HC Deb 10 May 1858 vol 150 cc336-54

Order read for the consideration of the Amendments made by the Lords to this Bill.

The First Amendment, to leave out Clause 5, read 2°.


I rise to move that the House do disagree with the Lords in this Amendment. It will be quite unnecessary for me to renew the arguments which have been repeatedly used in this House, and which have been so successful, against the proscription and disability to which the Jews, subjects of Her Majesty, are subjected. There are, however, one or two points upon which I wish shortly to advert. I am aware that there are persons who say that without this clause the Bill is of great value in itself. Now it appears to me that the form of oath I proposed was a compromise and concession with a view to satisfy those who had not been satisfied, otherwise there are many things in the oath, as proposed, which I think quite unnecessary. I believe the words in the Oath of Supremacy, on the true faith of a Christian, were originally introduced in consequence of there being at the time, when that oath was framed, a sect of Roman Catholics who held the doctrine that no oath was to be kept with heretics, and therefore, to bind them, these words were inserted. With regard to the Oath of Abjuration, that was framed in consequence of the assumption of the sovereign title by the head of the house of Stuart, there being at that time many persons in this country who were favourable to the claims of that House. But, Sir, these are now merely records of forgotten battles and condemned causes which are now utterly repudiated by all parties. There are no parties I believe who hold that circumstances now exist, as in the reign of Henry VIII., rendering such a state of the law necessary to be maintained, or that the maintenance of a peculiar doctrine by a peculiar section of the Jesuits any longer requires such a safeguard. Again, the necessity for the retention of the words in relation to the claims of the House of Stuart has likewise expired with the extinction of that family against whom they were directed. So that if I were to frame a Bill according to my own views I should put nothing into it but a simple Oath of Allegiance. But in order to obtain a settlement of this question of religious liberty, I inserted those provisions which the prejudices of some persons lead them to think ought to be still retained, but which I consider as unnecessary. I certainly thought the chief value of the Bill which went from this House was the clause regarding the admission of the Jews to seats in the House, they being now kept out by a sort of legislative fraud, by words which were intended to exclude Roman Catholics, and were never meant to apply to Jews. There is another point to which I would refer, and that is, that I think the question assumes a somewhat unusual complexion at the present moment. In the first place, after twenty-five years of discussion, and often as the principle of admitting the Jews has been affirmed by this House, we find that the Bill was sent up to the other House by a greater majority on this than on any previous occasion. This is the first circumstance I would call the attention of the House to—the next is, that we now see the Government in power opposing themselves in the Lords to the clause which proposes to relieve the Jews from their disabilities. In former instances we have had the Government—sometimes with an exception, but generally without—favourable to this relief, and it has been the house of Lords, as a Legislative body, that has rejected it. But we must now consider—all the Members of the Government, I believe, in the House of Lords, with one exception, having opposed this clause—that we are living under a Government who are hostile to the principle of religious liberty. That is also a matter for the serious consideration of this House. With regard to what is to be done it is quite premature to speak. With regard to proceeding by Resolution, I have no doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury will take the question into his consideration, and that the House would listen to any proposition he may have to make with great respect. At present I have nothing to say upon that point, and will conclude by moving that this House disagree to the said Amendment.


seconded the Motion.


Sir, I am unwilling that what the noble Lord has said with respect to this important question should pass altogether unnoticed. The noble Lord has told us that the words "upon the true faith of a Christian" were retained by him in the oath of this Bill to be pronounced—or their equivalent declared—by all except Jews on their entrance to this House, merely in deference to the prejudices of certain Members of this House; but that he attaches no value to these words, and both desires and expects to see them swept away. Now, many hon. Members on this side of the House believed that, in changing the terms of the oath, but retaining these words, in consenting to such an alteration in the form of the oath as would sweep away those other parts of the oath which are assumed by hon. Gentlemen on the other side to be no longer necessary, because they relate to a family which is extinct, and whose claim to the Throne of these realms was no longer worth consideration, they were meeting a valid objection. But the noble Lord now tells us that the whole of this, his own Bill, that the oath that it contains—that in fact everything that has been done towards meeting the objections to the Oath of Abjuration, upon which he and others have laid so much stress, is valueless; and he has declared deliberately and openly, before this House, that he will accept of no such, concession; but he declares in plain terms, his right and his intention to reject the words "upon the true faith of a Christian," which we value most highly, but which he regards as totally unnecessary, and as a useless remnant of the bigotry of past ages, introduced for the purpose of binding Jesuits who no longer exist. That the Jesuits are an order which no longer exists, I was certainly not prepared to hear asserted by the noble Lord, considering all we know of their operations abroad and in this country; he has made a discovery of which I was not before aware.


