HC Deb 16 July 1858 vol 151 cc1614-36

LORD JOHN RUSSELL moved the Second Reading of this Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


Sir, at the request of a number of honourable friends, in conjunction with whom I have opposed the admission of Jews to Parliament for several years, I have undertaken to move that this Bill be read a second time this day three months; and I think some apology is due to the House on my part, because on a former occasion I felt it my duty to move the rejection of clauses in the Oaths Bill, which, according to the understanding of myself and my hon. Friends, would have had the effect of abrogating the Christian character of this House—a matter the importance of which I fear hon. Gentlemen opposite undervalue. For one, I wish to observe, and in this I know I speak the sentiments of others, that the opposition to this proposal of the admission of Jews to Parliament, has been with us no mere party question; but that it is founded in a deep conviction that the Legislature of this country, which under its various phases has ever been Christian by its constitution, should so continue—a deep conviction that there is nothing injurious to real freedom in those restrictions which are necessary to preserve this character, but that, on the contrary, the Christian character of the Legislature and the constitution of the country constitute the great guarantee for the freedom of the people, a freedom that has survived the vicissitudes which have proved fatal to the liberties of the nations that surround us. I cannot conceal that it would be a piece of futile hypocrisy on my part if I attempted to conceal the deep regret which I feel at opposing a Bill which has the sanction of the vote, if not of the judgment, of the noble Earl at the head of the Government. For many years I have been a very humble but very determined supporter of that noble Earl. Upon the reconstruction of the Conservative party in 1846, it was my lot to be appointed to one of the offices upon which so much of the efficiency and good conduct of this House depends. That office I held until the year 1851, and when I resigned it I assured the noble Earl that he should never need a man to collect the opponents of those whose object is to destroy the Christian character of Parliament. After this lengthened connection with the noble Earl, and after the many assurances I have given to others that his convictions on this subject were so firm that he might be implicitly relied upon, it is with the deepest regret that I have seen the noble Lord change his course of conduct, at a period when, as I believe, there was really no occasion for his doing so. I desire not to speak disrespectfully to this House when I say that I am firmly convinced—more firmly convinced perhaps than I have ever been—that those who advocate the admission of the Jews to Parliament do not truly represent the feelings of the people of this country; I say this because, that since it has been felt that this change in the law is now, I fear, inevitable, I have seen no indications of satisfaction on the part of the people in whose name the change has been urged. I therefore feel entitled to assume that the measure has been forced upon the country; for, so far as I can observe, the only feeling which the probability of its passing has caused throughout the kingdom is one of disappointment, enhanced, perhaps, by the fact that the proposed change is to be effected by the powerful aid of one from whom such a measure was little to be expected. Hon. Members opposite can show me no demonstrations of satisfaction to prove that, in seeking to abrogate the Christian character of Parliament, they are acting thoroughly in accordance with public opinion. With reference more immediately to the Bill upon the table, I feel that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London adopted an unseemly course, when on a former occasion, before the Bill came down from the House of Lords, he moved the adjournment of the House in order to dictate the course we should pursue with respect to this measure when it came down from their Lordships, and while doing this sneered at the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, because that noble and learned Lord had declared that if the House of Commons had been so misguided as to attempt to override the law for the sake of admitting a Jew to a seat in this House, he would not have shrunk, in the performance of his judicial duty, from vindicating the majesty of the law, but would have abided the consequences of its true administration be those consequences what they might. There is not too much public spirit operative in this country, and it was with much regret that I heard a Member of this House, occupying so high a position as the noble Lord, speak sneeringly of a declaration which, I think, does the highest honour to the noble and learned person who uttered it, and to the profession of which he has so long been an ornament. What more did the noble Lord the Member for London say? He proclaimed that the House of Lords, by having yielded on this question, had established the supremacy of the House of Commons—not, mark you, merely in relation to financial matters, but on the widest and deepest religious and constitutional question that has been submitted in modern times, perhaps ever, to Parliament. Sir, this House is a proud and a powerful assembly; but I scarcely think it is consonant with the feelings of the great majority of the Members of this House to find themselves congratulated upon having established this House as the supreme authority in this country, by having overridden the convictions of the House of Lords, or to have it implied that they consider it as ridiculous on the part of the Lord Chief Justice to declare that he is prepared to vindicate the majesty of the law against a Resolution of this House. I do not believe that, if the House of Lords had adhered to its sincere convictions against the admission of Jews to Parliament, that the House of Commons would have been so misguided as to attempt to override the law. If, however, it had done that, so grave and serious an event would have required Lord Derby, as the constitutional Minister of the Crown, to advise Her Majesty at once by a dissolution to appeal to her people, whether they are prepared to submit to the authority of this House as supreme, when no longer Christian by its constitution, and after this House had overridden the independence of the House of Lords, and had even assailed the pure administration of the law. The noble Lord the Member for London did not condescend to state what might be the probable result of such an appeal, though he said the decision of this House might possibly have led to much inconvenience. That inconvenience, I believe, would have been felt by the noble Lord especially, if he had ventured to recommend the adoption of a Resolution such as that to which he had alluded; it would, also, have been felt by every other Member of this House who ventured thus to assail that which is the great guarantee for the personal freedom and safety of every Englishman. I regret, deeply regret, that this question, involving, as it does, the Christian character of this House—that this issue was not fairly placed before the country—that the people have been deprived of the opportunity of declaring their will