§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. MOORE
wished to call the attention of the House to what he considered an irregularity in their proceedings with respect to this Bill. He had been informed that the Bill had been first introduced into the House without the preliminary form of a Committee in some sort under the sanction of Mr. Speaker. He thought, however, he should be able to show that that sanction was given in consequence of an unintentional misrepresentation of the purport and scope of the Bill, by which Mr. Speaker was induced to suppose that the form of a Committee was not necessary. Assuming the data to be correct, and the facts well founded, which were then laid before Mr. Speaker, he entirely concurred in his decision; but he was prepared to prove that these data were entirely incorrect, and the facts without the slightest foundation. According to a Standing Order of that House, it was provided that—No Bill relating to religion, or the alteration of the laws concerning religion, be brought into this House until the proposition shall have been considered in a Committee of the whole House, and agreed unto by the House.Mr. May, a very high authority, amongst the highest on this subject, said, with regard to this Standing Order, that it was to be construed as applying to religion itself, and not to the temporalities of the Church. Thus the Roman Catholic Relief Bill in 1829 was brought in upon a Resolution of a Committee; but the Church Temporalities (Ireland) Bill, 1833, which might he considered to have reconstituted the Church government in that country, was not, on that account, required to originate in Committee; so, also, the Tithe Commutation Bill, and, that for carrying into effect the recommendation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as to the Church of England, had been introduced by Motion, without the previous recommendation of a Committee. Now, if they were to look at that Bill with reference only to the first motive, that would appear on its title; if they were obliged to regard it with reference only to the intentions of 865 the framers, he was willing to admit that, having reference only to the style, title, and other temporal incidents of religion, the preliminary form of a Committee was not necessary; he was also, for the sake of argument, willing to admit, that if they were obliged to regard that Bill as it was proposed to be amended by Her Majesty's Government (supposing those Amendments should obviate the objections which he should bring against the scope and purport of the Bill), that then his proposition would fall to the ground. But that was not the proposition which they had to try. His objection was brought against the Bill as it stood in its unretrenched form, with all its clauses as it was first introduced into that House. It would he admitted that ordination and the administration of the sacraments were not temporal incidents but vital parts of religion; and indulgences, dispensations, and the like matters, were also regarded as parts of religion by Roman Catholics. Now Dr. Murray—whose authority, whether he was or was not Archbishop of Dublin, would, he believed, be regarded with profound respect—had stated in a letter quoted by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir James Graham)-—Our Church is essentially episcopal. Our sacred ministry could not be carried on without priests—we could have no priests without bishops—and no bishops but through the authority of the Pope. It is his business not only to name our bishops, but to point out the limits within which this jurisdiction is to be circumscribed. The portion of surface which contains the Catholic flock, within those limits may be called a district, or a see, or a bishopric; and the individual appointed to ordain priests, and to carry on the other necessary functions of the ministry therein, may be a vicar-apostolic or a bishop in ordinary, with this difference, that the former is removable at pleasure, the latter is permanent, and therefore one step removed from the immediate action of Papal influence. Except as Archbishop of Dublin, I could not ordain one of my own priests—I could not give a parish—I could not communicate with the Pope—I could not correspond with foreign bishops—I could not give letters dismissory, or ordination letters, or letters testimorial.Archbishop Murray inclosed an old letter of ordination, which was signed "Daniel, Archiepiscopus Dubliniensis." The noble Lord at the head of the Government, in a spirit of justice and generosity, which was the lingering relic of brighter days, declared at once—I stated in a former debate, that if any part of the Bill was found to interfere with the religious functions of the Roman Catholics, I was ready to alter and expunge such portions of the 866 Bill, for the Government did not intend to interfere with the spiritual functions of the Roman Catholics.He also found that the noble Lord had made the following candid admission:—There has been great difficulty in meeting the question of synods. My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General thought that by the introduction of the word 'acts,' 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.Now, assuming the statement of Dr. Murray with regard to the provisions of the Bill to be correct, and assuming the admissions of Her Majesty's Government to be well founded; assuming also that the Bill would interfere to prevent, not only temporal incidents—not only the synodical action, but confirmation and the administration of the sacraments, he apprehended that it clearly followed that the Bill applied, not merely to temporalities and to temporal incidents, but to the most sacred parts of religion; and, however necessary the Bill might be, it should have been introduced in the form which the Standing Orders of the House required. It might be said, that although Dr. Murray might be a profound thologian and an excellent divine, he was not a lawyer, and that his opinion was not to be regarded as to the effect of an Act of Parliament, although Her Majesty's Government might have yielded to it; but he (Mr. Moore) seeing the weight of that objection, had laid a case before eminent counsel (Mr. Willes), for the purpose of ascertaining if this Bill would interfere with the ordination of the bishops; and it was his opinion that the Bill would interfere with the ecclesiastical functions of the existing Irish bishops. The opinion of Mr. Willes, with respect to the proviso that Roman Catholic bishops should not discharge their functions under the style or title of bishop of some place in the kingdom, stated that it—indicates a serious interference with the exercise of ecclesiastical functions of the existing Irish bishops, because I am instructed that it is essential for the due exercise of their functions by those prelates that they should use the name of the diocese within which they are appointed to exercise their episcopal functions. It is no answer to this that the letters which they issue in the name of their dioceses are only evidence of the order which they confer, because I apprehend that it would be against the discipline and law of the Church that a priest should officiate without having obtained such letters; and even supposing that this would not be recognised as affecting the 867 ordination, it would be necessary to go back a step to the ordination itself, which, having taken place with a circumstance essential by the law of the Church, but in violation of the law of the land, would at least be open to most serious doubt, and, in my opinion, would not be recognised as of any operation. It is true that a bishop is of the universal Church, and that the name of the diocese only expressed the local limits within which, for the good order of the Church, he is to exercise jurisdiction; but it appears that, by the law of the Roman Catholic Church, the use of the name of the diocese is essential to the due exercise of episcopal authority. The Bill, if passed into a law, will, I own, it seems to me, therefore, put the duty of the bishops as bishops, into inevitable conflict with their duty as subjects. Nor do I think that, if the Bill means anything, the mere play upon words of describing the bishops as bishops in Dublin, or the like, can solve the difficulty. As I have already said, the name of the diocese only expresses the local compass within which the bishop is to exercise his functions; if so, it can make no real difference to describe the place by 'in' or 'of.'He went on to say, that—the Bill, if passed into a law, will very seriously interfere with the legal exercise of episcopal functions by the Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops in Ireland, and with the legal status of priests hereafter to be ordained by them. I cannot help adding, that I have such reason to be persuaded of the lamentable consequences which would follow, that it is with the utmost reluctance I have been compelled to arrive at this conclusion.It was the opinion of counsel that the Bill, if passed into law, would not only interfere with the legal exercise of the functions of the Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland, but also with the legal status of the priests ordained by them. That opinion was confirmed by another opinion which had been given by Sir FitzRoy Kelly; also by the opinion of Mr. Badeley and other legal gentlemen, which he (Mr. Moore) had not in his hands, but which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Athlone would read in connexion with this case, and which not only bore out but reinforced the opinion he had just read. Who would now venture to assert that the law which rendered it impossible for a bishop to ordain a priest, except by violating either the law of his Church or the law of the land, was an interference only with the temporal incidents, and not an interference with the most essential and vital parts of religion? and, that being the case, it therefore was necessary that those preliminary forms required by the Standing Orders of that House should have been observed. It was also objected that this was only the constructive effect of the Bill; that it was not 868 implied by the title, and was not intended by it. He denied that it was merely the constructive effect of it, or that it was not implied by the title; and if it were not intended by the framers of the Bill their want of knowledge originated in levity or carelessness, for which he (Mr. Moore) was not answerable. Not being a lawyer, he could not well distinguish between constructive and direct effect. He thought they very often ran so closely together that it was impossible to distinguish clearly between them; but in this case he asserted it was a direct effect that the Bill must necessarily interfere with the action of their bishops. It would make ordinations by them illegal, null, and void; and, therefore, what he had stated was the direct effect of the Bill as closely as effect could follow cause. With regard to the assertion that it was not included in the title of the Bill, would any hon. Gentleman argue that it was only necessary to slur over the title of a Bill, no matter how destructive it might be to the interests of religion, and that it might be to the interests of religion, and that it could be introduced into that House without observing the preliminary form? But he contended that the very title of this Bill proclaimed its object, and he maintained that it was impossible to prevent Dr. Murray from assuming the title of Archbishop of Dublin, without at the same time making void his ordinations. Would any one say of a law which prevented a tailor from using his needle, a shoemaker from using his awl, a weaver from using his shuttle, that the effect was constructive? This Standing Order was enacted in the year 1773. A Bill was introduced in that year for the relief of the Protestant Dissenters; it was introduced without a Committee of the House. The Standing Order did not then exist. The Bill then went to the Lords, and he found the Bishop of Bristol and other bishops protesting against it because the real construction of the Bill was not indicated in its title. It was said that it was not the Bill the House intended it to be, and, therefore, it was negatived in the Lords. He (Mr. Moore) had asked the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when he applied for leave to introduce the Bill, to give them some inkling of the details; and his answer was, that until the introduction of the Bill into the House, they had no right to know anything about it. The noble Lord, in that sarcastic manner which always produces such an effect on the benches behind 869 him, said they had two choices either to consent to the introduction of the Bill, or to wait until it was introduced to obtain a knowledge of its provisions. Now, when the hon. and learned Attorney General said there was something in the Bill that would prevent synodical action, if that statement had been made in a Committee of the House, a discussion would have arisen, and all the blunders that had been committed would have been avoided. If ever there was a Bill to which this Standing Order was intended to apply, it was the Bill now before the House; for the Standing Order was introduced in the first instance for the purpose of preventing Bills being surreptitiously introduced without being sufficiently sifted in Committee. He was aware, that even if the measure were originated in Committee, they would not be able to learn the whole of the details; but they would have been able to make the inquiries that they thought were necessary, and to obtain the information they deemed to be requisite. That was his case; he thought he had proved, on the testimony of Dr. Murray, that this Bill would affect ordinations; he had proved, by the admission of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and by the testimony of an eminent lawyer, that it would affect ordination; and no person could deny that ordination was not a temporality. He repeated that this Bill would render it impossible for a bishop to ordain a priest consistently at the same time with the law of the land and with the law of his Church. He, therefore, contended that this was a Bill clearly affecting, not the temporal incidents of religion, but the most vital parts of religion itself. In conclusion, he should, therefore, move—That the Standing Order which requires that Bills concerning religion should be first considered in a Committee of the whole House be read, and the Order for the Committee on the Ecclesiastical Titles Assumption Bill be discharged.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Mr. Speaker, I will not enter into the question of the expediency of introducing this Bill in a Committee of the whole House—that is not the question we have to consider—but I wish to set the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Moore) right on one point connected with that part of the subject. He said that if this Bill were introduced in Committee, Gentlemen would have the advantage of hearing an explanation of its details; but I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the advantage he speaks of is only imaginary. My noble Friend (Lord John Russell), in a Commit- 870 tee of the whole House, would not be compelled to enter into more minute details respecting the provisions of the Bill than he was obliged to do when he asked for leave to bring it in. My noble Friend did not say that the only question was whether the Bill should be brought in or not; he went largely into the details, in the identical terms he would have used if he were addressing the Chairman of Ways and Means at the table, instead of addressing you, Sir. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Moore) said, the Standing Order was made in the year 1773, in consequence of proceedings that had taken place with respect to a Bill to which he referred. Now this Standing Order bears date in the month of April, 1772, a year before the introduction of that Bill. I hold the Standing Order in my hand; it is dated the 30th of April, 1772, and it directs that no Bill relating to religion, or the alteration of the law relating to religion, shall be brought in until the proposition shall be considered in a Committee of the whole House. There was another Resolution with regard to Bills respecting trade; but whether this Standing Order was passed in 1772 or in 1773 is immaterial, for I think I shall show that, whether it was passed in 1772 or in 1773, it was not a new Standing Order, but the separation into two Orders of an old one passed in 1703. The hon. Gentleman will find that in the old Standing Order of 1703, religion and trade are combined; but by the Standing Orders of 1772, they were separated. The Bill to which the hon. Gentleman refers was introduced in 1773; and as to the date of the Standing Order, I beg to recall this fact to his mind, that, whether it was dated in 1772 or 1773, it was not a new proposition, but a mere division of an old Standing Order. The real question is whether this is a Bill which falls within the terms of the Standing Order relating to religion, adverting to the provisions of the Bill, and adverting also to the series of precedents by which the House has placed a construction upon those Orders. The hon. Gentlemen is right in assuming that this point does not come by surprise on the Government. We have considered the point, and the opinion of Mr. Speaker has been obtained on the subject; but if the hon. Gentleman can show that notwithstanding our precautions, an error has been committed, no objection can be taken to the course the hon. Gentleman now proposes to take; and if from any additional 871 information derived from the printing of the Bill, you think it right, Sir, to change your opinion, I am sure you will do so without being influenced by the opinion you have already expressed. How does the hon. Gentleman show that this Bill falls within the class of Bills to which the Standing Order refers? The hon. Gentleman first referred to a letter which had been addressed by Archbishop Murray to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir James Graham), in which reference is made to acts done by an archbishop or bishop. Those words, however, are not included in the Bill, though on the use of them the hon. Gentleman has founded much of his argument. The omission of the word "acts" weakens very much, if it does not utterly destroy, the case made to the House by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman