HC Deb 27 February 1852 vol 119 cc930-6

moved that the House, at its rising, adjourn until Friday, the 12th of March.


said, he supposed this was to allow time for the returns, and therefore he should not object to the Motion, but he hoped that hon. Members would have an opportunity given them of present- ing the petitions which they had received within the last few days.


said, he did not rise to oppose the Motion for adjournment, but he wished to make a few observations with reference to a matter which was somewhat personal. It would be in the recollection of the House that he had given notice, on Monday last, that he should postpone his Motion on the subject of the grant to Maynooth to an early day after Easter. That notice had been received by hon. Members who then sat on his side of the House with very unequivocal marks of a nature such as to lead to the inference that he had altered his plans, and was about to give up his Motion. He would, however, at once put hon. Members out of pain by assuring them that he had not altered his opinions, and had not changed his determination, neither did he see any reason why he should do so. He certainly did not expect that his Motion would receive any opposition from Her Majesty's present Government. He could not pretend to say what course the Government would take on the question, but it would be contrary to his expectations if they should oppose him, the more especially as in last Session of Parliament the then Lord Stanley, now Earl of Derby, made use of the following words in the House of Lords. [Mr. Hume: He was not in office then.] Lord Stanley said— I do not hesitate to say, that you ought now to consider fully and deliberately, dispassionately, temperately, but at the same time firmly, the whole of the difficult question of the relation in which the Roman Catholic subjects of this country stand to the Crown." [3 Hansard, civ. 29.] All that he (Mr. Spooner) asked for was inquiry, and he asked for it upon the ground of this fact, that the relations of Roman Catholics to the Crown stand at present in a very different position from what they did a short time ago. He was one of those who, though a general supporter of the late Sir Robert Peel, had always done the best in his power to oppose the endowment of the College of Maynooth. He had, therefore, nothing to retract or to regret in now coming forward and asking that that grant should cease; but he also felt that those who formerly voted otherwise need not be under any difficulty at present, for they must see that the whole conduct of the Roman Catholic hierarchy had completely changed since the endowment was given. If there had been any understanding whatever that this endowment should continue, it was plain that it was intended it should be received as a mark of kindness towards the Roman Catholics, and that it was expected in return that at least the original objects of the Maynooth foundation should be carried out. What were those original objects?


rose to order. He begged to ask if the hon. Member was in order in bringing forward the question of the grant to Maynooth, on the Motion that the House should adjourn till the 12th of March?


said, it was "in order" and usual for any hon. Member to address the House on a Motion for adjournment.


said, that the adjournment was often moved by hon. Members for the sake of addressing the House, and by no one had such a Motion been oftener taken advantage of than by the hon. and learned Member for Youghal. The original object with which Parliament had granted the endowment to Maynooth was, to provide ministers of religion better instructed and with more kindly feelings towards the State. He would ask whether they had had any proof whatever that the College of Maynooth had provided ministers of the Roman Catholic religion more nationalised in temper and views, and less hostile to the Established Church? He, therefore, thought that whatever understanding there might have been, that understanding had been completely annulled by the subsequent conduct of the Roman Catholics. He had the great authority of the late Sir Robert Peel for inquiry into this question. On the 23rd of June, 1840, that right hon. Baronet said, in the House of Commons— I cannot agree that the system of education carried on at Maynooth is a matter of indifference to the Legislature. I think that the system pursued at Maynooth is a legitimate subject for the censideration of Parliament; and it would be an abandonment of duty for the House of Commons to avow the doctrine which would allow us to say to the Roman Catholic professors—here is the money, we are pledged to grant it—do with it as you please—inculcate doctrines subversive of order, and injurious to morality: we cannot interfere." [See 3 Hansard, lv. 57.] He (Mr. Spooner) charged the system carried on at Maynooth with being at the same time subversive of order and injurious to morality, and he should be prepared to support that charge at the proper time. If he did not expect opposition to his Motion from Her Majesty's Government, still less did he expect it from Ro- man Catholic Gentlemen, because he did firmly believe—and living, as he did, on terms of friendly intercourse with many Roman Catholic families, he had reason to know—that great ignorance prevailed amongst the members of that persuasion with respect to the doctrines that were taught, the principles that were inculcated, and the books that were used, at the College of Maynooth. If Roman Catholics would but give themselves the trouble of inquiring, instead of taking for granted what they were told by the priests, there was not one amongst them who would not cry out to have that system abolished, or brought into such a state as they themselves, as honourable and independent men, could desire. Since he gave notice of bringing forward this question before the House, it had been his duty to inquire more particularly into the system taught at Maynooth, and he would affirm, without hesitation, that that system not only did what the late Sir Robert Peel told them they would be justified in guarding against, namely, teach doctrines subversive of order and injurious to morality, but also that it inculcated principles and doctrines completely antagonistic to the word of God. [Cries of"Question!"] He could only attribute that cry of "Question" to a flinching from assertions that could not possibly be contradicted. He would repeat the assertion, that Maynooth inculcated doctrines antagonistic to the holy word of God; that it put the priests in the place of God, and exalted the Church above the Saviour; and that it inculcated principles and taught doctrines so horrible in themselves, that any nation that gave its money and its authority to support such a system was guilty of a great national sin, which would, if persisted in, certainly draw down great national judgments. He knew that he should be called a bigot, and should encounter the ridicule of some persons for the course he intended to pursue; but he would say, as a Member of that House, that he had diligently examined the subject, and was prepared to prove every word that he had asserted, and he dared not flinch from what he considered to be his duty, lest he should be guilty of being ashamed of Him who had said that those who were ashamed of Him and of His word, of them would He also be ashamed before His Father in Heaven. He would merely add that he should avail himself of the first opportunity to bring this question before the House. It was his intention to ask for a Committee to inquire into the system of education carried on at Maynooth, and he pledged himself to prove the assertions which he had used, and to show that they were founded on facts that could not be controverted.


