HC Deb 05 August 1850 vol 113 cc769-815

said, that before the hon. and learned Attorney General rose to make his Motion, he wished to put a question to Mr. Speaker, which he considered of some importance with reference to the proceedings of that day. The House would recollect that the hon. Member for London came to the table of the House the other day, and took the oaths in the form which was most binding on his conscience, and that, having done so, be signed, in accordance with the Act of Parliament, the declaration in writing, and left it upon the table of the House. Now, he wished to know why that important fact was omitted in the Votes, when all the other proceedings were so minutely described?


The answer which I have to give to the hon. Member's question is, that I considered the proceeding to which he has referred as informal and irregular, and that on that account it could not be recorded in the Votes. The House will remember that, according to its usual practice, Members, in the first place, take the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration, and then subscribe in a book prepared by the clerk the oath of abjuration and the declaration of qualification; and that, without having signed the oath of abjuration and the declaration of qualification, no Member can take his seat in this House. There are cases where, by law, a Member is allowed to make an affirmation, or to take the oath in another way than that which is usually prescribed; but still the paper which is subscribed by the Member is always prepared by the clerk, or sanctioned by the Speaker. In this case, I believe (for I did not see the transaction), after the hon. Member for London had taken the oaths he signed a paper which was not prepared by the clerk, and of the contents of which the clerk was wholly ignorant. That paper was not formally tendered to the House, but merely laid upon the table. I was not aware of its contents, nor was the clerk aware of them till after some minutes had elapsed. We then became aware that the paper contained the oath as taken by the hon. Member, omitting the words "on the true faith of a Christian;" but, as I considered that the transaction had taken place without the sanction of the House, that the taking of the oath was incomplete, and that the whole proceeding was perfectly irregular, and contrary to the practice of this House, I felt it to be my duty not to allow it to be entered on the Votes.


asked whether, if the paper had been prepared by the clerk, and signed, as in the case of Mr. Pease, the hon. Member for London would have been allowed to take his seat?


I must remind the hon. Member, that in the case to which he has alluded, the House decided that Mr. Pease should be allowed to make an affirmation to the effect of the oath; whereas, in the present case, the House came to no decision whatever, except that Baron de Rothschild should be allowed to take the oaths in the mode most binding upon his conscience.

The ATTORNEY GENERAL moved, that the clerk then read from the Votes an account of what occurred at the table of the House last Tuesday.

Entry in Votes of 30th July, read, as follows:— The Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild having come to the Table, Mr. Speaker acquainted him that the House had yesterday made the following Order:— 'Ordered—That Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, one of the Members for the City of London, having presented himself at the table of the House, and having previously to taking the Oaths requested to be sworn on the Old Testament (being the form which, he has declared at the Table to be most binding on his conscience), the Clerk be di- rected to swear him on the Old Testament accordingly.' Whereupon the Clerk handed to him the Old Testament, and tendered him the Oaths; and he accordingly took the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, repeating the same after the Clerk; the Clerk then proceeded to administer the Oath of Abjuration, which the Baron de Rothschild repeated after the Clerk as far as the words,' upon the true faith of a Christian,' but, upon the Clerk reading those words, the Baron de Rothschild said, 'I omit those words as not binding on my conscience;' he then concluded with the words, 'So help me God,' (the Clerk not having read those words to him), and kissed the said Testament:—Whereupon he was directed to withdraw.


