§ The Baron Lionel Nathan De Rothschild, returned as one of the Members for the City of London, came to the table to be sworn; and being asked by the Clerk what Oath he wished to take, the Protestant or the Roman Catholic Oath, he replied, "I desire to be sworn upon the Old Testament:"—Whereupon the Clerk having stated the matter to Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker directed him to withdraw.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
Sir, I protest to this House that I heard distinctly the words pronounced, "I desire to be sworn on the Old Testament." ["Oh, oh!" and "Order!"] I was not mistaken in that phrase. Sir, from the time that this nation has been a Christian nation, and from the time that this Legislature has been a Christian Legislature, no man has ever—if I may use the word without offence—no man has ever presumed before to claim his seat here, unless he was prepared to take it under the solemn sanction of an oath in the name of our common Redeemer; if not upon that book which contains His revealed will and word, at least upon some outward symbol of our common redemption. Sir, I do not undervalue—God forbid that I should!—I do not undervalue the Old Testament, If the hon. individual who came to the table had asked to be sworn upon the I Bible, although with my knowledge of what his mind would be, I should, even; then, refuse his request. Now I feel doubly bound to do so, when by the terms of his proposition he asks me and the House to abrogate that second part of the book on which the Christian faith is fixed. But, Sir, we have not an Old Testament in our collection. The Old Testament is found in our courts of criminal jurisdiction; and if this was a court of criminal jurisdiction, and the hon. individual had come forward as a witness, the case would have been entirely different. But we all know in this House that the hon. individual who 298 came to the table, came to claim his right to legislate here for the Church and religion of this still Christian country. Therefore I, for one, will never give my sanction to any mode by which he could be admitted.
§ MR. SPEAKER
stated that the hon. Member for the University of Oxford was in possession of the House, and might conclude with a Motion.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
Even if I was not in order, and if I intended to propose no Motion, there is business before the House which I think justifies me in addressing you, inasmuch as an individual approached the table, and has been requested to withdraw in consequence of a request he made; and until the House shall have decided upon the question of the acceptance or rejection of the request of that individual, or upon some other course to be taken under the circumstances, I apprehend, with all deference to the hon. and learned Gentleman, that I myself, or any other Member of this House, may address themselves to the subject as I have done. I could well wish that the majority of the House would rise with the same principles and objects which are so dear to my heart; but, whether the heart and mind of the majority of the House he with me or not, I will never shrink from declaring that, as all my life I have done, I will at least endeavour that in name and profession we shall be, and in our habits we shall he, what we profess to be—a Christian Legislature for a Christian country. If then it be necessary in form to conclude with a Motion, I would conclude with one like this—That it had been the practice of this country, ever since it had been a Christian country, to regard the Members of this Supreme Legislature, whether King, Lords, or Commons, as bound by Christian obligation and by none other, and that no man approaching this table should take part in our deliberations, or ought to be permitted to take such part, except under the sanction and obligation of Christian profession, whether by declaration on oath, or by touching some symbol connected with the Christian faith. If the hon. and learned Member for Oxford says it is necessary to put it as a question of principle that it is unnecessary for a person to make profession as a Christian, I will, if the House will permit, write down what 1 will propose as a Motion.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That from the earliest times of the existence of a Legislature in England, no man was ever admitted to take any part therein except under the sanction of a Christian Oath: and that the Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild having requested to take the Oaths on the Old Testament, and having, in consequence, been directed by Mr. Speaker to withdraw while the House deliberated, this House refuses to alter the form of taking the Oaths.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
Sir, I propose to take the course which I apprehend will be consistent with the due dignity of this House, and with the magnitude and importance of the occasion, and the House will, I think, observe that it has in this case a judicial duty to perform, and that no feeling whatsoever of any party considerations ought to enter into the decision to which the House may come upon the present occasion. I propose, therefore, without expressing at present any opinion upon the subject before the House, to ask the House to adopt in this case a course similar to that which was adopted when Mr. O'Connell was elected for the county of Clare. Mr. O'Connell came to the table, and declined to take the oath which was then in usage in this House. After that, and an adjourned debate, it was moved by the late Sir R. Peel that Mr. O'Connell he heard at the bar of the House upon his claims; and I now propose to ask the House to follow a similar rule in the present case, and to adopt a Motion in exact conformity with what was done on that occasion. I propose to ask the House to leave out all the words after the first of the Motion proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, for the purpose of inserting in their place other words to that effect. I apprehend that that is the course which it would be consistent with the dignity of this House to take upon the present occasion. The question would then be upon what ground the Baron de Rothschild claimed the right to take the oaths upon the Old Testament; and after hearing his case upon that point, it would be fitting that the House should debate with a view to come to a conclusion as to what course it would be proper to take. These are the identical words of the late Sir Robert Peel's Motion, which was adopted by the House without any division, and Mr. O'Connell was heard.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'Baron Rothschild, one of the Members for the City of London, be heard at the Bar, by himself, his Counsel, or Agents, in respect of his claim to sit and vote in Parliament upon taking the Oaths on the Old Testament,' instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
said: I think it will be scarcely necessary for me to follow at any length the somewhat singular course of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, in moving his resolution by starting with an avowed declaration of his Christian principles—a declaration which I should have thought extremely unnecessary, because we may fairly assume that those principles are common to the whole House—instead of taking that view which I apprehend to be the constitutional view of the subject—namely, whether or not a gentleman who has been twice returned as a Member for the metropolis of our own country—one amongst the largest constituencies in the country, consisting of Christians as distinguished—I wish to make no invidious comparisons—but I would say, as distinguished as the hon. Baronet himself—I say the constitutional question, whether or not a person so returned and so elected, is or is not entitled to those privileges which, it must be admitted, are the common privileges of every British subject until the law be enacted debarring him from them. If the hon. Baronet had entered into that question, the address which he offered to the House might have been pertinent to the subject before the House; but as his whole argument proceeded on a principle with which I entirely agree, I hold myself excused from saying one word more on the arguments which he offered to the House. The hon. and learned Attorney General has met that hon. Baronet's resolution by an Amendment which seems to me not to meet the case before the House. If the claim had been of another nature—namely, to alter any portion of our existing law—then it might be right that Baron de Rothschild should have the assistance of counsel; but there is one important feature in this case which appears to have been overlooked, and that is, that the Baron has not, as in the case of Mr. O'Connell, required to be heard by counsel. In that case Mr. O'Connell requested to be heard. 301 ["No!"] It will be found on the journals of the House. They state that Mr. O'Connell wished to be heard by counsel. [Sir G. CLERK: After the resolution.] I have the entry in my hand. Mr. Brougham moved that Mr. O'Connell be heard at the table, when Lord Duncannon said he was requested by the hon. Member for Clare to request that he might be heard at the bar. The question was adjourned until Monday, and after that the Motion to be heard by counsel was acceded to. Now, two of the three oaths to be taken, form no difficulty in the way of the hon. Member. He is prepared to take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, in the way which no lawyer will venture to deny is the universal mode of administering an oath. I should like to see any lawyer rise and say that a Jew could be prevented taking an oath in the ordinary form, "So help mo God!" on the Old Testament. A Committee of the House has sat on this question, and has reported that Mr. Alderman Salomons, on filling the office of sheriff of the city of London had taken an oath of allegiance and supremacy in the same terms as they were taken by Members in this House. There is a special statute by which the words "on the true faith of a Christian" are inserted in the oath of abjuration; but there are no such expressions in the other two oaths. The oaths are three; they are not imposed by the same statutes. The oaths of allegiance and supremacy are imposed by different statutes from the oath of abjuration. The two former, as they now stand, were fixed by an Act, 1st of William and Mary, which required those oaths to be taken thereafter in the form prescribed in the Act, and repealed an Act of the 30th of Charles II., which originally imposed the two oaths, but re-enacted that the parties should take the oaths—namely, those administered to Members on taking their seats, under the same disabilities as" the oath of supremacy was directed by the Act of Charles II. to be taken under. Therefore, those two oaths are to be taken pursuant to the statute of William and Mary, wholly irrespective of the oath of abjuration, but under the penalties of the statute of Charles II. The House will find that if Baron Rothschild—
MR. A. B. HOPE
rose to order. The hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford had made several allusions to the Baron de Rothschild. Now, he (Mr. Hope) apprehended that the only Barons known 302 to the English constitution were Members of the House of Peers.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
