HC Deb 21 July 1857 vol 147 cc134-92

LORD JOHN RUSSELL rose, and was proceeding to address the House, when


said, that before the noble Lord proceeded with his Motion he wished to have the opinion of Mr. Speaker upon two points of order. He believed that in every preceding case where Bills had been brought forward with the avowed object or altering the oaths to be taken by hon. Members of that and the other House of Parliament it had been held that, according to the rules, usage and precedents of Parliament, set forth in the Standing Orders, it was necessary that leave to introduce such Bills should be moved in the Committee of the whole House. He had never known any deviation from that practice. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had avowed that although the object of his Bill was nominally only to declare the meaning of the 1 & 2 Vict. c. 105, its real object was to alter the practice of Parliament with regard to the oaths taken in that House, for the purpose of admitting Jews and other non-Christians into Parliament. It was contrary to the standing orders of the House, that a second Bill for the same purpose as a former Bill, should be introduced in the same Session. The noble Lord sought, in fact, to effect the same object to accomplish which some seven or eight Bills had been submitted to the House, in as many successive Sessions. He (Mr. Newdegate) did not remember any instance in which the House had departed from the practice of requiring that such Bills should be introduced by Resolution in Committee of the whole House, and he begged to ask Mr. Speaker whether the noble Lord was not bound on the present occasion to follow the course which had been previously pursued? He (Mr. Newdegate) had not ascertained that the practice of the House of Lords was exactly similar to the practice adopted under the Standing Orders of that House, which required that Bills affecting religion should be introduced in Committee of the whole House, but he found that when a debate arose during the Session of 1838 upon the Report of the then Bill which now formed the law which the noble Lord wished to alter, certain portions of the Bill which might have accomplished the object the noble Lord had now in view were struck out before the Bill reached the House of Commons. He (Mr. Newdegate) therefore hoped Mr. Speaker would favour the House with his opinion, whether the noble Lord ought to be allowed to introduce this second Bill upon the same subject as a former Bill of this Session; and whether the noble Lord ought not to follow the precedents he had himself established by repeated practice; ought not, in this instance, to comply with the Standing Orders, by moving his Bill in Committee of the whole House?


said, that before Mr. Speaker replied to the question, he wished to explain that he did not propose to make any alteration in the oaths. Whenever he had proposed an alteration in the oaths, he had—conceiving it to be a matter affecting religion—proposed that the House should go into Committee of the whole House to consider the Resolutions he submitted to them. The proposal he had to make to-night did not, however, involve any alteration of the oaths, but related to the manner in which the oaths might be taken. It would not affect the oaths any more than the Bill allowing Quakers to make an affirmation instead of being sworn on entering the House.


Looking to the notice of Motion given by the noble Lord, and considering the noble Lord's proposal, so far as I am able to understand its nature, from the terms of the notice it does not appear to me that it would be irregular for the noble Lord to introduce this as an amending Bill in the manner he now proposes to introduce it.


I now propose, then, to go on with the Motion of which I have given notice. I propose, Sir, to bring in a declaratory Bill of what I believe to be the existing law—declaratory of what I believe to be the general principle of the law of this country—and applying that law to the High Court of Parliament as well as to other places. Now, it was stated the other night, and will probably be stated again to-night, that it is an extraordinary thing to propose to bring in a Bill, which, if successful it this House, would have the effect of submitting to the House of Lords a proposition with the result of admitting the Jews to Parliament,—a result to which they have already declared themselves opposed. But, while I admit that—although, as I conceive, I am perfectly justified in point of form—I contend that, although the Motion itself is extraordinary, yet the present position of this question is more extraordinary still. The House is aware that four times this House has sent to the House of Lords Bills relieving the Jews from their liabilities. It is aware that in the present Session a Bill was sent for the purpose of altering the oaths altogether, and, indeed, of making a new oath, but containing a provision, or rather the absence of a provision, by which the Jews would be admitted, and that that Bill was again rejected by a majority of the House of Lords. Now, I do not believe that it has ever occurred in the Parliamentary history of this country, that a measure so approved by the House of Commons has been so continually rejected by the House of Lords. I believe it will be found that the House of Lords have rejected measures to which they were adverse while they considered that the representatives of the people showed by their divisions such narrow majorities that it might well be doubted what would ultimately be the sense of the House of Commons on the questions in dispute. In that manner no less than three times has the House of Lords rejected Bills for the relief of the Roman Catholics from the disabilities to which they were subjected. But when it became clear from the large majorities with which the House of Commons sent the Bill to relieve the Roman Catholics to the other House, that the sense of the people was in favour of the measure, that other House accepted the Bill, and thereby affirmed the decision of the House of Commons. Sir, it may be said—possibly it has been said—that there was this difference,—that the Roman Catholics in Ireland were then so turbulent and disaffected, that they were on the eve of a civil war, and that therefore it was expedient to yield to their demands. But I don't think the rejection of our Bill would be made more reasonable or palatable to this House by being told that no argument would suffice to convince the other House of Parliament, and that nothing but a state of disquiet, verging on disaffection and civil war, would induce the other House to yield to the opinions of the House of Commons. It is therefore in these extraordinary circumstances that I consider some course must be taken by this House. There is another view of this subject, however, which affects hon. Members who sit on this side of the House, as well as those who have sent them to Parliament. It will be remembered that during the elections, what ever might have been the opinions of the people at large respecting foreign affairs, there was in many counties and in many boroughs an unequivocal demonstration in favour of the extension of the suffrage and of other measures having relation to Parliamentary Reform. When the Members who were elected upon the declaration of their entire sympathies with those wishes arrived and took their seats in Parliament, they were told by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, that it was not intended to introduce any measure upon that subject in the present Session. Accordingly not only was no general measure proposed, but various minor Bills for doing away with the property qualification, for extending the right of voting in counties, and for regulating the manner of registration, have been all postponed in consequence of that declaration. But the Government who had thus put a stop for the present Session to all other Motions for reform, undertook of their own accord and of their own motion the relief of the Jews from the existing disabilities. Now, that question of Jewish disabilities—without speaking now in reference to this respectable body of men of the Jewish persuasion who are aggrieved by the present state of the law—does happen to form the only remaining link of disability connected with religious feeling. As the repeal of the navigation laws was the crowning point—the capital of the column of free trade—so likewise the relief of Jewish disabilities would be the crowning point—the capital of the column of religious liberty. It is for this reason, therefore, that the measure has, in the eye of all who value religious liberty, a peculiar importance. Well, Sir, this measure is rejected by the House of Lords after having been carried in this House by a majority of 140; and the question now is, what is to be done? Hon. Gentlemen opposite say, naturally enough—I don't quarrel with them for that proposition—lay the question entirely by for the present year, and bring in a similar Bill next year, or the next year after that, and have it rejected in a similar manner by the House of Lords. Now, I contend. Sir, that the majority of the House of Commons who have affirmed this principle of religious liberty ought not to allow themselves to be so baffled. Be the measure of redress what it may—be it by such a Bill as that which the Government brought in, be it by such a Bill as the one which I now propose, or be it by Resolution—I am not saying in what way it should be done—but I am convinced that it behoves the dignity of this House—that it deeply affects the public privileges of this House—that it concerns the dignity and privileges of this House even more than religious liberty itself, but it also concerns religious liberty—that we should not allow ourselves to be so baffled. I think, Sir, it cannot be denied, so little is the progress that is made by any argument that can be adduced—by any weight of public opinion as shown by the votes of this House—that there is no chance that the next ten years, if we proceed in the same course, will be spent more profitably than the last ten years, or that at the end of that period we shall see the Jews nearer to admission or more relieved from disabilities than at this moment. Sir, conceiving this question to be a very serious one, I have wished to interpose a measure which might not partake of the apathy of resting content with what has been done, and should yet avoid going to the extreme of a Resolution of this House, and thereby running the risk of a conflict with the House of Lords. If the Government are prepared to support strenuously such a Bill as I now propose to bring in—if they are inclined to give it a better chance in the House of Lords than their late Bill had—if they are inclined to take up this measure which I propose, I think, Sir, we might look to an end of this contest. But if they are not so prepared, it is not my intention by introducing the Bill to mislead the House by telling them that such a Bill, depending only on my own efforts, is likely to receive the approbation of the House of Lords. I will now enter into a statement of the nature of the Bill I propose to introduce. I have said it will be a declaratory Bill. It will be, as I propose it, a declaratory Bill of the existing law. Now, the first thing I propose to lay down is that, according to the general principles of the law of England, when oaths are to be taken, they are to be taken in the manner and with the forms and ceremonies that are binding on the conscience of the person taking them. That principle, as far as regards witnesses in a court of justice, was laid down by Lord Hardwicke, assisted by the two Chief Justices and the Chief Baron, in the celebrated case of Omichund v. Barker. Lord Hardwicke in that case struck out of the Commission issued for the purpose of examining witnesses, the words "On the Holy Evangelists," and directed the Commissioners to inquire what forms and ceremonies were binding on the conscience of a Hindoo, who was the person to be examined. The Commissioners reported the particular ceremonies which they found would be binding. The case was argued at considerable length, and we have the authority of Lord Hardwicke and the learned Judges who sat with him in favour of taking an oath in the manner most binding on the conscience of the witness. In the course of the discussion the Chief Baron said, "It is objected to us that we are passing by our own authority a new oath, but I say, this is not a new oath." The Chief Baron meant to imply that the substance of the oath was entirely distinct from the forms and ceremonies which made it binding on the conscience of the person who took it. But then I am told that there is a distinction between witnesses taking an oath for the purpose of justice and persons taking an oath to qualify themselves for office or for seats in Parliament. What I maintain is, that in principle there is no distinction whatever. Upon what can you ground any distinction? Can you say that it is more important that a Jew should recover a debt of 3s. 10d. than that he should obtain the office of sheriff? No man can say that the one is more important than the other. It is of the highest importance that the ends of justice should be obtained. If a murder were committed, and none but a Mahomedan and a Jew were witnesses of that murder, it would be of the highest importance that they should be able to give evidence in a court of justice by taking an oath in the form which is binding on their consciences. No person will seek to diminish the importance of that mode in taking the oath. In view of the laws of England and of the liberties of England, which are the birthright of the people of this country, and are so declared to be by statutes, it is important that unless a person is absolutely disqualified by some rule of law or by some statute he should obtain the office to which he is legally appointed, or that he should obtain the seat in Parliament to which he has been legally elected. I think no man at this time of day will dispute that maxim. It was asserted in the House of Lords a century and a-half ago that there can be no greater hardship to an Englishman than to deprive him of any object of ambition to which he may properly aspire. Well, Sir, I do not doubt—I do not mean to question that there may be particular statutes, upon one ground or another, depriving subjects in this country of advantages which would otherwise belong to them. Not to speak of the law as regards minors and other persons disqualified for a time, it was the policy of this country to exclude Roman Catholics, and to impose upon them a declaration against transubstantiation. It was obvious that the intention of the Legislature in imposing that declaration was to exclude the Roman Catholics, who it was known would make no such declaration, and it would have been an obvious infringement of the very purpose of the laws if, when a Roman Catholic in those days came to the table, the declaration had been omitted. But, as regards an oath as it affects a seat in Parliament or holding of office, and an oath taken by witnesses in a court of justice, I imagine the only proper distinction to be the one which was taken by the learned Judges who gave their opinion against Mr. Alderman Salomons when he took his seat upon one occasion in this House. They said—and I how to their decision in this respect,—"There is a great difference between the interpretation of the Common Law where the Judges may interpret according to what they believe reason and common sense require, and the interpretation of a statute in which the express words have been laid down by the Legislature." They said,—"With regard to the Common Law, it is in our power to accommodate it from time to time to what the interests of society require"—(and that I imagine was the pervading principle of Lord Hardwicke's decision in the case of Omichund v. Barker—"but when the Legislature has laid down particular words it is not for the Judges to say with what purpose they have laid down those particular words or to question what their meaning must be—that is beyond our province." I consider, however, that if it is beyond the province of the Judges, it is not beyond the province of the High Court of Parliament; on the contrary, that it is the privilege and duty of Parliament to say what was their intention in the words of the oaths which are administered. I come now to my second position, which is, that in the oath of abjuration so taken at the table, the words "on the true faith of a Christian" are not part of the substance of the oath, but are part of the solemn form in which that oath is administered. I think this point can be made clear in various ways. In the first place, it is made clear by the history of the origin of the oath. I referred the other day to Baron Alderson's statement, a statement only shadowing what is now perfectly well known from a treatise discovered in the Bodleian Library, that it was the doctrine of the Jesuits at that time that they were not bound by any words to keep their promises to heretic Sovereigns and heretic States, but that if they swore upon their faith they were bound to pay so much respect to that faith as not to violate the oath which they had taken. It was therefore with a view to bind those persons who had imbibed the doctrine of the Jesuits—a portion only of the Roman Catholics in the time of James I.—that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were introduced immediately after the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. It is therefore clear that from their origin the words were intended to supply a form more binding than any other form—more binding than the usual words, "so help me, God!" or any other words, in order to bind the Roman Catholics to the allegiance due to the Sovereign. With respect to the oath then introduced, as with respect to other oaths introduced since, as I shall presently show the House, the main object was not to test the Christianity of the person swearing, not to require a confession or declaration of faith, but to obtain an assurance of loyalty to the Sovereign—an assurance that the person swearing would enter into no treasonable plots against the Sovereign, hut be a loyal adherent of that Sovereign against any claimant of the throne whatsoever. Upon the next occasion when the oath appeared there is further evidence that such was the intention. In the 13 Will. III. it was declared that the refusing the oath of abjuration, which was then for the first time introduced with these words, "on the true faith of a Christian," should subject persons to the following penalty:— Every person so offending shall henceforth be deemed a Popish recusant and convict to all intents and purposes whatsoever.' Does it mean that the Jew, refusing to take the oath, would become a Popish recusant? Is it not evident that it was intended thereby to say, that Roman Catholic persons, who refused that oath, should be deemed Popish recusants, and considered disaffected to His Majesty King William III.? It went on,— And shall be disabled henceforth from taking a seat in both or either House of Parliament. It is clear that such, therefore, was the meaning of this oath; but I come now to the second proof, that this is not part of the substance of the oath, but it is part of the ceremony and form, and that proof is, that whenever Parliament has dispensed with taking the whole of the oath they have relieved persons from those words "on the true faith of a Christian," while they have not relieved them from the substance of the oath. Such was the case with regard to the Quakers in the reign of William III. In the 8 Will. III. Quakers were relieved from these words. The Acts regarding Quakers have been renewed from time to time. There were Acts of George I., Acts of George II., Acts of George III., and there was one passed after Mr. Pease took his seat in this House, which provides an affirmation in which the words "on the true faith of a Christian" are left out. Now, what is the purpose of this? Is it that a Quaker is not a Christian, or that he objects to declare that he is a Christian? By no means. No Member of the Society of Friends would have the least objection to a declaration, if it were thought necessary by Parliament to have one, that he professed the Christian faith. But these words "on the true faith of a Christian" were reckoned as part of the form of abjuration, and as such they were left out in the case of the Quakers. That is so true that up to the present day every member of the Society of Friends has taken the whole substance of the oath, has declared against the whole of the Stuart family, has declared against any pretender to the Throne, which is the substance of the oath, but has not declared "on the true faith of a Christian." A further proof of this is with respect to the Jews themselves. When Parliament wished to relieve the Jews, which it did, from certain penalties, from the obligation to register their estates, if they did not take the oath of abjuration, it said that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" should not be applied in that case. But there is a further proof in what a Parliament of this country did at the time when it really wished for a religious profession. There was a time—it was during the Commonwealth—when it was thought desirable, which it has not been thought since, to obtain a positive profession of faith from Members of the Commons House of Parliament. It was then enacted that the following declaration should be taken:— I, A B., do, in the presence of and in the name of God Almighty, promise and swear that to the uttermost of my power, in my place, I will uphold and maintain the true reformed Protestant Christian Religion, in the purity thereof, as it is contained in the Holy Scriptures of the New and Old Testament, and encourage the profession and professors of the same. Now, here is the sort of declaration that a Parliament or a Protector or a Sovereign would enact if he or it really wished for a profession of religious faith; and if the hon. Gentlemen, who have so long contended against us with respect to any alteration of the oath, desired to bring this matter to a fair decision, they should propose some positive declaration of Christianity by which their principle could be tested—a principle which they have always asserted to be the principle of Parliament, but which clearly is not, and never has been, the principle of Parliament. I contend, then, from all these proofs—from the origin of the oath in the time of James I., from the enactment of the oath of abjuration in the time of William III., from the laws exempting Quakers, and in certain cases Jews, from the obligation of the oath of abjuration; and, lastly, from the positive declaration contained in the Act of the Commonwealth—that it clearly appears that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" form no part of the oath, but are part of the form and ceremony introduced to make the oath more binding upon Roman Catholics, and that they are so much out of place at the present day that the only persons who are not obliged to declare "on the true faith of a Christian," besides the Quakers, are the Roman Catholics themselves, on account of whom these words were originally introduced. I come, therefore, to the question, in what manner is that which is not part of the substance of the oath to be omitted when a Jew appears at the table of this House to be sworn. Now, Sir, with regard to this part of the subject it may be said that this House has—and I believe it has—a power which the Judges of the land perhaps have not—the power, if it should think fit to exercise it, of stating by a Resolution that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" are not part of the substance of the oath, and that Baron Rothschild, being admitted to that table shall take the oath in the form binding upon his conscience—viz., without these words "on the true faith of a Christian." But it is a question for consideration whether we should use our power in that respect, and thereby expose ourselves to the contest that may ensue. On looking through the speeches which have been delivered by learned men upon this subject, particularly those of Sir William Page Wood, now one of the Vice-Chancellors of England, and of the present Attorney General, I find that, although they are full of arguments which are convincing to my mind with respect to the nature of the oath, they do not afford a solution of the practical difficulties in which we might be involved if we attempted by Resolution to settle this great question. Sir W. Page Wood said, upon one occasion, that there were many questions in which the House might decide differently to a court of law, and that we ought not to be deterred from it by the fear of coming into collision with another place; that may be so, but I conceive there is no case similar to this where that course could be followed. It appears to me, in the present state of this question, that if we could obtain by a Bill in a different form from any that have been introduced the assent of both Houses of Parliament to a declaration which I believe would be in entire conformity with law, such would be a far better method of ending this question than using our extreme power by admitting Baron Rothschild of our own vigour and authority to take the oath with the omission of the words "on the true faith of a Christian." I stated at the beginning of what I have had the honour to address to the House that it must to a great degree depend upon the Government whether there may be any chance of carrying such a Bill. I cannot think that with a majority of 140, with a Ministry having the support of the country—as they affirm and I believe truly they have—the opposition of the House of Lords, which has been overcome in so many instances, which was overcome on the Roman Catholic question, on the corn law question, and on numerous other questions, would be successful in the present case. I remember that very strong objections were entertained by many noble Members of the House of Lords to a Bill which passed here with regard to the temporalities of the Irish Church. Many persons expected that that Bill would be thrown out in the House of Lords; but the Conservative party was then led by a man who united to very great authority, to a long life of glory and distinction, the greatest wisdom and prudence in civil affairs, and by the advice of that man a great many of their Lordships—I believe as many as would have formed a decided majority of the House of Lords—refrained from opposing the Bill, and it was carried into a law. With respect to another measure—the Bill for repealing the Navigation Laws—which was brought forward when I had the honour to be a Member of Her Majesty's Councils, and which was carried through this House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies, the Government declared that they would not accept a defeat upon that question, which they considered to be one of vital importance. What was the result? That Bill was carried, although I cannot believe to this day that it was the wish of the House of Lords that the Navigation Laws should be repealed, thinking, as I do, that upon that subject their opinions and feelings were quite as strong as those they entertain with respect to the Jews, which, after all, are rather prejudices than settled opinions. With regard to the authority of this House I beg leave to quote a statement that was made by Chief Justice Fortescue, when he was consulted, along with the other Justices, relative to a threatened arrest of the Speaker when the House was in Committee, and which has often been quoted with respect to the privileges of this House of late years. Upon that occasion Chief Justice Fortescue and all the Justices answered and said:— They ought not to answer that question, for it hath not been used aforetime that the justices should in anywise determine the privilege of this High Court of Parliament, for it is so high and mighty in its nature that it may make law, and that that is law it may make no law. This is a question of their privilege, and the determination and knowledge of their privilege belong to the Lords of Parliament and not to the justices. That was the declaration of Chief Justice Fortescue, and it is stated to refer to a time when the House of Lords were using their powers in a manner which I do not deny they were competent to do, but certainly in a manner which was a very strong exercise of the privileges of that House. An hon. Gentleman who spoke on the last night, when it was not convenient for the House to hear my explanation, seemed to suppose in reference to the decision of the House of Lords last year in the case of Lord Wensleydale, to whom a life peerage had been granted by the Crown, I had disputed the competency of the House of Lords to deal with the question. I did not dispute their competency, but I do say that when Lord Coke had given his opinion that life peerages could be granted by the Crown, and when in later days Lord Redesdale gave an opinion that peerages of the United Kingdom, granted by the Crown, carried with them a right to a seat in Parliament—I must say it was carrying to the utmost the privileges of the House of Lords when it declared that a Peer who came with a patent granted by the Crown by the advice of the Queen's Lord Chancellor, should be refused admission to that House. The House of Lords, however, have exercised that power, and I have no doubt they did so according to their conscientious convictions, after examining all the authorities which were examined by the most learned among their Lordships; but they decided they had the power, and proved it by establishing a precedent in that case of the Wensleydale Peerage. I am glad, although it is somewhat grating, to find that the House of Lords can exercise that power without question (and the Government, I think, were well advised in not bringing the question before a court of law); but the House of Lords having come to that decision, unquestionably without having any dispute in any court of law upon the subject, I must say it is somewhat grating to us—it is grating to my constituents in the City of London, to be told that we have not the power of admitting an hon. Member to take his seat among the Commons of England, although he may have been duly elected according to law. It is impossible to believe that the House of Commons can continue much longer in that state, which I must be permitted to call a state of humiliation. I therefore ask the House to allow me to introduce the Bill. I ask them to introduce it in order that hon. Members may see it, and be enabled to form an opinion whether it will solve the difficulty at issue. I do not think hon. Gentlemen opposite have a right to flatter themselves that this question is to be laid to sleep for the next ten years. I think we are bound to pursue it in one form or another. Let us do so with as much moderation as we can. We have already shown much moderation. The City of London has shown great moderation, but I do not think this is a period in which we ought to adopt a precedent showing that, whatever may be the power of the House of Lords, whatever may be the powers of the other branches of the Legislature, the House of Commons is utterly powerless upon a great question of public policy—a question involving principles of liberty—a question involving the highest principles of law; that we are utterly impotent, and have nothing to do but to sit down with degradation snd humiliation. With these opinions, and with a view of bringing the matter under the consideration of the House, I now ask for leave to introduce a Bill to amend the Act 1 & 2 Vict., c. 105, entitled "An Act for removing doubts as to the validity of certain oaths."


