§ Order for Second Reading read,
§ SIR G. GREY
Mr. Speaker, before I 1124 proceed, in pursuance of the intimation made the other night by my noble Friend, to state the modifications and alterations which, if the House shall consent to the second reading of this Bill, the Government, after a full and careful consideration of the objections which have been urged against it, mean to propose that the House should adopt, I am anxious to make a few observations with reference to some suggestions which have been strongly pressed upon the Government as to the course which it might be expedient to adopt with regard to this Bill. On Monday night last it was strongly urged upon the Government, chiefly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, with the view, as he stated, to the despatch of public business, and to prevent the interruption to important business which would ensue by the interposition of protracted discussions with regard to this Bill—and I think his opinion was concurred in by several other hon. Members—that the Government should adopt the course which, as stated by them, was indicated by Lord Stanley in another place as that which he would have thought it his duty to propose if he had been at the head of the Government. But I must say that I think the right hon. Gentleman and those who join with him, in urging that course upon the Government, have not rightly apprehended the suggestion which Lord Stanley made. They seem to assume that, if the Government adopted the course suggested by Lord Stanley, all that they would have to do would be to propose to each House of Parliament the appointment of a Committee, to whom a variety of subjects connected with the relations which the Roman Catholic subjects of England sustain to the State on the one hand, and to the head of their Church on the other, should be referred. They seem to assume also that these Committees would be appointed without debate and discussion, and that after the subject had been referred to them its further consideration would be indefinitely postponed, and that the House would be enabled to proceed at once to the consideration of those other questions of undoubted importance which are intended to occupy the time of Parliament during the present Session. But they seem to me to have overlooked one important part of the scheme indicated by Lord Stanley, which was—not that the subject should be passed over with indifference by either House of Parliament; but what he proposed was, if I understand it rightly, that there 1125 should be a Resolution simultaneously passed by both Houses of Parliament—a Resolution expressing the opinion of each House separately that the course recently taken by the Court of Rome is considered as offensive to this country, as derogatory to the dignity of the Crown, and as trenching upon the independence of this country; and that after adopting a Resolution of this kind, they should each appoint Committees of the nature before referred to. Now, I do not wish on this occasion to touch upon any subject likely to give rise to discussion; but I am anxious to state shortly why the Government consider that such a course as that suggested by Lord Stanley would not be consistent with the duty which they owe to the State. In the first place, I beg to state that this course of proceeding by resolution would not effect the object which the right hon. Gentleman, and those who think with him, profess to have in view. It would not give the go-by to the subject, and enable Parliament to proceed forthwith to the consideration of the other matters requiring attention; because this House would be involved in discussions probably as long, as discursive, and occupying as much time with reference to the Resolution, as they would be with regard to the Bill which is now before the House. And with what result? I confess that in all my Parliamentary experience I do not remember a resolution of this nature passed simultaneously by both Houses of Parliament, except with the view of immediately adopting a Bill founded upon it, which should receive the sanction of the Legislature. As every one knows, a Resolution of either House of Parliament does not possess the force of law. What then would be the effect of a Resolution declaring that the rights and dignities assumed by the Roman Catholic prelates under the authority of the Pope were null and void? As I have said, no Resolution of either House of Parliament, at least in matters not affecting their privileges, can have the force and effect of law. A Resolution of this kind, then, having passed, after the protracted discussions with which it would be certain to be accompanied, would be a piece of mere waste paper, as far as concerned any operative declaration of what the existing law is, or as far as concerned the amendment or alteration of the existing law. The titles derived from the Court of Rome would be borne as openly and ostentatiously as before, and if 1126 any question were to arise in a court of law with respect to the right of the Roman Catholic prelates to bear those titles, and if a Resolution of Parliament were to be pleaded as a bar to their assumption, I will venture to say that no court would feel at liberty to pay any respect to such Resolutions, so far as those Resolutions were opposed to or professed to alter the law. That is one reason why the Government think the course of proceeding by Resolution not only inexpedient, but inconsistent with their duty. But it is proposed to appoint simultaneous Committees. Now, does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester imagine that no discussion would arise upon the question of whether the Committees should be appointed at all in the first place; that no discussion—and discussions too, I must say, of a delicate nature, which it is desirable as far as possible to avoid—would take place with regard to the selection of the topics which should be referred to the Committees; and, again, with regard to the nomination of the Committees? Assuming, therefore, that such would be the fact, I do not think that by adopting such a course we could get through with it at an earlier period than we are likely to get through the different stages of the present Bill. And would there not, moreover, be some danger that, instead of allaying animosities which it is most desirable to allay, it would tend rather to keep those animosities alive, if we were to have Committees of both House of Parliament receiving statements from one quarter impugning the different practices which are adopted in the exercise of the Roman Catholic religion, on the one hand, and hearing counter-statements on the other—statements which would, of course, be presented to the public from time to time through the ordinary channels of information, while an indefinite expectation would be kept up of future legislation on a large and comprehensive scale, professing at once to satisfy the Protestant feeling of the country, and preserve inviolate those principles of civil and religious liberty which we are anxious to maintain not only for ourselves, but for our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen? I will only add, as I stated on a former occasion in answer to the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, that I am by no means prepared to say that the law with respect to the relations of the Roman Catholic subjects of England to the State on the one hand, and to the head of their Church on 1127 the other, is in a satisfactory state—and that while I think it would be inexpedient to throw the question open before a Parliamentary Committee for an indefinite time, I am not prepared to retract what I then said, but, on the contrary, would now distinctly repeat, that I think the subject is worthy the consideration of any Government, and that it is most desirable that those relations should be placed on a better and more satisfactory footing.
The next suggestion which has been pressed upon Government—proposed in a different spirit and with a different feeling—is, that Ireland should be exempted from the operation of the Bill now before the House. There are many hon. Gentlemen who feel strongly with regard to the necessity of adopting some legislative measure in order to check encroachments on the part of Rome, but who, actuated by kindly feelings towards their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in Ireland—feelings in which I am not ashamed to say I participate, and who, looking to the distinction between the two cases of England and Ireland, are anxious to do nothing that would seem to impose any new disability upon the Roman Catholics of Ireland, or that would give them any reasonable ground of complaint; and they have consequently pressed upon the Government to consider whether Ireland should not be altogether omitted from the Bill. On many grounds, the Government felt it their duty to give this subject full consideration before the meeting of Parliament. We have since reconsidered it; but that reconsideration has only confirmed the conviction at which we had previously arrived, that to adopt that course would be wholly inconsistent with our duty. We felt, and we feel strongly, that if the Bill was to be founded, as it is founded, upon an alleged invasion of the Queen's prerogative, as Sovereign of England—that if the internal concerns of our country are matters with which no foreign Power can be permitted to interfere—that if we proceeded upon that principle, and at the same time proposed to limit the Bill to one part of the united kingdom only, we should be chargeable with tacitly admitting that the authority of the Crown was less paramount and supreme in one portion of the kingdom than it was in another. We felt that if, abandoning this principle, we were to adopt this course in order to obtain support to the Bill, or with a view to its being 1128 passed with less opposition than it is now threatened with—that if we were to purchase this advantage in the way proposed, we should be doing that, as Ministers of the Crown, which would be tantamount to a betrayal of our trust. But, while I say this, I admit that there is a wide practical difference between the circumstances of Ireland and the circumstances of England and Scotland. It is impossible to overlook the fact which I have had frequent cause to advert to when addressing the House on former occasions, that the great majority of the population of Ireland are Roman Catholics, with a Church not endowed by the State, which has existed since the time of the Reformation to the present day in unbroken succession—a Church which has been at one time prohibited, at another time tolerated, and another time protected—a Church with bishops side by side with the bishops of the Established Church, and with usages and practices which have grown up, and have been sanctioned there, which have never been known and sanctioned in England, because there was not the same necessity for them, the circumstances of the two countries being wholly and essentially different. And