Sir, in rising to propose to the House to adopt the two Resolutions of which I have given notice, and which appear in the Votes of the day, I have to observe that these are separate and distinct resolutions. And although I propose, in the observations I shall have to make, to comment on both of the resolutions, and to explain to the House my motives for proposing them, yet the House must bear in mind that they are distinct—that they will be put separately by you, Sir, from the chair—that it is perfectly competent to any hon. Member to reject the first resolution, and to accede to the second—and that it is, in fact, by no means necessary for the adoption of the one, that the other also should be adopted. Now, in the first place, it appears to me to be essential that the House should come to some decision upon this subject. After the statement just read of what took place at the table of the House when Baron de Rothschild came forward to take his seat, the House cannot, I think, with propriety, avoid coming to a determination upon this question; and I believe that, in point of fact, it would be nothing more than to treat what has taken place as a sort of mockery if the House should not come to a decision with regard to the claim of Baron de Rothschild to take his seat after he has gone through the form of taking the oaths in the peculiar manner which appears by the record of it preserved in our journals. He calls on us to decide that he is, in consequence thereof, entitled to take his seat: we cannot, consistently with what is due to the dignity of this House, elude this question, or avoid expressing a direct decision on the point which the Baron de Rothschild calls on us to determine. Besides this, unless we do so, how can the officers of the House act, or what direction can be given to them in the case of Baron de Rothschild present- ing himself to take his seat? It is essential, therefore, that it should be known what course we should adopt; and I also think it essential that our decision on the subject should be come to at once. I have already stated the decision to which the House ought, in my opinion, to come upon the point, in the course of the observations which I addressed to the House on Tuesday last—the day on which Baron de Rothschild presented himself for the purpose of taking his seat. I do not now propose to go again into the reasons which led me to the conclusions I then stated to the House; neither do I think it necessary for me again to state what is my view of the law. There are three things to be considered in an oath: first, the effect or substance of the oath; secondly, the form of words in which that substance is expressed; and, thirdly, the manner in which the oath is to be taken. The House has determined—and, as I ventured to submit, wisely and properly determined—that any Member returned to this House may take the oaths in the manner most binding on his own conscience. All the hon. Members on both sides of the House will concur in the opinion that the substance and effect of an oath cannot be varied; and no question is or can be raised on either side, but that the substance of an oath must really be taken. The question we have to decide is, whether the form of words in which an oath is expressed can be varied, or whether any portion of it can be omitted in consequence of any scruples of conscience entertained by any Member who may come to take his seat? I have already ventured to express my opinion of the great danger of attempting to separate the form of words in which an oath is expressed, from the substance of an oath. Once arrive at that point, and allow the person taking the oath to determine what is form and what is substance, and you will, in fact, be admitting that any oath can be varied almost to any extent at the will of the person taking it. Who is to determine whether the words are form or substance? Is it the Member, or is it the House? The majority 01 to-day may decide it one way, and the majority of two years hence another way, and oaths will be varied according to the feeling of the moment, or, perhaps, and which is much worse, according to the political influence of the moment. These evils are so serious that I consider this principle ought to be so rigidly adhered to, that a Member ought not to be permitted to use a form of expression strictly synonymous with that which the Act of Parliament requires. I think, therefore, without going through the arguments I have already expressed, that it cannot be denied that Baron Lionel de Rothschild has no I taken the oath of abjuration in the form which has been appointed by law. It remains to be considered what is the course we should pursue now that it is admitted that the statute of the 1st George I., chap. 13, does relate to, and bear upon, this subject. By the 16th section of that statute, which I have endeavoured to follow as closely as possible in the resolutions which I now submit to the House, it is enacted that after a certain date therein mentioned— No person that is now or that hereafter shall be a Member of the House of Commons shall vote or sit during any debate in the said House of Commons, after the Speaker is chosen, until such Member shall from time to time have taken respectively the abjuration oath aforesaid, instead of the oath of abjuration, which by law ought now to be taken. I have endeavoured to follow in these resolutions the words of that section as closely as possible; and it appears to me that if I am right in saying that Baron de Rothschild has not already taken the oath of abjuration, it follows as a necessary consequence from that 16th section that he cannot be entitled to vote or to sit in the House during any debate until he shall have taken the oath in the form appointed by law. I entirely concur in the expression of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, that although Baron de Rothschild has taken an oath of abjuration, he has not taken the oath of abjuration appointed by law to be taken at the table of this House; and it appears to me to be a necessary and inevitable consequence that he cannot sit in this House, or vote in this House, until he shall have taken that oath. It then remains to be considered whether any further or ulterior proceedings should be adopted in consequence of his not having taken the oath. Now I am of opinion that no further or ulterior proceedings should be adopted with regard to him in consequence of his not having taken the oath in question. On looking into the subject more carefully and considerately than I had done on a former occasion, although I still retain the opinion I then expressed with regard to the repeal of the statute, yet I have come to the conclusion that the seat is by no means vacant in consequence of his not having taken the oath. I am convinced that he might take the oath this day or to morrow if his conscience should permit him; but that he cannot sit or vote until he shall have done so. I am also perfectly convinced that the seat is by no means vacant in consequence of his not having yet taken the oath, and that there is no power legally in this House to declare the seat to be vacant, or to order a new writ to be issued in consequence of that state of things. A question has arisen with respect to whether the statute of the 13th and 14th of William III. is in force upon this subject. It is not at present my intention to discuss the question whether that statute is still in force or not; that is to say, whether the peculiar penalties which are to be found provided in the 11th section of that statute are or are not now in force. My disposition undoubtedly is to consider that the penalties thereby imposed are cumulative rather than substitutional, and that the penalties laid down in that statute are still in force. On referring to that statute, I find that the penalty which disables a Member from sitting in this House arises from the fact of his voting in the House without his having taken the oath, for that is the express provision upon the subject. The penalty, therefore, of disability to sit and vote in this House, arises solely from a Member's having presumed to vote, although he had not taken the oath. The House will observe that Baron de Rothschild has not refused to take the oath; he has taken an oath which he asserts, and which his friends assert for him, is the oath required. I think it is not so, but still he has-not refused to take the oath, and still less has he presumed to vote in this House without having taken it. It was well observed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the city of Oxford, that there is no Act of Parliament which makes the seat of a Member vacant by reason of his not taking the oath of abjuration, although there is such an Act with respect to the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. It appears to me, therefore, that the state of the case as it at present stands is in fact this—that by the law as it now exists, and in the circumstances in which we are now placed, we have come to this singular state of things, which is a necessary consequence of the existing state of the law, that a gentleman professing the Jewish religion, having been elected a Member to serve in Parliament, cannot sit or vote in this House until he shall have taken the oath of abjuration in a form in which no conscientious Jew can take that oath, and yet that, nevertheless, the seat is not vacant, and that there is no statute whatever authorising or permitting the House to order the issuing of a new writ, as it might do if a vacancy in the seat had occurred. Besides the statutes relating to this question, I have also endeavoured to refer to the law and usage of Parliament, so far as they may be discovered from the journals of the House, for the purpose of ascertaining whether there was any law or usage applicable to a case of this description; and I do not find from the journals that any case at all analogous to this, or at all resembling it, has ever occurred. There are, undoubtedly, in the journals abundant instances of the House calling on Members to take the oaths, and of Members refusing, and of the House thereupon ordering new writs to be issued; but there is no instance that I can find, with the single exception of the case of Mr. O'Connell, of any Member agreeing to take two oaths and refusing to take the third; and there is, I believe, no instance whatever of a Member refusing to take the oath of abjuration. There is nothing, therefore, as it appears to me, in the law or usage of Parliament which would justify or warrant the issuing of a new writ upon the present occasion. The House, no doubt, possesses the power of expelling any one of its Members, and it might create a vacancy by expulsion, as it might expel me as well as the hon. Member for the city of London; but it would be a mere insult to the House to suggest the possibility of its pursuing such a course in this instance. And therefore I do say with respect to this part of the case that it appears to me that neither by statute nor by the law and usage of Parliament is the seat vacant, nor is there any constitutional or legitimate power in this House to declare it vacant, or to make it vacant, or to order the issuing of a new writ. Now, if this be a correct description of the state of the law in this case, it must be admitted to be of the most monstrous description. Here you have a Member returned by the free choice of his constituents to serve them in Parliament as the person whom they consider the best qualified for that office; and yet by what I must call an idle form of oath, which is admitted now to be of no binding effect whatever, because it is in fact an abjuration of allegiance to a family which no longer ex- ists—by an oath which it would not, I believe, be possible for any person to break, even though be were to endeavour to do so, and with respect to which it would not be possible for him to violate his conscience by committing perjury—by an oath of that description, or by a form of words which it was certainly never intended should exclude from Parliament gentlemen professing the Jewish religion, Baron de Rothschild is prevented from sitting in this House, and his constituents are prevented from having the benefit of his services in Parliament. I consider it to be a very great advantage gained by the discussion of this question upon the present occasion, that it has, as it appears to me, brought into strong relief both before the House and the public the present preposterous state of the law upon this subject; for I think I can call it nothing less than that, which, although it really imposes no obligation, and therefore is not binding upon us practically, yet we have no power to alter it; and at the same time it prevents a gentleman from performing his duties to his constituents, and prevents them from enjoying the benefit of his services. It is, therefore, as it appears to me, incumbent upon us to pledge this House that it will, at the very earliest possible opportunity, pass a measure for the purpose of altering that state of the law which is so preposterous in itself, and the results and effects of which are so unjustifiable and absurd. If it were possible that such a measure could be passed in the present Session, I should he most desirous of seeing that object accomplished. But it is manifest that it would not be possible—that any effort in that direction would be attempting what is by no means feasible; and I have therefore thought it desirable, in the strongest possible manner, to frame a resolution which I consider, and intend to be, a pledge on the part of the House that it will, at the earliest opportunity in the next Session of Parliament, pass a law to remedy this monstrous state of things. In coming to this conclusion, I may observe that the law is not only monstrous in this respect, but that, as has been pointed out on a former occasion, it is as monstrous in its effects out of the House as in it; for it enables any two justices of the peace to question any gentleman professing the Jewish persuasion, and if he do not take the oath of abjuration in a form which his conscience does not permit, it empowers them to inflict on him all the penalties of a "Popish recusant convict." So preposterous is this state of the law, that when fully brought before the House and the public, it cannot, I believe, be permitted to continue. I have also stated that it is, in my opinion, essential for the House, having a due regard to its own dignity and position, to come to an immediate decision upon the subject. But, besides this, it is my opinion, that, as regards the benefit of Baron de Rothschild himself and of those gentlemen who agree with him in his religious opinions, as well as of those friends who support those gentlemen in their desire to be allowed to sit in this House, the conclusion to which I ask the House to come is not only consistent with law, but is also that course which, in the singular position in which we are placed is most beneficial to the cause which they themselves seek to advance. I shall shortly state why I think that is the case. In the first place, if this House came to an opposite decision, and if Baron de Rothschild were permitted to take his seat and to vote in this House, the strongest possible argument would be given to the other branch of the Legislature for objecting to any Bill which you might pass for the purpose of removing this evil. They would say, "What shadow of reason is there for passing an Act of Parliament to enable persons professing the Jewish religion to take their seats in the House of Commons, when that House has already so expounded the law as to declare that they may, under its existing provisions, take their seats and vote in that House?" I believe it would be extremely difficult to answer an argument of that description: it would, in fact, be an unanswerable argument in the mouths of those Gentlemen who wish to oppose a Bill introduced for the purpose of effecting a satisfactory settlement of this question, I venture to say that a more disastrous event could not befall those persons who wish well to the cause of the professors of the Jewish religion; for the result would be, that Baron de Rothschild would not, I will undertake to say, venture practically to vote or sit in this House. I say, unhesitatingly, that my belief is, that there is not a lawyer in this House, or out of it, who earns as much as 500l. a year by his profession, who would tell him that he could safely take his seat in this House without incurring the penalties which are provided by the 17th section of the 1st statute of George I. chapter 13, which is admitted to be the existing law upon the subject. I believe Baron de Rothschild would never venture to take his seat in this House. Observe what the consequence would be if he did. One result would be, that he, being a gentleman largely engaged in commerce, could not possibly bring an action to recover any debt due to his firm without immediately enabling the defendant to raise the question, that he was not entitled to sue in a court of law; which is professedly one of the disabilities under a statute now in force. One of the evils that would result from the course to which I refer would be, that the defendant in such an action might bring the question before the House of Lords in its judicial capacity; and the House of Lords, in its judicial capacity, would then have to decide whether this House came to a fit and proper conclusion of law in deciding that Baron de Rothschild could sit in this House. I am satisfied, therefore, that nothing could be more injurious to Baron de Rothschild himself, and to the gentlemen who profess the religion which he professes, than a vote or decision of the House that he might now take his seat in Parliament—a decission on which he would not himself venture to act, and which would, at the same time, place strong and overpowering arguments in the mouths of the opponents of any measure for effecting a final settlement of the question; who would then be justified in saying that it was not necessary to pass a Bill for the purpose of redressing the preposterous state of the law, inasmuch as the House of Commons had, by a solemn decision, declared it not to exist. The hon. Member for Montrose has suggested a resolution which, in substance, does not very materially differ from that which I have the honour of submitting to the House, with this exception, that I propose, in point of fact, an immediate decision of the House upon the subject, while the hon. Member proposes nothing-more than that we should say that "certain doubts having arisen as to the legal effect of his (Baron de Rothschild's) so taking the oath, it is expedient at the commencement of the next Session of Parliament," that the House should do something similar to that which I propose. Now, this course would, I believe, be only one step less injurious to the hon. Member for the city of London, and to the gentlemen who belong to the same religious persuasion with him, than would be a vote absolutely deciding that he may at present take his seat in the House; because, if this dubious course were adopted, that again would justify the opponents of a Bill to settle the question in saying that they ought not to be called upon to support such a Bill until this House should have determined whether or not Baron de Rothschild was entitled to take his seat under the existing state of the law. Would they not have a right to ask—"Is it not advisable that you should first determine whether the law is such as to enable persons professing the Jewish religion to sit in this House, on their taking the oath of abjuration in the form adopted by Baron de Rothschild, before you call on us to pass a law which in the event of one mode, at all events, of deciding that point would be unnecessary?" It appears to me that the course proposed by the hon. Member for Montrose would furnish a strong argument which might be urged by Members of this House, and of the other House, for the purpose of rejecting such a measure; whereas, on the contrary, if you consider that the law is such as I call on you to declare it to be, a more absurd and preposterous state of things cannot exist; and it then becomes incumbent on the Legislature to reform that state of the law. I have heard it suggested, although I do not suppose that it enters into the views of any of the hon. Gentlemen who support the hon. Member for Montrose, that there might be this advantage in leaving the matter in suspense—that you might hold it as it were something in terrorem over the other House; and that it would be in effect to tell them that if they did not pass such a measure as you might propose for relieving persons professing the Jewish religion from their disabilities, then you would allow Baron de Rothschild to sit. Now, I submit that such a course would be a very improper mode of proceeding, one which this House could never venture to adopt consistently with its own honour and dignity, and one which could have no effect whatever with the House of Lords. It would, in truth, be nothing more than saying this—"Whatever may be the right and legal decision upon this subject, we wish it to be understood that we will not decide it according to what we consider the strict interpretation of the law, but make our decision of that which is a legal question, and which we have to dispose of judicially, depend upon the circumstance of whether or not you will pass a Bill to make that decision necessary." I think that such a course would be one which could not by any possibility be beneficial in inducing the House of Lords to agree to a measure of the description which is suggested, and that it would be inconsistent with that proper course of proceeding which it is incumbent on this House to pursue, having a due regard for its dignity, and the necessity of its coming to a judicial decision upon this subject in a judicial manner. I am satisfied, also, that with respect to the existing state of the law, it is not possible that it should be allowed to continue; and I feel persuaded that the state of the law as it now stands is the strongest possible argument you could use for the purpose of inducing the other House to agree to a measure for its amendment. It has also been suggested that if Baron de Rothschild were allowed to sit, a Bill of Indemnity might be passed in his favour. But a Bill of Indemnity would only be carrying the question in another form; it would be an attempt to do by a side-wind what, I submit, you ought to do fairly and openly. For my part I believe it is not desirable that you should proceed in this matter by any species of subterfuge, but that you should act openly and manfully. This is, as I conceive, the state of the case; and these are shortly the reasons which have induced me to suggest to the House the propriety of coming to this conclusion, and agreeing to the two resolutions which I call on you to pass. I cannot but say that it appears to me to be such a course of proceeding as is not only consistent with the true interpretation of the law, and with what is due to the honour and dignity of this House; and, beyond all this, it is such as I have the satisfaction of firmly believing is the course which practically will be found to be most beneficial to the hon. Member for the city of London himself, and to other gentlemen of his persuasion. I cannot conclude these observations, which I have endeavoured to make as concise as I could, without expressing my sense of the propriety, firmness, and moderation, in all respects, of the hon. Member for the city of London, in the steps which he has taken in this difficult and unprecedented matter. He has, undoubtedly, acted as he was bound to do—under the direction of his friends and of his constituents; and in doing so he appears to me to have demeaned himself in such a manner as to gain the esteem of everybody, and to justify me in expressing a feeling, in which I think the greater part of this House will be ready to concur—a feeling of deep regret that any system of law so monstrous and absurd as this, which I hope we shall repeal in the next Session of Parliament, should exclude from a seat among us a gentleman who, I believe, is calculated to add to the estimation in which this House is regarded throughout the country, and also materially to assist us in our deliberations. Motion made, and Question proposed— That the Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild is not entitled to vote in this House, or to sit in this House during any debate, until he shall take the Oath of Abjuration in the form appointed by law.


