HC Deb 07 September 1835 vol 30 cc1439-42
Mr. Hume

presented the Report of the Committee appointed to inquire into Orange Lodges. On moving that it be printed, he took the op- portunity of saying, that as there was not time for the printing of the Report and putting it in the hands of Members before they separated, he felt bound to state that the Committee in the Report recommended to the attention of the House the order issued by Lord Hill, of the date of the 31st of last month, in which it was stated that any officer or soldier attending an Orange Lodge should be subject to be tried by a court-martial for disobedience of orders, and might be dismissed the service, or otherwise punished. The Committee also stated that they were bound to observe that in nearly every corps in the service, whether the militia or regular forces, at one time or other an Orange Lodge had existed. The system extended to the regiments at Malta, the Ionian Islands, Gibraltar, Van Diemen's Land, and to a very great extent in the Canadas; and that at present efficient measures had been taken to put an end to the Orange Lodges in military bodies. The Committee also suggested to the House the propriety of dismissing from every office, civil or military, every person who continued to hold any office in connexion with the Orange Lodges. He would, however, lay on the table the Address he intended to propose at the beginning of next Session, if his Majesty's Government did not previously come forward and recommend the Crown to dismiss any person from his office who was connected with any society in which there were secret oaths, and secret signs and tests.

Colonel Perceval

was anxious to offer a few observations before the Report was ordered to be printed. He agreed with the hon. Member in hoping that the order of the Commander-in-Chief would have the effect of preventing the continuance of Orange Lodges in the army. It was the opinion of the noble Lord at the head of the army that the existence of such Lodges was prejudicial to the service. He bowed to that opinion. But he did not agree with the hon. Member in thinking that merely being an Orangeman disqualified a person from holding office under the Crown. He had the honour of being a member of the Orange Institution, and he denied that that society was bound together by secret oaths or signs; for all the signs and tokens had been made known to the country through the Committee of that House. The Orangemen denied that there were any secrets in these societies; they were merely a body of loyal subjects bound together for their mutual protection, and for supporting the Crown of the country and maintaining the connexion between England and Ireland. Therefore he did not see how the hon. Gentleman could be justified in recommending to the House a motion to the effect which he had stated. The order of the Commander-in-chief not merely regarded the Orange Institutions, but all other Societies. The hon. Member, therefore, should make his motion applicable to other Societies as well as to Orange Lodges. It was notorious that Secret Societies, properly so called, existed both in the army and out of it to a very considerable extent. It was known that many Riband Societies existed in the army. He had been told that none of those Societies existed in Ireland, but he knew that there were many. They also were of such a character that the House would be able to get at their secret organs. He was told that the Orange Society was a political body, but was not this the case with the Anti-Tory Society?—Was it not the case with the Franchise Society?—The name proved it. The members of the Riband Societies had not the manliness to come forward as the Orange Societies had done, and lay open all matters connected with them. The Orange Society was a most loyal institution, and they had ever exerted themselves to prevent the separation of England and Ireland. He deprecated the course pursued by the Minister at the close of the Session. As an officer of the army, he was not anxious that military Orange Lodges should be continued; but at the same time he wished that all other Societies should be suppressed in the army. Fifty years ago there was hardly a regiment in the service in which there was not an Orange Society. The hon. Member alluded to the existence of such Societies in regiments in distant colonies; but they had all ceased to exist in regiments at home as soon as it became known that they were objectionable. It was said that an Orange Lodge existed in the 35th regiment: but they had the best evidence to prove that the statement was erroneous. If the hon. Member for Middlesex had laid the Report on the Table without making any observations, he (Colonel Perceval) should not have troubled the House.

Mr. Aglionby

admitted that the discussion was premature; but rose to observe, that every Member of the Committee was prepared to sanction the language used by the hon. Member for Middlesex. He thought the House and the country were deeply indebted to his hon. Friend for the manner in which he had conducted the inquiry before the Committee.

The Report to be printed.