(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 164,165l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Maintenance of Prisoners in County Gaols,
Reformatory Institutions, and Lunatic Asylums, and Expenses of Removal of Convicts, to the 31st day of March, 1855.
§ MR. SCHOLEFIELD
said, he had been prevented on a former occasion from bringing forward a Motion of which he had given notice—that as a salary was refused to Roman Catholic chaplains, the same measure should he meted out to the chaplains of all; other religious denominations. He therefore thought it right to bring it forward on the present occasion, though he was sorry he was obliged to do so on such a limited scale, and in relation to a class of most pitiable objects. He referred to the class of criminal lunatics, for whose religious instruction there was a Vote in this Estimate to the extent of 100l. In proposing to reduce the Estimate by this sum he hoped the Committee would not misjudge his motives, but would remember that he wished to test a great principle. The House had already decided by a vote on a former occasion that it would not subsidise Roman Catholic priests. He was not disposed to quarrel with that decision, if the House would now declare its determination to mete out the same justice to all the other sects. But if not, then the Committee would be adopting the principle announced by his hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner), that there was no truth out of the pale of the Protestant creed. If that were so, they might deride the absurd claim of the infallibility of the Pope of Rome as long as they pleased, but it seemed to him that they were in fact setting up the same claim on behalf of Protestantism, with this ignoble difference, that the Protestant Pope issued his decrees from Exeter Hall instead of from the Vatican. The Protestants had an unquestioned majority in that House, and all that he asked was, that they should not exercise their power in such a way as to injure the Roman Catholics, or expect from them the services of loyal subjects while they refused to treat them on the same footing of justice and equality that all Her Majesty's subjects were entitled to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum not exceeding 164,065l. be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the maintenance of Prisoners in County Gaols, Reformatory Institutions, and Lunatic Asylums, and Expenses of Removal of Convicts, to the 31st day of March, 1855.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
complained that the Vote was not made out in the same clear and explicit manner as it used to be a few years ago. There was no account 366 in this Estimate of the value of the labour of prisoners, which ought to have been stated. Then he observed that the items for criminal lunatics in England and in Ireland had been increased from 2,9631. to 7,643l. He wished for some explanation as to these points.
explained that the increase in the prison estimates referred to by the hon. Member for Lambeth arose out of the increased price of provisions and the increased number of lunatics accommodated and supported in the prisons. With respect to the return of the amount produced by labour in the prisons, if the hon. Member referred to the 15th page of the Estimates he would find it clearly entered that it amounted to no less a sum than 16,226l.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would allow a Committee to be appointed relative to Ireland with respect to these Votes, inasmuch as he considered that country by no means fairly treated in the Estimates, after the promises which had been held out by Sir R. Peel on the repeal of the Corn Laws. Ireland, in fact, upon the clear promise held out to them by that statesman, claimed for the present a Supplemental Vote as to these Estimates, and he could not understand why Government should resist such a measure of justice. He hoped, before he brought forward any Amendment as to these supplies, that Government would fairly and ingenuously consider the question.
§ MR. APSLEY PELLATT
complained of the increase in the Vote for reformatory institutions, which had been raised from 3,000l. in the last year to 5,000l. in the present. He also complained that the Estimates were not drawn up in a sufficiently clear manner.
explained that the increase in the Vote for reformatory institutions had arisen from the experiments which the Government was making with regard to these institutions. It was thought desirable that previous to any general measure being taken upon this subject, which might throw the maintenance of the institutions upon the county rates, the experiment should be tested upon a larger scale than had been hitherto done. Some juvenile institutions had been established through private beneficence, or through private and local influence, in various parts of the country, to which it had been thought desirable to send juvenile offenders for the purpose of ascertaining whether the 367 system therein enforced might not be an improvement on that necessarily employed in the gaols. Hence it was proposed to increase the Vote to the Philanthropic Institution, which was well known from the beneficial results of its discipline, from 3,000l. to 4,000l., and 1,000l. had been voted to some other reformatory institutions, such as that at Birmingham, Gloucester, and Kingswood, which had been certified as useful anal beneficial institutions.
