MR. GROGAN moved—
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House Returns showing the number of Jesuits, and of the members of any religious order, community, or society of the Church of Rome, bound by monastic or religious vows, registered pursuant to the Act of Geo. IV., c. 7, sec. 28, in the United Kingdom, subsequent to the 23rd day of April, 1829. Of all licences granted pursuant to said statute to all Jesuits or members of any religious order, community, or society, as aforesaid, to come into and remain within the United Kingdom subsequently to the said date. And of all Jesuits, or members of any such religious order, community, or society, as aforesaid, who shall have been prosecuted for any misdemeanour or offence under the said statute, and subsequently to the said date.
§ MR. GROGAN
could not see how there could be any reasonable objection offered to the returns, as similar ones had been granted in former Sessions. He had consulted the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department respecting them, and he said he saw no objection to them. Under the provisions of the Act of 1829, the registration of all Jesuits and Monks was made incumbent under penalties.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, that all the members of religious congregations, who were not registered under the provisions of the Act referred to, were liable to banishment or transportation for life. This was the reward that they would return to these gentlemen who devoted their time in feeding, clothing, and instructing the poor. The return would be the means of enabling any person actuated with feelings which prompted the present Motion, to turn informer, and prosecute the members of the different religious orders in this country. Lord Stanley had said that the time was come to look into these matters, and to take out these infernal Acts from the Statute-book. With the view of testing the sincerity of hon. Gentlemen opposite, he had proposed to introduce a Bill for their repeal, yet out of a House of 200 Members there were only thirty-five to vote with him, and the son of the noble Lord voted with the majority. Those damnable laws, that still disgraced their Statute-book, declared, that unless the members of the religious orders, received the licence 609 of the Secretary of State to remain in the country, they would be liable to banishment; and if they refused to obey that sentence, to transportation. They were so bound by their vows that they could not consent to banish themselves, so that transportation would be the result. There was the Abbey of Loughborough, which fed hundreds weekly of the starving poor; and, like the Christian Brothers and other religious orders, educated thousands throughout the year. Was the Government prepared to prosecute such excellent bodies of men, whose whole lives were dedicated to the performance of charitable; works amongst their poorer brethren? This return would enable some informer in the town of Loughborough to prosecute, with safety to his pocket, the venerable Abbot of the Trappists by the name of Wm. Palmer. He was determined to divide the House against the Motion.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
said, that the warmth of the hon. and learned Gentleman had carried him to the very bounds of Parliamentary licence. The hon. and learned Gentleman had been guilty of the utterance of language which any society of gentlemen in England ought not to tolerate. He put it to the House, whether a stronger argument could be used for the Motion than that which was urged against it by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and who also had admitted that those persons were violating the present law of the land. He was surprised that two hon. and learned Gentlemen should interfere to prevent the law from taking its course, and to extend impunity to those who had practically disobeyed the law. This very same return had been already granted, and it was but a poor consolation to them to know the number of those who systematically violated the law.
§ MR. TRELAWNY
considered that the hon. Baronet had no right to quarrel with the epithet used by the learned Gentleman, since he himself had used the words "Godless colleges" to a Bill which had received the sanction of that House, of the House of Lords, and even of Royalty itself. He thought it was particularly desirable that one or two Catholic priests should be transported, for the purpose of producing a sound tolerant feeling in the country. The labouring classes were not with those who set up this anti-Catholic howl. The middle and higher classes might; but he knew that the labouring classes were more sensible.
§ SIR G. GREY
did not see any reasonable objection to the Motion. The return would not furnish the means for the exercise of the informer's vocation. The names of parties would not be given; and the sources of information were not private. The records were in the office of every magistrate, and they would not subject any one to prosecution. Not seeing any reason for refusing the Motion, he would give his assent to it.
§ MR. KEOGH
said, he was not surprised to hear the right hon. Baronet assent to the Motion of the hon. Member for Dublin, as they seemed both to be perfectly agreed upon the question of instituting a prosecution against these Catholic priests. They had already been told by the First Minister of the Crown that the Viceroy in Ireland had been consulting the Attorney General as to the propriety of commencing those prosecutions. He protested against the House acting as jackal to Her Majesty's Attorney General.
