Page images

Dr. Ball supported the Lords' amendment. The arguments against "concurrent endowment," he maintained (strengthening himself by quotations from a letter of Mr. Bright and speeches of Mr. Gladstone), did not apply to this proposal to grant glebes to the Roman Catholic clergy, which came before the House as one of a series of benefits conferred on the clergy of the three Churches.

Mr. Bright explained the circumstances under which, seventeen years ago, he had written the letter alluded to by Dr. Ball, recommending the grant of glebe-houses to the Roman Catholic clergy. He still continued to adhere to that as a wise proposal; but a great change had occurred in public opinion since, and it had now become impracticable.

Sir Roundell Palmer, having declared himself against postponement, said, on the other point, that, though he had hitherto acquiesced in the determination not to endow Roman Catholics, yet, now that the principle had been laid down by this Bill that the funds of the Irish Church were the property of the State, held in trust for the Irish people, and to be applied to Irish purposes on principles of equality, it was impossible, nor was it safe, to refuse this small boon.

Mr. Hardy, believing it to be the duty of every State to teach religion, would be no party to restoring these words to the preamble, but, while voting against them, he also reserved to himself the liberty of voting against concurrent endowment.

The first part of the Lords' amendment, relative to the application of the surplus to religious purposes, was rejected by 346 to 222; the second part, by which the appropriation of the surplus was to be postponed, was rejected by 246 to 164. The next amendment related to the date of disestablishment, which, after a protest from Mr. Disraeli, was made to stand as before, viz. January 1, 1871. The clauses relating to compensation to curates and some minor matters were assented to, with modifications. The next question, which involved more important considerations, arose on the amendment carried at the instance of Lord Carnarvon, increasing the terms of commutation for life interests of incumbents.

Mr. Gladstone reviewed rapidly the effect of the Lords' Amendments on the disendowment scheme. Out of the 15,000,0007., at which he put the value of the Irish Church funds, the Commons gave the Church 10,000,0007., viz. 700,000l. life interests, and 3,000,0007. churches and glebe-houses, and the Lords had added 4,000,000l. more, giving it in fact 14-15ths of the whole property. Therefore, though disestablishment was complete, disendowment was reduced to a delusion. He objected to this particular amendment, which gave 1,220,000l. to the Church, that it treated the Episcopalian clergy and the Presbyterians with offensive inequality, and that it would waste much money by imposing on the Church body a protracted and laborious investigation; and, in addition to this, that it would be unworkable, and that it would in fact stop commutation altogether. But while proposing to disagree from the amendment, he was ready to make a concession, by adding seven per

cent. to each commutation (clerical lives being worth seven per cent. more than lay in the market), where three-fourths of a diocese or Presbyterian community signified their readiness to commute.

Sir Roundell Palmer admitted that the practical difficulties stated by the Premier seemed unanswerable, and was inclined to accept the new offer.

Dr. Ball, while contending that the amendment would work, though its phraseology might be deficient, asked for time to consider the Premier's proposal.

The consideration of this amendment was accordingly postponed. On the amendments on clause 27 (ecclesiastical residences), which, besides striking out the building charge on the glebe-house, tacked on to it the question of " concurrent endowment," Mr. Gladstone briefly proposed to restore the clause to its original form. A protracted discussion followed. On a division, the first part of the Lords' amendment, which gave the glebe-houses free of building charges, was rejected by a majority of eighty-nine-326 to 237. The second part of the amendment, involving "concurrent endowment," was negatived without remark and without a division.

The next discussion arose on the amendments to clause 29, which involved the commutation of private endowments for a sum of half a million, and the concession of the Ulster glebes.

On the first point Mr. Gladstone proposed to agree with the Lords, and took credit to the Government for having acted liberally by the Church, but added that the arrangement must comprise the Ulster glebes, and the Lords' amendment on that head, therefore, would be struck out.