I will easily correct my mistake by calling the Baron hereafter the Member for the city of London. If the hon. Member for the city of London should take his seat without taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, which he has tendered himself to take, if he should be compelled by any resolution, of the House to seat himself without taking those oaths, the consequence would be that he would become at once a Popish recusant convert. But the oath of abjuration, which was originally imposed by the 13th William and Mary, had during the time between I the 1st and the 13th no existence. I affirm that no lawyer will assert that during that interval Baron de Rothschild could have I been excluded. The only oath a Jew could take up to that time was on the Old Testament; but the 13th William and Mary enacted the oath of abjuration, which was altered into the law as it now stands by the 6th Geo. III. Here are three oaths—supremacy, allegiance, and abjuration. The hon. Member for the city of London has tendered himself to take two of the oaths, as Mr. Alderman Salomons did. The House is aware that the administration of oaths was within the last century adjudicated upon by Lord Hardwicke; and the case was this. There was a form of commission in Chancery for the examination of witnesses. Time out of mind this commission had tendered oaths without difficulty, but at last a Hindoo came to be examined, and it was ruled that the practice should be regulated by the principles which rule all law. An application was made on behalf of the witness, that the words "corporal" and "upon the holy evangelists" should be left out, and, instead, the words "on a proper oath, in the most solemn manner" substituted. Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, upon this application, said—It depends upon what is admitted on the other side, that the defendant in the cross cause is of the Gentoo religion and an idolater. I have often wondered, as the dominions of Great Britain are so extensive, that there has never been any rule or method in cases of this sort. The general rule is, that all persons who believe a God are capable of an oath; and what is universally understood by an oath is that the person who takes it imprecates the vengeance of God upon him if the oath he takes is false. It was upon this principle that the Judges were inclined to admit the Jews, who believed a God, according to our notion of a God, to swear upon the Old Testament. And Lord Hale very justly observes, it is a wise rule in the kingdom of Spain that a heathen and 303 idolater should be sworn upon what he thinks is the most sacred part of his religion. If a Jew should be indicted for perjury, and it is laid in the indictment that he swore tactis sacro-sanctis Dei evangeliis, yet, according to Hale, the word evangeliis in the indictment may be answered by the Old Testament, which is the evangelium of the Jews. In order to remove the difficulties in this case, I shall direct that these words upon 'the Holy Evangelists' may be left out. The next consideration is, what words must be inserted in their room? Now, on the part of the plaintiff in the cross bill, it is desired that I should appoint a solemn form for the oath; I think this very improper, because I may possibly direct a form that is contrary to the notions of religion entertained by the Gentoo people. I will, therefore, make this rule: that two or three of the commissioners may administer such oath, in the most solemn manner as, in their discretions, shall seem meet: and if the person, upon the usual oath being explained to him, shall consent to take it, and the commissioners approve of administering it (for he may perhaps be a Christian convert) the difficulty is removed, or if they should think proper to administer another oath, that then they shall certify to the court what was done by them, and that will be the proper time to controvert the validity of such an oath, and to take the opinion of the Judges upon it if the court should have any doubt. The words 'corporal oath' may stand for lifting up an arm or other bodily member. This will come up to the meaning of a corporal oath; but, upon the Attorney General suggesting that there might be no ceremonies in their form of taking oaths, these words were likewise left out, and the words 'most solemnly' to be inserted in their room.Similar orders appear to have been made for the examination of witnesses, and in 1774 the whole matter came on to be argued on the return of the commissioners (which stated the mode of swearing to have been "by the witnesses touching with their hands the foot of the Brahmin or priest [with some other ceremonies], being the usual and most solemn form in which oaths are most usually administered to witnesses who profess the Gentoo religion") whether the answer and evidence so taken could be read. The discussion was very full, and Lord Chancellor Hardwicke was assisted by the Lord Chief Baron Parker, Lord Chief Justice Willes, and Lord Chief Justice Lee. The counsel who opposed the admission of the evidence, relied on the constant form of the commission and on the law of England requiring oaths to be on the Evangelists, and on indictments for perjury, being framed with those words, per se sacro evangelio voluntarie et corrupte commisit perjurium; on the other side, many instances were given of Jews being sworn on the Old Testament, and authorities cited as to the admissibility of all witnesses who believed in 304 a Supreme Being. The Chief Baron appears to have laid down the rule, as stated in the Declaratory Act of 1 & 2 Vict., c. 105. He says—It is plain that by the policy of all countries oaths are to be administered to all persons according to their own opinion, and as it most affects their conscience, and laying the hand was originally borrowed from the Pagans. It is said by defendant's counsel, that no new oath can be, imposed without an Act of Parliament. My answer is 'This is no new oath.'Lord Chief Justice Willes, after stating that Maddox's History of the Exchequer clears it up beyond all contradiction that Jews were constantly sworn, and from the 19 Car. 1 to the present time have never been refused, says, "The nature of an oath is not at all altered by Christianity, but only made more solemn, from the sanction of rewards and punishments being more openly declared." In another passage he says, "The form of oaths varies in countries according to different laws and constitutions, but the substance is the same in all." Lord Chief Justice Lee gave an opinion to the same effect. Lord Chancellor Hardwicke decided in favour of the admission of the evidence, and stated his opinion as follows:—The next question will be, whether the depositions ought to be read, which depends upon two things: first, whether it is a proper obligatory oath: secondly, whether, on the special circumstances in this case, such evidence can be admitted according to the law of England. The general learning upon this head has been fully enlarged upon by the Lord Chief Justice. The first author I shall mention is Bishop Sanderson, De Juris-juramenti Obligatione. Jurisjuramentum, saith he, est affirmatio religiosa. All that is necessary to an oath is an appeal to the Supreme Being, as thinking him the rewarder of truth and the avenger of falsehood. Vide the same author, pages 5 and 18. This is not contradicted by any writer that I know of hut Lord Coke, who has taken upon him to insert the word Christian, and is the only writer that has grafted this word into an oath.Therefore when the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford took upon himself to say that the oath had never yet been administered to any person except a Christian—[Sir E. H. INGLIS: I said in the Legislature.] He cared not how it was; but when the hon. Baronet took upon himself to say that he erred in good company, for he erred in company with Lord Coke, whose error was to be accounted for only by his peculiar feelings towards the Jews, all of whom he declared to be aliens, because they were subject to a foreign prince, to wit, the Devil. But no other legal authority has acquiesced in the view 305 of Lord Coke. The hon. Baronet says that what we demand has never been done in the British Legislature; hut I apprehend that what we are going on is this. Here is a British subject having the qualification of a Member of Parliament with reference to property, who has been elected by his fellow citizens, against whom a petition of disqualification was presented but subsequently abandoned; and this gentleman claims the privilege, and, let me add, the duty, of representing fellow citizens in this House. There is nothing to exclude him from the House if he takes the oath pre scribed by Act of Parliament. The only question is whether the oath he refuses to take differs essentially from the other. I call on the House to show bow they differ. I apprehend that the oath might he administered under the common or statute-law, without the excluding passage. I apprehend that wherever an oath is enacted, there is no question about a Jew taking it on the Old Testament, and yet we do not see any where, even in a Railway Act, that it is laid down that he should be sworn on the Old Testament. The course to be taken is prescribed in the case of the Quakers, because they take no oaths at all; but in other cases, it is assumed that it should be administered in the way most binding on the conscience. But, in order to prevent any dispute, there has been passed a declaratory Act, which finally settles the question, 1 and 2 Vic, c. 105, called Lord Penman's Act. It runs thus:—Be it declared and enacted by the Queen's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that in all cases in which an oath may lawfully be and shall have been administered to any person either as a juryman or a witness, or a deponent in any proceeding, civil or criminal, in any court of law or equity in the United Kingdom, or on any occasion whatever—"Whatever;" does not that apply to an oath to be taken before that House?—such person is bound by the oath administered, provided the same shall have been administered in such form and with such ceremonies as such person may declare to be binding; and every such person, in case of wilful false swearing, may be convicted of the crime of perjury in the same manner as if the oath had been administered in the form and with the ceremonies most commonly adopted.I say, then, that all the Legislature requires by an oath is, that the party should he bound; and if he were bound, then the 306 hon. Member for the city of London has a right to come here and demand his seat. If my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General had not moved his Amendment, it was my intention to have moved the following resolution:—"The hon. Lionel Nathan Baron de Rothschild having presented himself at the table of this House in order to take the oath required by law to be taken by Members before admission to their seats, and before the oath of allegiance being tendered to him having required that the same should be administered to him on the Old Testament, which he declares to be the mode of administration binding on his conscience, the clerk be desired to administer the said oath of allegiance accordingly." This I think the hon. Member for the city of London is entitled to. I admit that we should proceed gravely in this matter, and I wish so to treat it, and not in any way as a party question. But, Sir, I say it is not for the credit of this House, or the credit of the law officers of the Crown, to treat a matter of clear law like the present as a disputable point. There may be serious questions perhaps in regard to the third oath—the oath of abjuration—but we have not arrived at that yet; the oath of allegiance stands first, and that the Baron de Rothschild is ready to take, and I say, that by law, he has a right to do so. The electors who have returned him have also a right to demand it. I would ask the House this question—Mr. Alderman Salomons has been sworn on the same oath to the office of sheriff—he was appointed Sheriff of London, and has taken the oath on entering upon the duties of that office in the same way as the Baron de Rothschild claims to take it now—suppose he had been refused, what would have been the result? Not only would the city of London have lost his services, but he himself would have been liable to heavy penalties for not serving. The city of London had a right to call upon him to take the oaths, and he did so; and in like manner the city of London had a right to say to Baron de Rothschild, "You have been elected by us as our representative—you must go to the House of Commons and offer to take the oaths required on admission to that House—we will not impose anything upon you that may be opposed to your conscience, but you must go and show that you are ready to enter upon the duties you have undertaken at your election; and unless there be some law or statute to prevent you, we insist upon your 307 doing so." I regret to say that for the reasons I have stated I shall he obliged to vote not only against the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University, hut also against the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General.
