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reading of the measure, after having declared my objections to it in the beginning, than if I had silently allowed it to be introduced. It is not, after all, of vital interest to the Church that this amount of revenue should be collected in the way in which it is now collected, or that it should be applied exactly in the way in which it has hitherto been applied. I have that belief, notwithstanding all that has been said of the falling fortunes of the Church, in the attachment of the majority of the people of this country to that Church, that even if it pleased Parliament totally to abolish these church rates, I think means would be found by the landowners, by the gentry, by men of all orders who belong to the Church, to supply the revenue which would then be wanted. It is not, therefore, from a belief that the Church would by the mere abstraction of so much revenue fall into decay, that I am opposed to legislation of this kind; but I do think, that if such a Bill were to pass both Houses of Parliament, it would be a symptom that Parliament was not disposed to give that support to the Established Church which it has hitherto afforded to it. I think that a concession upon this point, without the smallest consideration of other means of settling the question-of what was the state of the law-of what was due to the Church-I think that such a concessionthat such an absolute surrender of the claims of the Church, would be a symptom that in any future attacks on the same establishment the assailants would be likely to obtain the assent of Parliament to their propositions. I cannot, therefore, assent to the proposal that is now before us. Whether or not my opposition to this Motion may be successful to-night, I feel assured that a Bill of this kind cannot pass through Parliament in the present Session. I think that the question, surrounded as it is with difficulty, requires further consideration. I have no doubt that a measure might be framed and such a measure has already been repeatedly under the consideration of Government-which would meet the justice of the case, and which, if it were passed, would greatly tend to diminish, at all events, the popular complaints which are made against church rates. But that such a measure would pass through Parliament I own I have very great doubts. afraid that no measure could be found which would not meet with the opposition, either of the Church on the one side or of VOL. CXXXIII. [THIRD SERIES.]
the Dissenters on the other. I am afraid that it will be, not only difficult, but almost impossible to frame a measure which, founded on principles of justice and impartiality, would meet with general approval and support. I know the pains that are taken by those who agitate the country, whether they belong to the Church or whether they belong to the dissenting bodies-I know the pains that are taken to defeat measures which seem measures of compromise, and of equal justice to both parties. I have found, with regard to measures which I thought most beneficial to the Church, that a hot opposition has been offered to them on the part of the Church, and that those measures have been almost defeated by that opposition; and I am bound to confess, on the other hand, that measures which I thought beneficial to the Dissenters, but which in their opinion tended to give too much to the Church, have been vehemently opposed on their parts. In fact, we live in times when these differences-differences sometimes on points of church government which are not very considerable in themselves, and differences at other times on questions of the greatest importance with regard to religious belief-I say we live in times when differences of one or other of these characters divide this country and produce the most violent excitement, and an exhibition of the greatest array of party passion and antagonism. Such being the case, I am not sanguine with regard to the success of any measure which the Government might frame, and which they might hope to introduce in another Session of Parliament. But this I will say, that I should think that if I were to give my willing assent to a Bill for totally abolishing church rates, without any sort of compensation or any sort of modification, I should be setting the example of a concession very dangerous to the Church Establishment, and when I say the Church Establishment, I believe I may say to the peace and welfare of the country.
Motion made, and Question put, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to abolish Church Rates."
The House divided :-Ayes 129; Noes 62: Majority 67.
Russell, Lord J.
Sawle, C. B. G.
Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Packe, C. W.
Devereux, J. T.
Duke, Sir J.
Pechell, Sir G. B.
Phillimore, J. G.
Feilden, M. J.
Fitzgerald, J. D.
Price, W. P.
Fitzroy, hon. H.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Glyn, G. C.
Hanmer, Sir J.
Headlam, T. E.
Heard, J. I.
Richardson, J. J.
Robartes, T. J. A.
PUBLIC BILLS. ·
mon Law (Ireland).