then refers to what fell from my noble Friend the First Lord of the Treasury in reference to the word "acts;" but the Government thought it expedient not to introduce the word into that Bill, and everything, therefore, which the hon. Gentleman has said, founded upon the word "acts," should be excluded from the consideration of the House. Then the hon. Gentleman says that counsel's opinion has been taken upon the point; but I must caution the House against taking counsel's opinion as binding upon them, especially without knowing what was the case laid before them. The House must decide on the construction of its own Orders, and cannot be hound by counsel's opinion. The hon. Gentleman goes on to state that it is impossible that ordination, confirmation, or the administration of the sacraments could be carried on as they hitherto have been, if this Bill passes. He draws the inference from the legal construction which, under the advice of counsel, he places on the first clause of the Bill, that the Archbishop of Dublin, if this Bill passes, will be unable to perform any of those acts which he now performs as Archbishop of Dublin. Now I must remind the House that the prohibition to which he refers has been in force from the year 1829 up to this time. Yet the hon. Gentleman says that, although untouched by the operation of that Act, confirmation, ordination, and the administration of the sacraments have been carried on by the Archbishop of Dublin, his powers are now to be interfered with for the first time by this prohibition, which is co-extensive with the prohibition of the Act of 872 1829. The hon. Gentleman has not adduced many precedents on which to found this Motion. I think I have shown that the arguments on which he contends that this is a Bill affecting religion are not sound and valid arguments, and are merely founded upon the supposed insertion of words in the Bill that are not in fact there. In the year 1831 a Bill was before the House to legalise the marriages of Roman Catholics by their own clergymen; that was a Bill directly affecting the spiritual functions of the Roman Catholic clergy, and referring to a sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church; and that Bill was not introduced in a Committee of the whole House, but as an ordinary Bill, and thus passed through all its stages. There was also the Bill to reduce ten Protestant bishops in Ireland. In that case the objection was taken by the late Sir Robert Peel. He objected to it on the ground that the Bill affected religion and the spiritual offices of bishops of the Church of England; but although on another and distinct ground a Committee of the whole House was thought necessary, that objection was overruled on the ground that it did not come within the class of Bills contemplated by that Standing Order, though, according to the argument of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Moore), the decision would have been the other way. If you, Sir, should he disposed to favour us with your opinion, I am sure the House will receive it with deference.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that before the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair favoured them with his opinion, he wished to observe that no argument could be founded on the late stage in the proceedings at which this objection had been taken. He could cite a precedent in the matter. After the Irish Temporalities Bill in 1833 had passed the first and second reading, an objection was taken by the late Mr. Charles Wynn on the ground that it affected taxation; and, in consequence, the Bill was withdrawn. A Resolution was afterwards passed in a Committee of the whole House, and the Bill again introduced, based on that Resolution. That case disposed of the argument that the present objection had not been taken in time. The Catholic Emancipation Bill of 1829 was first brought by Resolution before a Committee of the whole House; and he contended that the present measure, as one altering the law regarding religion, ought to undergo the same routine. At present, 873 a Roman Catholic Bishop might be appointed to any portion of the territories of the United Kingdom not already held by bishops of the Established Church. If the Bill before the House did not become law, there might be a Bishop of Westminster, and he could accept bequests made on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. The second and third clauses of the Bill, however, would prevent such person from acting on charitable bequests. These clauses related to matters of religion; and so much was the noble Lord at the head of the Government convinced of this that he had resolved to expunge them from the Bill. With regard to the Standing Orders of the House, he must say he had great faith in the wisdom of our ancestors in so far as they were concerned, and he had seldom seen those Standing Orders altered with advantage. Such changes, indeed, were generally followed by mischief, and the wisest course for the House was to act faithfully upon them. Holding these views, he thought that such a Bill as the present ought to be in the first place submitted to the opinion of a Committee of the whole House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have been appealed to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mayo (Mr. Moore), by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir George Grey), and by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), to state my opinion in reference to this matter; and the House will, I trust, allow me to express it as briefly as I can, and to quote one or two precedents that appear to me to bear upon the point. There is no authorised definition by the House of the meaning of the term "Bills relating to Religion," used in the Standing Order; but so far as I have been able to collect from the interpretations that have been given to that term in the House, and the course that has been followed on various Bills relating, in different degrees, to religion, I incline to think that it is not necessary for any Bill to go before a Committee of the whole House, unless that Bill relates to the spiritualities of religion. The Church Temporalities Bill, which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) has quoted just now, was introduced, as he has stated, without a Committee of the whole House, and went through a few stages; and then an objection was raised by an hon. Gentleman, not now a Member of the House (the 874 late Mr. Charles Wynn), on the ground that it related to religion, and also that it was a measure in the nature of a Tax Bill. That Bill was referred to a Committee, to search for precedents bearing upon it, and the Committee reported that the Bill, being in the nature of a Tax Bill, should have been begun before a Committee of the whole House. It was thus shown that the Bill was not considered to have reference to religion, and was not within the meaning of the Standing Order; and the House went into a Committee of the whole House upon it, as they would on an ordinary Bill relating to taxation, and the Standing Order relating to religion was not referred to. That Bill went through all the forms that an ordinary Tax Bill goes through, without any reference to the question of religion; therefore, so far as the Church Temporalities Bill may be taken as a precedent, the interpretation I have given of the Standing Order is proved to be correct. Then came the Bill which was founded upon a Report of the Ecclesiastical Commission. That Bill was not introduced in a Committee of the whole House; it was supposed to refer to ecclesiastical matters, and not to spiritualities; and therefore did not come under the Standing Order. Then there was the precedent alluded to with regard to the Bill legalising Roman Catholic marriages: that was introduced without going before a Committee of the whole House. Under these circumstances, I considered that the Bill now before the House was not one which it was necessary to introduce in a Committee of the whole House. I was consulted by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) before the Bill was introduced, without then knowing the tenor of the different provisions which are now in the Bill; but having since carefully considered all those provisions, especially the second clause, and the clauses pointed out by the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Moore), I adhere to the opinion, formerly expressed, that the Bill is not of that nature which requires it to be introduced in a Committee of the whole House.
§ MR. M. GIBSON
said, that if he understood the right hon. Gentleman rightly, the precedents on the case were various, and the conclusion, one very difficult to come to. He wished to inform himself a little better on this matter, for he must confess that he thought the speech of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Moore), and that of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), were calculated at least to 875 throw considerable doubts upon the question of whether the Bill should be referred to a Committee of the whole House. He understood the argument of the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair to be, that if the present Bill were such a Bill as the Church Temporalities Bill, it would be necessary to refer it to a Committee of the whole House. The question, then, was whether the Bill was such a Bill—one directly concerning religion; and, if so, whether it was not necessary that it should be referred to such a Committee? He did not understand that the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair was the proper authority as to the meaning and purport of a Bill, but rather as the exponent of the rules of that House; and if it could be shown to the Chair that the meaning and purport of a Bill was of such a character as to bring it within any of the Standing Orders, then, he believed, it was the duty of the Chair to decide. He thought that the question was precisely a case for counsel. The Bill stated in its preamble, that whereas the doctrine and discipline of the Established Church in England, Ireland, and Scotland, was permanently established, and the titles of the bishops of that Church were also fixed by law, the assumption of such titles by any other persons should be prohibited. Was it not obvious that the meaning of the preamble was, that the titles of certain sees belonging to our religion had been long established, and that the bishops of another should not be allowed to adopt them? That being the case, it appeared to him distinctly that the Bill came within that class which were styled Bills relating to religion. It certainly was a Bill for the purpose of protecting existing bishops in the possession of their sees; and unless it were contended that the Church and the bishops had nothing to do with religion, he did not see how the Bill could be taken out of the category to which he had alluded. With regard to the Irish Temporalities Bill, he had turned to the debate on that subject, and he found the Speaker of the day to have drawn a very clear distinction between the duty of putting a construction on a Bill, and that of explaining to the House the nature of the Rules and Standing Orders. The Speaker then said that it was not his province to put any construction on a Bill, but simply to lay down the Rules as to the Standing Orders. Why, when they found the most eminent counsel differing as to the character of the Bill, and some telling them that it affected 876 spiritual functions, was it to be expected that Mr. Speaker should give an opinion on so very difficult a question? It was a Bill in which the very framers themselves did not understand the meaning of their own clauses—in which the law officers of the Crown mistook their own provisions; and could it be expected that Mr. Speaker could explain such a Bill? He maintained that the House must look into the measure themselves, and having prepared a proper case, then they might submit it to Mr. Speaker. If it had been found necessary, in the case of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, to go to a Committee of the whole House, preparatory to the removal of disabilities, surely à fortiori they should go to a Committee of the whole House when those disabilities were to be reimposed. In referring to the debate on the Church Temporalities Bill, he found that the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir Robert Inglis) had insisted that every opportunity for discussion should be given on a question that concerned the Church; and precisely on the same ground he (Mr. M. Gibson) said that the Roman Catholics of this country and of Ireland should have every possible facility for discussing a measure so vitally affecting their interests. Perhaps it would not be an improper course for him to suggest that a Select Committee should be appointed to search for precedents, and to report their opinion whether the Bill as affecting the assumption of Ecclesiastical Titles should in the first instance be referred to a Committee of the whole House.
§ MR. GRATTAN,
in seconding the Motion, said he should be speaking against the evidence of his senses if he said that the Bill did not affect religion. No man in England, Ireland, Scotland, or Europe, could believe that this was not a Bill affecting the religion of the country. If it did not affect the religion of the Roman Catholics of this country, what else did it affect? What had they been talking about for the last three months? It could not affect the temporalities of the Roman Catholic clergy, for they had none. They were supported altogether on the voluntary principle, and the State having given them nothing, could take nothing from them. He hoped the House would accede to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, in order that full justice might be done to individuals who were on their trial, and who were entitled 877 to the benefit of the law, the whole law, and nothing but the law.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, he understood the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) to suggest the appointment of a Select Committee.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the question before the House was, "That he should now leave the Chair." If the House was of opinion that a Select Committee should be appointed, they must negative the Motion that he now leave the Chair.
§ MR. W. PATTEN
must deprecate the adjournment of the debate, because it would not advance the matter a single step.
§ MR. O'CONNOR
said, that was exactly what the hon. Member for the city of Dublin (Mr. Reynolds) had in view.
§ MR. KEOGH
said, that as he understood the decision arrived at was that the Bill did not come within the Standing Orders, as not affecting questions of a spiritual nature, he begged to submit that such decision involved a consideration of the clauses of the Bill. And although he admitted that the House was not to be bound by the opinions of lawyers, yet he hoped he might be allowed to remind the House that this Bill had been brought under the consideration of the highest legal authorities in the country. He did not allude to the opinion of Mr. Bethel, but to an express opinion as to whether the spiritualities of the Roman Catholics would be affected by the legislation of this Bill. The question had been submitted to three of the most eminent counsel in England—Sir EitzRoy Kelly, Mr. Brodie, and Mr. Badeley: the last-named gentleman one peculiarly versed in ecclesiastical law. The following was the opinion of those eminent counsel:—We are of opinion that the Bill in its original state, and containing the 2nd and 3rd clauses, as well as the 1st and 4th, would render it illegal for any Roman Catholic archbishop or bishop to exercise his official functions, as archbishop or bishop of any province or see in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, though such functions were merely episcopal and spiritual, and had no reference whatever to any temporal rights or authority. We apprehend that the episcopal and spiritual functions of any archbishop or bishop can only be regularly and lawfully exercised within the limits of some province or diocese canonically as- 878 signed to him as the archbishop or bishop thereof, or within some other province or diocese by the permission of the archbishop or bishop of such other province or diocese; and that as he could only exercise such episcopal and spiritual functions within the limits of his own province or see as the archbishop or bishop thereof, by that name and title, and under the authority of that office, it follows that this Bill would render it unlawful for him to perform regularly the proper duties of his office, although merely episcopal or spiritual, such, for instance, as those of ordination, of visitation, and the maintenance of discipline amongst his clergy.Now this was a great constitutional question, one which had affected former Bills, and which would affect future Bills, not only with reference to the Roman Catholic religion, but measures affecting the Established Church; and he put it earnestly to both sides of the House, whether, in the face of such an opinion, they would decide that this Bill did not affect the spiritualities of the Roman Catholic religion. He hoped the House would pause before it deprived the Roman Catholics of the sister kingdom of any of those bulwarks which the Standing Orders of that House had thrown around their liberties. The rule was a wholesome one, and observed by those distinguished individuals who introduced the Roman Catholic Emancipation. Bill of 1829, and he hoped that in a case of this kind, where a Bill was before the House, which if carried would have a penal operation, the rule laid down in the Standing Orders would be complied with. Without the slightest wish to disparage the authority of the Chair, he apprehended that they were not to understand that Mr. Speaker was to decide on the legal construction of a Bill; and, that being the case, what legal authority had they to controvert the eminent opinions he had just quoted? There was no hesitation in that opinion; and let him remind the House that this Bill, when first introduced, was declared, by competent authority, to intend one set of results; and that it had scarcely been laid on the table when the first law officer of the Crown declared it to have a directly contrary effect. He hoped, under these circumstances, that the House would consent to refer the Bill to a Committee.
The SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that the question for the House to consider was, whether this was a Bill relating to religion, and therefore coming within the meaning of the Standing Order. Now, the first words that would strike any one in the Standing Order were, "faith and doc- 879 trine," and no one would dream that they referred to ecclesiastical management, superintendence, and jurisdiction. He thought that the case cited by the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Moore) tended to prove that, for it was a Bill to relieve Dissenters from subscribing to certain articles of faith. The appointment of this Select Committee on Religion, dated as far back as 1703, and was merely a modification of the former practice of having a permanent grand Committee on religion. What they had to' consider was this, did this Bill affect in any way matters of faith and doctrine, or spiritualities of any description? The argument put was this: the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin said, "I cannot perform duties of ordination or confirmation if this Bill pass." How were they to understand that? Were they to suppose that ever since 1829 there had been no ordination or confirmation in Ireland except in the case of the Bishop of Galway, who did not come within the Emancipation Act, his see having been created since 1829, and possibly the person who called himself Archbishop of Tuam, who might say that there was no Protestant archbishop of his see? Because, be it remembered that precisely a similar clause was in the Emancipation Act. There was nothing before the House to assure them that such was the fact. Again, he apprehended that no one would assert that Dr. Wiseman could not ordain and confirm as well as Bishop of Melipotamus as if he were recognised as Archbishop of Westminster. The real meaning of Dr. Murray's statement was this: "There are certain temporal advantages to the person ordained by me as Archbishop of Dublin which he would not possess if he were ordained by me under any other title." But that was clearly out of the precincts of religion. It dealt with temporalities merely. Every one admitted that this was a question of temporality, and that they were not going into a Committee on religion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir James Graham) had argued on a former occasion that the second clause of the Bill would prevent evidence of ordination being given in a court of justice; but evidence of ordination had nothing to do with the spiritual act, nor did this Bill alter the law in that respect, for if such evidence could be given under the Act of 1829, it might be given, notwithstanding any penalty the Bill imposed. As to the opinion of coun- 880 sel, he had the highest respect for the authority of the legal gentleman referred to; but he remembered that Mr. Willes' opinion had been given upon a case—and the others were probably the same—in which he said: "I am instructed that the Archbishop cannot ordain and confirm under the present Bill; and if that be so, my opinion is, that it will have such and such an effect." Now, in the first place, if the learned counsel were truly instructed, then the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin and all the Catholic bishops of Ireland must have been under an interdict for the-last twenty-two years. Was such a statement made to the learned counsel? He (the Solicitor General) would venture to say that nothing of the kind was even hinted at; nor would any one seriously contend that a Roman Catholic bishop's spiritual functions depended upon the title which he assumed. The probability was that the other eminent authorities had been similarly instructed; and the case suggested by the right hon. Member for Ripon was, that if the Bill passed, Roman Catholics would be prevented from doing what they might do under the existing law. But there was no authority either in or out of that House, he apprehended, who would assert that the bishop's spiritual functions were at all affected by the title he assumed. It was difficult to act on any opinion, without knowing the facts on which it was given: he would rather trust, then, to the opinion of Mr. Speaker than that of lawyers who had not heard the case discussed, and the value of whose authority would depend on the nature of the case submitted to them. The argument of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) that Mr. Speaker's opinion was of value only as to the Standing Orders of the House, and not as to the construction of the clauses of a Bill, did not apply to this case; for unless Mr. Speaker gave an opinion upon the clauses, how could he decide whether a Bill ought to have originated in Committee or not? He thought the right hon. Gentleman in the chair had arrived at the correct conclusion, and one that was fully borne out by the whole course of precedent. The Church Temporalities Bill of 1833 was a strong case in point. By that Bill ten out of twenty-two bishoprics in Ireland were abolished. Had the ten bishops whose sees were thus abolished, no spiritual functions? Did not that Act interfere with ordination and confirmation by handing over 881 the people of one diocese to the bishop of another? The right hon. Member for Manchester (speaking ad invidiam) said, that when they were removing disabilities, the House went into a preliminary Committee, but that when they were imposing disabilities, they did not think it necessary to go into Committee. But the right hon. Gentleman must be perfectly aware of the reason why the House went into Committee on the Catholic Relief Bill—it was because that by it they were altering an oath, and so far were interfering with religion. The same reason applied also to the Jew Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Youghal (Mr. C. Anstey's) Bill, and Mr. Watson's Bill for repealing certain disabilities from Roman Catholics which remained after the passing of the Emancipation Act—neither of them had originated in a Committee of the whole House. It was not, then, as the right hon. Member for Manchester had stated, that when the object was to get rid of disabilities, as many difficulties and delays were thrown in the way; but when the object was to impose disabilities, their legislation was hurried through as fast as possible. There was another point for consideration. What was meant by religion when the House passed this Standing Order? Faith and doctrine, no doubt; but was it not the faith and doctrine of the Established Church? The object of the Standing Order was, that they should not tamper with or alter the faith and doctrine of the Established Church; and therefore every Bill referring to that faith and doctrine must be preceded by a resolution of the whole House. The Grand Committee on Religion he had traced back to the time of James I.: would any man tell him that Parliament then had no intention to alter the relations of the Roman Catholic Church without the safeguard of such a Committee? He did not say whether the view taken then was right or wrong; but he was not sorry—bearing in mind that the Roman Catholics then were a very different body from what they were now—that they should have, as far as possible, the free and unfettered exercise of their spiritual functions. But in speaking of Standing Orders, discussing dry legal questions, and reading legal opinions, they must take them in their strict legal sense; and no lawyer would say that the present Bill changed or dealt with the internal construction or the free exercise of the established religion. As he had said, the Standing Order had reference to the established religion, and 882 to say that the Bill affected the established religion was out of the question. The only argument which had been advanced on this point was, that which, taking up the recital, not of this Bill, but of a clause in another Bill, stating that the Protestant bishops having a legal title to their sees, no other persons should assume those titles, urged that in that respect this Bill went to alter the law; but surely this was an argument which would not stand for a moment. The practice of the House was, that no Bill affecting the established religion of the country should be brought in without a preliminary Resolution passed by a Committee of the whole House. He doubted whether that could be taken as an alteration of the law, in the sense meant, which added to the securities of that religion. What was meant, as he apprehended, was to guard against any tampering with or weakening the existing securities, not that they should not alter by strengthening and adding to them. The House had not gone into a Committee of the whole House on the Tithe Commutation Bill, on the Vestry Bill, on the Church Establishment Bill, on the Repeal of the Disabilities Bill; and after these precedents the House would stultify itself if it adopted another course. But even supposing it was meant that they should not even increase or improve those securities without a preliminary Resolution, still he contended that to enact that prelates of the Roman Catholic Church should not assume certain titles, did not affect the case for which the Standing Order was provided. The spiritual functions of those prelates remained untouched by the Bill; and seeing the whole course of precedents was in favour of the opinion which they had heard from the Chair, he trusted the House would not stultify itself by coming to an adverse decision.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, it would be a matter of great importance that they should know exactly what the question was that they were going to vote upon. If the question was whether the debate was to be adjourned, he would vote against that proposition. If the question was—that Mr. Speaker do not leave the Chair, he would, as an opponent of the Bill, vote in its support; and if the Motion was to appoint a Select Committee to examine this question, and to report to the House, he must say that it would have his hearty support. One useful result had followed this discussion—they must on all hands admit that the precedents upon the point 883 at issue were in a most unsatisfactory state. It was impossible to show any principle, or to apply any rule, which would reduce the precedents before them, so as to make them form one consistent and intelligible whole. The labours of such a Committee might probably lead them to the conclusion that there was no sufficient reason for sending this Bill to a Committee of the whole House. But that would be a most valuable result to obtain for their future guidance, namely, that they should have a rule laid down which would lead to a greater degree of precision and uniformity in the practice of the House upon matters of considerable importance. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down argued the case with very great fairness and ability. He (Mr. Gladstone), however, could not say that he agreed with him in all the conclusions he had arrived at. There had been two main questions placed before the House. The first of all is, what is the meaning of your Standing Orders? What is the meaning of the word religion? Does it include any religion except the established religion; and, if it does, are the Catholics touched or not in their spiritualities? One point comes out of all these precedents—those, at least, having special reference to the point at issue—there is no case of a Bill, relating chiefly to ecclesiastical dominion, which has been referred to a Committee. As far as the abolition of the bishoprics in 1833 was concerned, the precedent very feebly applies. What in popular phraseology was termed an abolition, when they came to look into the Act itself, would be found to be no such thing. The Act only said that two or more bishoprics might be held at one and the same time, by one and the same person, but it did not touch the question of ecclesiastical jurisdiction at all. The Ecclesiastical Commission Bill was a stronger case as affecting ecclesiastical jurisdiction, for it abolished "peculiars," and founded a new jurisdiction in place of the old. He must say, that it appeared to him that there was some colour for the proposition before the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General says that the Order of the House does not refer to religion in general, but to the religion of the country; and what is that if it be not the established religion? And he moreover says that the temporalities of the Church are not affected, because the bishops can ordain, irrespective of their dio- 884 cesan titles. There is no doubt that the orders of the Church gave them that power; but where they found them ordaining under certain circumstances and you interfered, and by any act rendered these ordinations illegal, then they were interfering with their spiritualities. He (Mr. Gladstone) must, however, confess he leaned to the conviction that the religion meant in the Standing Orders was the established religion. But if that was so, what was the course of precedent? There was no consistent or uniform precedent for the case from 1772 to the present time that would lead to the inference that a Bill affecting the state of religion ought to pass through a preliminary Committee. He confessed that the proceedings of 1772, assuming that they had been correctly stated, would lead to an inference that Bills which tended to affect the securities of the established religion, should pass through a preliminary Committee. But, then, they were met by the fact, that the Act of 1788 for the relief of Roman Catholics was introduced into that House without any preliminary Committee. He had precedents most uniformly showing that Bills which tended to affect the securities of the Established Church ought to pass through a preliminary Committee. The Act of 1829, for the relief of Roman Catholics, as well as the Act of 1828, for the relief of Protestant Dissenters, all Bills of that nature, except, indeed, that which had been brought forward for the emancipation of the Jews, were introduced into that House through the medium of a preliminary Committee. Well, then, his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General said that was because those Bills had a tendency to affect the securities of the established religion of the country. He (Mr. Gladstone) thought that the Bill which had been passed as to the making of affirmations instead of oaths by Quaker witnesses in courts of justice, was a conclusive objection to the doctrine laid down by his hon. and learned Friend. The natural consequence to be derived from all these facts it had been argued was this—the Standing Orders are intended to protect the religion of the country, and when you deal with securities, whether they be for good or for bad, you must pass through a preliminary Committee. It was contended, upon the other hand, that when you strengthened them, such an ordeal was not necessary. He believed, however, that as far as there was any sound doctrine 885 upon the subject it was this, that all Bills affecting religion ought to pass through a preliminary Committee. The principle ought to apply both ways; it was not like the case of repealing a tax; they need not then go into a Committee, because the remission was in favour of the entire community. But the case was essentially different here; because whatever they were giving to one, they were taking away from another. That such was the character of the present Bill, he apprehended there was no doubt. The preamble was to this effect:—"Whereas the assumption of titles in respect of dioceses in this country by any other than bishops of the Established Church is inconsistent with the rights of that Church." It appeared to be clear, therefore, that this Bill was one which was intended to strengthen the securities of the established religion of the country—that they had a rule that Bills dealing with these securities generally should pass through a preliminary Committee—and that the question was whether they would apply that rule to Bills which purported to increase those securities, although they might increase them at the expense of inflicting disabilities upon other parties who did not profess that established religion. And as to the case quoted, of the Bill introduced by the hon. and learned Member for Youghal to remove certain Roman Catholic disabilities, that was a Bill to repeal certain penalties, and could hardly be construed as one exactly in point. The question, however, was one involved in such considerable difficulty, that it would be, whether with reference to this particular Bill, or for their guidance in future legislation, most desirable to appoint a Committee of Inquiry, who should decide it by placing an authoritative construction upon the rules of the House.
§ MR. SADLEIR
said, that the Bill did affect the spiritualities of the Roman Catholic Church. He believed this was an attempt to strike down the Roman Catholics in all things relating to their rights and privileges, which was not contemplated in the Act of 1829. He was surprised that the hon. and learned Solicitor General was not aware that ordination in the Roman Catholic Church depended on title and local jurisdiction, and that no bishop had power to ordain or confirm outside the limits of his own see. The vicars-apostolic ordained only as the delegates of the Pope, and not in respect to their own offices.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I see no ground, Sir, for further delay. With respect to the case of the House going into a Committee of the whole House, that has been almost uniformly, if not entirely, on. questions respecting religion or spiritual matters. With respect to the cases referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), one of them was the Bill for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, which I had the honour of introducing; that was, whether persons, on accepting the municipal office, should be exempted from taking the sacrament—being clearly a question of a religious nature. The next case was upon the question whether the Roman Catholics should be released from the disabilities imposed upon them by a declaration against transubstantiation and various other doctrines of the Roman Catholic religion; both instances—in the one case, with respect to a sacrament; in the other, with respect to a declaration against transub-stantiation—being supposed to be securities in favour of the religion of the country. I consequently think that these precedents do not in the least tell upon the present case. I will not go into the arguments which my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General has so clearly stated to the House; but I own I do not think there is any ground on the present occasion for referring this question to a Select Committee. Then the further difficulty arises—according to the statement of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), and according to the clear and comprehensive statement of you, Sir—that the precedents on this question are very various, and that the instances are confused, if not contradictory. It is an entirely different question whether we should not appoint a Select Committee to inquire into this subject. For my part, my impression is entirely against it, as I do not believe that a Select Committee could come to any satisfactory conclusion. Such questions must be left to the discretion of the House, to decide in each case whether it is necessary to go into Committee upon any particular Bill. I believe that, when the opinions of different lawyers are taken, we shall not have gained one step in our progress, and that it would be a most inconvenient course for us to follow. I see nothing, therefore, which ought to prevent the House from going into Committee.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that he knew this was not a very favourable time to prolong a discussion, and that he would not keep them from their dinners more than two or three minutes. If he recollected aright, when the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) spoke on a former occasion, on this Bill, he stated that the Government had discovered that the Bill, as originally introduced, did affect the spiritualities of the Roman Catholic Church or its Prelates, and that, having been informed of this, he consulted the law officers of the Crown, and they having confirmed this opinion, he proposed to withdraw some of its clauses. So far, then, they had the noble Lord owning himself that the Bill had come within the practice of the House upon that point. So far as regarded the Church of England, he (Mr. Bright) should say that this Bill distinctly had reference to the Church of England, inasmuch as it declared in the preamble that the reason for the Bill was the taking of certain ecclesiastical titles by Roman Catholic Prelates, said to be inconsistent with the rights referred to in the preamble. Then the object of the Bill was to strengthen the Prelates of the Established Church in the dignities and offices which they now enjoyed; and, if this were so, he was at a loss to understand why the rule applied in so many previous cases should not be applied in this. The House was asked to do something, which something was felt to be a great grievance by many millions of the population of the United Kingdom. It might be a necessary thing to do, or it might not. The House might be driven by an absolute necessity to pass it; but hon. Members could not conceal from themselves the fact that from 8,000,000 to 10,000,000 persons had pronounced most clearly and decisively against the Bill. Then a member of the Church which would be injuriously affected by the Bill asked them to consider whether they were not proceeding too rapidly, and whether they had not passed over a certain step which the Established Church insisted upon for itself, for the purpose of defending its own position—whether in attempting to pass a Bill, which was felt to be a grievance by 8,000,000 or 10,000,000 of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom—they were not proceeding more rapidly, in a manner less fair and cautious, than they should proceed if the proposition were to aggrieve the members of the Church as established by law? He was not going to say the Roman Catholic Church stood in 888 the same position as the Established Church; but the members of the Roman Catholic Church stood in the same position, when they asked for the consideration of the House in matters affecting themselves, as did the members of the Established Church. He thought the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) ought not, by a mere majority, to override the view of the Roman Catholic Members of that House, and of a large portion of the population of the country; but that he ought to be even more careful when he was taking away the rights now enjoyed by the Roman Catholics, than if he was doing something to affect the power of the dominant Established Church. He would not argue the point legally; but if there was any doubt on the question—and he thought the speech of his right hon. Colleague (Mr. M. Gibson) showed that there were doubts—then the noble Lord ought to refer it to a Select Committee, and so satisfy the Roman Catholics throughout the United Kingdom that when questions affecting them were before Parliament, the House proceeded with as much caution as if it were a question affecting the Established Church.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 53; Noes 179: Majority 126.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. LAWLESS moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. LAWLESS
Then I move the adjournment of the House. Though not a Catholic Member, he was an Irish Member, and felt as much as a Catholic Member, that Ministerial majorities in that House, however large, ought not to treat with disrespect the feelings of their Catholic fellow-subjects. The majority upon this occasion did not seem disposed to listen to the justice of the case at all. [Cheers.] Yes, and that cheer showed him how right was his opinion. He therefore moved that this House do now adjourn.
§ MR. GRATTAN
seconded the Motion. He thought the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was pursuing a wrong course by refusing to comply with the proposition of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Moore)—a proposition which, if carried, would satisfy the Roman Catholics; and he now appealed to the good sense and good feel- 889 ing of the noble Lord, and begged of him to consent to the adjournment of the House.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
could assure the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Lawless) that the majority on the division which had just been come to had not been composed entirely, as he seemed to suppose, of Ministerialists; for there were in the lobby some of the strongest opponents of Ministers—men who could not be moved by him to vote otherwise than as their consciences dictated. The question had been fairly discussed. He had never seen the House more attentive than it was to the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Athlone (Mr. Keogh), the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), and some other Members. The House having decided that they would not adjourn the debate, it was now proposed that the House should adjourn, in order to get rid of the Bill. This proposition made him suspect that that resolution which hon. Members told him they had come to some time ago—not to make any factious opposition to the Bill—a resolution he very much admired—he was afraid, however, they had faltered in that resolution now. The House had heard the opinions of Mr. Speaker and some competent Members; and were matters now to be reversed because there were some Roman Catholics in Ireland who might suppose that they had a better opinion of order than Mr. Speaker?