§ COLONEL GREVILLE
sail, it was necessary that the principle should now be decided. He thought that if they were to refuse support to any party, they ought not to refuse those who had no property and give it to those who were already richly endowed. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) had taken it upon hint to state to the House what was truth, and what was error. He denied the right of the hon. Member to enter upon that subject at all; but if he wire inclined to argue it with him, he should say that there could not be truth in that system which neglected that fist of Christian virtues—charity. They never found the Catholics abusing the religion of others, yet the hon. Member lost no opportunity of abusing their religion. He had called it idolatry and blasphemy. He thought such language was a disgrace to the House, and a disgrace to the hon. Gentleman, who ought to remember what Burke said in 1792, that in this country the Roman Catholics were a sect, but in Ireland they were a religion. They had entered into a political Union with a Roman Catholic people, and they were bound to give them the full advantages of that Union; if their consciences would not permit them to do that, they were then bound to dissolve the Union. With respect to these prisons, we ought undoubtedly to deal with Roman Catholics in a fair and manly spirit, and by no means to tamper with the religious faith of any man, whether convict or not. Whatever decision the House might come to, he hoped they gaols not turn their gaols into proselytising institutions, and that they would refuse to allow their proceedings to he guided by the principles of intolerance and bigotry.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
would not argue the question whether there ought to be an established religion, but there was one now established, and instruction in it was provided for all classes at the cost of the State. Criminals confined in gaols could 368 only expect the same teaching as was provided for those who had committed no crime. The principle was clear, and he could not adopt the grounds for exception urged the other night by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department. If there was to be an exception, it should not be in favour of Roman Catholics only, but ought to be extended to all sects. The Protestant religion was established within the walls of the prison as well as without. But lie admitted that the State ought not, because a man was in custody, to take advantage of it as an opportunity for proselytism. The Established religion allowed liberty of conscience to all. When a man entered a prison his name was taken down, and his religious opinions, and any minister lie wished was allowed to attend him. An attempt was being made to set up the anomaly of a Roman Catholic Establishment alongside of the Protestant one. He thought such a question as this ought to be brought forward in a formal Resolution, and not on occasion of Votes like that now before them.
§ SIR JOHN YOUNG
said, that the payment of chaplains was not a novelty, although one of the objections urged to the Vote on the last night was, that it was an attempt to introduce into England what had only been established in Ireland. The present Vote was for lunatic asylums, and not for prisons, and the number of Roman Catholics in them was very small. The argument that the Protestant religion, being the religion of the State, was established within the prison as well as without, was a mere play upon words. The unfortunate people for whom this Vote was to provide had not the means of procuring instruction; he implored the House, even if it refused chaplains to convict prisons, not to dilly them to lunatic asylums. if hon. Gentlemen would read the Reports of the Commissioners of Lunacy, and see the effect of the visits of the chaplains, they would not incur the great responsibility of denying to these unfortunate creatures the consolations of religion. When they were verging towards sanity, their minds were aroused and their recovery hastened by the visits of the chaplains.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
quite agreed that it must be exceedingly painful to vote against the present grant. It was most unfortunate that this item should have been selected on which to raise a discussion like this; but he was quite ready to support the 369 Government on either side—either that they should treat all Dissenters from the Church of England alike, and salary all who asked for it, or that they should reject ail alike; one thing or the other they must do. It was not fair that Government should go on coming to the House with Votes of this kind, which provoked discussions in the House, pretending here in the House to be opponents of the Roman Catholics, and carrying on negotiations with the Court of Rome to assist the Queen in governing her own subjects. So long as this continued, and until they had got that question fairly out which never had been gut out—until it was seen what it was that Lord Clarendon, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, really had set on foot with regard to the Court of Rome—these questions would be continually arising. It was the Government blowing hot one day and cold the next—asking the House for a hot vote one day and for a cold one to-morrow—that made all the difficulty in these questions, and Government ought to choose a consistent course either one way or the other.