I cannot but regret that the noble Lord should have felt it to be his duty to introduce a Bill at this period of the Session which in spirit, at least, if not in letter, is the same measure as that which Parliament has already discussed and decided. The noble Lord said we were placed in a somewhat extraordinary position, but I ask the noble Lord, who is it that places us in that position? We are indeed, placed in an extraordinary position since the general practice of Parliament has been violated, not on account of any pressing emergency, not because there is any great object to be attained, but because, forsooth, the noble Lord is disappointed in his expectations of being able to place a member of the Jewish community in the House of Commons during the present Session. Now, I will concede to the noble Lord that the letter of the rule which prohibits in the same Session a second discussion of the same Motion has not been violated by him upon this occasion, for the Bill which he seeks to introduce is not in form the same with that introduced by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston); but in spirit at least, as he himself admits, the two propositions are, in fact, identical. No one knows better than the noble Lord that if the great rule governing our proceedings were to be abolished, and we were to have reiterated discussions of the same topics in the same Session, there would necessarily ensue a great conflict of decisions in this House; there would be danger of hon. Members being taken by surprise, and of constant vacillation and changes of opinions, which would be anything but creditable to ourselves or beneficial to our constituents. It is for these reasons that the rule I have alluded to was adopted, and I put it to the noble Lord if a Member of his weight and influence in the House deviates from it upon this occasion whether other hon. Members, who take equal interest in other subjects, will consent to remain quiet without bringing their views again before us. There are questions more exciting, and in which the people take a deeper interest than they do upon this question, and are hon. Members to be precluded from reiterating their views upon those subjects while it is permitted to the noble Lord to renew the discussion of this particular subject? There are many persons in this country who take a deep interest in the question which was brought under our notice by the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner)—the Maynooth grant; others who feel deep interest in the proposition advocated by the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley)—the Ballot; others are interested in the repeal of certain taxes, while others again feel great interest in the abolition of church rates, or on the question of Parliamentary reform; and is the noble Lord prepared to say that these subjects shall be discussed over and over again in each Session? The noble Lord will, no doubt, say this is not the same measure as that which we have already discussed, and that is true, I admit, in the letter, but not in the spirit. The Bill of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) was to substitute one oath for three, while the Bill of the noble Lord, as far as I understand it, is to be a declaratory law, simply to affirm that Jews may take the oath of abjuration without the words "on the true faith of a Christian." But, although the form of the Bills may differ, the noble Lord, like the noble Viscount, has argued the question as one relating to the admission of Jews to Parliament; and no one can doubt but that this is the real question. The noble Viscount urged the passing of his Bill on the grounds of civil and religious liberty—the noble Lord has rested the claims of his on the ground of the unjust exclusion of the Jews on account of their religious opinions. It is idle, therefore, to attempt to throw dust into our eyes by saying the measure is a different one. Upon that ground alone, if I had no other objection. I should oppose the introduction of the noble Lord's Bill. But is there not another objection! Is there not the danger of bringing yourselves in direct collision with the House of Lords? And if you bring yourselves into more direct collision with that House, is there not danger of what the noble Lord says now exists, but which I do not admit—the degradation and humiliation of this House? The noble Lord, in one part of his speech, made an allusion which I did not distinctly understand. He said that if the Government had taken the usual course in passing measures which they produced, the former Bill might have become the law of the land. what the noble Lord means by that I cannot exactly comprehend; but this I know, that one of the greatest advocates against this measure in the other House of Parliament supported the Government on that occasion; and I also know that the majority for the second reading in this House, instead of being less, was greater than it had ever been before. I think it is a little too much to say that because the House of Commons has passed a Bill this Session different from any that was ever proposed before, and because the House of Lords has rejected it, you are to try another experiment, which may bring you into direct collision with that House. My second reason, therefore, for opposing the introduction of this measure is, that you will bring about that very degradation and humiliation which I do not admit now exists, but which is declared to exist by the noble Lord. But another reason is, that we are now at the end of the present Session, when the noble Viscount has told us our days are numbered—when we have this very evening been told that one of the most important measures of the Government cannot be proceeded with in Committee till Thursday week, because there is so much business before the House—when you have grave questions to discuss, among others the Marriage and Divorce Bill, that will occupy us for at least a week—when you have to go into Committee of Supply and of Ways and Means—and above all when you have to look to the most important of all important questions that now affects not only this House and country, but the whole of this empire, the question of India; when these great and important matters are before you, are you to be called on again to consider a measure that has already this Session been debated and settled? The Noble Lord knows that there are no days on which this measure can be fully discussed before the Session is over, or any chance of getting this measure through; and if that be so, I put it to the House whether it is a wise or a prudent course to introduce it to the House? These are the grounds on which alone I beg to oppose the introduction of this Bill, and in stating them I think I have said sufficient to show to the House that the leave for which the noble Lord asks ought not to be granted. I purposely forbear to enter into the question itself, because, first, in my view of the case it has been discussed and settled; and secondly, because the arguments are so much exhausted that I believe nothing new can be brought to bear upon it before the House. But, though I do not mean to discuss the merits and demerits of this question, there are some remarks of the noble Lord which I think ought not to be passed by in silence—remarks not borne out either by the observations he has made or by the statute to which he has referred. The noble Lord has told us that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" are not part of the substance of the oath, but only part of the form and ceremony in taking it. ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial benches.] Well, but the Gentlemen who cheer that statement would have cheered to the very echo the contrary statement when the noble Lord made that admirable answer to the argument of the learned Vice Chancellor which the noble Lord has quoted to-night. In that answer he contended that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were not merely formal. Since that time what has happened? The question has been submitted to the highest tribunal of the country. It was there argued with great ability by the hon. and learned Member for Suffolk (Sir F. Kelly). Everything was said that could be said to show that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were part of the form, and not of the substance of the oath, and might be dispensed with; but the Judges of the Court of Exchequer were three to one on the point, and on the appeal to the Exchequer Chamber the Judges were unanimous. But, notwithstanding that solemn decision, the noble Lord comes here with all the weight of his authority and tells the House that those words form no part of the substance of the oath.