§ MR. J. S. WORTLEY
said, that considering this question to be one intimately affecting both the privileges of the House of Commons and the constitution of the country, and considering the position of the hon. Member who had offered himself at the table, and the constituency that he claimed to represent, it was impossible to overrate the importance of the subject. He could not too strongly express his concurrence in the opinion of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, that, proceeding as they were in the case, judicially, it was essential to the dignity and character of the House that they should act with due deliberation; and, further, he thought it would be wise on this occasion, as nearly as they could, to follow in the steps of those who had preceded them, and to take the course which they had taken in circumstances of a similar character. To a great extent he should be prepared, if called on to come to a vote at that moment, to assent to much that had been said by his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General; hut in referring to the instance which had been alluded to, he had omitted to refer to one very important step taken upon that occasion, and which he thought upon this occasion was even more necessary than then. It was at that time well known that Mr. O'Connell was about to tender himself at the table of the House, and it was equally well known that he was about to take objection to a particular oath, and therefore the question was not new; but, in the present case, he believed that up to twelve o'clock last night it was totally unknown to the great majority of that House that it was the intention of Baron de Rothschild to appear at the table to-day; and, for his own part certainly, until a very few hours from that time, he had not heard that they should be called upon to come to a decision upon this question. He had not had the honour of belonging to the Committee to whose report the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford had alluded. He certainly had read the report at the time it was issued; but since the noble Lord at the head of the Government had introduced his Bill, he had dismissed the subject from his mind. 308 But when the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the city of Oxford distinguished between the question of taking that oath which included the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," and that of taking the oath of allegiance merely, and claimed that now the only question before the House was, whether the hon. Member for the city of London was entitled to he sworn upon the Old Testament, he must say that he thought it was impossible to consider the question satisfactorily without referring to the whole of the difficulties of the case. He had upon all occasions supported airy measure for the admission of Jews into Parliament; hut when this matter was mentioned early in the Session, he ventured to caution the House against taking any indirect mode of proceeding. He was sure that that House would not consent to be taken either by storm or surprise; and he was certain that the hon. Gentleman who had come to be sworn at that table would be the last man, either in that House or elsewhere, to endeavour by any indirect mode to obtain what he sought in an open and honourable manner. Under these circumstances, reference must be had to what had been done on a former occasion. He found that the late Sir Robert Peel—whose absence upon that occasion, as he feared on many future occasions, they should have over and over again to lament—he who above all Members was jealous of the privileges of that House, and who was most learned in the history and principle of those privileges—feeling that occasion to he a grave one, and one demanding deliberation, immediately on the discussion arising, proposed that it should be adjourned to a future day for the purpose of consideration. That was unanimously agreed to by the House. Upon Friday Mr. O'Connell presented himself, and on the Motion of Sir Robert Peel the discussion was adjourned till the following Monday, and then it was that the Motion was made which had been alluded to by his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, and which was unanimously assented to by the House. He thought, considering the little notice that the House had had—and that, as regarded a great portion of that House, at all events, they had not an opportunity of becoming acquainted with arguments into which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the city of Oxford, as chairman of the Committee, had been enabled to enter, it would be wise on the part of the House to follow the 309 precedent in Mr. O'Connell's case. He begged to move, therefore, that the debate be adjourned until Tuesday next, at twelve o'clock.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, I own I think when an hon. Gentleman in this House asks that this debate should be adjourned, and considering the circumstances which can be stated and which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just stated, namely, that up to last night no one expected that Baron de Rothschild would claim his seat, that that proposition is so reasonable, and so conformable to the usages and character of this House, that I think time ought to be taken for deliberation. I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is exactly following the precedent in Mr. O'Connell's case, because he will find that when Mr. O'Connell claimed to take his seat in this House, it was proposed, I think by Mr. Brougham, that he should be heard at the table in support of his claim. The late Sir Robert Peel doubted whether that was the course which ought to be pursued, and asked time to deliberate and consider that question. On Monday Sir Robert Peel proposed, that instead of Mr. O'Connell's being heard at the table, he should be heard at the bar, as being more conformable to precedent, and more required by the justice of the ease; and having come to that conclusion, the House willingly agreed to that amendment of the Motion, and that resolution was adopted. That precedent now exists, and it is one which I think we may safely follow. But the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford says, he cannot adopt the resolution of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, because Baron de Rothschild has not asked to be heard in support of his claim, and that such a resolution ought not to be carried unless some claim is made. Now, Sir, in the cases that have happened-—in the ease of Mr. Archdall, as well as that of Mr. O'Connell, who claimed their seats without taking the oaths which are prescribed for Members who take their seats in this House, they stated why they wished to be exempted from taking such oaths, or from taking certain oaths in the manner prescribed. I think, therefore, it would be well for the House to give Baron de Rothschild an opportunity of doing that which Mr. Archdall did by letter, and Mr. O'Connell by speech, and which he would be at 310 liberty to do if he thought fit. If Baron de Rothschild chooses to say that he has made his claim, and does not wish to urge any reasons in support of it, of course the House is then in a situation to come to a decision upon it. Baron de Rothschild is perfectly at liberty to say that he does not wish to be heard by himself, or his counsel, or his agent, but is ready to leave the question entirely in the hands of the House. We do not, therefore, prejudice him in the least degree by saying that, before the House comes to a decision upon this grave and important question, we are willing to hear any reasons which he has to allege in favour of his being sworn on the Old Testament, instead of in the manner in which; a Member of this House is usually sworn. However, as I have said, I think that this proposition to be sworn on the Old Testament being one which, however it may be familiar to courts of justice, has not been made before in this House, it is fit that the House should take due time for deliberation, and that, whether Baron de Rothschild choose to he heard by himself, his counsel, or his agent, or whether the House proceeds to a decision on the ease as it now stands, on the report of the Committee, some days for deliberation are due to the gravity and importance of the question. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Buteshire says, he has not attended sufficiently to the report of the Committee, which is on the table of the House, to be able at present to state the view that he takes of it. Now, if that be true of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who is as likely as any Member of this House to attend to questions affecting the constitution and laws of this country, how much more must it be the case of many other hon. Members, who cannot have duly attended to the very important information which is contained in the report of that Committee? I hope, therefore, that hon. Members will carefully read that report, which is full of the most interesting matter, stated without any argument on one side or the other, but in such a way as to enable Members to make up their minds on the practical question before them, and that we may on some day next week come to a discussion of the subject. I should rather wish that the convenience of the hon. Member himself who claims a seat in this House should be consulted with respect to the day to be named. If there is any day next week on which it would be more convenient for him than another that 311 the discussion should come on, that day ought to be fixed; and I think that the House cannot attempt too gravely or too deliberately to interfere in the question now before it. Let them consider that this is not a question merely of the general principle which should guide this House, but that it is a question of the law and constitution of this country, and that in deciding this question they will determine a most important precedent. I do hope, therefore, that every care will be given to the consideration of the subject. I, like my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney Genera], do not propose to say a single word at present upon the merits of the question, but I really do hope that this House, though they must come to a division of opinion in the end with respect to the rights which the hon. Member for the city of London may claim, and with respect to the decision which they ought to come to, will endeavour in the preliminary stage to come to a decision, without any difference of opinion, that this question should not be hastily or partially considered, but should be dealt with with all the caution, care, and deliberation which it is desirable that questions of this nature should receive.