said, he had always been of opinion that the law would allow the Baron de Rothschild to come to the table and take his seat, acting fearless of consequences. After having heard Her Majesty's Attorney General declare that the law, as it stood, was so monstrous and absurd in and out of the House, he thought it lamentable to think that its amendment should have been so long delayed. Where, he should like to know, had been the talents of all the lawyers on both sides of the House for so long a period? The question was, was the Baron de Rothschild entitled to take his seat, he having taken the oaths? The Act said that the oath of abjuration should be taken "on the true faith of a Christian." It was provided by the 13th of Geo. III., chap. 7, that whenever a Jew appeared to take the oath of abjuration, the clause, "on the true faith of a Christian," should be omitted in his case. Now, the hon. Member for the city of London had appeared at that table to take the oaths, and the provision ought to extend to his case. But, even if any doubt remained, it had been entirely set at rest by Lord Denrnan's Act of the 1st and 2nd Victoria, chap. 105, authorising every natural-born subject to swear in the form most binding on his conscience. That Act had so completely removed every doubt from his (Mr. Hume's) mind, and his conviction on the point was so strong, that he had not hesitated to protest against the withdrawal of Baron de Rothschild after he had taken the oath in the form which he declared most binding on his conscience. Nay, more than that, so strongly was he convinced he was right, that had he been in the position of Baron de Rothschild, he would have taken his seat, subject to all the penalties declared to be involved in his doing so, satisfied that if brought before a court of law, the Judges would decide that he must take the oath in the form most binding on his conscience, and that having done so, the Acts he had quoted, and the order which had been made by that House on the subject, would insure a verdict in his favour. What he called upon Her Majesty's Government to do in the present state of things, which was so truly described by the hon. and learned Attorney General as absurd and preposterous, was not to prejudge the question. Admitting that doubts upon the question existed, he was willing to postpone it with a view to a Bill, till next Session, which he thought the House of Lords would not venture to reject; but he protested against prejudging it, which they would be doing if they passed the resolutions now proposed. One of those resolutions declared that Baron de Rothschild was not entitled to sit and vote in that House. He (Mr. Hume) believed and maintained that he was, and that too without any prejudice. But assuming that there was a doubt about it, he only asked Her Majesty's Ministers not to throw the weight of their influence into the scale which weighed against religious freedom and liberty of conscience. He would prefer seeing them use that influence in favour of the subject, and of removing the monstrous absurdity which the hon. and learned Attorney General had shown to exist. He wished the present state of the law not to be prejudged. If they did not wish to pursue the course taken in the case of Mr. Pease—which they might have, and in his opinion ought to have, taken—let them not postpone the consideration of the question with a declaration that Baron de Rothschild was not entitled to take his seat, seeing that very fair doubts existed on that point. The oaths used to be taken twice, once before the Lord Steward, and in half an hour afterwards again at the table. The late Mr. C. Wynn brought in a Bill to alter that; they were now only taken once, and no one would venture to say that any evil consequence had resulted from the change. He hoped the noble Lord would reconsider the question, and allow it to come before the House next Session without being prejudged. He should, therefore, move the Amendment of which he had given notice.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the words 'That the' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words' Clerk of this House, having proceeded as directed by the House to administer the Oaths to Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, one of the Members for the City of London, upon the Old Testament, being the form which he declared to be most binding upon his conscience; and the Baron having so sworn to the Oath of Abjuration, with the omission of the words 'upon the true faith of a Christian,' and doubts having arisen as to the legal effect of his so taking the Oath, it is expedient, at the commencement of the next Session of Parliament, that a Bill should be introduced to declare the Law with reference to the due administration of that Oath; and further, that this House will then take into its serious consideration the subject of the Oaths now administered to its Members, with reference to the changes which have taken place since they were first imposed by Law'—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question,"


said, he had a communication to make to the House with reference to the Amendment of which he gave notice on Friday. He had had a conference with Baron de Rothschild that morning; and, as he found that it was not the wish of the hon. Member to go through what he must call the solemn mockery of calling counsel to the bar to argue against a decision which had already been arrived at by those who thought they could command a majority in that House, he would now withdraw his Amendment that counsel be heard in the case. Upon the Government, therefore, would rest the responsibility of coming to that conclusion to which they invited the House to come. But to that conclusion he trusted the House would never come. Much rather would he see the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose carried, though, he must say for himself, that he did not concur in the doubts—


No more do I; but, nevertheless, doubts exist in the minds of others.


With that understanding, he accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose, although he did not see why they could not follow the course pursued in Mr. Pease's case. Mr. Pease was admitted by Resolution, and an Act afterwards passed declaring not what the law was, but what it should be. That course ought to have been pursued here. The Baron de Rothschild should have been seated, and afterwards a declaratory Act passed and tendered to the other House, to enable them to confirm the decision. However, he was prepared to take his hon. Friend's Amendment as it stood, and he should certainly vote for it. But, with regard to his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, he must confess that he was more than ever deeply involved in the mazes of astonish- ment and perplexity. How such a resolution as the first could have proceeded from his hon. and learned Friend, he was at a loss to understand; but, heralded by such a speech as they had heard from him, it was still more surprising. What did his hon. and learned Friend say? That the case was unprecedented, and therefore they must exclude the hon. Member for the city of London. His hon. and learned Friend, however, was not always of opinion that a Jew demanding admission to that House was bound to prove his right to the privilege. On a former occasion the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, who had been always consistent in his opinions on this question, and who, he might observe, was possessed of too much frankness of character ever to be marked out for office, had said, "Let Baron Rothschild show his right to a seat in this House." What was the answer of his hon. and learned Friend upon that occasion? On the 16th December, 1847, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford said— Every person born in this country possessed all the rights of a fellow-citizen. The hon. Baronet stated that it would be requisite for him first to have the qualification which made it necessary to give him the means of obtaining those rights, he (Mr. Romilly) entirely dissented from that proposition. It was utterly futile to attempt to hold that any one born within these realms was not entitled to all the rights and privileges of a citizen. The burden of the proof that any particular class or individual was not so entitled lay upon those who denied this right to citizenship. It was for them to make out that those persons who were born in this country, in exactly the same situation in all other respects with the rest of their fellow-subjects, were not entitled to those rights and privileges, and to participate in those honours which belonged to and were participated in by the rest of their fellow-subjects. That was the opinion of his hon. and learned Friend before he had the misfortune to become Attorney General. That was the opinion which he (Mr. Anstey) entertained; and, however little his hon. and learned Friend might think of the opinion of a poor barrister—and knowing, as he did, by the Income Tax Commissioners' returns, that his (Mr. Anstey's) income from his profession never yet amounted to 500l. a year—and much as his opinion might be undervalued, because of the res angusta domi under which he laboured—he had the satisfaction to think that it was at least an honest opinion, arising from mature deliberation, and that it was once held by his hon. and learned Friend when he had not, as now, if report spoke truly, his foot already on the first step of the judgment seat. He (Mr. Anstey) believed that no one would assert that the opinion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the city of Oxford had not been maturely considered. Well, the Attorney General voted against his resolution, declaring that the seat of Baron de Rothschild in that House was full, and now he tells the House that he believes the seat is not full! Of what value was the opinion of an Attorney General who changed in that way? Of what worth was the opinion of a man who, as he himself remarked, was sitting judicially, if he rushed thus recklessly to conclusions, and in the eleventh hour, without taking counsel with himself, much less with his professional brethren, made the humiliating avowal that his previous opinions were erroneous? What did he say? "This is a new case, and you must take the law, not from precedents, but from my exposition of it; and I confess that the law so expounded by me is monstrous and absurd." That was precisely the position in which the House was placed by the extraordinary speech of the hon. and learned Attorney General; and they had to choose between the law laid down by him and that laid down by those who were called the friends of Baron de Rothschild. And what did they say? They said there was no precedent, and that, therefore, the House had no right to make one. They said that there was no statute imposing the disabilities now urged by the hon. and learned Attorney General, and therefore the House had no right to impose them. They said that Baron de Rothschild was already free, and therefore the House had no right to disfranchise him. They said that it was at best a doubtful case, and that therefore the House ought to let their Member have the benefit of the doubt. Assuming that both opinions were wrong or both right, which, he would ask, would be the more reasonable to affirm? Clearly the latter. The friends of Baron de Rothschild would not tell the House that the course they invited the House to adopt was monstrous and absurd. No; they stood upon the common law—the law of Parliament—and they challenged their opponents to shake their position. But, said the hon. and learned Attorney General, if you pursue that course, you will lay the Baron de Rothschild open to heavy penalties. He (Mr. Anstey) believed that no court of justice would venture to inflict any penalties upon Baron de Rothschild when they were told that he took his seat, not only under the sanction of the House, but in obedience to an order of the House. No court of justice would for a moment dream of questioning that decision; but, if there was any such danger, why should the House be more conderate for Baron de Rothschild than he was for himself, for Baron de Rothschild said he was willing to take the risk? Did the hon. and learned Attorney General mean to say that his mind was perfectly clear that the oath of abjuration could not be tendered to any Member of that House with an alteration in the terms of it by the decision of that House? That was one of the points which he had to determine. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted statutes which had no force—statutes of William III. and George I.; but what did he say of the statute of George III., under which alone the oaths taken at the table could be administered to any Member? Two important events had happened since the oath of abjuration had passed, which materially altered the case; the princely Stuarts were no more, and George III. had long been gathered to his fathers. The Act, therefore, had ceased to be applicable; and the oath it prescribed ought not to be administered at the present day. In a celebrated case in Charles the First's reign—Sir Edward Coke's case—he refused to qualify himself for the office of sheriff by taking a certain oath, on the ground that it contained a clause by which sheriffs were bound to pursue Lollards and other heretics. That, he said, was an oath in a statute passed in the Popish times of Henry the Fifth, and was abrogated with the religion which it was intended to support. The case was brought before a court of justice, and the court decided that it was illegal, because appointed by an Act which was no longer in force. That was the case with the oath of abjuration. It was accordingly recited in the preamble of the 1st and 2nd Victoria, chap. 105, that the oath, if presented, was to be the new oath, and taken in lieu of that appointed by the statute of 6 George III. Circumstances had changed, and the oath was no longer applicable. Baron de Rothschild claimed, to take his seat, assuming that Parliament had a right to alter this absurd and effete oath. The noble Lord at the head of the Government interposed, and said—no, these words of abjuration are part of the substance of the oath. But the noble Lord, in March last, said that if the House was justified in admitting Mr. Pease on his affirmation, there was no necessity for an Act of Parliament. He did not question the right of the House to admit Mr. Pease; but he did the necessity of passing an Act after admitting him. But did the noble Lord really consider in this case that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" belonged to the oath, or only to the solemnity of taking it? When the noble Lord first introduced the Jews' Bill he used these remarkable words:— It is an entire mistake to suppose that the words of an Act of Parliament, that the fag-end of a declaration, can ensure religious motives in legislators, or religious legislation in Parliament….You are merely required to make the declaration 'on the true faith of a Christian.' There are no direct words of exclusion, but you leave exclusion to be inferred. Then, as it was the postscript of the oath, the fag-end of the declaration, it was not the oath itself nor the declaration itself, but it was that which any court of justice, much more Parliament, had a right to dispense with. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had given one reason for the monstrous course which he proposed the House to take. It was, that when they had passed that resolution, Baron de Rothschild would not be able to take his seat in that House unless they went to the House of Lords. That was the very reason that induced him to vote against the Motion. They were not in the same posision that they were in in 1847. Then they chose to assume, contrary to the advice of himself and a few others, that the Jew had no right of citizenship, and they went to the House of Lords to give the right of citizenship. But they had since appointed a Committee on the subject of taking oaths, and, acting on the report of that Committee, they had recognised the rights of Jews by allowing the Member for the city of London to take two oaths according to Jewish solemnity. Having done that they had no right to declare that Baron de Rothschild had no right to take his seat until he had taken his oath on the true faith of a Christian. If they referred this matter to the other House of Legislature, in conjunction with them, they in point of fact submitted their privileges to the other House of Parliament. At the same time, with singular inconsistency, they refused to give to the electors of the city of London the opportunity of electing Baron de Rothschild again, or of electing any one else, and they de- clared that he should not take his seat unless he were a Christian. That was the position which the hon. and learned Attorney General proposed to take, and he said the reason for it was, that the House of Lords would be so struck with the difficulty in which this House was placed that they would legislate. He (Mr. Anstey) did not think they would, and if they would it would not relieve the House of Commons from the humiliation of having subjected their undoubted privileges to the arbitrary decision of the House of Lords. They refused also to Baron de Rothschild the right to take his seat, and by refusing to declare the seat void, they disfranchised the city of London. In either case their position was indefensible. He should give his vote against the resolutions now proposed by Her Majesty's Government in their new character of disqualificators.


