« ZurückWeiter »
One great cause for disagreement in the valuation of tithe arises from the nature of the system also, which is, that each party concerned values it at what it is worth to the other; and the difference in value to the owner, and renter, is very great. The ill consequences to religion of these enmities must be evident; and I believe that more dissenters from the Established Church have been produced by this cause, than by any other; that the defection from that church ought not to be attributed to the neglect or want of zeal in its ministers, but to the tithe system alone; a system so ruinous in its consequences, and so truly calculated to produce dissention between the minister and his flock, that I can only attribute the length of its existence, to the excellence of the church to which it is attached, and to the general respectability of its ministers. This is the nature of that system founded on ancient and shrewd policy. How long it may exist, it is impossible to say; but of the truth of this assertion I am convinced,-That it will be the best policy of tithe-owners to take a full and fair equivalent for the enormous property which they now possess; and particularly at this time, when the country at large is probably willing to give that equivalent.
Much has been said about the nature of that equivalent; land, and corn rent, are the only two likely to be approved of. I think the corn rent strongly objectionable, on the ground which I have before stated; namely, that the corn rent must rise with the price of corn, though the rent of the land may be kept down or depressed by the weight of taxes, or expense of cultivation.
Therefore by establishing corn-rents we should do harm, by preventing the adoption of the superior plan.
With respect to the tithes in the possession of lay impropriators, it would only be necessary to compel them, by
the intended Act of Parliament, (when required so to do. by a majority of the land-owners, as would be expressed in that Act,) to sell or exchange them for land of equal value within a certain distance; the value to be ascertained by Commissioners in the usual manner, and the general system to be adopted in valuing being first pointed out in the Act of Parliament: which Act should also empower trustees for settled estates to give consent thereto.
Land appears to me to be the only fair equivalent which can be given to the Church.
The objections which have been made to land, I believe, are,-1st, the difficulty of procuring it in convenient situations; 2dly, the expense which may be occasioned by draining, and new cultivation, which ought not to fall on one life-holder; and, 3dly, the power it would give to a life-holder to injure his successor by exhausting the land by bad cultivation.
The whole of these objections might be shortly and easily answered, by asking the question,-if these inconveniencies are experienced on the glebe-lands now held by clergymen for life? But I will point out modes of obvi ating them.
With respect to the procuring land in convenient situations, I should say, that any situation would be convenient within the county or diocese; for a clergyman would be in the situation of any other land-owner, and his residence on his estate would not be more necessary.
I would permit clergymen to grant leases for a term, not exceeding ten years, at the best rack-rent which could be obtained at the time, and which leases should be binding on their successors, No new leases should be granted, till the old ones had expired. I would have five per cent. on the profits of church lands annually vested in the hands of
trustees, to be named by the Bishop of the diocese, and the patron of the living, to answer or pay, at the death of an incumbent, for any injury which the estate may have sustained by improper treatment. The damages should be assessed by valuers, to be appointed by the patron and executors of the late incumbent; and the balance, if any, should be paid to the executors of the late incumbent for the uses of his will. The money, to the amount of assessed damages, should be paid to and expended on the estate by the new incumbent; who should be answerable for having so done, to the patron and bishop. And in case an incumbent shall have made any great and expensive improvements on the estate, either by draining, by cultivating waste land, or otherwise, and should not have lived long enough to have been remunerated for the same, those expenses should be valued in like manner; and a certain portion of them, so fixed by the valuers, should be repaid by the new incumbent to the executors of the deceased incumbent.
With respect to the livings held by Colleges, I would allow each college to sell the tithes of all its livings, according to and under the direction of the Act of Parliament, and to purchase estates to the amount of the value of the whole; which estates should be managed by a committee composed of fellows of the college, and of the incumbents of its livings. The committee, or stewards appointed by it, should manage and let the estates, receive the rents, and pay them over to the different incumbents, according to the proportions which may be their due. These estates might be situate in any part of the kingdom, which would facilitate the purchases. I would permit colleges, and all patrons of livings, to sell, and purchase, and attach convenient glebe lands to their livings, whenever
may be in
their power so to do; and I would facilitate the exchange of all church lands as much as possible; only, that nothing should be done without the consent of the Bishop of the diocese, who should appoint a commissioner to value, and to whom it should be proved that no injury would be done to the church property thereby.
This exchange of tithes for land should only be made compulsatory on the tithe owners, and patrons and incumbents of livings; who should at all times be compellable to make the exchange, whenever called on so to do by the proprietors of the land, or a certain portion of them, who shall conform to the Act of Parliament, and tender them land of equal value with the tithes to be exchanged, when valued according to the directions of that Act; and which land shall be within a given distance of the church, to be fixed by the Act. By these means the commutation would go on slowly and regularly, and would not have the effect of suddenly raising the price of land. As some persons who had no waste land to cultivate, some who had no money, and others who may not immediately perceive the advantages which would arise from the commutation, would not instantly exert themselves to commute their tithes; but they would gradually, and almost imperceptibly, be commuted, and cease to exist as a grievance. The benefits which would result from the measure would be gradually felt, thereby producing less sensation, and greater benefit to the country, than I think could be attained by any other mode.
No incumbent of a living should be compellable to exchange any part of his tithes for land, unless an offer should be made to him for the whole: and the land so offered to him should be situated all together, unless any part of it should be in his own parish, which might be added to his home glebe.
Whenever a majority of the land-owners, possessing twothirds of the property in any parish, should wish to commute the tithes, and the remaining third should refuse to give their consent; the two-thirds wishing to commute should be at liberty to purchase land, and commute the whole tithe of the parish, whereby they might become possessed of the tithes of the other third of the land-owners so refusing to commute, and might either keep or sell them to the public as they might think proper. But the proprietors of those tithes should at all times be compellable to sell them to the land-owners, when called on so to do; and the price should be offered for them according to the mode of valuation directed by the Act of Parliament.
The mode of valuation I wish to point out is,-that in the case of lay tithe, one valuer should be appointed by the owner of the tithe, another by the owners of the land; these two should elect a third, as is usual in most other valuations. For church tithe, one valuer should be appointed by the incumbent of the living, and be approved of by the patron of the living, and the bishop of the diocese; the other by the land-owners. These two should elect a third. They should be directed to value all tithes at their present annual value, including moduses, and all other money payments to the incumbent of the living; but they should not interfere with any law-suit, which may be pending concerning any modus or other matter; and they should value the estate to be exchanged according to the same mode. My object is, that the valuers' should not value the probability of improvements on either side, which might be made on the lands, particularly on those to be exonerated from tithe : for if those lands were not to be so exonerated, such improvements would not be made: and it is unfair to make money titheable, when vested in the