Mr. Disraeli, reiterating his argument that the disestablished Church would not be able to contend with the superior organization of the Roman Catholic Church, asserted that the religious equality which the Bill professed to aim at would not be established unless the humiliated Protestant Church were started in its new career with a sufficient endowment. This was the ground on which he pressed the House to assent to the Lords' amendment.

Mr. C. Fortescue, as an Irish Episcopalian, protested against the assumption that his Church could not flourish without endowment and State connexion, and, as to these glebe-lands, he insisted that they were not private endowments given to Protestantism as such, but to the National State Church, and could not belong to a Church which had ceased to be connected with the State.

On a division, the Lords' amendment on the Ulster glebes was rejected by 344 to 240. The amendment for commuting the private endowments was agreed to.

Mr. Gladstone, in moving the rejection of the Lords' amendment on the surplus clause (68), pointed out that those who had carried the postponement had anticipated that it would open the way hereafter to concurrent endowment. He explained the proviso to be added to the original clause securing the veto of Parliament on every allocation, and he mentioned that as the income of the fund

only was to be tied up, the principal might be employed in ductive works.


Mr. Disraeli said that the reason why postponement was desired was that the views were not sufficiently matured.

Mr. G. H. Moore inveighed against the Government for not consulting the Irish members in the disposal of their own national property. Not five out of the 105 approved this clause, which would lead to endless jobbery and waste, and was a simple concession to British bigotry.

Mr. W. H. Gregory also complained that Irish opinion had ignored it, and claimed that the fund should be devoted to advancing the material interests of the country in railway enterprise.

Mr. J. F. Maguire, though he had no warmer praise to give to the clause than that it was "harmless," urged the Irish members not to break faith with their English and Scotch friends, for their support might be needed for the land question. On behalf of the Roman Catholics, he warmly disclaimed concurrent endowment.

Mr. McCullagh Torrens exhorted the House not to be driven by the mere phantom of concurrent endowment into a misappropriation of the funds, which no one in private defended. It would go wholly in exoneration of rent and in the reward of absenteeism, and he advocated the application of it rather to the creation of an agricultural middle class.

Mr. Bright defended the scheme as that which the Government, after the most minute inquiries, had found to be least objectionable; and no other plan could be produced to which twenty times as many cavils would not be raised. The only other plan started was concurrent endowment, which the House had decisively rejected, and the opposition to which was growing, not only among Nonconformists, but even in the Church. It was repudiated, moreover, by the Roman Catholic bishops and the Irish members, and to hold back the surplus under the idea that endowment in Ireland might be extended at some future time would be to leave an embarrassing legacy to a succeeding Parliament.

The amendment was rejected by 290 to 218, and the clause restored to its original form. The proposed compromise on the commutation clause, which was to add seven per cent. to the value of life interests, was accepted by Dr. Ball, and the consideration of the amendments came to a close. On the question that the Bill be returned to the Lords,

Mr. Disraeli took the opportunity of expressing his deep regret that the House, under Mr. Gladstone's advice, should have repudiated all the amendments of the Lords, after the magnanimity they had displayed in reading a second time a Bill to which they were notoriously adverse.

Mr. Gladstone vindicated his course in regard to the amendments. The pledge given in the Lords was that all suggestions should be respectfully considered, and that had been redeemed in as liberal a spirit as was consistent with the pledges given to the nation. The

terms actually obtained by the Church were more liberal than had been promised at any period of the controversy, and the Government repudiated the imputation of being the enemies of the Irish Church. On the contrary, protesting against the disheartening predictions of her future, he avowed a deep conviction that, though there might be trials to be passed through, the Irish Church would at some future day look back to the passing of this Act as the day of her regeneration.

Mr. Hardy discussed the concessions Mr. Gladstone had made, contending that there had been throughout a want of generosity to the House of Lords, and a contempt of equity and justice towards the Irish Church.

A Committee was then appointed to draw up reasons for not agreeing with the Lords' amendments.