I said the Judges had not decided the point, and that what they decided was that the words having been put there by statute could not be left out.


I hope the noble Lord will again read the decision. But if the noble Lord wishes an argument that will convince him that these words are a part of the substance of the oath, I will satisfy him by a reference to two statutes passed in the reign of George II.—the one an Act for the better security of the King's person and government; and the other, for naturalizing members of the Jewish religion in His Majesty's colonies in America. Those statutes run thus:— Whereas the following words, 'upon the true faith of a Christian,' are contained in the oath of abjuration as part of the oath, be it enacted that when any of his Majesty's subjects of the Jewish persuasion shall be required to take such oath, he may omit these words.' The statutes did not give the power to use another form of words, for it was distinctly stated that they were part of the oath of abjuration, and the words implied that they belonged to the substance and not to the mere form of the oath. In another part of his speech, however, there dropped from the noble Lord a most ominous sentence. He said he thought this House ought not be left in a state of humiliation, and that it ought to take some steps immediately, be it by Bill or be it by Resolution, to settle this question. [Cheers.] If I interpret aright these cheers it is high time the two sides of the House should understand each other. The noble Lord made sundry remarks about the power of Parliament, and he quoted a passage from Chief Justice Fortescue as to what that power was. But the power of Parliament is a totally different thing from the power of the House of Commons. If we are to understand by the power of Parliament the power of the House of Commons, the sooner that is avowed the better. The oath taken at that table is contained in an Act passed, not by the House of Commons alone, but by the two Houses of Parliament, and by the authority of the Crown; and if any Member shall sit in this House without taking that oath he is liable to penalties. Can this House relieve him from penalties imposed by Act of Parliament and sanctioned by the Crown? Is the House going to enter into a conflict, not merely with the House of Lords, but with the Courts of law? Are you prepared to set yourselves above the judicial tribunals of the country? There was a time when a King of this country attempted to dispense with our laws, and it produced a revolution. There was also a time when the House of Commons attempted to legislate without the House of Lords and without the Crown, and of itself to make laws for this country. Let me point out to you what followed, as it appears from the Journals. I have extracted from the Journals three Resolutions then passed, which I will read to the House. The first Resolution was dated January 4, 1646, and was as follows:— Resolved,—That whatever is enacted or declared for law by the Commons in Parliament assembled, hath the force of law, and all the people of the nation are concluded thereby, although the concurrence of King or House of Peers be not had thereto. [MR. Cox: That was in the days of the Commonwealth]. Yes, just before the Commonwealth, and anybody who sets up this House of Commons above the House of Lords and the Crown establishes a Commonwealth. Then, on February the 8th. 1648, I find the following, and you will see that the House of Commons had taken a rapid start:— "Resolved,—That the House of Peers is useless and dangerous, and ought to be abolished, and that an Act be brought in for that purpose. And this, on the 7th of February, 1648, led to the following Resolution:— "Resolved,—That the office of King in this realm, and that the powers thereof in a single person, is unnecessary, burdensome, and dangerous to the liberty, safety, and good of the people, and that it ought to be abolished. Then we are told that this was at the time of the Commonwealth. It shows what kind of Commonwealth you will arrive at if you once set aside the laws. I would rather that you let fifty Jews into Parliament in a regular way than that for the purpose of introducing one you should break through the constitution, and incontestably destroy our liberties for ever. If ever any such attempt should be made I have still so much confidence in the noble Lord, notwithstanding his wavering expressions to-night, and so much confidence in the whole country, that I am sure they would think you had arrived at the last pitch indeed of humiliation and degradation if it were assented to. The noble Lord, in that plausible manner, I was going to say, but in that popular manner I will say, in which he can put any proposition before this House, has ingeniously attempted to draw a comparison between what took place last year with respect to the Wensleydale Peerage, and a Resolution which might now be proposed in the House of Commons to seat Baron Rothschild. Nobody knows better than the noble Lord that of all kinds of logical reasoning none is more beautiful than that which is drawn from analogy, but unless the analogy be complete none is more misleading and deceitful. The House of Lords, as the hereditary branch of the Legislature, has privileges of its own which ought not to be taken away. One of the privileges of the House of Lords, as the hereditary branch of the Legislature, is similar by analogy to one of the privileges of the House of Commons, as the elected representation of the people. The privilege of the House of Lords, as the hereditary branch of the Legislature, is to determine for itself whether, according to law and the constitution of the country, those who claim to have a seat in it are entitled to that seat or not, and the privilege of the House of Commons as the representative assembly elected by the people, is to determine for itself, as it does, unchallenged, whether those who come here to take a seat are or are not entitled to that seat. But the privilege of the House of Lords and the privilege of the House of Commons are both limited and circumscribed by law, and when both assemblies have passed an Act of Parliament which makes it requisite that something should be done before a Peer can take his seat under the patent, or before a Member can take his seat in this House, as elected by the people, then they are bound by the law of the land, and their privileges cease at that point. Now, the best mode of illustrating the distinction between the noble Lord's line of argument and mine is simply to suppose what would be the case if Baron Rothschild were made a Peer. He then could no more take his seat in the House of Lords until he had taken this oath, "on the true faith of a Christian" than now he can here. The real analogy begins and ends there. The analogy intimated by the noble Lord is really no analogy whatever. It does not apply to a statutory requisition. Well, then, the first reason which I wish to submit to the House, in all calmness and moderation, why it should not allow the introduction of this Bill is—because, though it may not violate the letter of your rule of proceeding, yet it is against the spirit of that rule. The spirit of that rule unquestionably is that for the despatch of business, to prevent surprise, and to carry on the proceedings in an orderly manner, we ought not to discuss the same question twice in the same Session. On this is founded my first great objection to the introduction of this Bill. My second great objection to the introduction of the measure is, that I think for this House unnecessarily to put itself now in conflict with the House of Lords would be taking one of those courses which wise statesmen have always deprecated, and which, in my opinion, ought to be much deprecated on the present occasion. I have a third objection to the Motion now before the House, which would have weight even if the other two could be got over, but which when they are borne in mind, is still more powerful. I think that on a question of his kind it is not right at the latter end if the Session, when we have got more business on hand than we can possibly get through, that we should add unnecessarily to our labours and prevent the despatch of more urgent business. These are three main reasons which I offer against the introduction of this Bill; but if the Bill should be brought in, then would come again the question of principle, which would have to be discussed again. At present, however, I wish to confine myself to the objections I have stated, in order that the House may consider whether it would be advisable to take the course which the noble Lord proposes. More than this I need hardly say. I only trust, whatever may be the result of this Motion of the noble Lord, it will not be followed up by any attempt to make a Resolution of this House supersede every constituted authority in the kingdom, for if you once attempt to do that, you virtually and in reality create a revolution.


said, that he must beg to state, in reply to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman who had read such a lecture to the House upon the dangers of tampering with the constitution, that neither himself, when he gave notice of a Resolution to allow Baron Rothschild to take the oaths in the way most binding on his conscience, nor any of his hon. Friends who acted with him, had any intention of entering upon any revolutionary course, and he could not forget that the most democratic suggestion ever made to that House—namely, that every militiaman should have the franchise, had emanated from the right hon. Gentleman. He therefore thought that the right hon. Gentleman might have been a little sparing of the lofty tone in which he addressed that (the Ministerial) side of the House. But though he (Mr. Dillwyn) was as little desirous as any one to tamper with the constitution, he did sincerely desire to see the constitution moulded as it had heretofore, from time to time, been, in order to meet the requirements of the age. He believed that he and those who had acted with him had kept to that object in the course which they had taken. He had not been able to find the Exchequer Reports in the library of the House, and therefore could not refer to the decision of the Court of Error in the case of Miller v. Salomons. But in searching for precedents in point upon the subject, he had found a decision which went very closely to the matter before them. He referred to the case of Mr. Pease, and he would venture to call to the attention of the House the statements which upon that occasion were made by Mr. Speaker's predecessor, Mr. Manners Sutton, a gentleman connected by birth and antecedents with the Conservative party in the House. That decision was laid down for the guidance of the House on the occasion of the election of Mr. Pease. When Mr. Pease came to the table and claimed to be admitted to a seat upon making an affirmation, Mr. Manners Sutton, according to Hansard's Debates, made this statement:— Mr. Speaker said, he was sure that the House would feel, as he felt, that not only the law and the privileges of the House, but also the personal interests of the hon. Member himself were concerned, and that it was therefore necessary that a deliberate construction of the law as it existed should be obtained. That construction could alone be pronounced by this House itself. He hoped, after such an opinion from an hon. Gentleman who had been connected with hon. Members opposite, who held what were called Conservative and constitutional principles, that he (Mr. Dillwyn) and those who entertained similar views would not be taxed with recommending a revolutionary course. He was most desirous of avoiding any collision with the House of Lords—he thought all collisions undesirable—and he believed that the mode of proceeding he had suggested would have prevented such a collision. He thought the House had pursued a weak and dangerous course in declining to interfere in the case of Alderman Salomons, and allowing the question to be submitted to the Courts of Law. Hon. Gentlemen would undoubtedly admit that it was their duty to maintain the privileges of the House of Commons, and that they ought not to allow the House of Lords to sit in judgment upon a question exclusively affecting those privileges. Suppose the House decided that Alderman Salomons should be sworn at the table in a form binding upon his conscience, that he took his seat, that he voted, that an action was brought against him in one of the law courts, that the judgment of the House was confirmed, that the question was carried to the Courts above, and the interpretation put upon the law by the House affirmed, an appeal might eventually be made to the House of Lords, who would sit in judgment upon the privileges of the House of Commons, and might perhaps reverse their decision. This was a matter which he thought deserved serious, but at the same time calm and temperate consideration. He confessed that he entertained considerable doubt with regard to the course which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was pursuing. At the same time, in deference to the wish of the Liberal party—in deference to the high authority of the noble Lord, who was desirous of exhausting every effort of conciliation before recourse was had to what hon. Gentlemen opposite might consider revolutionary measures, he (Mr. Dillwyn) would support the Motion for the introduction of the Bill.


said, this subject had frequently been argued with greet ability, but it was now placed before the House in a form which seemed to raise a question of much greater gravity and importance than the admission of Jews to Parliament. He honoured those who, year after year, consistently maintained the cause of the Jews; he admitted that some of their arguments were extremely forcible, and that the admission of Jews to Parliament would render civil and religious liberty complete. No one in that House had any objection to the Jews in respect to their own character. It would be absurd to suppose for a moment that Jews located in this country, and owning it as their home, would seek to injure the constitution of the realm; but he entertained strong objections to the course now taken by the noble Member for the City of London. He recollected that many years ago, when the noble Lord represented South Devon, he stated that his object in all reforms was to retain in undiminished integrity the constitution of the country, while such improvements were effected in that constitution as the lapse of ages might have rendered necessary. But what was now the noble Lord's position? He was urging a course which would bring the two Houses of Parliament into collision, and would destroy the constitution he had always declared himself anxious to maintain. What was the noble Lord's excuse? Was it that there were any strong popular demonstrations on this subject? No; the Bill for the emancipation of the Jews had been rejected this year, as it had been rejected year after year, but Manchester was not in insurrection; and yet Manchester and the large manufacturing towns had not been backward in vindicating popular measures on other occasions. In former times he remembered to have seen the streets of Manchester in the hands of a mob, or filled with military and cannon, but from what he knew of the present feelings of the inhabitants of Lancashire, he ventured to say that when they rose in insurrection it would be in defence of the Christian cause, and not in behalf of unbelievers and infidels. What excuse, then, had the noble Lord for urging his Bill upon the attention of the House? A great and important meeting of Members of this house had been called together at a pot-house over the way. That meeting was addressed by right hon. Gentlemen and by Members of Parliament who had held offices in the Government, but he believed it was far from unanimous. The one portion of the meeting was in favour of one course of action, the other advocated a different mode of proceeding, but some sort of unanimity was established by the seducing tongue of the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), and he understood that a deputation had this day waited upon the noble Lord at the head of the Government, with what success he did not know. If, however, neither the Prime Minister nor the country, nor his own meeting were with the noble Lord, upon what ground did he now attempt to thrust this question upon the House at the close of an unusually lengthy Session. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had said that the House of Lords had yielded upon various occasions, but that had been in cases when the country forced them to yield upon questions of great national and political importance. It had been proposed to bring Baron Rothschild into the House and permit him to take that portion of the oath which he conscientiously could take, and then to declare it a breach of privilege for any one to prosecute him for voting without having taken the oath in its present form. Now, that was a point which any hon. Gentleman had a perfect right to urge, and to say that that House should be able by a Resolution to seat its own Members. If that right already existed it was only patriotic to urge it, and a court of law would easily have decided the question. If it already existed then a great many years had been wasted in debating the question; and if it should be decided that it did not exist, the House would only be in the same position which it occupied when the measure for the admission of Jews was first carried in that House and rejected by the House of Lords. The noble Lord had referred to the case of Lord Wensleydale, and had advanced it as an instance of the House of Lords vindicating their own authority. Now, what were the real facts of the case? Why, upon that occasion, when the House of Lords had refused admission to Lord Wensleydale, a Bill was introduced into the House of Commons providing for the formation of peerages for life for the purposes of the appellate jurisdiction. That Bill had been supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire and by the Government, and the noble Lord, who was regarded as the leader of the Conservative party, had strongly urged upon those who agreed with him in political opinions the expediency of supporting that Bill. For his own part he had disagreed with the noble Lord and with the majority of those who sat upon the same side of the House as himself, and had voted against the measure. That Bill had been rejected, but the House of Lords did not feel it necessary to call a meeting at the King's Arms, or to bring themselves into collision with the House of Commons, and he did not see now why the House of Commons on the present occasion should come into collision with the House of Lords, and most sincerely did he hope that the noble Lord the Member for London would not by any act of his tend to destroy that edifice of constitutional freedom which he had so long laboured to improve. He trusted that he would see the impossibility of carrying his Bill against the opposition which it would meet with, and that even if it did pass through that House the question would not be advanced one step, as the House of Lords would undoubtedly reject it. For these reasons he should give his vote against the introduction of a measure which he regarded as mischievous in itself, as likely to bring the House into collision with the House of Lords, and as not in any way tending to further the object which it had in view.