Sir, in the previous discussions which have taken place upon this subject, the deliberations were of so strictly legal a character that I have refrained from presuming to intrude myself upon the attention of the House. But the resolutions now upon the table have departed from that limited character which has hitherto characterised the propositions submitted to our consideration. The resolutions, indeed, which the hon. and learned Attorney General has brought forward, comprehend one of law and one of policy. I have, therefore, thought that perhaps the House would excuse me if, under the particular circumstances, I ventured to make a few observations on the position in which the hon. Member for the city of London now finds himself, and—relative to his position—on that now occupied by the House itself. The course, Sir, which has been pursued by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of London—which has been pursued by the electors of the city of London, and by those Englishmen professing the Jewish religion, in their attempts to obtain an alleviation of their grievances, and a removal of their disabilities—that course, Sir, during the present year, differs from the one which they have hitherto adopted. The change arises from the impatience—the very natural impatience, I admit—which the electors of the city of London, and Englishmen professing the Jewish religion, feel at the position in which they are now placed. It does not appear to me, Sir, that anything has occurred in the constitutional course which they have hitherto pursued for their relief, to justify that impatience; and if their position be now felt as unjustly embarrassing, I should he sorry if they lost their confidence in the path which they have hitherto trod. Sir, with respect to Englishmen professing the Jewish religion, I am bound to say that it does appear to me that there is no class of religionists in this country who have less cause to complain of the spirit of the community, or the temper of the Legislature. When I remember what was the position of that class a very short period back—hardly, indeed, a quarter of a century ago—when I contrast that position of social degradation and political disability with the position which they now occupy and enjoy, I own that I am proud and gratified by the comparison. It is, indeed, one which I am bound to say shows the possession on the part of the Jews of a social footing higher than that which any other body in the kingdom, whose religion is not the religion of the State, could have arrived at within so brief a space. The Roman Catholics were for a much longer period disqualified from the possession of many more offices and the enjoyment of many more rights than the Jews. Every class of Dissenters in this country have really had to undergo a more prolonged and more severe struggle than the Jews, in order to obtain the rights and privileges of which they are now in possession; and I think, that at a moment like the present, when there is a degree of impatience evinced by the electors of the city of London, at not immediately accomplishing the results to which they have aspired, it is expedient for us to take a calmer and more comprehensive view of the circumstances of the case than we have yet done; and in doing so I arrive at a result which is more favourable to the enlightened spirit of the community and the temper and moderation of the Legislature, than some opinions which have been expressed both in and out of the House upon the subject. But, Sir, if the English Jews have little cause to complain of the bigotry of the community in which they live, and of want of toleration in the spirit of this age, have they a fair quarrel with the conduct of that other branch of the Legislature whose conduct has, in the course of the discussion, been subjected to some criticism which, in my opinion, is not only harsh but unjust? It is about three years ago when after a prolonged discussion in this House, in con- sequence of the election of an Englishman professing the Jewish faith as a Member for the city of London, that this House passed—not by an overwhelming, though certainly by a numerous and respectable, majority—a Bill removing certain disabilities which prevented the gentleman in question from taking his seat. What was the reception of that Bill in the House of Lords? It received the solemn and deliberate consideration of that House. It was not however passed, but rejected by a highly respectable, although not by an overwhelming, majority. Well, Sir, so far, is there any one, on whichever side of the House he sits, who would question the full propriety of the conduct, under the circumstances, of the House of Lords? A Bill which proposed a very great alteration in the constitution of the country is brought under the notice of the hereditary chamber. It receives a full and temperate discussion, and it is not carried, the majority, however, being one by no means startling in amount. Well, the Government next year proposed a measure, if not of an identical at least of a very similar character. What was the reception of this second Bill in the Upper House? It was again discussed—certainly in a spirit of mitigated hostility—it was rejected by a majority less in amount than before. Well, then, so much for the conduct of the other branch of the Legislature up to that point. What is there in it, I ask, which should challenge the criticism, or justify the reprobation so lavishly used against the strictly constitutional course pursued by the House in question? Then came an event not without its significance. The hon. Member for the city of London accepted the Chiltern Hundreds. He appealed, after the verdict of the House of Lords, to his constituents, and he was returned, after an arduous contest, by an overwhelming and most triumphant majority. Now, I admit that this was an incident which ought not indeed to control, but to influence, the opinion of any assembly in the position of the House of Lords. It was an event not to be thrown out of the calculation of wise and politic men. And if immediately after such an occurrence the House of Lords had again pronounced au adverse verdict upon the claim, then I would admit that, although you might not have legal—although you could scarcely have constitutional grounds to impugn their decision, you might still have grounds for politic objection to the course pursued by the branch of the Legislature in question. But allow me to remind the House that the consequences of the appeal made by Baron de Rothschild to his constituents have never yet been put before the House of Lords with the view of obtaining a reversal of their original decision. Indeed, I heard with infinite surprise, not unmingled with pain, an hon. and learned Gentleman so entitled to our respect as the representative of the city of Oxford, in his able and well-considered address, so state the case as to convey to the House and the country an impression that the second verdict of the House of Lords was pronounced subsequently to the second election for the city of London. The hon. and learned Gentleman, referring to the second election, said, that notwithstanding that demonstration the Ministerial Bill was again rejected in the House of Lords. As far as the other branch of the Legislature is concerned, our opinion of their policy must mainly depend upon a right appreciation of these circumstances. If the re-election was so significant a symptom as I admit it to have been, was there, therefore, not the greater reason for the speedy reintroduction of the Bill? But when we attempt to make a case against the other branch of the Legislature, we should, if we were actuated by a spirit of justness and fairness and impartiality, never omit to remember that so far as the machinery of the constitution is concerned, the incident of the re-election has never been brought under the legislative consideration of the House of Lords. And, therefore, Sir, the natural impatience felt by the electors of the city of London has no foundation as against the community, or as against the House of Lords. If there be any persons who are responsible for the position in which the electors of the city of London are now placed, those persons are Her Majesty's Government. The case, I contend, which has been urged against the House of Lords is not founded on fact, and all the odium which you have raked together, all the invidious circumstances and considerations which you have gathered, may, so far as that assembly is concerned, be passed over without further consideration. I might say, also, on this subject, remembering the language of some hon. Gentlemen opposite only a few nights ago, that there is no fallacy greater than, when arguing the question of the respective influence of the two Houses, you proceed upon the assumption that the House of Commons is agreed upon a subject, but that its determination is frustrated by the House of Lords. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who use this argument would do well to remember that if it be not the letter, it is at least the spirit of the constitution, that the opinions of the minority should be respected. And when you find a project of law which has passed one House by a majority, frustrated by a majority in the other House, you ought to remember that that majority in the latter House would not probably have been found, had not the decision arrived at been supported by a large minority in the first House, and throughout the country. That respect, indeed, for the opinion of the minority, I hold to be a principal cause of the success of the legislation of this country; and when hon. Gentlemen take an opportunity of regretting that there should be any other tribunal to appeal to than this House, and when they treat with contempt the opinion of the minority on any subject, I think that they would do well to calculate whether the occasional delay thus incurred be not compensated for by the remarkable fact that the deliberate opinion of Parliament on great subjects is very seldom revoked. We were indeed told by one hon. Gentleman that the hereditary chamber are not all Solomons. This I may believe. But if the hon. Gentleman will find me an elective chamber, altogether consisting of Solomons, I own that I shall be as surprised as I shall certainly be delighted. The hon. Gentleman may rest assured that a moral and intellectual analysis of the elements of either chamber would be very inconvenient, and by no means a process to be encouraged. Having then made these remarks, I shall proceed to state the reasons which influence me as to the course which I am about to take in reference to these resolutions now on the table. The first of these is a resolution of the House declaratory of the law—not a very constitutional proceeding, and one which I venture to observe nothing but extreme necessity should drive us to. The other is a resolution pledging the policy of the House in a subsequent Session—a proceeding not of a very politic nature, and one to which also recourse should certainly not be had, except under circumstances of extreme necessity. How then have such circumstances arisen? Why are we thus called upon to come to a resolution by one House, decla- ratory of the law, and another resolution pledging the policy of the same House at a period, comparatively speaking, very distant? What are the causes that the House of Commons is called upon to take so unusual and even so violent a course? I have shown you that it is not in the temper of the community that you are to look for that cause. Whatever may have been, or may still he, the opinion of certain Gentlemen of this House, no one can say that there has existed in the House or in the country that spirit of prejudice, of intolerance—I may say, bigotry—which has prevented the Minister from taking steps for the removal of Jewish Parliamentary disabilities. The causes, then, of which we are in search lie neither in the temper of the people nor in that of this House. I deny most emphatically that they are to be found in the temper of the hereditary chamber. The case of the House of Lords, as I have already shown you, is clear, and free from every blemish. They have given to a novel and important proposition an impartial and solemn consideration; and, upon two instances though they rejected the measure, they have never rejected it by an overwhelming or over-bearing majority, and upon the last occasion that majority was diminished in number. As far, therefore, as the temper of the community or the temper of the Legislature was concerned, there was nothing very discouraging to those who believed they were pressing just claims. The case of the Upper House is clear and free from every blemish, and thus we come to the fact, the undoubted fact, which no one will, I think, deny, that it is the conduct of the Government which has now brought us, the House of Commons, to our present position, and that it is to extricate the Government from the position of difficulty in which they feel themselves placed, that we are now called upon to take a most unusual, not to say unconstitutional, course—one which none but the gravest circumstances could possibly vindicate or justify. For myself, and speaking only and especially for myself on this occasion, I decline to adopt that course. I shall not vote on either of the resolutions before us. I leave the law as I find it; but if it be necessary to change that law, I call upon that Government who have expressed on more than one occasion an unequivocal opinion upon the subject, to act honestly in the matter, and to remedy the grievances which they have acknowledged. I want, indeed, to know what is the excuse of the Government for not having introduced a Bill the moment that Parliament met? If it were desirable in 1848 and 1849, surely it was much more desirable in 1850 that some such step should be taken after the second election in the city of London. I am, indeed, told that there was a Committee formed to inquire into the nature of the oaths requisite to he taken, and that until this Committee reported it was not incumbent upon Government to advise Parliament upon the question. Why, Sir, does Her Majesty's Government mean to say that for three years they have been acting upon imperfect information? that on a subject of the greatest delicacy, importance, and interest, they have rushed down to the House, and without due investigation and due research, called upon the House at once and precipitately to legislate? Is that the plea of the Government? Why, Sir, before all the lawyers in this House, from Mr. Attorney himself down to that hon. and learned Gentleman who has this morning been so frank as to the extent of his practice; even, Sir, in the presence of all these hon. and learned Gentlemen, I will venture to say that, however ingenious may have been the researches, however valuable the investigation, of the Committee presided over by the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford, they did not yet succeed in producing a fact, or in eliciting a result, new to those who had given any previous study and inquiry to the subject. Well, then, I consider it a mere mockery on the part of the Government to pretend that the progress of legislation was retarded, because they waited for the result of the investigation of the Committee upon Parliamentary Oaths.' Sir, I wish to use no violent language upon the subject; but this I must and this I will say, that the Government who, in any way, would attempt to extricate themselves from the consequences of their own misconduct by joining in an unfounded clamour against a constitutional proceeding of the other branch of the Legislature—a clamour not only unfounded, but absolutely, under the circumstances, one of the most unjust and unjustifiable which was ever excited—I say that a Government, or the supporters of a Government, who take that course, take one which I believe the frank and candid, the just and generous, people of England will never countenance and never approve of. Sir, I have taken the liberty of making these few observations. I have, I may add, when the question before the House has been the removal of the disabilities now in discussion, given the measures for such removal my unhesitating and unvarying support. I have indeed been sometimes accused of not accompanying the exercise of my suffrage with an expression of opinion on the subject itself. I remember that the noble Lord at the head of the Government did, not in a very generous, certainly not in a very constitutional way, last year, remind me that my vote was a silent vote. Sir, if I thought that anything which I could say would have tended to accomplish an object dear to my heart as to my convictions, my vote would not have been a silent one. But, inasmuch as I believe that my opinions upon the subject are not shared by one single Member on either side of the House, I thought that it was consistent, both with good sense and good taste, that, after having once unequivocally expressed the grounds on which my vote was given, I should have taken refuge in a silence which, at least, could not offend the opinions or the prejudices of any hon. Gentleman on either side. The opinions I then expressed I now retain. They are unchanged; and were it not presumptuous to speak of human opinion as being immutable, I would express my belief that they are unchangeable. If, indeed, this were a Pagan country, I could easily conceive and comprehend why the claims of the English Jews might be politically, and in a certain degree with a show of reason, opposed. But, Sir, because this is a Christian country, because it owes, like every other Christian country, its Christianity to the agency and the influence of the house of Israel, I cannot agree with that course which is at present pursued by the Legislature of England, and say that it is a just and wise course. And, indeed, Sir, although I have no wish at any time to dilate upon feelings or views which may not be prevalent or popular in this House, I never will relinquish them; and even now, shrinking as I do from offending the feelings of any one, I will still express my hopes that full and complete justice will speedily be done to the descendants of a race which you acknowledge to be sacred, and the professors of a religion which you admit to be divine.


said, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had declared his opinions to remain unchanged: he too retained the opinions which for more than twenty years he had endeavoured to enforce on the House; and, borrowing the expression of the hon. Member, those opinions, so far as human opinions could be, were unchangeable. His hon. Friend's speech consisted of an elaborate defence of the House of Lords, and a strong attack on Her Majesty's Ministers. He would not follow the hon. Member in his defence of the House of Lords, as that would be presumptuous; and he did not think it desirable to allude to the conduct of Her Majesty's Ministers. It was sufficient for him to find certain resolutions on the table of that House; and from whomsoever they might come, he would treat them according as he found them. He would, in passing, observe, that so much of the larger portion of the question was left untouched—exclusive of the legal and political parts—that he must be excused if he addressed himself to it. He could not but feel, in sober reality, that the House was called upon to submit to a course of policy which involved some of the dearest privileges of the country, and which directly attacked one of the distinguishing characteristics of England. It must be remembered that our Legislature had never yet assembled except under Christian sanction. He had been reminded that Quakers had been admitted, and admitted without any oath; but he would ask the House whether a Quaker would not consider he was insulted if asked if he were a Christian? Former questions as in the case of Quakers and Dissenters, were not questions between Paganism and Christianity, or Judaism and Christianity, but questions between different forms of Christianity; and although much had already been sacrificed—a sacrifice which he had always regretted—when, twenty-one years ago the Legislature gave admission to a particular sect of Christians; yet, still, that and other cases were all different from the present case. All looked to a common Saviour for redemption, and all entered that House under a confession that they were Christians; and under the obligation which that confession involved. If the House admitted the two resolutions, they would, in fact, have consented to admit those to legislate for our country and Christian Church who would feel affronted were we to describe them as members of our Church, or as connected in any degree with the Christianity which is our glory and our hope. The peroration of the hon. Member's speech, and even before he came to it, satisfied him that the hon. Member was conceding the whole case. The hon. Member made it only a question of time—we were only to wait for an improvement in the state of public opinion—that made it a mere question of time. There was a majority in the House of Commons—that majority would have a fair influence on the majority of the House of Lords, and little by little the majority would dwindle down, and the present opinion of the minority would prevail. Such was the hon. Member's argument. He hoped, however, this would not be the case. The majority in that House might be large; but he hoped every one who thought with him would feel as if it depended on his single vote whether a constitution which we had hitherto regarded as a Christian constitution should cease to be Christian, and little by little be subjected to a total change. He objected, then, to the proposition for altering the oath. The oaths were intended to give to the country such security as man could give to man, that certain functions would be discharged on certain principles. Taking the oaths together, such was their object and effect. Believing as he did that the profession of our common Christianity was the birthright of this nation; and that they should not lightly sell that birthright for any such advantage—and he would not undervalue it—as that which the hon. Baron de Rothschild might furnish to their deliberations; still when he (Sir R. Inglis) considered what they were to pay for that advantage, he could not agree with his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General in expressing even a passing regret that some delay should be opposed to the admission of such a man. And when they were told that Baron de Rothschild had taken all the oaths, it must be replied, that, though Baron de Rothschild had taken an oath of abjuration, it was not the oath, that particular oath, of abjuration which Parliament required to be taken. It mattered little the number of oaths, whether nine or nineteen, so long as the oaths were imposed by Act of Parliament. As long as this was the case, he contended that no resolution of that House could do away with those oaths. If they said there was a dispensing power in that House, they must also say there was a dispensing power in the House of Lords and in the Crown. Though he was unwilling to agree to the last resolution, yet if the subject must be taken into consideration, he should not object, as he felt it was Parliament only that could give Baron de Rothschild a title to his seat; and unless they decided that the House of Commons had a dispensing power irrespective of the House of Lords, they must be content to pass through the form of an Act of Parliament. He earnestly hoped in the interval between this and the ensuing Session there would be such an expression of public opinion as would exclude all hope of carrying their present purpose. They commenced their legislation by prayer to God; the Members all professed the Christian faith before they took their seats; and he would oppose any measure that would unchristianise that assembly. These being his opinions, he could not give his support to the resolutions.


