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were adopted, and because every thing connected with Ireland was neglected.
Earl Grey, although he had been at one time a strong supporter of appropriation in connexion with the Established Church in Ireland, could not now support such a plan, because he believed the time for it had gone by. He agreed that the present state of Ireland proved that there are evils which ought to be removed, although he also concurred with the Prime Minister in believing that no one or two measures would be adequate to redress those evils immediately. The whole condition of the country required mature consideration, and on a future day he should invite the House to bestow that consideration upon this important subject.
Lord Dunsany believed that the Irish Roman Catholic clergy would not refuse State payment, but in any case he approved the offer being made to them.
Earl Grey shortly afterwards put in execution his intention of inviting their lordships to a comprehensive review of the troubles and grievances of the Irish people, a task which it is needless to say he performed with much ability and earnestness. His motion was in form that the House would on an early day resolve itself into a committee to consider the state of Ireland. The noble lord began by observing that it was often said in private conversation that there were many measures useful to Ireland which ought to be passed; but it would be useless to propose them on account of the strong adverse feeling between England and Ireland. Recent disclosures respecting Fenianism had shown that there was deep disaffection against the British Government, and so deep was that hostility that it survived amongst the Irish emigrants who went to America, and there found themselves in improved circumstances. It had been said that few persons in Ireland who had any thing to lose sympathized with the Fenians, but he feared that the feeling of the better classes was rather anti-Fenian than proBritish. An alarming feature of the present political discontent in Ireland was that it was not caused by distress, but was rather the cause than the effect of distress. The noble lord detailed at some length the remedial measures which he considered to be requisite, and then read the following resolutions, which, he said, he should move, if the House went into committee as he proposed :“1. That in legislating for Ireland, it is the duty of the Imperial Government to adopt such measures as might be expected to gain the approval of an Irish Parliament, fairly representing the people and expressing the opinion of the majority of men of education and intelligence in Ireland. 2. That the application of the whole income derived from Church property in Ireland to the support of a Church Establishment for the exclusive benefit of a small minority of the people of that country, is unjust, and ought not to be continued. 3. That, with a view to the correction of this injustice, it would be expedient to vest the whole property of the Church in Ireland in the hands of Commissioners empowered to manage it, and to divide the net income derived from it, in such proportions as Parliament may prescribe, between the Protestant Episcopal, the Roman Catholic, and the Presbyterian Churches. 4. That it would further be expedient to grant to the said Commissioners such a permanent annuity on the Consolidated Fund as would be sufficient, together with the share of the income from Church property in Ireland applied to the Protestant Episcopal Church, to provide for paying to the present bishops and clergy of that Church the full incomes they now receive. As these payments to the existing holders of ecclesiastical preferment cease to be required, the proportion of the annuity thereby set free to be carried to the general account of the Commissioners, and divided between the three Churches in the proportion prescribed by Parliament. 5. That the proportion of the net income at the disposal of the Commissioners assigned to each of the three Churches ought to be paid to boards of trustees appointed to receive the same, and apply the amount for the benefit of the said Churches. 6. That the board of trustees for the Protestant Episcopal Church should consist of five prelates and five laymen of that Church; and that, subject to the claims of existing holders of benefices and- dignities, the said Commissioners should be empowered, with the approval of the Lord-Lieutenant in Council, to make such change in the application of the income of the Church as might be considered expedient, with a view to the more effective performance of its duties. 7. That the board of trustees for the Roman Catholic Church should, in like manner, consist of five prelates and five laymen of that Church, and that the income placed at their disposal should be applied at their discretion to the building and maintaining of places of worship and glebehouses, and to the payment of stipends to the clergy. 8. That the board of trustees for the Presbyterian Church should consist of five clergymen and five laymen of that Church, and that the income assigned to them should be applied, in the first place, to the payment of the stipends of clergymen now provided for from the Parliamentary grant known as the Regium Donum ; and secondly, to the general purposes of their Church. 9. That the said Commissioners and boards of trustees should be required to lay annually before both Houses of Parliament full accounts of their receipts and expenditure. 10. That the enactments whereby the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church are restrained from assuming the title of their sees ought to be repealed, and that they ought to be allowed to assume the style of Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops of the said sees. ii. That, with a view to the improvement of agriculture in Ireland, it is desirable that the occupiers of land should have greater facilities for the secure expenditure of money in permanent improvements, but that the difficulties now complained of would be aggravated instead of being diminished by any enactment infringing upon the rights of property. Nor could the object in view be attained by any change in the law which, without infringing upon those rights, would empower tenants to compel their landlords to pay for improvement, since the creation of such a power would probably induce landlords to exercise their
right of resuming land held by the tenants proposing to use it when not protected by leases, and would also tend to increase the reluctance of landowners to grant leases to their tenants. 12. That it is the true interest of both owners and occupiers of land that they should be left free to settle the terms on which it is to be held by mutual agreement, with as little legislative interference as possible, but that it deserves to be considered whether the Irish law of landlord and tenant might not be made more clear and simple, and whether some changes in its provisions, especially the repeal of the enactments which give to landlords the right of distress and a preference over other creditors, might not tend to make the owners of land more desirous than they now are to let it to solvent tenants on conditions and for terms of years which would encourage permanent improvements."
