« PreviousContinue »
responsibility they incurred in losing this opportunity of terminating the contest. Mr. Collier reviewed the proposed Bill of Mr. Estcourt, and stated his objections to what he termed his scheme for stereotyping Church-rates, which changed the incidence of the tax, making it not a personal charge, but a charge upon the land; and, so far from being a measure of relief from Churchrates, it would render them permanent. There was, in his opinion, only one way of dealing with this tax—its abolition. Mr. S. Estcourt, after replying to the objections offered by Mr. Collier to his proposed scheme, said he objected to Sir J. Trelawny's Bill on two main grounds. In the first place, it prohibited parishioners from exercising a mode of local self-government coeval with the earliest period of our legislation, putting an end to an old common law right. This was an inherent vice of the Bill. Then, in the next place, the Bill, in its present stage, stood in the way of a practical solution of the question, precluding every attempt at compromise, and shutting the door against an amicable arrangement, which it was desirable to keep open to the last. Without discussing the scheme he had offered ineffectually as a compromise, he adverted to what he considered to be the principle upon which an arrangement should be based. The only safe course was to depart as little as possible from the old principle of Church-rate. Allow every man to exempt himself personally from an obligation to support a Church of which he was not a member, and adopt this
principle in the form least offensive. The Bill now before the House prevented any such arrangement and all mutual concessions; it was, therefore, better that it should be stopped, and he moved to defer the third reading for three months. This amendment was seconded by Lord R. Cecil, who congratulated Sir J. Trelawny upon his having disconnected himself from the Liberation Society, the object of which was the destruction of the Church of England. He denied that this Bill was one of liberty or of enfranchisement; it was, he said, a Bill of disfranchisement and of pains and penalties. Mr. H. Lewis supported the Bill. He believed, he said, that a conscientious principle was involved in this question; but, in voting for the Bill, he was convinced that it would confer a great boon upon the Church of England, which ought to live in the hearts and affections of the people, and never could, so long as they were vexed by the miserable bickerings caused by Churchrates. Mr. Cross said he should assume that a great majority of the House and the country desired a settlement of this question. As to the kind of settlement, opinions differed. Some were for a total abolition of Churchrates; others would have no surrender. He concurred with Mr. Estcourt that the only practical way of settling the question was by personal exemption; and he proposed that all persons who objected to pay Church-rates should have an opportunity of saying so, and be exempt without declaring themselves to be Dissenters. The Bill stood in the way of a measure to carry out this settlement, and he should support the amendment. Sir G. Lewis observed that the objection to Church-rates was a conscientious objection, which he believed to be sincere, and it was impossible to offer a valid argument against a conscientious objection. On the other hand, it was urged that by the abolition of Church-rates the essence of an Established Church would be annihilated. This objection, he thought, after what had been done in Ireland, had not sufficient weight. He was prepared to vote for the third reading of the Bill. At the same time, he was quite ready to enter into a discussion of other proposals. His objection to the proposal of Mr. Cross was that it would reduce a Churchrate to a voluntary contribution, depriving it of the character of a rate, the principle of which was, that it should be general and compulsory, while it would concede the whole doctrine upon which the Bill was founded. He (Sir George) would propose a plan which would begin by laying the charge upon those who were members of the Church, and who testified the same by attending the church. Some objection might be made to the term of “pew-rents,” but it seemed to him that a rate might be so imposed, that it should be compulsory, and that it would provide a sufficient fund for maintaining the fabric of the Church. Mr. Newdegate vindicated a proposition he had before made for a substitute for Churchrates, and opposed the third reading of the Bill. Mr. Buxton oproved of Mr. Cross's plan.
Mr. Bright said all the plans which had been proposed did not hit the grievance. The object was to get rid of every shred of what the Dissenters regarded as the supremacy of the Church of England in relation to this particular question; to place the Church and other sects in that respect upon an equality. The resistance to Church-rates was not grounded upon the amount; there must be something deeper in the matter than money. He was going, he said, to vote for the third reading of the Bill; but he was ready to assent to a compromise by which the compulsory power of levying the rate should be withdrawn and the term of total abolition delayed.
Mr. Stansfeld observed that this question was one of policy rather than of principle. It was totally distinct from that of a separation of the Church from the State. No scheme of compromise had been, or could be, proposed that would not be objectionable and degrading to Dissenters; and he believed that all attempts would be vain, mischievous, and dangerous.
Mr. Whiteside accused Sir G. Lewis of inconsistency, professing himself utterly unable to reconcile his logic with his vote. He denied that this was a question of policy merely; it was a question of principle. An aggressive movement was made against the Established Church, and the opposition proceeded from a desire to maintain the old principles of the Constitution.
Upon a division taking place a singular result appeared. There were
Ayes . -
The Speaker was consequently called upon to give a casting vote. The right honourable gentleman, amidst great anxiety and profound silence, stated the grounds upon which he should give his vote, as follows:— “If the equality of voices had arisen in an earlier stage of the Bill, I should have had no difficulty in the course to be pursued; because, guided by a rule which has been established by many able men who have preceded me in this chair, I should have desired so to vote as to give the House another opportunity of deciding the question for itself, rather than to have taken that decision into my own hands. But that rule does not now prevail on the third reading of a bill. We have now reached the third reading of this Bill, and I find that the House hesitates, and is unable to express a decision or to give any determination whether this law shall stand
or shall be changed. As far as I can collect the opinion of this House from the course of the debate, I think the general opinion of the House is in favour of some settlement of this question different from that which is contained in this Bill—and I think I shall best discharge my duty by leaving to the future and deliberate determination of this House whether a change in the law should be made, if the House should think right so to do, rather than by taking upon myself the responsibility of that change. I therefore give my voice with the “Noes.'"