upon this subject. I shall not trouble the House with any observations upon the frame of the Bill now before us; I deprecate the measure, because it will accomplish the destruction of the Christian character of Parliament. Like all departures from sound principle, it involves incidental circumstances which can scarcely recommend it to the general approval. I allude particularly to the provision of the Bill which enacts that, in the case of every Jewish Member, there should be in fact a second election before he takes his seat in this House. Let the House consider the principle which is involved in that clause. It tends to constitute the House of Commons a close corporation. It provides that the House shall not be satisfied by a free election on the part of constituencies in certain cases, and gives to Members of this House the privilege of declaring their objection to receive a Member upon grounds which are not stated in the law, but merely in accordance with the decision of a majority of this House, based on no recognized grounds, but cogent when the Member presents himself for the purpose of taking the oath and his seat. There can be little doubt that if, after the passing of this Bill, Baron Rothschild, a very wealthy man, should present himself at that table to be sworn, he would be admitted to a seat in the House under the Resolution which the Bill provides. There is little doubt if Alderman Salomons, a very convenient person, were elected and presented himself here, he would be recommended to the majority of this House; but I want to know why the law should not declare what are the circumstances under which the House ought by Resolution to admit a Jew. If this measure pass, why should not this principle be extended? Why should not this or some other Bill provide for the admission of avowed atheists to seats in this House? We should then have to make a pick among the atheists who might be elected and presented themselves to take their seats. How should we be able to distinguish among them? Let us, then, for the sake of illustration, further test the principles of the Bill by extending the application of them; and suppose that you had admitted the Jew and the atheist by Resolution, why should not the principle be applied to others? Why should not some Christians be esteemed objectionable by the majority of the House? Tell me, therefore, what is the security that this House, if this principle be extended, should not by Resolution select from the candidates who have been sent up by the constituencies such as may at the time please them best, and reject others, on grounds and for purposes not recognised by this or any other law? These are, however, considerations relating to comparatively minor matters. If you pass this Bill, and destroy the Christian character of the House, that step will tend first to the alienation, and then to the separation of the Church from the State. But, observe, this Bill anticipates that evil, for it provides for the severance of the State itself. No one doubts that if this Bill passes, the House of Lords will refuse to admit a Jew to their assembly, whilst the House of Commons will admit him to theirs. Thus you will sever the only bond of union in principle which remains to connect the two branches of the Legislature; you will have this House invested with the supremacy which the noble Lord ascribes to it, but constituted upon a totally different basis from that of the House of Lords; and do you not see in that severance and that supremacy elements of confusion? I can regard this as no settlement whatever. It marks our first entrance upon a new phase of political existence for the country. It is the first step in a course which I myself view with the greatest apprehension; and I very much doubt whether many hon. Gentlemen on the other side have weighed the extent of the change which they are about to effect; but of this I am confident, that wherever in a State this principle has been introduced, where-ever a State that was Christian by its constitution has ceased to be so, the freedom of that State has not been long maintained; and I challenge hon. Gentlemen to produce me an instance to the contrary. Upon this stage of the Bill I will not further intrude upon the patience of the House; but in justification of my own vote and the vote of those who have asked me to propose the Amendment, I will read the Reasons of the House of Lords for insisting on their Amendments to the Oaths Bill which involve the justification of their long continued opposition to the admission of Jews to Parliament. 1. Because, although the words 'on the true faith of a Christian' were originally introduced into the oath for the immediate purpose of binding certain Roman Catholics, it is unreasonable to assume that the Parliament which so introduced them did not intend that the profession of Christianity should be a necessary qualification for admission to the Legislature, when they enacted that a declaration of that faith should form part of the oath required to be taken by every Member of both Houses. 2. Because the constant intention of the Legislature may be further inferred from the fact that neither at the time of the introduction of these words were the Jews admissible, nor have they at any subsequent period been admitted to sit and vote in either House of Parliament. 3. Because exclusion from seats in Parliament and offices of the State on the ground of religious opinion, and for other reasons, when the general good of the State appears to require it, is a principle recognized in the settlement of the succession to the Crown, and in other cases; and has moreover been further and recently sanctioned by the House of Commons in some of the provisions of the present Bill. 4. Because, in the prayers with which both Houses daily commence their proceedings, they implore in Christ's name the Divine assistance and guidance in all their undertakings, professing themselves his unworthy servants; and this act of worship will become a mockery when among those who are therein declared to be gathered together in His name are numbered those who deny Him through whose merits alone those prayers can be acceptable. 5. Because, when the Commons plead in support of their views, in a matter which equally concerns the constitution of both branches of the Legislature, their repeated recognition of the expediency of removing this disability of the Jews, and admitting them to their Councils, the Lords desire to refer to their equally firm adherence to the principle of retaining those privileges which they believe to be peculiarly and inseparably attached to Parliament as an exclusively Christian assembly. Sir, these Reasons have been drawn by men who are so completely my superiors in intellect that I think comment upon them on my part would be altogether idle and superfluous. I humbly submit, and in saying this I believe I represent the feelings of the people of this country, that these Reasons fully justify the resistance of the House of Lords to all the attempts that have been made during the last eleven years to strike down the Christian character of Parliament, but I am sorry to say these Reasons likewise condemn the decision of that exalted assembly in favour of the Bill before the House. I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time this day three months.


seconded the Motion.

