§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
Sir, it may be for the convenience of the House that I should state the course which I propose to pursue with regard to the Oaths Bill, the second reading of which is fixed for Monday next. At the time of the introduction of the Bill I stated to the noble Lord at the head of the Government that it was my intention to postpone any opposition which I might have to offer to the 1102 Bill to the second reading. Since that time I have had an opportunity of carefully considering the form of Oath proposed by the noble Lord, and also of consulting with those friends who hold the same views as myself with regard to this question, and we are all of opinion that the Oath proposed by the noble Lord is in many respects a very great improvement upon the Oaths at present taken, both on the score of simplicity, and also as putting an end to the taking of oaths the necessity for which has become obsolete. Our only objection to the Oath proposed by the noble Lord is that it may be taken by persons who are not compelled to declare themselves Christians. In order to carry out the object which we have in view it would be necessary to insert certain words in the Oath, and that cannot be done upon the second reading. We approve generally of the form of the Oath, and our only complaint is that it falls short of what we desire. What I propose to do, therefore, is to offer no opposition to the second reading of the Bill, but in Committee I shall propose the insertion of certain words which will preserve the Christian character of this Oath. In that manner I shall raise the simple question without the admixture of any foreign matter, whether this House is prepared to admit to the Legislature persons who do not profess the Christian faith? I have thought it only due to this House to state thus briefly the course which I propose to adopt.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, after what has fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman, I beg to state that should there be no prolonged discussion on Monday next with regard to the Oaths Bill, we propose to continue the Committee of Supply, and if the Army Estimates should be concluded to-morrow, to go on with the Civil Service Estimates on Monday.