§ On the Motion that the House should go into Committee on this Bill,
§ SIR R. PEEL
rose, and said: Sir, I have a question to put to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, as to the effect of this Bill on the position of Her Majesty's subjects professing the Jewish religion. I had hoped that it was the intention of the Government to place the Jews on precisely the same footing, with respect both to Parliamentary and civil offices, on which all classes of Her Majesty's subjects, with that single exception, at present stand. The law has provided an oath to he taken by the Roman Catholic which qualifies him to take his seat in 432 either branch of the Legislature. That same oath, to which the Roman Catholic has no conscientious scruples, and takes without the slightest difficulty—which was formed that he might take it without difficulty—gives him with respect to civil offices as well as to Parliament, a clear and unquestionable qualification. With respect to the Protestant Dissenter, and other classes of Her Majesty's subjects dissenting from the Church of England, the state of the law I apprehend to be this. In respect to municipal offices, all parties elected to any municipal office are enabled to hold such office on making a certain declaration—which is a substitute for the necessity which formerly existed of taking the sacramental test. That same declaration is required also, on the appointment to civil office; but in the new form of declaration words are inserted which make it impossible for the Jew to take that declaration. Those words are—I do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, upon the true faith of a Christian, that I will never exercise any of the powers which this office may confer upon me, for the purpose of disturbing or injuring the Church as by law established.The Dissenter, other than a Roman Catholic, who makes that declaration, is qualified for municipal office, qualified also for all other offices, provided he makes that declaration within six months. If I recollect right, in the case of municipal office, the declaration must be made at the time of admission or within one month before admission; in the case of civil offices generally it must be made within six months after admission. Still, it is a declaration which the Jew cannot take. The noble Lord relieves the Jew, as far as Parliament is concerned; but if this Bill passes in its present form, the Jew will still remain disqualified from holding civil office; as he must still profess to make the declaration "upon the true faith of a Christian." There may be a question whether the passing of the annual Indemnity Act will not practically capacitate the Jew for holding civil office, by extending indefinitely the period within which the declaration must be made; but I, for one, wish to see the situation of the Jew the same as that of all other classes, and that it should not be necessary for the Jew to hold civil office by the precarious tenure of an annual Indemnity Act. I think the measure will be incomplete, unless the Jewish subjects of Her 433 Majesty are placed, both with regard to civil office and to Parliament, on the footing on which all other subjects of Her Majesty are placed, whether professing the religion of the Established Church or any other. If the noble Lord tells me that the difficulties of dealing with the limited question are sufficiently great, and that he does not wish to hazard the loss of the present measure by increasing those difficulties, I am so desirous of attaining the object which it contemplates, that I shall forbear from pressing my objection. But I do hope that the noble Lord does not intend to place the Jew on any less favoured—I should rather say on any less just—footing than the rest of Her Majesty's subjects.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The Bill which I introduced last year, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware, was a Bill which allowed the Jews to enter Parliament, which relieved them from the words which they object to in the oath, and likewise admitted them to civil offices. That Bill was rejected in the other House of Parliament. The Bill I have introduced this year is a Bill partly upon a different subject. It is a Bill applying, as its main object, to a regulation of the oaths to be taken by the Members of both Houses of Parliament. It provides for the oath to be taken by all the members of the Church, and by Protestant Dissenters, leaving the Roman Catholic oath as it stands; it likewise provides a declaration to be taken by the Quakers, and a form of oath or declaration to be taken by the Jews. I do not think in this Bill, which relates to a separate subject, that it would be possible to introduce any provision for giving the Jews civil office; but I consider that it does admit them to the highest privileges of the constitution, namely, the power of sitting in the two Houses of Parliament. And I cannot conceive, if this Bill pass, that there will be any difficulty or any objection in either House of Parliament to the carrying of a measure by which the Jews should enjoy the same privileges as the Protestant Dissenters and the Roman Catholics. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that they ought to have the same privileges; and I wished to show that opinion by the Bill which I introduced last year. I certainly do not wish to take the benefit of any hon. Member supposing that I do not intend to carry into effect the principle of that measure to its full extent, or that I do not intend to introduce, soon 434 after this Bill shall have become law, a measure admitting the Jews to civil offices. Supposing the Bill to be carried in its present shape, the situation of the Jews, for a time, will be similar to that which, for a long period, was the situation of the Protestant Dissenters. They sat in this House, by virtue of the oaths they took, to which they had no objection; but they could not hold civil offices, except by virtue of the Act of Indemnity. If this Bill pass, therefore, the Jew will be from that time in a situation similar to that of the Protestant Dissenters. But certainly my opinion is, that there ought not to be a disqualification of any kind, and that the Jews should be admitted to all civil offices, in the same way as the Dissenters. By an Act passed during the administration of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, the Jews were already admitted to municipal offices; and a member of that persuasion has filled the office of sheriff in the city of London.
§ MR. BANKES
said, the noble Lord at the head of the Government had told them with truth that the Bill now introduced had two objects: the one was to amend the oaths at present taken by all persons not being Roman Catholics, on entering the House; the other object of the Bill was to admit, for the first time, Jews to hold seats in Parliament. Now it had been said, with reference to admitting Jews to Parliament, that there was a smaller degree of numerical opposition to this Bill than was offered to the Bill of last year; but this circumstance was, perhaps, owing to the present Bill not being solely confined to the admission of the Jews, but also embracing the amendment of the oaths taken by all the Members of that House except Roman Catholics; and it was pretty generally allowed by all parties in the House, that the present oaths were now in many respects obsolete, and even in some degree ridiculous, such as in seeking to bind persons taking the oaths not to support the claims of parties who no longer existed. Now, although he (Mr. Bankes) considered the part of the Bill for altering the existing oaths was not framed in the manner which he believed desirable or convenient, yet he would join in Committee in effecting their amendment; but as to that part of the Bill relating to the admission of the Jews, he would most certainly support the Amendment of which notice had been given by the hon. Member for West Surrey, viz., to exclude that portion of the measure alto- 435 gether; because he must give his most determined opposition to admitting Jews to a seat in a Legislature where they would be allowed to pass laws for the Christian Established Church, they having not only no belief in the Christian faith, but a decided disbelief of every part of its distinctive tenets. He, however, had no objection to Jews being allowed to exercise administrative functions; and he felt surprised at what had fallen from the right hon. Member for Tamworth with respect to the Jew being disqualified from holding civil office, the more so because he found gentlemen of that persuasion holding the office of sheriff of the first county in the kingdom, and of sheriff of the first city in Europe. He (Mr. Bankes) thought that a legislative measure had been passed which enabled Jews to discharge magisterial and all other civil and municipal offices, with the exception of acting as judges of the land. He believed that such would be found to be the case, and that there was no necessity for resorting to the Bill of Indemnity. When this Bill was first introduced, it was attempted to be supported by reference to the practice of foreign countries in allowing the Jews to sit in their legislatures and hold high civil office. Now, without attributing the events that had recently taken place on the Continent, to the practice of excluding no class of religionists from their legislative assemblies, yet he must be permitted—simply as a refutation of the argument of the noble Lord, and nothing more—to refer to what had since taken place in France and at Frankfort, as proving that the safety supposed to be found in the admission of persons of all classes and opinions, was fallacious and unfounded. But with regard to the oaths taken by Catholic Members of this House, he (Mr. Bankes) would be glad to relieve them from what they called a stigma cast upon them in pledges and assurances being exacted from them which were not exacted from Protestants; but he (Mr. Bankes) was prepared to say that he would not require the Catholic to enter into any obligation that he was not equally ready to subject himself to; and surely no Catholic could reasonably feel offended at such impartial treatment as that? Surely a better title could be found for this Bill than its present one. It professed to be a Bill to alter and amend the oaths taken by Members of Parliament; but surely it would be more creditable to their legislation to make this a Bill to regulate the oaths, declarations, 436 and affirmations to be taken by Members of both Houses of Parliament. That course would be more simple, precise, and complete, and would unite in one Bill all the different oaths applicable to this subject, instead of leaving the oaths to be gathered from the three different Acts referred to in this Bill, a course which led to considerable inconvenience and difficulty. Having made these suggestions, he would not delay the House any further from going into Committee.
