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-...,...,.... THE EXETER PRELATE…



THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ON CHURCH RATES. WHAT ignorance is sometimes displayed in the House of Commons! There is never a debate in which nonsense does not kick the beam. Discussions on Church matters form no exception to the remark. In proof of this we need onlv refer to the late debate on Church-rates. We have neither room nor inclination to enter into an ex- amination of the various sentiments uttered on the occasion. We deem it, however, our duty to note down and expose a fallacy that was then advanced, and which passed unchal- lenged, if not sanctioned, by the Liberal members who supported Mr. Ti-elawney's motion, for their entire aboli- tion. Lord John Russell, in defence of these iniquitous exac- tions, said, that as Dissenters purchased lands subject to Church-rates, they were bound to pay them, because the charge was allowed for in the price, and as occupiers of land they paid a rent regulated by the amount of Church-rates and other taxes they, in addition, were bound by law to pay. Now we contend, notwithstanding the dictum of my Lord John Russell, that Church-rates are not a charge upon land, and never were that the amount of Church-rates is never deducted from the value of land, and that it dees not, in fact, enter into the consideration of price. Church-rates are charges upon persons, as parishioners. The gross amount required for the purposes to which Cnurcu-rates are applied, and the mode of assessment, or the specific amount in which each individual parishioner shall be assessed, are determined by a vote of the vestry. Tne mole of assessment generally adopted is a calculation of poundage, according to the annual value of occupancy but in this case the rate is Jiot made upon the land occupied, but upin the occupier, in respect to the land, taken as a gauge of the amount which, according to his means, he is enabled to pay. Sometimes, however, or in some places, Church-rales are assessed upon stock in trade but even when assessed only in respect of lands occu- pied, until a very recent enactment, there was no remedy, in cases of defalcation, except against the person and, indeed, up to the present hour, there is no other remedy, when the suit is taken out of the Civil Court and disputed in the Eccle- siastical. Were Church-rates a charge upon land, as it is alleged, then surely, in cases of default, they would bo reco- verable from the land bat in no case have they been or are they so recoverable. The fact is therefore clear, that Church-rates are a charga not upon land but upon persons. Originally they were a tax voluntarily imposed upon themselves by the people in sup- port of a Church whose anathemas and excommunications they feared,—a tax so long continued to be voted and paid- that the Church at last assumed a legal right to,it. The assumption is thus supported The people have fov-tigsee) paid Church-rates; immemorial custom proves a law; to grant and pay Church-rates is, therefore, a legal duty. Admitting this doctrine to be sound, as we must do, becaitse the judges have so decided it, still it does not prove that Church-rates are a charge upon land, It proves simply their legality. But even were Church-rates a charge upon land, and were land bought and sold subject to them, why surely that is no reason why Church-rates should not be abolished. Land, in every case, is bought aud sold chargeable with the taxes at the time of the transfer it is legally subjected to j but will any man in his senses say that the land so bought, because those taxes might have been a consideration in the price, must be for ever subjected to the same tlx-6 P, It is perfectly monstrous. Land, and every other property, is bought and sold contingent to the repeal of all laws that might have been passed concerning it, and to the passing of other laws which might affect its value by enhancement. Had Dissenters and others who complain of Church-rates, purchased the property, or routed their dwell- ings with a specific understanding that the Church-rate; should for ever be a charge upon their property, in addition to the value of the fee simple on the annual rent, then the matter would be altered; but it is not so. We know of no such tenure in the present day consequently the plea urged by the First Lord of the Treasury in support of the most iniquitousand odious of taxes is as baseless as it is dishonest. If Church-rates are to be supported by such arguments as these, they cannot long stand. We are not amongst those who urge an agitation for the abolition of Church-rates. We should like to see them for ever done away, but still we have no desire to see any association for the purpose of accomplishing it. Our ener- gies must be devoted to the grand question of separating the Church from the State. That done, the Church will be a harmless thing. All her iniquities will be speedily purged. We shall hear no more of her exactions. Tile time for her purification we hope is £ it haud. To this gieat question the people of. Wales have nofyet addiessed themselves We;: did hope that some urlc would; haAe. tollo.wed Mr. Miails visit amongst us. There is abundant excuse we know in the fact that we have been engaged in combatting another phase of the same abominable principle. But now tliat "-the State-Education question is pretty nearly settled, it behoves us to be up and doing. We trust that the Welsh people will' at once take the matter In hand, and give vigorous proofs of the sincerity of their adherence to the voluntary principle.