reluctantly rose to give his opinion; but he must first say, in spite of the consistent opposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, the question was already settled, but he did not think that the mode in which that settlement had been arrived at was such as to reflect honour either on the House or the Administration. It was no longer a legal question, but one of policy; and it was against the policy of the hon. and learned Attorney General that he protested. The House was no longer exercising a judicial function, as it did some time ago, when it negatived the proposition presented to it in that character. They were now volunteering a resolution, which was not called for by the case before them. It was a voluntary proposition on the part of a Gentleman representing the Government; it was a proceeding of the Administration. It was no longer a Bill propounded to the House by the noble Lord the Member for the city of London; it was now a Ministerial proceeding; and it must be propounded in the House in the shape of a Bill, and successfully carried through both Houses, or the honour of the Administration would be forfeited. There was no second course to be adopted. Every prophecy he had made had been verified. When the hon. Member for the city of London was returned, he had pressed him to bring the matter before the House. The answer was that it was in the hands of his Colleague, the head of the Administration, that the proposition would come forward backed by all the authority and strength of the Government, and that in common courtesy they ought to give the I noble Lord a little time. The Bill did not pass. He had asked the noble Lord over and over again why it was not reintroduced. The answer was, "It will come in time. Don't be in a hurry. You are always so impatient." He (Mr. Roebuck) had then predicted that the Bill would not pass this Session; for this reason: it was characteristic of a Ministry never to dare a difficulty. This was an open question, as far as they were concerned. Questions on which there was not much opposition might be made Ministerial matters; but where there was a chance of resistance, the Administration shrunk from it. This was more especially the characteristic of the Administration which had the noble Lord at its head. If the constituency of London could have depended on anybody to represent their opinion, it was the noble Lord. On that ground, he was bound to have propounded this Bill long ago. Again, did not the noble Lord and his legal advisers thoroughly understand the state of the law? No doubt they knew every Act of Parliament bearing on the question, and every legal conclusion that could be drawn therefrom. But any one who would point out to a Ministry the means of staving off a difficulty was always received with open arras; and the moment the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford proposed his Committee, it was seized upon as a godsend. It kept off the determination of the matter, on the pretence that the Committee were seeking for precedents. When precedents were found, and these were laid on the table, what was the conduct of the Government? Again, promises were made of propounding the Bill: those promises were broken; and at last, when the House was tired of every species of legislation, a string of measures was at once thrown aside, postponed till a future Session; and. amongst them was this Bill, which the Minister of the Crown was bound by a double obligation to pass. The hon. and learned Attorney General had called the state of the law preposterous, monstrous, and said the sooner it was got rid of the better. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman believe that that House was anything like a fit tribunal to decide on a question of law? The hon. and learned Gentleman might have a clear conception of the conclusion the House ought to come to; others might adopt an opposite conclusion; for the hon. and learned Gentleman would not assume anything like infal- libility. That being so, a much safer course was open in this monstrous state of the law—the course of the hon. Member for Montrose. His resolution declared there were doubts; this the hon. and learned Attorney General would not deny. There was no doubt as to the facts; but the Amendment, in effect, said, "Let us not, unfit as we are for the decision of a legal question, assume to he what we are not—judges of the law. Let us come to such a resolution as may not influence the state of the law one way or the other; and then let us pledge ourselves, in the words of the proposition of the hon. and learned Attorney General, to legislate on this matter at an early period." How had this proposition been met? To his utter astonishment the hon. and learned Attorney General had gone through a series of hypotheses regarding the feelings and opinions of the House of Lords; but he had thrown them every one out, and put the House of Lords in the most invidious position. He had represented them as persons of so idle a character—[The ATTORNEY GENERAL dissented.] The hon. and learned Gentleman must not shake his head, for he (Mr. Roebuck) would prove what he said before he sat down. He repeated, that the hon. and learned Attorney General considered them to be so easily impressed by considerations beneath the character of a Legislature, that what was true and right was as naught to their minds put by the side of some slight consideration of personal convenience. He had said the House of Lords would ask why the House of Commons did not pass a resolution and settle the law for themselves? He did not think that the House of Lords, themselves a judicial body, could have possibly employed such an argument in answer to a Bill brought forward on such a great and serious subject. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, "If you do not immediately declare that the Baron Rothschild cannot sit in this House, you have no chance of carrying the Bill in the other House." That was his whole argument. He had left out of consideration the strong feeling now prevailing out of doors in favour of this measure. The persons to whom the measure directly referred were very few in number, and though some might be persons of great wealth, as a body in this country they were actually of no power or importance whatever. But under this there lay a great question. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford might pretend to say that a large majority in the country would stand up for the Christianity of that House. But the large majority of the people of this country were not people to be caught in cobwebs like that. They were no more justified in calling that House a Christian House—which had had for its leader a Boling-broke, and for one of its chief ornaments Gibbon—than they would be justified in calling it a Jewish House after Baron de Rothschild was admitted. What considerations influenced Bolingbroke? He would have taken three, or 30, or 300 oaths, without hesitation. They could not bind such a man as that. These oaths only bound the most conscientious; they were used for a mischievous purpose; they gratified a bad feeling, and did no good. When he saw the hon. Member for the city of London stand at that table, and heard him repeat those oaths word after word, he asked himself, was there a man in the House who did not feel that the oaths had been taken with every sanction that could possibly be given to them? And yet, because he omitted a few words, which he could not use without the grossest hypocrisy, because he told the House candidly that he took the oath in the way most binding on his conscience, they having previously told him to do so—on this account he was to be declared disentitled to sit or vote in the House. What was this but to make a mockery of oaths? There had been a discussion as to the difference between juridical and promissory oaths. It was quite clear, in the first place, that this oath, for the purpose for which it was framed, was utterly futile. Of those who took it, there was not a man who did not feel that he was doing a ridiculous thing. Here was a body of men calling God to witness their asseverations, on a promise which they knew they could not possibly have the smallest chance of breaking. Talk of that being a Christian assembly, a really pious assembly would not permit a holy object, and great and sacred things, to be applied to a purpose so mischievous. The only purpose of an oath must be, either to bind a man as to his future conduct, or to certify that he had done something before. But the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford having got the instrument of ecclesiastical torture in his hand, was so fond of it that he would not give it up; it was used, not for the purpose of an oath, but for the purpose of exclusion. If the House wanted exclusion, let them say so, let them pass a Resolution, or a Bill, declaring that Jews should not sit in that House. He would not insult the House by going through arguments to show that this oath could not have the slightest reference to the Jews: at the time when it was concocted, the Jews could not have been in the contemplation of any statute maker. He was not surprised at the advance made on this question in the last quarter of a century. We were very different from our ancestors; and that difference was nowhere more clearly shown than in the votes of the Legislature. A more painful page could not be conceived than that of our earlier Statute-book; from the beginning nothing but bigotry and hate was written in broad and bloody characters. From day to day, and from year to year, the spirit of legislation had improved; till at last nothing was left but this last wretched remnant of an old, miserable, and effete bigotry. He rejoiced to know that there was a determination to get rid of it, and to go further, to take into their consideration the remaining portions of the restrictive and exclusive sys tem. Let them grapple with the question as legislators, and not in an unfair piece meal spirit. If it was the intention of the Legislature to exclude the Jews, let them be excluded by name; but until they were so, let them not be excluded in virtue of a quibble about the phraseology of an oath. The course proposed by the hon. and learned Attorney General was not a generous, safe, or candid course. He had no right to assume to himself the power of saying what was the law. He was not infallible; he acknowledged that the House was a bad tribunal for legal questions. He would not deny that another course was open; he would not deny that the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose would not offend, as his would do, a large body of conscientious men in the country—would give no offence to that constituency which the noble Lord had represented, and at the same time would attain the very end sought to be attained, in putting down that very monstrous state of the law which the hon. and learned Gentleman himself acknowledged was a disgrace to the country, and which, if enforced, might at once subject the hon. Member for the city of London to a variety of pains and penalties. Could not the hon. and learned Attorney General allow the hon. Member for London to take care of his own interests; and, if he chose, to run the risk of penalties for sitting and voting, as Mr. Pease had done? Mr. Pease had incurred that responsibility the whole of the time he sat in that House. He must condemn the present proceedings, as not only impolitic, but unjust.

MR. REYNOLDS moved that the debate be adjourned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."


recommended that the debate should then be proceeded with, and brought to a close as speedily as possible, with a view to an immediate division.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


said, he had only a very few remarks to make. The legal portion of the question had already been so well argued by the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford, that it was unnecessary for any one else to say a word on the subject; he should therefore content himself with very briefly observing, in the first place, that he should not vote for the resolutions of the hon. and learned Attorney General. [Cries of "Divide, divide!"] He claimed a right to be heard in that House, and if he were not heard, he should move that the House do then adjourn. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, in apologising for the Lords, had asked if they had ever known that Solomons abounded in any elective body with which they were acquainted. Now, he begged to observe that he had not said anything about the Solomons of the House of Lords, but he could not help regretting that they had only one Benjamin in the House of Commons. The hon. Member had said, that neither the House of Lords nor the House of Commons were to blame so much as the Government; but what had the House of Commons done? Upon eight different occasions the House of Commons had divided, and the gross votes in round numbers upon the one side had amounted to 1,700, on the other to 900, showing on the whole a clear majority of 800. After looking at that state of the opinion of Parliament, was he to be told that the House of Lords were not to blame? He was an emancipated political slave, and he sympathised with the Jews; and he could not shut his eyes to the fact that, of all the men now living, who in their day had opposed the emancipation of the Roman Catholics, every one of them was at present against the admission of the Jews to Parliament. The University Members were the men who engaged in a crusade against the Jews, and who, in the year 1829, told the House that, if they emancipated the Papists, they must also emancipate the Jews; and now he would say to the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, that, having emancipated the Catholics, whom he believed to be idolaters, why did he not emancipate the Jews, to whom he did not impute the crime of idolatry? Why, he would ask, did they refuse to admit the Jews, when they admitted men who believed neither the Old nor the New Testament? [Cries of "Name!"] He had, on more occasions than that, given the House useful information; but he doubted whether naming those Gentlemen would be supplying any useful information. It was enough that Gibbon and Bolingbroke had sat in that House; and if he lived long enough to survive the Members to whom he had referred, he might possibly mention their names. And now, in conclusion, he begged to remind hon. Members opposite, that the eyes of the united kingdom were on them; that they were playing a dangerous game; would they submit to be made the footstool of the other House; and, that House having been reformed, were they to tell the world that the House of Lords never were to be reformed?


said, he would not detain the House for more than ten minutes; but it was impossible for him to let the resolutions pass by without saying a few words upon them. They had already decided that by law the hon. Member for the city of London had taken the oath, and these resolutions were that, not having taken the oath, he should not be permitted to take his seat till he had done so. He was not then going to repeat the legal argument he had used on a former occasion, that the Legislature having severed the oath into two parts—that which was sworn to, and that which was sworn by—the Baron de Rothschild was excused from swearing "on the true faith of a Christian." That argument had not been answered yet, for it was no answer to say that if these words were left out, any person might leave out what he pleased. His argument was, that they might leave out what was sworn by; and it was no answer to that, to say if you can do that, you may as well leave out what is substantial. He admitted to his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, that the House had no dispensing power. He protested as strongly as any man against such a power on the part of the House; but in the present case there was no need of a dispensing power, because the oath was taken. It was said that a man had no right to tamper with an oath. He agreed in that; but his anwer was that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" formed no part of what the man had to swear, and, therefore, that he did not tamper with the oath. But it was dangerous to tamper with the privileges of that House; it was dangerous to tamper with electoral rights; and if they came to a conclusion adverse to the claims of Baron de Rothschild, they would be tampering with those privileges and those rights. He would take the question as if it arose before a court of law. He would take the case of two justices putting this oath to a Jew—a suspected Jew, and upon his refusing, he would suppose the matter brought to a court of law, and the court called on to deal with the party as a Popish recusant convict. They say, "We suspected this man of communicating with the enemy, and tendered him the oath of abjuration." The judge says, "Well, what did he do?" "He required to be sworn on the Old Testament." "Well, that was right." "We thought so, too, and we admitted him to swear on the Old Testament, but when we came to the end of the statute he said he could not swear' on the true faith of a Christian." "But," the judge would say, "has it not been decided that he is to swear on the Old Testament? We must look into the statutes, and see how they affect the case of the Jew." And in looking into the statutes it would he found that it was not the intention of the Legislature that this oath should be taken by men who were neither Jews nor Christians—by those who were compared by Sheridan to the blank leaf between the Old and New Testament, but all that was arrived at was to give the sanction of an oath to a declaration of loyalty to the Queen's subjects. A court of law, therefore, looking to the whole of the Acts of Parliament, would not decide that a whole class of persons, like the Jews, were under an incompatibility of proving their loyalty, and of escaping the penalty of being declared Popish recusant convicts. No court of law in the country would come to such a decision. He asked that House therefore whether, sitting judicially, it would come to a conclusion which he was perfectly satisfied would not be the judicial conclusion of any court of justice in the country. A court of law would not dispense with the statutes, would not dispense with the oath; but they would take a common-sense view of the case, and allow the Jew to swear in the form which was most binding upon him. There was also not only no precedent against him, but there was a precedent in his favour, because that House came to an unanimous conclusion in the case of the Quakers, which was a much more doubtful one than the present, that they might omit these words in making an affirmation, instead of taking the oath. And who managed the case of the Quakers? Not an individual of little experience in that House like himself, but the right hon. Member for Montgomeryshire, the late Mr. C. Wynn, who was admitted by all to be better acquainted with the forms and practice of the House than any other Member. And he had the authority of that right hon. Gentleman for saying that he was not only perfectly satisfied of the soundness of the conclusion to which he came in the case of Mr. Pease, hut that illness alone prevented him from giving him (Mr. Wood) his support on the present occasion. He wished to vindicate for the law the right to be considered—what he believed the law of England was considered by all who understood it—a law which recognised the principle of common sense, which paid special regard to the liberty of the subject, and which cherished as an indisputable maxim, that no one British subject differed from another, except by express statute. It was on that ground that the black man was pronounced free the moment he touched the British shore; and it was by that same common law that the Jew was entitled, like any other subject, and on the same test of loyalty to take his seat in that House. He might want eloquence to enforce his views; hut he had a strong and deep feeling of conviction that he was right, and in that case Providence would never fail to supply him with words to express them.