§ SIR R. PEEL
wished to explain that his previous observations about the Jew had reference to all civil and military offices under the Crown, in respect to which the declaration against transubstantiation was obliged to be made. They had no reference to municipal offices, because in 1845 the Jew was relieved from the oaths and placed on the same footing as other classes of Her Majesty's subjects; but this applied to municipal offices only.
MR. P. HOWAED
said, that there was a general wish that those who entered Parliament should be bound by one common oath, and he sincerely trusted that they might on that occasion come to such a decision as should realise that object.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, that by the Bill of last year the same oath was to be taken by the Jews that was taken by the Roman Catholics. The oath taken by the latter contained a restriction with respect to the disturbance of property. By the present Bill, however, the case was altered, for they did not exact from the Jew the same pledge which they called on the Roman Catholic to make. He should like to know from the noble Lord what was the cause of the alteration, as he considered the pledge to be as requisite in the one case as in the other.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
must enter his protest against the inference that the Roman Catholic Members were under any peculiar restrictions.
§ MR. LAW
said, as to the rejection of so much of the former oath as related to the disavowal of the belief that the Pope had any spiritual jurisdiction or ecclesiastical authority in this country, that he could not consent to part with these words of the oath, as he considered them to be a security even in the case of Protestants themselves.
§ The House then went into Committee.
§ On Clause 1 being proposed.437
MR. VERNON SMITH
moved the Amendment of which he had given notice, for the omission of certain words in the clause. He could not understand why these words should be retained in the Protestant oath; for, with regard to Protestants, they appeared to he altogether superfluous. Then, with regard to the declaration, "that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property within these realms as established by law;" although something might be said in its defence as respected the Roman Catholic, he did not know to what it could refer as regarded the Protestants and the Jew. Then came the declaration which was to he abolished as far as the Jews were concerned, but which was retained as regarded all others, "I declare and promise all this on the true faith of a Christian." It was said by some hon. Gentleman, that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were retained in order not to shock public feeling. He should be the last person to wish to shock public feeling when founded on just grounds; but in the present instance he thought that that House should rather lead than follow public feeling. The retention of the words "on the true faith of a Christian," as the law would stand after the passing of this Bill, appeared to him to be not only unnecessary but improper, because when there was such a variety of creeds in the House, it appeared to be a mockery to make a declaration on the faith of a creed. When hon. Gentlemen meant totally different things when they made this declaration—not only doctrinally, but when they could not even agree, in many instances, in the sense of the word "Christian"—he thought it would be more decorous to have the words expunged from the oath than to retain them. There would be something indecorous likewise in calling on the Jew to stop when he came to these words. He considered the Bill to be a clumsy contrivance, and not framed with the usual adroitness of his noble Friend, who had, however, too much to attend to to be able to devote much time to the details of such measures. With regard to the Roman Catholic Members, nothing could be more unseemly than the position in which they were put by the oath they were called on to take. The right hon. Gentleman the Master of the Mint, the hon. Member for Limerick, and the noble Lord the Member for Arundel, each following his own view of the oath, put a different construction on it. An hon. Gentleman of 438 that House, on another occasion, taunted the Roman Catholic Members with the non-observance of their oath. Was it right that such scenes should continue in that House? It was thought that the words in the Roman Catholic oath gave some security to the Established Church. On looking over the debates in Hansard, at the time of the passing of the Emancipation Act, he did not find any one Member stating that he assented to the Bill owing to that security. He had been much pleased to hear the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth express a wish to place the Jews on an equal footing with other classes; and he must say he did not think they were so placed in this Bill. Look, again, at the position in which Catholics would stand if this oath were left to be taken by Protestants and Jews. Though the terms of the Catholic oath had now been in existence twenty years, yet no man had ever considered that it gave any of the securities it professed; and it contained some words of which even the Earl of Winchilsea, one of the most generous opponents of the Catholic Relief Bill, suggested the omission, as they related to doctrines which he believed had been held by no Catholic for very many years. If the sixth clause was altogether omitted, as proposed by the hon. Member for Dundalk, he thought that the simple oath of allegiance and of adherence to the succession of the Throne as now established, would be quite sufficient for all. As the law would stand when this Bill passed, the Protestants would have to take one oath; the Jews would have to take the same oath, with a bit out; the Roman Catholic would have to take a different oath; and the Quaker would have to make an affirmation. He thought it much better than one oath and one affirmation should be taken by all who came to be sworn at that table.
§ First Clause (Oath to be taken as a qualification for sitting and voting in Parliament instead of the Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration).
Amendment proposed to the Oath—
To leave out the words 'and that I do not believe that the Pope of Rome or any other Foreign Prince, Prelate, Person, State, or Potentate hath, or ought to have, any temporal or civil jurisdiction, authority, or power within this Realm; and that I will defend, to the utmost of my power, the settlement of property within this Realm as established by the laws.'
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Mr. Bernal, there were at present three classes of persons who took the oaths: first, the Protestants, 439 all of whom took the various oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration. There wore, however, a class of Protestants belonging to the Society of Friends who did not take that part of the oath of abjuration which ended with the words, "on the true faith of a Christian." They declared that they made the declaration "heartily, willingly, and truly;" and this declaration had been made by two hon. Gentlemen now Members of that House. Yet they were told that the whole sanctity of the oath would be destroyed if the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were not taken by all the Members of that House. The Roman Catholics took an oath in which the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were not included; and this oath was settled by the Act of 1829, after a contest which lasted many years, and after many disputes as to whether there were any securities under which Roman Catholics could be admitted to the Legislature with a due regard to the safety and welfare of the existing institutions of the country. These three classes of oaths being thus administered, and each of these classes of persons being willing to take the several oaths and declarations he had mentioned, what he proposed was, that with regard to the Protestant Members generally there should be a more simple form of oath, because a great part of the oath now taken was evidently inappropriate to the present time, and bound Members of that House to declare that a number of persons who had no existence whatever had no right to the Crown of these realms. It was obvious that in so important a matter as that of the oaths to be taken by Members of that House, there should not be a deal of unnecessary declaration in those oaths. His right hon. Friend the Member for Northampton said, he proposed a short declaration which the Roman Catholics as well as other persons should take. Now, he did not think it would be wise to disturb a settlement which had been made after so many conflicts and so much consideration, and which, as he had understood, the Roman Catholics had supported as a full and complete admission of their claim to sit in Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman thought that the declaration which he (Lord J. Russell) proposed was clumsily drawn. Now, he had suggested the oath in question as being word for word, with the exception of the last two words, according to the form recommended by the commissioners appointed to consider the subject, and who recom- 440 mended that this oath should be administered to all Roman Catholics appointed to offices under the State, although they did not make any suggestion with regard to Members of Parliament. That commission included Sir E. Ryan, Mr. Starkie, and other persons of considerable authority and great learning; and they made their report, in May, 1845, to Lord Lyndhurst, as Lord Chancellor, after considering the whole subject of this declaration. With regard to Jews, the right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that he should consider it an insult, if he were a Jew, that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" should be left out of the oath. He did not see why the right hon. Gentleman should so consider the omission of these words. They were not contained in the oath taken by Roman Catholics, or in the declaration made by Quakers; and why, therefore, his right hon. Friend would consider it an insult that they should be omitted from the oath taken by Jews, he could not conceive. He had put them in the proposed declaration to be made by this Bill, because, as his right hon. Friend admitted, it was likely to be considered offensive that the words now contained in the oath of abjuration should be omitted, and the words "on the true faith of a Christian" should be maintained in the declaration. The right hon. Gentleman wished to substitute one oath for all denominations, and instead of having four oaths to have two. Now it did not seem that they could very well accomplish that object. He admitted that it was desirable, but he did not think they could take the oath of Roman Catholic Members without encountering many objections from the Protestant Dissenters, who would object to take that oath; and if they took the shorter form of that oath, and substituted it for the Roman Catholic oath, as settled in 1829, they would be taking away the foundation of that settlement, to which many Members would also object. The practical object was to place all classes of Her Majesty's subjects upon such terms that they should all be willing to take the oaths prescribed for them; and that was more important than framing in exact and simple terms a form of oath which so many persons would object to that it would not be possible to carry it.