this, in fact, constitutes—there is no use in concealing the fact—I have felt it all along myself, and I am sure all whom I now address have felt it—it is this which constitutes the main difficulty in dealing as efficiently as we could wish to do with the case which has called for the measure to which we now ask the assent of Parliament. In this country, however, the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church have existed for two centuries as vicars-apostolic; lately—I do not know what was the case at an earlier period—but, certainly, of late, her vicars-apostolic were clothed with the episcopal character, and were enabled to perform every episcopal function; the Roman Catholic religion was exercised, to the fullest extent, without let, hindrance, or limitation, and without any necessity for the state of things which existed in Ireland. I am prepared to contend, therefore, that in this country there is no portion of the Bill that can inflict the slightest hardship. In Ireland, however, I am not prepared to deny that, looking to some of the objections that have been made to the Bill, there does seem some ground for believing that it might interfere to a certain degree with practices and usages with which it cer- 1129 tainly was not the intention or desire of Government to interfere—usages and practices which have been sanctioned for a length of time in Ireland, and to interfere with which now would be, to a certain extent, a hardship and injustice. I will explain this more fully shortly. But I am not prepared to admit, on the contrary I deny, that many of the objections which have been urged against the Bill are founded in fact or in law. These objections have been directed against the second and third clauses chiefly. With respect to the second clause, it has been stated that it would interfere with all the spiritual acts of the Roman Catholic bishops, and render those acts null and void. Now it is impossible for any one with the slightest legal education to contend that a clause of that nature can render any spiritual act void in law, unless the spiritual act which it is alleged is made void, is an act which can be enforced by the law, and is recognised by the law. All those spiritual acts which are capable of being performed by the Roman Catholic bishops, whether in England or Ireland, are acts to which a willing and free obedience is rendered by the members of the Roman Catholic Church, and, except in so far as their conscience may constrain to obedience, they cannot be enforced at all. I mean that they are not constrained to obedience by the law; that their obedience cannot be enforced by law. I say, therefore, that it was not contemplated by Government, and I deny that the effect of the clause, if passed in its present shape, would be to set aside and render void spiritual acts, such as are necessary to be performed by the bishops of an episcopal communion. Then, again, with regard to the third clause, it has been stated over and over again that it would directly interfere with the provisions of the Bequests Act, passed in order to facilitate the endowment of the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy in Ireland. I deny that it has necessarily at all events such an effect as that which has been attributed to it. It is only necessary to compare the language of this clause with the language of the 15th section of the Bequests Act, which contains the provisions authorising the granting of endowments to the bishops and clergy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, in order to see that not one of the provisions of the Bequests Act is touched by the clause even as it now stands. The terms of the 7th and 8th of Victoria, c. 97, s. 15 1130 (the Bequests Act), authorises grants by deed or will to the Commissioners in trust, &c.—For any archbishop or bishop or other person in holy orders of the Church of Rome, officiating in any district, or having pastoral superintendence of any congregation of persons professing the Roman Catholic religion, and for those who shall from time to time so officiate or shrill succeed to the same pastoral superintendence.Now I should have thought, by looking at the terms of this Act, that it had been carefully worded so as to avoid the necessity of the bequests sanctioned, authorised, and invited under this Act violating in any degree the section of the Act of 1829 which prohibits the assumption and use by Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland of the titles of existing sees. If the terms of the third clause of the Bill now before the House are compared with the terms of the Bequests Act, it will be seen that bequests to persons "officiating in any district, or having pastoral superintendence of any congregation of persons professing the Roman Catholic religion," would clearly not be prevented by the third clause—that, in fact, that clause would only prevent endowments by deed or will to persons using the titles or assuming the designations which are prohibited in the first clause. I said just now, and upon consideration I am not prepared to deny, that the operation of the clause as it now stands might prejudice some rights of long usage, and interfere with practices sanctioned by time, and, I believe, also by Courts of Law and Equity. I do not think that directly it is calculated to produce any such effect: but it is probable it may do so indirectly. I admit that such was not the original intention of Government, and we are anxious not to go beyond the views which we entertained when we originally introduced the Bill. On a former occasion allusion was made to the ordination of priests, and to what is called the "collation of priests" in Ireland; and it was objected that the effect of this Bill would be to render such spiritual acts invalid; because it is alleged—and I believe with truth—that under the terms of the Bequests Act it may sometimes be necessary to give evidence of ordination and collation, with the view of establishing the right of parties to bequests that may have been made to them; and that the practice is to give in evidence the certificate of ordination, and the instrument of collation, and this evidence has been received in the 1131 Courts of Law. This instrument, we are also told, invariably and of necessity contains the name of the bishop or archbishop who ordained or collated the priest, and that such bishop or archbishop is generally described by the title of the see which he holds. I have seen one of these instruments; it is in Latin; I don't remember the date, but it is of no consequence, for the practice, I am told, is invariably the same; and in that instrument the archbishop is described as Archbishop of Dublin. Although it may be alleged that the production of such evidence renders the party assuming such a title liable to be proceeded against by the Attorney General, it appears that the Courts of Law have never regarded such an instrument as void. It is alleged that a case may occur under the Bequests Act, for example, where a bequest is left to an ecclesiastic of the Church of Rome, having pastoral superintendence in that Church, and where the deed or will by which the grant is made contains the name of a Roman Catholic priest of the particular place or congregation; that a question may arise in a Court of Law as to the right of the priest so named to the bequest as against a third party who also claims it; and that in order to the settlement of the question he is required to show that he is an ordained priest of the Church of Rome, and that he was collated to the charge of that particular parish. This Bill, it is alleged, under the operation of the second clause—and I must admit I think the allegation has some weight in it—would throw an obstacle in the way of the proof by prohibiting the reception of the ordinary evidence, and drive the parties to secondary proof, or deprive them of that which it was the intention of Parliament that they should have. So again, although with respect to any grant, if the terms of the Bequests Act be followed, this Bill, according to my construction of the words, would not render such grants invalid, it is alleged that the practice has been to use the name and title of the Roman Catholic bishop. I am dealing with the practice which prevails in Ireland, and has prevailed there for several years—and it is alleged that it would be difficult to persuade people, not perhaps having legal advice at their elbow, to depart from the existing practice, and make grants or bequests for the endowment of ministers of their Church, without using terms which this Bill would prohibit. Further, it is said, and I believe there is 1132 no doubt, that Courts of Equity in Ireland, since the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Act, have executed trusts expressly in favour of Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops described by the titles of their sees, not regarding the prohibition in the Act of 1829 as affecting the terms of the grant or bequest. I have been told of a case—I have not, of course, been able to examine the record, and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the account, except in so far as saying that it comes to me from a quarter upon which I place full reliance—a case in which a decree was made in the Court of Chancery in Ireland, on the 3rd of July, 1844, in reference to a sum of 13,000l., which was directed to be invested in the erection and endowment of a convent of the Præmonstratensian order, or Sisters of Mercy, in the archdiocese of Tuam; and I have been furnished with an extract from the report of this case. It is there stated—The sums left to Roman Catholic charities in this case exceed 30,000l. The bequest in the will of the testator was to the Most Rev. Dr. Murray, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, and the Most Rev. Dr. Kelly, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, and their successors in the said respective sees for the time being. The Bill was filed after the death of Dr. Kelly, and Dr. M'Hale was made a co-plaintiff with Dr. Murray, as the successor of Dr. Kelly in the see of Tuam; and the fund was administered in that state of the record.The will on which the suit arose was made in 1834, subsequently therefore to the clause in the Act of 1829 to which I have referred. I am told that that is not a solitary case, and that there are other cases in which, in accordance with the general practice in Ireland, these have been considered good trusts. There was a case before Lord Manners, in which he refused to recognise the succession of Roman Catholic bishops; but that was before the Act of 1829, and no objection was made to the designation of the parties as bishops of sees in Ireland. Now, under these circumstances, the Bill in its present form, if passed, would have an operation which was not in the contemplation, not in the intention of the Government, because, while they have been anxious to maintain the dignity of the Crown, to assert its supremacy within