§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
said, seeing the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department in his place, he wished to put a question to him 1430 with reference to the unfortunate affray which had taken place at Stockport. He begged to ask, in the first place, whether the right hon. Gentleman had any further information as to the causes that led to the riot than was mentioned in the morning papers; secondly, whether it was true that a religious procession of Roman Catholics was the original cause of the riot; and, thirdly, whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government from this time forth to take effectual measures to prevent religious processions of that kind taking place in this country, where their recurrence was eminently calculated to excite breaches of the public peace?
§ MR. WALPOLE
Sir, with reference to the three questions put to me by the hon. and learned Gentleman, I have to state, in the first place, that I have received no further information than that which the daily organs of communication have put the House in possession of with reference to the unfortunate disturbances which have taken place in Stockport. In answer to the second question put by the hon. and learned Gentleman, perhaps I had better read to the House a passage from a letter which I have received from the Mayor of Stockport with reference to the origin of the disturbances: —As far as is at present ascertained, the disturbance appears to have arisen out of a quarrel between the English and Irish, in which, I fear religious animosity has been brought into play; but the whole matter was so sudden and unexpected, and the attention of myself and brother magistrates has been so entirely required by the necessary measures for preserving the public peace, that the facts have not yet been accurately ascertained.In that state of things the House, I think, will agree with me in the propriety of forbearing from the expression of an opinion one way or the other with reference to the origin of these disturbances. As to the third question put by the hon. and learned Gentleman, whether it is the intention of the Government to prevent all religious processions which lead to these unhappy disturbances, I can only state that, both in England and in Ireland the Government have taken every possible precaution to discourage processions of such a character, or which can in any way lead to disturbances arising out of religious differences existing between different members of the community. We have done so in Ireland with reference to the processions which usually take place at this time of the year, by communications between the Lord Lieu- 1431 tenant and the magistrates, expressive of the desire of the Government to repress and check to the utmost extent processions which may lead to these disturbances. We have done so, also, in England; and all I can assure the House is this—that the present Government are anxious, above all things, that any of those ostentatious parades which may lead to religious disputes shall be discouraged and discountenanced by the Government, and I hope the country will support us in doing so.