Amendment proposed to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."


said, he had hoped to have heard something from the other side of the House. He was not in the habit of addressing that House often, and especially when he could not do so for an object. He knew that anything he could say would be in vain to undo what had been done, but still he could not give a silent vote on the present occasion. He had hoped to have heard some remarks from the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) on the Bill. Although he (Mr. Spooner) had formerly contented himself with giving a silent vote on this question, he was not of those who had altered their opinions, and he could not follow the example of those high personages who, retaining their opinions, had altered their votes. He had changed neither his opinion nor his vote. He had no vulgar prejudice against the Jews. No one could regard their past history, or contemplate their future destiny, without feeling deep respect for them, and a full belief that they would ultimately be restored to their high destiny. Respecting the Jews as a nation, and many individuals of that nation with whom he had the honour to be acquainted, he felt that no such consideration would justify his vote for their admission to legislate for a Christian people. He believed that real conscientious Jews would feel themselves in an awkward position, although they had been relieved from taking the oath with the words "on the true faith of a Christian," when they were called on by their allegiance to the Crown to legislate for Christianity in that House. The Reasons of the Lords seemed to be conclusive against such a measure as this. The fourth Reason stated their Lordships' opinion, that a Jew was "morally unfit" to take part in Christian legislation, and yet a Bill was sent down to this House by the same parties who had communicated that Reason, for the purpose of enabling them to admit a Jew, though it had been so declared that he was morally unfit to take his place in a Christian Legislature, and that without the other House of Parliament going into such an unconstitutional proceeding, while at the same time the great prerogative of the Crown and the ultimate veto to all their proceedings were set aside. He agreed with his hon. Colleague that they were introducing a new principle into the Constitution; that they were giving the House the power to say by Resolution whether a Member should sit in that House or not. If there were one thing of which they should be more jealous than another, it was that the House should not be able by a majority to say to one man you shall, and to another you shall not, sit in this House. Would the noble Lord agree to such an unconstitutional proceeding? It was said that the admission of Jews had become a necessity, and that the Bill under consideration was the result of pressure. What was the feeling of the people out of doors on this question? Why, up to July of this Session there were only two petitions before the House in favour of the admission of Jews, and those petitions contained two signatures. There had been 250 petitions sent up against the measure, signed by 11,808 persons. Was that the pressure to which the House of Lords had yielded? No; it was to pander to the views of party that the principle on which the Legislature had so long acted in this matter was to be abandoned. He had extreme fears that the passing of this Bill would inflict a deadly blow on the Constitution, and sure he was that the confidence of the people in the other House of Parliament, to which they had long looked as the bulwark of their liberties, had been shaken beyond the possibility of redemption by the unfortunate concession they had made on this question. He was old enough to remember the impression made, and which had not passed away, by a declaration made in the House of Commons of that great public man Mr. Fox, held in veneration by Members on the opposite side of the House—namely, "that what was morally wrong could never be politically right." That was the motto which ought to have governed the conduct of Parliament in this matter. A great historian, and now a noble Lord, once wrote, "Talk to me of a Christian Legislature; you might as well talk to me of Christian cookery." He (Mr. Spooner) did not think the country was quite prepared to coincide with that view; but he did feel that if this Bill passed an irreparable blow would be inflicted on the Christian character of that House. Expediency had done more to shake the Throne than anything that could have occurred. It had broken in on our Constitution in 1829, and had led from change to change, until, in this Bill, we have the last vestige of the Christian character of our Legislature taken away. He should have gone down to his grave with deep sorrow if he had not made this protest against so great a dereliction of duty on the part of the other House of Parliament. He deplored what had been done chiefly for its effect on the Christian character of Parliament, and he looked on it, moreover, as a great error in that it was calculated to take away from a large portion of the thinking people of this country that confidence which they were willing to repose in the Government of the Earl of Derby. It had greatly shaken his (Mr. Spooner's) confidence in that noble Lord who headed the party with whom he had been in the habit of acting. He trusted that support had always been given as became an independent Member of Parliament. Hon. Gentlemen opposite knew well that he had frequently supported measures brought forward by them when he was convinced their measures were right. He would give the same kind of support to measures proposed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government; but instead of yielding his opinion, as he had hitherto done, on matters where lie entertained doubt, and presuming that to be right which was not proved to be wrong, he must now adopt another course, and support only such measures as be conscientiously believed were proved to be right.