these realms, and to uphold the independence of the country, they had no desire to deprive any part of their fellow-subjects of any civil or religious rights of which they are in possession. After the best consideration which we can give 1133 to this case, we have thought it our duty, as I have already stated, to persevere with this Bill, holding it essential that there should be a declaration by Parliament of the will of the nation, if I may so express myself, with regard to the recent act of the Court of Rome, which has excited so much indignation—I will not now say whether justly or unjustly, I have already stated my opinion upon that—and that Parliament should not pass it by with indifference, and, by so doing, encourage a repetition of acts which would be fatal, I think, to the independence of this country; but, at the same time, we have anxiously considered, especially with regard to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in Ireland—it is, I think, exclusively with regard to them that these objections apply—we have anxiously considered how we may effect the object in view without giving even the slightest ground of complaint to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in Ireland that their rights are abridged, and that practices long sanctioned by usage in that country are about to be interfered with, and—I will not say their property confiscated, because I think that is an unfounded and exaggerated statement—but that new impediments, not before known to the law, are to be placed in the way of their applying their property to the use of that Church which is not endowed by the State, but supported by their voluntary contributions. We might, no doubt, have omitted certain words, and inserted others, to meet the particular cases to which I have referred; but after giving the subject the fullest consideration, we have come to the conclusion, that by attempting amendments of that kind we might only be raising new points of discussion, and giving occasion for new objections not yet started, and might, after all, not completely effect the objects we sincerely have in view. Under these circumstances we have come to the conclusion, that if the House, after hearing my statement, shall agree to the second reading of the Bill, we shall, when the House shall go into Committee upon it, propose to omit altogether the second and third clauses. With regard to the fourth clause, that is wholly ancillary to the second and third clauses; and, therefore, must stand or fall with them. I have stated the considerations which induce the Government to adopt this course; and I will now say a few words in reference to an objection which I see I may anticipate, and which it is impossible 1134 not to anticipate, namely, that the Bill, reduced as it will then be, to the prohibition contained in the first clause, will not be worthy of the occasion, and not justify the expectation of the country. To this extent it ought to justify that expectation, that it will be a Parliamentary declaration that the titles assumed, as they are ostentatiously, under the authority of the Pope, are not to be borne by persons claiming authority in this country. It will be a national protest against that act of the Pope—a national declaration that the authority assumed is one which Parliament will not allow to be exercised. When it is stated that this is so inefficient and limited an Act, I must say that I do not concur in that statement, judging by past experience; and I cannot admit that the clause in the Act of 1829 prohibiting titles is a dead letter, or that it has not answered to the full the object with which it was framed, and the expectation with which it was passed by Parliament. I have said that it has been the practice for the Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland to use those titles in letters of ordination, and in the collation of priests; and it is alleged that it is necessary for them to do so, because, in those documents, the authority must be shown under which the acts are performed; but ostensibly, in their communications with the Government, in approaching the Throne or the Legislature, there has been a respect and an obedience to the law; and in all those documents, and upon all official occasions, it has been observed, and the bishops have abstained from using those titles. I believe the same result will take place in England if this Bill be passed, because I believe the Roman Catholic subjects of Her Majesty will observe the law, and think it their duty to obey it. Only a few days since, I had the honour of presenting to Her Majesty an address from the Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops in Ireland, in which, describing themselves as such, they did not assume either in the body of the address, or in their signatures, any title prohibited to them. Certainly, if they had, I should have felt it my duty to abstain from presenting it to Her Majesty. So also with regard to the petition presented to this House the other night; that petition was signed by every Roman Catholic archbishop and bishop in Ireland, using his Christian name and surname, without assuming the title of his diocese. I have 1135 now stated what clauses we propose to omit—that we propose to avoid all interference with long-established usage, and with rights conceded to, and long exercised by, our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. But I must avow my own opinion, that although it is necessary that such a Bill as this should pass, and although I think such a prohibition, proceeding from the Legislature, receiving the sanction of both Houses of Parliament and of the Crown, will have the effect of a national protest and declaration against that act of the Pope which has been so much objected to, yet it is not to any Act of Parliament that I look for the maintenance of the Protestant religion in these realms, but to that deep feeling of attachment to the Protestant faith which not only the members of the Established Church but the members of every Protestant denomination possess, and to which they have given utterance in language clear, unambiguous, and unmistakeable. It is to their just appreciation of the blessings connected with the maintenance of the Protestant faith in this country that I look for the maintenance of that faith, accompanied, as it no doubt will be, with the increased diligence and activity of Protestant ministers in their respective spheres, armed, as I believe, with the armour of truth, to resist that spiritual aggression with which they have been threatened. Before I sit down, I will advert to a question put by the hon. Member for Ayrshire, with regard to the operation of this Bill upon the bishops of the Episcopal Communion in Scotland, whose petition has been presented to-night. Certainly their case was not at all in the contemplation of the Government when they thought it their duty to propose a Bill of this kind. There is nothing in the conduct of those bishops, in the course they have pursued, which would render it in the least necessary or expedient that a Bill should be passed placing them under any disability to which they are not now subject. But I feel it right to state that I believe those bishops, designated as they are in an Act of Parliament—the first Act of Parliament recognising them in their episcopal character, the Act in 1840—"Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Communion of Scotland," have no shadow of right whatever to assume or use titles drawn from Scotch dioceses. There are those who think it is against positive law—the Act of Union embodying the Act of Settlement: that may involve a nice ques- 1136 tion; but at all events they are without law, I believe, in this. The usage has grown up only within the last 20 years, and it is not now universal among them; and in introducing words exempting bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Communion in Scotland from any penalties to which they might be subject under the Bill, I should feel it my duty to provide that the exemption shall not be held to give them any right to the use or assumption of titles to which they are not already by law entitled. There was an observation made by the hon. and learned Member for Athlone, who charged me with presenting to Her Majesty an address from the Protestant bishops in Scotland, signing as bishops of dioceses over which they presided. I contradicted him at the time, but I had no opportunity then of giving an explanation. No address from the Scotch bishops was presented to the Queen. The only address I have seen which contains any of their signatures, with the exception of one from Edinburgh, to which no objection could be taken, was from the members of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, which was brought to me signed by 3,000 or 4,000 of the members of that society, in their individual capacity; it was an address remarkable for its moderation, expressing firmly an opinion with respect to the recent act of the Pope, and the establishment of a Roman Catholic hierarchy in this country, but in language to which no possible exception could be taken. After the secretary had left the address with me, I observed among the signatures those of four bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Communion in Scotland, who had signed their names, and added to their names a description as bishops of certain places. If that address had been from the bishops themselves exclusively, I should have respectfully returned it to them, pointed out what I conceived to be the impropriety of so addressing the Throne, and requested them to return the address signed as the Act of Parliament appears to prescribe. But as the address came from a very large number of members of this society, and the signatures were not, I believed, contrary to any law, I felt it my duty to lay the address before Her Majesty; but in signifying the reception of the address to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the President of the Society, whose name stood first on the list of signatures, I thought it necessary to write an official letter to 1137 him, desiring it to be expressly understood that in laying that address before Her Majesty no sanction was given to the form of signature adopted by these bishops in Scotland, and no recognition intended of titles which they had assumed. I thought, under the circumstances, that was the best course I could adopt; and I hope the hon. and learned Member will see that he has not correctly represented the course I pursued. I have now stated what the Government propose to do. I have endeavoured to abstain from matter which might lead to debate at present, because if we are to postpone the second reading of this Bill for a week, it is desirable that we should not now be involved in a long and protracted discussion, which must again take place on the second reading. I have only, therefore, to move that the Order of the Day for the second reading of this Bill be postponed till Friday next.