§ MR. PHINN
was quite at a loss to understand on what principle the hon, Member for North Warwickshire drew a distinction between the payment of chaplains in gaols in Ireland and in England; for there was an established religion in Ireland equally as in England, and the Queen, by her coronation oath, was bound to support the established religion of both countries. The hon. Member and those who thought with him were constantly talking of the "Protestant Empire of Great Britain." But take the case of Lower Canada, where the religion was the Roman Catholic religion. Would the hon. Member for North Warwickshire contend that Protestant criminals immured in the gaols there should be attended by Roman Catholic chaplains or by none at all? He would ask the same question with regard to the people of India. By taking this particular Vote, and passing over others which involved the same principle, the hon. Member strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. He (Mr. Phinn) did not think money should be paid for any denomination of religion; but the principle ought not to be applied in an exceptional case like this. When a man was sent to gaol he ceased to be a free agent, and ought not to be denied that spiritual consolation which he might desire. There might be more Roman Catholic prisoners 370 in want of this spiritual consolation than there were ten years ago. The noble Lord the Home Secretary was right when he said that the Legislature was bound to apply the best means of reformation, and that therefore the access of Roman Catholic convicts to chaplains of their own persuasion ought not to be denied. The argument that might apply to dissent was inapplicable in the case of the Roman Catholic religion; the sacramental ordinances of the two Churches being so antagonistic that it was impossible to ask a Roman Catholic to receive the visits of the Protestant chaplain. He should vote with great pain and difficulty for the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, having to choose between two evils; but he trusted this might be the last occasion on which a sectarian discussion on such a subject would be revived.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
denied that those who had supported the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire on a former evening had involved themselves in the dilemma of either paying the chaplains of all religions, or of paying the chaplains of none. The principle laid down on a former evening was a very clear one, and had been acknowledged by all, namely, that, in all our public institutions, there ought to be a chaplain of the Established Church of the nation; but that, as that Church was a tolerant Church, the wants of those who differed from it should be provided for. In Ireland there was permanently a large majority of prisoners of the Roman Catholic religion, and it was necessary that there should be permanent Roman Catholic chaplains; but the proposition defeated the other night was not founded on any such principle, because it would have affirmed that, in all the gaols of England, whether there was one Roman Catholic prisoner or not, a Roman Catholic chaplain should be provided.
appealed to the Committee not to strike out this Vote, which was of a purely charitable nature, and was very far from raising the large religious question which had been introduced into the discussion. From his own experience, having been formerly a Commissioner of Lunacy, and having had opportunities of judging of the effect of reformatory treatment on prisoners, he could speak as to the powerful influence which the inculcation of religion had upon such persons; it frequently happened that it was from the early associations of religion that men were 371 brought back again to the reason that had deserted them. This was a question of a sum of 100l. for providing a chaplain for criminal lunatics, and he trusted the Committee would affirm the Vote.
§ MR. SPOONER
quite agreed with the noble Lord that the opportunity was not a very fitting one for discussing the great principle raised by the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Scholefield). He therefore would not have taken any part in the discussion had he not been called upon to state the principle he acted on the other night, when he moved the rejection of the Vote of 550l. for the payment of Roman Catholic chaplains in England. Now, he could not agree in two statements made by his hon. Friend. He did not think it was just or right in any way whatever that a Protestant State should pay for the support of the Roman Catholic religion; and that was the principle which actuated his Motion of the other night. But when he was asked, why act on a different principle with regard to this Vote from that which had influenced him in the case of England, he would say that the Vote for Ireland was already decided by Parliament; and although he objected as strenuously to the principle of that Vote as of this, he did not think it his duty, every time it came before the House, to assert his objections or to arouse opposition. When, however, the principle was endeavoured, for the first time, to be applied to England, he then thought it his duty to take the sense of the Committee with reference to such an application; yet he had no hesitation in saying that in any shape, or under any circumstances, for a Protestant nation to support a Roman Catholic priesthood was an act totally unjustifiable. He believed such a policy to involve a great national sin. He held it to be an abandonment of the high privileges which England enjoyed as a Protestant nation, and that it was fraught with very great danger to the State. He had been accused by hon. Gentlemen of indulging in continual abuse of the Roman Catholic religion; now he meditated no such abuse—he merely stated his own opinion with regard to that religion, and he had a perfect right to do so. He knew many individuals professing the Roman Catholic faith for whom he entertained a great respect; but because he entertained that respect, he was not to be deterred from saying that they were under a very dangerous delusion. But at the same time 372 he would remind the House and the noble Lord that the words which he had used upon a late occasion, and which were deemed such very hard ones, were words found in the Articles of the Church of which the noble Lord, who rebuked him for using them, was a member, and that the Sovereign was bound by, and did attest her full consent to, those Articles containing the very words in question. Again, therefore, he would say, although he might be accused of great bigotry for so doing, that it was a great national sin to support the Papal religion. He had ever opposed it, and should ever oppose it. They could not, however, say that he was for depriving Roman Catholics of the comfort of their religion—if, indeed, theirs was a religion; for they had free permission, when members of that faith were in prison, to send to their spiritual advisers; but what he asked was, why should a Protestant nation pay for the support of Popery? The privileges demanded in this matter by Roman Catholics were withheld from the members