said, he thought that the silence which was maintained with regard to this Bill by the distinguished Gentleman who had hitherto taken the most active part in promoting the admission of Jews to Parliament was most remarkable. The noble Lord the Member for London seemed disposed to force the measure through the House without condescending even to explain its principles or details. But were the House of Commons a flock of sheep that they were to be thus treated? Had they nothing else to do but to obey the nod of the noble Lord, and read the Bill a second time without discussion? He did not know whether they were prepared to adopt that course, or not; all he could say was that he was not, and that he should trespass for a few moments upon the attention of the House for the purpose of stating his opinion with regard to the position in which the two sides of the House now stood, and particularly the position which was occupied by the other House in reference to this question. As yet they had not heard one word in favour of the measure, which was an entirely new one, based upon entirely different arrangements, and, in the opinion of many who were even favourable to its object, was open to very grave objections. Before the House went to a division, therefore, he trusted they would be favoured with the views of the noble Lord upon the principle and details of the measure—upon its probable effects on the position of the two Houses of Parliament; and whether or not he was perfectly satisfied with the manner in which it dealt with the important question at issue. He would not go into the question of the noble Lord's consistency on other matters, nor would he draw comparisons between his conduct in and out of office, but, to give him his due, he had for many years past been most consistent, determined, and energetic in his endeavours to insult the Christian community of the country, and to destroy the Christian character of that House. Now, if they destroyed the Christian character of the Senate of this country, they would seriously impair its polititical efficiency, and shake the confidence of the large majority of the people in this House by giving them the impression that they were not influenced in their conduct by religious considerations. The question was not one of civil and religious liberty; it was simply a political question, and that a political question confined to a very small circle of persons. There was neither civil nor religious liberty mixed up in the matter. It was an attempt to destroy the Christian character of the Senate of England for the purpose of carrying an insignificant political object; and the only political object that had been attained by its agitation up to this time was that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was the representative of the City of London instead of some small and obscure constituency. The portion of the subject that he approached with the most anxiety was the position taken by- the House of Lords with regard to this measure. No well-wisher of his country could have witnessed what had taken place in the other House of Parliament during the last few weeks without feeling the most sincere regret at the extent to which the events occurring there had lowered the character of public men in that branch of the Legislature. He wished he could entertain a doubt upon that point; but he was sorry to say that he could not. At no period since the melancholy year 1846 had public men so utterly and irretrievably lost their character, or exhibited such a degree of tergiversation, as in reference to the question now before the House; but it so happened that the present case was worse than that of 1846; for whatever might have been the demerits of those who in 1846 sacrificed their opinions and their characters, the question upon which they did so was a financial question; whereas the subject now under discussion had been argued upon religious grounds. It had been held that on these grounds Jews ought not to be allowed to occupy seats in a Christian Legislature; and he entirely concurred in the argument, and said that it would be a desecration of the character of this House as a Christian assembly, and a mockery of their profession of Christianity, if they did so. But what became of the consistency of those who, having always hitherto opposed the claims of the Jews, now turned round and sent the present Bill down to this House? He must again express his sincere regret at the position in which the House was now placed; and he regretted it the more, because the majority were the representatives of the £10 householders, and the feelings of the £10 householders upon this question did not represent the feelings of the people of England, who, he believed, were opposed to the admission of the Jews to Parliament, He was convinced that what had recently passed in this House and in the other House of Parliament was calculated to derogate in the highest degree from the estimation in which the two Houses were held by the people, and he trusted he should never again witness proceedings so disreputable to the character of all concerned in them.