§ SIR B. HALL
should feel it his duty to join with his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the city of Oxford in voting against both propositions. He admitted that the right hon. and learned Gentleman who preceded the noble Lord in the debate could not have known until a late hour yesterday that the subject would be brought under consideration to-day; but while he admitted that, it was right to say that he and others who had taken an active part in bringing the question forward had no desire to take the House by surprise, and that the noble Lord had done no more than justice to Baron de Rothschild in exonerating him from any such intention. But he must be allowed to remind the noble Lord and the House of the position in which the city of London was placed. The noble Lord had promised to take up the question, and over and over again he had stated, during the present Session, that he did intend to persevere with the measure which he had introduced; and it was only a few nights ago, when explaining what were the measures the Government proposed to abandon, and what they intended to proceed with, during the present Session, that he declared most emphatically that it was their intention to take the opinion of the House of Commons upon 312 the question, whether, by the mode proposed by that Bill, the hon. Member for the city of London, the noble Lord's Colleague, should be permitted to take his seat or no? It was competent for the noble Lord to have raised that question, either by a Resolution or a Bill; and he (Sir B. Hall) believed that, so late as Saturday last, it was the opinion of those gentlemen who took an active part in the election for the city of London that the noble Lord did intend to bring forward a Motion of the kind at no very remote period. But, within forty three hours of that time, namely, on Monday last, the noble Lord had come forward and stated that he did not intend to proceed with any measure on the subject during the present Session. As soon as the electors of London saw that announcement in the newspapers of Tuesday, they sent round a circular calling on those who take an interest in the representation of the city of London to meet together to consider the course to be pursued in consequence. A meeting of the electors of the city of London accordingly took place on the previous day, at which it was determined that, as the noble Lord had abandoned his expressed intention of bringing forward the subject for the consideration of the Legislature—[Lord J. RUSSELL: No!]—for the present Session, that the citizens of London would no longer be trifled with, but would desire their Member to go down to the House of Commons, and present himself at the table for the purpose of having the question raised and decided. Under these circumstances, no notice could be given, and no blame attached either to the Baron de Rothschild or to the citizens of London. If any one was to blame in the matter, it was the noble Lord, who had postponed the question indefinitely, and not the citizens of London. The precedent which had been referred to had not been stated altogether correctly. In 1829, when Mr. O'Connell presented himself, he refused to take the oath; but they would not give to Baron de Rothschild the opportunity of taking the oath; and although a positive Act, which had been passed recently, and which had been quoted by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the city of Oxford, though they had that Act before them, it having been presented in the report of the Committee—notwithstanding that Act, and its clear and unmistakeable meaning, they said they would take time to consider the meaning of it, 313 and refused to give any decision on the question at issue. Had his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, and others who took the same course, really any doubt as to the meaning of that Act; or was not the proposition made for the purpose of delay? For what were the words of the Act? They were, "on any occasion whatever." To this the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford answered, "But this is the first time a gentleman professing the same opinions as the Baron de Rothschild entertains has presented himself for admission to this House." He (Sir B. Hall) could not see how that reason applied more in the case of the Baron de Rothschild, than it applied in the case of Mr. O'Connell, when the Emancipation Act passed, and he presented himself at the table to be sworn. He could see no difference between the two cases in that particular which should prevent the Baron de Rothschild being placed in the same position as Mr. O'Connell was placed in. Now, let him call attention to what took place in the House of Lords when sitting judicially. There, when any Jew was sworn, was he not sworn on the Old Testament? And he could sec no reason, if they allowed an oath to be taken by a witness in the House of Lords, why the same oath should not be taken by a person of the same religion 'when returned as a Member to the House of Commons. He submitted that the course they ought to pursue was, to allow the hon. Gentleman to be sworn on the Old Testament, in the way prescribed by the Act of Parliament before them. Then the question might be raised if he declined to go through the whole of the oath, but stopped short at certain words—then the Motion submitted by Sir Robert Peel in 1829 might fairly be brought forward for consideration. But what was the course pursued in that case? Then there was no delay. Mr. Brougham proposed that Mr. O'Connell should be heard at the table; and in the course of the debate which ensued, Sir Robert Peel moved an adjournment until the following Monday, and then—(and the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford was quite right when he said that Lord Duncannon asked that the Member for Clare might be heard in support of his claim)—then Sir Robert Peel moved that the hon. Member for Clare'—mark, not the individual, Mr. O'Connell, but the Member for Clare—might be heard by himself, counsel, or agent, at the bar, in support of 314 his claim, to take his seat without subscribing to the oath of supremacy; and that Motion was carried. Was there any delay there? None; for, after a few words from Mr. Brougham, his proposition was withdrawn, and when he sat down the Speaker put the question, which was unanimously carried in the affirmative, and Mr. O'Connell was immediately called to the bar. Here there was no delay. True, there was an adjournment of the debate, but not on the proposition whether Mr. O'Connell should be heard, but whether he should be heard at the table or at the bar of the House. That was the question discussed; and as soon as it was determined that he should be heard at the bar, there was no delay such as was proposed in the present case, but the question was at once put and carried, and Mr. O'Connell was called in. Under all the circumstances, having a plain Act of Parliament before them, which, he contended, was so clear and concise that there could be no doubt as to its construction, he should give his vote against both propositions.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, that the precedent of the Clare election was not at all applicable to the present case. In that case, Mr. Brougham moved, "That Mr. O'Connell be called back, and heard at the table." The late Sir Robert Peel moved, as an Amendment, that the debate be adjourned till the following Monday, giving as his reason that he wished time to consult precedents, to enable the House to decide whether Mr. O'Connell should be heard at the bar or at the table. A further question arose at a later period of the debate, and Sir Robert Peel was asked, "Do you mean to look for precedents whether Mr. O'Connell be heard at all?" and his answer was, that he did not; but merely whether, as in the cases of Sir H. Mounson and Lord Fanshawe, he should be heard at the table or at the bar. His reason for objecting to his being heard at the table was, that by a strict construction of the statute, Mr. O'Connell would expose himself to a statutory penalty for having spoken in the House without taking the oaths. The adjournment accordingly took place till Monday, it having been arranged that it should then take precedence of everything else, and that it should be finished in one night. Lord Duncannon had previously stated that he was instructed by the hon. Member for Clare to state that he claimed the pri- 315 vilege of being heard before the House in support of his claims. Now, what he wished to press upon the attention of the noble and right hon. Personages who were in favour of obstruction and delay on this occasion was this, that the only reason urged by the late Sir Robert Peel for delay in the case of Mr. O'Connell was, that he wished for time to consult precedents whether he should be heard at the table or at the bar. That was a new case; no similar instance had occurred since the time of William III., and in those circumstances it was right and proper that there should be delay to allow time for consideration; but, in the present case, the House had before them the ascertained fact that a Member claiming his seat had a right to be heard at the bar; and hence there was not the same reason for delay as in the case just referred to. The notable reason advanced by the noble Lord at the head of the Government for delay was, that hon. Members might have an opportunity of reading diligently in the interval a document which it seemed they had hitherto neglected altogether. But what right had they to have neglected the perusal of that report so long? It was not many days since there was on the orders of that House a Bill for discussion which it was impossible for hon. Members to have discussed unless they had attentively studied every passage in that report. It was only on Monday last that that Bill was withdrawn by the noble Lord; and, surely, if hon. Members had previously informed themselves of the precedents of the case before them, as they must have done, unless they had grievously neglected their duty, they could not have forgotten them in so brief an interval. But the truth was, that it was found inconvenient to come to a decision on the merits of the case, and accordingly the hon. and learned Attorney General had moved that Baron de Rothschild be heard by himself, his counsel, or agents—against what? Against a single preliminary objection. Weil, when they got over that, there would then come the more important objection with respect to the words "on the true faith of a Christian;" and another indefinite adjournment would be moved to enable Baron de Rothschild to be heard against that. The Ministerial dinner must not be postponed. It was perfectly notorious that the leading Members of the two hereditary factions of the country did last night come to an understanding that they would obstruct the 316 present claim so as to occasion its postponement till another Session. He considered that the Government were guilty of a grievous neglect of duty. Here was one of the finest opportunities ever offered to repair the blunders which had disgraced the whole of the scheme of policy which had been pursued by the advocates of the Jewish claims from the beginning of the present Parliament till now, and that opportunity it was now proposed to decline. He objected to all delay. He did not care what offence was taken on either side of the House, for he felt that it was a duty to press it. Not even the right hon. and learned Member for Buteshire had stated that there was the slightest doubt that an oath which could be taken from a Jew at all, must be taken upon the Old Testament. As to searching for precedents, he would remind them of the Committee moved for by Sir Robert Peel. What need for more witnesses, when they had the evidence already? If a Jew presented himself, it was their duty to swear him. As they asked for some authority, however, he would give them one. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford had stated that from the earliest times, a relic, a cross, a book, or some other symbol of Christianity, had been a necessary appendage to the oaths taken by Members of Parliament. On this subject there was a curious authority still extant, although it was not mentioned in the report of the Committee which sat on the subject this Session. At (lie very time when Parliaments first began, a Parliamentum Judaicum, as it was called, was summoned by King Henry III. They accordingly met and voted a certain proportion of the general supplies which were voted by all the Parliaments summoned in that year, the proportion granted by the Jews being 20,000 marks. The peculiarity of that Parliament was that it consisted entirely of Jews. He would call their attention to the fact that oaths were administered to witnesses at the bar of the House of Lords in the mode most suited to the consciences of the witnesses, and he instanced the case of the female Hindoo who had the oaths administered to her in a divorce case before the House of Lords a few years ago, in the name of Bhudha, accompanied by the breaking of a saucer and the imprecation that she wished her soul might be broken in a similar manner if she did not tell the truth. He cared not what might be the consequence to himself personally, 317 but he must say that he thought it was the bounden duty of those who advocated the claims of the Jews to insist upon the debate proceeding at the present moment. He submitted to the House whether there could be a doubt on the question, and whether it was not clear that Baron de Rothschild had a right to take the oaths. Suppose Baron de Rothschild had been called to the bar as a witness, could they administer to him any oath but that on the Old Testament, which he was now ready to take as a Member? Considering, then, the insignificance of the objection, the conduct of the Government, the lateness of the Session, and the consequence of delay, he was prepared to give his vote against the Motion for an adjournment, and every other Motion for adjournment or postponement of the proceedings necessary for a final decision of this all-important question.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he could answer for it that until twelve o'clock last night it was known by very few Members on the Opposition side of the House that this question would come on that day. He wished to call attention to the effect which the decision now sought would have when considered with reference to the conduct previously pursued by the House with reference to this subject, Baron de Rothschild had come there without notice, demanding that a question should be decided at once, which for two Sessions they had been debating, which had been debated in the House of Lords two Sessions, and with reference to which Her Majesty's Ministers had again introduced a Bill, and then withdrew it, after an announcement by the Prime Minister that it was only withdrawn with a view to its introduction next Session. What was it then that Baron de Rothschild and his friends now asked the House to do? They came down to the House without notice, and asked them to declare that they had been wasting the time of the House for the last two Sessions in debating a question which had already been settled by a previous Act. They asked them, in other words, to condemn their own proceedings as ridiculous, and to declare that the House of Lords had been betrayed into a course equally anomalous. He thought the attempt made to force on this discussion at the present moment was contemptuous towards the House. Did the parties making it repudiate the noble Lord at the head of the Government as the representative of the 318 city of London? By adopting their present course, they condemned, in effect, the noble Lord for having introduced what they considered an unnecessary Bill, and for having sacrificed the claims of the; constituency by withdrawing it at this period of the Session with a view to its early introduction next year. The hurry with which the present proceeding was acted upon, indicated the weakness of the cause. He confessed he had been surprised to hear a Roman Catholic Member of that House, on a question affecting its Christian character, making use of the quotation—"What need we any further witness?" That was an unlucky quotation. He was truly surprised, too, to hear the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford interrupt the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, when he was saying that this had always been a Christian country, and that the Legislature and the constitution also had been, and were still, Christian. He had till that day scarcely expected to see hon. Members who professed liberal opinions, and a veneration for the right of discussion in that House, attempting to preclude a free discussion of this question, by an attempt to take the House by surprise on so grave a subject; it proved that they felt an inward consciousness that when the question was raised on due notice they could not meet the arguments adduced against it. He hoped the I noble Lord at the head of the Government would adhere to his determination—a determination guaranteed by his declaration that he would not proceed with the Bill he had introduced upon this subject this Session—guaranteed by his honour when he declared that he postponed that: Bill for another Session; and he (Mr. Newdegate) must say, that those who called themselves the supporters of the noble Lord, and who would drive him into the adoption of a different course, neither respected their own honour nor his. The country was totally unprepared to hear that Parliament had been wasting its; time for two Sessions on the Jew Bill. When the object of it had been accomplished by a previous Act as asserted by the hon. Member for Oxford, that Act was merely declaratory, and declared that every person was to take the oaths required of him in the manner most binding on his conscience. What was that manner? The House did not know what manner Baron de Rothschild would consider most binding on his conscience. They did not know 319 what manner of taking oaths was most binding on the consciences of the Jewish people. The question simply was, whether the House would, at the bidding of a foreign baron, a rich man, the chosen of the constituency of London, stultify the whole of their past proceedings on the subject, that they might bow down before so august a personage? He could not believe that the majority of the House could be made to think such conduct consistent with the dignity of the House, and he therefore trusted the question would be postponed until it could be fairly and dispassionately argued. Then he should be prepared to meet the positions of the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford, and to show that if Mr. Alderman Salomons had not taken all the oaths required by law, every act of his as an alderman and in his office of sheriff, was invalid: he hoped therefore this illegal precedent would not be allowed to influence the House.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
said, he should not have presumed to offer himself to their notice so early in the debate had he not been one of those Members who rejoiced in representing a large constituency. Baron de Rothschild had been called an "individual," but he would call him one of the Members for the city of London; and when they were told of the undue hurry of the present proceeding, and when they were called upon in judicial accents proceeding from the Treasury benches to proceed with deliberation, he would put it to the House and the country whether this question, which had now been debated for three Sessions, and which had been affirmed by large majorities of that House—whether they were going to fight a sham battle, and postpone the great question of civil and religious liberty, because it might not be convenient to the Government, and might not be agreeable to their friends on the protectionist benches opposite to debate it? He, for one, would be a party to no such proceeding. They had debated this question in three successive Sessions, and, if there was any inconvenience now, the noble Lord at the head of the Government was to blame. That noble Lord had had the conduct of the question; and he (Mr. Osborne) must say that the conduct of the noble Lord with regard to this Bill did not do him that honour which other acts of his life had conferred. The noble Lord had postponed the question of religious liberty, because the Jews were a small body: he would not have done so had they 320 been sufficiently numerous to alarm the safety of his Cabinet, or to endanger his seat. He would not have been content to let the Bill pass on the fag end of the Session, and then to propose an adjournment of the question. This was not a question with him (Mr. Osborne) of either precedent or black letter; neither was it one upon which any nisi prius arguments—considered out of place in the debate on foreign policy—need be used. It simply came to this—that the citizens of London were not prepared to sit contented while the House was adjourning from day to day on a question on which they had every information, and which they had already affirmed. What had been said by the hon. and learned Member for Youghal was perfectly true, however it might be denied, that hon. Members were acquainted last night with the fact that the Baron would that day present himself at the table for admission. The way the question had been treated was unworthy the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, who went out of his way to apply an expression to the Baron which had once been applied by Curranto afishwoman—namely, that "she was an individual." It was part of the system all along pursued, to throw odium on Baron de Rothschild; and when the Baron came to the table that day, to take his oath, an understanding had been previously come to between the Government and hon. Members opposite, that the question should be postponed to next week. [Mr. J. S. WORTLEY: Nothing of the kind.] He did not allude to the right hon. and learned Member for Buteshire. He wished, however, to know whether the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst had not been communicated with, and whether some arrangement had not been made with him?
