HC Deb 15 August 1836 vol 35 cc1235-8

The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the third reading of the Bill; for removing the civil disabilities under which the Jews labour.

Mr. Arthur Trevor

said, I feel it my duty before a Bill, which will finally unchristianize this House, (for if it pass, it will be quite possible for this House to become a Jewish Sanhedrim), I feel it my duty to give it my most strenuous opposition. Some hon. Members may think it immaterial what is the religious creed of the body representing the people in this House. I cannot concur in that feeling. Nor can I—God forbid that I should offer such an insult to any dissenting Christians, as to place their claims with regard to civil disabilities upon a par with those of the Jews, who deny the birth and the existence of the Messiah. I should like to ask, how can the Jews, if admitted into this House, join in the prayers which are offered up to the supreme Being for a blessing upon our undertakings before we proceed to business? Do they not deny not only the divinity, but the very existence of the Being, in whose name they are offered up. And am I not justified in saying, that by admitting the Jews into this House, you unchristianize this House? You do not merely dissever Church and State; you separate between the State and Christianity. I believe I have good ground for asserting, that this measure is looked upon with execration and disgust by a considerable portion of the reflecting community throughout England. I trust I shall find among the Dissenters of my constituents those who will justify me in the course I have taken with regard to it. I do believe, that any man possessing genuine Christian principles, must view this measure with disgust. I speak not thus with any feelings of ill will towards the Jews. I believe them to be a peaceful and miserly body of people; but so long as the Christian faith is professed in this country, I do say, that by admitting those who deny that faith altogether—not merely to the rights and privileges of a civil nature, but to the right of legislation in all matters affecting the Christian Church as well as the State, we are doing that which is unworthy of our name, and placing our-selves in a very despicable position in the eyes of surrounding Christian nations. I do trust there will be found some in this House to unite with me in recording their opinion against the Bill in this its final stage in this House. I know, indeed, that from the lateness of the Session it is not likely the Bill will pass into a law this year. But that is no reason why a measure of this kind should pass a yet Christian House of Commons unresisted. I am fully aware that my opposition will be unsuccessful; but it is no reason why we should shrink from a contest, that we anticipate defeat; and I feel that, as one of the representatives of a Christian country, I have a solemn duty to discharge—a duty which I will not be deterred from performing. I consider this a truly disgraceful Bill. As I said before, it will be quite possible, if it should ever pass into a law, for this House to be composed entirely of Jews—no very enviable state of things. I consider it my duty to oppose at its last stage its really execrable enactments. I, therefore, move, that this Bill be read a third time this day three months.

Mr. Borthwick

I cannot allow this Bill to pass its final stage in this House, without expressing my strong opposition to it, and my entire concurrence in what has fallen from my hon. Friend, the Member for Durham, (Mr. Trevor) in regard to it. On a former occasion, when I ventured to say, that I opposed this Bill, not as a Christian, but as a citizen, I had not time to state why I made that distinction, and it is for that purpose alone I now rise. I do not apprehend any evil to the Church of England from this measure. I believe her to be founded on a rock, which cannot be shaken by any act of this, or any other legislative assembly; and we are too much accustomed to speak, as though we were the protectors of the Church, and as if she were in danger from any acts of ours. But so soon as you admit those, who have been properly represented as deniers of the very God whom we worship, and whom the Church acknowledges, into the legislative assembly of the country you sever at once, and for ever, between Church and State.

Colonel Sibthorp

Sir, I am not afraid to divide. I think if the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had brought forward so important a mea-sure as this, affecting, as it does, the religion and the institutions of this country, at an earlier period of the Session, so as to have allowed time for proper discussion, he would have acted with greater credit to himself, and given more satisfaction to the country. I agree with my hon. Friend who spoke first, that this measure will be viewed with disgust and dissatisfaction through out the reflecting part of the community. I believe it will be so among my own constituents. Sir, I have no hostility to the Jews; but I say, that if they are admitted into this House, it will be impossible for them to attend to duties here, with all those forms which are prescribed to ourselves, unless, indeed, they go through them pro formâ. I shall certainly support my hon. Friend in his amendments.

Sir Charles B. Vere

I consider this a measure pregnant with danger to the Established Church in this country. I hope we shall still continue to be governed by a Christian Legislature, and that our laws will still have the sanction of Christianity upon them. I regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not bring forward so important a measure at an earlier period of the Session. I think that if it pass into a law, our laws will be stripped of that which constitutes the national honour and glory: for I remember the words of a celebrated Frenchman, when comparing the British with the French law, said, the difference was, that the law of England was the law of its religion, the law of France, was an episcopal law.

The House divided:—Ayes 44; Noes 13: Majority 31.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Sir Charles Gordon, Robt.
Aglionby, H. Grey, Sir G.
Bagshaw, John Hindley, C.
Bernal, Ralph Howard, P. H.
Bewes, T. Hume, J.
Blamire, W. Lennox, Lord G.
Bowring, Dr. Lushington, Dr. S.
Brotherton, J. Macleod, R.
Callaghan, D. Maule, hon. Fox
Chalmers, P. Murray, rt. hon. J.
Churchill, Lord C. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Falmerston, Lord
Dalmeny, Lord Philips, M.
Fergusson, rt. hon. C. Potter, R.
Rice, rt. hon. T. S. Tulk, Charles
Robinson, G. R. Wakley, T.
Rolfe, Sir R. M. Wall, C. B.
Scrope, George P. Warburton, H.
Smith, B. Williams, W.
Steuart, R. Young, G. F.
Tancred, H. W.
Thompson, Col. TELLERS.
Thornley, T. Ewart, W.
Tooke, W. Hawes, Benjamin
List of the NOES.
Alsager, Captain Stormont, Lord
Ashley, Lord Trevor, hon. Arthur
Gladstone, Thomas Trevor, hon. G. R.
Lincoln, Earl of Twiss, Horace
Neeld, Joseph Vere, Sir C. B.
Price, S. G. TELLERS.
Richards, R. Borthwick, P.
Ross, Charles Sibthorp, Col.

Bill read a third time and passed.