said, he had no intention to attack hon. Members for want of consistency, which he thought was sometimes carried to far too great an extent, until it degenerates into obstinacy, nor would he impute any improper or personal motives to the noble Lord the Member for London. He was not surprised that the noble Lord had not risen to advocate the Bill of which he had moved the second reading, because it was not the noble Lord's Bill; and he very much misunderstood the noble Lord if he would ever have produced, had the task been left to him, a measure of the character which was now submitted to the House. As he understood the matter, the noble Lord had accepted the Bill with a view to avoid what might appear to him to be a greater evil; not that it was his choice, but that necessity had forced it upon him. And he could not concur in the remarks which had been made by the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) that the noble Lord had been actuated, with reference to this question, by personal considerations; or that it had been the means of placing him in the position, which, as a statesman of high standing, who had for many years enjoyed the esteem and confidence of this House, he so worthily occupied, and was so well entitled to assume, of Representative of the great and important constituency of London. His (Mr. Adams's) objection was not so much to the admission of the Jews to this House on principle as it was to the form in which the Bill was presented to the House. Had the other House been pleased to accept the Bill which was sent up from this House he should have cheerfully acquiesced in their decision, as being in strict accordance with the rules and principles of the Constitution, though he might have entertained the opinion that it was a dangerous innovation for them to make; but to that Bill he entertained strong objections. In the first place, he held that the Bill, which had been called a compromise, was no compromise at all, but that it was a concession—a giving up of the whole question. He repeated, however, that his chief objection was to the form—the insulting form—in which the Bill had been sent down from the House of Lords, inasmuch as it had come down accompanied by Reasons which were as complete and thorough a condemnation of it as they were of the Oaths Bill itself. One of those Reasons stated that the Jew was morally unfit to take part in the legislation of this professedly Christian country; yet the Bill would admit him to a seat in this House upon a Resolution of the House. But supposing it should be the grace and favour of the Sovereign to grant a peerage to a Jew; why, was he not as worthy to occupy a seat in the House of Lords as in this House? Wherein was the House of Commons inferior, as far as moral standing was concerned, to the other branch of the Legislature? He contended that a man who was fit for the society of the House of Commons was equally fit for the society of the members of the House of Lords, and that the other House had no right to send down a Bill for the admission to seats in this House of persons who, in their reasons against the Oaths Bill, they branded as morally unfit to sit in a Christian Legislature. For his part, he thought the separate legislation now proposed to be established was a most dangerous and unconstitutional, though not unexampled proceeding; and he feared that the other House, which had now set the example of declaring that the House of Commons might by their own Resolution seat any one particular individual, would find that the practice of separate and independent legislation might again be carried, as it had been in former times, to an inconvenient extent by which their Lordships would be the sufferers. Hitherto their principle of legislation had been concurrence between the two Houses of Parliament. Now they might have a Resolution of that House absolutely opposed to the practice of the House of Lords. The measure had come down to the House in the most offensive shape. It was conceded as an almsgiving to an importunate beggar, not gracefully given, but thrown in the face of the applicant; and he regarded it, in every point of view, as most objectionable.


said, he thought the House would not expect him to go into arguments which had been repeated over and over again on the subject of Jewish disabilities, but some points had been raised and some references made to him by previous speakers which he could not wholly overlook. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire seemed to suppose that in the event of the present Bill being rejected it was his (Lord J. Russell's) intention to propose or at least support some Resolution contrary to the law. The hon. Gentleman had misunderstood him, for the fact was that the only ground upon which he intended to ask the House to support a Resolution in favour of the admission of the Jews, would be that it was in conformity with the law, and in so doing he would be resting upon a very high authority, that of the late Attorney General. Upon that question he should have been glad to hear, what he never had heard, the opinion of the present Attorney General; but, fortunately, the House was spared the necessity of going into that subject, thanks to the Bill now under consideration. It had been observed by an hon. Member (Mr. Adams) that he (Lord J. Russell) could not possibly like the present Bill; but, as the House of Lords had sent down the Bill, and desired the concurrence of the Commons to it, he was simply moving, in accordance with that desire, that the House should concur in the Bill thus sent down. He certainly considered that the Bill sent up to the Lords, with part of which the other House disagreed, was in its nature a compromise, because he thought that no Bill could be entirely satisfactory which made a distinction in the form of oath between Protestants and Roman Catholics, and he endeavoured to put the oaths in a form which would meet with the concurrence of both Houses. The hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) spoke about pandering to passions. With all that he had nothing to do. With respect to the conduct of those who had all along been opposed to the emancipation of the Jews, and who now consented to the proposed mode of admitting them to Parliament, he could only say that he thought the mode effectual for the purpose, though the manner of concession was not the most gracious. If the House did not accept the present Bill, it must either go on in a continual contest with the House of Lords, asking their consent to a Bill, to which they were not prepared to consent, or carry a Resolution which a majority of the House might have concurred in, thinking it agreeable to law. But that might have been a question in a court of law, it might have led to very much dispute, and caused very much inconvenience, and possible collision with the courts of law. With these alternatives before him, he must confess that, though he should never himself have proposed the present Bill, he was glad to take a course in which both Houses could concur, and which relieved the House from the difficulties he had mentioned. That was the reason why he recommended the Bill to the acceptance of the House. The hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) had spoken as if the only object of carrying the Bill was to enable him (Lord J. Russell) to retain his seat for the City of London. He certainly valued highly the possession of that seat, but the object to be attained by the passing of the Bill was of a very different nature. It was unnecessary for him to enter upon that topic now. The great majority of the House understood the principle of religious liberty, in accordance with which Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters had been admitted to Parliament. Those were principles with which, he was afraid, if the contest was to go on for another ten years there would be no imbuing the mind of the hon. Member. He had now stated very shortly the grounds on which he recommended this Bill to the House. He believed that it would furnish a practical solution of the difficulty he had adverted to, with some inconvenience in the way, but not with the inconvenience insisted upon by the hon. and learned Member for Boston (Mr. Adams). So far as the terms of the Bill went, both Houses were placed upon an equality, and either House might say that it would, or would not, admit a Jew. According to all experience, it was probable that when a Jew presented himself to be sworn at the table, the House of Commons would be disposed to admit him. At present, it was not likely that any Peer would present himself to be sworn in the other House, objecting to the words "on the true faith of a Christian" on the ground of being a Jew; and by the time that any Jew would be enabled, by the favour of the Queen, to receive a patent of peerage, it was likely that the Peers would have come to a different opinion from that they entertained at present. The sons, in many instances, were wiser than their fathers, and probably the House of Lords would then agree to admit the Jew. When the Bill was read a second time, he should give notice of the course he proposed to pursue with respect to the Oaths Bill.