§ MR. J. STUART
said, that the right rev. Prelates of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, from whom he had presented the petition that night, conceived that the great principle at stake on this occasion was far more important to them and to the country, to the Church and to the people, than any question with reference to their titles. But the measure which the Government now invited the House to discuss next week, would in no respect answer to the measure for which they were prepared by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when he first expressed his opinions upon the subject. This was a most important consideration for the House, and especially for those Members who had voted for the first reading of the Bill—that they should observe attentively what the nature of the measure was, as now described by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary. When they entered into discussion upon this Bill, they would have to consider whether there was not a greater confusion between the legislative and the executive functions of Government than had ever before presented itself to the House. The noble Lord at the head of the Government described the act of the Pope as a gross insult to the supremacy of the Crown. If such an insult was offered, it was the duty of the Executive Government to take proper steps with regard to it. One constitutional mode of resenting such an insult was by proclamation, calling the attention of the subjects of the Crown concerned to the rights of the Crown. That he conceived to be the con- 1138 stitutional law in respect of this subject, and he threw it out for the consideration of the noble Lord and his Government, and of the House, in applying their attention to the Bill. If an insult were offered to the Crown, it was the duty of the noble Lord to notice it, if proceeding from a foreign Power, by some notification, not only of the feeling, but of the sense of the Government respecting the rights of the Crown. He did not see his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General in his place; but, as a constitutional lawyer, he had no doubt furnished the noble Lord with precedents applicable to the case. But what had the Executive Government done in discharge of their duty in respect to this insult? Had there been a proclamation of the Privy Council, or a declaration to the people of England that the rights of the Crown which existed for the benefit of the people had been insulted? How was the insult met? Why, instead of the authority of the Privy Council being invoked, and of the people of England being informed upon the matter by the Executive Government through the proper authority—by a private letter published in a newspaper, addressed by the noble Lord, as an individual, to another subject of the Crown—by a letter, be it observed, published in a newspaper, the noble Lord expressed his indignation at the insult that had been offered to the Sovereign. Upon what constitutional precedent was it that the dignity of the Crown was to be held so low that an insult offered to the Crown by a foreign Power, in the face of the people of England, was to be noticed by the Prime Minister only by a private letter, addressed to a private individual, and published with his sanction in a newspaper? Anything more forgetful of what was due to the Crown of England, and to the people of England, could hardly have been conceived. It was the duty of the Government to protect the rights of the Crown as well as the rights of the people, and when those rights were attacked they should be vindicated in a manner suitable to the dignity of the people of England. Another mode pointed out by constitutional precedent, of vindicating the rights of the Crown when an insult was offered to it by an individual coming into the dominions of the Queen, armed with the authority of a foreign State to do certain things amounting to insult, it would be within the power of the Crown to remove that person—to order him 1139 forthwith to quit the kingdom. But when it was found that none of the precedents had been followed, it was natural that the reasons for not following them should be asked for. The reason was this. His hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire had pointed out the reason why the Executive Government had placed itself in such a position as to be unable to vindicate the dignity of the Crown. It was plain that the excuse for this insult was that the individual who had inflicted it, conceived that he was encouraged to it by the acts of the Government itself; and therefore the Executive Government bad, by their own act, lost the power of vindicating the majesty of the Crown in a manner becoming their own dignity, and had been obliged to vindicate it through the medium of their law officers; and their law officers were compelled to say that there was hardly a jury in England who would say that the defence was bad that would be put forth by those who encouraged the movement. The noble Lord had said in his letter that he would have the law examined. Examined, no doubt, it had been, and had been found no doubt to be such as to confirm the view that there were constitutional means in the hands of the Executive Government for taking the first step to vindicate the authority of the Crown. By this Bill the House was placed in a predicament raising considerations which the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State would have to deal with; and the House would require an explanation how the dignity and supremacy of the Crown were to be maintained by simply enacting that certain titles should not be used under a penalty—while they were told that by the law as it stood, and by the decision of Sir Edward Sugden, gifts made under those titles were valid and legal. The Government would have to satisfy the House, before they could agree to the second reading of this Bill, how the supremacy of the Crown—another name for Protestantism—was to be maintained against future insult by prohibiting under a penalty the use of a title which nevertheless might be validly used in a will, and in creating an endowment for the support of that title. A greater farce than this there never was, nor anything more deplorably absurd. The right hon. Baronet had made a number of objections to proceeding by resolution, objections which, with great respect, he (Mr. Stuart) must call puerile; they did not touch the real point. The proposal which 1140 had been made in another place by a noble Lord to proceed by resolution did not appear to him to maintain the dignity and supremacy of the Crown. He considered that the first thing that ought to be done, and the true way to maintain the dignity of the Crown, was to proceed by resolution; but the right hon. Baronet seemed to have rather an imperfect view of the constitutional mode of proceeding in a case like this. If the Government neglected their duty by not taking the proper means of resenting the insult to the Crown of England, the proper way was then for the House to record their sense of the insult that had been offered to the Sovereign. The Government had not touched the real point; but he hoped there would be a full and ample discussion, and a fair consideration of every view that presented itself, suitable to the importance of the occasion, and the magnitude of the question. He had thrown out these few remarks and suggestions in the hope that they would be fairly considered and fairly met.
§ MR. M. GIBSON
desired to say a few words in explanation, as the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary did him the honour of making one or two marked allusions to certain views which he was supposed to have expressed in reference to this question. The right hon. Gentleman assumed that he (Mr. M. Gibson) had come forward to support some particular plan, with a view to deal with Papal aggression. Now the only plan he was in favour of was the plan of doing nothing. Not being the advocate of any legislation, he could not be the advocate of inquiry; not desiring to legislate upon the subject, he did not desire to obtain any information about it by a Parliamentary inquiry. His remark was made in reference to those who did desire to legislate; and he would still say, that if they were determined to legislate, it was better to legislate with information than without it. A noble Lord in another place certainly said he did not consider himself to have sufficient information to legislate now; and he (Mr. M. Gibson) thought that, considering the course taken, many Gentlemen would question whether the Government had sufficient information to legislate now. The evils of inquiry might be great, but the evils of legislating in ignorance were greater; and the greatest of all evils was, bringing in a Bill to do one thing, and finding it was going to do something else. He rose merely to set himself right; he still adhered to the opinion that 1141 it was better to do nothing, and he had the gratification of perceiving that the tendency of things was to a gradual approximation to that sound principle.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
said, at the present moment I have only to state, that I entirely concur in the last sentiment expressed by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down—that our legislation on this subject is a gradual approximation to doing nothing. That evening, a Bill had been before the House for regulating the affairs of an English Copper Company. Those who advocated the Bill said, if it did not pass, the unfortunate shareholders would only get a dividend of 9d. in the pound, while, if it did, they would get 10s. in the pound. In his opinion, this Bill would give the people of England little more than 9d. in the pound. As it originally stood, it had been termed a milk-and-water measure; by some chemical process, unknown to Faraday, the Government had succeeded in extracting all the milk. It was, to all intents and purposes, the play of Hamlet with the character of Hamlet omitted. Even at the first, indeed, it was not such a measure as the people of England might have expected after the letter of his noble Friend, which had raised their feelings and kindled their enthusiasm. And now, after four weeks of deliberation, a measure was introduced utterly deficient of all which they had a right to expect. Although he was willing to take 9d. in the pound rather than nothing, the country would not be satisfied with such a composition; and if the noble Lord compounded with his creditors on no better terms than these, he could scarcely wish him a good deliverance. This was a question of deep feeling. The people of England were, thank God—he hoped he might say it reverently—deeply attached to the Protestantism of the constitution of their country. They would not tamely suffer the indignities which had been placed upon them. This Bill—emasculated as it would be when it came before the House—would leave them open to the mercy of the Court of Rome. He felt bound to take this first opportunity of stating that the proposed measure of Her Majesty's Government mot nothing like the just expectation of the country; and he gave them fair warning, that, in the progress of time, they would be compelled to adopt measures infinitely more stringent, and more suited to the necessities of the occasion.
§ MR. BANKES
