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population of twenty-three Protestants, and the cost of religious ministration to them was 311. per family; while in 114 other benefices, containing a Roman Catholic population of 36,355, the Church revenues amounted to 1781. per Protestant family. After quoting from speeches of Mr. Disraeli
, Dr. Whately, and others, in support of the object of his motion, and having repudiated with earnestness the desire to transfer one shilling from the Protestant Church to the Roman Catholic priesthood, he concluded by declaring that this question lay at the root of all Irish grievances, and that Parliament was bound, both by honour and interest, to take it into immediate consideration.
Colonel Greville seconded the motion. Mr. C. Fortescue, though personally regarding the resolution with cordial concurrence, pointed out that it was impossible for the Government to accept it unless they were prepared to follow it up by immediate action, and he maintained that public opinion even in Ireland was not yet sufficiently clear, strong, or matured
call upon them for that. Their opposition, therefore, to the motion at the present moment would not be founded on any grounds of equity or of permanent policy, but simply on considerations of time and circumstances. Speaking for himself alone, and not as the organ of the Government, he sketched out a mode of settling the question which involved the surrender by the Establishment of a certain portion of its revenues (to be replaced by voluntary efforts), which would be available for the advantage of the unendowed religion of the majority. He discussed some of the arguments by which the ascendancy of the Establishment was supported, disagreeing with them all; and, after enlarging on the vital importance of the question, which, he said, lay at the root of the Irish difficulty, he concluded by expressing an earnest hope that the discussion would smoothe the way to an early and satisfactory settlement.
The O'Donoghue expressed his disappointment with the decision of the Government not to deal with this question. He characterized the Irish Establishment as an unparalleled anomaly, and described the question at issue to be simply whether revenues granted to the pastors of the people should be enjoyed by those who ministered only to a small minority—600,000 out of 5,000,000 - maintaining that the experience of centuries proved the utter failure of the Establishment as a missionary Church. He ridiculed the fears of those who predicted all kinds of calamities from the disendowment of the Irish Church, reminding the House that its temporalities had already been curtailed; and claiming the Church revenues as the property of the nation, to be applied to national
On the part of the Roman Catholics, he disclaimed all hostility to the Protestant clergy: what they complained of, he said, was the ascendancy of one creed; and what they desired was perfect equality, to be attained by doing away with all State endowments for the support of the clergy. As to the disposal of the revenues of the Church, he expressed a strong conviction that the Roman Catholic clergy would not accept any
endowment from the State.
Mr. Whiteside, who had on several former occasions stood forward as the champion of the Church Establishment, drew a sarcastic contrast between the manly tone of the O'Donoghue's speech, and the vague and evasive manner in which the Government had dealt with the question, hinting that their chief object was to attract votes in the coming Reform discussions. He vehemently denied that Ireland was a Roman Catholic nation, maintaining that the intelligence, wealth, and industry of the country were Protestant, and warned the House of the impolicy of attacking a Conservative institution at a moment when there was no force in Ireland capable of resisting the spirit of disaffection but the Conservative party. He stigmatized the motion as an attack on property and the Protestant religion-prompted by the Roman heirarchical party; and went at great length into the history of the Union and Roman Catholic Emancipation, to show that this country was pledged to the maintenance of the Establishment, and that the Roman Catholics, by the pledges of their bishops in 1829, were precluded from attacking its property. In the same way, in tracing back the history of the Church's title-deeds to her property, he referred to the events of the Plantation of Ulster and the Act of Settlement, and drew an eloquent picture of the services of the Irish Church in the cause of order, loyalty, and true religion.
After several other speeches in favour of or against the motion, an adjournment of the debate took place; but the pressure of other business and the absorbing topic of Parliamentary Reform prevented the mover of the resolution from obtaining another day for the discussion, which consequently dropped.