said, that he thought the question had long ceased to be one of Jew or no Jew, or of the admission of Baron Rothschild into that House, and had become one which, on the one hand, affected the principles of religious liberty, and, on the other, the privileges and liberties of that House; and he could not help thinking that the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, in his anxiety to uphold the privileges of the House of Lords, had lost sight of those of the House of Commons. He would ask that House if it would submit, year after year, for the next ten years, to be rough-ridden by a majority of the House of Lords? The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that the House was placed in an extraordinary position, and he had inferred that that had been caused by those who sat on the side of the House upon which he (Mr. Gilpin) had the honour of sitting. Now he came to a different conclusion, and thought that the position in which the House was placed had been brought about by the conduct of the party with which that right hon. Gentleman was connected in that and the other House of Parliament. And when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the constitution, his (Mr. Gilpin's) reading never taught him that it was intended that the two integral parts of the constitution, the Sovereign of the country, represented by her Ministers and the House of Commons, should be continually subservient to the majority of the body which formed the third part of the constitution. He could not but rejoice that the religious element had not been introduced into the present discussion; but when the hon. Gentleman who spoke last had used the word "infidelity," he could not help thinking that all the hon. Gentleman meant to say was that orthodoxy was his own "doxy," and that heterodoxy was everybody else's "doxy." It reminded him of the lines of Thomas Hood:— A man may cry 'Church, Church,' at every word, With no more piety than other people, A daw's not reckoned a religious bird Because he keeps on cawing from a steeple. He held that by no sophistry could this be made a religious question as it affected the Jew, for if Boron Rothschild, or any other person who was known to be a Jew, would come to the table and take the oaths, adding the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," although it was well known that he was not a Christian in the accepted term, no one would object, so that, in point of fact, the exclusion of the Jew was a penalty upon his conscientiousness. It was said that a collision with the House of Lords was a thing to be deprecated; and so it was; but it was still more to be deprecated that the elected representatives of the Commons of England should allow the deliberate and often-recorded decision of their majority on a point connected with their own constitution to be thus overruled, and their principles to become a dead letter because there was an adverse majority in the House of Lords. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to the absence of popular excitement, but it was new to hear such an observation from the other side of the House, for he generally found that hon. Gentlemen who sat upon that side deprecated popular excitement. For his own part he never had, and never would deprecate the freely expressed views of a popular assembly, but it was not wise for the other House of Parliament to wait for popular excitement before they consented to what a majority of the House of Commons and Her Majesty's Government considered to be an act of justice. The question, however, resolved itself into one of earnestness, or want of earnestness on the part of the occupants of the Treasury bench. If it was once understood that the noble Lord had determined to carry the Bill, it would be carried, and it was for the noble Lord to say if he pleased— Princes and peers may flourish or may fade, A breath can make them as a breath hath made. If the noble Lord announced his intention of standing or falling by the Bill, the Bill would certainly pass into law.


—If, as has been urged by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) this question has no bearing on religion, this House has for the last ten years been pursuing a course the most wanton that can be conceived. But I assert that on no occasion has this question been considered otherwise than in connection with religion. We have seen the attempt made to enable Baron Rothschild to take his seat. He came to the table, and the Clerk tendered him that work of inspiration which embodies the foundation of our faith as Christians. We saw Baron Rothschild reject Christianity at this table. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen who have recently come into the House may cry "Oh, oh!" but I see older Members before me and around me, who well remember the circumstances connected with the first appearance of Baron Rothschild at the table of this House and his refusal to be sworn on the Gospel. [Mr. ROEBUCK: "Hear!"] The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has reminded me by that ironical cheer that he himself, in attempting to settle the admission of Baron Rothschild by Resolution, found himself in a very small minority. That proposition was opposed by the noble Lord the Member for the City, and to that opposition he trusted that that noble Lord, whatever other change his opinions might have undergone, would still adhere, and that this House will never imperil its own authority, or the constitutional freedom of all classes of her Majesty's subjects, by yielding to the doctrines of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. I repeat, Sir, that Baron Rothschild rejected the Gospel at this table, and claimed to be sworn on the Old Testament. The House most unwisely, as I think, admitted that claim, for, by adopting the course then pursued, the House only got into a difficulty; the decision of the Courts of Law proves that I was not wrong. I ventured to put a question to you, Sir, as to the form of the Motion now before us, and you have said that there is nothing in the Motion to lead you to pronounce that it should first have been considered in a Committee of the whole House. But the Standing Order to which I referred says, that no Bill concerning or relating to religion shall be brought into this House without being first considered in and agreed to by a Committee of the whole House. I ask whether, after the words in the oath, to which Baron Rothschild objects, have been declared by a court of law to constitute a religious test have been deliberately rejected by one claiming to be a Member of that House, it is possible for hon. Members to divest themselves of the idea that this is a religious question? The noble Lord the Member for London urges the House not to remain in its present state of degradation. He would have the House believe that the country thinks the fact of this being an exclusively Christian assembly a degradation? [An ironical cheer from Mr. ROEBUCK.] Does the hon. and learned Member think it a degradation to be a member of an exclusively Christian assembly? If he took the opinion of the House on that question he would find himself in a smaller minority than followed him the other night. If any degradation is inflicted on this House, the country believes it is inflicted, not by those who wish to preserve the Christian character which it has upheld for more than a thousand years, but by those who seek to debase the test by which we enter this House, and to lower the morality to which we are bound by its forms. The degradation of this House will not be brought about by its continuing to be Christian. I regret that the noble Lord has sought to evade the Standing Orders of the House. In his speech he avows the object of his Bill to be the same as that to which the House of Lords has refused its assent this very Session, and I need not remind the noble Lord that such Bills have always been introduced in Committee of the whole House. If the House decides that this question, which was treated as a religious question at the commencement of the Session, is religious no longer, I shall bow to that decision; but my own opinion is that the introduction of the Bill in its present form is a violation of the Standing Orders; and I trust that, whatever violent course may be proposed for our adoption, the House will at least respect its own forms. What, Sir, is the origin of this proposal? I will tell the House. At a meeting of the electors of the Ward of Cripplegate Without, before the late election, Baron Rothschild pledged himself to resign his seat unless a favourable decision as to the admission of the Jews were come to in this Parliament. At that time it was suggested that he should adopt the course previously taken by Mr. David Salomons; but Baron Rothschild said that he thought that course had given offence to the House of Lords; and the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets admitted at that meeting that the Courts of Law had decided that Baron Rothschild could not sit, or vote in the House without an Act of Parliament being previously passed authorising his admission. My interpretation of the attempt to introduce this Bill is, that the noble Lord the Member for London is seeking to relieve Baron Rothschild from his pledge to resign his seat, and to persevere in that course of annoyance to the House of Lords and to the best feelings of the country which the noble Lord the Member for London seems to be so ready to pursue. I am sorry that a man like the noble Lord should lend himself so far to the views of a small but active and influential portion of his constituents as to endeavour to bring about a conflict between the two branches of the Legislature. Indeed, taking the facts as I find them, I can only think that the noble Lord is urging on this conflict in the interest of an individual—a wealthy Jew, with a foreign title, who is ambitious of becoming a Member of the House of Commons. The noble Lord has endeavoured to raise a doubt as to the question of law; and the only plea for calling his Bill declaratory is that the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," are not of the essence of the oath. The opinions of Baron Alderson have been quoted by the noble Lord, but not the result of his opinion after a full consideration of the case. Baron Alderson said that he did not think the oath taken at all if these words were omitted, and that Mr. Salomons voted without taking the oath of abjuration. Baron Parke (now Lord Wensleydale) was of opinion that the express words of the oath excluded those who are not Christians, and that to say otherwise would be to alter the law and not administer it. The Lord Chief Baron said that the Jews could not take the oath, and that he thought no one could doubt that if it had been pointed out to the Legislature who passed the laws, which embody and enforce the taking of that oath, that the oath would exclude all who were not Christians, they would have declared that such was their intention. The terms in which these learned Judges pronounced their opinion were these:—Baron Alderson, in the case of Miller v. Salomons, speaking of the words "on the true faith of a Christian," said— I think, therefore, that the oath is not taken at all if these words are omitted by the person swearing, and Mr. Salomons has, therefore, voted without previously taking the Oath of Abjuration. Baron Parke said— The express words of the oath necessarily exclude all but Christians, and no intention to include all who are not Christians can be collected from the Act itself, or any other Acts on the same subject, or in pari materia, none can be collected from the history of the times in which those statutes were enacted. Sir F. Pollock observed— Here, I believe (in the statute 3 James I.), for the first time, as far as I am aware, is found the expression, 'upon the true faith of a Christian;' unto which oath so taken the person so taking it shall subscribe his or her name or mark. Apparently the effect of this statute was to exclude the Jews from any benefit that might arise, for they certainly could not take the oath according to the tenor (which is the same as verbatim, nor subscribe to it as so taken). And I think no one can doubt that if it had been pointed out to the legislature of that time that the effect was to exclude all but Christians from taking the oath, they would have replied that such was their intention. It is but a flimsy pretence to say, that this is a declaratory Bill, when the Judges of the land have stated that the words of which the noble Lord wishes to remove the obligation in the case of the Jew are of the very essence and substance of the oath and of the Act containing it. I have long taken a deep interest in this question, and I cannot consider it beneath the dignity of this House to continue a Christian assembly. On behalf of my constituents, and of a large body of the thinking, sober, religious, and constitutional people of this country—on behalf of a large body of the learned professions, sanctioned by the authority of the Courts of Law, and supported by the decisions of the House of Lords—I protest against the effort now made to mislead the House into the belief that you are violating no principle by these many attempts to overawe and coerce a co-ordinate branch of the legislature, the constitution of which you propose to tamper with far more seriously than with your own. If a Jew or non-Christian were admitted to the House of Commons it will rest with the constituency sending him to say at each succeeding election whether they will renew their confidence in him; but let a Jew or a non-Christian be introduced into the House of Lords, and then the right to admission there becomes at once permanent to himself and hereditary in his family. It is to be presumed that his children will be brought up in his own belief, and however offensive the opinions of such a Peer or of his successors may be to the House of Lords, that House will have no means of escape, for the House of Commons will then have saddled on the Upper House in perpetuity those who deny the truths of Christianity, in however offensive a form they or their successors may do so. A class of persons educated in such a belief will then of right sit and vote in that illustrious assembly, while the rest of its Members cannot be relieved from their presence and interference except by some Act reversing the unwise legislation which the House of Commons is now attempting to force on them. The House of Lords represents the highest intelligence and the best feelings of the country; it could not have opposed the House of Commons on this question for so many years had it been otherwise, and when I hear the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) threaten that illustrious assembly with the popular excitement, I warn him that if he attempts to create a popular agitation on this subject throughout the country, the religious feelings of the people will awake as they did in 1754. [Ironical cheers from the Ministerial side.] Aye, those were only halfhearted cheers. Hon. Members opposite laugh as boys whistle when passing at night through a churchyard. I say you are assailants of the great principle that Christianity ought to be as it has been, the fundamental faith and morality of the State and Parliament of England; and I challenge you to appeal to the country on this subject, confident that the result will be to affirm the recent decision of the House of Lords. Mr. Bernard Van Oven, one of the ablest advocates of the Jewish faith, wrote in a letter addressed to the Baroness Rothschild, that Baron Rothschild ought to be admitted to the House of Commons because England is not a Christian country, and therefore ought not to be represented by a Christian Legislature. That is, perhaps, true in logic, and if you are now about to declare that Parliament should no longer be Christian you ought to hold that England is not a Christian country, and, therefore, is unduly represented by a Parliament which is Christian. But however logically true such conclusions might be, I believe the genuine and prevalent feeling throughout the country is that the premises are false, for that England is Christian, and should continue to be represented by a legislature wholly Christian. I feel strongly on this subject, but am fully persuaded that you will not succeed in overbearing the decision of the House of Lords. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London departs from all constitutional principle in the course he is taking. I regret that his connection with the City of London (which was somewhat threatened, by-the-bye, at one time) should have induced him to take so dangerous a course. I shall persevere in my opposition to this attempt on the part of the noble Lord, and I venture to urge on the House that whilst it would not be consulting its own dignity in adopting the course now recommended, there is no degradation in its continuing to be, as heretofore, a Christian assembly.