said, that the question was whether the matter in dispute should be settled in this shape, or in that desperate manner which some of the advocates of the admission of Jews had alluded to—namely, by a Resolution of the House, which Resolution was to be taken as equivalent to an Act of Parliament. A more revolutionary doctrine than that he had never heard broached. They had lately been told by a high authority that that House was supreme in the State; but he had always humbly thought, in his ignorance, that they were living under a constitutional monarchy. It seemed, however, that such was not the prevailing opinion. Tories and Conservatives by profession had heard that statement with- out a murmur, and he surely thought their squeezability must be of a most extraordinary character. But that was not all. It was said besides, that if that House by its own authority passed a Resolution admitting the Jew, and if Lord Campbell, in interpreting the law, should punish and fine the Jew for sitting and voting in the House without taking the oaths, the House would be bound to protect the Jew from the consequences of the breach of the law. It really was high time that they should have a dissolution, in order that the constituencies should speak their minds upon this matter. He should like to know, moreover, how that House could set about such a proceeding. It was said, that if the House did pass such a Resolution, the Judges would be squeezable, and would be, no doubt, disposed to interpret the law according to the decision of the House of Commons. Now, he did not believe that Lord Campbell or any Judge on the bench at present would dishonour himself by such conduct. But that was not all, for the House had been told that it could, by Resolution, take the government and direction of the army and navy off the hands of the Crown, totally irrespective of the laws. Now, all the mischief done in the beginning of the French Revolution was done by Resolutions. By Resolutions they abolished primogeniture, they abolished nobility, and they abolished tithe. ["Hear!"] He thought, from that cry of "Hear," that there was at least one hon. Gentleman willing to walk in the footsteps of those revolutionists. It was also said that if the Jews were not admitted, the House of Commons could stop the supplies. That was rather a strong measure. It was said, "We will stop the supplies and refuse the Mutiny Bill." Well, what would be the effect of such a proceeding? Why, he supposed the army, the navy, and the police would help themselves. They would live at free quarters until Parliament passed the Mutiny Bill and paid their wages. But these were mere idle threats, which were never meant to be carried into execution. He agreed with those who thought that the legislation they were now asked to sanction was the beginning of a new system. It was no answer to say that this was only the climax—the necessary consequence—of the repeal of the Test Acts, the Emancipation of the Catholics, and other similar measures. It was a perfect farce for hon. Gentlemen to talk about a conciliatory measure with reference to church rates. As far as he was concerned he would have no conciliatory Bill; he would have church rates or nothing. The Dissenters acted honestly on this subject. Mr. Miall, of The Nonconformist, had argued the question with great fairness and ability, and avowed that the Dissenters only sought by means of the abolition of church rates to insert the small point of the wedge, and that what they were really fighting against was tithe. He (Mr. Drummond) believed this was the necessary consequence of previous legislation on such questions. With regard to the Test Acts, he remembered that several persons of notoriously immoral character, who blazoned forth their opinions to the offence of all honest and decent people in the city, received places under the Crown, and when they went to St. Martin's Church to receive the sacrament, the clergyman, although very much disgusted at being required to administer it to them, instead of doing his duty by refusing to administer it, came to that House and prayed for the repeal of the Test Acts. The legislation adopted at that time and since must go on, and it was impossible now to maintain that, as was formerly the case, the Church of England and the State were one. He was not referring to these things to frighten the House, but he was only anxious to point out to them the course upon which they had entered, and he knew that its consequences were evident to many hon. Gentlemen. The ablest man among those whom he called advanced Liberals—the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright)—had foreseen them. There was no necessity for hon. Gentlemen to go into Committee-room No. 11, or elsewhere, to find a head; for the hon. Member for Birmingham was the only man among them who had, from the first, foreseen the end of these measures, and who had honestly and plainly expressed his opinions; and if that hon. Gentleman lived as long as he (Mr. Drummond) wished he might do, he would see his anticipations realized. They were now merely considering in what manner they should admit the Jews to Parliament, for they had settled—be it right or wrong, religious or irreligious—that whether the House became infidel, or what not, have the Jew they would. Of all the measures lie had seen on this subject, the one now under consideration was, in his opinion, the least likely to lead to public disturbance. The simple question for the House to determine was, what was the best and least mischievous mode of admitting Jews to Parliament?—and as this Bill seemed to provide the least mischievous means of effecting that object, he would give it his support.