The direct legislation upon Irish' affairs this session was extremely limited. The only important step taken was another experiment to settle that very difficult question which has been the subject of so much controversy and so many fruitless effortsthe relation of landlord and tenant. Mr. Fortescue, Chief Secretary for Ireland, now once more endeavoured to grapple with the problem by a Bill to adjust the rights of the two parties. Introducing this measure to the House of Commons, the right hon. gentleman gave a history of the many failures of successive Governments to deal with this difficult subject, and he explained that his object was to give action and vitality to the Act of 1860, introduced by Mr. Cardwell when Chief Secretary for Ireland, which experience had proved to be a dead letter. The circumstances of Ireland were so different from those of either England or Scotland that exceptional legislation was necessary. In England the usual requisites of a farm were supplied by the landlord out of his own capital, whereas in Ireland they were found by the industry and outlay of the tenant. It was proposed, therefore, that owners for life should be enabled to grant leases of thirty-one or sixty-one years, and that in cases of permanent improvement by tenants the latter should, if dispossessed by their landlords, be entitled to a lump sum, by way of compensation, equivalent to the increased letting value of the land, to be fixed by a valuator appointed by the Commissioners of Public Works. No notice to the landlord or any preliminary adjudication would be necessary, as the Government was persuaded that such formalities would act as an impediment to the promotion of the object in view. That object was to give the tenant an incentive to improve, by the certainty that if evicted he should receive a fair value for his outlay. He believed that if the Bill were passed, it would tend to restore peace and tranquillity to Ireland, by placing upon a solid and satisfactory basis the relations between landlord and tenant.
The propositions of Mr. Fortescue met with a rather warm opposition from Lord Naas, who declared that this Bill went much in advance of any former measures, and would, if passed, be certainly defeated by written contracts between the parties; also by Mr. Whiteside, Mr. George, and Lord C. Hamilton. On the other hand, Colonel Greville, Mr. Pim, and other representatives of Ireland gave it their support, and leave was given to bring in the Bill.
On the second reading there was a debate of considerable interest, the question being argued pro and con upon economic principles with much ability, Mr. S. Mill and Mr. Lowe representing the opposite views on the question.
Lord Naas led the opposition to the Bill. He moved a resolution condemning the Bill as injurious to the holders of small farms, and affirming the principle that compensation should only be granted for improvements made with the consent of the landlord. After examining the reasons which he supposed to have induced the Government to bring forward the Bill, denying that the farmers took much interest in tenant-right, or that it had any thing to do with Fenianism or emigration, he asserted that those who were at the bottom of the movement looked on the Bill as a means of obtaining fixity of tenure, with low rentals-quoting, in proof, from the writings of the O'Donoghue. In defending the conduct of the Irish landlords, he mentioned that within the last few years they had charged their property, under the Lands Improvement Act, to the extent of 2,000,0001.: and having examined at length the provisions of the Bill, he condemned as contrary to natural justice and the rights of property the proposal to give compensation for improvements effected without the consent of the landlord, and the manner in which that compensation was to be assessed. The Bill, he asserted, involved the communistic principles of the Tenant League ; it would destroy confidence between landlord and tenant; it would produce either evictions or contracts of the most stringent character; and it would tempt landlords, directly an improvement was made, to terminate a tenancy and let it again at an improved rent. As to the resolution, he pointed out that it was substantially the same as that which had been agreed to by the Select Committee of last year, and in support of it he quoted the opinions of Lord Palmerston, Mr. Cardwell, Sir R. Peel, and Lord Dufferin, and he attributed the change which had come over the Government in this and other matters to the severity of party exigencies.
The Attorney-General for Ireland, in reply to the last charge of Lord Naas, asserted that the principle of the Bill had been settled when Mr. Fortescue first came into office. The Bill, he argued, was founded on natural justice; it solved the problem of securing compensation without injury to the rights of property. He denied that it would produce want of confidence between landlord and tenant; it would simply prevent a bad landlord doing that which no good landlord would think of doing; and he contended, moreover, that it was in entire accordance with the resolutions of the Committee of last year. To show that special legislation was necessary, he read passages from the report of the Devon Commission, and as the Bill was condemned by both extreme parties, he assumed that it was the happy medium, and would remove much soreness and discontent, without injuring the rights of property.