I did not say that. I said a particular sect of the Jesuits.


If I understood the noble Lord rightly, he said the peculiar doctrines of the Jesuits no longer prevail against which these words were intended to guard. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: No, No!] Does the noble Lord mean that the doctrines of the Jesuits do not continue what they were? If they do, the same reasons remain for the retention of the words which originally induced Parliament to introduce them. I do no see how the noble Lord can escape from that conclusion. What is the plain truth? These words were introduced to make this Christian oath especially binding upon a certain sect of Christians whose opinions were supposed to be lax with respect to the observance of any oath. I do not understand that. The noble Lord, now says, that this sect or order has altered its opinions, or that it has ceased to exist. The noble Lord has shown no reason on that ground for the exclusion of the words, but he has stated in the most unmistakeable manner that their insertion in the oath contained in this Bill is, in his mind, a worthless, a mere concession to the prejudices of hon. Members on this side of the House, yet this is the Bill which the noble Lord has introduced himself. The plain fact is, and it is becoming patent to the country as it is to the House of Lords, that the Bill is based upon revolutionary principles which arc but thinly cloaked. It is a phase of the Bill, introduced in 1854 by the noble Lord, which this House rejected as based upon a revolutionary principle, principles never adopted in this country in either of the two revolutions through which it has passed, and which resulted in the establishment of true freedom. The oath which was adopted by the Long Parliament and the Commonwealth is one which distinctly recognizes the doctrine of the Trinity, but is distinctly Christian. Would to God we had it now! The noble Lord now asks us to adopt the principle of declaring against all professions of Christianity as a qualification for the admission to Parliament or to high office, against every restriction on the ground of religious belief. It was for refusing to read James the Second's declatation to this very effect, that the Bishops were imprisoned but acquitted, and their imprisonment was the immediate cause of the Revolution of 1688. The principle which the noble Lord is now endeavouring to apply to the constitution of this country is the principle upon which the first French revolution was founded, the principle of indifferentism to all religion. It is the principle to which France returned in 1831, and it was her return to that unhappy principle, and the rejection of the Christian principle upon which her dynasty had been reconstituted, that led to the second overthrow of the constitutional monarchy in that country, and eventually to the sacrifice of her entire constitutional freedom. Sir, I feel grateful, as does the most important, must religious, and most intelligent portion of the community, to the House of Lords for the course which they have taken in relation to this subject. I doubt not their adherence to that course; for, having assumed the ground of defending the religious convictions of the people of this country against the misguided attempts so perseveringly made to break down the Christian character of the British Parliament, the House of Lords have taken a ground, which they cannot abandon with honour, and which I know they will maintain with firmness and dignity. The noble Lord the Member for London has now thought proper to move that the House do disagree with the Amendments of their Lordships. Sir, I, for one will not join in repudiating my own opinions, far less the authority of the House of Lords. I warn this House that difficulties and dangers will attend them should they be misled into any attempt to supersede the independent authority of the House of Lords. I warn them against being led into the mischievous and undignified course of setting themselves in opposition to the law and due discharge of the functions of those, whose duty it is to administer the laws of this country. I trust that the House will not adopt the minatory tone of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, that they will not follow the example, in this respect, of the Long Parliament, or perhaps they may find that they have exhausted the patience of the country, and that a fall similar to that of the Long Parliament awaits them. Let not this House arrogate to itself the pretence of infallibility or grasp at a power that has never before been safely wielded by any one branch of the Legislature. Any one who lends himself to such a proceeding will, in effect, be making a direct attack upon the constitution itself, and upon the freedom of our institutions. Depend upon it, this country views this question in a very simple light. It is viewed as a question between religious indifference and those principles of Christianity which form the basis of Our constitution. The people of this country will not be drawn into these subtle refinements as to how certain words found in the oath came there, but will look to their general effect and operation, and will regard those who maintain the Christian character of Parliament as the best friends of the constitution and of their freedom.


