HC Deb 25 November 1830 vol 1 cc668-9
Mr. O'Connell

obtained leave to bring in a Bill for the better securing the Charitable Donations and Bequests of his Majesty's subjects in England and Wales professing the Roman Catholic religion. The hon. Member observed, that he had brought in a similar bill last year. He did not intend to press it beyond a first reading till all the Ministers should be in the House; but he wished to have its principle understood. In Ireland, the charitable establishments of Protestants and Catholics were upon a similar footing as regarded the security of bequests made for their support. The case was different in England; there was, indeed, no Statute at present in force to prevent the erection of Roman Catholic schools, or the establishment of Roman Catholic charities in this country. Lord Eldon had decided that point; but at the same time he declared, that the existence of Roman Catholics in England being contrary to the spirit of the law, there could be no protection for Catholic charities. The noble Lord was undoubtedly right in his interpretation of the law as it then stood; but since that period the Relief Bill had been passed, and it effected an important alteration in the spirit of the law, by conferring legislative rights upon the Roman Catholics, and declaring that they were entitled to all other civil privileges, upon taking certain oaths. Thus, with respect to Catholic charities, what was merely toleration before became now a right. His wish was, that a law should be passed declaratory of this right, and which should place the Roman Catholics of England and Wales upon the same footing in this respect as Protestant Dissenters.

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