§ MR. GOULBURN
considered it would certainly be unadvisable to do anything which, by altering the oath taken by Catholics, should have a tendency to disturb 441 the settlement of 1829. He had listened to the observations of the noble Lord to see if he could answer the question which he had put to him before the Speaker left the chair. He took the liberty to ask why, if he thought the clause to which he referred was necessary in 1848, he did not think it was necessary in 1849; and the noble Lord said he did not think them to be necessary, because certain learned commissioners approved of the oath introduced in the Bill: but he (Mr. Goulburn) wanted to know why, within the last year, the noble Lord had proposed an oath different from that approved of in 1845. After the statement of the noble Lord, he was as ignorant why he had changed his mind as he was before that statement was made. The noble Lord had said that a portion of the oaths taken was inapplicable to the present times, and that it was wrong to call on people to swear to what was not absolutely necessary. But if it was a sacred duty not to swear to that which was not applicable to the immediate age in which they lived, why did the noble Lord retain the oath of abjuration with regard to office when he did not retain it with regard to Membership of that House?
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he found a new term introduced in the Catholic oath, to this effect:—I will defend, to the utmost of my power, the settlement of property within this realm as established by the laws:"—now, if he were called on to take this oath, he should like to know what it was that he really had to swear. He could attach no definite meaning to these words. For the sake of argument, he was a younger brother—and he might be opposed to the law of primogeniture.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
believed the words were originally introduced with a view to security with' respect to the Roman Catholics in Ireland, but not in reference to seats in Parliament, but with regard to certain places which they were allowed to hold in Ireland, it having been a general and current accusation against them that they wished to disturb the settlement of property, not only church property, but lay property, for the purpose of restoring it to those who held that property before the settlement was made by law. When the Roman Catholic Bill was introduced into the House, it was thought desirable to take the words of the former oath. It was also thought that it would not be desirable to have a different oath 442 for Irish and English Members, as there could be no religious scruple on the part of any person in saying he would not interfere with the settlement of any property as settled by law.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
was very glad to hear the noble Lord say that: it was according to his interpretation of the Catholic oath. He found in the Catholic oath the following words: "I will defend, to the utmost of my power, the settlement of property within the realm as established by the laws;" and after that he found, "I solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment as settled by law." What was the difference between" established by law, "and "settled by law?" He did not propose to subvert church property, but merely on the grounds of national justice, and because he was not an advocate for violent changes in the institutions of the country of any kind; and when people of a particular sect had the faith of the nation so long pledged to them, and got accustomed to a certain system, he would not advocate the violent abrogation of it; but there was nothing, he conceived, to prevent him from taking part in making any fresh settlement that might be expedient.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
observed, that the hon. and learned Member for Limerick seemed to him to confound two matters which in their own nature were perfectly distinct. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that he might vote for the confiscation of any property in the country. But, even though he possessed the power so to vote, no one would say that he had any right to exercise that power; nor did the hon. and learned Member say so himself. On the contrary, he considered that the Roman Catholic Members of that House were bound to leave the succession to property as they found it. They had no right whatever to take a single farthing of property belonging to the Church, without making ample compensation for any loss which such appropriation might occasion. If the commissioners were to preclude the House by that portion of the report to which reference had been made, he considered that if they did so it must have the effect of forcing the House to adopt the whole of the report. It appeared to him that they ought to avail themselves of the present opportunity to revise all the oaths which Members of Parliament were called upon to take; and in the use of that opportunity he saw no reason why they 443 should keep within the strict terms of the report of the commissioners. It need scarcely he observed, that any one who read the Roman Catholic oath must at once see that it was full of anomalies. The oath was, in fact, to this effect, that they held it would be unlawful for them to depose any sovereign who had been excommunicated by the See of Rome. Then, though Roman Catholics might have the best possible reasons for opposing a sovereign, the moment it became his fortune to be excommunicated, that instant the hostility of the Roman Catholic must cease. Next came mental reservation. Surely, if the Roman Catholics were capable of practising one degree of mental reservation, they must be capable of that still larger reservation against which no form of words in an oath could possibly provide. He repeated that he considered the Roman Catholic oath, as it stood at present, precluded him from voting away the property of the Established Church; he hoped that Protestant Members would reconsider the question, with the view of making some concessions, and he begged to remind them that if this opportunity were lost it would be difficult to find another.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, that the speeches which had been delivered upon this subject were a striking illustration of the vanity of attempting to guide the conduct of men by oaths. The interpretations put upon the oath by the two hon. Members who spoke last, were exactly opposed to each other. If the hon. and learned Member for Limerick were correct, he would ask hon. Members opposite what it was that they contended so earnestly for? And what security had the present state of the Church Establishment in the words they were so anxious to preserve in the oaths taken by Roman Catholic Members of Parliament? If that interpretation were correct, they had no security whatever that the hon. and learned Member would not go the length of moving the abolition of that Church as a political establishment. If the hon. and learned Member for Youghal were correct in his interpretation, his constituents had a right to complain that their representative was debarred from touching a large and important subject, in which they, in common with the remainder of their fellow-subjects, were deeply interested. The hon. and learned Gentleman's constituents might say, "We sent you to Parliament to legislate on whatever concerns our well-being: we pay 444 to the Church of England whether we belong to its communion or not; it is in possession of large endowments, given for the spiritual culture of the entire population, and we have a right, at least, to look after the proper disposal of those endowments." The question of Church property was continually touched on one way or the other, and the constituents of the hon. and learned Member had a right to complain if his lips were to be closed upon that question. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, in explanation, had rightly said that a portion of the oath which related to the settlement of property was a portion of the oath which might be conscientiously taken by all. He (Mr. Fox) apprehended it might be taken by everybody; but what did it amount to when taken? The arguments advanced showed that it was worth as much as that portion of the oath which related to any arrangement of ecclesiastical property. It was the general feeling of this country to respect property. Communism itself scarcely denied the rights of property; and when the noble Lord referred to an oath deemed indispensable fifty years ago—because at that time some Irishmen claimed property possessed by their ancestors 100 years before that—he could not have given a juster or more forcible reason why the words should not now be dispensed with. But the question was not whether any portions of the oath might be left out, but whether they would be responded to by any feelings in the breasts of those who took the oaths, so as, in short, to be a moral and mental obligation. If the words were simply superfluous, as, for instance, he took those to be which referred to the authority of the Pope, he must ask whether it would promote the respect with which the proceedings of that House were received in the country, whether it accorded with the sanctity of religion, that unmeaning and superfluous words should be introduced into this oath, simply because they might be conscientiously taken? An oath should be something more than a mere acquiescence in terms; every word in it should speak to the reason, to the heart, to the conscience. A compact of twenty years' standing was pleaded by the noble Lord as a reason why the terms