Much cheering from the Opposition side of the House followed this announcement. The Bill was thus lost, but it is probable that the decision here given only anticipated the rejection which it would have encountered in the House of Lords, had it been suffered to go up to that assembly.
Finance. The Annual Budget is brought forward by Mr. Gladstone on
the 15th of April-His Speech and Financial Propositions : remission of id. on Income Tax and Repeal of the Paper DutyRemarks of Sir Stafford Northcote, Lord Robert Cecil, and other Members— The Motion for going into a Committee on the Budget leads to protracted Debates-- The proposed Repeal of the Paper Duty excites much Opposition from the Conservative Party-Speeches of Mr. Thomas Baring, Mr. Bentinck, Sir S. Northcote, Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald, Mr. Milner Gibson, Mr.Whiteside, Mr. B. Osborne,' Mr. Horsfall, Mr. Hors. man, Mr. Bright, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Disraeli, and Lord Palmerston-No Division takes place, and the House goes into Committee–Further objections urged at this stage by the Opposition
-Mr. Hubbard proposes a Resolution, which is withdrawn-On the Proposition to renew the existing Tea Duties, Mr. Horsfall moves, as an Amendment, to reduce the Duty to 1s.-A Debate ensues, in which the Marquis of Hartington, Sir S. Northcote, Sir George Lewis, Mr. Disraeli, and Lord Palmerston take part—The Resolution of the Government is passed by a Majority of 18–The other Resolutions are carried, the remission of the Paper Duty exciting strong protests from the Conservatives — The Chancellor of the Exchequer announces his intention of including all the financial arrangements of the Budget in a single Bill— Objections taken to this mode of proceeding-Mr. McDonough argues against the form of the Bill on Constitutional grounds-He is powerfully answered by Sir James GrahamSir William Heathcote, on behalf of himself and Mr. Walpole, expresses dissent from Mr. McDonough's views—Mr. Rolt, Mr.Whiteside, Lord R. Cecil, and Mr.Horsman support the objections to the Bill-Mr. Puller, Mr. Mellor, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Lord Palmerston justify the course taken by the Government—The Bill is read a second time and committed— Further discussions on the Paper Duty-On the 4th clause repealing that impost, a warm and protracted Debute arises –After Speeches from the leading Members on both sides, a Division takes place, which exhibits a Majority of 15 for the Government-The result is hailed with acclamation by the Ministerial party—The Bill goes up to the House of Lords-- Earl Granville proposes the Second Reading in a temperate Speech—The Duke of Rutland moves the rejection of the Bill-- The Earl of Derby strongly condemns the Budyet, and disapproves of the mode of proceeding by a single Bill, but advises the withdrawal of the Amendment—Speeches of the Duke of Argyll, Earl Grey, and Lord Monteagle-The Duke of Rutland withdrars his Motion, and the Bill is passed, nem. con.--Various motions for financial reductions and enquiries---Mr. Hubbard moves for a Committee to enguire into the means of mitigating the inequali. ties of the Income Tax - The Motion is carried against the Government by a majority of 4, but the enquiry by Committee leads to no result Mr. W. Williams mores a Resolution in favour of assimilating Probate Duties on Personal and Real Estate-Negatired by 167 to 51-Mr. Dodson brings forward a Motion for the Repeal of the Hop Duty--The Motion meets with some support, but it is resisted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and rejected by 202 to 110-Mr. H. B. Sheridan asks the assent of the House to a proposition for Lowering the Duty on Fire Insurance-The Motion is opposed by the Government, and throuen out by 138 to 49-Mr. Arthur Mills proposes the Appointment of a Committee to enquire into the Colonial Expenditure of Great Britain - After some show of objection, the Gorernment gives way to the wish of the House, and concedes the Committee.
THE annual statement of the penditure by 822,0001. The re
1 Chancellor of the Exchequer venue of 1860-61 amounted to was awaited this year with great 70,283,0Col., showing a decrease anxiety, and the financial debates of 806,0001. as compared with which arose from it furnished at the revenue of 1859-60. Last once the keenest occasion for year taxation had been remitted party struggles, and the subjects to the extent of 2,900,0001., while of most exciting interest to the new taxes had been imposed public. On the 15th April Mr. nearly to the same amount; and Gladstone made his statement there had been temporary reto the House of Commons, com- sources last year which reduced pressing his exposition within a the absolute diminution to rather smaller compass than in 500,0001. The expenditure having some preceding years. It was been 72.842,0001., and the remarked, like his former Budget venue 70,283,0001., there respeeches, by great lucidity and sulted a deficiency of 2,559.0001. argumentative power. The right But, allowing for drawbacks on hon. gentleman began by ob. stocks belonging to the accounts serving that the retrospect was of the former year, and for other unfavourable, and that whatever deductions, the real differenee might be thought of the legisla was 865,0001, which he thought, tion of the past year, it was no under the circumstances, not an ordinary year of the financial unfavourable state of things. He policy of this country : and he then showed the result of the then proceeded to lay bare to the actual receipt of the revenue in view of the Committee the ma. its details, compared with the terial facts exhibited by the estimated amount. The Stamps, financial history of the year. The Taxes. Post-office, Crown Lands, expenditure estimated and pro- and iniscellaneous sources, which vided for was 73.661.0001. The had been estimated to produce actual amount was 72,812,0001., 27,457,0001., had actually yielded being less than the estimated ex 27,5 12,0001.-a difference of only