1° Courts of Com
2° Medical Graduates (University of London);
MR. MALINS said, it was so long ago as the 5th of April that this Bill was under discussion. The object of the Bill was to prevent persons who had professed themselves as nuns executing deeds or other instruments by which they disposed of property in favour of the institutions of which they had become members. It was on the 14th of March that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) moved for leave to bring in the Bill; and on that occasion the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department supported the principle of the Bill in language incapable of misconstruction. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. On the 5th of April, however, when the
List of the NOES.
Beach, Sir M. H. H.
Bentinck, G. W. P.
Du Pre, C. G.
Halford, Sir H.
measure was last under discussion, the noble Lord stated two grounds on which
he was inclined to oppose the second read a Roman Catholic Member of that House ing. The first of these objections was, who would not readily admit that it was the that such a measure ought not to be pro- duty of a nun to conform in all spiritual ceeded with until after the Committee of matters to the will of the superior of the Inquiry for which the hon. and learned nunnery, and of the priest whom that Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) superior herself was bound to obey. But had moved should have been appointed. the House should bear in mind, that to the Now, the House was aware that that objec- inmates of conventual establishments all tion was entirely removed by the withdrawal matters were spiritual matters, and that of the Motion for the Committee. The those inmates must have positively and for second objection urged by the noble Lord ever renounced all connection with the afto the Bill was that its preamble was offen- fairs of this world. They must have resive to Roman Catholics, and that its en- nounced all rights of property and all acting clauses would either do too much or power of dealing with property; and hence too little. With regard to the objection to it was that it was one of the rules of those the preamble, he (Mr. Malins) had only to religious houses that any property which observe that any such objection was a fit- might accrue to the inmates after their ting subject for consideration when the profession was to be regarded as the proBill was in Committee. They might either perty of the establishments of which they alter the preamble or they might reject it had become members. That was apparent altogether in Committee if they should from the famous Blackrock case, in which think proper; and he would remind them a portion of the property left by the testathat many most important enactments had tor M'Carthy had been claimed for his two been passed by Parliament without any daughters, who had become the inmates of preamble whatever. But the noble Lord the Blackrock nunnery. If the Bill should had also stated-and that statement had pass a second reading and they should go been repeated by the hon. and learned into Committee, and if it should be thought Gentleman the Attorney General-that the that its provisions would not go far enough, Bill would not go far enough, inasmuch as he should be prepared to move the inserit would not deprive nuns of all power tion of a clause under which nuns should whatever of disposing of property, and be deprived of the power of disposing of would not regard them as persons civilly any property whatever. But the noble dead. Now, upon that subject, he (Mr. Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Malins) should observe that he was pre- Department had further stated that the pared to adopt the principle laid down by Bill would go too far. Now, what grounds the noble Lord and by the hon. and learned could there be for that statement? It was Gentleman the Attorney General. He not denied that many instances had ocbelieved that the more the House consi- curred in which ladies, after having been dered the position of those ladies who were professed, had disposed of property in designated-and, no doubt, preperly desig- favour of the establishments to which they nated as pious persons who devoted them- belonged; and could the House doubt that selves to God, and thereby put themselves such dispositions of property were freunder the guidance of the priests of their quently made under undue influence? He communion- -as persons who had altoge- (Mr. Malins) submitted that they must nether renounced the world and its affairs- cessarily be frequently made under undue the more would it be convinced that those influence, for he believed that there was ladies had renounced, with their other civil no limit to the power exercised by the lady rights, the right of dealing with property. superior of a conventual establishment Under the law of this country, property over the other inmates, or to the power excould be legally devised by those persons ercised by the priest over that lady herself. only who acted on their own free and un- That power was from its very nature unbiassed discretion. And could any one bounded and overwhelming. How, then, believe that a lady who, at an early age- could the inmate of a convent dispose of at an age between twenty and thirty-en- property with that free will which was intered a conventual establishment, enjoyed dispensable for the proper discharge of perfect freedom of will, and was not under such an act? Free will must be utterly the control of the superior of the institu- out of the question in such a case. What, tion to which she belonged and of the then, did his hon. and learned Friend the priest by whom that superior was herself Member for Enniskillen propose to do by guided? He was sure that there was not that Bill? He proposed that whenever
would be impossible to obtain any evidence
a will was executed by the inmate of a
of spiritual authority that need not be imposed in the case of other branches of the community, in consequence of the different regulations which they obeyed.