said, that having been referred to by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and the opinion which he had expressed on a former occasion having been made the subject of remark in "another place," he was anxious to take the present opportunity of offering one or two observations to the House. Unquestionably, on a former occasion he had taken the liberty of pointing out what would be the result of a continued opposition on the part of the other House of Parliament to the often-repeated wishes of the people on this subject—wishes which, for a period of more than a quarter of a century, had been embodied in divers Bills for the emancipation of the Jews, and which had passed the House of Commons by continually augmenting ma- jorities. He took the liberty of pointing out—not in his own language, but in the better-chosen and well-considered expressions of the right hon. Gentlemen now a Member of the Government (the First Lord of the Admiralty), that it might be possible this House would be compelled to resort to another mode of proceeding, provided it should ultimately appear that that was the only constitutional course by which this great public object could be effected. Undoubtedly, he approved of that proposition, recognizing in it the only ground on which he could ever venture to recommend to the House the adoption of an independent course of action. And he now stated, though with great regret, that should it become necessary—which he earnestly trusted it would not—he should consider it his duty to bring before the House a Resolution on this subject, and therein suggest a course, perfectly constitutional, by which he thought the great object of the people and of that House might be accomplished. Without adopting any minatory language, he might venture to appeal to any constitutional lawyer, and to any reader of our history, whether usage was not the law of our constitution, and whether they were not warranted by that usage in coining to the conclusion that when a particular measure had been adopted by that House on several successive occasions, and when a particular course had been adopted regarding it, not by one Parliament only, but by a series of Parliaments, not by small majorities, but by large majorities perpetually increasing—and that during a period of nearly thirty years—they were in a position to pronounce, with great justice and truth, that the measure in question fairly represented the views and wishes of the nation, and that it was the duty, as it had been the custom of the ether House, to yield to the wishes of the nation when so expressed. What was the position in which they were now placed? He thought this was the twelfth, if not the thirteenth, occasion in which the House of Lords had been solicited to confirm the opinion of the representatives of the people on this question. It was not merely that these Bills had been sent up to the other House; they had been sent up in a manner that showed the people of England considered this question not as involving the rights of the Jews only, but the rights of the constituencies of this country. That was, in reality, the true construction of the case. The ques- tion was, whether the constituencies were, in point of fact, to be practically disfranchised; and whether an anomaly was to continue, the existence of which, to any great extent, would be quite sufficient to condemn the present state of things. It was the undoubted right of any constituency to elect a Jew, but the Jew, when duly elected and returned, was, in consequence of the singular interpretation put upon this anomalous law, unable to discharge the duty of a Member of Parliament. But it was not only that this question had grown up and gone on augmenting in successive Parliaments. By every considerate and careful observer it unquestionably must have been seen that in the course of the last thirty years this measure had been recommended by the opinion and speeches of the most able and enlightened and Most distinguished statesmen—men of all parties and of all shades of opinion having arrived at the conclusion that it was a measure justified by the purest wisdom. If that was the state of the case—if all these appeals had been made in vain—if, in reality, the exclusion of the Jew depended on that which he had frequently had the opportunity of describing as a perversion and fraudulent application of the law, and if they were still unable to prevail on the other House to change its opinion, then, undoubtedly, he conceived it to be the duty of the House of Commons to consider whether there was no other constitutional course of proceeding left for them to adopt. He would not enter at present into the reasons—which hereafter he hoped he might be spared to give to the House—why he thought he should be able to recommend a course of proceeding consistent with the duty of that House and consistent also with constitutional law and usage. He admitted that he should regard the necessity of taking that course as a very great sacrifice, and would not adopt it without deep regret. Indeed, he should regret as a great misfortune the establishment of such a precedent, the consequences of which, he readily admitted, it might be an exceedingly fearful thing to contemplate. He would, therefore, though with the greatest respect, avail himself of that opportunity to address the language of supplication, and not of menace, to those who persisted in opposing this measure, that they would consider the consequences of that House being left no other mode of discharging its duty to the country. This being the state of the case, it might be right that he should say a word or two to relieve the minds of some hon. Members from the apprehension that the course which he might recommend the House to adopt would have the immediate result of involving the House in a collision with the Courts of law. He should deprecate that as an evil almost as great as the establishment of the precedent of independent action on the part of the House. He should undoubtedly hesitate very much before he ventured to recommend to the House any step that would repeat those discreditable scenes which were witnessed in the case of Stockdale and Hansard, and therefore he could assure the House that, if he ventured to propose such a Resolution as had been indicated, the course which he would recommend would be altogether clear of anything which would involve the House in the necessity of asserting, by a strong hand, its authority in overruling and overpowering in any way the ordinary authority of the Courts of law. He should confine himself now to saying that -he hoped no Member of that House would rashly bring forward a Resolution of that kind; and he would assure the House that the particular proposition in question, if unfortunately it became inevitable, could be shown to be right and constitutional, and not entail as its consequence any rupture or controversy between the established Estates of the Realm. The result of the rejection of this clause by the House of Lords was, that the Bill was converted into a measure for imposing a greater amount of disabilities upon the Jews within these realms than they were exposed to antecedently to the introduction of the measure. No wonder that the hon. Member (Mr. Newdegate) hailed this Amendment with pleasure; but he ventured to prophesy that it would be the herald to some further proceeding that would put an end to the necessity of repeating these attempts to carry a measure by legislation in which both Houses of Parliament, acting in conformity with the public voice during the last thirty years, ought to concur.