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
would ask whether the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst meant to state that he had made no arrangement with the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, to delay this question until Monday next? Did he mean to say that he had entered into no communication or arrangement of that kind? [A pause.] Then he (Mr. Osborne) contended that he was warranted in asserting that there had been an arrangement; and he hoped the House would not affirm an arrangement so entered into. But it had been said in the course of the debate, that this was no party question. He affirmed 321 that it was a party question. It was the greatest party question of the age. It was the question of prejudice against progress—the question of intolerance and bigotry against civil and religious liberty; and he hoped that if there was any liberal party in the House—if there was any liberal feeling—if they were not to be a drag on the wheels of an equivocating Government for ever, they would speak out boldly and affirm the principle which they had already affirmed in two preceding Parliaments. He would now address himself to the arguments on the question. It had been endeavoured to be said by those who were clever in ransacking Hansard, that the same course was pursued by the House in Mr. O'Connell's case. There was, however, a material difference. Mr. O'Connell refused to take the oath of supremacy, and he applied to Lord Duncannon to be heard by counsel at the bar. Baron de Rothschild did not refuse to take the oath, and he did not apply to be heard by counsel at the bar. This question, therefore, rested not on precedent, but on legislative enactment; and, if the Judges of the Court of Queen's Bench were authorised to administer oaths to Jews, he called upon the Speaker to answer the question whether he did not consider himself empowered to administer the oath to Baron de Rothschild in the same manner as the Judges administered it to Jewish witnesses? That was a material question to be answered. It was a question, not of precedent, but of legislative enactment. But, independent of the Speaker's answer, whatever it might be—[A laugh.] Yes, whatever it might be, because there was a power out of that House independent of their smiling faces or their prejudices—he called upon those Members who possessed consistency to come forward upon this question, to oppose the Government, and, if necessary or need be, on such a question to throw out that Government, and to stand by the resolution already more than once affirmed, that Baron de Rothschild had a right to take his seat in that House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex has put a question to me which I have no difficulty in answering. The question now at issue does not depend upon any opinion of mine. It is a question for the decision of the House itself. An hon. Member has appeared at the table and claimed to be sworn on the Old Testament. Now, that is a perfectly novel mode of taking the oath; and it would 322 not be right for me to permit any Member to be sworn in that way unless I had the authority of the House for so doing, because I act only under their authority.
§ MR. GOULBURN
did not mean to say a word about the propriety or impropriety of allowing the hon. Member for London to be sworn in the form in which he had claimed to have the oaths administered. He would address himself simply to the point, whether it was fitting that the House should have time to deliberate before coining to a decision? The hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down, following the example of the hon. and learned Member for Youghal, had stated that there was no analogy between the case of Mr. O'Connell and the present case. It had been stated that the hon. Member for London was willing to take two of the oaths if he was allowed to be sworn on the Old Testament. Now his (Mr. Goulburn's) opinion was, that the oaths ought to be tendered all together. With respect to Mr. O'Connell, so far from his having refused to take the oaths that were tendered to him, he stated that he was ready to take the oaths of allegiance and abjuration, but not the oath of supremacy. It had been stated by the hon. and learned Member for Youghal that the only ground upon which the late Sir Robert Peel had asked for delay, was that time might be given to consider whether Mr. O'Connell should be heard at the table or at the bar of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not read correctly what had passed on that occasion. [The right hon. Gentleman here read extracts from the speeches of Sir Robert Peel on that occasion to show that his reason for asking delay was to consider, not whether he should be heard at the table merely, but whether he should be heard at all.] He had no doubt that the House would consent, as in the case of Mr. O'Connell, to adjourn the discussion of this question, in order to enable those Members who had not until that morning heard that the subject was to be introduced to prepare themselves for its consideration.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, the question in the first instance before the House was the oath of allegiance, passing by for the time the two other oaths required to be taken by Members. As one of the constituency of London who had yesterday advised the course here adopted by Baron de Rothschild, he begged to express his opinion that the most convenient proceeding now 323 would be to assent, without a division, to the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Member for Buteshire. As to the Amendment of the hon. and learned the Attorney General, he should, when it came on, enter his protest against it, considering that no one, except at the desire of Baron de Rothschild himself, or of his constituents, had any right whatever to claim that the Baron should be heard by counsel. Whether such an application should be made at any future point of the proceedings, was a matter to be determined by the Baron and those who acted with him. He was not himself personally acquainted with Baron de Rothschild, but he was prepared to repudiate, on the part of the Baron and of his friends, any such trick as taking the House by surprise. The imputation, in fact, was simply an absurdity. The Baron and his constituents had waited patiently, year after year, for justice; but after the statement of the noble Lord last Monday, no other course was left to them than the course now adopted. The Baron and his constituents felt that they had got the law and that they had the constitution on their side, and they trusted that they should also have the House of Commons.
§ SIR F. THESIGER
said, that before the House determined upon adjourning the debate, it was extremely desirable that it should come to some clear understanding of the nature of the discussion that was to be taken when the debate should be resumed. He gathered from the hon. and learned Member for Cockermouth that the friends of Baron de Rothschild proposed first to discuss what might be considered the preliminary question of the refusal of the Baron to be sworn on the Gospels, taking other matters subsequently; whereas it appeared to him that all the considerations involved in this very important question should be taken together. Baron de Rothschild had come to the table of the House and desired to be sworn on the Old Testament. No question was put to him why he desired to be sworn on the Old Testament rather than on the New. Everybody perfectly well knew the Baron to be of the Jewish persuasion; but the question was not put to him that ought to have been put—"Why do you require to be sworn on the Old Testament and not on the New?" No doubt the Baron would have replied, "Because I am of the Jewish persuasion, and that form of oath is the only form which I deem binding on my conscience." That answer being given, the case would 324 have stood thus: every one knew that no Gentleman could sit and vote in that House unless he had taken the three oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration; and, inasmuch as the oath of abjuration contained the words "on the true faith of a Christian," when the answer he had stated had been given at the table by Baron de Rothschild, the House would at once have known that he could not take the abjuration oath, and that, consequently, he could not take his seat in that House. It appeared to him, he would repeat, most important that the question should be taken as a whole, and not in a mutilated and partial shape. It was the object, equally with all parties, he would assume, to have the matter placed fairly on a distinct footing; whereas, if the discussion was to be taken first upon the oath of allegiance, and then upon the oath of supremacy, and then upon the oath of abjuration, an advantage would be gained by the friends of Baron de Rothschild, in an indirect manner, which he was sure they did not seek, an advantage answering no practical or permanent purpose, in this way—that the Baron having been permitted to take the oath of allegiance and the oath of supremacy upon the Old Testament, it might be said by the Baron's friends, "You have permitted him to take two of the oaths upon the Old Testament, how can you reasonably deny him permission to take the oath of abjuration, omitting for him that portion of the oath which prevents a Jew from taking it?