§ MR. WALPOLE
was surprised at the objection of the hon. and learned. Member for Youghal, which he understood to be, that if the returns were granted, parties guilty of a violation of the Act would be subject to a prosecution in consequence. But as the first part of the return merely referred to the number of Jesuits in the country previous to 1829, the objection did not apply; and as the second part only referred to those licensed, no prosecution could by any possibility be occasioned in consequence of that return furnishing any evidence.
§ SIR G. GREY
The reason that no returns have been made is, because not a single licence had been applied for.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
had not the Act of Parliament before him, but the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst was in error. It was not merely an enactment requiring the Jesuits and members of religious orders to register themselves, it required the monks and Christian brothers to obtain the Secretary of State's licence; and a natural-born subject, living in England, under the protection of the laws, could not of his own will enter one of the orders, though licensed by the Act, without incurring, first, the penalty of banishment, and, in the second instance, transportation for life. The word he had used in designating that enactment was used to denote the religion of eight millions of Her Majesty's 611 subjects in the United Kingdom, and several millions of Her subjects not within the United Kingdom. Their religion was damnable; and he said, using that word, that it had been consecrated, not so much by the Act of the Legislature, as by the approbation of the party represented by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford. Using that legal, holy, consecrated word, he did so to designate this as a damnable enactment. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
appealed to the hon. and learned Member, whether it was a word consistent with the dignity of the House?
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
would not persist in using the word in that House. Her Majesty, on the Throne, must alone be permitted to do so, and then only when referring to the subject of the Roman Catholic religion. Bowing to high authority, he would admit that the Roman Catholic religion was the only thing, in reference to which that word could be legally used; that it was the only thing that could be legally predicated as truly damnable. He did admit that the Roman Catholic religion was the only damnable thing known to the House. [Cries of "Order!" "Question!"]
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
was speaking to that question. Having regard to these facts, to the late hour of the day, to the importance of the Motion, to the thin state of these benches, and, above all, to the animus shown by those who had spoken on behalf of the Motion, on which the present Amendment had been moved, he felt it his duty not only to reject the Motion, but to obstruct it by every constitutional means in his power. If the Amendment should fail, he would tell the hon. Gentleman he should not carry his Motion by that time to-morrow.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
thought the hon. and learned Member for Youghal had attached undue importance to the return. He should think the persons pointed at in the return would be the last to sympathise, or to wish that support on their behalf. He had not the Act before him, but he thought they would find this was the case. By the 28th sect., the Jesuits in the country at the time when the Act passed were required to register within six months. That a great number registered was a notorious fact, from the returns moved for 612 by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford. The only remaining parts of the returns now moved for were the licences granted, and the number of persons prosecuted. Supposing the hon. Member for Dublin had given notice that he would ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any had been registered since the last returns were made, and whether any licences had been granted, and whether any Jesuits had been prosecuted, my right hon. Friend would simply say, no. The House would have had the returns which were now asked for, and every species of information now required. When the hon. and learned Member for Youghal talked of the oath of supremacy, and said he used that word as applying to his religion, he would be pleased to remember that it applied to a doctrine which he would be the first to condemn—"that no prince excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by his subjects." As for prosecutions, the fact was, that Her Majesty's Attorney General alone could sue for the penalties; and, though he did not like to prophesy, he did not think Her Majesty's Attorney General would do so.
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 10; Noes 103: Majority 93.
§ MR. M. O'CONNELL moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. KEOGH
knew very well that that was the technical question; but it could not be denied that the real question was, whether or no the returns should be granted. The object of the hon. Member for Dublin was, that he might display his own loyalty, in contrast to those who, it appeared, had not registered their names, and had thereby disobeyed the laws.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, his offence amounted to this, that when, in the ordinary courtesy of discussion, the hon. Member for Dublin asked whether there would be any objection to granting the return, he said there was none. He was prepared to grant the returns; at the same time, he was not 613 prepared to stay there all night; and, as he could give the hon. Gentleman all the information he wanted—that no licences had been granted since 1836, and that no persons had come forward to register—he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press his Motion.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, he did not wish to screen any person who had violated the law. He hoped the hon. and learned Attorney General would transport a few Jesuits, and he wished him much joy of his success.
§ Motion and original Question, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after Two o'clock.