One word in explanation in regard to a particular Resolution referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman. My hon. and learned Friend refers to the Resolution with which my name is connected, and which was submitted by me on a former occasion to the Committee over which the noble Lord the Member for London presided. In conse- quence of this reference, as well as that of the noble Lord himself, there appears to be some misapprehension in the minds of hon. Members as to my real intentions in relation to this question. I heard, indeed, two noble Lords in "another place" express an opinion that, in pursuance of that Resolution which I submitted to the Committee last year, I was to bring the sub- stance of this Resolution before the House in the shape of a substantive Motion. Now, I beg to state that the hon. and learned Gentleman was quite right in his definition of that Resolution. It was deliberately written and submitted for the consideration of the Committee last year, of which the noble Lord the Member for London was chairman. I maintain the same opinion I therein expressed, and I adhere completely to what I then wrote. I think, however, that the hon. and learned Member for Aylesbury, and the noble Lord the Member for London, will admit that, in submitting that Resolution to the Committee, I gave no pledge that I would take any proceedings whatever in the House in relation to it, and that it is a most erroneous impression to suppose otherwise.


said, that but for the tone which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aylesbury had adopted in speaking of those in "another place"—the tenants of the other Chamber of the Legislature—he should not have said a word on that occasion, and even then would content himself with very few remarks. The House need not fear that he was going to inflict on them a speech on the Jew Bill, but he rose to protest strongly against the tone and spirit of his hon. Friend's address, as calculated to introduce still greater difficulty and complication where none was needed. Surely this unfortunate Bill had returned to us with embarrassments enough of its own, which were suddenly aggravated when the noble Lord the Member for London rose to announce the course which he wished the House to take, without requiring the ill-timed and minatory tone of the speech to which the house had just listened. From beginning to end it was a tissue of mysterious threats that if the other House did not do what the hon. Member said they ought to do, then this House would do something very terrible indeed—would take a step which would bring it into a formal and deliberate collision with the other, and compel it to yield to the will and pleasure of this House. Now, did the hon. and learned Member, did this House, did the country at large really believe that the other House would for one moment regard such threats? That they would abdicate their functions, and surrender their convictions, and their independent judgment on any question, especially so great a question as this, of introducing Jews into the Legislature? He could assure his hon. and learned Friend that he never made a greater blunder in his life than in thinking so. The Peers of England were not the men he (Mr. Warren) took them to be if they did not disregard and despise such threats, and they knew well that the country at large would rise as one man to support and vindicate the independence of the other House of Parliament, let it be assailed when, how, and by whom it might. But it was said by his hon. and learned Friend that the Peers were setting themselves deliberately and obstinately against the public opinion of the country, in resisting the introduction of Jews into the Legislature. He (Mr. Warren) denied it confidently, and asserted that however majorities might have been obtained in this House, they were not the exponents of public opinion out of doors. That public opinion was not slow to array itself on the side of truth, justice, and liberty. It could make its voice heard, when it pleased, in thunder. But how stood the fact? Judging from the petitions which have emanated from the people at large—so few as to be ridiculous when represented as the voice of the people—it was quite the other way. Notwithstanding all the skilful, scientific, and persevering efforts of the friends of the Jews, there were virtually almost no petitions in favour of their claims, nor any public meetings called; and out of all the constituencies of the United Kingdom, during a thirty years' agitation, only two constituencies had been induced, after desperate efforts, to return Jews to this House. But let him observe, that even in cases where constituencies chose to take such a course, that afforded no sound argument; for constituencies might go wrong in their exercise of the elective franchise, and in ignorance, or wilfulness, return persons notoriously incompetent to sit in this House. If they chose to return a Jew, why not a woman? an infant? a foreigner? a convict suffering penal servitude? Were constituents to return such, and then say, the fact of our having done so is sufficient to call on you to admit the objects of our choice? It was not so—it was ridiculous. It was extremely painful to him (Mr. Warren) as an insignificant unit in that House, thus to feel compelled to resist the introduction of a class of his fellow-subjects among whom Were persons whom personally he regarded and respected greatly; but what was he to do, if he felt impelled by an irresistible sense of public duty? And before he sat down, he wished to draw attention to a remarkable circumstance, not hitherto, that he knew of, adverted to in that House, that so little did the Jews themselves desire admission into this House, that not a single petition from themselves to that effect had hitherto been presented to either House. [Expressions of dissent.] Nay, he asserted the fact, and challenged contradiction. And in this state of things, if the City of London would persevere in sending to this House, Parliament after Parliament, one who could not take his seat here, they were unconsciously establishing the fact, that in their own opinion, three Members were sufficient for their interests, and that they Were over-encumbered in having four. On the question immediately before the House, he should strenuously resist the Motion of the noble. Lord.