said, he was anxious to defend the course he had pursued on this, question from the charges made against him. He denied that he had recommended the House to act upon any revolutionary principle. He had found that the great constituencies of the City of London had repeatedly returned a Jew to that House, and as he conceived that the House was justified under the existing law in proceeding by Resolution, he had recommended the adoption of such a course with the view of admitting Baron Rothschild to a seat. He was justified in that course by the opinion of some of the most eminent English jurists who had written upon constitutional law, by the express declaration of the late Lord Canterbury, and by the opinion of a late Premier. He felt strongly the force of the objections which had been urged against this Bill by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. He thought it unsatisfactory, inconsistent in its character, and objectionable in the highest degree, because it did not secure the admission of the Jew to Parliament, unless the House decreed by a Resolution that they would do so; and practically, therefore, he remained excluded. They would only have continually party fighting and personal squabbles from religious motives every time a new Parliament was elected. If a Jew were qualified to sit in that House, it was not the House itself which ought to exclude him; and he objected to the Bill because it gave them a right to do so. The present measure was no final settlement of the question, and was altogether so objectionable in its principle that he hoped it never would be allowed a place on the statute-book.


said, he was unwilling, after what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond), to give a silent vote with respect to this measure. His hon. Friend was one of those who had always entertained the opinion that the admission of Jews to Parliament would destroy the exclusively Christian character of the Legislature of this country. His hon. Friend had given a somewhat severe lecture to noble Lords in "another place," as well as to those who usually agreed with him upon political questions in that House, with reference to the mode in which great legislative measures should be treated; and he had spoken, with considerable apprehension, of the course which Parliament was now pursuing. In many of those views he (Mr. Walpole) heartily concurred; but, he must say, he thought it would have been better if the hon. Gentleman had contented himself with entering a silent protest against the principle to which he objected by recording his vote against it. His hon. Friend thought the question of admitting the Jews to this House was settled. Consistently, however, with the views which his hon. Friend said ought to be taken by the statesmen of this country, he believed that if they apprehended evil from any measure submitted to Parliament it was their duty, in whatever minority they might be left, to record their vote against it. The House had so often indulged him by listening to the expression of his opinions on this question that he would not repay them so ill as now to trespass on their attention at any length. All he could say was, that he saw no reason for changing his opinions; and that being so, though the measure might be supported by those for whom he entertained the sincerest respect—he might say, the warmest affection—he could not yield up his convictions on the subject. Having said so much on that part of the question, he would add that there was one point which he thought even those who supported the admission of the Jews ought deliberately to have considered before they adopted the present measure. For the first time, as far as he knew, in the legislation of this country they were now enabling either House of Parliament, if it pleased, to do away with a general law by a Resolution. Now, general laws when passed ought to be maintained as general laws; and he must say that if the House of Lords were prepared to give way upon this question it would have been better and more satisfactory if they had frankly acquiesced in the Bill sent up from this House, instead of passing what was but a patchwork measure, and one which could not be a permanent settlement of the question. It was a patchwork measure, because it enabled the Houses of Parliament, not upon any general principle, but according to the opinions entertained by them at the time, to say whether they would or would not admit the Jews to the Legislature. But, besides this, if there existed a reason why the House of Commons should admit a Jew to a seat, he contended that the Crown ought not to be deprived of the right to place a Jew in the other House, independently of any opinion which that House might choose to entertain on the subject. Again, he thought the worst part of the Bill was that the Resolution which must be carried would not constitute a law of a permanent character, but might be reversed by the next House of Commons, whereupon the whole controversy upon this much-vexed question would revive, and it would be found much more difficult to deal with the subject on principles of sound policy. In conclusion, he would willingly have given a silent vote; but he could not forbear expressing his conviction that, in a constitutional point of view, they were not settling this question in the best manner; and, at the same time, he wished to enter his solemn protest against the admission to a Christian Legislature of those who, according to all the principles of our constitution, could not, he believed, safely and properly be allowed to sit there.


said, he was unwilling to give a silent vote on this question, lest he should be supposed to assent not merely to the object and effect of the Bill, but the manner in which that object was attained. He entirely concurred with the right hon. (Mr.Walpole), in regretting that those who in the House of Lords had made up their minds to pass this Bill should not have resolved fairly and handsomely to settle this question. He quite concurred, also, in the objections stated to the method by which the admission of Jews into this House was to be accomplished; and he confessed it was with considerable reluctance that he gave his support to the present Bill. He felt so strongly, however, the expediency and the justice of admitting the Jews into Parliament that he was content to accept it on the ground on which it had been objected to by some hon. Gentlemen—namely, that it was the first instalment of a larger and more complete measure. He could not believe that a Bill so objectionable in principle, upon constitutional grounds, would be allowed to remain permanently upon the statute-book, He was persuaded that those who had hitherto opposed the admission of the Jews, having conceded so much, would in the course of no distant period go a step further, and would yield to the claims of their Jewish fellow-subjects not by the objectionable mode of a Resolution passed by one House of Parliament, but by the more constitutional operation of a general law.


said, he must also express his dissatisfaction with the mode in which this question was to be settled. They could not, as had been supposed, admit one Jew under the Bill and exclude another; but a Resolution passed in one Parliament might be thrown out in the next, and while on one day the House of Commons resolved to seat the Jews the House of Lords might on the same day resolve to exclude them. He regretted that the House of Lords, if they felt disposed to settle this question, had not done so in a straightforward, manly way, by passing a general law binding on both Houses.