said, that after the long discourse—and he used the term in an ecclesiastical sense—of the hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat, he thought that, in his joy at a change of the Ministry, he had intended to move as an Amendment to the Motion made by the Secretary for the Treasury, namely, that the House should adjourn for a fortnight, that the House should continue sitting de die en diem, investigating the system of education pursued at Maynooth, and the merits of the works of Ligueri, De la Hogue, and Peter Dens. He (Mr. C. Anstey) was sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not mean to proceed with his Motion until after Faster, and then only if the Government did nothing on the subject.


was sure the hon. and learned Gentleman did not mean to misrepresent him, but he had distinctly stated that it was his intention to bring on the Motion after Easter.


The hon. Gentleman meant to go on in this or some other Parliament after Easter. If the hon. Gentleman would carry out his proposal to its legitimate consequences, and bring in a Bill to repeal the Maynooth Act, he (Mr. C. Anstey), and he believed many hon. Members, Protestants as well as Roman Catholics, might support him, on the ground that it was inexpedient to give support to religious establishments out of the resources of the State. The hon. Gentleman spoke from behind the Treasury bench. If not in office it was merely because he had refused office, and no doubt his sentiments on this subject might be considered those of the Government. Maynooth, as a public establishment, would, he was persuaded, court inquiry. He did not know whether the hon. Gentleman was in order in denouncing, in the way he had, judgment upon those who differed from him in religious opinions; but that he had erred in good taste in so doing, few, he believed, would deny. He did not interrupt the hon. Gentleman, for he thought the most prudent course was to give him rope enough. He had now had as much rope as the indulgence of the House would permit, and he (Mr. C. Anstey) thought that he had used it so as to hang himself most effectually.


said, his object in rising was to entreat that this discussion might not go on; and he now hoped that it would be allowed to close. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) had given notice of his intention; he might be right or he might be wrong in doing so; but at all events, if they were to part, let them part in peace. He hoped that hon. Members would now be allowed to present petitions. The hon. Member (Mr. Spooner) must be a most courageous man to speak in the way he had done; he reminded him (Mr. Grattan) of a great personage described by Milton, who from His horrid locks shook pestilence and war.


wished to state that the Government had nothing whatever to do with the notice of his hon. Friend (Mr. Spooner). His hon. Friend had never been offered office, and, therefore, the idea which seemed to be insinuated that there was some difference of opinion between the Government and him had no foundation whatever. He would bring the Motion forward entirely on his own responsibility.


was quite ready to believe that on whatever side the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) sat, there was no measure of intolerance and bigotry that he would not advocate. He gave him, therefore, the most perfect credit for sincerity. Without, however, adverting to the subject of Maynooth, he should like to know whether the Secretary for the Treasury (Mr. G. A. Hamilton), who he observed had just left the House, intended to persevere in the Motion he had put on the paper for a modification of the national system of education in Ireland, so as to make it accord with the convictions of the members of the Irish Established Church? The House ought to know whether the hon. Member intended to act upon that notice, or whether, as was too often the case in that House, it was one of those notices which were given in opposition, and dropped when the Opposition came into office?


said, that if evil effects arose from discussing these questions in the House, the responsibility must rest with those who introduced them. Religious questions, above all others, should be dealt with in a straightforward and manly manner. And as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) found many supporters of his opinion in the country, he (Mr. Roche) hoped he would bring the question before Parliament at an early day. It was important to know the opinions of Her Majesty's Government on the subject; but when he looke4 at the appointments, particularly the law appointments, there could be little doubt on the matter. The Attorney General and the Solicitor General for Ireland were steeped to the lips in opinions which he believed to be unfounded prejudices, and were determined to interfere with the religious liberty of Roman Catholics in that country. The Secretary of State for the Home Department, and the new Attorney General for England, were the most strenuous supporters of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill in its most stringent form, so that the Roman Catholic body of England had not much favour to expect from them. He had no objection to have this question discussed on its broad and general bearing. The hon. Gentleman complained that 30,000l. was given to support Maynooth by a Protestant State, whilst they were supporting in Ireland a Protestant Church which cost 800,000l. a year.


said, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) might fix a day for his Motion, as there was a ballot that night for notices. If the hon. Gentleman put his name on the balloting paper, he would have a chance of an early opportunity to do what he so much desiderated. The hon. Gentleman was in a glowing state on this important question, and it was better that his ardour should not cool.

Motion agreed to.

The House adjourned at half after Eight o'clock, till Friday, 12th March.

[A LIST OF THE MINISTRY formed by the EARL of DERBY is given on the following page. The acceptance of office by those Members of it who were also Members of the House of Commons necessarily vacated their seats: they were all re-elected, with the exception of the CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND.]

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