said, he would beg to ask the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich for an explanation as to where the Resolution with which his name was identified was to be found. Such Resolution did not appear in the report of the proceedings of the Committee referred to, nor was it on the table of the House.


The hon. Gentleman is quite correct. In consequence of a point of form I was precluded from actually moving the Resolution in question. The Resolution, therefore, does not appear on the face of the proceedings of the Committee. But the hon. and learned Member for Aylesbury, who has, I suppose, kept a copy of it, having read the Resolution on two occasions, has now expressed its meaning quite correctly.


That shows the inconvenience of discussing a Resolution.

Motion made and Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided:—Ayes 263; Noes 150: Majority 113.

The Second Amendment, to leave out Clause 8, read 2°

LORD JOHN RUSSELL moved, that the House do disagree with the Lords' Amendment.


said, he wished to notice an observation of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury, The hon. and learned Gentleman was under a misapprehension in supposing that the Bill, as it came down from the Lords, increased the disqualifications of the Jews. The Amendment made by the Upper House on the 8th clause was only consequent upon the former Amendment, and there never was any intention by this Bill of introducing new disqualifications, nor had it done so.


believed, notwithstanding the opinion expressed by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, that the course recommended would create a new disability.

Amendment disagreed to.

Committee appointed, "to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to the said Amendments."

MR. T. DUNCOMBE moved to have read at the table the Return of the Indenture sent to the Crown Office in obedience to the writ for the election of a new Member for the City of London, issued by Mr. Speaker on the 22nd of July, 1857. His reason for making this Motion was, that at that moment the House had no official cognisance of the return of Baron Rothschild for the City of London.

Ordered,— That the Certificate of the Return of the Indenture sent by the Crown Office, in obedience to the Writ issued by Mr. Speaker on the 23rd day of July, 1857, for a new Election for the City of London, be now read.

And the same was read, as followeth:— Those are to certify, that Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, commonly called Baron Lionel Nathan do Rothschild, is returned a Citizen to serve in the present Parliament for the City of London, as by Indenture bearing date the twenty-eigth day of July, 1857, delivered into my Office this day, and there now remaining of Record appears. Given under my hand at the said Office, this 28th day of July, 1857. C. ROMILLY, Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. Lord JOHN RUSSELL, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Sir JOHN PAKINGTON, Lord STANLEY, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Viscount PALMERSTON, Sir CORNEWALL LEWIS, Sir GEORGE GREY, Mr. LABOUCHERE, Sir JAMES GRAHAM, Mr. GLADSTONE, Mr. CARDWELL, Sir RICHARD BETHELL, Mr. BRIGHT, Mr. MILNER GIBSON, Mr. HORSMAN, Mr. BYNG, Mr. DILLWYN, Mr. THOMAS DUNCOMBE, Mr. HEADLAM, Mr. ROEBUCK, Mr. MONCREIFF, Mr. JOHN FITZGERALD, Mr. Serjeant DEASY, and Mr. JOHN ABEL SMITH, nominated Members of the said Committee.