of every other persuasion except those of the Establishment; and why, therefore, should they concede to Roman Catholics greater privileges than they gave to others? As long as they admitted the principle that it was the duty of the State to provide for the religious education of its subjects, that education must be supplied according to some specified form—according to some specified principle or doctrine, and, consequently, it was the duty of the State to pay chaplains to inculcate those doctrines which it held to be the right ones. Upon that principle he proposed, the other evening, the rejection of the Vote. He believed in that principle; he rejoiced it had been recognised, and he hoped it would long continue to be recognised. The Vote proposed on the former night was a new one—it was an attempt to introduce into England a system which cannot be justified. He had endeavoured to stay the movement, and his efforts, he was happy to say, had succeeded. With regard, however, to the Vote now under discussion, he could not say that his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Scholefield) had shown his usual good sense in endeavouring to raise so important an issue upon so very doubtful an occasion as the present. It was a Vote which he (Mr. Spooner), under all the circumstances of the case, should support, as he felt it would be wrong and cruel not to do so.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he could not allow the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Spooner), or the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), to misrepresent the Vote which he had proposed the other evening, without setting them right as to a mistake which they had made. The hon. Gentleman for North Warwickshire had objected to the Vote on the ground that it was entirely a new one. Now, it was no such thing: He himself had explained, and it was explained over and over again by others, that an allowance had been made for years to the Roman Catholic chaplains at Milbank and elsewhere; that that allowance had been made for visits at each prison; and, therefore, that the only novelty involved was, that he proposed to give a fixed payment in all cases, instead of payments dependent upon the number of visits paid at so much pet day. Therefore the hon. Gentleman was entirely mistaken in affirming his proposal to be an entire novelty as regarded England. The hon. Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), however, said that the proposal was for the appointment of a Roman Catholic chaplain to every gaol in the kingdom, whether it contained one prisoner or many. Again, he must say, his proposal was for no such thing, for he could not have done that without entirely changing the law. His proposal, then, was simply confined to three or four Government prisons, where a large number of convicts were confined, and had no reference whatever to the great bulk of the county gaols throughout the country. But with regard to the Vote of the other night, he must say there never was a Vote exciting more painful feelings in his mind than it occasioned, and he could not have believed, had his opinion been asked beforehand, that in the present century, in the present state of the country, considering the general liberality and enlightenment that prevailed upon other subjects—that a Vote such as that could have possibly been rejected. It only seemed to remind him of what passed at the period of the decay of the Eastern empire, when Constantinople was besieged by the enemies of the Christian religion, the Mahometans. At that time the foolish Greeks, instead of uniting to make a common defence, were squabbling amongst themselves—the blue faction with the green faction, and the green with the yellow—as to differences of opinion which had no reference whatever to the great 374 question of the national independence. And what had they done by their vote of the other night? Why, with the great national enemies—vice, infidelity, crime, and profligacy—not merely thundering at their gates, but actually undermining the ground upon which they stood, instead of joining unitedly to withstand their enemies, they refused the small assistance that would convert these miserable wretches, condemned for their crimes, into useful members of society. Well, but grievous—he was about to use some other expression—grievous as was the opposition to the Vote of the other evening, he must say the opposition to the proposal now before the House seemed to him to far exceed it in the peculiarity of its impolicy and unfairness. His noble Friend (Lord Seymour) had well pointed out the value of religious advice to the unfortunate men, the objects of the present Vote; while in this case the question of religious differences did not apply. The other evening it was Protestant against Catholic—it was the difference between the two creeds that divided the House. But here the Vote applied on behalf of both Protestants and Catholics, and they were presented with the other position, the voluntary principle, and the principle of faith. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) had placed the question upon its proper basis. Supposing the voluntary principle were admitted—supposing it were admitted that every free man was bound to find, at his own cost and charge, such religious instruction as was in conformity with the particular tenets of the religion which he held—still, even in that case, the condition of these men was totally different, for the objects of this Vote were not free; and though they were told that it was in their power to send for a priest, yet he would ask, might not they call for those who would not come? And what right had they to call upon a Protestant or Roman Catholic clergyman to go to Dartmoor Prison from a great distance, or to visit lunatic asylums in Ireland, to afford, without remuneration, that ministration which was so necessary to the lunatic and convict? Why, when they separated these men from the means which they possessed, of enjoying freely whatever religious instruction they wished—and when they admitted that religious instruction was as necessary for them as medical advice—and when it was given upon sanitary and not upon the theological 375 principles—it was absurd to tell him such persons might send for a priest or clergyman, and to contend whether or no the voluntary principle should obtain. He hoped, therefore, that the House would not endeavour to fight out the theological principle over the bodies of these unfortunate lunatics and convicts; for it would be as inconsistent to do so as to have disputations as to the theories of surgery carried on over the body of the unfortunate man for whose relief and benefit the operation was to be performed. It was cruel in hon. Members to make these unhappy persons the victims of their differences. If they so desired, let them fight them on some great principle, but he entreated the House, for Heaven's sake, and for the sake of commiseration and mercy, to give to these unhappy lunatics that which he would have had them grant to convicts—the religious consolation rendered so necessary by their moral and physical wants.