of the Roman Catholic oath should not be changed; but what party contract ought to be allowed to bind the free course of legislation in this country? Since that time parties had changed—new leaders had arisen, and old 445 leaders had changed. If the hearty concurrence of the mind were wanting, no good could result from the imposition of an oath, but it was certain that evil would result. Supposing both sides to be honest in its interpretation, as he believed they were, it would expose Members of the House to reproaches and taunts from others, painful for them to endure, and painful to others to be auditors of. The prevention of such scenes would be alone a sufficient reason for the forms of the House being changed. "The true faith of a Christian." What was that? Each individual in his own conscience must answer the question. They could not impose a creed by those words upon the conscience of another. It included all varieties of Christians, from those who believed the most, to those who believed the least. But by those words hon. Members were anxious to exclude the Jews, and yet they admitted those who had more affinity with the Jew in his notions of the Deity than with the Christian. He doubted, however, whether the words had any reference to doctrine or creed at all. The noble Lord had stated that the words were introduced because oaths were at that time taken with mental reservation, and the words on "the true faith of a Christian" were added to show that there was no such reservation. "True faith" and "false faith" were then terms of common parlance, and might be found in all the writings of the day. Shakspeare, in Richard the Third, speaks of "false faith," and Bolingbroke, in another play, asserts his "true faith." "The true faith of a Christian" was the phrase then continually in the mouths of knights, nobles, and commoners; it meant no creed or doctrine, but was an asseveration of sincerity and fidelity, of truth and honour, and that there was no mental reservation or equivocation. In this way the conscientious Jew might, although not in the same words, take the oath with a faith as true as that of a Christian. For these reasons he would vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
remarked that when the hon. Member who had just sat down asserted that his constituents would have reason to complain, he would have acted more discreetly had he first inquired whether his constituents and himself had any understanding upon the matter. It did so happen that he (Mr. Anstey) had taken the earliest opportunity of making a declaration that he would never give a vote which would lead to the spoliation or the 446 confiscation of the property of the Church Establishment to the value of a single farthing. He was happy to say that he had not lost one Roman Catholic vote by that honest declaration.
§ MR. BRIGHT
desired to explain his position with regard to the measure, because he sat in that House as one of perhaps a small number who believed that the taking oaths at all was not effectual for any good or useful purpose, and was opposed, as he undoubtedly considered it to be, to the precepts of that very religion which was brought before the notice of the Gentlemen when they took their seats in that House. But he voted for the Bill on this simple ground. It did not increase the number of oaths to be taken; it did not adopt the principle of oaths where the principle did not previously operate; and it would open the door to a class of our fellow-countrymen for whom he felt great sympathy, and whose full liberty he hoped to see established as completely as the liberty of the sect to which he himself belonged, and of every other sect existing in this country. There had recently been an occasion in the House on which he thought the state of this question was shown to be absurd and ridiculous. On that occasion, not long ago, three Members of the House stood at the table on the same evening and at the same time to make the declaration or to take the oaths required of them prior to taking their seats. One of these Gentlemen was the noble Lord the Member for Horsham, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, the other two being Members for Leicester, one of whom belonged to the sect of which he (Mr. Bright) was a member. The noble Lord took the Roman Catholic oath; the one Member for Leicester took what might be specially called the Protestant oath, the other Member for Leicester took the declaration appointed for members of the Society of Friends. He could not exactly say, at the moment, how much this last differed from the oath, but it was not an oath at all. It appeared to him at the time, that, had a stranger watched the course taken by these three Members on the occasion, he would have come to a conclusion entirely different from that which the actual state of things in this country justified. He would have supposed that a great and bitter antagonism prevailed among the various classes of the community, and that three of those classes, represented by the three Members, were, by reason of this bitterness and hostility, 447 called upon to take oaths, the one as against the other, in order that they might be hound not to destroy certain institutions which the great body of the House, and of the country, thought worth preserving. He thought the House would do wisely to agree to the proposal of the right hon. Member for Northampton, on this ground, that it would simplify this question of oaths extremely, and place all the Members of the House on the same footing, at least, as to taking any oath at all; and he was prepared to maintain that every man who, under our constitution, was elected a Member of that House, had a fair right, on all the principles of that constitution, to enter that House on the same terms and with the same powers as other Members, and was to be considered fully entitled to exercise his judgment upon, and to vote upon, any and all subjects that came before him. The other day, when the Bill of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, the Clergy Relief Bill, was under discussion, a Motion was made in Committee that a clergyman should be allowed to secede from the ministry of the Church of England without declaring himself a Dissenter; that, in fact, he might become a layman of the Church. When the House divided on that question, several Gentlemen, Roman Catholic Members, felt themselves unable to vote on the question, and walked out of the House in a humiliating position—not so much humiliating to them, for, on the contrary, they were acting as conscientious men—but humiliating to the character of the House, inasmuch as some of the best, most intelligent, and certainly most conscientious Members of that House, were, by the operation of this absurd distinction, compelled to walk out and take no part in a division upon a matter most important to the community. The House must see the absurdity of a system which, time after time, in every Session, whenever any question affecting the management or funds of the Church arose, prevented forty or fifty or sixty of the representatives of the people from giving their votes upon subjects so closely connected with the interests of the people. No man could pretend that civil or religious equality in that House was complete so long as this system prevailed. He had already observed that in his opinion oaths were not necessary or effectual for any good purpose. A Committee of the Lords, some time ago, sat for two Sessions upon the subject of oaths, and, in accordance with 448 their reports, many oaths were abolished in several departments of the public service, especially in the customs. Did any man believe that any evil had arisen in any department from the abolition of the hundreds of thousands, the millions of oaths, which would otherwise have been taken from that time to this? What was the use of the oaths taken at the table of the House? In France, the National Assembly, had abolished political oaths, because the Assembly considered that, from 1790 up to 1848, a great number of oaths had been taken, and taken honestly, under one order of things, which were no longer at all events necessary or practicable under a new order things. There was not a single proposition in any one of these oaths, not even in the oath in question, which might not, under certain circumstances, be broken—he did not say criminally, but from the inevitable nature of the case. There was always a mental reservation in taking an oath or making a declaration like this—a mental reservation not actually felt, but arising from the necessities of the case. He could describe a state of things in which every hon. Member of that House would in a manner act directly opposite to the terms of the oath he was required to take. For himself, as a Member of the House who had been permitted to come to the table without taking an oath, upon a declaration to which he should adhere as firmly as though it were an oath, he was bound to say he should be exceedingly glad if every other Member of the House were in like manner dispensed from the necessity of taking an oath. He believed that the public respect for truth would be greatly increased were oaths abolished altogether, and men taught that the pledge of their word and their honour laid an obligation upon them the most impressive that could be imposed. He should vote for the Bill as far as it went, because it admitted the Jews to Parliament, and he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, because it simplified the question, and would relieve the Roman Catholic Members from the unjust and unpleasant position in which they now stood in relation to oaths.