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, he had not been excited to offer any factious opposition by his vote at this particular stage. [A laugh.] That laugh induced him to state that he had no factious intention with reference to his proceedings on this occasion. His object was to afford time to the House to agree to the views of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson). His opinion was more than confirmed that this was a grave subject, worthy of additional consideration. He was not impeaching the decision or opinions of Mr. Speaker on points of order when he said that there was considerable difference of opinion on this subject, that very high authorities differed on it, and that the Irish Members were not guilty of factious conduct in asking for consideration on so important a question. He was not aware of any such resolution as the noble Lord had stated. The hands of the Irish Members were perfectly clear, and he was afraid they would disappoint the noble Lord in 890 their political tactics. If the noble Lord would consent to the appointment of a Select Committee, they would not object—at least he (Mr. Reynolds) would not—to proceed with the debate pari passu with the inquiry by the Committee. They were justified in dividing as often as they thought proper.
§ MR. KEOGH
considered that the noble Lord himself admitted it was desirable that a Select Committee should be appointed to examine precedents. There was another conclusive reason, on account of the discrepancy which existed between the arguments of those who maintained that the Standing Orders did not apply to this question, Mr. Speaker having assigned as his reason that the Bill did not touch the spiritualities of the Roman Catholic religion; while the hon. and learned Solicitor General urged as his reason that the Bill did not apply at all to the Roman Catholic religion.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, his noble Friend did not propose the appointment of a Select Committee; he only said that was a question which ought to be separately argued. But, practically, the House had decided the question, and he therefore hoped the House would allow them to make some progress with the Bill.
§ MR. ANSTEY
hoped that the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Lawless) would not press the House to a division on his Motion. His (Mr. Anstey's) determination was to separate himself from the acts of some hon. Members from Ireland, especially when they assumed to speak in his name. He opposed the Bill, but he was no party to the species of opposition which was now set up. His reasons for opposing it were not common to him and the Irish Members, and the course which was now being pursued by those Members was not likely to conciliate or to succeed. Was it right, for the sake of gaining the small advantage of a few hours, days, or even weeks, to force the House and cripple the freedom of its deliberations, by including, under the name of religion and religious purposes, subjects which, according to the Bill, were altogether foreign to the question of religion? He called upon the Irish Members boldly to avow that their object was not to settle this question, but to get rid of it by a side wind.
§ MR. MOORE
must compliment the hon. and learned Member for Youghal on his conversion, for he, after having spent a whole Session in obstructing all Bills, even 891 his own Bill, was now in favour of progression. He (Mr. Moore) presumed that the fact of the hon. and learned Member holding his seat in that House contrary to the remonstrances of his constituency, had produced the sudden change in his views. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), and the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), had both promised to vote for a Committee. The Irish Members only wanted to have the Committee. They had no desire to obstruct.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 145: Majority 109.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the House do now adjourn."
§ Question again proposed.
MR. M. J. O'CONNELL
wished to explain his reasons for offering continued and determined opposition to the Bill. The broad principle which he laid down was this—that the act of the Pope in appointing bishops with territorial jurisdiction was not such an act as ought to be met by legislation. He entirely denied that the allegiance of Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects was weakened or abated one jot or iota by that act of the Pope. What was the position of the Roman Catholics in Ireland up to that period? Since the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act there had been on the Statute-book a nominal prohibition of the assumption of certain ecclesiastical titles in Ireland; but notwithstanding that prohibition, those titles were assumed in instruments binding under the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church. Whether legal or illegal, it was also well known that there had existed in Ireland a body of Roman Catholic prelates, acting in and for certain dioceses in Ireland, most of whom were called by the same style and designation as the existing titles of bishops of the Established Church. The bishops of the Roman Catholic Church were appointed by the power of the Pope of Rome. Hitherto that power had been the general power of confirmation of local elections; that was not a necessary practice; but whether they were appointed by confirmation of domestic election or not, the Roman Catholics of Ireland had acknowledged the authority of those bishops. That was the law since he came to man's estate; under that law they had lived, and were still living, and that had been the practice, independent of the act of the Pope at the close of last autumn. Were the Roman Catholics of Ireland, because they acknowledged 892 the authority of the Pope in the appointment of bishops, less loyal and faithful subjects to Her Majesty Queen Victoria— whom God long preserve? He contended that they were neither less loyal nor less faithful, and that if the appointment of bishops to territorial jurisdiction were a violation of the rights of the Crown, they had been long living under the established violation of those rights in Ireland. What had been the state of the Roman Catholics in England? They had been governed by vicars-apostolic — a system which hon. Gentleman on the Treasury benches were ready to praise, when contrasting it with the new system. But whose vicars were they? The vicars of the Pope—episcopal curates exercising delegated jurisdiction from the Bishop of Rome—the actual Bishop of the Roman Catholics in England. Instead of directly governing his spiritual subjects in England through vicars-apostolic, the spiritual government was now to be administered by the appointees of the Pope, and therefore there was less pretence for saying the change was a violation of Her Majesty's prerogative. He was fully pursuaded that when the heats, and clouds, and mists of prejudice had passed away, future generations of Englishmen would look back on all that had taken place with self-humiliation, and would thank God that they were not as prejudiced as their ancestors, just as we could look back on the prejudices of our ancestors ninety-nine years ago, when they complained that the change of style had deprived them of eleven days. The present attempt at legislation was the result of an undefined and undefinable wish of many persons in the country that Parliament should do something. He thought hon. Gentlemen had mistaken the public mind of England, in representing that it was a Church of England movement. He did not look upon it in that light. On the contrary, he saw that not only had large bodies of Protestestant Dissenters joined in the call of this House to interfere, but amongst Churchmen many had taken part in this movement who were far from anxious to promote the increased endowment of their own Church, but would rather see that endowment reduced; and many who were decidedly unfavourable to the extension of power to the clerical portion of the Established Church. Taking into consideration that class of Churchmen, the large bodies of Dissenters, and those who were in a state of suspension between Church and dissent, who had joined in re- 893 quiring legislative interference, he was driven to the conclusion that public opinion was eminently a Protestant opinion, concurring very much with that portion of the Established Church which considered that her Protestant character was rather more vital than her ecclesiastical character. God forbid that he should condemn them for that feeling ! but he did condemn them for endeavouring to terminate a spiritual contest by the secular arm—to cut the Gordian knot by the sword of the State—to obtain the interference of Parliament with "the development" of Church principles. It was preposterous by any legislative act to put a stop to the unconstrained flow of religious opinions; it was a freedom as essential to the enjoyment of perfect liberty as any other of those franchises which the British public so highly esteemed. He confessed he had been surprised to find a nobleman in the other House of Parliament, a nobleman, too, not the least enlightened nor the least tolerant in that assembly, arguing in favour of legislative interference in order to check the spread of Romanist opinions. Now, the idea of asking the Parliament of Great Britain in this the 19th century to interfere to check the free current of public opinion, was as preposterous as the idea of attempting to stop the flow of the tides, and afforded a melancholy evidence of the incorrect notion which was too generally entertained of the power and duties of the Legislature. He would take the liberty of warning that body of Churchmen whom he would not call Puseyites, but who were known to have a great respect for episcopal ordination and apostolical succession, and of whom he had always understood that the hon. and learned Solicitor General was one of the brightest ornaments, that if they encouraged the British public to appeal to Parliament to put down Romanist opinions, they might find it speedily followed up by a similar appeal to put down their own. But he might be asked, if he would not consent to legislation, what would he do? To this he would reply, that if the Church of England was assailed, let her defend herself; if any of the other Protestant bodies were assailed, let them defend themselves. If the Pope's nominees should claim jurisdiction, power, or pre-eminence over any of them, lay or clerical—if they should claim any temporal or civil authority over any of Her Majesty's subjects whatever, it would then be time enough for the law to interfere; and he wa3 sure that no loyal Roman 894 Catholic would refuse to assist in supporting the law; but, in the meantime, he would let the spiritual authority defend itself. He confessed he was extremely sorry to see sectarian animosities again revived by this measure. Attached as he was to the Roman Catholic Church, he could assure the House that, instead of contention and strife, it would be much more consoling to him to see Protestants and Catholics engaged in the nobler and truly Christian rivalry of endeavouring to extend the knowledge of the divine law and the practice of the divine precepts among the mass of the population, who, in many of the rural and civic districts, were, he regretted to say, in a state of practical ignorance, almost worse than Atheism. He feared that the result of the present measure would be to prevent this desirable extension of Christian instruction among the mass of the people; that it would tend to make the lukewarm still more lukewarm, and the scoffer still more active against Christianity. With these views of the dangerous tendency of the measure, he would at this, and at every other stage at which a legitimate division could be taken on its merits, give the Bill his firm and decided opposition.
§ MR. URQUHART
said, there were many points with which he was precluded from dealing when he addressed the House on a previous occasion. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had since opened up one branch of the question, which appeared to him (Mr. Urquhart) of the greatest importance, and on which he would now enter. The noble Lord had stated that the motive and object of the Papal Government had been, not a religious, but a political one. He stated that the Government of the Pope had been moved by hostile feelings to this country, and was the agent of a conspiracy which had for its object to prevent the extension of liberal and constitutional government, and had instigated an act which should set England in a flame. Though the noble Lord would not have admitted, if he (Mr. Urquhart) had called on him to do so, that the aggression rested on diplomatic grounds, he had now admitted that for him. The noble Lord's statement was founded on evidence. The Earl of Shrewsbury had said, "There are, I believe, parties in Rome the declared enemies of England, who are all-powerful in the councils of the Roman Court." Her Majesty's representative in Ireland, in a very remarkable letter, wrote thus: "What 895 can I, or any unprejudiced spectator, think, except that spiritual jurisdiction is not the object in view, but rather political hostility?" When the question first arose, the natural instinct of this country pointed to that issue, and it was at once seen that the source was political, and that political source opened by England herself. The leading journal, on the first announcement of the event on the 22nd October, expressed itself in these terms:—So that while one of the effects of Lord Minto's unfortunate journey was to promote the revolution in Italy, the other was to promote the re-establishment of the Romish hierarchy in England. For a Scotch nobleman, who is neither a Jacobin nor a bigot, it must be confessed that these results are strange instances of diplomatic ability.The hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir Robert Inglis), endeavouring to explain, or finding it impossible to explain, the conduct of the noble Lord, said, "It must evidently be influenced by causes which are not obvious to the world;" and in the course of his speech, he went the length to say it was a diplomatic question, which could only have been treated in the first instance by negotiation, and, in case of negotiation failing, finally by a resort to arms. The resort to arms had been treated as ridiculous; but if it was an unwarrantable aggression on international right, it would have been an honourable quarrel, and the nation would have upheld the Government in so dealing with it, though the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would have covered himself with disgrace had he appealed to international rights, after the encouragement he had offered to the Papal See. The noble Lord the Member for Bath (Lord Ashley) began in the same strain, speaking with indignation of the priest or potentate, "dependent on foreign bayonets for the very breath he drew," yet placed in a position to startle this country from its propriety: he, too, attributed the act of the Pope to political motives. So also the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn), who had used these remarkable words:—He had heard it said that the act of the Pope was in revenge for some supposed misconduct of the noble Lord opposite for having lent himself to some proceedings in Rome which had led to the expulsion of the Pope. He could not believe such a statement, although he had heard it from authorities which on any other matter he should not be disposed to doubt; but if the Pope made ecclesiastical arrangements a means of resenting a political injury, they were clearly not necessary for religious objects.896 The right hon. and learned Master of the Rolls, in reply to the suggestion to treat the aggression as a contravention of international right, said, "How can you go to Rome and complain, seeing that you brought in a Bill for establishing Diplomatic Relations, and introduced a clause which offended the Pope, and vitiated the whole action of the measure?" That Bill no ways prevented England from having her representatives at Rome if she chose. The noble Viscount at the head of the Foreign Department did not adopt the same argument; but he said it was "too late" to interfere in that way. Before the House decided on the question, they ought to remember that they had three Ministers of the Crown presenting opinions on the subject under discussion, which could not be reconciled. That fact alone was, he thought, an evidence of the want of the sagacity of the Government in dealing with the question. In the course of his address to the House in bringing forward his Resolution, he had referred to the erroneous statements of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) respecting the violation of the law of nations: the noble Lord had contradicted him without adducing fact or argument for the contradiction he gave. What he (Mr. Urquhart) had asked the noble Lord to say was, whether in the act of the Pope there was anything contrary to treaty or the law of nations, and whether either had been infringed; but the noble Lord had not given an answer. While then the noble Lord persisted groundlessly in representing that act as a violation of the law of nations, with equal pertinacity he had excluded that means of action which alone could be had recourse to in dealing with an international matter; he would not negotiate to prevent the injury, but he would legislate to meet a foreign aggression, and then legislate so as to strike innocent persons, and leave unscathed the horrible conspirators against England and against Europe, whose existence he had detected, and whose evil purposes he had proclaimed. He had done his best to resist the Bill for establishing Diplomatic Relations with Rome, because he was satisfied that wherever British diplomacy opposed the interests of England, it would be unjust, and the independence of that country where it was brought to bear, endangered; and during that long discussion he had several times, and at considerable length, passed in review the conduct of the Papal Government during the late war, showing how great the services it had ren- 897 dered to England in her hour of need. Although no diplomatic ties united then the two Governments, it had been indeed a traditional policy of Great Britain to maintain the independence of the Pope. It was thus that she had spent half a million sterling on the election of Pius VII.; that she had stipulated for the restoration of the possessions of the Pope at the Treaty of Vienna, and had herself conducted him back to his dominions, from which he had been driven by his refusal, alone among the princes of the Continent, to submit to the Berlin and Milan decrees directed against his commerce. The Pope has now lost his independence; he has become a puppet in the hands of others; and immediately he acquires the power of convulsing England, breaking Ministries, deranging the course of public affairs, and reducing her, in as far as external action is concerned, to the same chaos as France. The reasons adduced by the late Attorney General for the rejection of a proposed Amendment to the Diplomatic Relations with Rome Bill to restrict intercourse to matters purely temporal, had been, that the English Government would then be prevented negotiating should the Pope entertain the design of dividing England into bishoprics, and appointing thereto bishops in ordinary instead of vicars-apostolic. The words of the learned Gentleman were—At present the Pope might divide this country into bishoprics and archbishoprics, and if the Amendment were agreed to be might do so still; but if we had free diplomatic relations with him, the British Government might interfere to prevent such a division.The hon. Gentleman then described the position of the Pope at that time as one antagonistic with Russia on account of the persecutions directed against Poland, the religious liberties of which were guaranteed at the Treaty of Vienna; that the Pope possessed powerful means of action against the Emperor, and thence it was important for the Russian Cabinet to overthrow first the Papal power, and then to restore it in a state of servility; that this service had been rendered to that Cabinet by the noble Lord, who had used Lord Minto and similar means to expel the Pope, and then employed French bayonets to bring him back. If the source of these measures were doubtful, the consequences were not. The one illustrated the other. No sooner is the Pope restored than he proceeds to measures characterised by the noble Lord as wholly novel and ex- 898 travagant, never attempted, he says, in "Catholic times." These means are indeed distinctive of the authority of the Pope himself in England, and are not less so, or would not be less so, of the proselytising power of the Roman Catholic Church, had it not been from the merest fanaticism and childish alarms aroused by the noble Lord among the Protestants. But the noble Lord was wrong in stating that the like had not been attempted in any other country. Precisely the same thing at the same moment had been done in Turkey; and if the profit to Russia of this measure was not to their eyes apparent in England, no one could be blind to its effects in that country. Then the Pope had likewise divided the Armenians into dioceses, and appointed bishops; but as there was no Grand Vizier to write a letter to, a Mufti of Durham to tell the people that the sovereignty of the Sultan was assailed, and the right of the Islams infringed, he did not, like the Catholic Members of that House, kiss the arrogant edict, but appealed to the Sultan for protection against the infliction of bishops not of their own selection. Well, what follows? The spiritual subjects of the Pope threaten, if he persevere, to join the so-called schismatic Armenians, whose Patriarch is the protegée of Russia, or even the Greek, that is, the Russian Church. What does the Pope do? He appeals to the French Ambassador, who steps forward to urge his claims. Was not this, then, a diplomatic question, in which Russia uses alike the Pope and his jailor, the President of the French Republic, as her instruments? Does England step forward at Constantinople to support the Sultan, and to repel the conjoined pretensions of the Pope, France, and Russia? No; she recommends to the Porte a "temporising policy," that is, the admission of what the Pope has done. Russia's chief means of convulsion in the East had been religion, and now she had found out the process by which to apply the same to Europe as a State; her end was to sow dissensions between people and people, and as a religion to arouse hatreds between Catholics and Protestants, and set by the ears the two other great divisions of Christians. It became them to inquire into the position in which they stood, and, before all, whether the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) in responding to this act of the Pope as he had done, had not been playing into the hands of the Pope, and playing a second time 899 into his hands by repressing the very feeling which he had raised, and whether the whole conduct of the Government in this matter had not been discreditable and injurious to the country. This was clear, that they were wholly at sea in their legislation as their diplomacy.