Lord Dufferin, speaking on behalf of the Government, of which he was a member, agreed that, after adopting a severe but necessary measure of repression, it was right and fitting to examine into the causes of Irish discontent; but he could not assent to the motion, which was objectionable in point of form, and was based upon an erroneous supposition, that the disaffection which undeniably prevailed in Ireland was traceable to the existence of the Irish Church Establishment. That Establishment had its anomalies, which he did not defend, but it was not the object of attack on the part of the leaders in the Fenian movement. Neither was the absence of tenant-right the cause of disaffection. The Fenian leaders proposed to deal with the land question in a very different manner than the mere enforcement of leases. Nor was he more disposed to attribute the existing disaffection to the excessive emigration of the last twenty years. That emigration must be attributed, not to legislation, but to the much greater number of persons who, before 1841, were engaged in agriculture in Ireland than were so engaged in England with its fourfold production. The emigration, however, had in its results been beneficial to those who had left Ireland as well as to those who stayed at home, and the country still remained one of the most densely populated in the world. When complaints were made, that the resources of Ireland were not adequately developed, he expressed his earnest desire that every thing should be done towards that end; but the most certain means of thwarting it was the continuance of a state of insecurity which prevented the introduction of capital into the country. The Fenian movement had done Ireland serious injury, although he maintained that the country was now in a prosperous condition. After referring to statistics to show the increased value of cattle, the extended growth of flax, and the advance in the rate of wages, Lord Dufferin affirmed that the present disaffection, like the disorders of 1798 and 1848, was traceable to foreign influence; but, unlike the former examples, the disaffection was now confined to the lowest and most ignorant classes of the people, who had been misled by filibusters and demagogues. The disaffection thus produced could not be terminated by any legislation about the Church Establishment or tenant-right, although he agreed that at a suitable time remedial measures should be, and he believed would be considered; but in the mean time the Executive had only one course to follow-firmly, but temperately, to protect the industry and property of Ireland against the evil designs of unprincipled adventurers.
The Archbishop of Armagh defended the Irish Church, which, he contended, had been for 700 years connected with the English branch of the Establishment, with which it was solemnly united by the Act of Union. Admitting that the members of that Church formed but a minority of the people of Ireland, he reminded the House that eight-ninths of the landowners, whose property it was that supported the Church, were members of it. He condemned the plan of division of the ecclesiastical revenues sketched out by Lord Grey, as unjust to the Established Church, much of whose property had never belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and much of which had been the gifts of its own members.
Lord Houghton could not regard the disendowment of the Irish Church as the sole means of conciliating Ireland, because he believed there were many subjects connected with that country which might advantageously be considered by the Legislature. The difficulty attaching to the land question in Ireland was the abiding distrust which existed between landlord and tenant, and therefore he thought landlords in that country would do well to yield some of their strict rights, and to grant leases as far as possible. Another subject deserving the attention of Parliament was middle-class education in Ireland, for he regretted to find that the Queen's Colleges had not realized all the hopes that were entertained by their founders. With respect to the Church Establishment, he thought the strongest argument in its favour was, that it went with the land, which formed a part of the whole State; but, as the relations between Church and State had been much altered, it was desirable that in all future discussions of the subject the advantage of the Church to Ireland should be solely kept in view. There was also another point connected with the subject to which he hoped the attention of the Government would be directed—the making some provision for the Roman Catholic clergy, which he believed might be done without offence to any one, and with great advantage to the country at large.
The debate was continued by the Earl of Carnarvon, Lord Lyveden, the Bishop of Derry, the Marquis of Clanricarde, and other peers, nearly all of whom took exception to the resolutions of the noble mover, while some of them deprecated in strong terms any precipitate or violent action affecting the Established Church. In conclusion, Earl Russell remarked upon the inconvenience of mixing up the temporary question of Fenianism with questions of the permanent welfare of Ireland. Fenianism was a movement of foreign and Republican origin, differing from previous similar movements only in the character of the men engaged in it. In the circumstances of Ireland there had been material improvement, and many causes of dissatisfaction had been removed. The Church Establishment might, by a majority of the people who did not belong to it, be regarded as an evil, but it was not a subject to be dealt with in so violent a manner as was now proposed. With respect to making provision for the Roman Catholic clergy from State funds, that was a proposition that would meet with great opposition in Parliament and in the country. It would, therefore, be unwise to go into committee without knowing exactly what was to be done, for which reason he opposed the motion.
Earl Grey's motion was then negatived without a division.
The much-vexed question of the Irish Church Establishment became the subject of a formal debate in the House of Commons a few weeks later in the session on the motion of one of the representatives of Ireland, Sir John Gray; and though the debate led to no practical result, being adjourned and never resumed, yet the facts and opinions elicited during the discussion were of considerable interest, and the tone adopted with reference to the question by Mr. Chichester Fortescue, the Secretary for Ireland, was not without significance. The terms of the motion were as follows:“That the position of the Established Church in Ireland is a just cause of dissatisfaction to the people of that country, and urgently demands the consideration of Parliament.” Sir John Gray commenced by disclaiming any wish to provoke an acrimonious discussion, or to give offence to individual members of the Church of Ireland, and pointed out the great social importance-apart from the money questions involved-of removing the feeling of religious inequality which was produced by the ascendancy of one Church over the rest. He contended that the Irish Establishment had failed polemically and politically, and had accomplished no object for which it was imported into the country, quoting copiously from the Census returns to show that it had neither succeeded as a missionary Church in winning over the Roman Catholic population, nor had even held its own. After citing numerous passages from Spenser, Sir T. Davis, Dr. Mant, and other writers on the early history of the Establishment, to show the penal laws by which its first introduction had been protected, maintaining that the blame of these was due, not to the English Government nor to the Irish Parliament, but to the Church itself, he proceeded next to discuss the revenues of the Church and their allocation. The entire revenue of the Church he estimated at a little over 700,0001., spread over twelve dioceses and 1510 benefices, and he mentioned numerous glaring instances of the disproportionate distribution of revenue and Protestant population. In 199 parishes he stated there was not a single Protestant, though there were 98,017 Roman Catholics; in 615 benefices there was an average