was anxious to say a few words to justify the vote he intended to give, because he regretted that he could not come to the same conclusion with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the city of Oxford. There was no man in the House who would feel deeper gratification than himself at seeing the hon. Member for the city of London take his seat amongst them; but the present question was one on which every man was bound to speak and act according to his own conscientious conviction, and he (the Solicitor General) felt bound frankly to state his opinion accordingly. It seemed to him impossible to come to any other conclusion than this—that the words which formed the difficulty and obstacle to Baron Rothschild taking his seat were substantially part of the oath. If they looked hack to what was the object of the Legislature in enacting these oaths, they could not entertain the slightest doubt that the words in question were intended to form part of the oath. And there was this distinction, that while they allowed every man to adopt whatever form of oath was most binding upon his conscience, they could not allow an alteration in the substance of the oath which was to be taken. Take the case of a court of justice. The Jew swore on the Old Testament, with head covered; the Mohammedan took the oath on the Koran; the Covenanter swore touching the book instead of kissing it. But they did not allow any body to alter that which was the substance of the oath. There a man was sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: he would be permitted to take the oath in the form most agreeable to his conscience, hut he would not be permitted to alter the substantive part of the oath. He (the Solicitor General) thought that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" formed part of the oath; and he would tell them why. The Legislature introduced those words for the purpose of preventing a Roman Catholic from taking his seat in that House. It was supposed at that time that there was something in the creed of the Roman Catholic which, by some mental reservation or Jesuitical jugglery, might enable him to take the oath in the ordinary form, without considering it binding on his conscience. The words in question were therefore added by the Act of Parliament for that express purpose of excluding him. He would ask—that being the object of the words—if a Roman Catholic had presented himself at the table of the House, and had proposed to take the oath, omitting those words, would he have been admitted? Indisputably not: he, therefore, thought those words were of the substance of the oath. But, then, it was said that there was a precedent in Mr. Pease's case. He (the Solicitor General) admitted the force of the precedent, so far as it went, but they should remember the difference of the circumstances. When Mr. Pease's case came under the notice of the House, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the various Acts of Parliament relating to the Quakers, and on the report of the Committee, the House admitted Mr. Pease to affirm; but they admitted him on reference to the Acts of Parliament which had been previously passed for the relief of the Quakers—the Acts of William III. and the 1st George I. The Act of George I. adopted and confirmed the rule established by the first-mentioned Act, that in all cases where the abjuration oath might be required of Quakers, a Quaker should make an affirmation, omitting the words "on the true faith of a Christian." It appeared to him that that must have been the ground on which the Committee proceeded; but the case of a Jew was different. They had two Acts of Parliament, in which special exception was made in favour of Jews, permitting them, in taking the abjuration oath, to omit the words in question; hut these two Acts were not general, but were limited to particular cases. So far, therefore, from those Acts making in favour of the Jews, in the present instance, they had an exactly opposite tendency; and there was no court of justice in the world in which two special exceptions, introduced by special Acts of Parliament, would not be considered as leading to an exactly opposite conclusion to that which was now attempted to be drawn from them. He must say that, looking at the intention of the Legislature in passing the Acts by which the oath in question was required, and looking at the restricted operation of those special Acts in favour of the Jews, he thought that that matter admitted of no doubt, and that the words proposed to be omitted were of the essence of the oath, forming a part of its substance and not of its form merely. It now only remained to decide whether they ought to come to any decision, or pass any resolution on the subject. He thought they should. Baron de Rothschild had come there and declined to take the oath in the form which the Act requires. Had he been admitted? No: Mr. Speaker had ordered him to withdraw. It appeared to him (the Solicitor General) that they were in a false position—that they must do something—and that they must either allow Baron de Rothschild to take his seat, or he prepared to admit that he had not complied with the forms prescribed by Act of Parliament as a necessary preliminary to taking his seat, and adopt the fair, manly, and honourable course of stating the principles on which he was disqualified. He (the Solicitor General) was quite sure that the majority in that House would entertain do doubt as to the second resolution; for they must all admit that the law, as it at present stood, was in a most anomalous and unsatisfactory condition.


said, that he was not going to make a speech, but to observe upon one point which had been addressed to the House by the hon. and learned Solicitor General, in which he was wholly at fault. The question of Mr. Pease had been alluded to, and it appeared to him to be the chief stumbling block in the way of the opponents of the admission of Baron de Rothschild. If he understood the hon. and learned Gentleman, he said that you might alter what was only of the form of the oath; but that you could not in any degree change the substance of the oath. Now, observe what had been done in the case of Mr. Pease. He (Mr. Bright) came into that House by virtue of a declaration, word for word, similar to that by which Mr. Pease had been admitted. Mr. Pease came to the table and declared not against this oath, but against taking any oath at all. First of all there was the oath of fidelity. He did not take that; he did not even affirm it. Then there was the oath of supremacy, which declares— I, A. B. swear that I do from my heart abhor, detest, and abjure as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position that princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope or any authority of the see of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects or any other whatsoever. Now, he thought that these were matters of substance, but Mr. Pease did not declare or affirm it. Then came the oath of abjuration; and did Mr. Pease affirm the substance of that oath? He (Mr. Bright) maintained that he did not. First of all they were to affirm that the Queen was their lawful and rightful Queen—to renounce allegiance to James III., or his descendants; they were to declare that they would defend the Queen, and maintain and defend the succession to the Crown against the descendants of the said James III. and all other persons whatsoever, and then came the words "on the true faith of a Christian." Now, how did Mr. Pease, how did he himself, make the affirmation. In the first place, they did not say a word about "defending" the Queen. They promised "to bear faithful and true allegiance," but the word "defend" was entirely omitted. He asked the House if that was not a part of the substance of the oath? Then they were to declare that they would maintain and defend the succession against the descendants of the said James, or any persons whatsoever. He understood that was an essential part of the oath, and yet neither Mr. Pease, nor he, nor the hon. Member for Leicester, made that declaration. The words "on the true faith of a Christian" were not put to them at all. Was the House asked now to do one tenth of so grave a thing, or to depart so much from the substance of the oath as it had done by an unanimous vote when it permitted Mr. Pease to take his seat in 1832? He was convinced that they were not now proposing to do anything near so serious as had been done in the case of Mr. Pease. But some persons answered that the precedent of Mr. Pease was not a good one, that the House had done wrong on that occasion. Whether the House had done wrong or not, the House at that time was a fair judge. He was inclined to think that the House had done right, because there could be no doubt that the common law intended that every man who was elected should be allowed to take his seat in the House. But if the House had made a stretch in allowing Mr. Pease to take his seat, it was now asked to do a much lighter thing. It was said that Mr. Pease thought it right to ask for an Act of Parliament even in his case. Mr. Pease was an exceedingly prudent man. He was perhaps in this case somewhat of a timid man, and he asked the House to pass a Bill. But this House passed the Bill unanimously, and the House of Lords passed it also without any question. There was no dispute that the House did right in allowing Mr. Pease to take his seat in that House; and seeing that he held his seat in that House in consequence of what had been done on that occasion, it would be scandalous in him (Mr. Bright) if he did not in every way give his support to the proposition for the admission of Baron de Rothschild to his seat in that House.


said, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester had, no doubt unintentionally, mis-stated the facts with regard to the admission of Mr. Pease, and it was right that the House should know on what grounds it proceeded on that occasion. It proceeded by referring the matter to a Committee, and that Committee finding that there was a statute which allowed Quakers to make an affirmation, and that the words relating to the defending of the Queen and the succession were omitted from the original Act of Parliament, which allowed the Quakers to make affirmation, the Committee reported in favour of the admission of Mr. Pease. But it was quite wrong to suppose that the Committee sanctioned the omission of any words but what were omitted in the Act of Parliament.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 163; Noes 101: Majority 62.

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 166; Noes 92: Majority 74.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Adair, R. A. S. Cotton, hon. W. H. S.
Archdall, Capt. M. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Arkwright, G. Cubitt, W.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Currie, H.
Davies, D. A. S.
Ashley, Lord Dick, Q.
Bagot, hon. W. Dickson, S.
Bailey, J. Dodd, G.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Baldock, E. H. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Bankes, G. Dundas, Adm.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.
Bellew, R. M. Dunne, Col.
Beresford, W. East, Sir J. B.
Bernal, R. Ebrington, Visct.
Birch, Sir T. B. Egerton, W. T.
Blackall, S. W. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Blackstone, W. S. Farnham, E. B.
Blakemore, R. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Boldero, H. G. Forester, hon. G. C. W.
Booth, Sir R. G. Fox, S. W. L.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Freestun, Col.
Bowles, Adm. Frewen, C. H.
Boyle, hon. Col. Fuller, A. E.
Bramston, T. W. Goddard, A. L.
Brisco, M. Gordon, Adm.
Broadley, H. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Granby, Marq. of
Brown, H. Grogan, E.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gwyn, H.
Bunbury, E. H. Halford, Sir H.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Halsey, T. P.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Hamilton, G. A.
Cabbell, B. B. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Hatchell, J.
Chandos, Marq. of Headlam, T. E.
Chatterton, Col. Henley, J. W.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Hervey, Lord A.
Childers, J. W. Hildyard, R. C.
Christy, S. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Clements, hon. C. S. Hobhouse. T. B.
Clive, H. B. Hope, A.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Hornby, J.
Cocks, T. S. Hotham, Lord
Codrington, Sir W. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Cole, hon. H. A. Jermyn, Earl
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Coles, H. B. Jones, Capt.
Knightley, Sir C. Raphael, A.
Knox, Col. Reid, Col.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Ricardo, O.
Lacy, H. C. Romilly, Col.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Romilly, Sir J.
Lennox, Lord A. G. Russell, Lord J.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Sandars, G.
Lewis, G. C. Seaham, Visct.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Shelburne, Earl of
Lockhart, A. E. Sibthorp, Col.
Lowther, H. Simeon, J.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Manners, Lord G. Spooner, R.
Matheson, Col. Stafford, A.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Melgund, Visct. Stuart, H.
Moore, G. H. Stuart, J.
Morgan, O. Taylor, T. E.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Tenison, E. K.
Mullings, J. R. Thesiger, Sir F.
Naas, Lord Tollemache, J.
Napier, J. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Newdegate, C. N. Trollope, Sir J.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Nugent, Sir P. Waddington, H. S.
Owen, Sir J. Walpole, S. H.
Packe, C. W. Wellesley, Lord C.
Paget, Lord G. Williams, T. P.
Palmerston, Visct. Willoughby, Sir H.
Parker, J. Wilson, J.
Patten, J. W. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Peel, Col. Worcester, Marq. of
Pelham, hon. D. A. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Pigott, F. TELLERS.
Plowden, W. H. C. Hayter, W. G.
Prime, R. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Hutchins, E. J.
Anderson, A. Hutt, W.
Anson, hon. Col. Keating, R.
Anstey, T. C. Kershaw, J.
Armstrong, Sir A. King, hon. P. J. L.
Barron, Sir H. W. Langston, J. H.
Bass, M. T. Locke, J.
Bright, J. Lushington, C.
Brocklehurst, J. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Brotherton, J. Mahon, The O'Gorman
Brown, W. Mangles, R. D.
Carter, J. B. Manners, Lord J.
Clay, Sir W. Milner, W. M. E.
Cobden, R. Mitchell, T. A.
Collins, W. Morris, D.
Crawford, W. S. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Nugent, Lord
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. O'Connell, M. J.
Disraeli, B. Ogle, S. C. H.
Duke, Sir J. Osborne, R.
Duncan, G. Pilkington, J.
Evans, Sir De L. Pinney, W.
Forster, M. Power, Dr.
Fortescue, C. Price, Sir R.
Fox, W. J. Rawdon, Col,
French, F. Reynolds, J.
Gaskell, J. M. Ricardo, J. L.
Grace, O. D. J. Robartes, T. J. A.
Greene, J. Roche, E. B.
Grey, R. W. Roebuck, J. A.
Hall, Sir B. Salwey, Col.
Harris, R. Scholefield, W.
Higgins, G. G. O. Scully, F.
Hindley, C. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Hume, J. Sidney, Ald.
Humphery, Ald. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Somers, J. P. Wakley, T.
Spearman, H. J. Walmsley, Sir J.
Stanley, hon. W. O. Watkins, Col L.
Stuart, Lord D. Westhead, J. P. B.
Stuart, Lord J. Willcox, B. M.
Tennent, R. J. Williams, J.
Thompson, Col. Wilson, M.
Thompson, G. Wyvill, M.
Thornely, T. TELLERS.
Tyrell, Sir J. T. Wood, W. P.
Villiers, hon. C. Smith, J. A.

