HC Deb 08 May 1854 vol 132 cc1412-3

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether Roman Catholic sailors were to be compelled to attend Protestant religious worship?


said, that the question which had just been put to him by the hon. and learned Gentleman was one which in various shapes bad repeatedly been put to him in the course of the present Session, and to which he had on each occasion endeavoured to give the most explicit answer. He should now repeat that answer, in the hope of making his meaning intelligible to all hon. Members. The naval regulations upon the subject were based upon Statute, and the first of those orders, which had existed for 100 years, was, that every Sunday divine service should be performed on board every ship of Her Majesty a according to the ritual of the Church of England. According to that regulation, the officers commanding those ships, and all persons serving on board them, should be "permitted"—that was the word—"permitted," and not "compelled." to attend such divine service. He had every reason to believe that the officers commanding Her Majesty's ships, in strict compliance with the terms of that regulation, did "permit" the attendance of Roman Catholic sailors, but did not compel it in violation of conscientious objections. At all events, that was the spirit of the regulation, and, as he had before stated to the House, he was not aware that up to the present time a single complaint had been made on the part of Catholic officers and sailors of the manner in which it had been carried out.