§ MR. HENLEY
could not say that the explanation given by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in answer to the question of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, was at all satisfactory. The noble Lord in his explanation referred to the re- 449 port of a commission; but that report only recommended modifications in the oaths of parties not Members of Parliament. Now, in his opinion, there was a great distinction to be drawn between parties who had to obey the law, and those who had to make the law. He hoped the noble Lord, or the hon. and learned Solicitor General, would further explain the meaning of the words which had been objected to in the oath.
The SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that his interpretation of the clause relative to the non-disturbance of property was this. The expression was originally put into the Roman Catholic oath, because it was known that church property originally belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and it was the opinion of the members of that Church that they were still entitled to it; and it was thought necessary to raise a shield, so that members of that religion should not take advantage of having seats in that House to get the property of the Church restored to the Roman Catholics after the lapse of so many years. He did not believe that any hon. Member would feel himself bound not to vote on an Act of Parliament, relative to the settlement of property, which might come before them in the ordinary course of business. If the clause were to be so interpreted, it would fetter the House so as to prevent a large number of Members voting on every Act which came before them on questions relative to real property. He believed that that portion of the oath might be unnecessary.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman was speaking of the Catholic oath, while his question referred to the Protestant oath.
The SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that the clause was originally found in the Roman Catholic oath, and he was giving the reason why it was so introduced. When it was proposed by the commissioners that there should be a general oath for all persons, it was proposed to put all matter that was not objected to on religious grounds, and which had been established by length of time, into one general oath; and they did not introduce the words which applied to Roman Catholics more than any other. If they made a general oath, it appeared desirable that it should not merely apply to one particular denomination, but that it should be of such a nature that those who might feel induced, if they were not restrained by an oath to undermine or 450 alter the settlement of the Church, would be bound to respect it. The words first appeared in the oath to be taken by Roman Catholics; but he did not know that the words were of any great importance, as he did not believe that even the Roman Catholics wished to interfere with the settlement of the Church property. All oaths he considered to be difficult of explanation, as it was manifest that, among the various denominations of Christians, some would be bound by particular words which would not be binding on others. For these reasons the words had been introduced into the oath to make it as binding as possible, though, as he had stated, it originally appeared in the Roman Catholic oath.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I do not think the explanation which has just been given by the hon. and learned Gentleman quite satisfactory. He endeavours to explain a general question by a particular application; and such explanation, I think, will not be quite satisfactory to the Committee. I apprehend—I speak under correction—that the first time the settlement of property was referred to in an oath, was in the first declaration made by the Prince of Orange, and that there could be then no doubt to what it referred. It included Woburn Abbey; and though the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown is, like the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, a younger son, I believe that is a settlement which even the noble Lord would not wish to disturb. I agree with the right hon. Member for the university of Cambridge, that it is not only unadvisable, but that it is impolitic and unnecessary, to destroy the old form of the oaths. But when we are called upon to consider a new oath, it is our duty severely to examine and analyse it. For myself, I have no doubt that the clause was originally intended to prevent the Roman Catholic party interfering with the settlement of the church property. It is easily understood, and why it was introduced. I now come to the present oath; and I cannot understand why the expression is introduced. If it is only intended for the Roman Catholics, nothing can be more preposterous than its introduction. The Government have framed an oath which the Members of the Government themselves cannot define. The idea of an oath which is to be restrictive only on one class of persons taking it, is preposterous. We see here that the Government have brought forward a new oath, and introduced a phrase which they cannot define, 451 and which phrase, there appears to be no doubt, only applies to an undivided and very limited class of persons. I consider that the Government have not daily considered the oath; and I trust they will pardon me if I advise them to take a little time for reflection, before pressing it on the Committee for adoption.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
trusted that the Government would not press the clause as it stood. They ought to remember who they were calling to witness when taking an oath, and use as few words as possible. However applicable the words might be in a Roman Catholic oath, could any one believe that Protestants thought "that the Pope of Rome, or any other foreign Prince, Prelate, State," &c, had any power in this kingdom, especially when only three lines before they had sworn allegiance to the Sovereign of the realm? The settlement of property had been explained to allude to the settlement of the tithe question, and also to have a bearing on the forfeited estates in Ireland. Could any one believe that Protestants wished to alter those laws; and if they did so, were they not entitled to bring them forward in that House? He begged to tell the noble Lord that they ought to be left free and unshackled in the performance of their duty. Could they forget that the head of the Legislature—George III.—had considered himself restricted by the oaths he had taken at his coronation to giving his consent to the admission of Roman Catholics to the Legislature? The head of the Legislature to whom he had alluded might have acted under a mistaken notion; but it was well known that that was the interpretation he put upon his oath. There could be no doubt that the words "true faith" had been meant to refer to those belonging to the Church, and the words were originally directed against those opposed to the Church, and who were supposed to act under peculiar errors. If that was the meaning of "true faith," why should an oath containing these words be imposed on parties who never held, and who were never suspected to have held, any doctrines adverse to the Church—especially as all parties who were sworn on the New Testament must swear on the faith of a Christian, if they believed in it at all. This oath was evidently not intended to apply to Jews, because there was another clause especially for their benefit. If these words were intended as a test, he should object to them, as he was sure the 452 abolition of tests was one of those points which, sooner or later, would be established; and that House had already sanctioned the principle that they would not require tests by the large majority by which they had approved of that Bill. They wished to have the Legislature exclusively Christian; but the nation was not exclusively Christian, and surely the admission of two or three Jews could no more unchristianise the House of Commons, than 42,000 Jews could unchristianise the nation.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Sir, objections have been made to almost all the parts of this oath. Some hon. Gentlemen who have objected to this oath might as well have objected to any oath at all, for they said it was not necessary to make an oath in respect to matters upon which persons were generally agreed; and certainly no Member of this House would object to take the oath of allegiance. But with respect to the words which my right hon. Friend proposes to omit, I must say that I took the whole words of the oath from the report of the commissioners; thinking it was better to use their language than to propose words of my own. I must admit, however, after the objections which have been made, that I do not think the words with regard to the "Pope of Rome," and the "settlement of property," are necessary. But I am asked whether I would not leave out those words besides, "And I do make this recognition, declaration, and promise, heartily, willingly, and truly, upon the true faith of a Christian." Now, it does not appear to me that those words ought to he omitted. I know it was stated by hon. Gentlemen, that it is almost a mockery to use these words, because the words "upon the true faith of a Christian," are differently understood by different sects of Christians. It appears to me that the only value of these words is the value originally attached to them—namely, as a sanction and imparting a certain solemnity to the other words of the oath. I imagine that this is the purpose for which those words were originally introduced, and I see no objection to retain them for that purpose. That form of swearing upon the New Testament, "and upon the holy contents of this book," might be said not to be a good form of oath, because many persons might not agree in their interpretation of the different texts of Scripture—there might be different opinions upon different texts, and, therefore, it might not be proper to swear all upon the same Testa- 453 ment. I see no reason for omitting those words. Many think their omission would diminish the sanction of an oath; and upon the whole, I think it would not he fitting in me to assent to their omission. I shall be however satisfied, if such he the wish of the Committee, to leave out the words—"And I do not believe that the Pope of Rome, or any other foreign Prince, Prelate, Person, State, or Potentate hath, or ought to have, any temporal or civil jurisdiction, authority, or power within this realm."