§ MR. LUCAS said
Sir, I am sorry to interrupt those Gentlemen who call for a division, but having, in common with many Members on both sides, felt a considerable interest in this question, I hope I may be allowed to say a few words. Sir, I have nothing to say in reply to the appeal of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) as to the impropriety of contesting a principle upon such a vote, for I have the strongest aversion to fighting a principle upon a question of this kind, which concerns the suffering and the afflicted among our fellow-creatures. But those who, like the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, borrow from the noble Lord tins argument, should recollect that the same argument applies to the Vote which was negatived the other night. The Catholic criminals who were to be provided with religious instruction by the Vote of 550l. are in the same position practically as regards this question, as those criminal lunatics for whom the noble Lord expresses so much compassion. Sir, I have no principle to oppose to this Vote, for, as to the voluntary principle, I think it is impossible to carry it out in the case of persons shut up in prison and excluded from the world for sanitary or judicial purposes. And I wish those who are for carrying it to that extent would take a lesson from America, where the aversion to an Established Church is as strong, and carried quite as far, as even they themselves ought to require. But in the United States they 376 find that the voluntary principle cannot be carried to the extent to which its advocates here would press it. They have in the United States a Vote of Congress for chaplains in the Army; they have another Vote for chaplains to the Congress itself; and they have Votes in the several States for the State gaols, which answer to such Votes as the present. They do not understand there, nor ought it to be understood here, that the voluntary principle extends to those who are in confinement, and who cannot be called voluntary agents. Sir, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner), and the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. Chambers), told us that the noble Lord (Viscount. Palmerston) pressed for something exceptional in favour of the Catholics. That is a complete misunderstanding. If any case were made out to the noble Lord requiring a grant in favour of Protestant Dissenters, there could be no objection to give it to them as well as to the Catholics, and the proof that it is not an exceptional privilege which is claimed for Catholics is to be found in the fact that there is the same arrangement made for Presbyterian chaplains in those gaols in Ireland which are supported out of the rates. In the county gaols of Ireland you have the arrangement carried out to an extravagant and absurd extent, whether there are Presbyterian prisoners or not. In the course of last summer I was visiting Mullingar Gaol, and looking over the visiting books I saw there for every Sunday an entry that the Rev. Mr.—,Presbyterian minister, visited the gaol for the purpose of religious worship; and when I asked the governor, a Protestant of the most determined kind, how many Presbyterian prisoners there were in the gaol, he said, "not one," and added, that there had not been one for some years. Yet there is a sum of 30l.. a year allowed to the Presbyterian chaplain, 30l. a year for the Established Church chaplain, although the prisoners belonging to the Established Church are, of course, very few—I believe not more than five or six—and then there is most graciously granted to the Catholic chaplain the same amount of 30l. a year, although his duties must necessarily be infinitely more onerous. Such is the state of things in Ireland. ["No!"] It may be true, as the hon. Member intimates, that it is not universally the case; but I think it is generally so—and that not with reference to any case of special need—such as some hon. Members 377 appear to require, not with reference to any considerable number of prisoners, of any particular religious creed, but as a general rule—there is not only a salary for the Church of England chaplain, but for the Presbyterian chaplain and the Roman Catholic chaplain; and even though there be no Presbyterian prisoners at all, the salary is not the less paid and received. Sir, I was glad to find that the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) felt it necessary to offer some explanation of his vote the other night. I was glad he had the manliness to do so, for I am persuaded he is only one out of many who are heartily ashamed of the shabby decision which the House came to the other night—a decision, I am sure, adverse to the feelings, and I believe to the opinions, of a very great number of those who were among the majority on that occasion, and which, I am certain, will not tend to raise the character of the House in the judgment of all rational and enlightened men. But, Sir, I wish to bring the question before the noble Lord the Home Secretary in another way, and in a different point of view. The noble Lord will recollect that, from the beginning, in the conversations I have had with him on this subject, I said I did not wish to look on it so much as a question of money as of prison discipline; and that though, by reason of the forms of the House, I might be obliged to raise it on a Vote (it is hardly possible to raise it in any other way), yet that what I wanted was not so much justice in regard to money grants, as justice in regard to an entire change in the arrangement of our gaols. I mean such an alteration in the arrangements of our prisons as that justice could be done to the Catholic prisoners. At this moment justice is not done to them in that respect. The subject is now before the House in a somewhat peculiar position. The majority have decided that there shall be no payment for religious instruction to Catholic prisoners. But they have not decided that there shall not be justice done to Catholic prisoners in regard to the right of receiving religious instruction. On the contrary, the majority on that Vote consisted in a great degree of those who, while adverse to money grants for these purposes, are anxious that justice in every other respect should be done to Catholic prisoners. Now, Sir, I want to bring under the notice of the House and of the noble Lord thus publicly (for I will not make any claim