Dr. Lowe pointed out to the Attorney-General that if this Bill rested, as he maintained, on natural justice, the tenants of England and Scotland, who were not to have the advantage of it, would be treated with grievous injustice. Natural justice, however, he defined to be in this case a fulfilment of contracts; and the introduction of a compulsory term into voluntary contracts was a blunder and a solecism, for if both parties knew of it, provision would be made against it, and if one were ignorant, a fraud would be committed on him. This was a matter of imperfect obligation, which must be determined by contracts between the parties, and could not be enforced by laws. If a tenant, he argued, used the land for any purpose not contemplated by his contract, by making improvements or otherwise, he had no right to compensation for such breach of contract, and he warned the House against being led to deal with this question on sentimental grounds, maintaining that in dealing with Ireland, above all other countries, it was our duty and our safety not to deviate from the strict principles of political economy. After criticizing the confused language of some of the clauses, he asserted that the reason for introducing this Bill was not so much a craving for compensation-for no actual grievance had been shown before the Committee-as a desire to perpetuate small holdings, in which the priesthood naturally had a great interest. These contracts must be regulated by supply and demand. Emigration and other causes, if left to work alone, by reducing competition, would in time put the tenant in a position to get better terms; but in the mean time he maintained it was cruelty to the weaker party to promote a measure which would embitter the relations between landlord and tenant, and might stimulate evictions and lead to the aggregation of small holdings. Concession, he warned the House, could not stop here; fixity of tenure must follow, and ultimately a permanent settlement, like that of Bengal. In conclusion, he laid great stress on the unwisdom, in dealing with a people among whom prevailed wild dreams of reconquering the land, of relaxing in their favour laws of property which were still held just and right for other portions of the country.
Mr. S. Mill considered that no measure ever proposed by a Government for the benefit of Ireland, not even Catholic Emancipation itself, showed so just an appreciation of the wants of that country, or went so straight to the heart of the country, as this Bill, introduced in fulfilment of the promise held out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer early in the session, that it was the intention of the Government to legislate for Ireland according to Irish exigencies, and not according to English routine. It had been said that what would do for England might do for Ireland; and it might be asked, “Why had not we been able to apply in that country the sciences and arts which in this had led to national prosperity ? In this application of the same laws to Eugland and Ireland they showed that double ignorance which was older than the time of Socrates, and they were disregarding that precept which was inscribed on the temple of Delphi; they not only did not know the people of whom they were talking, but they did not know themselves. The fact was, that Ireland was not an exceptional country, but England was. It was England that was exceptional. Was there any other country on the face of the earth where, as a general rule, the land was held in large patches, and was farmed by a capitalist at a rent fixed by contract, while the mass of the people were entirely detached from it, and simply received their day's wages? In all countries where the cultivators of the soil had emerged from the condition of slavery, or from that modified form of slavery called serfdom, the tillers of the land held that land direct from the landlord. There did not exist-or there existed only as a middle class-the capitalist farmer. In this respect, therefore, Ireland resembled the rest of the world. It was England that was peculiar. Was it, therefore, right to look to England's experience to meet Ireland's exceptional case? They ought rather to look to Continental experiences, for it was there where the similarity to Ireland would be found to exist. What did Continental experience tell them as a matter of historical fact? It told them that wherever a system of agricultural economy like that in Ireland had been found consistent with the good cultivation of the land and the good condition of its peasants, rents had not been, as in Ireland, fixed by contract, but the occupier had had the protection of fixed usage, the custom of the country, and had secured to him permanence of tenure so long as he pleased to possess it. The hon.
. member then referred to the provisions of the Bill, and said the