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that he could assure the House he would not long trespass on its attention. He thought there were three great objects attained by the present oaths, which ought not to be given up or lost sight of. In the first place, they imposed a religious obligation for the proper performance and discharge of our duties; secondly, they tended to explain and inform us, as clearly as possible, what is meant by allegiance; and, thirdly, they gave, and were meant to give, some satisfaction or guarantee to the people of this country—that is to say, to the Protestant feeling of this country—that the Protestant Church and Protestant Establishment should not be interfered with. With regard to the first, he believed that the country were still prepared to continue to maintain that religious obligation; and as, in point of fact, they did retain it in all their courts of justice, he thought that the country would not desire to give it up when it was applied to the highest of all our courts—the high court of Parliament. With regard to the second, he wished to remind the House that the three oaths which were now taken by Members were the oath of allegiance, the oath of supremacy, and the oath of abjuration. If he understood the meaning of these three oaths, it was this: the oath of allegiance confesses the allegiance which we owe by birth, and bind ourselves to pay, to the Sovereign of the country for the time being; the oath of supremacy shows that this allegiance is an undivided allegiance; and the oath of abjuration continues allegiance to the heirs of the Sovereign, according to the Act of Settlement. Now, anybody who considered the nature and object of these three oaths would clearly see that the principle embodied in them was, first, allegiance; secondly, undivided allegiance; and, thirdly, a continuation of that allegiance according to the Act of Settlement. Therefore, he would vote for retaining the words which the right 454 hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton proposed to omit. These words he thought necessary, so as to satisfy the Protestant mind and feeling of this country. However, he would suggest that the words "temporal and civil" should be omitted from the proposed oath; for now the oath contained the words "ecclesiastical or spiritual," without the words "temporal and civil;" and leaving out the words "ecclesiastical or spiritual," and putting in the words "temporal and civil," it might appear, byway of inference, that they were going to recognise no ecclesiastical jurisdiction other than that already recognised. One word in reply to the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford, for the omission of the words "on the faith of a Christian." The hon. and learned Member said that the admission of two or three Jews here would not make this House less Christian. He should, however, recollect that one of the great arguments with which we were pressed was this, that the Parliament was originally a Protestant Parliament, and that by the admission of Roman Catholics it could not be considered such any longer. By parity of reason, therefore, if they admitted a few Jews into it, they might make it no longer a Christian Parliament. In conclusion, he observed that if the oath was altered in the way he proposed, it would still give satisfaction to the Protestant mind and feeling of this country, while it would materially improve it by abbreviating and simplifying it; but he must also add that, in his opinion, it was only right, before the Members of this House took their seats, that they should give a guarantee to the Protestant people of this country, not merely of allegiance, but of undivided allegiance to the reigning Sovereign, remembering always, in the language of Lord Bacon, that no one should become "a competitor and co-rival with the Queen for the hearts and obediences of the Queen's subjects."
§ SIR R. PEEL
was glad the noble Lord had consented to omit the words "and that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property within this realm," and to relieve Protestants from the obligation which the oath would otherwise impose upon them. He had heard various accounts of the origin of the introduction of these words, but without being satisfied that they were correct. The words were originally inserted in the Roman Catholic oath at an early period in the 455 relaxation of Roman Catholic disabilities, for the purpose of meeting objections made to the Roman Catholic that he was not disposed to acquiesce in the settlement of property in Ireland. Those words, "the settlement of property," had a special meaning. They had reference to a declaration made by Charles II. in 1660, shortly after his restoration, in which he made a settlement of the forfeited estates—adjusted various conflicting claims to landed property in Ireland, and he gave back to the Protestant Church the properties in the possession of which that Church had been disturbed during the rebellion of 1641, and the troubled times that followed. In 1662 the Parliament of Ireland confirmed the declaration made by Charles II. in 1660, by an Act which was called the Act of Settlement. That Act of Settlement constituted his title to large masses of Irish property. The Roman Catholic, on being relieved from certain civil disabilities, was required to give an assurance that he would acquiesce in the settlement of property, as made in 1662, and not attempt to disturb it. When, therefore, the Roman Catholic oath was inserted in the Act of 1829, the words relating to the settlement of property were continued from the Acts of 1793 and 1795; and the Roman Catholic repeated the assurance that he would acquiesce in the settlement of property which had taken place after the restoration of Charles II. Such was the immediate cause of the introduction into the oath of the words "the settlement of property." He thought the noble Lord had acted wisely in not disturbing the Roman Catholic oath in the Act of 1829. The House might effect one or other of two objects. They might possibly devise some better or more philosophical oath than they had at present; or, retaining the existing oath, they might relieve their Jewish fellow-subjects from their disabilities. Now, he advised the House not to lose sight of the latter object, and not, by attempting to make an unexceptionable oath, to raise up additional impediments to the accomplishment of that object. Let the House remember the efforts made last year, which then failed. If the noble Lord introduced a new form of oath to be taken by Protestants, it would no doubt become the House to examine it, and to remove any objections to which it might be fairly liable. To require an English Protestant to declare that he would maintain the settlement of property was quite unnecessary. 456 The noble Lord had referred to the report of the commissioners. But the oath they proposed was a common oath, to be taken both by the Roman Catholic and the Protestant; and they were unwilling to relieve the Roman Catholic from the obligation to declare that he would not disturb the settlement of property in Ireland. If there were to be a separate oath for the Protestant, it was needless to require from him any such assurance. He was inclined to think the noble Lord judged wisely in consenting to omit the words relating to the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome. It certainly seemed superfluous to require from a Protestant or a Jew, or a Protestant Dissenter, any denial of such jurisdiction. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Midhurst, who never made a suggestion which was not worth consideration, proposed that the noble Lord should omit the words "spiritual and ecclesiastical." But even if they omitted these words, the objection which the Earl of Clancarty and others maintained, would still continue to be urged. If, then, there was to be any alteration in the oath for those who were not Roman Catholics, it was better to omit, as the noble Lord proposed, any reference to the jurisdiction of the Pope, than attempt to qualify that jurisdiction: the more simple the form of oath the better. His earnest desire was to concur in the main object of capacitating the Jews to participate in all those privileges which the other subjects of Her Majesty enjoyed; and his advice to the supporters of the measure was, not to enter into a nice disquisition on the subject of oaths, but to bear in mind the object of the Bill, which was to put a loyal and estimable class of Her Majesty's subjects upon the footing of political equality with the other subjects of Her Majesty.
§ MR. J. STUART
considered the suggestion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Midhurst of great importance. The hon. and learned Member proposed words which seemed to him (Mr. Stuart) to be of great importance, as they would exclude the advice or interference of any foreign Power to induce the subjects of this realm to disobey the civil power in any matter whatever. He thought that was the most rational view to take, because there were many cases where a man might doubt whether it came under the head of the temporal or spiritual power. How would the question stand, as he had 457 already said, with regard to education? and he could mention ten other matters which would present equal difficulty. He wished to ask, moreover, whether the oath was to remain as it stood in the printed copy of the Bill, or whether it was to be amended in the manner which the noble Lord had expressed his willingness to-night to agree to? for this alteration had come upon them quite suddenly. He would ask the Solicitor General how they would stand with respect to common law, which excluded the power of the Pope, as well spiritual and ecclesiastical as temporal and spiritual? Even when the Church of England adhered to the doctrines of the Church of Rome, she defied the power of the Pope as much as she ought to do now. He wanted to know whether they were still to consider that as the common law of England or not, because, for his own part, he professed himself utterly unable to understand the opinions either of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, or of the noble Lord at the head of the Government.