on 378 behalf of Catholics which I am not prepared to maintain thus openly as just and reasonable)—I want to impress this upon the House and on the noble Lord—that he is not precluded, at the present moment, from making a just provision for religious instruction to Catholic prisoners, and that the vote the House came to the other night does not at all prevent him from doing so. The noble Lord stated in his speech on a former occasion the principles upon which the arrangements in this respect ought to be made. But, Sir, those principles are not enforced, those arrangements are not carried out at this moment, even in the prisons under the control of the Government. They were not enforced last year. They are still less enforced now. As I understand, the arrangements of some of our prisons are more bigoted and more unjust now than they were when the attention of the noble Lord was first called to the subject. [Mr. FITZROY asked if the hon. Member would name any one?] Take Pentonville for instance. The Protestant chaplain of that prison is an anti-Catholic pamphleteer, who writes pamphlets on "Prison Discipline," in which he denounces the Pope as "Antichrist," and who shows, by his published writings, that he is a most unfit person to be chaplain in a prison in which people of opposite religious belief are confined. I refer the noble Lord to this gentleman's writings. I did not wish to mention any one, but as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fitzroy) the Under Secretary of the Home Department asked me to name any prison, I was compelled to do so. But, in fact, I might name all your prisons. The arrangements which exist in all of them fail to secure justice in this respect to the Catholic prisoners. The hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) said that we had a most perfect toleration, and that no further toleration could be asked than to allow the Catholic prisoners to send for their priests, and to allow the priests to come when so sent for. But the hon. and learned Member is under a complete mistake if he imagines that this is a measure of perfect "toleration." Sir, the present system of prison discipline for the Catholic prisoners is one of torture, under which they are often compelled to profess themselves Protestants, and to conform to the Protestant worship under positive pains and penalties. The system of discipline is one of strict separation, and at Pentonville, where the 379 system is carried very far indeed, it is almost one of solitary confinement. Well, on Sunday, when the time for divine service comes round, the Catholic prisoner has this temptation, that he can acquire a relaxation from the severity of that system of confinement if he chooses to abandon the profession of his religion and chooses to go to the Protestant service, to enjoy diversity of scene and that conversation among the prisoners which, in spite of the regulations, they do enjoy when they go into chapel. Thus, under the rigour of solitary confinement, and for the sake of spending in a less irksome manner the time allotted for divine service, Catholic prisoners, who have no real wish to change their religion, and every desire to remain Catholics, are actually compelled by pains and penalties, to go into the Protestant chapel and attend the Protestant service, in order to escape the horror of solitary imprisonment. Now, Sir, every prisoner upon coming in is, or ought to be, truly registered according to his religion, and the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), with that frankness and sense of justice which Le has always shown on this subject, admitted that what I proposed was right and reasonable, that those who were registered as Catholics should have a right to the attendance of a Catholic priest, and that the Catholic priest should be admitted to them in the same way as the Protestant clergymen are admitted to Protestant prisoners. That is the basis of the arrangement I ask for. There is another question, that of the schoolmasters in the Government prisons; the schoolmaster is the agent and subordinate of the Protestant chaplain; he reports to the clergyman, is under his orders, and assists him in giving religious instruction. The consequence is, that as the schoolmaster is of rather a lower rank in society—if the chaplain is a bigot and seeks to proselytise in the prison—the schoolmaster is a bigot of a worse description, and does the business of proselytism in a baser way. I have in my possession a book given by the schoolmaster at Pentonville to one of the prisoners, a History of England, published by the Religious Tract Society, full of the grossest abuse of the Catholic faith, and the most abominable falsehoods—nay, I may add, considering that it was given to a prisoner out of funds supplied partly by Catholics, a book full of the foulest blasphemies. This book was forced on a Catholic prisoner by the Protestant school- 380 master, acting under the instructions of the Protestant chaplain! I ask the noble Lord to redress these grievances. I ask that there may be a Catholic chaplain, paid or unpaid—payment is, in my opinion, a subordinate matter—that there may be a Catholic chaplain in each of these prisons, having a right to go there at all such times as the Protestant chaplains can go to visit the Protestant prisoners, and to visit the Catholic prisoners to give them religious instruction and consolation, and provide the means of religious worship. At the same time, the question of payment is one which must be raised, and which cannot be raised in any form that is pleasing to the House. But while it cannot be raised in a form less agreeable than with respect to these miserable wretches, the criminal lunatics, still it must be raised in all possible forms and ways. And for my part I almost wish the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) may succeed in a few more of his Motions, in order that the question may become hotter, and press more imperatively for decision, and compel the house to settle it in one way or another, and to do justice to all classes, either by paying for all or for none. For myself, I care very little in which way the question may be settled; but of this I am determined, that, distasteful as the subject may be, it shall not be allowed to drop until absolute and complete justice is done to all classes of the community, either on the one principle or the other.