said, he could assure the hon. Gentleman that he had no desire, in voting for the admission of Baron Rothschild, to unchristianize the House of Commons. The question was one of civil and religious liberty. Having granted emancipation to the Roman Catholics, and abolished the Test and Corporation Acts for the relief of the dissenters, it was no more than simple justice that when a constituency elected a Jew as their representative in Parliament, he should have the right to take his seat, and carry out the duty to which he had been delegated. The citizens of London had shown their feeling in the matter by electing the Baron Rothschild over and over again, and he (Mr. Cox) had no doubt that if the Baron was by the decision of the House now called upon to redeem his pledge by resigning his seat, that they would again elect him. The citizens of London and the electors of the Metropolis generally were determined that the question should be brought to an issue; and whether by the House of Lords agreeing with the House of Commons in a specific enactment, or by a Resolution of the Lower House, vindicating their own privileges, it was the determination of the constituent body to have the matter brought to a final settlement. He regretted that all the Jewish electors of London had not been present to hear the speech of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), it would have been such an excellent lesson for them in Christian charity. The noble Lord now proposed to introduce a Bill, with the view of bringing the question once more under the consideration of the House of Lords during the present Session. He (Mr. Cox) did not think such a proceeding politic or judicious. He had prepared a Resolution, which he had intended to move by way of Amendment to the noble Lord's Motion, in the following words:—"That this House has, and always has had, the right and power of admitting Members to sit and vote on taking such oath or oaths, or on making such affirmation or affirmations, as the House deems fit. Resolved, that in administering the oath of abjuration to any member who objects to the words 'on the true faith of a Christian,' as not being binding on his conscience, the clerk be directed to omit those words." He should have been very glad to raise a discussion on this Resolution, nor should he have been daunted by its being denounced from the opposite side as a revolutionary proposition: but some of his hon. Friends who agreed with him on the general question, did not concur in the propriety of his submitting this Amendment, and he was therefore reluctantly induced to abandon the intention. It was said that such a proposition was revolutionary. But was the House master of its own proceedings or not? Had the House the right to alter the oath? [Cries of "No, no!"] Why, they had altered the oath. They had altered it on their own responsibility to facilitate the admission of Quakers. [An hon. MEMBER: No! under the authority of a statute.] He contended that if they were competent to alter it in the case of the Quakers, by omitting the words "so help me, God," they were equally competent to direct the omission of the words "on the true faith of a Christian" in the case of Jews. He regretted that the noble Lord proposed to bring the House into collision with the House of Lords—not that he cared for such collision, for the two Houses had been in collision heretofore. They were in collision for two or three Sessions on the Reform Bill, and he was not aware that either the country or the House of Commons suffered from it in the end. He was sorry to say that the House of Lords was too far behind the age. It was the House of Commons who had to go back at intervals to their constituents that represented the voice of the people, not the House of Lords, and let collision come when it might the House of Lords must in the end give way.


said, that, though he had on previous occasions supported measures for the admission of Jews to Parliament, and was prepared to do so again at a fitting opportunity, he could not give his assent to the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for London. Amongst the social questions which had long agitated the House, the Jewish Question held a high place, and though there was much to be said in its favour on the ground of principle, yet it was one of those which rested chiefly on the ground of policy. However, he considered it a flaw in the constitution to allow a person to be elected by the constituent body, and then for the elected body to shut their doors against him when he came to take his seat. As a matter of policy, it was high time that the contest between the Legislature and the electors of London should cease, and, though he looked with considerable anxiety to the termination of the still more important contest between the two branches of the Legislature, yet he could not make up his mind to support the noble Lord in his present course. With great deference to the noble Lord, he thought he had taken a very inopportune moment for raising this question. It had already been very fully argued and decided this Session, and the noble Lord, though he had said that he wished to avoid a collision with the other House, had entirely failed to show what there was in the Bill that would make it more palatable to the House of Lords than other Bills which had been sent up to them. And he (Mr. Liddell) would ask whether it was not clear that any measure having the same result would have a similar reception in the same quarter? He thought that the abnegation of the right of concurrent legislation to the other House was not too strongly designated by the word "revolutionary." It might be very interesting for the noble Lord on the one hand, and the hon. and learned Member for Stamford on the other, to marshal their forces on this battle field, but he thought the noble Lord might have employed his time and his talent to better advantage than in re-raising this question. Were we not on the eve of receiving news which might be of so grave a character as to exclude every other subject from the public mind? The House, too, was in the middle of the discussion of social questions of the greatest importance, and ought they at the end of a Session, without the slightest prospect of arriving at any satisfactory result, to entertain a question which in the same Session had been settled? There was another mode of settling it, which certainly appeared to him likely to be more satisfactory, more successful, and more simple, viz., by Resolution. Only last year the House of Lords refused to receive peers for life, and asserted the principle with a very high hand. He wanted to know why the House of Commons should not lay down a rule by which they could admit among their Members whom they chose? There was only one reason for not adopting that course, and with that they had no concern whatever,—the question of penalties. But if they wished to protect the respectable gentleman, whom he was proud to call his friend, from those penalties, he wanted to know why they could not declare that any one commencing an action against him for taking his seat should be deemed guilty of a breach of privilege? There was a precedent for such a declaration, which, if not precisely similar, was somewhat analogous. When a witness was called upon to give evidence before a Committee of the House, which would render him liable to an action for defamation of character, he applied for an Act of Indemnity, and the Act of Indemnity protected him against the action. He wanted to know what there was to prevent the same course being taken to protect this gentleman from the consequences of taking his seat? Upon constitutional grounds he confessed he might be altogether wrong, but upon a common sense view of the case he could not see why that course should not be pursued. If the noble Lord had a precedent for reviving the question in the same Session, he hoped the House would not imitate it, and if the noble Lord had no precedent, he hoped the House would not constitute one on this occasion. Anything more mischievous could hardly be imagined, and he trusted the House would not assent to the proposition of the noble Lord, although he could not stultify the vote which he gave in favour of the admission of the Jews by voting against it.


said, he would beg permission of the House to make some remarks as one of the constituents of the Baron Rothschild, although he should have abstained from doing so if personal allusions had not been made to him. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire, (Mr. Newdegate) had quoted statements which he made during the election of Baron Rothschild, and those statements he was prepared to justify. It was due to Baron Rothschild to say, in reference to his pledge to the citizens of London that he would retire if the measure failed, that when its failure occurred in the other House, he happened to be sitting next to Baron Rothschild, and the first expressions to which he gave utterance were that he would go and resign his seat and redeem his pledge. He said to Baron Rothschild in reply, "I trust I may be permitted to tell you, ns one who promoted your election, that you ought to do no such thing. It is not your question, but our question. I hope you will retain your seat until we have had an opportunity of considering what course will be most beneficial, not for you, but for the great cause which you were elected to maintain." He therefore thought that Baron Rothschild stood acquitted of any want of sincerity in the pledge which he gave, or of any want of alacrity in fulfilling it after the Bill was rejected. It was because he entertained the opinion which had been ascribed to him that he thought it absolutely necessary that legislation should take place, and was ready to support any measure that might be introduced for the purpose of enabling Baron Rothschild to take his seat. He did not think that the House would be justified in proceeding by Resolution. He admitted that the House was the only tribunal which had the power to decide upon the conditions under which any hon. Member should be permitted to sit and vote, and thought that the privileges of the House had been expressed in clear and explicit language in the Aylesbury Resolutions; but he could not overlook the fact that those Resolutions contained a proviso to the effect that where any question affecting the privileges of the House had been settled by an Act of Parliament the House should consider itself bound to abide by that decision. In other words, while the House claimed for itself the right to determine every question relating to its privileges, it expressly excepted those cases in which it had abdicated that right by becoming a party to an Act of Parliament. Supposing that they were to proceed by Resolution, what was the Resolution to which as honourable men they would be bound to come in the event of Baron Rothschild presenting himself at their table? In that case it would be the duty of the House to regard itself as a judicial tribunal, bound by the same principles of reason, justice, and right as prevailed in the ordinary courts of law, and bound, therefore, to adopt the exposition of the Judges as an integral part of the statute. Now, it was no longer a matter for discussion, but a point of settled law, that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" formed part of the substance of the oath of abjuration, and therefore the only Resolution to which the House could come, supposing it to proceed by that method, would be that Baron Rothschild, not having complied with the law, was not entitled to sit and vote in that assembly. He claimed for the House the right to come to a Resolution, but denied that that Resolution could be favourable to Baron Rothschild. The Act of Parliament was so clear (that, as Lord Campbell remarked, it did not admit of a doubt, and it required that Members of the Legislature should take the oath, not with any diminution or subtraction, but in its integrity. The oath had been purposely constructed to catch the consciences of men at a time when the rights of conscience were not respected; no such oath would be agreed to now-a-days. The words "on the true faith of a Christian" were part of a sentence, the whole of which must be struck out if those words were omitted. He therefore maintained that it was not competent to the House to omit the words at the end to suit the convenience of any man, be he Jew or Gentile, because, if it were, he saw no reason why any other portion of the oath might not be struck out at the request of any other person who pleaded conscience. Parliament in passing the oath had deliberately declared that it must be taken by all men as it stood; and it was idle now, after an interval of nearly 100 years, to claim the privilege of altering the oath, which the Parliament at that day and since had by subsequently passing Acts shown it was not expedient to do. For these reasons he was convinced that Baron Rothschild must remain outside the House until he was legally admitted by statute. Besides, nothing could be more inconvenient to Baron Rothschild himself than for the House to proceed by way of Resolution, inasmuch as, although the decision of the House would be quite final as regarded his sitting and voting, he would still be liable to be sued in the ordinary courts of justice for taking his seat without complying with the statute. Let them not confound the privileges of Parliament with the exceptions to those privileges. The Aylesbury Resolutions declared it a breach of the privilege of the House to sue any person who acted upon its authority; but, as he had already stated, they excepted those cases in which Parliament had by statue otherwise provided; and in the very Act which declared that Baron Rothschild could not sit or vote without taking the oath, it was provided that if he did so he should be liable to be sued for penalties in the courts of law. By consenting to that Act the House had waived any power it might possess to allow one of its Members to sit without taking the oath, and had, in fact, remitted the question to the ordinary tribunals of the country. In what position would Baron Rothschild be placed if he were to be told by a Resolution of that House that he could take his seat and vote, while, at the same time, upon every occasion that he exercised that right he would be liable to be sued for a penalty of £500? He (Mr. Ayrton) objected to the adoption of any such Resolution, both as illegal in itself and as not tending to the advantage of the cause he advocated—namely, the admission of the Jews to Parliament. If such a Resolution could be passed now it might equally have been adopted years ago. No proceedings of the other House could justify such an illegal course. The intention to proceed by Resolution could not have been announced but as a threat, and at best it was but a futile threat; consequently he deprecated the use of such language as had been heard with reference to the privileges of the House of Lords. The proper and legal course was to proceed by Bill, and though it was said that this was a second Bill upon the same subject in one Session, yet he conceived there was a considerable difference. The House of Lords having rejected a Bill which affected the oaths to be taken by themselves as well as by Members of the House of Commons, it was now proposed to send up a Bill having a more limited operation, being confined solely to the House of Commons. He was not aware of the particular nature of the Bill which the noble Lord sought to introduce, but if he might venture to make a suggestion, it would be that the noble Lord should couch the oath he proposed in the words of the Act of George I., which prescribed the manner in which Hebrews should take oaths. But in considering the question before the House, he (Mr. Ayrton) was bound to ask himself whether it was of any use to introduce such a measure during this Session. The answer he would give to that query would depend upon what he might hear from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, for if the Bill was to be left to take its chance with the other orders of the day, like the Bills of private Members, it would be futile to permit its introduction. He had taken part in the proceedings of Saturday morning, not from any pleasure he derived from them, but to show that he was in earnest on the question. It was for the Liberal majority of the House to show that they were in earnest also, or the Bill would have little chance in the other House. On the occasion he had just referred to, Her Majesty's Ministers disappeared from the scene long before the close of the discussion. If, however, both the noble Viscount at the head of the Government and the noble Lord the Member for London were in earnest upon this question it would be necessary that the Bill should be proceeded with day by day until it was passed. When the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield spoke of reform, the noble Lord at the head of the Government turned round and told the House that if they dared to discuss that subject they should look out for another minister. This proved that it was in the power of the noble Viscount to exercise a great influence on that House, and he believed also on the other House. If the Bill which had recently been rejected by the House of Lords had been sent up as a measure which the Government were determined to carry, he had no doubt but many noble Lords would have regarded it in a different light. Instead of that it appeared that the Cabinet were not united in support of the measure, and one Minister of the Crown at least sanctioned the course which had been pursued by the majority of the House of Lords. The rejection of the last Bill he ascribed entirely to the manner in which it had been presented to the other House by the Government, and if the Bill now proposed was to be treated in a similar manner it would meet with the same fate. He therefore hoped the noble Viscount would inform them whether he intended to send up the Bill now proposed to the other House as the indignant remonstrance of the Commons, and as an expression of the determination of the Government to pass a law for the emancipation of the Jews.


said, that he felt the House was placed in circumstances of much difficulty. If the proposition of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) were carried, it would produce a conflict with the Courts of Law, while if the Bill of the noble Lord were passed, it would produce a conflict between that and the other House of Parliament. He thought it against the Standing Orders of the House that a Bill, if not exactly the same in words, certainly the same in spirit, as another just rejected by the House of Lords, should be sent up to their Lordships in the same Session as that rejection had taken place. He did not think this the time for discussing the question of the admission of the Jews. The question now was, whether a Bill having the same object as the one rejected, should be introduced the same Session. There were many questions which it would be very inconvenient to re-introduce in this way; and, on this ground, he opposed the proposition of the noble Lord.