Resolved— That the Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild is not entitled to vote in this House, or to sit in this House during any debate, until he shall take the Oath of Abjuration in the form appointed by Law.


hoped, after what had fallen from the hon. and learned Attorney General in the course of the debate, that the oath of abjuration would be speedily taken into consideration by Her Majesty's Ministers, and so framed or amended that hon. Members on taking it would in reality understand and know what they were subscribing to.


said, that before he replied to the observations of his right hon. Friend, he would take that opportunity of saying, that as the House sat so late (half-past four o'clock), it would be the most convenient course if it continued to sit on until after the commission, and then adjourn for two hours. In answer to his right hon. Friend, he begged to say that the discussions which had taken place had brought most prominently in view the real difficulties which stood in the way of a Jew taking the oaths required to be taken by hon. Gentlemen on being admitted Members. These difficulties resolved themselves into this, that the House approved of the mode of swearing on the Old Testament. A Jew had no objection to taking the oath of allegiance or the oath of supremacy; and the only point on which an obstacle had arisen occurred in the latter part of the oath of abjuration. That being the only matter objectionable to an individual who had been twice elected to sit in that House, it was desirable that it should be considered distinctly and of itself. He admitted the correctness of the objections of his right hon. Friend with regard to the provisions of the other oaths. The oath of supremacy was founded on apprehended danger to the Crown, according to the belief held in the reign of Elizabeth, and was framed against such dangers as existed in the reign of Anne and George I.; but the wording of the oath did not apply to the present day. It was a matter deserving the consideration of the House; and, consequently, should not be mixed up with the variety of discussions, as well as matters discussed, that had of late occupied the attention of the House. It was a question of much importance, and the electors of the city of London regarding it in that light, he would, therefore, regret very much if its consideration should be mixed up with that given to any other question.


said, that whether they passed the resolutions then submitted to them or not, a time would come next Session when they would have full opportunity of stating their opinions on the matter. For his part he should enter his protest against the resolutions, not merely against the admission of Jews to that House, but also against the declaration of consideration in the next Session. He had sat many years in Parliament, and it had been his misfortune to hear that House pledge itself to the consideration of matters in the succeeding Session, and then falsify that pledge, by leaving the very matters in the same position as they were in which it found them on recording the pledge. For instance, there was the Roman Catholic question, which, Session after Session, was to have been taken up; but the determination was generally rendered abortive. He therefore thought that without adopting the resolutions then before them, every Member of the House would be at full liberty to pursue, in the next Session, whatever course he might think proper. He thought it impolitic to enter into the pledge required by the resolutions; and he also protested against the propriety of altering the law to facilitate the admission of Jews to Parliament, reserving to himself the right of stating his reasons on the fitting opportunity.


agreed with much that fell from the right hon. Gentleman; but he looked on these resolutions more with regard to their hold on the Government, than he did to their hold on that House. He therefore wanted to know from the noble Lord at the head of the Ministry, for the satisfaction of the public in general, and of the constituency of the city of London in particular, if the Government as a Government intended to take up this question of the admission to Parliament of Jews, and if they were prepared to stand or fall by the issue of the question? For his part, he would not give the snap of a finger for the resolutions unless the noble Lord at the head of the Government understood them in that sense.


did not see any use in the resolution after the intimation of the hon. and learned Solicitor General that the words in particular question were of the substance of the oath, and not merely of the form. The resolution had reference only to the form of the oath. Now the Amendment he had proposed regarded both the substance and the form of the oath.


said, there were three requisites to be observed in the oaths, namely, the substance, the form of words, and the manner of taking. It was the form of words that excluded the hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of London from taking his seat in that House; and therefore he (the Attorney General) was desirous of altering that form of words in the next Session, for which purpose he introduced his resolutions, which were then before them.

Motion made, and Question put— That this House will, at the earliest opportunity in the next Session of Parliament, take into its serious consideration the form of the Oath of Abjuration, with a view to relieve Her Majesty's Subjects professing the Jewish Religion.

The House divided:—Ayes 142; Noes 106: Majority 36.

List of the AYES.
Adair, R. A. S. Collins, W.
Aglionby, H. A. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Anderson, A. Crawford, W. S.
Anson, hon. Col. Cubitt, W.
Anstey, T. C. Dawson, hon. T. V.
Armstrong, Sir A. D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Dodd, G.
Douglas, Sir C. E.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Duke, Sir J.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Duncan, G.
Barron, Sir H. W. Dundas, Adm.
Bass, M. T. Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.
Bellew, R. M. Ebrington, Visct.
Bernal, R. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Birch, Sir T. B. Evans, Sir De L.
Blackall, S. W. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Forster, M.
Boyle, hon. Col. Fortescue, C.
Bright, J. Fox, W. J.
Brocklehurst, J. Freestun, Col.
Brotherton, J. Gaskell, J. M.
Brown, W. Grace, O. D. J.
Bunbury, E. H. Greene, J.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Grey, R. W.
Carter, J. B. Hall, Sir B.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Harris, R.
Childers, J. W. Hatchell, J.
Clements, hon. C. S. Headlam, T. E.
Cobden, R. Higgins, G. G. O.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Hindley, C.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Hobhouse, T. B. Reynolds, J.
Hume, J. Ricardo, J. L.
Hutchins, E. J. Ricardo, O.
Hutt, W. Robartes, T. J. A.
Jermyn, Earl Roche, E. B.
Keating, R. Roebuck, J. A.
Kershaw, J. Romilly, Col.
King, hon. P. J. L. Romilly, Sir J.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Russell, Lord J.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Salwey, Col.
Lewis, G. C. Sandars, G.
Locke, J. Scholefield, W.
Lushington, C. Scully, F.
M'Cullagh, W. T. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Mahon, The O'Gorman Sidney, Ald.
Mangles, R. D. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Matheson, Col. Smith, J. A.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Melgund, Visct. Spearman, H. J.
Milner, W. M. E. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Mitchell, T. A. Stuart, Lord D.
Morris, D. Stuart, Lord J.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Tenison, E. K.
Mowatt, F. Tennent, R. J.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Thompson, Col.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Thompson, G.
Nugent, Sir P. Thornely, T.
O'Brien, Sir T. Villiers, hon. C.
O'Connell, M. J. Wakley, T.
Ogle, S. C. H. Walmsley, Sir J.
Osborne, R. Watkins, Col. L.
Owen, Sir J. Westhead, J. P. B.
Paget, Lord G. Willcox, B. M.
Palmerston, Visct. Williams, J.
Parker, J. Wilson, J.
Pelham hon. D. G. Wilson, M.
Pigott, F. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Pilkington, J. Wood, W. P.
Pinney, W. Wyvill, M.
Power, Dr. TELLERS.
Price, Sir R. Hayter, W. G.
Rawdon, Col. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Arkwright, G. Cotton, hon. W. H. S.
Bagot, hon. W. Currie, H.
Bailey, J. Davies, D. A. S.
Baldock, E. H. Dick, Q.
Bankes, G. Dickson, S.
Blackstone, W. S. Disraeli, B.
Blakemore, R. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Boldero, H. G. East, Sir J. B.
Booth, Sir R. G. Egerton, W. T.
Bowles, Adm. Farnham, E. B.
Bramston, T. W. Forester, hon. G. C. W.
Brisco, M. Frewen, C. H.
Broadley, H. Fuller, A. E.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Goddard, A. L.
Brown, H. Gordon, Adm.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Granby, Marq. of.
Cabbell, B. B. Grogan, E.
Chandos, Marq. of Gwyn, H.
Chatterton, Col. Halford, Sir H.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Halsey, T. P.
Christy, S. Hamilton, G. A.
Clive, H. B. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cocks, T. S. Henley, J. W.
Codrington, Sir W. Hildyard, R. C.
Cole, hon. H. A. Hope, A.
Coles, H. B. Hornby, J.
Hotham, Lord Reid, Col.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Seaham, Visct.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Sibthorp, Col.
Jones, Capt. Simeon, J.
Knightley, Sir C. Somerton, Visct.
Knox, Col. Spooner, R.
Lacy, H. C. Stafford, A.
Lennox, Lord A. G. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Stuart, H.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Stuart, J.
Lockhart, A. E. Taylor, T. E.
Lowther, H. Thesiger, Sir F.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Tollemache, J.
Manners, Lord G. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Manners, Lord J. Trollope, Sir J.
Morgan, O. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Mullings, J. R. Waddington, H. S.
Naas, Lord Walpole, S. H.
Napier, J. Wellesley, Lord C.
Newdegate, C. N. Williams, T. P.
Packe, C. W. Willoughby, Sir H.
Patten, J. W. Worcester, Marq. of
Peel, Col. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Plowden, W. H. C.
Prime, R. TELLERS.
Pugh, D. Beresford, W.
Raphael, A. Vyse, R. H.

Resolved— That this House will, at the earliest opportunity in the next Session of Parliament, take into its serious consideration the form of the Oath of Abjuration, with a view to relieve Her Majesty's Subjects professing the Jewish Religion.

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