§ MR. KIRK
said, the hon. Member had fallen into a great mistake as to the number of Presbyterian chaplains receiving stipends for their services in Irish gaols. If he had consulted a return which he had himself moved for and obtained, he would find that there were forty-two gaols in Ireland, and that out of the forty-two, twenty-five were returned as making no payment whatever for Presbyterian chaplains. With regard to the question before the House, he considered the speech of the noble Lord the Home Secretary conclusive.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, that, even according to the return alluded to, fifteen Presbyterian chaplains received salaries for their services in gaols. Now, He objected to all such payments; and he assured the Government that, sooner or later, this question would have to be grappled with and settled. For nearly two hours the House had been discussing a question 381 whether a sum of 100l. should be granted—a sum which might have been raised in less time by voluntary contributions. It was only in this way that the question should be settled, and he recommended the Government to turn their attention to it. The people would certainly never consent that taxes, wrung from them all, should be applied to maintain principles in which they did not believe; and he was glad to hear from the hon. Member for Meath that he intended to agitate the subject, believing, as he did, that religion would maintain itself if grants were withheld, which were injurious and prejudicial to all classes.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, the House would, perhaps, allow him to say a few words on this subject, concerned as he was with a department which it materially affected. He had listened to the debate of the other night with great regret, and he believed it had terminated in a way contrary to all rational and Christian principle, and in a way mischievous to the interests of the State; but with regard to the present proposition, he was bound to say, in favour of the hon. Gentleman who had brought it before the House, that it was a clear and logical sequence of the Vote of the other night. If the reduction of the Vote of the other night were just, he did not see why, upon such grounds, the present Vote should be sustained; but in this case the House should specially consider the circumstances under which the Vote was asked, and the consequences which might proceed from it. The hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House supported the voluntary principle, and considered that the money asked for could be raised by that principle. No doubt, a sum equal to the amount by which it was proposed to reduce the Vote might have been raised in less time than the discussion had occupied. No doubt the voluntary principle had done much, and would do much. He saw what had been done through it by Dissenters, and he knew that most of the influence now possessed by the Church of England had been gained through its adoption of the voluntary principle; but in the present case he asked the House just to consider for one moment upon whom it was to act. One class was that of convicts in prisons, and the other, analogous in respect to their isolation from the rest of the community, was the Army. Under the voluntary principle, everybody who was a customer fur religious instruction paid for it; 382 and the voluntaries did not object to receive money from a person for instruction, not for himself, but for his children. [Mr. HADFIELD said, the question was as to the poor.] Money was not received from the poor, but from the rich in favour of the poor. This was a just principle where all men were free agents, and could send for their minister whenever they required him. But men in prison were debarred from such power. To them the State stood in loco parentis, and was bound to give them the best religious instruction suitable to their tone and frame of mind. So with the Army. The clergy of the Church of England were admitted to the prison and the regiment; but upon what principle could the same instruction be refused to those who were not members of the Church of England? Upon what principle could they refuse? The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Spooner) would refuse upon a very intelligible principle; but he apprehended that the House was not prepared, although it had agreed with his vote, to adopt his reasons. The hon. Member said, with perfect consistency, in the case of Roman Catholic prisoners and Roman Catholic chaplains to gaols, that their religion was a fable—an idolatrous deceit—[Mr. SPOONER: Hear, hear!]—and that he would not have it conveyed to these men. The hon. Member said, "Hear, hear!" and therefore quite adopted this phraseology. Well, but the question here was, not between this sect and that sect, but between Christianity and heathenism. The hon. Member said that this was an idolatrous religion—that these people were idolators—and that their faith was "damnable;" but then he said, also, that idolators they should remain—that they should not have access to any vestige of Christian truth, unless they would take it in his shape—that being a shape in which they were bound in honour not to receive it. The voluntary principle was an admirable principle, so long as it dealt with free men—not so when they came to deal with men who were not free agents. If they confined men within stone walls, where they ceased to be free agents, they must take care that religious instruction reached them at the public expense; for, depriving them of their freedom, they assumed this responsibility. But if the principle which was contended for by the hon. Gentleman opposite was a sound principle with respect to prisons, why was it not equally sound with respect to army chaplains? Why