§ MR. KEOGH
said, he, for one, was not sorry the debate had been protracted, as it had afforded himself and others the opportunity of expressing their sentiments upon it before Mr. Speaker left the chair. He believed the noble Lord at the head of the Government was not sufficiently aware when he had introduced his measure of the great danger which it threatened to this country, but more especially to Ireland; and he was sure if he had he would have paused before he extended it to Ireland. He wished to know, not what the noble Lord had been doing during the last two months, but what he had been doing during the whole of his political career, and how the two parts of his conduct differed. He wished to know what the noble Lord could say to the conduct of greater men than himself who had gone before him; whether he was prepared to abandon what Canning encouraged, what Plunkett struggled for, and what Lord Brougham and other great advocates of religious liberty so long supported? If they were to go into Committee on the Bill, they would undo all that these great men, and the noble Lord himself, had done. From all they had heard from the Ministerial bench they were led to suppose that the Bill proposed only to reimpose the provisions of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill; but such a supposition was most unreasonable and unfounded. In particular he thought it unreasonable to extend the Bill to Ireland. The noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department, with his usual pleasantry and readiness, had said that the Bill was only an accompaniment of the Bill of 1829; but if that was so, he (Mr. Keogh) would beg to ask the noble Viscount why it was made applicable to Ireland? If it was only an accompaniment of the Act of 1829, why had not the Government stated why it was made so; and why that Act, in so far as the Government said the provisions of the two Bills were the same, had not enforced the provisions of the Act of 1829? Those provisions in the Act of 1829 which were said to resemble those in the measure before the House, had never been enforced in Ireland; and if it had not been found necessary to enforce them, why, he would 900 ask, should another Bill with similar provisions be brought forward? Did the noble Lord intend to put the Bill in force in Ireland? If he did not, he (Mr. Keogh) desired to know if the noble Lord intended the Bill to be a mere sham? A mere sham as an accompaniment of the Bill of 1829? But the noble Lord had stated that in applying the Act to Ireland, his object was to enforce the Charitable Bequests Act of 1846, which, he was told, as he (Mr. Keogh) supposed, by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, went to repeal some of the provisions of the Act of 1829, and to legalise what was illegal before. It was, he conceived, at that time of day, rather late to consult the Attorney General for Ireland with respect to the operation of that Act. Either the Act of 1829 had or had not been enforced; if not, why should another measure be introduced? And if it could, another measure was not necessary. He really did believe that at that moment the noble Lord at the head of the Government was ignorant of the real question before the House. It had been said that the first clause in the Bill was a transcript of the first clause of the Bill of 1829. But what was the fact? Why, that the first clause of the Bill essentially differed from the provisions of the great Bill of Sir Robert Peel of 1829. That every lawyer in the House must admit, not alone on the examination of two or three clauses in each Bill, but from their whole scope and language. The preamble of the Bill of 1829 commenced with the phraseology that—"Whereas by various Acts of Parliament restrictions had been imposed upon certain classes of his Majesty's subjects, and whereas such restrictions should be discontinued;" certain provisions which followed were necessary. That was in substance the entire preamble; but the preamble of the Bill before the House was worded very differently, for it declared that it was necessary to strengthen the position of the Church of England by so and so, according to the provisions which followed. In the preamble of the Government Bill he found recitals which were positively untrue. It was said, for instance, that "Whereas it might be doubted whether the recited enactment extends to the assumption of the title of archbishop or bishop of a pretended province or diocese, &c." Now, could any Government contradict the fact that that assumption had taken place in Ireland? He was sure the hon. and learned Solicitor General for 901 England would not make such a contradiction consistently with his high sense of honour. The next assertion was, "That 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." He (Mr. Keogh) denied that. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) knew it to be not illegal, and knew that the assertion was not founded on fact. He had distinctly stated that he had consulted his law officers, and that they had both told him that the "attempt to establish" here referred to was not illegal either by the common or by the statute law. The preamble then contained three distinct falsehoods, for the next affirmation was, that "The assumption of ecclesiastical titles in respect thereof is inconsistent with the rights intended to be protected by the said enactment." The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) also knew that that was not true, and he had told the House so. There was a discrepancy between the statement of the right hon. and learned Master of the Rolls, on the first introduction of the Bill, and the subsequent statement and alteration of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Shortly after this there Was a Ministerial crisis, and the noble Lord withdrew two clauses of the Bill. He said it went far beyond his intentions; he never intended to interfere with the spiritual action of the Church in Ireland. He had been wrongly advised, and he only asked the House to pass the first clause of the Bill. Well, he (Mr. Keogh) would say, and that not upon his own authority, but upon the authority of the Solicitor General of the late Administration, Sir FitzRoy Kelly—on the authority of Mr. Brodie, and Mr. Baddeley, that this one clause contained everything which was contained in the second and third clauses; and the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Bethell), if he was in his place, was at liberty to contradict him (Mr. Keogh) and his own written opinion. The eminent counsel to whom he had referred said—We are of opinion that if the 2nd and 3rd clauses of the Bill were expunged, the 1st clause would of itself render it illegal for any Roman Catholic archbishop or bishop to exercise his official functions as archbishop or bishop of any province or see in the United Kingdom of Great Britain or Ireland, though such functions were merely spiritual, and had no reference whatever to any temporal rights or authority. If 'the assumption or use of the name, style, or title of archbishop or bishop of any city, town, or place, or of any territory or district in the United Kingdom,' be ren- 902 dered highly penal, as it would be by the 1st section, it follows that every act which such archbishop or bishop could only perform regularly as archbishop or bishop of some province or see, and in that capacity, must be deemed to be thereby prohibited.Now, was the noble Lord at the head of the Government sincere? Did he really not mean to interfere with the Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops in Ireland? The noble Lord said he had altered his mind upon the Bill, because that eminent prelate, Archbishop Murray, wrote soma letters, in which he stated that the Bill would interfere with the Irish bishops. Did he mean to attach more legal weight to Archbishop Murray than to the opinion of Sir FitzRoy Kelly, Mr. Brodie, and Mr. Baddeley? If the noble Lord was sincere, and did not mean to shackle the independence of the Roman Catholics in Ireland, would he take counsel with his law officers now, and ask them whether the first clause would not do all that was proposed to be done by the second and third clauses? Had he any legal authority to convince him that in proposing the first clause, he was not incurring that risk from which he had avowed that he was disposed to shrink? But the Bill did not stop there; and the opinion of those gentlemen went on further:—We are of opinion that if the 2nd and 3rd clauses of the Bill were expunged, the 1st clause would of itself render it illegal for any Roman Catholic archbishop or bishop to accept any emolument or endowment, or to exercise any trust or power, as archbishop or bishop of any province or see in the United Kingdom, in relation to any property, whether charitable or otherwise, and whether intended for the benefit of such archbishop or bishop, or of such province or see, or of the persons subject to his spiritual authority therein, if such acceptance or exercise involved his assumption or use of the name, style, or title of archbishop or bishop of a particular province or see of the United Kingdom; and such emolument or endowment, and such trust or power, belonged to him solely in such his capacity of archbishop or bishop.The Bill was introduced without any reference to the Charitable Bequests Act; and he had formerly called the attention of the right hon. and learned Master of the Rolls to the fact that this Bill would repeal the provisions of that Act. The late Sir Robert Peel carried the Charitable Bequests Act at a time when he incurred great obloquy for bringing forward such a measure; but he was not a statesman to be driven from his profession and his principles by common clap-trap. Now, Sir FitzRoy Kelly, Mr. Brodie, and Mr. Badeley distinctly stated that that Act 903 would be repealed by this Bill if it became law, for that Act provided that voluntary endowments to the Roman Catholic Church should be legal, and that property might be conveyed to the Commissioners of Charitable Bequests for the benefit of Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops. It was in vain, then, for the noble Lord to contend that he did not wish to interfere with the religious liberty or the ecclesiastical rights and privileges of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, if he shut his eyes to the opinion of those gentlemen. But he came to another point in this Act. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) said that the first clause of this Act was the same as the 24th section of the Act of 1829, and he must know that that was not the case. That section of the Act of 1829 said that if any bishop of the Roman Catholic Church assumed the title held by a bishop of the Establishment, he should forfeit a penalty of 100l.; but this Bill prohibited any person from assuming the name, style, or title of archbishop or bishop of any place, territory, city, district, or town, or under any name or designation whatever. Then, how were you to describe a Roman Catholic archbishop or bishop in Ireland? The vocabulary of the noble Lord, or of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, might be far more copious than his; but he could discover no form of expression which would describe an archbishop or bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, if those words were left in the Bill. He asked the noble Lord again the question, which could not be too often put to him, whether he was playing fast and loose with the House and with the country? Did he not intend to put that Act in force? If so, of course it could not hurt the Roman Catholics; but if he did intend to put it in force, it would be destructive to the liberties of that Church in Ireland. But the noble Lord said the Catholics had not complained of it. No; because they believed it was all a sham—that the noble Lord did not intend to enforce it. But there were others in that House who had as much disposition as the noble Lord to restrict the liberties of the Roman Catholics in this country, and it was possible that at no very remote time there might be another Administration in power from that of the noble Lord. They might put this Act into force; and if the noble Lord believed that this Bill interfered with the spiritual, religious, ecclesiastical, and episcopal func- 904 tions of the Church in Ireland, and if he professed that he did not want to interfere with those functions, he (Mr. Keogh) would ask him to withdraw the last remaining section of his Bill. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had repeatedly spoken about his generosity to the Roman Catholics of Ireland; and the hon. and learned Solicitor General had said that he had no objection to Roman Catholics enjoying religious liberty as long as they were well-behaved, and did not interfere with political matters. Was that to be the new code of religious liberty for Ireland? He did not want to disparage anything the noble Lord had done for that country. His exertions for a long period of years were incessant in favour of Catholic emancipation; but if he passed this Bill he would upset everything that he had already done, and, except that Roman Catholics might be Members of that House, he would place the Roman Catholic millions of the country in a worse position than they were in at any former period. The noble Lord, in his speech upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Urquhart), said the feelings of the people of England must be consulted. The noble Lord seemed to think it was becoming in a great Minister of this great empire, ruling over people professing every description of religion, from Roman Catholicism to idolatry, to coerce the feelings of a large portion of Her Majesty's subjects. He admitted that the great majority of the people of England were Protestant; but nine-tenths of the people of Ireland were Catholic; and was it becoming in a great Minister to talk of coercing the religious opinions of one section of the people to satisfy the religious prejudices of the other? There was a period in the history of England when an illustrious member of the illustrious house of the noble Lord gave way to similar prejudices; and he would say to the noble Lord that the same arguments might have been put forward at the time of the Gordon riots; and if a Minister wished to yield to popular clamour, he had popular clamour enough then to back him. But he (Mr. Keogh) did not know what he would have done, unless he had brought every man to the scaffold (as was once the theory in this country) who had the audacity to profess the Roman Catholic religion. The noble Lord had renewed, over and over again, that hacknied assertion that this proceeding on the part of the See of Rome was a direct insult to the Protestant feelings of 905 this country; yet on last Friday night 202 Members were found to vote with the hon. Member for Stafford, that the proceedings of the See of Rome were encouraged by Her Majesty's Government. That was a truth; they believed it to be a truth; and he would give the House greater evidence upon that subject than the noble Lord dreamed of. He had before invited the noble Lord to a pleasing reminiscence of his own speeches in that House, and would therefore not go over that ground again; but, invited by the minority of 202 Members of that House, who were ready to vote that the proceedings of the Government had encouraged the act of the See of Rome, he would tell them they might most safely come to that conclusion without the least injustice to the Government. The noble Lord himself was afraid of that issue. He knew that many persons went into the lobby with him the other night who were of the same opinion as the hon. Member for Stafford. For instance, there was the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir Robert Inglis), who had stated that the conduct of the See of Rome was encouraged by the Government in Ireland; but that hon. Baronet excused himself by saying that the division was not to be taken upon the precise Motion of the hon. Member for Stafford, but upon the Motion whether Mr. Speaker should leave the Chair. The noble Lord, in 1844, 1845, and 1846, when he was in opposition— [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: Not when I was in opposition in 1846]—well then, in 1844 and 1845, made certain observations on this subject; but in 1848 he said, "I will set every thing right. I withdraw what I said before. I apologise to the country, and the thing is settled as it ought to have been;" and the noble Lord said, in answer to a question whether he would sanction the appointment of a British subject by the See of Rome to a bishopric in this country, with territorial jurisdiction, that he would not consent to it. But, in February, 1849, after Cardinal Wiseman had been gazetted as Bishop of Westminster, the noble Lord said—But I own I do not think that this is a matter of very great importance. It was very agreeable to the feelings of the Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops that they should be called by the titles by which they are usually designated. They have received those titles; but that does not imply any legal claim to authority, and I cannot conceive, therefore, that it is necessary for this House to take any proceedings in the matter."