doubted whether his hon. 1142 Friend who had just sat down would find even his 9d. in the pound in the amended Bill. And if any of the law officers of the Crown were present, he should ask them how much better off we should be for the new prohibitions against these pretenders, than with the law as it now stood. The law attached a penalty to such assumptions, and authorised the Attorney General to sue for it in a court of justice. The Attorney General, in his speech the other night, spoke strongly in favour of the second and third clauses which the Government now proposed to abandon. The Motion now before the House was, for adjourning the consideration of the Bill to that day week, which he thought would have been a better Motion had it been for adjournment to that day six months—much better than to go on with a measure that was disgraceful to the Government and the Legislature. It had been said, on Roman Catholic authority, that the number of petitions on this subject had not been large. He believed that assertion to be correct, and that the reasons were these: that Parliament was not sitting when public attention was first called to this subject; also, that the First Minister of the Crown stated he should give authority to his law advisers to inquire whether the law, as it stood, was not sufficient to meet the case; and therefore the petitions were addressed to the Queen, urging Her Majesty to call into operation the provisions of the existing law. The letter of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to the Bishop of Durham had so excited the country, and was so clearly intended to excite it, that the Cabinet—all of whom recognised and adopted the noble Lord's measure—were not justified in proposing such a measure as this. In proportion to the disappointment of the people would be their indignation. A stronger speech than that of the noble Lord's in proposing this Bill was seldom delivered even in the days when Catholic emancipation was debated. "But when the public compared that speech with the present measure, they would think that their confidence had been betrayed. Many persons were of opinion that the late resignation of the noble Lord was caused by the difficulties in which he was involved on account of the present measure, and until he heard that denied, he should participate in that opinion. It would have been more candid if the noble Lord had said that this Bill constituted one of his main difficulties. That circumstance might re- 1143 concile a portion of them to the disappointment they would feel at the poor and paltry nature of the measure. The Government gave notice of their intention to take this subject into consideration, as one of the highest import; and therefore it was no wonder that that confidence in the Crown and Government had been manifested by the people. But he now feared the result would prove that that confidence had been misplaced. Under all the circumstances of the case, the House and the country had a right to expect from the Cabinet some better explanation than they had received for such a disappointment. It was not for him to offer an opinion upon the duties of the Crown and the Cabinet; but so far as he might venture to speak, he would utter his opinion that the Sovereign who sat upon the Throne must judge that Her prerogative had not been well defended—that an insult offered to Her rightful authority and supremacy had not been well trusted in the hands of Her Ministers when She saw that this Bill was all the result of that letter of the noble Lord, and of that manly and determined speech which under the authority of Her Royal sanction he had delivered. He must refer to the proceedings of the Synod of Thurles as affording an illustration of the kind of evil which they had to meet. It was far beyond a question of the mere assumption of titles, which some might be disposed to treat with contempt or disregard. But no one who reflected one moment on the subject, would consider that it was no matter of importance whether a foreigner should be allowed to appoint parties who had the power to sit in conclave in any part of this empire. They had to be prepared for such changes, and he (Mr. Bankes), after what the Prime Minister had Said on the subject, could not have believed that he would have lent his sanction to a measure which afforded no protection against them. Lord Liverpool, on the 17th of May, 1825, in a speech during the debate on the Catholic Relief Act, had said—The evil I apprehend from the passing of such a Bill will not he immediate, but it will be inevitable, and it will come on the country in a manner which is little expected. The grand maxim of the Roman Catholics is, If one Church sinks, the other must swim; destroy all the Protestant Church Establishments, and that of the Roman Catholics will flourish.' To destroy that Church is, in fact, their great object, it is their duty, it is their religion, it is their oath, it is their everything. To effect its downfall, circumstances may in the mass not favour their designs; but if the object be effected, what does it signify if the mischief 1144 be produced by open attacks or by a more insidious process? Noble Lords may think that by removing the disabilities which were laid on the Roman Catholics, all dissensions between the two churches will cease. If it were possible to unite the Roman Catholics and Protestants in one friendly mass, based on a common system of education, I should strain every effort to attain so desirable an object; but the very hope of such a thing is visionary, and those who have that object at heart, and introduce the present measure as the means of effecting that object, will be totally disappointed, and grievously deceived, if they were to carry it into law."—[See Hansard, N. S., Vol. XIII., pp. 747–48.]At a subsequent period, four years later, the measure of Catholic relief became law, and in course of time the system of education referred to by Lord Liverpool was attempted. The Court of Rome acted as Lord Liverpool predicted that they would act, and the Synod of Thurles openly interposed to frustrate the system of education which our Queen had approved, and the two branches of our Legislature had enacted. And yet, after all that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had said on the subject, he was content to offer to the House and the country a measure which provided for nothing but what was provided for by existing statutes, which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General might enforce, and which he ought to have enforced long ago. It was proposed to adjourn the consideration of this Bill for a week, but he would rather adjourn it for six months than offer such a piece of delusion to the public.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, this was a question of great importance, and one on which he entertained very decided sentiments, but he would rather reserve the expression of them until he had an opportunity of stating them fully and in detail. The point to which he wished at present to call the attention of Government was with reference to the shape in which the measure was to be laid before the House. He did not understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary intended to print any portion of the changes he proposed to make. As regarded the latter part of the Bill, that, of course, was unnecessary, because the clauses were simply to be removed; but he understood that words were to be added to the first clause for the purpose of excepting and distinguishing the cases of bishops of the Ecclesiastical Church of Scotland. He presumed that, with the same view, some alteration of the preamble would be necessary, because at present its language was so wide that it 1145 covered all ecclesiastical assumptions whatsoever. The rules of the House would not permit them to have a reprint of the Bill at this time, but he would suggest that it would be more convenient to have reprinted upon a separate paper the preamble and the first clause of the Bill, as it would stand in Committee, in the event of the adoption by the House of the Amendments which Government had introduced.
§ LORD C. HAMILTON
would appeal to any hon. Gentleman who had heard that most powerful speech in which the Prime Minister introduced this Bill, whether he could have conceived it possible that any Bill of which that speech was the prelude should have been reduced to so miserable a rag and tatter as that which was now presented to the House? He would ask the House to pause before they committed themselves to a consideration of the proposed object of this Bill. The Bill was "to prevent the assumption of certain ecclesiastical titles in respect of places in the United Kingdom." It recited the 10th of George IV., c. 7, s. 24, which imposed a penalty of 100l. upon any person, not authorised by the law, who should assume the title of any existing archbishop, bishop, or dean; and it extended the provisions of that Act to the assumption of ecclesiastical titles derived from any city, town, or place in England or Ireland, not being an existing see. The preamble of this Bill went on to state that it had been doubted whether the said enactment extended to the assumption of a title or titles of any other place or places not now occupied by the archbishops, bishops, and deans of the Established Church. The object, then, of this Bill was apparently to prevent persons from assuming the titles of archbishops, bishops, and deans, of places not already held by persons authorised by law to hold them. That appeared to be the intention of the Bill; but what appeared to be the intention of the Government? They had been told that since the introduction of this Bill it had been discovered that great difficulties would be occasioned by its operation in Ireland. But when it was recollected that it was now four months since Her Majesty's Ministers had made very strong speeches upon this, the most exciting of all subjects, it was surely the duty of the Government at least to have inquired whether the measure which they contemplated would be liable to difficulties in its operation. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had attempted to 1146 make the House believe that he was anxious to pass the measure in all its integrity; but it was not difficult to observe a difference in the tone of the Government on the subject. As the organ of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that he proposed to omit the second and third clauses of the Bill. He (Lord C. Hamilton) wanted the House to consider what would be the effect of their assenting to such a proposition. The right hon. Gentleman had stated (and he laid great stress on such statement) that he meant to include Ireland in this legislation. Now, in Ireland, according to the right hon. Baronet's own showing, the law on this subject had been inoperative. He bad stated that the two clauses should be omitted, for, if adopted, they would run counter to long-established usage. The titles prohibited by the 10 George IV. had been assumed; and although such assumption was known to the law officers of the Crown, the persons assuming such titles had not been prosecuted—the law had become obsolete and inoperative—it had fallen into desuetude. What, then, was the meaning of including Ireland in a Bill which was to prevent persons from taking titles of new sees, when it was well known that the Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops in Ireland took their titles, not from new, but from the old existing sees? Why, the proposition, as far as Ireland was concerned, was utterly ridiculous. For the last one and twenty years Irish Roman Catholic bishops had assumed tentorial titles in violation of a law which the British Government would not put in force against them. It was a perfect mockery of legislation. And had all this excitement been produced—all this animosity been occasioned for the purpose of enacting, at least so far as Ireland was concerned, that Roman Catholic archbishops there should not assume—what it did not appear they ever meant to assume—new titles for new dioceses? He would not trust himself to say more at present, but could not remain silent when such a statement was made by the Home Secretary after the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He repeated this Bill was nothing more or less than an insult and a mockery to the Protestants of this realm.