Thus far the prospects of conciliation or compromise between the two Houses appeared to be by no means encouraging. The partisans of neither seemed disposed to concede or waver. The tone of Mr. Gladstone in the House of Commons, and the attitude taken by the majority of that assembly, evinced a firm resolution to concede no point in the Bill which was regarded as essential to the principles of disestablishment and disendowment, but rather to sacrifice the Bill altogether than to consent to its mutilation. On the other hand, those who regarded the measure with aversion and horror, and as one of dangerous precedent for the future, did all in their power to stimulate the Peers to stand firm in the position which they had taken up, and to defy all consequences in maintaining the rights of the Church and the interests of Protestantism. Affairs wore a very anxious aspect when the House of Lords met on the 20th of July to consider the message from the Commons respecting their amendments. Earl Granville rose and stated reasons why their lordships should adhere to the main provisions of the Bill in its original state. Had all the sixty-two amendments been contumaciously rejected by the other House, he should have felt himself in the position of a Minister repudiated by his colleagues, or of one who had deceived their lordships. But in fact, out of the total number thirty-five had been adopted, fourteen re-amended, and only thirteen positively rejected. The House of Commons had increased the sum it originally offered to the Irish Church by 840,0007.—viz. 410,0007. in the seven per cent. to be added to the commutation fund, from 100,000l. to 150,000l. to the curates' compensations, and 270,000. under the head of compensation for private benefactions. It was not, therefore, fair to say that no attention had been paid to the expression of views in the House of Lords. But, he argued, the amendments which had been disagreed with fell within a very different category. While the concurrent endowment plan was altogether impracticable, the postponement of the application of the surplus he maintained to be utterly unstatesmanlike, tending to the destruction of all independent energy in the Irish Church itself, and to one continued battle of rival beliefs. He moved that the House

do not insist on its amendment by which it had struck out the prohibition in the preamble against applying the surplus for the maintenance of any Church, or for the teaching of religion.

Lord Cairns contested the propriety of severing the discussion of the two amendments, and moved that the House do insist on its amendment in the preamble. If it did, the Government could hardly feel justified in relinquishing the Bill on this account, for this would be simply to postpone the application of the surplus, as the amendment now did. The amendments generally he divided between those which he considered vital-such as the scale of commutation and the curates' compensation-and those on which, as there existed some difference of opinion on his own side of the House concerning them-e. g. the date of disestablishment, and the right of the Church to retain the Ulster Glebes-he should advise the House not to insist.

The Earl of Kimberley maintained that the House of Commons had in effect extended the compensation to curates. As for the increase in the Commutation Fund, he asserted it to be inconsistent with the principle of the Bill to give a bonus to the Church, and denied that the Bill now gave a bonus to Maynooth. He defended the proposal of Earl Granville to sever the consideration of the two amendments in the preamble.

Earl Grey regarded the question of the preamble as in itself of little importance. He feared, however, considering the manner in which the amendments had been treated, that the Government attached less importance to passing the Bill than to degrading the House.

Viscount Halifax defended the proposal of Earl Granville to sever the amendments in the preamble. Although himself in favour of a certain measure of concurrent endowment, he advocated, in the interest of peace and order, the non-insistence of the House on its amendment to omit the words forbidding an application of the surplus to religious teaching, which, whatever their real insignificance, would be construed by the country as implying concurrent endowment.

The Earl of Shaftesbury believed the Bill to be a revolutionary one, but, persuaded as he was that not merely the House of Commons, but the nation, was determined to carry the measure, and that if it could not have this there would soon be a cry for concurrent disendowment throughout the entire United Kingdom, he appealed to the House not to insist on its amend


Earl Russell defended the policy of concurrent endowment. He thought the Government ought to have been satisfied with carrying a measure of practical disestablishment and disendowment, without inserting in the preamble abstract dogmas, which might be interpreted as a device for entrapping the Legislature into an admission of the inexpediency of all religious endowments. He apprehended that the proposed application of the surplus might be


« PreviousContinue »