—[3 Hansard, cii. 445.]906 Perhaps his learned Friends on the other side would give some explanation, or, as the lawyers said, would put in a special demurrer to what the noble Lord said; but such language was not confined to the noble Lord. There was a Colleague of his still more anxious that no doubt should remain on the mind of the See of Rome as to what it ought to do in respect to this country. In a more august assembly, in the House of Lords, on the 27th of July, 1849, Lord Redesdale put a question to the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies, which he declined to answer; but one of his Colleagues got up and said, "he was sure that if any Cardinal came over to this country every person would call him 'his Eminence.'" That was the Earl of Carlisle. Yet the noble Lord would say that an insult was intended by the See of Rome, when the See of Rome was reading those professions repeated over and over again in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It happened that he (Mr. Keogh) was at Rome when all this mischief occurred; but a remarkable fact came to his notice there, and he did not know whether the noble Viscount the Foreign Secretary was in his place, but, if so, he had no doubt the noble Viscount was aware of the fact. Cardinal Wiseman was created Archbishop of Westminster, and directly the matter was published it was a subject of great rejoicing in Rome. Now, this country had a diplomatic representative at Rome. We had a Consul located there, and over the doors of his mansion were placed the British arms. He (Mr. Keogh) saw the dwelling of the British consulate brilliantly illuminated in honour of the appointment. A British subject, the British Consul, the representative of the British Government at Rome, illuminated his mansion in honour of the appointment of a Bishop of Westminster. Was the See of Rome, then, to be under the impression that nothing would be so distasteful to the British Government as that appointment for which the British Consul had illuminated his mansion? The noble Lord had made a great deal of the subject of the Synod in Ireland. He said that all might have gone quietly but for the Synod of Thurles, which interfered with internal affairs. The noble Lord said the Catholics of Ireland had deceived him; but they had only returned a compliment. But when the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) came to deal with Protestant ecclesiastics in that same country, he by no 907 means objected to their interfering in the most violent manner with their flocks, upon identically the same temporal questions in which he charged the Roman Catholic bishops with having improperly interfered. The noble Lord would recollect that in the year 1832 seventeen out of twenty Protestant bishops in Ireland—for they had twenty then—and 1,700 of the Protestant clergy, protested against the system of national education. That was a system which was supported by the noble Lord who led the party upon this (the Opposition) side of the House. It was also supported by the noble Lord opposite. The noble Lord said—They have certainly a right to say that, disapproving as they do of the system, they will not allow attendance at the schools of any children belonging to their communion. … It is perfectly competent to clergymen of the Established Church to say they will not allow attendance at those schools.Was it not, then, competent for Roman Catholic clergymen to say, not that they would not allow, but that they did not recommend, their flocks to send their children to the mixed schools of education in Ireland? But the noble Lord spoke of the Synod as a thing that had never been heard of before. Why, there was the Synod of Ulster, the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Synod of the United Presbyterian Church, and the Synod of the United Original Seceders. Perhaps the noble Lord was well acquainted with that Synod, and was one of the number. The noble Lord said that that Synod had met, and, for the first time for 300 years had passed certain resolutions; but he must tell the noble Lord that since his famous Durham letter no man would venture to say that the Catholic people of Ireland ought to send their children to those seminaries. But, said the noble Lord, there was a case in Sardinia. He (Mr. Keogh) thought it would have been more apposite and cogent with the Roman Catholics in Ireland, since the Reformation, if the noble Lord could have said there was a case there in which religious independence was stifled by the hierarchy instead of travelling beyond the Alps. But, in sober seriousness, he said that this was the worst part of the Bill. The cloven foot came out in that part of the Bill to which he had alluded, more than in all the letters and speeches of the noble Lord and his colleagues. If there should be a question as to the religious liberty of 908 the Episcopal Church of Scotland, no one would be more happy than he would be to insert a clause in the Bill to preserve it; but could it have escaped the noble Lord, when he was hurling his invectives against the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland, against those sacred ceremonies which its members revered, when talking of the Synod of Thurles, that he had a case in Scotland much stronger than any lie could have thought of in Ireland? If the House was shocked with the Synod of Thurles, what would it say to excommunication in the orthodox Episcopalian Church of Scotland? The case to which he alluded was a very remarkable one, which was the subject of adjudication in Scotland at this moment, and it had been denounced by eminent Judges in that country as a most flagrant proceeding; but it was in favour of that Church and Synod that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had a proviso in his Bill to exempt them from the provisions of this measure, which was directed, with an anti-Catholic, sectarian bigotry, against the Roman Catholics. He would give the noble Lord (who had been charged with being a Presbyterian in Scotland, a Puseyite in Pimlico, and a Churchman in the House of Commons) an opportunity of hearing that case. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary once contradicted him (Mr. Keogh) for saying he had received a petition signed by the bishops of the Episcopal Church of Scotland; but, if it were not the petition of the episcopal bishops, it was a petition of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, signed by those episcopal bishops, and that petition was received, although the noble Lord said he would not receive a petition so signed by the Roman Catholic bishops of Ireland. But, he would read the terms of the excommunication in the case in Scotland to which he had referred:—We, William Skinner, Bishop of Aberdeen aforesaid, with our clergy in synod assembled, do hereby this 10th day of May, 1843, excommunicate the said Sir William Dunbar, Bart., and solemnly warn all the faithful to hold no communion with him in prayers or sacraments.Had that escaped the attention of the noble Lord? Was he aware of the existence of that excommunication when he proposed to introduce an exceptional clause for Scotland in the Bill before the House? He might turn to those fifth-rate men who made themselves the lecturers out of that House of those whose opinions he enter- 909 tained, but who, in that House, never uttered a word; and he would ask them where would have been the cause of Parliamentary reform if Catholic Emancipation had not been carried? Where would have been the cause of free trade, or where might it be, if the Roman Catholics declared against it? But he was consoled on that part of the subject by reflecting that there was not one distinguished freetrader—he did not refer to those Gentlemen who shot their small arrows at them, but who never stood up against them— but to those free-traders who supported the question both in that House and out of it—that there was not one who was not against this Bill. The distinguished Members of the late Sir Robert Peel's Government were against it; the hon. Members for Manchester, the hon. Member for the West Hiding, and the hon. Member for Montrose were against it; and with that support they whose views he supported could afford to smile at the sneers that were put upon them by the small fry that surrounded them. He would warn the noble Lord, then, before he went further with this Bill, that by it he might arouse Again in the people of Ireland, who were just emerging from the consequences of pestilence and famine, and just reaching perhaps the shore on a frail plank, the fanatical spirit of sectarian animosity, and perhaps involve them again in another twenty years' struggle. If indeed that struggle should come, the result would be, he was convinced, as it had been before, victorious to the people of Ireland, and never would they sheathe the sword until they had deprived those who had oppressed them of the power of oppression. They won that struggle before, and they would win it again. The noble Lord boasted— and, if he did not retract all he had done, it was the proudest boast he could make— that he asssisted them in recovering and reclaiming religious liberty. If then by a tyrannical majority in that House the noble Lord struck down their liberties that night, they would go forth from that House and would never cease until they had re-established them. They would never be intimidated by momentary defeat. They had braved scenes of persecution: the avenging sword of Cromwell was upon them; the insidious treachery of the Stuarts beset them; exactions and confiscations—he used the word openly, plainly, and advisedly—the confiscations in which the ancestors of the noble Lord had taken 910 so conspicuous a part, were upon them. But they had triumphed over them, and would triumph again; and they would do so, not forgetting their allegiance to their Sovereign; but, while acknowledging that allegiance, they would continue to assert, as the constitution allowed them to do, their allegiance in spiritual matters to the supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church,Dum domus Æneæ Capitoli immobile saxumAccolet, imperiumque pater Romanus habebit.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, the hon. and learned Member for Athlone has undertaken a very difficult task, and he has performed that task, I have no hesitation in saying, with very great ability. But I own it appears to me that the difficulty of the task is beyond even the powers and the talents of the hon. and learned Member. The statement which I have made, and which other Members of the House have made, was, that with reference to Ireland titles taken from sees had been forbidden since 1829, and that, therefore, either the Roman Catholic Prelates of Ireland had been under grievous persecution from that time to this, or that this Bill could not be of the penal and persecuting nature which has been asserted of it. It appears to me that this proposition is an undeniable one. The hon. and learned Gentleman thinks otherwise, and endeavours to evade the point at issue. But before I deal with his arguments to that effect, I would refer to his observations as to what I said with reference to the necessity of consulting the feelings of the people of England. I said it was necessary to consult the feelings of the people of England. I did not say it was necessary to consult the Protestant feeling of the people of England. All I think it necessary to consult is the national feeling of the people of England. I should have said, in the same way, that when the Pope attempted to establish his complete dominion over France, those who resisted that attempt might have said it was necessary to consult the feelings of the people of France; for that, though the great majority of the people of that country were Roman Catholic, they were not prepared to bow the knee to a Sovereign who was not their own Sovereign, to bow the knee to a foreign prince; and then it might well have been said by Roman Catholics themselves, "we must consult the feelings of the people of France, and they will not submit to decrees which come from Rome, 911 and which pretend to subject us to the authority of the Pope." The speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman tends to strengthen the prediction of the late Mr. Grattan, that the Catholics of this country would become incorporated with the See of Rome. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Keogh) says he does not at all mind the provisions of the Act of 1829, because we never enforced the provisions of that Act; and he calls upon me to say whether I am now about to enforce the provisions of that Act. If that were the question, it would have very little to do with the present Bill, because if the fact were that the provisions of the measure of 1829 had never been enforced, and that it was our determination to enforce them, as nearly all the Roman Catholic prelates in Ireland are supposed to take their titles from existing Sees, it would only be necessary, as regards Ireland, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman, to enforce the existing Act, and there would be no new measure required for the purpose. But the hon. and learned Gentleman asks, "Do you mean to enforce it in some new manner? or do you mean to enforce the provisions of the present Bill?" And he quotes the opinions of certain learned Gentlemen for the purpose of showing that by the first clause of the new Bill, which does not apply to Ireland with so much stringency as the existing law, none of the spiritual functions of the Roman Catholic prelates of Ireland can be exercised; and yet, under the Act of 1829, the spiritual functions of those prelates have been exercised from that time to this; and none of those prelates in the exercise of any of those functions have been interfered with. [Mr. Keogh: Because the Act was not put in force.] The hon. and learned Gentleman says, "this is because the Act has not been put in force;" now, in order to put an Act in force, you must have an offence committed, and some evidence that such offence has been so committed. We have had various Governments in office since 1829; it is not alone the present Ministry or other Whig Ministries that, since 1829, have governed Ireland. [Mr. KEOGH: I did not say it was.] We have had the Duke of Wellington's Government, and we have had the Government of Earl de Grey with Sir Edward Sugden at the head of the law in Ireland, and the present Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench in Ireland. Did these functionaries neglect the Act of Parliament? No; my belief is that there has been obedience paid 912 to that law by the Roman Catholic prelates of Ireland. I desire no other proof of this than the petition which was presented to the House in the present Session of Parliament, wherein the Christian name and surname of every one of the Roman Catholic prelates in Ireland were signed by those prelates, not one of whom took in it a title from any diocese or see in Ireland. I should, then, conclude that, with the exception of a most rev. Archbishop who takes a title to which I believe he has no claim whatever, but which he asserts is not within the letter of the Act—with that one exception I should say that the Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops in Ireland have generally in every public act of theirs, obeyed the Act of Parliament in this respect. If the Act of Parliament has been obeyed, what could Government ask further? It was not to seek out occasions for prosecuting, by unnecessary investigations into the relations of the Roman Catholic prelates with their priests, or in the exercise of their special functions; it desired to avoid anything savouring of needless or vexatious interference. Nothing of the sort could be conceived from the speech of the late Sir Robert Peel in introducing the Roman Catholic Relief Bill; I imagine that what was intended was to prevent the ostentatious and open assumption of titles taken from sees in Ireland; and that, these assumptions being so prohibited by law, if the prohibition was obeyed, the Government would be satisfied with that obedience. Such I conceive to have been the meaning of the Act; and such, I believe, has been the practice with regard to that Act. So that the difficulty of the hon. and learned Gentleman really comes to be no difficulty at all. That which has been done in Ireland must relate in the future to the Roman Catholic bishops: for they are not Roman Catholic bishops taking their titles from any see which is not the see of a Protestant bishop. They are taken from the ancient sees of the country—they have been held, I believe, by Roman Catholic bishops since some forty years after the Reformation; and I see no need for interfering any further with what is the present practice and state of the law and of the Government. With regard to matters of this kind, and with regard to this whole question, I say it ought not to be the policy of this or any other Government to seek out for matters of offence for the purpose of prosecution. I read in a letter 913 of Dr. Wiseman's, that there is to be an Abbot of Westminster, continued from Roman Catholic times. I make no curious inquiry; I do not propose that we should forbid by Act of Parliament the assumption of the title of "Abbot of Westminster;" nor do I care in the least who may be the individual who assumes that title. But when a person comes pretending authority from the Pope, and says that the Pope has been pleased to give certain titles—that the Pope has been pleased to divide this country into dioceses —that by the same act he has totally abolished the Archbishoprics of Canterbury and York, and the Bishopric of London—and that he assumes the right to govern in this country of England—I say then it is not the quiet exercise of religious functions, it is not the non-compliance with the letter of some law, but it is an open and daring defiance of the sovereignty of this country; and the Parliament of this country can no longer shut its eyes to that which has been done. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman will say, "Why do you include Ireland in your Bill? why do you make any mention of Ireland?" Why, the offence which we complain of is an offence chiefly against the prerogative of the Crown; it is an offence against the independence of the nation; and we look upon Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. But with regard to the Act, what was required to be done I think has been done by the Act of 1829. It may be that after this Act passess, we shall find persons in England or in Ireland openly assuming these titles, and attempting by that assumption to set up their power and authority against the power and authority of the Crown of England; I should say in that case, whether it be in England or in Ireland, that the Crown ought to take means to enforce the law. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Keogh), in arguing this case, recited what he called the false assumptions in the preamble of this Bill. He said, first, that the enactment of 1829, the 10th George IV., had been repealed by the Charitable Bequests Act. I own I was astonished to hear such an assertion. Only imagine that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir James Graham), acting under the direction of the late Sir Robert Peel, then Prime Minister of the country, should have introduced a Bill which repealed an important part of the Act of 1829, the Roman Catholic Relief Act, by which 914 the Roman Catholics have seats in Parliament and enjoy offices, and that he should never have mentioned to the House of Commons that he proposed to repeal an important part of that Act! It is impossible to believe he could have meant it; and there are no words in the Act he introduced which at all countenance the supposition. The words are very carefully chosen; they are not the loose words which we afterwards find in a Cemetery Act, and which I wish, for my own part, had not been allowed to slip into an Act of Parliament. The Charitable Bequests Act, an Act introduced by the late Sir Robert Peel's Government with deliberation, speaks of a bequest "in trust for any archbishop or bishop, or other person in holy orders of the Church of Rome, officiating in any district." Those are the words with respect to bishops. With respect to the clergy, they are—"having pastoral superintendence of any congregation of persons professing the Roman Catholic religion." Those words, "officiating in any district," are entirely different from any jurisdiction over a diocese. They are introduced in order to avoid any of those words which imply authority, jurisdiction, and legal power. So much for the first assertion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. His next point is, that we say it may be doubted whether the recited enactment extends to the assumption of the title of archbishop or bishop of any see not being the see of an archbishop or bishop of the Established Church. Well, I have heard a very learned lawyer start doubts upon that subject, and I own, reading the words of the Act, I think they very well admit of doubt. I believe the general opinion of the profession of the law is, that the words do not imply that persons may not assume those titles, not taken from existing sees. At the same time, when we have heard from the mouth of a very learned lawyer a doubt upon that subject, I think we were justified in asserting that it may be doubted whether that is not the law. Another averment, which the hon. and learned Gentleman says is false, is, "that the attempt to establish, under colour of authority from the See of Rome or otherwise, such pretended sees, is illegal and void." I am assured by every lawyer I have spoken to, that that is actually the law of this country. And, I observe, that the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole), who proposes to put that part of the 915 preamble in the shape of a clause, does not put it in this shape, "be it enacted," but he puts the words "be it declared," evidently considering that that is already the law of the country. Well, then, I know not why the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Keogh) should state that there is any part of this preamble which is not borne out by the law and by the facts of the case. The hon. and learned Gentleman, after having discussed the preamble of this Bill, went on to speak of the enactment itself, and considered it as a violation of religious liberty. He threatened us with the anger which would be excited in Ireland; and, with strong metaphorical language, he said if this Bill should pass, that the oppression would be resented, and that they would never sheathe their swords until they had got the better of their oppressors. I am exceedingly sorry that hon. Members of this House, representing, no doubt, a feeling that exists in Ireland upon this subject, should consider this Bill any violation of religious liberty; but I do not think that we are bound, on that account, to part with a single particle of that authority which is inherent in the Crown of England, or of that independence which is inherent in the people of the United Kingdom. I know not what might be the consequence, if we were to give way to these notions that religious liberty will be infringed, if we do not preserve that sovereignty and that independence. For my own part, I have no wish to exchange the religious liberty that we shall all enjoy, and that the Roman Catholics will enjoy after the passing of this Bill, for any of that kind of religious liberty which is enjoyed at Rome. It was but the other day we were informed, by one of our Ministers in Italy, that there was a person now lying in prison for the offence—of what? Of circulating an Italian translation of the Holy Scriptures, which was a violation of the law of that Italian State. I am not now speaking of Rome; I am speaking of another of the States of Italy. [Mr. Keogh: Hear, hear!] The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to think that that is a great triumph—that it is not Rome; but will he tell me that it is not the influence of the Roman Church which has caused it? Will he tell me that it would be competent for Italians to erect a Protestant place of worship in Rome, to go freely to that place of worship, and to publish every day their opinions, showing the Protestant religion to be, according to their opinion, the truth 916 with regard to religious matters? Why, they could do nothing of the sort, as the hon. and learned Gentleman well knows. Sir, I rejoice that we have still the means of enjoying a religious liberty more real, more actual than that which the hon. and learned Gentleman can quote. I am very glad that if I wish to learn the art of reasoning I am not debarred from reading Whately's Logic. I rejoice that in this country we are not subject to those prohibitions which at Rome are so common, and indeed so prevailing. But the hon. and learned Gentleman, referring to another question, adduced an excommunication from a bishop of the Episcopal Church in Scotland. Now, I am informed, and I believe, all those titles are void in law; and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary took care to inform those who signed those names, that although it was not an offence punishable by law, yet that the assumption of those titles gave them no legal right whatever to assume them; and I believe, with respect to a clergyman who has been excommunicated by one of those bishops in Scotland, that that clergyman had his action, that he obtained in the Court of Session a judgment in his favour, and that the bishop who had assumed an authority which did not belong to him was obliged to compromise that action. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Keogh) may account himself and his countrymen fortunate if no worse persecution than that which is proposed by this Bill should prevail in any part of the United Kingdom. He may compare the condition of this country with that of any in which the Church of Rome has the prevailing power. The hon. and learned Gentleman on a former occasion—he seems to think now that he has been misled with respect to the facts—showed an indignation that, I think, was honourable to him, at the supposition of any such persecution as was directed against the Minister of the King of Sardinia on account of the part which he took in the Sardinian Parliament; but let the hon. and learned Gentleman be sure that if those doctrines of the See of Rome, —not the doctrines of the Roman Catholic religion—not the doctrines which have ever prevailed in France—but those political doctrines which Rome has endeavoured to extend over Europe, and which are totally different from anything belonging to the doctrines and opinions of Roman Catholics—let him depend upon it, that if such maxims were to prevail in this coun- 917 try, he (Roman Catholic as he is) would not enjoy half the freedom, half the power of expressing his opinion, half the liberty of coming forward in this House to argue in any cause which he thought it was his duty to argue, that he now does under a Protestant constitution. With this belief, therefore, not wishing to argue those parts of the question on which I have had to trouble the House on former occasions, but repelling the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that there is anything like persecution in this case, I must again aver that it is a political measure, directed against a political encroachment, and that we will not suffer that the name of religious liberty should be prostituted for the purpose of covering foreign aggression.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he was exceedingly glad the discussion had taken the turn which it had now assumed; for, as the proposition before the House was that the Speaker should leave the Chair, that appeared to him a very fitting time to discuss the principle of the Bill, and the propriety of taking any further steps with regard to it. He was much struck with an observation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon in a former debate, that it was an extremely dangerous thing for a Government to be legislating upon the idea that it was forced to do something with regard to a particular question, without knowing exactly either what it had to do, or how it ought to do it. There was great practical wisdom in that observation. He would turn back to some of the proceedings connected with that question. The noble Lord at the head of the Government commenced the fray by his celebrated letter; and any stranger to the country who read that letter must have come to the conclusion that some great outrage had been committed. Within a week after the publication of that letter, the noble Lord, the chief officers of the Crown, and some of the principal Judges, including the Lord High Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, assembled round the festive board of the chief magistrate of the city of London; and there language was used which, to say the least, should not have been employed by sedate and learned men accustomed to administer justice, whether it was used in seriousness or in joke. He must here remark, however, that he was not at all astonished at anything which took place in connexion with such a question at the Mansion House of the city of London, for 918 if he were not misinformed, the Mansion House was built out of fines extorted from nonjurors, from Protestant Dissenters, and, to a large extent, from the society of which he (Mr. Bright) was a member, between the passing of the Act of Uniformity and the passing of the Act of Toleration. There was another curious fact connected with that building. One hundred and ten years ago, when a proposition was made to build this place, the Earl of Burlington of that day presented to the Common Council an admirable design by an Italian architect; but the architect being an Italian, and his name, "Palladio," possibly suggesting Rome, though he had been dead 150 years, his design, which was the best offered, was rejected by the corporation. Now he (Mr. Bright) had observed almost all that had appeared in the papers during the agitation of this question, and he had no hesitation in saying that as yet there had been no logical definition of the injury that had been inflicted on this country, and no agreement as to any remedy which Parliament could provide. He might say the same for the leading articles in the newspapers, from the Times down to the humblest country paper. Not one had proposed an intelligible remedy for the matter. Certain specifics, indeed, had been proposed out of doors; but the noble Lord had not been so imprudent as to accept them. The celebrated Dr. Cumming, among the rest, had proposed that Cardinal Wiseman should be packed off to Italy in a man-of-war, with Admiral Harcourt as commander. The choice was perhaps happy, because Admiral Harcourt was the son of a man who, while a bishop in the dominant Church, received no less than three-quarters of a million of money; and therefore it was no wonder that his son should be hostile to any rival in so profitable a calling. He (Mr. Bright) would not allude particularly to the speeches made by certain distinguished individuals, to the burnings in effigy, or to the threats of serving Cardinal Wiseman as a certain Austrian general had been served. He gave the noble Lord credit for being too wise to follow such counsel. But after the noble Lord had written his celebrated letter, he had three months for quiet deliberation whether in Downing-street or Windsor; and at the end of that three months they had the noble Lord's speech, which was not about the Papal rescript, the real matter in hand, but about various matters that had occurred on the other side of the 919 Channel. The noble Lord was now conscious of the difficulty, and could not withdraw Ireland without overthrowing the whole speech upon which his legislation was founded. The noble Lord objected to the Synod of Thurles. He (Mr. Bright) did not wish to see such synods, or anything else that interfered with education; but if the two Churches were compared, they must be driven to the conclusion that the Protestant bishops and clergy were quite as meddlesome in politics as the Catholics, and more especially upon this very question of national education. He had, while in the south of Ireland, spoken to a gentleman who was a county magistrate and a chairman of a board of guardians, and that gentleman had said that the established clergy had committed a great mistake in so universally rejecting the national schools, as they had by such conduct thrown them wholly into the hands of the priests. They should not then judge too harshly of the Synod of Thurles for taking a different view of education from them, more especially as at that synod the votes were equally divided, more than could be said of the established clergy either of Ireland or of England. But the noble Lord would have no bishops but his own bishops, of whom he was by turns the tyrant and the vassal; while the bishops of Ireland, in whom the people had confidence, were not to have any opinion on this question of education, or, if they had, they were not to express it. But the noble Lord had not been able clearly to define the matter upon which he was going to legislate. He had had to cite a great number of Acts, to garnish with references to history, and menaces from other countries, and to make up what lawyers called a cumulative case, in order to establish even the slightest case for legislation. The noble Lord admitted that the law had not been broken; he could not cite any case in which the Catholic bishops of Ireland had broken the law. He (Mr. Bright) had thought that the noble Lord was going to admit that as the law had not been broken, no offence had been committed, instead of which he was about to ask for a stringent law to put down an offence which had never been committed. There was one point on which the law had been broken, and that was in the importation of the bull; but with that offence the noble Lord would not interfere. The language of the Pope was complained of as offensive; but had priests in power ever used any other? The language was offensive—such 920 language as might have been used by Hildebrand, and very like what was used in our own legal documents. He recollected a charge of libel being brought against an unfortunate newspaper editor, in which he was charged with every imaginable offence; but that was the mere formal wording of the legal document. So it was with the language of the Pope. Offensive, aggressive it was—such as he (Mr. Bright) despised and loathed; but it was rather a form than a substance—but it was not a justification for the present attempt at legislation. But the noble Lord said, there was an attack by a foreign Power on the supremacy of the Crown. The hon. Member for Oldham had truly observed that the Pope's being a temporal Power was merely an accident. The Pope was a priest, and it happened unfortunately that he was also a temporal prince; but if he had been at Avignon, or Naples, or Brazil, or even in the town of Galway, still he would be Pope and priest, and have precisely the same power over the Catholic world as he had at present. The supremacy of the Queen was, in the sense used by the noble Lord, no better than a fiction. There might have been such supremacy down to the times of James II., but now there was no supremacy but that of the three estates of the realm, and the supremacy of the law. The Queen was the chief of the Established Church; but that Church had not been assailed either in its wealth or power. The Queen had not the power of making Roman Catholic bishops, and therefore the making of them by the only Power on earth that had authority to make them, was no invasion of the prerogative of the Crown. The noble Lord said that the Pope had ignored the Established Church of this country, and had abolished the see of Canterbury. But the Pope had always done so; he looked upon the Church of England as an usurping church, pretty much as the Church of England looked upon congregations of Dissenters. Did not that Church, when appealing to the House on the plea of religious destitution, reckon up the population in a district, and the number of church sittings, without ever taking into account the number of dissenting teachers, or of dissenting places of worship? It was thus that one Church always treated another; and it was one of the unfortunate proofs, that so much as they had had of churches and of religions, the true spirit of Christianity had made very little way 921 amongst the churches of the world. He was not one of those who thought there was any strength in the argument which was used so often, that bishops in ordinary were not necessary for the effectual working of the Roman Catholic Church. He was no friend to the bishops of any Church. But his own individual opinion had nothing whatever to do with legislation on this question. He was not so presumptuous as to say to another Church that bishops were not necessary for that Church; and if bishops were necessary for the Anglican Church, who could say they were not necessary for the Church of Rome? They had heard much of the changing of vicars-apostolic to bishops in ordinary, and he wished on this subject to read an extract from a letter he had received from a constituent who was a learned ecclesiastic of the Romish Church. He believed that in that letter it was conclusively urged that the change from vicars-apostolic to bishops in ordinary went far to free the bishops from the arbitrary supremacy of the Pope, and to place them under the control of a regularly-organised code of laws. His correspondent said, that the principal argument against the bishoprics was founded on the assumption that the bishops would be more under the control of the Pope than the vicars-apostolic. That was wholly erroneous. The bishop exercised his authority in virtue of his office, while the vicar-apostolic acted as the mere delegate of the Pope, who was the immediate bishop of the district. In both cases the territory was marked out. In one case it was called a diocese, and in the other a district, and in both cases the Pope conferred the jurisdiction. In both cases the jurisdiction extended to all who belonged to the Church, which included, in the estimation of the Church, all baptized persons; but it was not to be exercised except over those who chose to submit to it. In the case of the bishops, they were governed by laws regularly enacted; while the vicars-apostolic were controlled solely by the will of the Pope, who exercised as much power as he thought proper. The difference was this, a vicar-apostolic was alone responsible to the Pope and to his will whatever it might determine; but when a bishop in ordinary was appointed, he was relieved from the caprice—if he might so say—of the Pope, and subject alone to those portions of the canon law that could be exercised in any country in accordance with the permission of the civil law of that country. It was 922 asserted that the Roman Catholics of this country had suffered no grievance in being driven back again to the rule of vicars-apostolic. He (Mr. Bright) begged to ask the people of this country, whether they would prefer to live under the ordinary constitution of the country, administered by its recognised tribunals; or under some special commission, with some exceptional state of the law, where liberty might be less secure than under the ordinary and recognised law of the State? He did not intend quoting further from the document he held in his hand; but he thought it only fairness to the gentleman who sent it that he should make use of it to that extent. He maintained that the course that had been taken in making these bishops in ordinary of vicars-apostolic was calculated to relieve the Roman Catholics in England from much of that ultramontane influence of which the House had heard so much: for if the bishops were natives here, and appointed with the consent of those over whom they would subsequently exercise control, it was reasonable to suppose that the Roman Catholic Church would become more national in character, than when ruled over by the Pope and the statutes of his councils. The noble Lord had designated the proceeding as an insult to the Crown, and an attack on the independence of the nation. He (Mr. Bright) wished he could get rid of the silly and groundless fears it entertained on these points. To talk of this nation, its Crown and independence, being menaced by a petty sovereign or prince at Rome, was really too ludicrous. Why, if England had not concurred in the invasion of Rome by the French, that temporal prince, the Pope, would probably be now no prince, there would be a republic established at Rome, and, perhaps, the religious separated from the political power for ever. But the country was misled by these phrases, which were so misused by the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown. "A foreign Power had endangered the supremacy of the Crown, and attacked the independence of the country." The whole matter was one of idea, of sentiment, of that fine material that it was impossible for an Act of Parliament to grapple with the case before them. He admitted the insult and offensiveness of the language—it was repulsive to their feelings that such language should be addressed. But, admitting all that, he was at a loss to discover how legislation could affect the question benefi- 923 cially at all. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had told them that this Bill would meet the emergency, and no more. He thought the noble Lord was wise and prudent in not making it more stringent than it was. Of course the noble Lord consulted the law officers of the Crown. It was well known that he consulted the bishops; and he doubted not he consulted the noble Earl who filled the office of Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. The noble Lord informed the House that the Bill would meet the emergency, and that he had proposed nothing that was not required for the precise evil complained of; and yet, within a few days subsequently, three-fourths of the Bill were given up. After three months of discussion and consultation with all these able and learned and pious men, with whom the noble Lord had been consulting, he admitted that he knew not the nature of his own Bill; and upon the occasion of the second reading, consequently withdrew three-fourths of it. He (Mr. Bright) was then arguing that the noble Lord did not know where he was hit, or the remedy for the wound of which he complained; and the fact of the withdrawal of three-fourths of the measure supported his (Mr. Bright's) argument. The noble Lord had retained the clause forbidding the assumption of titles. Well, assuming titles would be illegal by the Bill, what was the result? At present the assumption was not legal, and titles assumed by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics were looked upon as mere matters of courtesy, which gave no status, or rank, or precedence over any other subject of the realm. But in any case the Roman Catholics only would submit to the authorities of these dignitaries—no matter whether bishops, cardinals, or archbishops. But was there no effect produced by the Bill? Already the noble Lord had thrown over the Protestant feeling of the country, the sentiments of the Cummings, the M'Neiles, and the Stowells. It was not a question of Protestantism at present; it was a question of politics. He begged to ask the noble Lord, then, as a question of politics, who was injured by the Bill? The noble Lord did not touch the Pope. He (Mr. Bright) believed the Pope acted very foolishly, and that Cardinal Wiseman also acted foolishly; but both would go unscathed. The true sufferers would be the wearer of the Crown, and the millions of subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion. Look at the speeches, the writings, 924 and the denunciations of the last six months. Was it possible that all these could have occurred in the United Kingdom without producing a permanent evil as regarding the harmony and the well-being and strength of the nation? Then take Ireland alone. There had been a great gulf heretofore existing between England and Ireland created by their past legislation. The noble Lord had helped to widen and deepen that gulf, and there was now a more marked separation between the countries than had existed at any period in the last twenty years. They had, by their legislation, taught 8,000,000 of their fellow-subjects that their priests were hated by the British Legislature, and that they themselves were treated with disrespect, and their loyalty denied by that House and the leading Minister of the country. That was an evil of great magnitude, and one that they were bound to take into consideration. They had been informed not long since that at the Thurles Synod, half the Prelates assembled were in favour of the colleges, and the other half against them. He doubted not if a second synod took place, there would be a unanimous feeling against them. The noble Lord heretofore had a party amongst the ecclesiastics of the Church of Rome; but he had destroyed that party by his policy, and rendered them unanimous against the Protestant Government of that country. He asked any Gentleman there, not a Roman Catholic, what would be the effect of the recent proceedings on him if he were a member of that Church? Did that House suppose there was a Roman Catholic family in the empire, when assembled round the hearth, that did not entertain a greater reverence for the Pope now, than before these mischievous proceedings commenced? And did it not stand to reason that the missionary agencies of that Church, scattered over the kingdom for the conversion of Protestants, would take fresh hope from the paroxysm of terror and alarm into which the Protestants of England had thrown themselves? The apostles overthrew the Pagan worship of Rome; Luther, single-handed, wrested whole empires from the Pope; whilst here was a Church endowed with millions, and having 15,000 learned clergymen for its guidance and control, thrown into a paroxysm of terror, and all that by a Church which, in these realms, had not the thousandth part of the advantages possessed by its opponents. He wished the noble Lord had told the 925 House where the gain lay. Was it in the preamble of the Bill, which referred to the inviolable character of the Established Church in Ireland? Every one was aware that the Established Church in Ireland was not worth one good man raising his voice in its support; and the noble Lord well knew that it only waited the lifting of his own finger to ensure such a majority in that House as would suppress by Act of Parliament that Church for ever, notwithstanding its inviolable character. Was it as a matter of gratification to the ministers of the Established Church that the noble Lord introduced the measure—a matter of strife and rivalry between the Bishop of St. James's-square and the Archbishop of Golden-square? Was one to be suppressed for the satisfaction of the other? In such a case there would be no great gain to the people, to political freedom, or to the Christianity of this country in suppressing one ecclesiastic, and conferring dominance and power on the other. In his opinion the noble Lord made a great mistake. In the first place, he wrote a letter to the Bishop of Durham, and then consulted with the Bishop of London. A more unsafe man than the Bishop of London he could not have selected. Look at his character. He was an amphibious creature, reported by one to be a Puseyite, whilst another said he was on the high road to Rome. He (Mr. Bright) was sorry to hear the amount of abuse that was lavished upon him; and yet the noble Lord "rejoiced that he had the consent of that prelate." That ecclesiastic, with 20,000 excellent consolations, shed tears in presence of a deputation that waited on him. But doubtless they resembled the tears shed by the Syrian monk, who declared, according to the historian, that "tears were as natural to him as perspiration." However, it would appear that the said monk was less wise than the Bishop of London in another regard, for another historian related of him that he feigned insanity in order to escape being made a bishop. It was evident that the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Ministry was in a quagmire, and he knew it well. It would be far better for the interests of the Crown, of the kingdom, of that House, and of Christianity, if the Bill were withdrawn, instead of being proceeded with. There was no one in favour of the Bill beyond the noble Lord himself, as not one of his colleagues had really made a good fight for it. The Go- 926 vernment supporters disagreed; and even the law officers of the Crown gave different accounts of the measure. The hon. Member for Midhurst made an excellent speech, not in favour of the Bill, but against Papal aggression; and concluded his speech with a request, that he should be permitted to substitute a new preamble and new clauses, which he was perfectly ready and willing to do. He (Mr. Bright) doubted not when they got into Committee the hon. Gentleman would submit these clauses. But the Bill of the noble Lord was repudiated by all classes; and the press also repudiated it. It was well understood that the noble Lord was practising a cheat, a delusion on the people of England. The people had been clamouring for resistance to the aggression of the Pope, but not for such resistance as this measure afforded. They expected something that would be felt; but not the pretence of a measure, which, whilst it insulted Roman Catholics, offered no defence to Protestants. There was also a remarkable point in the matter. He (Mr. Bright) did not find any of the holy men of that House in favour of the Bill— men who were really attached to the Church of England. The hon. Members for Oxford University, for Kent, for Midhurst, not overlooking the Solicitor General: not one of them was to be found struggling in favour of the Bill. It had been said Multœ terricolis linguœ cœlestibus una." But it did not appear that the celestial in that House wore more agreed about the matter than any of those who felt the least regard for Protestantism or Catholicism. If the noble Lord could not bring a united Cabinet or party—if out of doors nobody was in favour of the Bill, and the press was almost unanimously against it—it was a fair ground for asking' the House to proceed no further with the measure. If legislation were necessary at all, let it be substantial and to the purpose; if they were to obey the clamour out of doors, let them satisfy it by some substantial measure of legislation. It was said that there was a cry out of doors for a dissolution of Parliament, and he rather thought some hon. Members were afraid of that. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Brotherton) had said that he and his colleague did not speak the sentiments of their constituents; but, at least, they spoke their sincere conviction. A reverend gentleman (the Rev. Hugh Stowell), one of the constituents of the hon. Member for Salford, whose Protestantism seemed to be 927 vituperation, and his Christian charity clamour, had thanked God that he was represented by the hon. Member for Salford. He was sure his hon. Friend must feel it humiliating to be patronised in such a manner. But he would admit that many Members acted in a manner opposed to the sentiments of a large number of their constituents. What of that? If there were any truth in the representative system, the 656 men returned to that House might be considered as of the foremost men of the country. It was not their duty to be the victims, subjects, and tools of a cry, but manfully and boldly to withstand it, if they believed it to be a hollow one. Of course, this language would not apply to hon. Members who conscientiously differed from him on that question; but he must be very blind who did not know that the effect of this cry, for which the noble Lord was largely responsible, was one not a few Members were disposed to follow. They ought to resist the cry, to stem the torrent; and it would be infinitely more honourable to go home to their avocations, if they had any, and abandon public life for ever, in defence of principles they had always held to be true, rather than be instruments of a cry to create discord between the Irish and English nation, and perpetuate animosities which the last twenty-five years had done much to lessen. They were there to legislate calmly and deliberately, without reference to the passions and contending factions that might rage out of doors; they were in a position to see pre-eminently that the course in which the noble Lord had been so recklessly dragging them was fruitful in discord, hatred, religious animosities—that it had separated Ireland from this country, had withdrawn her national sympathies from us, and had done an amount of mischief which the legislation of the next ten years could not entirely if at all abate. No one would have touched that Bill—certainly not the noble Lord—could he have foreseen all the difficulties that had arisen out of it. First of all, the Government had been broken up, though probably the noble Lord was patriotic enough to believe that that was not a national calamity. But the business of Parliament had been stopped for half a Session; and they were not at the end of it yet; the Speaker had not left the chair; they were only on the brink, and about to plunge in. An hon. Gentleman had a proposition to be supported by a large number, for a measure infi 928 nitely more stringent; and the noble Lord would not carry his own measure but by the support of those who wanted one much more stringent. But those who wanted persecution would rather take a little than be entirely baffled. The noble Lord would not withdraw the Bill, because it would be humiliating to do so. But was it not very humiliating to go on with it; to be legislating for no practical good result; to pass a measure which he knew would not satisfy those to appease whose clamour it was proposed, and must produce the worst effects between England and Ireland? In 1829 a measure was passed—long delayed—which professed to give Roman Catholics all the liberty we ourselves enjoyed. He would manfully stand upon that Act. It was far better to have faith in the population of this country, to bind them to the Legislature and the Crown by a generous and confiding treatment, than to proceed in such a course as the House was now invited to enter on. The noble Lord thought there was great danger in this aggression of the Pope. How was there any danger? The Pope could have no authority, except over the Catholics. It was said there were 8,000,000 in Ireland; and should the number in England and Ireland increase to 20,000,000, there would be great danger of the Roman Catholic religion becoming the established religion of the country—should an Established Church exist so long. Therefore, the argument of danger supposed the conversion of the people; for it was only by this means that the country could, to any considerable degree, come under the rule of the Pope. The noble Lord had drawn up an indictment against 8,000,000 of his countrymen; he had increased the power of the Pope over the Roman Catholics, for he had drawn closer the bonds between them and their Church and the head of their Church. The noble Lord had quoted Queen Elizabeth and the great men of the Commonwealth, as though it were necessary now to adopt the principles which prevailed almost universally two hundred years ago. Did the nable Lord forget that we were the true ancients, that we stood on the shoulders of our forefathers, and could see further? We had seen the working of these prineiples, and their result, and had concluded to abandon them. He had not touched on any matter purely religious; that House was not the place for religious questions. Reflecting on the deep 929 mysteries of religion, his own doubts and frailties, the shortness of the present time, and an awful and unknown future—he asked what was he that he should judge another in religious things, and condemn him to exclusion and persecution? But he feared not for the country on questions like this. England, with a united population—though the noble Lord had done much to disunite them—cared nothing for foreign potentates, be the combinations what they might. England, with her free press, her advancing civilisation, her daily and hourly progress in the arts, sciences, industry, and morals, would withstand any priestly attempts to subjugate the mind, and successfully resist any menaces whether coming from Lambeth or from Rome. He was one of the sect which had invariably held the principles he now advocated, which had in past years suffered greatly from those principles which the noble Lord now wished to introduce into our legislation. He could not do otherwise than raise his voice against such an attempt, and asked the noble Lord not to proceed further. He should therefore vote with the greatest pleasure against the Speaker leaving the chair.
§ MR. SCULLY moved the adjournment of the debate. They had not yet heard the opinion of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, the legal adviser of the Government in that country. There were other opinions, which they should also be anxious to hear. There was an opinion he had read with great pleasure, and he should be anxious to hear an explanation of that opinion from the hon. and learned Gentleman who gave it. He referred to the opinion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Bethell). This question should be properly argued, and he therefore moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 54; Noes 365: Majority 311.
|List of the AYES.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Devereux, J. T.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Fagan, J.|
|Fox, R. M.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Fox, W. J.|
|Blake, M. J.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Goold, W.|
|Bright, J.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Castlereagh, Visct.||Grattan, H.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Greene, J.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Higgins, G. G. O.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Hope, A.||Ponsonby, hon. C. F. A. C.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Power, Dr.|
|Keating, R.||Power, N.|
|Keogh, W.||Reynolds, J.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Roche, E. B.|
|Magan, W. H.||Sadleir, J.|
|Maher, N. V.||Scholefield, W.|
|Meagher, T.||Somers, J. P.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Sullivan, M.|
|Moore, G. H.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Murphy, F. S.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Nugent, Sir P.||Towneley, J.|
|O'Brien, J.||Wegg-Prosser, F. R.|
|O'Brien, Sir T.||TELLERS.|
|O'Connell, J.||Scully, F.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Lawless, C. J.|
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
must deprecate the course taken by certain hon. Members. After they had been four nights discussing the introduction of the Bill, and seven nights more upon the Second Reading, he thought they might now fairly go into Committee. He did not, however, wish to keep the House there all night, and he would therefore consent to the adjournment of the subject until Thursday.
§ Debate further adjourned till Thursday.