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Sir, I have no objection to the course proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, and am willing to print in a separate shape any parts of the 1147 Bill which would not otherwise be printed until after the second reading. With regard to the clauses which we propose to omit, it will not be necessary to reprint them; but the preamble, and first clause, as amended, shall be laid before the House. I wish to correct some misapprehensions of the hon. and learned Member for Dorsetshire. The hon. and learned Member says, it is well known that the assumption of episcopal titles by prelates not of the Established Church is against the law as it at present stands, and that the Government failed in their duty in not prosecuting those persons who were guilty of this offence. Now, the statement I made in the letter which has been so often alluded to, was that the law officers of the Crown should be consulted as to the present state of the law, and that if the law were not applicable to the circumstances which had taken place, we would consider whether any measure could not be introduced enacting a new law to meet the case. Questions were accordingly put to the law officers of the Crown, which were formally and regularly drawn up. To these questions we received answers, of which I will now state the substance, and to which I adverted on a former occasion.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The questions referred to new titles generally. The hon. and learned Gentleman says the Government knew these persons had committed an offence at common law, which the Government might, but had not proceeded to prosecute. My answer is this—that, having asked the opinion of the law officers, they said they did not think that the assumption of these titles was contrary either to the common or the statute law. The preamble of the present Act states that—Whereas it may be doubted whether the recited enactment extends to the assumption of the title of archbishop or bishop of a pretended province or diocese, or archbishop or bishop of a city, place, or territory in England or Ireland not being the See, province, or diocese of any archbishop or bishop recognised by law, but the attempt to establish, under colour of authority from the See of Rome or otherwise, such pretended sees, provinces, or dioceses is illegal and void.Thus the preamble does not state that the assumption of ecclesiastical titles not being 1148 those of the Established Church, is contrary to the Act of the 10th Geo. IV., but only that it is inconsistent with the rights intended to be protected by that enactment. When we got that formal opinion from the law officers of the Crown that the assumption of these titles was not illegal, it would have been futile in us to order them to prosecute persons who had not committed any offence against the law. Their opinion went on to say that if it were proved that bulls or rescripts were introduced into this country from Rome, for the purpose of establishing these sees, then that such an introduction was an offence, I think they said, against the common law, and certainly against certain statutes which they enumerated. But it was a totally different question to institute a prosecution for the introduction of a bull on a particular subject, when it would be found that the parties who had introduced it would only be liable to a prosecution as if they had introduced any other bull or rescript; allowing, for example, first cousins to marry, allowing bishops to ordain, or giving directions upon any matter that might be necessary for the due administration of the Roman Catholic religion. We thought it would be a piece of oppression, and an undue exercise of power, if while we were really prosecuting parties for the assumption of certain titles, we were in form and in law prosecuting them for the introduction of a Papal bull. I still think that to allow the Executive Government an entire discretion with regard to the time and the occasions when they should institute such a prosecution, would be a most dangerous discretion for any Government to exercise. Whether further legislation should not take place, I do not pretend to say; but the enactments upon the subject were very unsatisfactory. The introduction of bulls, the law officers of the Crown were clearly of opinion was forbidden; but whether under the penalties of misdemeanour or of high treason was very doubtful. The prohibition was very general, and was not confined, as in the case of our earlier kings, to the introduction of any bulls which contained matter inconsistent with the King's prerogative, and against the welfare of the State, but was generally directed against the introduction of any writings from the Pope of Rome. With reference to our not proposing to exercise a legislative power to regulate the admission of Papal bulls, I said in the speech I made to the House upon introducing this 1149 measure, that I did not intend to legislate upon the whole subject of the relations existing betwen this country and the Court of Rome. I said that this was a vast and extensive subject, upon which we were not prepared to legislate, but that we confined ourselves in the present measure to meet that which has actually happened. I am exactly of the same opinion that I formerly expressed, that this assumption of titles is a pretension to a sway within the realm of England, which is inconsistent with the Queen's sovereignty, with the rights of the people, and with the spiritual independence of the nation. That has been the nature of the aggression committed by a foreign Potentate against us; and the essence of that act was in the insult it offered. The other questions upon which the hon. and learned Gentleman has touched, are totally different. It appears to me that, in order to meet that insult, the direct way is, to introduce a Bill which shall forbid, and if possible prevent, the assumption of such titles. The noble Lord who spoke last certainly requires some further study of this subject; because he seems totally to have misapprehended it. The question of the law being inoperative, because certain things are done in Ireland and given in evidence in a court of law, and the assumption of ecclesiastical titles, were two different questions. The assumption of the title of an existing see of the Established Church in Ireland is forbidden by law. The law has been so far obeyed, that the persons so prohibited to take those titles do not use them in public documents, or when they are addressing the Crown, or the servants of the Crown, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or his Secretary, or when they are petitioning Parliament. They do not then assume the titles of territorial sees, but sign themselves "Paul Cullen," or "Daniel Murray," as the case may be. So far, therefore, the law is obeyed. With respect to the exercise of episcopal jurisdiction, they have not changed the titles under which they exercised jurisdiction previously to the Act of 1829, and which jurisdiction has been recognised in the courts of law. If a person comes to an Irish court of law, in order to maintain a right which is founded upon the assumption of these titles, it is a question for the court of law to decide, whether any such right is not rendered invalid by reason of the assumption of those titles. But it is a different question when a person comes before the same court to claim a 1150 right in which he is able to show he has an interest under an instrument in which these titles have been used; and it may happen that the right may be good, although the requisite instrument in which it is conveyed may set forth a title which is an offence against the law. Some illustration of this difference may be found in the law as it formerly stood with regard to marriages. The performance of certain marriages was made an offence on the part of the clergyman; but that did not make the marriages void, although an offence had been committed by the clergyman. Our difficulty has been in framing a clause to meet these cases; but we did not succeed in doing so. The second clause referred to the prevention of writings by any person assuming the prohibited titles; and we sought, in the third, by rendering invalid bequests of property to the bishops designated under prohibited titles, to prevent the use of those titles. But we found that we could not use words to prevent the use of those titles for these purposes without preventing and making void acts which belong to the proper exercise of the spiritual character of the Roman Catholic bishops. I stated, in a former debate, that if any part of the Bill were found to interfere with the religious functions of the Roman Catholics, I was ready to alter and expunge such portions of the Bill; for that the Government did not intend to interfere with the spiritual functions of the Roman Catholics. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dorsetshire; has referred to the Synod of Thurles; and he mentioned what I said of that synod in bringing in the Bill. I very much agree with him in thinking that the assumption of these titles is the insult that is offered to the Crown; but that the acts of this synod constitute very much the danger which we have to apprehend. The insult we provide for by this Bill. We think the other—the proceedings of the synod—the act of danger, in its operation on the temporal government; but there has been great difficulty in meeting the question of the synods. My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General thought, by the use of the word "act," the operation of the synods would be prevented; but we found that that would apply to confirmation, ordination, and other acts within the spiritual jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church. The hon. and learned Gentleman will consider the imperfection of language upon this subject. After much consideration, 1151 and after various attempts, we have found it impossible to use language of such a nature as would prohibit exactly what we wish to prohibit without touching upon that which we wish to avoid. The hon. and learned Gentleman may be more fortunate than we have been, and may point out exactly how to legislate on this subject. It is evident that Lord Stanley has not been so fortunate; because he proposed one or two years for the preparation of a measure on the subject. I will not say that, by this Bill, or by any Bill we have now to propose, we are free from the dangers to which the hon. and learned Gentleman alluded—from the interference of the Roman Catholic bishops and priesthood with the education of the people in Ireland, and with various matters, some of which are partly temporal and partly spiritual, and others which are of a wholly temporal nature; but, at the same time, I do not think that, because we have those dangers to apprehend, it would be right, even if possible, to prevent meetings of the Roman Catholic bishops for matters of their Church of an entirely spiritual nature, and with regard to the due organisation of that Church. For instance, there is a Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, and a very numerous Roman Catholic population there. Every one must wish the Roman Catholic bishops to have the power of superintending the moral conduct of their clergy, and the means, without calling in the aid of temporal courts, of punishing any immorality that may occur among that body; and so, likewise, with regard to all other matters, the House would not wish to interfere with the spiritual conduct of the Roman Catholic Church. With regard to temporal matters, I certainly view them not without apprehension. I have no apprehension with regard to this country; because the feeling of the country has been shown so generally, almost so unanimously, in favour of the Protestant faith, that I do not think there is any danger in Great Britain with respect to the interference of the Roman Catholic priesthood. I cannot say it is so in Ireland. I cannot say the Roman Catholic priesthood in Ireland may not interfere, and seriously, with the progress of education in many instances, and may not in some instances use their power mischievously as regards temporal matters. I admit, as regards the whole subject, that it requires consideration. We must see in what manner the Government of the Roman See and the 1152 bishops in Ireland act before we proceed to any measure upon that point; and, after all I have seen, I am of opinion that we ought to confine ourselves in this Bill to a legislative measure which shall assert in absolute terms the sovereignty of the Queen.
