§ MR. FOX MAULE
rose to ask (pursuant to the Notice he had given) for leave to bring in a Bill to enable Christian congregations in Scotland to obtain sites for places of worship, manses, and school-houses. He had given notice of his intention to introduce that measure for the relief of the grievances existing in Scotland, which were very considerable; but before opening his case he begged leave to present 115 petitions from various places in Scotland, in favour of it, and complaining of the grievances to which the petitioners were at present subjected. Having presented those petitions, he should observe that it had been his intention to have taken advantage of the position which he held, to lay a statement before the House of the motives by which he was actuated, and the reasons why he brought forward a measure of such importance, and one somewhat novel in its character. But inasmuch as he saw neither the Lord Advocate of Scotland nor the Secretary of State for the Home Department present, although they had had such full notion of his intention to introduce such a Bill, he took it for granted that they 873 had no objection, and he thought it would, under such circumstances, he better to confine himself to merely asking for leave to bring in the Bill, and reserving his statement until the second reading.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
should like to have some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. He wished to know what was meant by "Christian congregations." He knew very well what in his own conscience would be the meaning of such a phrase, but he should wish to know what the right hon. Gentlemen meant by using it. The right hon. Gentleman was known to be the advocate conscientiously, of the Free Church of Scotland, and he wished to know why the phrase "Christian congregations" had been adopted instead of any more distinct appellation. As to the Bill itself, some explanation was really requisite. So far as he could understand it, it was to enable persons who described themselves as Christians, to take a certain portion of their neighbour's property for their own use without that neighbour's consent; in fact, to give to persons calling themselves "Christians" just such powers as were given to railway companies by their Acts, to take certain lands at a fixed price. He thought the House would pause before allowing such a measure to be introduced, without some satisfactory explanation regarding it.
§ MR. F. MAULE
had before said, he was ready and prepared to give a full explanation; but inasmuch as the absence of Her Majesty's Ministers had apparently given a tacit consent to the introduction of the measure, he was willing to reserve that explanation for a future stage. Her Majesty's Ministers having since entered the House, he was ready to suggest that he should be permitted to bring in the Bill without in the least degree committing any one to its principles, and that the discussion should be taken on the second reading.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
begged to offer an apology to the right hon. Gentleman for not having been in the House when his Notice had been called on by the Speaker. But he had been most particularly engaged on some important public business, which had delayed him. With regard to the Bill, his impression, upon reading the notice regarding it, was, he confessed, unfavourable to its object. He should frankly state to the right hon. Gentleman that, judging only by the wording of the Notice, he had very grave objections to the Bill. 874 Much, however, would of course depend upon the detail, which would be unfolded at a future stage, and more justice would be done to the measure by not previously entering into a hostile discussion at the present stage. He did not feel authorized to object to the introduction of the Bill.
§ Leave given.