said, he believed it was perfectly competent for the House to appoint Baron Rothschild one of the Members of the Committee. He would call the attention of the House to a precedent for that course which arose in 1715, when a Committee of Secrecy was appointed, consisting of twenty-one persons. On the 13th April, 1715, an objection was raised that Sir Joseph Jekyll, not having been sworn at the table, could not be appointed a Member of the Committee. The point was debated, and a division took place, on a Resolution which had been moved, settling the question then and for ever, that it was not necessary for a Member to be sworn at the table before he could be appointed a Member of a Committee up stairs. The House decided, by a majority of 225 against 117, that Sir Joseph Jekyll having been chosen on the Committee of Secrecy, could sit on that Committee, although he had not been sworn at the clerk's table. That was a case exactly in point with that of Eaton Rothschild. He was not aware that any hon. Member would object to the nomination of Baron Rothschild as a Member of the Committee. No one could be so as Baron Rothschild himself to draw up reasons for disagreeing with the Lords' Amendments. He believed that Baron Rothschild was quite ready to serve on the Committee, as he was ready to serve in the house and perform his duties on all occasions if opportunity were afforded him. An opportunity did now present itself, and he hoped that no objection would be made to the course now proposed, and that Baron Rothschild would be allowed to attend the conference with the Lords, and state his reasons for disagreeing with their Amendments.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild be one other Member of the said Committee,"


seconded the Motion, If Baron Rothschild had the right of sitting on a Committee, he ought to be allowed to do so. The very fact of a member of the Jewish persuasion acting as a Member of a Committee would give a practical illustration of the absurdity of the present law—an illustration which perhaps might have some effect in another branch of the Legislature.


was understood to say that he begged to remind the House that formed Resolutions, in which both the noble Lords the Members for London and Tiverton had concurred, had been pass- ed in the cases of Baron Rothschild and Mr. Alderman Salomons. The purport of those solemn Resolutions was that neither of those Gentlemen were competent to sit or vote in that House. He contended, therefore, that the precedent cited by the hon. Member for Finsbury could not apply to the case of persons elected to that House, but declared incompetent to sit there. He should be glad to hear the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, and other Members of the legal profession, as to whether a Gentleman declared to be incompetent to sit in that House could be appointed a Member of a Committee. If in the Resolutions to which he had referred the House had only resolved that the hon. Members in question had no right to vote, there might be some ground for supporting the application of the precedent of Sir Joseph Jekyll's case in the present instance. But as the House hall gone further, and declared that those Gentlemen were incompetent to sit, he could not see how the precedent applied. He did not think that the leading Members of that House, or the noble Lords to whom he had referred, would wish to involve the House in the absurd anomaly of placing on the Committee a Member whom they had declared incompetent to sit.


said, he had been somewhat taken by surprise by the proposition of the hon. Member for Finsbury. He thought the House ought carefully to consider the proposition of the hon. Member before coming to any positive decision. He (Mr. Walpole) was not at all aware that such a course of proceeding was about to be taken, and therefore had not had time either to look at the precedent or to consider the effect of the proposition. To the best of his recollection, the Act of Parliament attached the penalty to Members for voting or sitting during debate. If so, possibly it would not apply to the present case. One thing struck him on the face of the precedent which had been quoted—namely, that in 1715 no person was duly qualified to take any part in the proceedings of the House without being sworn, not merely at the table, but before the Lord High Steward. He could not find whether Sir Joseph Jekyll had been so sworn or not. if he had been so sworn, he would have been returned to the House as a Member, and that was a material element in the consideration of the question. All he could say was, that if Baron Rothschild by constitutional precedent was en- titled to sit on a Committee, he would offer no objection to his doing so. But he would ask the House not to commit itself without due consideration to what was after all a perfectly unnecessary proposition, and thus establish a precedent which might lead to inconvenience and difficulty.


said, that some years ago his attention had been called to this very point, and after looking carefully into the Act he then came to the conclusion there could be no sort of doubt that a Gentleman was competent to sit on a Committee although he had not been sworn at the table. He had no doubt that his decision was founded on the view that the Act of Parliament only excluded a Member who had not been sworn at the table from "sitting and voting" in that House. The precedent on the journals was founded on that view of the matter. If the hon. Member pressed his Motion, he should therefore feel it to be his duty to vote in its favour, though he should have wished that the House had had an opportunity of more fully considering the subject.