§ Mr. NEWDEGATE
could not sympathise with the troubles of the noble Lord, whose speech was but an enumeration of, to him, insurmountable difficulties; neither could he approve of the Bill as altered and amended by the Government. When he looked at the Bill, and considered how different it would be with the omissions now proposed by the noble Lord from what it was when first introduced, and, much more, when he recollected the first speech made by the noble Lord on this subject, and compared it with that which he had just uttered, he could not help thinking of the old quotation—Quantum mutatus ab illo Hectore.He could not enter into the nice distinctions drawn by the noble Lord with respect to the nature of the insult which had been offered to this country. To confine that insult merely to the assumption of titles, was narrowing it to the shadow, and omitting the substance. The grossest part of the insult was the Pope's having sent a cardinal and legate to constitute within this free arid independent country a legislature, not only for ecclesiastical but for temporal concerns. He thought that that part of the subject had not been well considered by the House, or what were the powers with which a cardinal or legate à latere were invested. He begged hon. Members to turn their attention to this matter, and they would at once perceive that the Bill was not in any way commensurate with the subject. He had been lately examining certain books—high Roman Catholic authorities, and would read one or two extracts from them, with the permission of the House. The first was from Corte di Roma, by Andrea Tosi of Venice, printed at Marseilles in 1774, with the approval of the "Most Reverend the Master of the Sacred Palace of the Pope," dated August 5,1764. In that work it was laid down that—The legates à latere have the right of managing all the affairs, civil, economical, and political, of the nations committed to them by the Sovereign Pontiff; and according to the decrees of Benedict XIV. they may renew investiture, condemn, deprive of fiefs, and give absolution to the extent of the apostolic power; accordingly, as vicars of his Holiness, they possess the plenitude of spiritual and temporal power."—(Vol,ii., p.221.)1153 These were the powers that Dr. Cullen came over to this country to exercise. With respect to Cardinal Wiseman, the case was still stronger, for a cardinal had still greater powers than a legate. It was contrary to the constitution of this country since the Conquest, according to Lord Coke, for a cardinal to reside in England. The attributes of a cardinal, however, had been as little noticed as those of a legate à latere, as would be seen by the extracts he should read to the House from another work. This work was entitled Notitia Congregationum et Tribunalium Curiœ Romanœ, is by Hunald Prettenberg, a Jesuit, was dedicated to the Bishop of Paderborn, and was printed at the episcopal press at Hildesium in Westphalia, in 1693. He would read these extracts in Latin as well as in English, lest his translation of them should be impugned:—
These were high Roman Catholic authorities; and such were the intruded powers and principles which Her Majesty's Government meant to leave untouched by the Bill. The intrusion upon this country of a Roman legislature and officials for temporal purposes contrary to the will of the majority of the nation, was a real and gratuitous insult; but that was not dealt with by the Bill. He could not but feel indignant at the effect this course of conduct on the part of the Government would have upon the character of this country among foreign nations. He could well fancy the Pope and his cardinals describing constitutional government as a farce, seeing how easily they could intrude not only a Roman 1154 Catholic hierarchy, but temporal officers of the Court of Rome, into this country, although the Queen, the Parliament, and the country, were opposed to the proceeding. After four months, during which the people had spoken, and the Queen had answered, after 395 Members of that House declared that some effectual measure must pass, Her Majesty's Government had dropped the whole substance of their Bill, had reduced it to this miserable shadow, and had thereby declared before the country and Europe, they were, in fact, impotent to meet the evil. [Laughter.] Roman Catholics might well laugh. He was certain if his Holiness the Pope ever smiled, he must smile when he looks at what he has by his sole fiat effected in this country; Cardinal Antonelli must regard the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department as the most inefficient State officer that ever held the post. Well might the Pope smile when he compared the power he exercised over this country with that he exercised in Rome, where he was supported by French bayonets. Well might the Pope consider representative government, and the boasted constitution of this kingdom, to be, after all, but a farce; if what remained of this Bill was all England could do to vindicate her independence. He did not wish to protract the debate; but he could not refrain from taking the earliest opportunity of cancelling a promise of support he had given at the Warwick county meeting on this question to Her Majesty's Government, to whose general policy he was opposed. He had been willing to give the noble Lord credit for a sincere intention to vindicate the insult offered to the Crown and to the nation; but now he had found how little likely it was that the noble Lord would really meet the emergency, he took the first opportunity of liberating himself from the pledge he had given, and of declaring that he would not stand pledged to support a measure he considered totally insufficient.
P. 42, DE PRIVELIGIIS CARDINALIUM. (§9, cap. ix.)—Cardinali asserenti se esse legatum creditur, etiamsi literas suæ legationis non exhibeat Credence is given to a Cardinal who asserts that he is a Legate, although he may not exhibit his letters of Legation. (§ 12)—Electus in Cardinalem eo ipso a patriæ potestate est liheratus. A man who has been elected a Cardinal is by that fact freed from the power of his country. (§ 13.)—Cardinales in commissis sibi ecclesiis a sede apostolica possunt beneficia conferre, jurisdictionem exercere ante captam possession. Cardinals can confer benefices and exercise jurisdiction in the Churches committed to them by the Apostolic See, before taking possession. (§ 15.)—Cardinali asserenti aliquid actum in presentiæ Papæ vel sibi vivæ; vocis oraculo a Papâ mandatum fuisse credi debet. A Cardinal who asserts, that something was done in the presence of the Pope, or commanded him by word of mouth by the Pope, ought to be believed.
§ MR. STANFORD
said: Sir, being quite sensible of the difficulties which surround this complicated and most embarrassing question, I was far from expecting a perfect measure—an expectation I should at any time as little dream of seeing fulfilled as of a perfect Minister.
"A faultless monster the world ne'er saw;" but one so puerile, tenuous, and inconsequential as the altered—I cannot say amended—Bill which the noble Lord has 1155 submitted to the House, I confess, exceeds the limits of toleration I was prepared to concede; and I think the noble Lord must require all that courage which he assured us the other night that he still possessed, to enable him to bear up against the reception it has met with. It is an ominous presage when even the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford is found indulging in a vein of metaphorical pleasantry on so grave a question; but ridicule seems to have been thought the most appropriate weapon on all sides of the House. Were I asked to express my humble opinion of the noble Lord's proceedings, it would be something to the following effect: that I was under the impression that the noble Lord had, like another distinguished performer, retired last week altogether from the stage—an opinion very generally entertained both in and out of this House. From the announcement made, however, by Her Majesty's servants this evening, we learn that the old company will have the honour of appearing for the second time this season in "Papal Aggression," a serio-comic drama in five acts, the fifth act being left out to avoid the catastrophe; after which, the popular pantomime of the "New Budget," in which the distinguished harlequin, who has quite recovered from his recent fall, will play off some of his most dexterous tricks, and the unrivalled clown of the establishment will, on this occasion, jump clean through all the windows; to conclude with an original, grand, and imposing fairy extravaganza, called the "Crystal Palace," or a "Cure for the Crisis." This, certainly, is a very nice bill of the play, one that will no doubt draw a full, nay, a crowded House. But I doubt if the performance will give satisfaction to boxes, pit, or even the gallery. I would warn the noble Lord in the same friendly spirit in which the hon. Member for Finsbury had pointed out the other evening, the risk the noble Lord incurs in "starring it" with so poor a company. I would also remind the noble Lord what once happened to Mr. Romeo Coates: the only applause he obtained during a long performance was in the dying scene, and to please the audience he died again. I fear in the same way that that would be the part of the noble Lord's performance which would best please the House. But I have to apologise to the House for having been carried away in a jocose strain so little appropriate to the real gravity and importance of the question; while, however, I have 1156 the excuse of following only in the wake of many more distinguished and experienced persons. If the House will bear with me for a short time, I will endeavour to express my serious and most sincere opinion. I have, Sir, paid the greatest attention to the speeches which have been made in this House by its most eminent Members, and have read with care those which have been made by persons equally distinguished in another place, and find that all these experienced statesmen have concurred in advising the Crown that the dissolution of Parliament at this juncture would be most unwise, most inexpedient, indeed, most dangerous. I believe this view is generally thought the right one; and that the large majority of this House would be willing, in consequence, to give an honest support to the present Government, to enable them to get through the business of the country. There was indeed but one apparently insurmountable obstacle—as to the budget. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would only modify the income tax so as to do justice to the agricultural classes, as he easily might, by placing them in the same position as persons in trade, and carrying out the principle of no profit no tax; and would act with equity towards the trading and professional interests of the country by making a distinction between income derived from commerce and professions, and that derived from realised capital, there is but little doubt of the financial difficulties of the Session being readily overcome. But there is one monster difficulty which swallows up all others, and which the explanations of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department have certainly not succeeded in removing, viz., Papal aggression. I should be very sorry to say anything which might hurt the feelings of my Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen: nothing can be so far from my intention, so foreign to my disposition. I have never looked upon them in any other light than as fellow-subjects and fellow-countrymen, and I wish them to enjoy that perfect freedom of conscience and religious liberty which we all so justly prize. But, Sir, I must deny that the feelings of the people of England in this matter are to be attributed to bigotry and intolerance. The unanimous outburst of indignation has sprung up from a sense of the gross insult offered to the Sovereign, and of the violation of the constitutional law of the realm by the Bishop of Rome; and if ever the vox populi vox Dei, had any truth 1157 or meaning, it has been illustrated here. And I am perfectly convinced, that the measure just expounded by the right hon. Gentleman will not be acceptable to the people, will not be considered to redound to the dignity of the Sovereign, the honour of Parliament, or credit of the nation—will, in short, irritate many, and satisfy none.
