HC Deb 17 April 1828 vol 18 cc1520-1
Mr. H. Maxwell

rose to present a Petition from certain Protestant inhabitants of the county of Cavan, praying that parliament would grant no further concessions to the Roman Catholics. The petitioners said, that while they were opposed to that species of emancipation which the Roman Catholics claimed as a right, they were willing to assist them in procuring the only emancipation which would be really serviceable, to them; namely, emancipation from the trammels of a factious and disloyal priesthood, who disseminated principles that were injurious to their flocks. The petitioners expressed their conviction, that to grant political power to the Roman Catholics; would be fraught with mischief to the Protestant establishment of this country. The petitioners, seeing that the Roman Catholics had changed their tone from supplication to threats and intimidation, put it to the House whether persons who thus endeavoured to effect their object by terror and menace were entitled to favourable consideration. The petitioners, further observed, that the existence of the Catholic rent, which was enforced by a bigotted and disloyal priesthood throughout the country, was calculated greatly to alarm the Protestants of Ireland. The organization of simultaneous meetings in every part of Ireland; the measures of threat and intimidation to which the Roman Catholics had resorted; together with the seditious and insulting language which on every occasion was vented against the Protestant establishment at the Catholic Association, induced the petitioners to make this appeal to the wisdom of parliament, to curb the proceedings of that Association, whose existence they considered incompatible with the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. They therefore, under all the circumstances, prayed that no farther concessions should be made to the Roman Catholic body. He agreed in the propriety of the prayer of the petition; But before he brought it up, he wished to put a question to the Home Secretary. During the recess, reports had gone abroad that negotiations had been entered into between the English government and the Court of Rome for the purpose of obtaining a Concordat. Those reports had given great uneasiness to the Protestants. He knew the question was of an awkward nature, and he did not wish to put it in such a way as would elicit an answer in the affirmative; because, if such an answer were given, those who were implicated in the negotiation would, under the existing law, be liable to the penalties of a prœmunire. He should therefore ask, whether the reports in question were totally destitute of foundation; whether it was utterly unfounded that the English government did open such a negotiation with the Court of Rome; directly or indirectly, through themselves, or by the instrumentality of any other persons whatsoever; whether in his majesty's own immediate dominions, or on the continent; and whether it was equally false, that any other power of Europe was employed in carrying on such a negotiation, with reference to the affairs of the Roman Catholics of this country, to which England was likely to become a party.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, he never heard of these reports until the other day, and could assure the hon. member that there was not the slightest foundation for them.

Sir J. Newport

said, that conceiving, as he did that all those acts which prevented any intercourse between this government and the see of Rome were injurious to the country, he would, on the 13th of May, move for leave to bring in a bill for their repeal.