I will support the Motion of my noble Friend for leave to bring in this Bill. At the same time, as the description which my noble Friend has given of the Bill is not very complete, I shall reserve for future consideration the question whether, when the time comes, I can give it my support in its future stages. I need not state to the House that I was as anxious, and that my colleagues were as anxious as my noble Friend could be to settle satisfactorily this matter of the admission of the Jews to Parliament. The only question that could arise was as to the best and most likely method of arriving at that object, and as to what was the best time of the Session for doing so. I think it is well to speak frankly on the subject, and therefore, though I concur entirely in the object of the Bill which my noble Friend desires to bring in, I must reserve, till we see more clearly what its provisions are, expressing any more decided opinion, assuming at the same time that the Bill shall be such as I and my colleagues may feel it consistent with our views of the case to support at the other stages. Yet, in the present state of the Session, with many important Bills pending, and considering the short period which we have to give attention to these Bills, I could not undertake to postpone Government business for the purpose stated by the hon. Member below the gangway (Mr. Ayrton), that of pressing this measure forward. With that explanation of my intentions, I beg to say that I cordially concur with my noble Friend in his Motion for bringing in this Bill.


The question before the House is of such great importance, that I hope the House will allow me to say a very few words regarding it; and I am the more anxious to put forward this claim on your indulgence as I have been prevented by private circumstances from taking a part in the two debates that a Bill for a similar object to the present has this year undergone. If I had been in the House of Commons I should have felt it my duty to vote in favour of that Bill, and I should have felt it a duty equally clear to vote along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Deasy), which would have had the effect of giving a character of equality and of generosity to the enactments of that Bill which, I think, in the form it passed the House, it did not altogether possess. But that Bill is numbered with the dead, and we have the proposal of a new Bill by my noble Friend the Member for the City of London. As I understand the discussion that has taken place the objections have been taken to that proposal on three separate grounds. It was said by the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) that this is a Bill which ought to have been introduced in a Committee of the whole House, because it touches matters of religion; and it has been said by the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell), that it is useless to proceed by Bill, and that we should proceed by Resolution. On the other hand, a broader objection has been taken by those who contend that my noble Friend is unfairly reviving a proposal of great constitutional importance which has been once, after full deliberation, submitted to the House of Lords, and after full deliberation rejected by them, and with which, therefore, we are not to knock again at their doors in the course of the same Session. Now, in the first instance, I view with the greatest apprehension, mistrust, and dislike any proceedings in regard to this question which are likely to have the effect of bringing about a constitutional crisis. I have voted for many years in favour of the admission of the Jews, and I have voted in favour of a modification of the Roman Catholic oath. I do not repent of those votes. I am prepared on fair and fitting occasions to repeat them; but, on the other hand, I am persuaded we shall do wisely to limit ourselves in the main to the assertion, by constitutional means, of our own opinions, and to rest for the progress of these opinions on the good sense of the House of Lords. We have reason to repose confidence in that assembly with regard to its disposition to defer to the well ascertained and often-repeated wishes of the representatives of the people. It is not because a particular question has arisen, on which there have been repeated expressions of a difference of opinion on the part of the House of Lords that we are at once to renounce procedure by Bill and have recourse to extreme measures. When I for one speak of the independence of the House of Lords, I speak of that which is no mere name or phantom, but of that which I am anxious to see maintained in practice as well as in the code as a sacred part of our constitution, and to which I attach a value second only to the value which I attach to the privileges of this House. But, rather than discuss that question in the abstract, I will quote a few words from a debate in a former Session, in which opinions were expressed by two hon. Members of this House which illustrate the sentiments that ought not and that ought to be entertained with regard to the independence of the House of Lords. An hon. Member of this House, in a discussion of which I need not particularize the cause, but which took place on the 8th of August, 1854, said:— Why should not the House of Lords coincide in a decision to which the House of Commons had come after prolonged deliberation? He said that that was an exercise of the privileges of the House of Lords which the Commons ought not to tolerate. That declaration, I am sorry to say, was made by an hon. Friend of mine whose constitutional opinions in general no man can doubt—the hon. Member for White-haven (Mr. Hildyard). And now, as I have laid before the House the bane, let me produce the antidote, for a most constitutional reply to this doctrine was delivered by another hon. Member, and that reply was as follows:— The doctrines laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman would lead to a complete revolution in the constitution of this country. For his part, he had always defended the constitution as composed of King, Lords, and Commons; and no man could be more anxious than he had always been that each of these bodies should perform its special duties in our legislative system. He had frequently complained that the Lords had overstepped their rights by sending Members to the House of Commons, but he had never insulted them by complaining that they had exercised their undoubted privilege of dealing as they might think proper with any Bill that might be submitted to their consideration. If they were not to be allowed to exercise that privilege, why, he would ask, should measures be brought at all before them? This reply proceeded from the mouth of no champion of exclusive privileges, no foe to popular rights, but the words were the words of the late Mr. Hume, then Member for Montrose; and, although that gentleman has parted from among us, and although his plain-spoken, homespun opinions are not at the present moment in as high fashion as they formerly have been, I am glad to take this opportunity of testifying my respect for his integrity and his patriotism. I therefore, for one, am not prepared to give any vote, as at present advised, unless under circumstances of the gravest character, which shall tend to bring about, or shall be fairly chargeable with tending to bring about, ft constitutional crisis. When I look back at the course of legislation in this country—when I recollect the Corporation and Test Acts, the Bill for the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament, the Reform Act, the Municipal Corporation Reform Bill, the Bills for the repeal of the Corn Laws and the Navigation Laws, and the Succession Duties Bill—when I remember how one and all of these Acts have been acceded to, sometimes with a conscientious reluctance, but always with an honourable and graceful concession on the part of the Lords to the well-ascertained wishes of the people—I am not prepared lightly to forego that confidence which I repose in the House of Lords, and I am prepared to say, that if that House conscientiously withholds its assent from a particular measure which it deems to be at variance with the principles of the constitution, it is entitled to give that judgment, and nothing but a consideration of the highest and most urgent public interest should induce us to interfere with its free and independent action. But now, Sir, having stated thus much by way of general principle, let me briefly refer to the objections taken to the Motion of my noble Friend. It is said, in the first place, that this is a matter of religion, which ought to be dealt with in Committee of the whole House. Well, I apprehend that if that objection be taken, it would be best to raise it by an express Motion, or else, Sir, submit the question to your authority as the Speaker of this House. If your opinion is, as I am assured, that the Bill stands well in its present position, and that we are guilty of no irregularity in discussing if, I, for my part, can no longer attach any practical weight to the objection; and, should any one dissent from the judgment which has been given by you, I apprehend he has no means of legitimately challenging your authority, except by submitting a Motion on the subject to the House. But, then, my hon. Friend the Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell)—to whom the House always listens with respect, on account both of the ability and the candour with which he states his opinions—says that he does not think it expedient to entertain a proposal like that of my noble Friend; he thinks it will be better for us to cast aside any further idea of legislation, to resort at once to the exercise of what he believes to be the power of this House, and to admit Baron Rothschild by our own Resolution. Well, now, I must confess it appears to me that there are very grave objections to the course so pointed out by my hon. Friend. I do not presume to give an opinion upon the construction to be put upon the law, but I confess I think that we ought not, in any case where the construction of the law is subject even to a reasonable doubt, to expose ourselves to the consequences of hazarding a particular interpretation. My hon. Friend says the only difficulty he can see is, that Baron Rothschild himself would be subjected to penalties, and this, he thinks, would be a matter for the recipient himself to consider and dispose of. Sir, I cannot agree with my hon. Friend in that opinion. It appears to me that if by Resolution we admit an hon. Gentleman to a seat in this House, we must defend that gentleman, at all costs and at all hazards, against the consequences to which he may expose himself through a reliance—it might prove to be an ill-judged reliance—upon the assurance which had been conveyed to him of our power. But my hon. Friend, feeling perhaps that nothing could be more indecorous than the spectacle of an eminent gentleman suffering in a court of justice for acts done by the authority of the House of Commons, said we might, after all, introduce a Bill of indemnity, for the purpose of shielding Baron Rothschild from these penalties. If, however, we introduce such a Bill, we are exactly in the same difficulty (whatever the amount of that difficulty may be) as we have now to encounter in the proposal of my noble Friend. It appears to me too probable that, if by Resolution we were to admit Baron Rothschild to-night, we might find that considerations of prudence would require us to introduce tomorrow a Bill of indemnity to defend him from penalties. Therefore, Sir, both because I am not satisfied as to the constitutional power of this House to proceed by Resolution—a matter which ought, I think, to be reserved for future consideration—and because I believe our power of resorting to such a course has been materially damaged by the measures of an opposite description which we have adopted on former occasions, I am unwilling to take a step which would probably end by involving us in that very legislative contest which is so much deprecated. I come now to the proposal of my noble Friend, and I have to ask whether that proposal is open to the objections which have been urged against its principle. Is it a repetition—insulting, as it might be called, if we adopted the language of Mr. Hume—is it a repetition, in substance, of the proposal made to the House of Lords once already, and by them once already rejected. Here, undoubtedly, it becomes most material that we should understand what the proposal is. The vote to be given by Her Majesty's Government, and the support they accord to my noble Friend, is apparently a conditional support, not accompanied, even when viewed on its most favourable side, by any very encouraging promises of future facilities, but which, on the other hand, when viewed on its unfavourable side, may be converted, when the provisions of my noble Friend's Bill are distinctly known, into positive opposition. I will, therefore, venture to state my construction of my noble Friend's proposal, and then I shall connect with it the vote which I personally intend to give. Although I admit that it is not a case wholly devoid of gravity when a succession of Bills which have passed this House are rejected by the other House of Parliament, I confess I do not think the case before us is one of such gravity as would justify us in departing from the usage of Parliament, and in setting at nought the various considerations of prudence and constitutional propriety which sustain that usage, in order to send up to the House of Lords a substantial repetition of the proposal already made once during the present Session. If, however, I understand aright the proposal of my noble Friend, that is not to be the character of the plan which he submits. I do not now refer simply to the fact that the Bill passed a short time ago dealt with other matters besides the admission to Parliament of certain persons now excluded. The alteration of the oath of abjuration and the omission of the words "upon the true faith of a Christian" for all hon. Members of this House were undoubtedly material parts of that Bill, but they were not essential parts of it, and it was not on account of those provisions that the measure was rejected in the House of Lords. Without minute argumentation I think we may safely assume, that the reason for its rejection was that it proposed to remove exclusion from Parliament upon religious grounds altogether from our Statute-book. I should have been sorry to see a similar proposal repeated at the present moment. But my noble Friend has, if I understand him aright, thought that upon the one hand something might be due to the decision of the majority of the House of Lords, and that upon the other hand something was due, not only to the feelings of the constituency which he represents, but to the opinions expressed by so large a majority of the House of Commons. If I understand the plan of my noble Friend, he does not propose by the measure we are now discussing, to confer upon those who are at present excluded from Parliament upon religious grounds, a right to challenge admission into each House of Parliament by a modification of the oaths; but he proposes that it shall lie in the discretion of the body which is called upon to administer the oath to administer it, if they shall think fit, in such a form as shall be binding on the conscience of the person taking it. The distinction between these two modes of proceeding is most important. The first is a complete legislative solution of the question, systematic in theory and thoroughly logical; the second is, undoubtedly, only a partial solution. The practical effect of the second, I apprehend, will be, that if my noble Friend succeeds in carrying his Bill, Baron Rothschild will present himself at the table, and this House, as the authority which is empowered to administer the oath, will administer it to him, or to any other person not able to pronounce the words "on the true faith of a Christian," in the form in which it would be binding on his conscience. On the other hand, if this House were otherwise minded, it would be in its power not to administer the oath in that form; and if the House of Lords be otherwise minded, and if any Peer now sitting there should unhappilly (I may say so without offence) embrace the Jewish persuasion, and should present himself to take the oath in a form adapted to the Jewish conscience, the House of Lords would be free to refuse that permission; and adverting to the present state of sentiment in that assembly, it is no audacious supposition to believe that such permission would be refused. This is, no doubt, a compromise, but is it a very unfair compromise? Has it not this recommendation? In the first place, it is not a repetition of the proposition that has been made to the House of Lords, and by the House of Lords rejected. If it be in substance a material and essential variation from that proposition—a material and essential contraction of that proposition—why then, I say, there is not that constitutional objection to our making a new proposition to the House of Lords during the present Session which perhaps might be fairly urged if the same proposition were about to be renewed. And then although it may not immediately attain the whole of what my noble Friend considers to be due by justice to certain classes of Her Majesty's subjects now excluded from Parliament, yet surely it is no small merit in such a plan that it, at least, meets a most pressing and particular case. It solves the whole difficulty. It removes the whole of that scandal which arises when we see the machinery of our Government disturbed and dislocated by the repeated return to this House from the principal constituency of the empire of a gentleman who, by the state of the law, is now precluded from taking the oath at that table. All collision between the constituencies and the House of Commons, and between the constituencies and the law would at once be put an end to. The Jews, and with the Jews those who are in a similar condition to the Jews, would at once attain, if not the whole, yet by far the greatest part of the object they have in view—namely, the power of sitting by authority of law in the House of Commons as representatives of the people. Now, Sir, in venturing to state the construction that I put on the proposition of my noble Friend, of course, I have no title to pretend to do any such thing with authority. But I have stated it as I understand it, because my opinion, if such be the proposition he intends to make, is that, as it is a proposition which meets the difficulties of the case, we may, not unfairly, entertain it. It is a proposition which, without making undue demands upon the patience of the House of Lords, and without the slightest detriment to the independence of the House of Lords, will, although not logically complete, practically gain by far the greatest portion of that which we have in view. And I must say, therefore, that I cannot but think that my noble Friend the Member for the City of London, whatever may be said of the character of the plan—and his plan is not usual, because the circumstances that give rise to it are not usual—in proposing a measure of this kind to meet the difficulties of the case—the rights of the two Houses of Parliament, the rights of the constituency of the City of London, and the desirableness of avoiding any shock or collision between the constituted authorities of the country—is entitled upon the whole to a favourable reception of that measure. It is not open to the constitutional objections that might have been urged against a larger measure, and acting in conformity with the opinions which I have expressed, I shall certainly give my vote for its introduction.