§ MR. HUME
said, the supporters of Baron de Rothschild had every desire to discuss the proposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, and for that purpose were ready to assent to the Motion for adjourning the debate; but they decidedly objected to the Motion of the hon. and learned Attorney General, which called upon Baron de Rothschild to appear by counsel in support of a case which he and his friends believed to be already perfectly clear. If the hon. and learned Attorney General would withdraw his Amendment, the debate might be adjourned without any opposition on the part of Baron de Rothschild's supporters. He did not understand why the House had not in this case followed the precedent of Archdall's case. When Mr. Archdall, elected for Chipping Wycombe, refused to be sworn upon conscientious grounds, he was asked successively—"Will you take the first oath, and the second, and the 325 third?" and when he refused he was asked, "Why will you not take it?" The same question ought in fairness to have been put to Baron de Rothschild. This subject ought to have been brought forward in the very first week of the Session, and not only brought forward but carried to a conclusion; instead of which the Bill that had been introduced by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, had been made use of merely as a medium for evading the question. Whenever the noble Lord had been reminded of the measure, he had always said, "Oh, I'll go on with it;" and so the matter stood till Monday last, when the noble Lord said, "It's too late to go on with it this Session; we'll reintroduce the matter next Session." When the noble Lord really wanted to push a measure, he knew very well how to proceed, as in the case of the Mercantile Marine Bill, which, in the teeth of the whole shipping interest of London and other ports, he had forced on by making the House sit upon it six almost consecutive mornings.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that the Attorney General did not propose to make Baron de Rothschild employ counsel if he did not so desire. All that his hon. and learned Friend propounded was that it would be fair to enable Baron de Rothschild, if he so pleased, to declare, either by himself or by his counsel or agent, what were the views and reasons which induced him to demand to be sworn on the Old Testament. He could not see how any hardship could be inflicted upon Baron de Rothschild by this proposition. If it should appear on Monday that Baron de Rothschild declined to avail himself of the facility thus suggested, the Attorney General would withdraw his Motion, and the House could then proceed to discuss the general question.
§ MR. WALPOLE
thought that, as in the case of Mr Archdall, Baron de Rothschild might be asked successively, whether he would take the three oaths; and if he refused to take any, why he refused?
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
said, he had just placed himself in communication with Baron de Rothschild, and the Baron had authorised him to state to the House that in reference to his demand to be sworn upon 326 the Old Testament, he had no wish to be heard by counsel.
§ MR. J. STUART
denied that upon such a question as this any person was entitled to be heard by counsel at their bar. It was a question to be decided wholly according to the law and custom of Parliament. Suppose any person elected to that House refused to take the oath of allegiance, and demanded to be heard by counsel in support of his refusal; would the House hear counsel in such a matter? Why then in this?
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that as Baron de Rothschild did not desire to be heard by counsel, he was quite willing to withdraw his Amendment; but the Motion he sought to amend being before the House, he could not by the forms of the House withdraw the Amendment. If the debate was adjourned, he should be ready on Monday to withdrawn the Amendment.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
thought the ground now so cleared that they were likely, for that day at least, to arrive at a satisfactory result. He had not, in common with many other Members, anticipated that this matter would come on at the morning sitting; but he understood that previous to his arrival at the House Baron de Rothschild had put in a preliminary objection to being sworn upon the Evangelists. Upon this preliminary objection the House must decide for itself; and Baron de Rothschild was entitled to have the decision of the House upon it. It appeared that Baron de Rothschild did not desire to he heard by counsel upon this preliminary point, and the hon. and learned Attorney General, accordingly, was ready to withdraw the Amendment which had reference to it. As the matter stood, he should strongly advise the friends of Baron de Rothschild not to resist the adjournment of the debate. It would be of immense advantage to be able to discuss this very grave judicial question calmly, deliberately, exempt from haste, excitement, or passion. It was urged on the one hand that the law and the custom of Parliament were altogether against this claim; on the other hand, it was contended that by custom—a custom recognised, perhaps, by statute—other high tribunals sanctioned the claim. It was most desirable that the House should have until Monday ["No, no!"]—well, or until some other day next week, to weigh maturely all the bearings of this most important question.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, 327 he would withdraw his Amendment if, in order to enable him to do so, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would withdraw the Motion upon which it rested, leaving a Motion for adjournment to be subsequently renewed.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
gave notice that, on the debate being resumed, he should move an Amendment on the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, that the Baron de Rothschild having presented himself at the table of the House, and requested that the oaths be administered to him on the Old Testament, which he believed binding on his conscience, the clerk be directed to administer to him the oaths of allegiance and supremacy accordingly.
§ MR. HUME moved that the debate be resumed on Monday at noon.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be adjourned till Monday, at Twelve of the clock."
§ MR. J. S. WORTLEY
suggested that Monday would be too early a day. He thought Thursday would be a more convenient day, the disscussion to be then taken upon the whole question.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
appealed to the First Lord of the Treasury whether, after the distinct intimation he had given that this subject would not be resumed until next Session, upon the faith of which intimation many Members had quitted town, and even gone abroad, it would be fair in the Government to permit the discussion to be renewed so early as Monday?
§ MR. AGLIONBY
was quite ready to proceed on Monday, but it was immaterial to him whether the House named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. The House might rest assured that the friends of this claim would not allow Parliament to separate till the question was settled.
§ MR. ANSTEY
said, that as hon. Gentlemen declined the concession of an adjournment until Twelve o'clock on Monday, he should move, as an Amendment, that the debate be adjourned to Five o'clock on this day.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "Monday next, at Twelve of the clock," in order to add the words "this day, at Five of the clock," instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'Monday next, at Twelve of the clock' stand part of the Question."328
§ The Question having been put,
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Government would not assent to either of the propositions before the House. He (Mr. Spooner) knew that several Scotch Members had at great personal inconvenience waited in town until the noble Lord declared the other night that he would not press the Oath of Abjuration Bill, and they had now gone to Scotland. He was satisfied that, as the question had been brought before the House in this manner, many of those hon. Members would return to London if they could do so; but it was utterly impossible for them to be in their places on Monday. He put it to the noble Lord, therefore, whether he would consent to exclude those Scotch Members from taking part in the consideration of this important question.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, he had stated in the earlier part of the debate that as Members were not aware until late last night that Baron de Rothschild would come to the table and claim his seat that day, he considered it would be inexpedient for the House to come to any decision on the subject to-day, and that he was in favour of the adjournment proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. But the House having agreed generally that there should be such adjournment, he thought it ought to be to the earliest possible time. The hon. Member for the city of London (Baron de Rothschild) wished a decision to be taken upon his case, and, as he had declared that he did not wish counsel to be heard with respect to the preliminary question, he (Lord J. Russell) thought the House should meet in order to decide at least that preliminary question at the earliest convenient period. He hoped, therefore, that the House would agree to meet on Monday next to discuss the subject. He thought the proposition of the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex would be attended with some inconvenience, because, as he understood the terms of the Amendment read by that hon. and gallant Gentleman, it seemed to imply that a Member of that House might take two of the oaths, and that the third, the oath and declaration of abjuration, might be omitted. He (Lord J. Russell) certainly thought it would be very difficult for the House to come to a decision implying that any of the oaths and declarations fixed by law to be taken by Members should be entirely omitted. He would give his support to 329 the Motion for adjourning the debate to Monday at twelve o'clock.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
said, he saw the force of the noble Lord's suggestion, and he would consider the terms of the Amendment before he placed it on the hooks.
