HC Deb 15 November 1830 vol 1 cc514-5
Lord Morpeth

presented a petition from the Minister and Inhabitants of Bossiney, Lincolnshire, against compelling Protestant soldiers in the British army, while on foreign service, to take part in the procession and public ceremonies of the Catholic religion. The petitioners declared, that such compulsion was an injury inflicted on tender consciences, and was, therefore, a practice condemned by the Almighty himself. Lord Morpeth admitted, that soldiers on foreign service ought not to show their disrespect to the religion of the country in which they happened to be stationed, but he insisted at the same time, that unless in case of absolute necessity, they ought not to be compelled to join in any declared mark of respect to it. He believed, that this petition bad arisen out of the case of the two officers at Malta, and he had heard that the same compulsion which had been attempted to be employed in this case was employed in Corfu, and some other of our garrisons.

Sir G. Murray

said, he believed, in the first place, that the petition was founded in mistake, for he had reason to suppose that no compulsion was ever used in order to make Protestant soldiers attend the religious ceremonies of Catholics. He had the stronger reason for asserting this to be his belief, since he had lately had a conversation with an officer from Corfu, who assured him that no compulsion whatever had been used with regard to the soldiers attending any religious ceremony.

Lord Morpeth

said, that if the right hon. Gentleman's belief was well founded, his explanation must of course be satisfactory.

Petition to be printed.