right hon. Gentleman is aware that, whatever may have been the declaration of the Prime Minister, the Bill is in direct contradiction of the policy upon which he obtained the support of the country at the last General Election. I had given my support in debate to the right hon. Gentleman against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and the Government of the Earl of Derby, when they proposed the endowment of a Roman Catholic University. I spoke before the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and condemned the policy of establishing or endowing the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, especially when the Protestant Church should have been disestablished. Now, Sir, I say distinctly that, although this measure comes before the House in the form of a Loan Bill, it is the fulfilment of the proposal of Bishop Moriarty, which was—that with a view to the establishment of that Church—I have the passage in his letter by me—facilities should be afforded, and money supplied for the provision of globes for the Roman Catholic clergy. In a letter to the Roman Catholic clergy in Kerry, and then in communications to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Bishop Moriarty dictated those terms; and the only difference between those terms and the substance of this Bill is that the advance of money is to be by way of loan, and not, in the first instance, as a gift. Sir, Bishop Moriarty intimated that these conditions would be acceptable to the Roman Catholic hierarchy; and, as to the repayment of these loans, I do not believe in it: they are to be provided to an unlimited extent out of funds which Parliament has to vote for other purposes, amounting to more than £1,000,000 a year. There is, therefore, an ample fund to draw upon; and I say that the proposal is the accomplishment of that which Bishop Moriarty proposed; because every one of these glebes will be procured by the facilities which the Treasury will give. I distinctly and decidedly object to the substance of this Bill; but I will not go further into the matter at this time of night, after the House has virtually decided on a previous measure that it will not take contested business, for that is virtually the decision aimed at on the Enclosure Bill, and I will not damage the position which I hold by proposing the Motion of which I have given Notice, although, if any other hon. Member chooses to move it, I shall be happy to support it. I hold that the country has just reason to complain of the period at which the Bill has been introduced, of the substance of it, and of the manifest determination on the part of the Government not to afford more than one of those usual and fair opportunities for discussion, which the House has generally sufficient self-respect to insist upon and retain for itself under any circumstances.

Question put, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

The House divided:—Ayes 48; Noes 26: Majority 22.

Bill read the third time, and passed.