§ MR. SCOTT
hoped the hon. Member for North Warwickshire would persist in opposing the Motion. The grounds upon which he (Mr. Scott) wished the discussion to be postponed to a later day were precisely those which had been alluded to by the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He considered that sufficient intimation had not been given of the intention of Baron de Rothschild to claim his seat, and that many Members of the House had not, therefore, the opportunity of being present to record their votes. He (Mr. Scott) considered that the debate should be adjourned till Thursday or Friday next. He thought, that as under the present Post Office arrangements no letters could he delivered on Sunday, such an adjournment was not unreasonable. He begged to move that the House do now adjourn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said,' that he bad been sitting during the last three hours listening with Job-like patience to speeches which were meant to show either that the House ought then to adjourn, or, that if they did adjourn, it should be until Monday. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cockermouth stated it was to him a matter of little consequence whether they adjourned to Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; and one hon. and learned Gentleman opposite proposed an adjournment to Friday. He trusted that the House would do no such thing. He objected to any adjournment, because the House had often considered this question before, and therefore required no adjournment respecting it. [Loud cries of "Adjourn, adjourn!"] He begged to assure hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side, who were interrupting him, and who would not find it very convenient for them to interrupt him elsewhere—["Hear, bear!"and"Order!"] He begged to assure the hon. Member for Reading, that he could well understand this interruption. He would, too, assure the hon. and gallant Member for the Irish metropolitan county, that he understood also his interruption; but he would tell him, at the same time, that he was very much mistaken if he supposed that his unmannerly interruption would 330 succeed. Having said so much, he would now beg to assure hon. Gentlemen that he had but a very few words to address to the House. He would wait there until the latest hour at which the House might sit, I or obtain a hearing. He begged also to state that if he had been permitted to make the few observations he intended to address to the House, he should have finished by that time. It was said that the "shortest way to cross a hill was to go round it,"; and so the longest course for persons to; take with him was to interrupt him, when he thought he ought not to be interrupted. All then that he had now to say with respect to the question they were then discussing was this—that it had been before them for three years; that the House had divided upon it eight times, and now he had to state with what results. Upon the first occasion 214 Members had voted in favour of the claim, 140 on the second occasion, 278 on the third, 241 on the fourth, 225 on the fifth, 164 on the sixth, 103 on the seventh, and 272 on the eighth division. These had voted in favour of the: principle of civil and religious liberty. He was not surprised that he had been interrupted in his observations by Members on the other side of the House; but he was surprised at the interruptions he experienced from Members who were on the same side of the House with himself—with those who were "in the same boat" with him; for they had, like him, voted for the support of the principles of civil and religious liberty; but though those Members were "in the same boat," yet he had been told that "they did not row with the same skulls" that he did, and he believed it. He was opposed to any adjournment, and he could not but express his delight that all hypocrisy on this question was now to be I got rid of. Baron de Rothschild had been advised to take a manly course in coming; there. This question involved more than the rights of Baron de Rothschild. They were now to understand whether that House would for the future sacrifice its rights and its privileges before the footstool of the House of Lords. [Cries of "Order!"] He believed, that in Parliamentary phraseology the House of Lords ought to be designated as "elsewhere," or "another place;" but whether it was; "elsewhere," or "another place, "he hoped they would not make any sacrifice of principle in that House. An hon. Gentleman over the way had suggested that the debate should be adjourned until Tuesday; 331 but the noble Lord had already fixed Tuesday for taking into consideration the Irish Franchise Bill; and perhaps that consideration induced the hon. Member to suggest Tuesday, because it would enable that hon. Member to aid in carrying out that which had been done elsewhere, where the attempt was made to deprive the people of Ireland of having the choice of their representatives. He concluded by begging to remind the House that this was a question of privilege, and must take precedence of all others.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Is it the pleasure of the House that this Motion for adjournment be withdrawn? The hon. Member for Berwickshire may explain, but he is not entitled to speak again on this Motion, as he has already spoken. Is it the hon. Gentleman's wish to withdraw the Motion for the adjournment of the House?
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
The hon. and learned Member for Youghal wishes to withdraw his Amendment, on the understanding that the debate be adjourned till Monday at Twelve o'clock.
§ SIR G. GREY
suggested that the best mode of settling the intricacy of the question would be to divide.
§ SIR C. BURRELL moved that the debate be adjourned to Tuesday instead of Monday.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the House must first decide whether the words "Monday next" stand part of the question. If the House decide not, then the next question will be that the debate be adjourned to this day at Five o'clock, and then it will be competent for the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoreham to move Tuesday next.
§ Question put, "That the words 'Monday next, at Twelve of the clock,' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 191; Noes 62: Majority 129.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Alcock, T.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Anson, hon. Col|
|Baines, rt. hon. M, T.||Harris, R.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Hastie, A.|
|Bass, M. T.||Hatchell, J.|
|Bellow, R. M.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Bernal, R.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Henry, A.|
|Blakemore, R.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Heywood, J.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Heyworth, L.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Bright, J.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Brisco, M.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Hollond, R.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hope, A.|
|Brown, H.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Brown, W.||Humphery, Ald.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Cardwell, E.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Carter, J. B.||Keating, R.|
|Childers, J. W.||Kershaw, J.|
|Clay, J.||Labouehere, rt. hon. H.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Langston, J. H.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Legh, G. C.|
|Cobden, R.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Collins, W.||Locke, J.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Lushington, C.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Meagher, T.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Mahon, The O'Gorman|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Deedes, W.||Matheson, A,|
|Denison, E.||Matheson, Col.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Monsell, W.|
|Duncan, G.||Moore, G. H.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Morris, D.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Dunne, Col.||Newry & Morne, Visct.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Nugent, Sir P.|
|Ellis, J.||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||O'Connell, M.|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Fagan, W.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Osborne, R.|
|FitzPatrick. rt. hon. J. W.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Forster, M.||Parker, J.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Patten, J. W.|
|Fox, R. M.||Pearson, C.|
|Fox, S. W. L.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Fox, W. J.||Peel, Col.|
|Freestun, Col.||Pelham, hon. D. A.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Pilkington, J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.||Pinney, W.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Price, Sir R.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Pugh, D.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Pusey, P.|
|Greene, J.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Reynolds, J.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Rich, H.|
|Grey, R. W.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Romilly, Col.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Thornely, T.|
|Sandars, G.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Scholefield, W.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Scully, F.||Villiers, hon. O.|
|Seymour, Lord||Wakley. T.|
|Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.||Wall, C. B.|
|Sidney, Mr. Ald.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Simeon, J.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Wawn. J. T.|
|Smith, J. A.||Wegg-Prosser, F. R.|
|Smyth, J. G.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.||Williams, J.|
|Sotheron, T. H. S.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Spearman, H. J.||Wilson, J.|
|Stafford, A.||Wilson. M.|
|Stuart, Lord D.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Stuart, J.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Tenison, E. K.||Wyvill, M.|
|Tennent, R. J.||TELLERS.|
|Thesiger, Sir F.||Wood, W. P.|
|Thompson, Col.||Hume. J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Hamilton. G. A.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Heald, J.|
|Arkwright, G.||Henley, J. W.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Herries, rt, hon. J. C.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Hornby, J.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Jones, Capt.|
|Blair, S.||Knox, Col.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Bremridge, R.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Lewisham, Visct.|
|Buck, L. W.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Morgan, O.|
|Chatterton, Col.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Naas, Lord|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Dickson, S.||Portal, M.|
|Dodd, G.||Prime, R.|
|Duncuft, J.||Reid, Col.|
|Edwards, H.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Seaham, Visct,|
|Forester, hon. G. C. W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Stanford, J, F.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Gordon, Adm.||Thornhill, G.|
|Granhy, Marq. of.||Verner, Sir W,|
|Grogan, E.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Spooner, R.|
|Halsey, T. P.||Burrell, Sir C.|
§ Main Question put, "That the debate be adjourned till Monday next, at Twelve of the clock."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 168; Noes 67: Majority 101.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next, at Twelve of the clock.