SIR JOHN YOUNG said, he had hoped that the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), following the wise example of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers), would have withdrawn this Bill from the
consideration of the House, and, by so doing, would have put an end to these unhappy polemical discussions which of late had been so frequently raised among them. That hope was based on the consideration that circumstances had greatly altered since the hon. and learned Gentleman had first moved in this matter. At that time he had brought the Bill forward, not without some encouragement from more than one quarter of the House, and a desire had been shown that the law should be made uniform; but since that period many circumstances had taken place which had entirely altered the complexion of the matter; arguments had been adduced which had completely demolished the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition; but, above all, the Bill had created a feeling of uneasiness and resentment among large classes in England as well as in Ireland, which the hon. and learned Gentleman could not have contemplated when he first embarked in the undertaking. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Wallingford (Mr. Malins), in a speech entering largely into polemical topics, had assumed that the noble Lord the Home Secretary had at first viewed the Bill with different eyes from those with which he had afterwards looked at it; but he believed the noble Lord had in fact stated that, while he did not object to the introduction of the Bill, he thought the recitals in the preamble were calculated to give offence, and he then said that, in his opinion, the Bill was so framed that it would be ineffective. The Bill was afterwards printed, and then the noble Lord, having had time maturely to consider its provisions, found that his apprehensions had been well founded, that the recitals were undoubtedly offensive, and that its provisions were likely to be totally inoperative even for the limited object it had in view. On these grounds the noble Lord had objected to the second reading, and he thought the course he had taken was not only well founded in fact and in reason, but was also strictly consistent. The argument of the noble Lord that if he were a Roman Catholic he should be inclined to look with favour on such a measure as this, if suspicions were generally entertained with regard to the proceedings in convents, amounted in effect to this-that if the Roman Catholic community placed a great value on these monastic institutions, then wealth would naturally and legitimately flow into them, and the
small sums that could be obtained from parties acting under compulsion would be so trifling in amount that it would not be worth while, for their sake, to incur the suspicion that they were obtained by undue proceedings. If it were suspected that undue practices were carried on in these convents, it was for the Roman Catholics to see that those suspicions were put an end to. He could easily imagine that this opinion would be entertained by any honourable mind; but it was one thing for the Roman Catholics themselves to come forward and provide a remedy for the evils under which they suffered, and another thing for them to accept a remedy for grievances whose existence they did not admit from parties in whose amity they had no confidence. He regretted that this question should have fallen into the hands of a gentleman like the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen; for it was impossible for him to suppose that he stood in such a relation to the Roman Catholics that any proposition emanating from him would be received with perfect confidence; on the contrary, it was more likely to be received with suspicion and distrust. Speaking generally, he thought this anxious care for the due regulation and the internal discipline of monastic institutions, this tender solicitude for the guardianship of the persons and property of nuns, coming from gentlemen like the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) and the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner), who were frequently in the habit of expressing their dissent from Roman Catholic doctrines-who looked upon that religion as one of superstitious errors, and believed that it was opposed to ail enlightened progress and to all purity of religious creed-could not be received but with distrust and suspicion. That this was the general feeling among the Roman Catholics was fully proved by the numerously signed declarations which had appeared both in this country and in Ireland. The Irish declaration against interference by a Protestant Legislature with Roman Catholic institutions was signed not only by the Roman Catholic prelates, but also by a great number of the nobility and gentry of Ireland, by men of scientific pursuits, and by men who stood first in all the industrial undertakings of the country. To the English declaration was attached names well known in the annals of this country, many of them with high historic recollections known in the wars of the