HC Deb 13 February 1852 vol 119 cc496-7

wished to ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government a question on the subject of the recent expulsion of certain Scottish clergymen from the Austrian territories, by order of Prince Schwarzenberg, and, as it was alleged, in contravention of the municipal laws of the Austrian empire, as well as of internal rights. He would not now recapitulate the facts to which his question referred; but he wished to draw the noble Lord's attention to its importance, relating, as it did, to the expulsion of certain Scottish clergymen from the Austrian territory, under circumstances of great cruelty and hardship. He wished to ask whether the statement of facts which he (Mr. Anstey) had made on a former occasion was correct, and also whether it was not true that under the laws of Hungary before the revolution, and under the Austrian constitution of 1848, ample liberty of conscience was secured to persons of the religious persuasion of these gentlemen? He wished to ask, also, whether, applying the precedent of Mr. Finlay's claim upon the Greek Government to the present case, the noble Lord was prepared to say that, supposing the expulsion to have taken place merely because of the religious profession of those parties, or merely because it was thought expedient to gratify the wishes of a portion of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria, this was not a case demanding the most exact attention and scrutiny at the hands of Her Majesty's Government, and the most ample reparation at the hands of the Austrian Government?


replied, that there was so far truth in the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that certain persons, ministers of the Scotch Free Church, who were residing in the Austrian territories, for the purpose of the conversion of the Jews to the Christian faith, had been expelled from those territories. Those persons stated that they had not attempted to make proselytes from the Roman Catholic to the Protestant faith, but that their sole endeavour was to promote Christianity among the Jewish population. They certainly seemed to have been persons who entirely separated themselves from any political associations or proceedings whatever. But when the hon. and learned Member asked him whether liberty of conscience was secured by the ancient laws of Hungary, and the constitution of 1848, he (Lord John Russell) could only state that it was well known that the ancient laws of Hungary were exceedingly favourable to religious freedom, and so, he believed, was the constitution of 1848: but these laws had at present no effect in Hungary, and the Austrian Government had thought proper to repeal the constitution. Her Majesty's Government had not at present information of the grounds upon which the steps that the question referred to had been taken; but upon representation made to Lord Granville, he had addressed a communication upon the subject to Her Majesty's Minister at Vienna. He (Lord John Russell) was not able to state whether the proceedings of the Austrian Government had been against the present municipal laws of the Austrian empire, or contrary to international rights; but undoubtedly, the case called for explanation, from the hardship of the sudden expulsion of innocent persons, and their considerable loss of property in consequence of that expulsion.