HC Deb 19 August 1853 vol 129 cc1821-2

said, he begged to ask the noble Lord the Member for London if any information had reached the Government with reference to a late decree, said to have been passed by the Queen of Portugal, and sanctioned by the Cortes, by which any subject of that kingdom was condemned to fine and imprisonment, varying from one to three years, if he should do anything, by word or in writing, which, in the opinion of the Government, might be considered as an insult to any of the dogmas of the Roman Catholic religion, or attempt to propagate doctrines contrary to that religion, or celebrate public acts of worship differing therefrom, and by which any foreigner convicted of similar offences was to be banished from that kingdom? and, if so, whether be had any objection to lay a copy of such decree, or extract therefrom, on the table of the House? Also, if any provision had been made for the protection of the rights and liberties of the subjects of Her Majesty resident in or visiting that kingdom, in conformity with the treaty of July 3, 1842, by which treaty the right was guaranteed to them of building and maintaining, without hindrance, places of public worship, and the free exercise of their religion was promised to them? and, if so, whether he would lay a copy of such provision on the table of the House, together with copies of any correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and that of the Queen of Portugal, on this subject? The main question, however, was, whether the Government had a distinct assurance from the Queen of Portugal that the rights of British subjects in Portugal were not infringed by that decree?


, in reply, said, that Her Majesty's Government had called the attention of Her Majesty's Minister at Lisbon to the decree with reference to the punishment of persons who in any way might have insulted the Roman Catholic religion, or celebrated public worship in a way different from that which was ordered in the Roman Catholic mode of worship. Her Majesty's Minister at Lisbon had sent house only certain articles of the decree. He had not at any time sent a complete copy of the decree in question. With respect to the further part of the question—namely, that relating to the treaty of 1842, one could conceive that there might be no infringement of that treaty, because there had been no complaint from any British subject that the treaty had been infringed. The treaty was very precise—that British subjects should be allowed to meet together for the purposes of religion, without the smallest hindrance. The practice, he (Lord J. Russell) believed, had been in conformity with the treaty. Unless there were any complaint that the treaty was infringed in any respect, he did not see that it was nocessary to treat the decree as an infringement of the treaty.