said, he was only anxious to know whether the precedent of 1715 referred to by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Duncombe) was in point or not. It would, however, be desirable to know whether Sir Joseph Jekyll was not sworn before he served upon the Committee? He knew that he was not sworn before he was nominated, but the question was whether he was not sworn before he served.


said, he was quite as much taken by surprise at the statement which had been made as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Some three or four years ago he had looked at the precedent of Sir Joseph Jekyll. He believed that the fact was, that Sir Joseph Jekyll was appointed and served on the Committee before he took the oaths. At the same time he thought, although he had not the circumstances perfectly in his recollection, that it appeared that that was owing to some accidental cause, such as his not arriving in time to take the oaths, and that it was perfectly understood that he would take them as soon as an opportunity should be afforded. There was certainly that difference between the two cases; still he believed that the precedent did justify his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury in moving that Baron Rothschild should be a Member of the Committee of Conference. If, therefore, his hon. Friend should think it necessary to press the question, he should vote with him; but after what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, he thought that it would be but a matter of courtesy and more in accordance with the forms of the House if the Motion were delayed.


said, he was sure the House would admit that no question could have been treated with greater fairness than this had been by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole). If Baron Rothschild was found, upon due inquiry, to have a right to be on this Committee, he was sure there was no Member of the House, whatever might be his views on the abstract question of the admission of Jews to that House, who would wish to deprive him of the exercise of any right to which he might be entitled. At the same time he thought the hon. Member for Finsbury would have treated the House with greater fairness and courtesy if he had given notice of his intention to bring on this Motion. It rested entirely upon a precedent, set many years ago, of which few hon. Members could be aware, and with the real character of which they ought to have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted before being called upon to vote. His own views concurred very much with those expressed by the noble Lord the Member for London, and after what had passed he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not object to postpone his Motion until to-morrow.


remarked, that he had only one word to say, and that was a word of advice as a friend of Baron Rothschild's, and in the interest of the Jews, to advise the Friends of Baron Rothschild to consider very fully and deliberately the position in which he might be placed if this Motion was carried, and the consequences in which it might involve him individually.


said, it seemed to him that this Motion was one which was contingent upon the decision to which the House might come with respect to time Amendments of the Lords on the Oaths Bill. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Buncombe) had waited until he saw what course would be taken by time House, and then felt himself justified in proposing his Motion. But he (Viscount Palmerston) thought that after the short discussion which had taken place, and the statement which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole), that the deci- sion did involve the consideration of some precedents, which, as the matter now stood, they had not time to do; for that reason he thought the House would do well to accede to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, and postpone the consideration of the question until to-morrow.


said, he would apologize to the House for any apparent want of courtesy of which he might have been guilty in not having given notice of his Motion, but the fault was not his, because he was not aware that the Committee would be nominated that evening. The usual practice was to give twenty-four hours' notice of the names of the Committee, and supposing that that practice would have been followed in the present instance, he had intended then to give notice of his Motion. He was perfectly satisfied, however, that the precedent which he had quoted thoroughly bore him out. There were the words in plain English upon their own Journals, that Sir Joseph Jekyll was capable of being chosen a Member of a Committee of Secrecy, although he had not been sworn at the clerk's table. All that he now proposed was, that Baron Rothschild should be chosen a Member of the Committee of Conference, although he had not been sworn at the clerk's table. He maintained that he had a right to make that Motion, and if the effect should be that they should find themselves in an anomalous and absurd position, all he could say was, "so much the better."


said, that no doubt the precedent quoted appeared to justify the Resolution to which the hon. Member for Finsbury asked the House to come. But he would entreat the friends of the Jews not to take a step which had the appearance of taking the House by surprise. It would be very unfortunate if they were to come to a division which would commit the House to a decision on grounds which they had not bad time to consider. On the other hand, if they were right today they would be also right to-morrow, and the question would lose nothing by the delay.


said, he entirely concurred in the suggestion that the decision of this question should be delayed until to morrow, and he hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Duncombe) would accede to that suggestion, on the understanding that the question should have precedence of all others at half past four o'clock.


also, in the in- terest of the Jews, recommended the adjournment of the Motion till to-morrow, being satisfied that nothing would be lost by the delay.


said, he thought the simple course would be to adjourn the debate to half-past four o'clock on the following day. It appeared to be a question of privilege, and he would therefore move that the debate should be then adjourned.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow at half-past four o'clock.

On the Motion for going into Committee of Supply,