And, let me ask, Sir, if the country ought to be satisfied? No one, whose opinion is of consequence, doubts for a moment that the Bishop of Rome has violated the jus gentium, or law of nations, by claiming to invest certain British subjects with ecclesiastical titles of a territorial character—a power and authority belonging only to the Sovereign, and that he has done so in a manner highly offensive to the Sovereign, to the Parliament, and to the people of England. The noble Lord the First Minister has not only admitted it, but in glowing language denounced it, in his famous letter. There can be no doubt of it, even in the opinion of the most sceptical. I have looked into the pages of Vattel, an authority on such points. I do not intend to trouble the House with the extract which I made, but I can assure them it is most clear and unequivocal on this very question. But yet nothing has been done—no proclamation of the Crown—no resolution of Parliament condemnatory of this act of the Pope. It may not be expedient to make it a casus belli between England and the Pope. I don't dream of such a thing, for one, among other reasons—that the Pope, when vanquished, is not beaten. His policy survives. It is not to be attacked by force of arms, for that method would not reach the evil. But surely the Parliament of England should speak out, should denounce these arrogant pretensions, and respond to the voice of the nation. They would only by so doing, I am sure, be echoing the sentiments of the entire Protestant community of these kingdoms. Again, much has been said on the purely municipal branch of the question, and I venture to think the view taken by the Government has been erroneous. There may be some doubts whether the penalties of the 18th Geo. IV., c. 7, could be enforced against persons assuming ecclesiastical titles, such as Dr. Wiseman and others have assumed. But is it clear that they have not been guilty at common law of a high contempt of the prerogative, and are punishable for that offence? Is it not, at all events, admitted by the law advisers of the Crown, 1158 that these titles, having been assumed by virtue of certain bulls and decretals of the Pope, the 9th and 10th Victoria has been infringed, and made the parties liable to an indictment for a misdemeanour. Yet the Government had not thought proper to put the law in motion. The law was clear enough to those who chose to understand it. Sir Edward Sugden, no mean authority, had stated it—why not act upon it. In not doing so, I think the Government has failed in its duty. I know that the noble Lord has given as a reason that the Government would not run the risk of a prosecution on an ancient statute, namely, the 13th Elizabeth, as there was a great chance of failure; but it was not quite honest to represent the law as based altogether on the 13th Elizabeth. It was, as the noble Lord knew well enough, controlled by the 9th and 10th Victoria, passed in 1846, not so very ancient a statute, though a highly ridiculous one, for it left the law in this position—that the offence of publishing and putting Papal bulls in execution in this country was high treason, and the punishment was pared down to that of a misdemeanour, namely, fine and imprisonment. But still there was law to punish if the Government chose to use it; but they did not think fit to do so. Why? That I leave to the Government to answer. It was not in order to introduce legislative enactments more stringent for the purpose either of punishing the past, or of so repressing these offences in future, for the Bill before the House contemplates nothing of the kind. Well, Sir, I think then the conduct of the noble Lord and his Colleagues gives just grounds for suspicion of his sincerity. There were municipal laws in existence, but the Government would not enforce them. The law of nations has been violated, but still no notice is to be taken. How can we be expected to repose any confidence in the noble Lord's new Bill, when we find that neither international law is to be vindicated, nor the existing municipal law of England resorted to? Sir, there are, however, many reasons why, if fresh legislation on this subject is to take place, it should not be hurried or ill considered, but mature and comprehensive. I have, for this reason, put certain resolutions on the Notice-book of the House, pointing out the advantage of referring the entire subject of Papal aggression to simultaneous Committees of both Houses of Parliament—a course not I wanting precedent, as I find by consulting 1159 the Journals of Parliament such a plan was resorted to so late as 1801, in relation to the state of Ireland, when Select Committees of both Houses were appointed simultaneously, with power to communicate with each other. I am glad to find that my view of the method which should be pursued has been corroborated by many very eminent persons, and I still think it the only one that can be taken with safety. All persons must feel that the time has now arrived when the relations in which the Roman Catholics stand to the law of these realms in civil and religious matters should be ascertained and permanently settled. It is advisable for all parties, for the dignity of the Sovereign, the security of the Church, and the general welfare of the community. I therefore feel deeply disappointed with the measure the Government has produced. With every desire to give my hearty support to Her Majesty's Ministers, knowing the peculiarity of their position, I cannot but express my opinion that the measure is wholly inadequate to the occasion, and will cause the deepest dissatisfaction throughout the country. I can assure the noble Lord that I care very little who pilots the ship, so that we are piloted through the storm. I am perfectly ready to give my hearty though very humble support to the Government if they will bring forward measures calculated to effect the desired objects; but if I find, as I now fear I shall do, that the measures proposed are not in unison either with the Speech from the Throne, or with the noble Lord's famous letter, then I shall feel it my duty to offer an equally hearty and strenuous opposition. Thanking the House for their indulgence in so long listening to so humble a Member of this Assembly, I shall not trespass further at this time on their attention.
§ MR. PLUMPTRE
agreed with the noble Lord at the head of the Government, that the proper mode of dealing with this subject was by direct legislation, for the appointment of Committees would lead to a great deal of delay, without being productive of any good consequences. The noble Lord had characterised the proceedings of the Pope as an insolent and insidious aggression, and if he thought it right to meet that aggression by legislation, he ought to have done so in an effectual way; but the omission of the second and third clauses of the Bill would neutralise any good effect it might have had; and if passed into a law in its amended shape, he 1160 believed the measure would be of little practical utility. The noble Lord objected very properly to the synodical action of the Church of Rome, but he did not propose by this Bill to touch that synodical action. He trusted, however, the noble Lord would devise some way of meeting that evil, and also the evil resulting from the admission of Papal bulls into this country. The present measure would not give satisfaction to the people of this country. The Protestant people of this country had no wish to show a persecuting spirit towards their Roman Catholic countrymen. This was not a persecuting country. Toleration was carried to its utmost limits. But the Protestant people of this country were acquainted in some measure with the character of the Church of Rome, both from the past history of the world, and its delineation in Holy Writ. The Protestant people of this country would give the Roman Catholics free toleration for the exercise of their religion, but they did not wish to be persecuted themselves; they wished to retain the full and free exercise of their religion, and were afraid of the Church of Rome attaining that power at which she was aiming. The Protestant people of this country were a religious people—a Bible-loving people—who would not aban don their right of private judgment; but they knew that the Church of Rome, wherever it obtained predominance, interfered with the right of private judgment, and forbade the free use of the Scriptures, for the Protestant people of this country felt great zeal. for the honour of their Queen, but above all they were animated by an earnest zeal for the honour of God, and the maintenance of the truth. They felt that in this aggression made by the Church of Rome on this country those things which they most deeply prize are greatly in danger, and therefore they had been most deeply and justly excited on the subject. He was afraid the Bill proposed by the noble Lord would not satisfy the just expectations of the people, or the case which it was intended to meet; but he trusted that it would receive such amendments in Committee as would render it a satisfactory and efficient measure.
said, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had over and over again stated that insult had been offered to the people of this country by the Pope of Rome. Now, it was impossible that an insult could be offered, when none was intended. The Pope's interference 1161 was altogether spiritual in its nature, merely for the spiritual government of Roman Catholics in this country. He said that no insult had been offered by the Pope, or by any person acting for the Pope. He found that he was corroborated in this statement by the Protestant Bishop of St. David's, who was of opinion that no insult was intended. As he thought that the Bill, even in its modified shape, would infringe the principles of religious liberty, he should continue to give it his most strenuous opposition. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen who were opposed to the measure, from a different cause, would join with him in that opposition.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, he thought it was rather premature for the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, to pronounce an eulogium on the letter of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, to the Bishop of Durham. He (Colonel Sibthorp) had no objection to say at once, that he regarded that letter as a Jesuitical, hypocritical production—as a mere piece of clap-trap. And so it now turned out to be. He thought that the measure in its amended shape would meet with more opposition than before. For his own part, though he felt it his duty to put the noble Lord on his trial, and to give him his support in the introduction of the Bill, though he did not doubt that he should find himself deceived, and now he found he was not mistaken, and he certainly should take no further part in the measure, and he would take care that he was not again caught in the same snare. He supposed that a similar course would be adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. No doubt an amended budget would be brought forward, and that amended budget, like this amended Bill of the noble Lord, would be nothing at all—it would not be satisfactory to the public, or beneficial to any member of any class of the community in the country. It would be merely the spumantia verba of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. He thought he had a right to say, that little confidence ought to be placed in Her Majesty's Government. The only remedy for the present state of things would be a dissolution, and an appeal to the public, which would give the people the opportunity of expressing their atachment to the Throne, and their determination to maintain the constitution of the country in Church and State. He must express his detestation of the political cowardice and 1162 hypocrisy of the Government, and would say, "The Lord defend our gracious Sovereign from their advice!" If the Whigs continue in office, he should expect to see the Pope—not at the Crystal Palace—he (Colonel Sibthorp) would not go there—but in Downing-street, and, no doubt, a large portion of the secret service money would be appropriated for the purpose of entertaining him. In the expenditure of that secret-service money all sorts of dirty tricks and unfairness were perpetrated, and in these times of professed economy, he found that the Government intended to give no less than an additional sum of 500L a year to the chairman of the Excise. He should oppose any such grant. When the budget would be brought forward, he could not pretend to say. It might be postponed from week to week, until it was brought forward at a period when the House could not properly discuss it. He placed no confidence in the noble Lord or his Government, for he had the worst possible opinion of the whole batch of them.
§ Second Reading deferred till Friday next.