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a principle of good faith that the House ought to be cautious how they passed a measure which, whether more or less, im posed upon the rent-charges of the clergy, a burden which by law they were not heretofore liable to pay. If, indeed, they wished to alter the mode of rating, let it be done openly and without disguise. Let the subject be brought forward in the beginning of the Session, let it be fully and fairly discussed, and let the opinion of the House and the country be taken upon it. What would be the consequence of this bill? Why, that throughout the country every clergyman would be taxed to a considerable amount more than in the great majority of cases they had ever been subject to. He must say, then, that this was a measure of extreme injustice and hardship. Unless they applied to tithe property, and all property similarly situated, a different proportion of rating tithe of land rated at a rack-rent, they would not be doing justice to the tithe-owner. He begged to remind the House that this bill was not merely a declaratory measure: it was also an enacting measure, for it repealed that part of the 43rd of Elizabeth which enacted that all property should be rated. He was sure that there was a sufficient sense of justice in the House to induce them to reject the bill. He would conclude by moving, that the bill be read a second time that day six months.
Mr. E. Buller said, that the state of the law was such as to render legislation absolutely necessary. By the act of Parliament all property, whether capital or profit, was liable to be rated; and no custom, of however long standing, could set aside the clear intent of an act of Parliament. The decisions of judges were only valuable as interpreting acts of Parliament, but they could not alter them. He could not altogether support the present bill. He thought it was just and desirable as far as it was declaratory, but he objected to its enacting part, for it was an enacting bill, inasmuch as it declared, that certain property should not be liable to be rated. With this qualification, he would support the second reading of the bill, although at that late period of the Session, and considering the difficulties involved in it, there could not be much chance of its passing.
Mr. Aglionby called upon the House, as it valued the Church itself, to pass this bill into law. The ground upon which he supported the proposed alteration of
the law, was this, that it could never be practically carried into effect as it stood. He did not deny, that by the original act of the 43rd of Elizabeth they might rate profits and stock in trade, but it was found, that so much mischief arose from it, that it gave such inquisitorial power to the overseers of the poor, and worked such detriment to the country, that by general consent it was never attempted to rate stock in trade or profits. If they allowed the matter to remain in its present state after the discussions that had taken 1 place, they would have in every parish, contests between the tithe-owner and the landed interest.
Sir R. H. Inglis said, he looked upon the question not as one regarding the clergy only, but as a question between the tithe-owner on the one hand, and the land-owner on the other ; and which ought to be decided simply according to the law which regulated tithes, as well as every other description of hereditament. He held, that it would be very unbecoming in an assembly consisting in great measure of landowners, to take from the titheowners, who, in this case were the weaker party, that which the existing law did not take from them; for this bill, which pretended to be a declaratory law, was actually an enacting bill, altering the state of the law as to these particular individuals. He trusted, that the House would not pass such a bill.
Sir E. Sugden said, that upon mature reflection he was much inclined to think, that the principle of this bill was right. There were two grounds, however, upon which he was disinclined to vote in favour of the present bill. The first was, that the case of" The King v. Joddrell," having been decided, though he (Sir E. Sugden) was sure correctly so, in favour of the clergyman, and the Tithe Commutation Act having declared, that the rent charges in lieu of tithes should be treated in the same way as tithes, and Mr. Scrope's act having preserved all the rights of the clergyman then existing, he could not now take upon him to usurp the power of the court of law and reverse a decision, which, until it was reversed, was favourable to the claims of the clergy. The second reason why he could not vote for the present bill was, that its recital was not correct, for there was no doubt existing as to the construction of Mr. Scrope's act. For these reasons he should
Parnell, rt.hon. Sir II.
Somerville, Sit W. M.
Aglionby, H. A.
Rae, Sir W.
List of the Noes.
Abercromby, G. R. Lynch, A.
Adam, Sir Charles
Eliot, hon. J. E.
Stansfield, W. R. C.
Bill put off for three months.
that while he fully admitted the right of that House to make any amendment, however important, in the bill, yet he thought that any essential change in the bill from the state in which it had come down from the other House, ought to be deprecated, as being calculated to endanger the passing of the bill, at this advanced period of the Session.
Mr. Haives should not oppose the bill, though it was very far indeed from being the wholesome and salutary measure to which he had on a former occasion given his assent, and although he considered that while taking away the right of arrest by mesne process, it did not afford adequate means for the recovery of the property of debtors. Imperfect as the bill was, however, he hailed it as a contribution to a better state of things.
Bill read a second time.
HOUSE OF LORDS,
Mixutiso Bills. Read a first time :—Qualification; Western Australian Act Continuance—Read a second time:—Entails (Scotland).
Petitions presented. By the Duke of Rutland, from Great Grimsby, and by Lord Kknyon, from Clergymen in the county of Norfolk, against any further Grant to Maynooth College—By Viscount Melbourne, from a place in Ireland, in favour of Irish Municipal Reform.
Affirmations Instead Of Oaths.] Lord Denman moved the Order of the Day for the House going into Committee on the Affirmation Bill.
The Duke of Wellington feared, that unless great circumspection were used, this bill would have the effect of encouraging a species of inferior evidence in judicial cases. He suggested, that those who meant to avail themselves of the provisions of the bill, should previously procure a certificate setting forth their scruples, which certificate should be granted without expense, and should be renewed annually.
Lord Denman had no objection to adopt the suggestion of the noble Duke.
Lord Ashburton said, it would be better, in his opinion, if a general measure, extending to all classes, were passed; and that the particular privileges now granted to certain sects only, should be removed. As the law now stood, and would stand under this bill, one mode of affirmation was allowed to one body, and another to a different body. He thought that provi
sion should be made in this bill calling on individuals to make known their sentiments on the subject of taking oaths, before the occasion arose when they might wish, in a court of justice, to make a declaration. Individuals ought not to be allowed to take that course on the spur of the moment.
Lord Ellenhorough agreed in the propriety of what had fallen from the noble Lord. If some such precaution were not adopted, alibi-men would be found ready on all occasions to make these declarations, and the effect would be most injurious to the interests of justice.
The Earl of Haddington objected to the provisions of the bill being extended to Scotland.
The Earl of Wicklow had attended the Committee on this bill, which certainly, compared with what it was, had been considerably improved. If, however, it were a good measure for this country, he could not see why the noble Earl should wish to exempt Scotland from its operation. He was willing, by a measure of this nature, to give relief to that extent, but to that extent only, which appeared to be necessary. But the present measure went far beyond that; because it went to give to every person, no matter of what religious creed, who preferred an affirmation to an oath, the opportunity of taking the former. That, he maintained, was giving relief to a much greater extent than the evil required. Although he admitted, that the bill had been much improved in Committee, still, if a vote were taken on the subject, he should vote against it.
The Earl of Haddington said, if this measure 'were found necessary for Scotland, he should not object to it. But he thought it would be extremely hard to pass it, when no communication had been received from Scotland on the subject.
Lord Ashburton said, that he was not aware that this bill had been called for by any of the judges, nor were their Lordships acquainted with the opinions of magistrates, or of chairmen of quarter sessions on the subject. Considering how little their Lordships knew of it, and the late period at which it had been presented to their attention, he thought, that no great inconvenience would follow if it were deferred till next Session; and he therefore moved, that it be committed that day six months.