said, it was very much to be regretted that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London did not himself expound his own measure, and it was a matter of congratulation to the House that one hon. Gentleman had appeared who professed clearly to understand it. But if the exposition which had been given of the Bill were correct, and if he rightly understood the description given of it by the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, with the most sincere admiration of his abilities, and the utmost respect for his opinion, he must say that of all the measures ever yet submitted to Parliament this was one of the most unprecedented and unconstitutional. The noble Lord at the head of the Government said he did not clearly understand this measure as explained by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and he (Mr. Whiteside) must confess he was in the same predicament. He did not accurately understand the measure proposed by the noble Lord, but he did accurately understand what had been just said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. And what was the mode by which the right hon. Gentleman said all the difficulties would be solved, all questions removed, the scruples of the House of Lords obviated, and by which harmony and peace would take the place of dispute and discord? Why, this Bill, which the right hon. Gentleman undertook to expound, was to operate in this extraordinary manner:—If it were carried—which it never would be—the House was to be the authority which was to have the power to say in what mode the oath was to be administered. The House being that authority might direct its officers at the table to administer that oath in such a way as, at the particular time at which the House gave that direction, the House might think that the oath ought to be administered. If, therefore, a Quaker desired to take a seat in that House after his election, they might direct the oath to be administered in such a form as to admit him, and if a Jew appeared they might direct the oath to be administered in such a form as to admit him; and if the House should change its mind between that and the next Session of Parliament, it would have full power to direct the clerk to administer the oath in such manner as might reject him. That, as he understood it, then, was not a scheme to clear away all the difficulties. A man was to be a Member of Parliament, or was not to be a Member of Parliament, not according to the fixed law of the land, or according to the principles of the constitution as they were settled by statute or by usage, but according to the particular order or direction that, under this extraordinary Bill, when it was carried, the House might at any particular time give to its officers to administer the oath. Why, he was surprised—not, he confessed, at the ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman, that was, supposing he had discovered the mystery of the noble Lord's Bill, and that his exposition of it was correct—but he was surprised at his assertion that he had made it more plain than before. He (Mr. Whiteside) thought the Bill was more mysterious now than it ever was. He wished to know whether the noble Lord the Member for the City of London meant to lay down this as a constitutional doctrine, that this gentleman who was elected a Member of Parliament for London, might sit in the House at one time and be prevented from sitting in the House at another time, according to the variable determination of the House as to the mode in which a particular oath was to be administered? He submitted to the good sense of the House that, if that were the exposition of the noble Lord's Bill, it would be very difficult for the House, notwithstanding its respect for the noble Lord and its anxiety to give him an opportunity of expounding his own measure himself more fully on another occasion, to vote for such a Bill. He understood the noble Lord's measure to have relation to a little Act of Parliament which was passed to remove doubts as to the validity of certain oaths. He thought that the noble Lord really intended to extend the operation of that Act of Parliament. Well, he (Mr. Whiteside) happened to have been present when the circumstance took place which gave rise to it. A celebrated gentleman, Dr. Cooke, of Belfast, the eminent Presbyterian divine, refused to take the oath as proposed to be administered to him. The Chief Baron did not think that he had any power to allay the scruples of that eminent divine, and accordingly reserved the question. It became a matter of legal consideration in the courts above. Afterwards the Government passed that Act of Parliament, which consisted of a very few lines, and the object of which was merely to declare that, where the oath might have been taken in such manner as was binding upon the conscience of the individual, he should be liable to all the consequences of perjury in the same manner as if he had taken it in the form previously prescribed by law. But that did not in the least touch the question before the House as to the admission or the rejection of Jews. That Act was passed in the year 1838. If the learned Judges who decided the question had been of opinion that the oath of abjuration might be construed in the manner supposed by the noble Lord, he might be perfectly sure that those eminent persons would have given to it that legal effect and operation. If he understood the effect of this Bill, as expounded by the right hon. Gentleman, it would be to declare that to be law which existing Acts of Parliament declared not to be the law; because it would declare that by the law and constitution of this country, a Jew might be admitted to a seat in Parliament, whereas the law, as decided by courts of justice, was that a Jew could not be admitted to a seat in Parliament. However, the noble Lord might be able to explain what he really meant. And now, as to the other question which had been agitated—namely, whether Jews should be admitted by a mere Resolution of that House to take the oath, omitting the words "on the true faith of a Christian." When the noble Lord spoke in favour of legislation several of his supporters spoke in favour of a Resolution, and particularly the hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Cox), who referred to the case of the Quakers. But that hon. Gentleman must have forgotten for the moment that the case of members of that philanthropic section had been provided for by statute. If he would have the goodness to look into the Act of Parliament passed in the 8th of George I., he would find that it was distinctly provided that Quakers might take the oath of abjuration in a certain form therein prescribed. The hon. Gentleman was therefore utterly wrong in his notion about the law on that point. With great deference to the hon. Gentleman, he must say that he was as much mistaken when he said, that by the constitution of the country a Quaker might have had the oath administered in such form as he thought was not objectionable. A statute was required to authorize the administration of the oath in that form. No mere Resolution of the House of Commons could have dispensed, in the case of the Quakers, with the form prescribed as to the taking of the oath of abjuration, and equally powerless would be a Resolution of that House to make a law with regard to the Jews. And yet it appeared by the report of a certain meeting recently held that some persons in high authority in that House spoke very boldly of admitting Baron Rothschild by a Resolution. The noble Lord was certainly a most excellent authority on it, because he gave a sound opinion when an attempt was made to admit Mr. Salomons, he believed, by a Resolution. That attempt was made by the hon. and learned Member for Wolverhampton. The noble Lord, on that occasion, distinctly said, that he could not agree in what had been said by the hon. Members for Hull and Wolverhampton, who urged that the House of Commons might by a mere Resolution declare that Jews ought to be permitted to take the oath of abjuration, omitting the words "upon the true faith of a Christian." He (Mr. Whiteside), therefore, confessed that he was surprised that some of the noble Lord's supporters should have maintained out of that House—though not one of them, he believed, could maintain satisfactorily in that Housemdash;that a mere Resolution would solve the question. Now, what was the effect of a Resolution? It was a long time since his attention was drawn to the little book which he held in his hand. It was an edition of Fortescue's De Laudibus Legum Angliœ, published by Mr. Amos, a very learned person, who succeeded Mr. Macaulay in India as legal adviser to the Indian Government, and that was a strong recommendation of the work. The effect of a Resolution was discussed by that learned gentleman, who, like a good Whig, put forward many instances in which the House of Commons had by Resolution exhibited a despotic, tyrannical, capricious, and absurd course of conduct. The noble Lord himself (Lord J. Russell), in his Essay on the Constitution, made some very just observations on the same subject; but at the close of the note in the excellent work to which he had referred, he found this passage:— Our judicial history exhibits some memorable instances wherein the attempt by the House of Lords to arrogate to itself a power with which the constitution does not invest them, has met with a resolute and successful resistance. Then followed the words of Lord Mansfield, who stated that declarations of the law made by either House of Parliament were always attended with bad effects, and that he never thought himself bound in his judicial capacity to honour them with the slightest regard. Such was the opinion of the highest authority who ever adorned the judicial bench as to the effect of such a proceeding; and yet the House was asked to pass an unconstitutional Resolution which would place it in direct conflict with the Courts of Law. How, then, did this matter stand? They had had a debate on a most interesting subject, whether viewed in its legal or in its constitutional aspect; and what was to be the practical result? The noble Lord at the head of the Government said, not unfairly, that he could not quite understand this Bill. Was the noble Lord bound, then, to assent to the introduction of every Bill which he could not understand? Not clearly understanding the Bill himself, he meant for that reason to vote against it. Even if the noble Lord the Member for London were allowed to bring in the measure, he could not be congratulated on the prospect that his praiseworthy efforts to improve the Statute law, and to admit to the Legislature those whom he so much admired, would be crowned with success. No doubt the noble Lord at the head of the Government would religiously carry out the intention he had expressed—namely, that nothing should be made of this Bill during the present Session.


said, that as he had been alluded to as a gentleman who on one occasion had shown a determination to go to extremities as great as those now recommended to the adoption of the House by those who were in favour of proceeding by Resolution, he was desirous of saying a few words by way of explanation. The facts of the case were these:—In 1854, when the Corrupt Practices at Elections Bill was under discussion, it was deemed very desirable to settle the vexed question as to the legality of the payment of the expenses of voters going up to the poll, and a clause was accordingly introduced declaring such payments legal. This clause was repeatedly discussed in very full Houses. The noble Lord the Member for London was one of its most prominent supporters, maintaining that, unless it were agreed to, a very valuable portion of the constituency—the 40s. freeholders—would be disfranchised. The clause was affirmed by that House by large majorities on three different occasions; but the House of Lords struck it out. The Bill came down from the other House on the very day before the prorogation, and hon. Members were asked to assent to the Lords' Amendments. The question was one that materially concerned the House, because it affected the rights of those by whom they were returned, and it had been carried three times by large majorities. Under those circumstances he complained that they should be called upon by the noble Lord who had himself advocated the clause, to abandon their position and adopt the Lords' Amendments. Therefore, though Parliament was then on the eve of prorogation, he declared that he should go on dividing the House before he would assent to the proposal of the other House, and it was only on the express condition that the Bill should endure but for a year and a-half that it was suffered to pass. If the same case were to occur again he should repeat his declaration without any qualification of its terms. Turning to the immediate question before the House, a more extraordinary speech than that of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) he had never heard. The right hon. Gentleman began in his usual wheedling tone by assuring them that he was the last man who would wish to coerce the House of Lords; but before he had done he tried by the arts of cajolery to induce the House of Lords to admit the Jews to Parliament—the very thing to which it had already solemnly refused its assent. If this Bill went up to the other House, could there be any doubt that as the objections of the House of Lords were directed to matters of substance, and not of form, it would meet with the same reception as the former Jew Bill? It was deeply to be regretted that at a crisis when the interests of the empire were seriously menaced, and when the strife of parties should therefore be merged in a common endeavour to ward off the common danger, the occasion should be taken to involve the two Houses of Parliament in an unseemly collision.


said, it had been assumed in the course of that discussion, that any attempt to seat Baron Rothschild by Resolution was something so unprecedented and unheard-of as to amount to a revolutionary proceeding. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) who quoted the speech of the noble Lord the Member for London in 1851, to show that the noble Lord could not consistently be a party to the seating of Baron Rothschild by Resolution, should remember that the Resolution proposed in that year did not declare that Baron Rothschild was not eligible to sit, but simply declared that the House on that occasion declined to seat him because he then refused to take the oath. The House might have refused to admit him when he was first elected, when the firmness and constancy of the citizens of London had not been ascertained, and when the choice of a Jew as their representative might have been the result of a mere passing caprice. On the other hand, it might well have been supposed that the House of Lords, although it might reject the Bill once or twice, would not continue to resist its passing, year after year, in opposition to the repeatedly expressed will of the representatives of the people. Moreover, since that period a precedent had been set to which the House ought not to be wholly insensible. Hon. Gentlemen who said that one House of Parliament was not a Parliament should recollect the grounds upon which the House of Lords refused to admit Lord Wensleydale as a peer for life. The Earl of Derby's grounds for refusing to admit Lord Wensleydale were as follows:— I will not consent that we should deprive ourselves by our own act of that with which the House of Commons will not part—of that which is essential to every legislative body—namely, the power of being the judges of our own privileges, and the interpreters of the laws which regulate the rights of those who have the honour of a seat in your Lordships' House. Various other reasons were given, but none so remarkable, so strong, and so applicable as those of Lord Brougham, who said:— Nothing can be conceived, I was about to say, more monstrous, but rather let me say more truly ridiculous, than their coming to any resolution touching our determination of this question, which regards our own rights and privileges alone. As well might we think of interfering with their decisions upon the rights of election, or the title to seats in that House. The principle laid down was that the House of Lords were the sole judges of their own privileges. There had been a precedent set, and a change of circumstances had taken place since 1851, and, although they must all feel a great desire to avoid a conflict which seemed to be threatened, still, if it should come, it would not be by that side of the House that it had been sought. That House had done everything in its power to prevent and avoid a collision, and, much as he should regret it, the responsibility was not in their hands. This oath was not originally intended to apply to the Jew; that was admitted. It was to apply to the Roman Catholic, who had obtained relief. But there was this difference between the Roman Catholic and the Jew; the one had the strength of six millions, whereas the other was numerically and politically weak. So far, however, as the rule of right was concerned there could be no doubt upon the question; the exclusion was monstrous, and ought no longer to be maintained.