§ SIR R. PEEL
, in explanation, said, the hon. and learned Gentleman completely mistook the view he (Sir R. Peel) took of the subject. He did not like the insertion of the words "temporal or civil," as proposed by the noble Lord. He had taken the oath, and with a safe conscience, that neither the Pope of Rome, nor any other foreign Power, prince, state, or potentate, had any power whatever, whether ecclesiastical or civil, temporal or civil, within these realms. If he were now to insert the words "temporal and civil," he would give rise to the presumption that he recognised the existence, on the part of the Pope of Rome, of a spiritual and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Therefore he said, he would rather that the words calling upon them to disclaim the temporal and civil jurisdiction of the Pope were omitted altogether, lest it should by his silence appear as if he recognised the other kind of authority. He could, with a safe conscience, take the oath which excluded the spiritual and ecclesiastical authority of the Pope, in the same manner as many Roman Catholics did immediately after the Reformation; that was to say, he denied that the Pope had any spiritual or ecclesiastical authority of a co-active nature. He denied that he had any jurisdiction which a court of law in this country would enforce; but he did not deny that, if there were any persons in this country who did defer to the authority 458 of the Pope, they were in conscience bound by his decisions, and would recognise his authority. He conceived that the Pope's authority was of the same nature with the meeting of a Dissenting body in the United States, or of the Wesleyan Methodists; those who deferred to the authority of that body would be bound in conscience by its decisions, but that external authority would have no power to enforce its decisions upon any one within this realm. He would, therefore, much rather leave the oath in the simple form, which was sufficient for every conscientious man, for it appeared to him to include everything—"I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, her Crown and dignity."
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that, as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Newark had appealed to him to state his opinion in respect to this matter, he would give it to him in a few words. He had always taken the oath, understanding by it that the Pope had no authority or jurisdiction which could be enforced by any court or tribunal in this kingdom. This was his interpretation of the oath. But many persons—among others, two Peers of the realm, the Earl of Clancarty had Lord Grantley—were of a different opinion. They held that spiritual jurisdiction or authority meant such as was known to be exercised over persons in this country, and more particularly in Ireland. He (Lord J. Russell) did not agree with that interpretation; but he thought, when they were altering the oaths to relieve other parties, it would be fitting at the same time to make such an alteration as would enable those noble Lords to take their seats in the House of Lords. He wrote to Lord Clancarty, who had put his opinions in print, to ask him if he had any objections to the words of the Roman Catholic oath; and he replied that he would have no objection to take that oath. His object, therefore, was to take away words which were misunderstood by persons entitled to take their seats in Parliament. But the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Newark said, if these words were omitted, what would become of the common law? Now, he could not see that their omitting to take an oath would affect the common law one way or the other. The common law maintained its force with respect to many subjects on which it was not thought necessary by the Legislature to impose any oath whatever, either upon Members of Parliament or others. The 459 supremacy of the Pope not being allowed by the common law of the kingdom, he imagined that it would remain the same whether an oath was taken on the subject or not.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
would respectfully remind the Committee that they were not framing a new oath, but altering an old one, and that they were altering it, not for the realm at large, but for themselves, so that whatever they omitted now they would, in the judgment of their fellow-citizens, be held to have abandoned. But he must also add, that they were altering only for themselves—they were not altering for their fellow-subjects. The First Minister of the Crown could not take his place at the Council board without taking the very oath which here he proposed to nullify, or to reduce almost to nothing in the case of a Member who took his scat in that House. He objected also to the sudden manner in which, since the debate had commenced, the Government had proposed to relinquish certain clauses in that oath. He could not think this was a fair specimen of the way in which legislation ought to be conducted; and he trusted that the House, if it did not reinsert all the words of the old oath, would at least not agree to the form of oath which the noble Lord proposed to substitute for it.
suggested that all the difficulties would be obviated by leaving out the word "hath" in the declaration that no foreign prince "hath" or ought to have jurisdiction in the country. The form would then run, that "no foreign prince ought to have jurisdiction."
MR. VERNON SMITH
denied that he had said this proposed form was a clumsy contrivance of the noble Lord's. He certainly said it was a clumsy contrivance, not conceived with the noble Lord's usual adroitness; and the noble Lord had since proved the accuracy of his opinion, by stating that the clumsy contrivance was not his, but taken from the blue book of the Commissioners on Criminal Law. With regard to what had been said by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, if he thought his Amendment would endanger the success of the Bill elsewhere, he certainly would not press it; but he could not think that would be the case, and he was deeply impressed with the impropriety of the words used, as he thought it would be much bettor if one simple form of oath were substituted, which could be taken by 460 every Member. As for the Amendment which he had proposed to the existing Bill, he found that the noble Lord agreed with him in part, and he would leave the rest of it to the sense of the House, that hon. Gentlemen might deal with it according to their opinion.
§ MR. DISRAELI
thought it was hardly consistent with the importance of the subject to press it upon the House in this fragmentary form, as it was scarcely possible to understand the question.
then read the clause of the oath beginning "and that I do not believe that the Pope of Rome," &c. "hath or ought to have any civil jurisdiction," &c, and said, the question he should put to the House was, that the words "and that I do not believe that" stand part of the Bill, as this way of putting it would allow Members cither to negative these, and with them the subsequent words of the clause; or, retaining these, to move what amendment they should think proper on the rest of the clause.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, there were really two questions before the House; one part of the clause referred to the jurisdiction of the Pope, and the other to the settlement of property.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, it was obvious, if the words to be put by Mr. Bernal to the House should be negatived, the rest of the clause would be lost; and if not, there was still opportunity for amendments.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, he thought he had never heard a question better debated. Speeches had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst, the right hon. Member for Tamworth, the hon. and learned Member for Oxford, and the hon. and learned Member for Newark, quite exhausting the subject, and therefore he submitted that there was no reason, after all this discussion, for the hon. Member for Warwickshire interrupting the Committee for some observations that he might wish to make.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, that it was not because the House had manifested its unwillingness to hear any observations on this 461 question that he had moved that the Chairman report progress, but because he really did not understand the question which had been put from the chair. The noble Lord himself had been distinctly asked what was the question really before the House, and he could not answer the question.
The reason why I proposed to put the question upon the first words only was, to afford any hon. Member, as I have before said, an opportunity of proposing any amendment as I proceeded to put it; because, if the question were put upon the omission of the whole of the words, no amendment could be proposed.
§ MR. PLUMPTRE
thought his hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire had acted very properly in moving that the Chairman report progress. The House had been completely taken by surprise by the course just adopted by the Government. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, as well as the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, had first spoken against, and now declared that they were prepared to vote for, the Amendment. This was too important a question to be disposed of hastily. He thought that the noble Lord would not be doing justice to himself or to the House, if he would not consent to the Chairman reporting progress, and asking leave to sit again. Let the noble Lord state what course he meant to adopt, so that they might know distinctly what they were about. He would suggest the propriety of printing the oath in the form in which it was proposed, before proceeding further, because it was hardly possible to decide upon it in its present state.
§ SIR G. GREY
could not understand how the House had been taken by surprise on this matter. When the case was looked into, he must say that it was very difficult to find any arguments by which to defend the retention of the words in the oaths to be taken exclusively by Protestants, which words were intended to be taken as a security against Roman Catholics. The way in which the Chairman had put the question was very clear. If there were any hon. Gentlemen who thought that the oath, in the form in which it was now inserted in the Bill, ought to be retained, they, of course, would vote against the exclusion of these words, "And that I do not believe," &c. If they did not think it necessary to impose on Protestants any declaration about the Pope of Rome having temporal or civil jurisdiction in this 462 realm, he presumed they would vote for the omission of the words in question.