did not 383 the hon. Gentleman move to rescind or to reduce the Vote for army chaplains? Now, in his (Mr. Sidney Herbert's) opinion, the case with respect to the Army—for which he stood there responsible—was not nearly so good a case, according to the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Spooner's) idea, as the case with respect to the prisons. Our soldiers were, to a great extent, free men. They were obliged to attend to certain duties, and to submit to a certain discipline; but during a considerable portion of the day they were at liberty to go where they liked, to see whom they liked, and to pay for whom they liked; yet they thought it just and right that an Army recruited from different creeds should have the advantage of the attendance of ministers of different denominations, in order to meet its religious wants. How was it, then, he asked if they intended to be consistent—that they did not move to rescind this Vote for army chaplains of different religious denominations, to exclude the Roman Catholic, and exclude the Presbyterian if they pleased, from those ministrations to which they maintained the members of the Church of England were alone entitled? They do not do it, because they dare not do it. Then why should they do it in the case of these prisoners? Why should they give scope to their sectarianism at the expense of these helpless creatures, to whom they were bound by all the holiest tics which Christianity could impose upon them, and refuse to give them all instruction in those first great truths of religion which all of them held in common, because it happened in the case of the Roman Catholic that, in their opinion—and he would frankly say, in his own opinion also—those truths were obscured by the admixture of erroneous doctrine? He could not go that length. He would not add to the injustice which had been done already in the case of these prison Votes, by depriving others likewise of that religious instruction to which they were entitled at their hands. He hoped, therefore, that the House would not sanction this Amendment—not because he agreed with what had taken place before, for he thought the vote which had been come to on the Motion of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Spooner) the other night was not defensible upon any great principle which could be laid down with respect to prisoners placed under their charge—but he hoped the House would refuse to give its assent to this Amendment, because having voted an injustice to 384 one portion of the community was no reason for extending that injustice, and for depriving the majority—for it was not the minority, as had been the case the other night—of that religious instruction which was necessary to the salvation of all men, and which it was especially their duty to give to those who stood towards them in the peculiar relation of—those whom they had shut up—as they I said—for the purpose of reformation, and had deprived of all those rights and advantages which freedom and society could give.
§ MR. NAPIER
supported the Vote, but wished it to be understood that in doing so he was not affirming any question of principle. In answer to the right hon. Gentleman's question, "Why not move to rescind the Vote in reference to the Army?" he might retort the question, "Why not alter the regulation in reference to the Navy?" which had been repeatedly pressed on the attention of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty by the hon. Member for Meath. He should have voted with the majority the other night if he had been present, for he considered the principle involved was an important one; at the same time he admitted that it was a difficult question, and the very difference between the two services proved it.
§ MR. SCHOLEFIELD
repeated the expression of his deep regret that he should have been obliged to raise the question, and to take the vote, upon this particular item. Nothing should have induced him to do it, if he had been aware, as lie was now told, that there were many other occasions upon which he might have raised the issue upon which he was desirous of taking the opinion of the House.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, that he had not been aware that there was any Vote in the Army Estimates especially for Roman Catholic chaplains. If he remembered rightly, the Vote was for "chaplains" generally, and he believed the right hon. Gentleman had granted no money for Roman Catholic chaplains, unless he had done it lately. However, if he had overlooked it, he was sorry for it; and he would take care not to overlook it on the next occasion.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
stated, that the Vote for army chaplains (18,000l. a year) was divided in the proportion of two-thirds to Protestant chaplains and one-third to Roman Catholic; and 385 this had been the case ever since the hon. Gentleman had been in Parliament. If the hon. Gentleman meant that he objected to the Vote when tile items were separate, but not when they were mixed up together, he hoped his noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston) would take a hint from the Army Estimates next year, and, by wrapping up these items the one in the other, secure the hon. Gentleman's vote.
Mr. SPOONER and Mr. J. O'CONNELL
made some observations which were rendered undistinguishable by cries for division.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 23; Noes 246: Majority 223.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ The following Votes were then agreed to—
§ (2.) 92,765l., Transportation.
§ (3.) 342,702l., Convict Establishment.
§ (4.) 4,049l., Bermudas.
§ (5.) 7,547l., North American Provinces.
§ (6.) 9,433l., Indian Department Canada.
§ House resumed.
§ House adjourned at One o'clock.