. The hon. and learned Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Hildyard) ought to admit that my constituents, the electors for the city of London, have shown extraordinary patience, because it appears from his argument that a clause in a Bill which had been affirmed by this House three times, being brought forward in the House of Lords, the first time in 1854, was rejected by them, and, although it had only been brought forward once in that House, the hon. and learned Gentleman considered himself entitled to speak of that as conduct which this House was not bound to tolerate. Now, my constituents have gone on for ten years submitting to the rejection of their claims by the House of Lords, and they have shown more temper and equanimity under adversity, than the hon. and learned Gentleman. With regard to what has been stated in the debate, I will not refer to what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Walpole), because I have already taken some notice of those arguments. But the hon. Gentleman the Member for the county of Devon (Mr. Palk) says—and I think he rather carried the argument to an extreme—"Why, here is no danger of refusing the claims of the Jews—no sedition, no tumult—nothing to induce us to pass this Bill." The hon. Gentleman reminds me of the old couplet of— The King to Oxford sent a troop of Horse, For Tories own no argument but force. "What matters it," argues the hon. Member, "that the Jews have reason on their side, when you have no disturbance, no sedition, no city of Manchester in a state of disaffection, and no reason for agreeing to any Bill in favour of the Jews?" Sir, I think it would be not only more liberal, but more conservative to consider these claims when there is no tumult, and when you may therefore be acted upon by reason and fair argument. Well, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) said he did not understand the contents of the Bill. I have already stated them, but I am ready to state again the general purport of the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that the Act to which I referred, the 1 & 2 Vict., applied in the first instance to the Courts of Law, and the words "any other occasion whatever" gave rise to a doubt whether they could refer to any authority superior to the Courts of Law—that is, whether they could be held to refer to the Houses of Parliament or the Privy Council. In the next place, it was said that the Act referred only to the person taking the oath, and declared that he was subject to the penalty of perjury for false swearing", while it did not refer to the person administering the oath so as to relieve him from the penalties for not administering in the form before necessary. Now I propose to extend the Act to both these cases, by stating, in the first place, that it shall apply to the High Court of Parliament and to oaths taken upon any other occasion whatever; and, in the next place, that it shall refer to the person administering the oath, and that whenever that oath shall be administered according to the forms and ceremonies binding on the conscience of the person taking that oath it shall be considered to be lawfully administered. The hon. and learned Gentleman will therefore see that the description given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University is a correct description, not so much of the exact provisions of the Bill as of its probable effect. And I will not disguise that if such a Bill should be accepted, this House could reresolve—which I think it could do now without such an Act, but could resolve then without any danger from a collision with the courts of law—that they could administer the oath to Baron Rothschild according to the ceremonies binding upon his conscience. The hon. and learned Gentleman entered upon another question, which I think has not much to do with this Bill, as to the right of the House to pass a Resolution, and he said that in, Mr. Pease's case the House had acted according to the statute law, which was clear and decisive upon the point. I demur to this assertion. The 8 Geo. I. says that whenever a Quaker shall be called upon to take the oath of abjuration, he shall be allowed to use the form of affirmation, and to take the oath without the words "on the true faith of a Christian." But the oath of abjuration of that period was different from that of the time of George III. The oath in the reign of George I. was an abjuration of the old Pretender, who was then living, while the oath of George III.'s time, was a different oath and abjured other persons. So far is it from being a correct argument that the oath taken by Mr. Pease was laid down by statute that I believe Mr. Pease took that affirmation according to a form drawn out at the table, and that it was not from any statute that he was enabled to make that affirmation. The House having had the report of a Committee, the then Speaker, Mr. Manners Sutton, gave it as his opinion that this House had an undoubted right upon its own authority to decide that Mr. Pease should take that affirmation, and that not according to the exact words of the statute, but according to the general analogy of law. Now, as regards what has been stated by my noble Friend at the head of the Government, I am ready to admit that it is for the noble Lord to decide according to the state of business before him, according to the measure that it may be necessary to present to Parliament, and according to the state of Government business that may remain, which he alone can be acquainted with—it is in his discretion to determine whether he may be able to afford time for any measure which any other hon. Member may bring in. I think I am fully justified in asking the question of him, but I do not mean to complain of his decision that, although agreeing in the object of the Bill, he cannot give me a day. The consequence of the refusal of the Government, however, may be that, although I may obtain leave to introduce my Bill, it may not be in my power to find Wednesdays enough to carry it this Session. At the same time I don't exactly know what the number of days may be which the Government may fix for the duration of the Session, and I somewhat doubt the exact number of days that this Session may last. I can certainly take no other course except to introduce the Bill, but I cannot hold out to those who may support me that I shall be able to carry the Bill. I cannot in candour say that, but I consider it perfectly natural that, after the rejection of another measure on this subject by the House of Lords, there should be considerable irritation both among my constituents and among those hon. Members of this House who thought that the Bill ought to be passed. I thought it most probable that the advice would be given to Baron Rothschild that he should come to the table and propose to take the oath. I could not but foresee that there would be great public inconvenience, besides loss of time in proceeding by a Resolution, and that it would be better if we could obtain an amicable adjustment of the question by the House of Lords. That was my view in introducing the Bill. The utmost that any person has said, though I know not on what grounds, is that the Bill would be rejected by the House of Lords; but certainly my strong impression is that, if the House of Lords were guided by anything approaching to the wisdom with which the Duke of Wellington, advised that House, this Jewish question would be easily settled. If the proposed Bill became law, there might be one or two Jewish Members in this House, but still the House would be quite as Christian as the country, in which the immense majority of the inhabitants is Christian, and the number of the Jews is but small; and the House of Lords by agreeing to the Bill would put an end to an unseemly and wearisome contest. He did not know what course would be taken hereafter in this question, or what course Baron Rothschild might be advised to follow, but so far as he was concerned himself in the matter, he should feel that he had done his duty in introducing this Bill.

Motion made, and Question put, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Act 1 & 2 Vic., c. 105, intituled, 'An Act for removing Doubts as to the Validity of certain Oaths.'"

The House divided:— Ayes 246; Noes 154: Majority 92.

List of the AYES.
Akroyd, E. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Alcock, T. Collier, R. P.
Anderson, Sir J. Coningham, W.
Ayrton, A. S. Conyngham, Lord F.
Bagwell, J. Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.
Bailey, C. Cowan, C.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Cox, W.
Ball, E. Craufurd, E. H. J.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Crawford, R. W.
Baring, T. G. Crook, J.
Barnard, T. Crossley, F.
Bass, M. T. Dalgleish, R.
Baxter, W. E. Davey, R.
Beale, S. Davie, Sir H. R. F.
Beecroft, G. S. Denison, hon. W. H. F.
Bethell, Sir R. Dering, Sir E.
Biggs, J. De Vere, S. E.
Black, A. Dillwyn, L. L.
Bonham-Carter, J. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bouverie, hon. P. P. Dodson, J. G.
Bowyer, G. Duke, Sir J.
Brady, J. Dunbar, Sir W.
Brand, hon. H. Duncan, Visct.
Brocklehurst, J. Dunlop, A. M.
Bruce, H. A. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Buchanan, W. Elphinstone, Sir J.
Buller, J. W. Elton, Sir A. H.
Buxton, C. Ennis, J.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Esmonde, J.
Byng, hon. G. Evans, T. W.
Caird, J. Ewart, W.
Calcutt, F. M. Ewart, J. C.
Campbell, R. J. R. Fagan, W.
Castlerosse, Visct. Ferguson, Col.
Cavendish, Lord Ferguson, Sir R.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Finlay, A. S.
Cheetham, J. FitzGerald. rt. hon. J. D.
Clay, J. FitzRoy, rt. hon. II.
Clifford, C. C. Foley, J. H.
Clifford, H. M. Foley, H. J. W.
Clinton, Lord R. Forster, C.
Clive, G. Foster, W. O.
Codrington, Gen. Fortescue, hon. F. D.
Fortescue, C. S. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
French, Col. Morris, D.
Gaskell, J. M. Napier, Sir C.
Gifford, Earl of Nicoll, D.
Gilpin, C. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. North, F.
Glyn, G. G. O'Brien, P.
Goderich, Visct. O'Connell, Capt. D.
Gordon, L. D. Ogilvy, Sir J.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Osborne, R.
Greene, J. Paget, C.
Greer, S. M'C. Paget, Lord C.
Grenfell, C. W. Palmerston, Visct.
Greville, Col. F. Paxton, Sir J.
Grey, R. W. Pease, H.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Griffith, C. D. Peel, Sir R.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Perry, Sir T. E.
Gurdon, B. Pigott, F.
Hackblock, W. Pilkington, J.
Hadfield, G. Powell, F. S.
Hall, rt. hon. Sir B. Price, W. P.
Hanbury, R. Pryse, E. L.
Hankey, T. Puller, C. W.
Hanmer, Sir J. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Harris, J. D. Ramsay, Sir A.
Hatchell, J. Rebow, J. G.
Headlam, T. E. Ricardo, J. L.
Herbert, rt. hon. H. A. Ricardo, O.
Hodgson, K. D. Ridley, G.
Holland, E. Roebuck. J. A.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Roupell, W.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Russell, Lord J.
Hughes, W. B. Russell, H.
Hutt, W. Russell, Sir W.
Ingham, R. Salisbury, E. G.
Jermyn, Earl Schneider, H. W.
Jervoise, Sir J. C. Scholefield, W.
Keating, Sir H. S. Seymour, H. D.
Ker, R. Sheridan, H. B.
Kershaw, J. Smith, J. A.
King, E. B. Smith, J. B.
Kinglake, A. W. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Kinglake, J. A. Smith, A.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Smith, Sir F.
Kirk, W. Somers, J. P.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, E Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Stanley, Lord
Langston, J. H. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Langton, H. G. Stapleton, J.
Levinge, Sir R. Stuart, Lord J.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C. Stuart, Col.
Lindsay, W. S. Sykes, Col. W. H.
Locke, Jno. Tancred, H. W.
Macarthy, A. Thompson, Gen.
M'Cann, J Thornely, T.
Mackinnon, W. A. Tite, W.
Mackinnon, W. A. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
M'Cullagh, W. T. Townsend, J.
Maguire, J. F. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Mangles, R. D. Turner, J. A.
Mangles, C. E. Verney, Sir H.
Marjoribanks, D. C. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Marshall, W. Vivian, H. H.
Martin, C. W. Vivian, hon. J. C. W.
Martin, P. W. Waldron, L.
Martin, J. Walter, J.
Matheson, A. Warburton, G. D.
Matheson, Sir J. Watkins, Col. L.
Melgund, Visct. Weguelin, T. M.
Mills, T. Western, S.
Moffatt, G. Westhead, J. P. B.
Moncrieff, rt. hon. J. White, J.
White, H. Wise, J. A.
Wickham, H. W. Wood, W.
Willcox, B. M'G. Wrightson, W. B.
Williams, M. Wyld, J.
Williams, W. Windham, Gen.
Williams, Sir W. F. TELLERS.
Willyams, E. W. B. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Wilson, J. Mulgrave, Earl of
Wingfield, R. B.
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Herbert, Col.
Adeane, H. J. Hildyard, R. C.
Annesley, hon. H. Hill, Lord E.
Archdall, Capt. M. Hill, hon. R. C.
Baillie, H. J. Hodgson, W. N.
Bernard, hon. W. S. Holford, R. S.
Bathurst, A. A. Hopwood, J. T.
Beach, W. W. B. Hornby, W. H.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Johnstone, hon. H. B.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Blackburn, P. Jolliffe, H. H.
Blakemore, T. W. B. Kendall, N.
Boldero, Col. King, J. K.
Booth, Sir R. G. Knightley, R.
Bramley-Moore, J. Langton, W. G.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Legh, G. C.
Bruce, Major C. Lennox, Lord A. F.
Bruen, H. Lincoln, Earl of
Buller, Sir J. Y. Lockhart, A. E.
Bunbury, W. B. M'C. Lovaine, Lord
Burghley, Lord Lowther, hon. Col.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Lowther, Capt.
Cairns, H. M'C. Lygon, hon. F.
Carden, Sir R. W. Macartney, G.
Charlesworth, J. C. D. Mackie, J.
Child, S. M'Clintock, J.
Christy, S. Mainwaring, T.
Close, M. C. Malins, R.
Cobbett, J. M. Manners, Lord J.
Cobbold, J. C. March, Earl of
Cole, hon. H. A. Maxwell, hon. Col.
Collins, T. Miller, T. J.
Conolly, T. Montgomery, Sir G.
Cooper, E. J. Morgan, O.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Mowbray, J. R.
Cross, R. A. Naas, Lord
Curzon, Visct. Neeld, J.
Dalkeith, Earl of Newark, Visct.
Damer, L. D. Newdegate, C. N.
Du Cane, C. Nisbet, R. P.
Duncombe, hon. A. Noel, hon. G. J.
Duncombe, hon. Col. North, Col.
Du Pre, C. G. Ossulston, Lord
East, Sir J. B. Packe, C. W.
Egerton, E. C. Pakenham, Col.
Ellis, hon. L. A. Palk, L.
Emlyn, Visct. Palmer, R.
Farnham, E. B. Paull, H.
Farquhar, Sir M. Peel, Gen.
Fraser, Sir W. A. Pennant, hon. Col.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Pevensey, Visct.
Galway, Visct. Philipps, J. H.
Gard, R. S. Repton, G. W. J.
Garnett, W. J. Robertson, P. F.
Goddard, A. L. Rolt, J.
Greenwood, J. Sclater, G.
Grogan, E. Scott, hon. F.
Hall, Gen. Sibthorp, Maj.
Hamilton, J. H. Somerset, Col.
Hardy, G. Spooner, R.
Hassard, M. Stafford, A.
Heathcote, Sir W. Stephenson, R.
Steuart, A. Walsh, Sir J.
Sturt, H. G. Warren, S.
Sturt, C. N. Welby, W. E.
Tempest, Lord A. V. Whiteside, J.
Thesiger, Sir F. Whitmore, H.
Tollemache, J. Wigram, L. T.
Tomline, G. Williams, Col.
Trefusis, hon. C. H. R. Willoughby, J. P.
Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J. Willson, A.
Vance, J. Woodd, B. T.
Vansittart, G. H. Wortley, Maj.
Vansittart, W. Wynne, W. W. E.
Verner, Sir W. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Waddington, H. S. TELLERS
Walcott, Adm. Hamilton, G. A.
Walpole, rt. hon. S. H. Taylor, Col.

Leave given.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Lord JOHN RUSSELL, Sir JAMES GRAHAM, and Mr. JOHN ABEL SMITH.