§ MR. DISRAELI
My hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire, when he said that the House had been taken by surprise, only meant to say that the House was surprised that the Government should have brought forward a form of oath which the Secretary of State had just informed the House no human being, in his opinion, could defend; and after having discussed the question, as I think, on the whole with very good temper, and twelve o'clock having arrived, I did not think that it was an unreasonable act on the part of my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment, to suggest that the noble Lord should print the form of the oath which he recommended to the House. I am very anxious to see no obstruction offered to the passage of this Bill, being a warm supporter of it—being as warm and perhaps a more fervent supporter than many hon. Gentlemen in this House—having laboured for the cause before they dreamt of it, and having supported it, not for those merely political reasons which some hon. Gentlemen do in this House; but really after the critical observations which have been made upon the Bill as brought before the House, to all of which Her Majesty's Government have assented, I cannot conceive that Her Majesty's Government should impute any desire to make a factious obstruction to the Bill, because my hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire has, at this hour of the night, moved this Amendment, with a view to obtain further time for consideration on the proposed alterations. I am sure that my hon. Friend, and every one present must be anxious to proceed with the business, if the Government would only supply the House with accurate information as to their real intentions. I think the Government are not entitled to call upon the House at once to assent to a new form of oath on so important a subject, when they themselves are not prepared precisely to recommend any definitive course. I hope the Government will really consider these things in a better temper.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The hon. Gentleman says that the Government are not prepared to come to any definitive conclusion upon the subject. Now, I have said, I believe, three times, and this will be the fourth, that after the discussion which has taken place, I am quite right in omitting the words with respect to the Pope of Rome, and the words with respect to the 463 settlement of property within the realm. I think it is unnecessary to retain them in the oath; and I cannot conceive how anybody can say that there should be a discussion for several hours in this House upon the question, and still that no understanding has been come to as to its meaning.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
desired to know what was the meaning of the words "settlement of property" in the oath? Could a Catholic, under the noble Lord's Bill for the sale of estates in Ireland, purchase lands now settled in the possession of Protestants?
§ MR. ROEBUCK
thought the construction of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would probably mislead many hon. Members. They should take the oath word by word. If they objected to a word, conceiving what it led to, they would vote against it; if looking at the word, and knowing to what it led, they would vote for it. If he said "No" to the word, let them say "Aye."
§ MR. BROTHERTON
expressed a hope that the Chairman would be allowed to report progress, as it was impossible they could settle the question satisfactorily that night. The result of a division now would merely be to leave these words of the oath standing, "I do not believe."
§ MR. W. MILES
rose and said, he did not wish to utter a word against the understanding of the Chairman, who had certainly put the question in a very intelligible way; but the only question for the House to consider was, whether a Bill of such importance, involving an alteration of the whole of the Parliamentary oath, should be assented to before the country had an opportunity of understanding it. After having in the first instance opposed the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Northampton, the Government now acceded to it, and proposed out of twelve lines to strike out eight lines of the oath. He therefore thought that it was but reasonable that the Chairman should report progress, and ask for leave to sit again, with the view of enabling the Government to print their alterations, and lay them on a future occasion in a definite shape before the House.
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do now report progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 122; Noes 241: Majority 119.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Hope, Sir J.|
|Archdall, C. M.||Hornby, J.|
|Arkwright, G.||Hotham, Lord|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Bailey, J., jun.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Bankes, G.||Jones, Capt.|
|Bateson, T.||Kerrison, Sir E.|
|Beckett, W.||Knox, Col.|
|Bennet, P.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Beresford, W.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Long, W.|
|Bremridge, R.||Lopes, Sir R.|
|Broadley, H.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Bromley, R.||Lowther, H.|
|Brooke, Lord||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Brown, H.||Macnaghten, Sir E.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||March, Earl of|
|Burghley, Lord||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Moody, C. A.|
|Christy, S.||Moore, G. H.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Coles, H. B.||Mundy, W.|
|Cotton, hon. W. H. S.||Napier, J.|
|Currie, H.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Packe, C. W.|
|Disraeli, B.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Dod, J. W.||Palmer, R.|
|Duckworth, SirJ. T. B.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Duncuft, J.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Portal, M.|
|Farrer, J.||Raphael, A.|
|Fellowes, E.||Renton, J. C.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Floyer, J.||Shirley, E. J.|
|Forester, hon. G. C. W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Fox, S. W. L.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Somerton, Visct.|
|Galway, Visct.||Stafford, A.|
|Gooch, E. S.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Gordon, Adm.||Stuart, J.|
|Gore, W. O.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Thornhill, G.|
|Goring, C.||Tollemache, J.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Greenall, G.||Turner, G. J.|
|Grogan, E.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Gwyn, H.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Walsh, S. J. B.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Heald, J.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Henley, J. W.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||TELLERS.|
|Hill, Lord E.||Spooner, R.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Miles, W.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Armstrong, Sir A.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Armstrong, R. B.|
|Adare, Visct.||Bagshaw, J.|
|Alcock, T.||Baines, M. T.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Baring, H. B.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Greene, J.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Greene, T.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Grey, R. W.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Guest, Sir J.|
|Blake, M. J.||Haggitt, F. R.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Hallyburton, Lord J. F.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hastie, A.|
|Brand, T.||Hastie, A.|
|Bright, J.||Hawes, B.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Brown, W.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Browne, R. D.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.||Heneage, E.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Henry, A.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Callaghan, D.||Heywood, J.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Heyworth, L.|
|Cardwell, E.||Hindley, C.|
|Carter, J. B.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Caulfeild, J. M.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Hollond, R.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||Hope, A.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Clay, J.||Howard, hon. J. K.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Howard, P. H.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Cobden, R.||Hutt, W.|
|Cockburn, A. J. E.||Jackson, W.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Coke, hon. E. K.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Kershaw, J.|
|Cowan, C.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Craig, W. G.||Langston, J. H.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Locke, J.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Lushington, C.|
|Denison, E.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Denison, W. J.||M' Gregor, J.|
|Denison, J. E.||Meagher, T.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.||Maitland, T.|
|Duff, G. S.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Duncan, G.||Marshall, W.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Martin, C. W.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Martin, S.|
|Ellice, E.||Matheson, A.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Matheson, J.|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||Matheson, Col.|
|Evans, J.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Evans, W.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Fagan, W.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Fergus, J.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Milton, Visct.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Moffatt, G.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Monsell, W.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Morris, D.|
|Forster, M.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Fortescue, C.||Mowatt, F.|
|Fox, R. M.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Fox, W. J.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Freestun, Col.||Mure, Col.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Norreys, Lord|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Nugent, Lord|
|Nugent, Sir P.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|O'Connell, J.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Ord, W.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Osborne, R.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Oswald, A.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Stuart, H.|
|Paget, Lord C.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Palmer, R.||Sullivan, M.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Parker, J.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|Peel, rt, hon. Sir R.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Peel, F.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Pigott, F.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Pilkington, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Power, N.||Thompson, G.|
|Price, Sir R.||Thornely, T.|
|Pryse, P.||Towneley, J.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Townley, R. G.|
|Reynolds, J.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Ricardo, O.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Rice, E. R.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Rich, H.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Romilly, Sir J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Russell, Lord J.||West, F. R.|
|Russell, hon. E. S.||Westhead, J. P.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Rutherfurd, A.||Willyams, H.|
|Sadleir, J.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Salwey, Col.||Wilson, J.|
|Scholefield, W.||Wilson, M.|
|Seymour, Lord||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Shafto, R. D.||Wood, W. P.|
|Shell, rt. hon. R. L.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Shelburne, Earl of||Wyld, J.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Wyvill, M.|
|Smith, J. A.||TELLERS.|
|Smith, J. B.||Tufnell, H.|
|Somers, J. P.||Hill, Lord M.|
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do leave the chair."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 111; Noes 225: Majority
§ Committee report progress; to sit again on Thursday.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.