Question put "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.

The House divided:—Ayes 156; Noes 65; Majority 91.

List of the Ayes.
Ayrton, A. S. Evans, Sir De L.
Bagwell, J. Evans, T. W.
Bailey, C. Ewart, W.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Ewing, H. E. C.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Fergus, J.
Bernard, T. T. Feruson, Sir R.
Beale, S. FitzRoy, rt. hon. H.
Beecroft, G. S. Forster, C.
Bethell, Sir It. Fox, W. J.
Black, A. Freestun, Col.
Botfield, B. Garnett, W. J.
Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Brady, J. Gifford, Earl of
Brand, hon. H. Gilpin, C.
Briscoe, J. I. Gladstone, rt. hon. W.
Brocklehurst, J. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Bruce, H. A. Greer, S. M'C.
Buller, J. W. Gray, Capt.
Butler, C. S. Griffith, C. D.
Buxton, C. Gurdon, B.
Byng, Hon. G. Gurney, J. H.
Caird, J. Gurney, S.
Campbell, R. J. R. Hadfield, G.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.
Cheetham, J. Hamilton, Captain
Clay, J. Harris, J. D.
Cogan, W. H. F. Hay, Lord J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Headlam, T. E.
Collier, R. P. Heard, J. I.
Coningham, W. Henniker, Lord
Coots, Sir C. H. Hodgson, K. D.
Cox, W. Holland, E.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Horsman, rt. hon. E.
Crawford, R. W. Ingham, R.
Cubitt, Ald. Ingram, H.
Dalglish, R. Jermyn, Earl
Davey, R. Jervoise, Sir J. C.
Denison, hon. W. H. F. Kelly, Sir F.
Dillwyn, L. L. Kinglake, A. W.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Kinglake, J. A.
Duff, M. E. G. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Duke, Sir J. Knatchbull-H., E.
Dunbar, Sir W. Langton, H. G.
Duncombe, T. Laurie, J.
Elton, Sir A. H. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Levinge, Sir R. Saint Aubyn, J.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C. Schneider, H. W.
Locke, John Scholefield, W.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Smith, J. B.
Luce, T. Smith, A.
Macarthy, A. Smith, Sir F.
M'Cann, J. Somerville, rt, hn. Sir W.
Maguire, J. F. Spaight, J.
Mangles, R. D. Stanley, Lord
Martin, J. Stapleton, J.
Mellor, J. Sullivan, M.
Morris, D. Sykes, Col W. H.
Napier, Sir C. Talbot, C. R. M.
Nicoll, D. Tancred, H. W.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Thompson, Gen.
North, F. Thornely, T.
O'Brien, P. Tite, W.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Trueman, C.
Osborne, R. Turner, J. A.
Paget, C. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J. Watkins, Col. L.
Palmerston, Visct. Weguelin, T. M.
Philips, R. N. Western, S.
Pinney, Col. Westhead, J. P. B.
Pugh, D. White, J.
Puller, C. W. G. Williams, W.
Ramsden, Sir J. W. Wilson, J.
Ramsay, Sir A. Wingfield, R. B.
Rawlinson, Sir H. C. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Ridley G. Wood, W.
Robartes, T. J. A. Wyld, J.
Roebuck, J. A.
Roupell, W. TELLERS.
Russell, Lord J. Hayter, Sir W.
Russell, A. Smith, J. A.
List of the NOES.
Adams, W. H. Hotham, Lord
Adderley, rt hon. C. B. Kendall, N.
Alexander, J. Knight, F. W.
Baillie, H. J. Knightley, R.
Bernard, hon. Col. Langton, W. G.
Barrow, W. H. Lefroy, A.
Beach, W. W. B. Lowther, hon. Col.
Bective, Earl of Malins, R.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Manners, Lord J.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Miller, T. J.
Booth, Sir R. G. Mills, A.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Moody, C. A.
Burghley, Lord Morgan, O.
Cairns, Sir H. M'C. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Cecil, Lord R. Neeld, J.
Charlesworth, J. C. D. Nisbet, R. P.
Cole, hon. H. A. Noel, Hon. G. J.
Conolly, T. Peel, rt. hon. Gen.
Cooper, E. J. Pevensey, Visct.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Robertson, P. F.
Du Cane, C. Rolt, J.
Edwards, H. Stanhope, J. B.
Farquhar, Sir M. Stunt, N.
Fellowes, E. Taylor, Col.
Forester, rt. hon, Col. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Forster, Sir G. Vansittart, W.
Gard, R. S. Walcott, Adm.
Goddard, A. L. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Grogan, E. Warren, S.
Hamilton, G. A. Williams, Col.
Hardy, G. Willoughby, J. P.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. TELLERS.
Hodgson, W. N. Spooner, R.
Hopwood, J. T. Newdegate, C. N.

Main Question put, and agreed to;

Bill read 2o, and committed for Monday next.