§ On the question that the Speaker do leave the Chair to go into Committee,
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he had approved of the principle of the Bill, and had lent his assistance to its object, to repeal obsolete Acts pressing upon Roman Catholics; and he thought it somewhat ungrateful on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Anstey) to reproach the Government, for if there was anything in the substance of the Bill, it was in the proviso which he (the Attorney General) had amended. The hon. and learned Gentleman had had an opportunity of bringing forward this Bill, and of bringing himself forward with it; and he hoped he would now consent to withdraw it, considering the lateness of the Session. If he did not, although friendly to the Bill, he should vote against the Motion for going into Committee, there being no immediate necessity for passing the Bill.
§ MR. ANSTEY
could not allow the House to proceed to a vote without taking an opportunity of the hon. and learned Attorney General being present to make a statement in his own vindication. The hon. and learned Gentleman, for reasons of his own, or of the Government, had thought fit, at the eleventh hour, to make a speech, which if it had been made at an earlier period would have very considerably increased the minority against the Bill. He said the Bill, as framed by him (Mr. Anstey), contained nothing of substance; that the only thing of substance contained in it was introduced by him (the Attorney General) in Committee, by way of proviso. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL: By an alteration of the proviso.] The hon. and learned Gentleman made nothing of the kind; the Chancellor of the Exchequer made the Amendment, which, if the original document was in existence, would be found in his (Mr. Anstey's) handwriting. The amendment was made, not by the Attorney General, but by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. and learned 580 Gentleman had imputed to him, by insinuation, that the only motive which he (Mr. Anstey) had for introducing this Bill was to bring himself forward. Long ago he had been instrumental in bringing forward all those reforms which the late Parliament had made, and which, at the instance of his hon. and learned Friend, Mr. Watson, then a Member of the House, were successively adopted. The Attorney General would remember that he had discussed with him the clauses of the Bill seriatim; and the hon. and learned Gentleman thought the latter part of the Bill, so far from being without substance, was terribly substantial, and that it might be difficult to get the Government to assent to it. They had gone over all the statutes; and, with the exception of one, the hon. and learned Gentleman told him that he (Mr. Anstey) had satisfied him. With respect to the first Relief Act, 31st of George III., that enactment was not obsolete. With a natural jealousy, the men who had consumed the longest Session on record in rash and improvident legislation, saw with pleasure the exertions of individuals more industrious than themselves defeated, not by the opposition of that (the Conservative) side of the House, but by the hollow and treacherous conduct of the Government.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
had always treated the Bill as consisting of two parts: one relating to obsolete statutes, and the other to the recent Relief Act; and during the discussions upon the Bill, he and his right hon. Friend (Sir G. Grey) had said, that the principle of the Bill was a good one, and they had supported the first part of the Bill, which repealed those Acts which, although obsolete, were considered offensive; and with regard to the latter part of the Bill, they had offered no impediment. The Amendment referred to, though it might be in the handwriting of the hon. and learned Member, had been really suggested by himself (the Attorney General) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes 40; Noes 86: Majority 46.
§ Committee put off for six months.