§ Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild—returned for the Town and Port of Hythe, 460 came to the Table to be sworn; and stated that, being a person professing the Jewish Religion, he entertained a concientious objection to take the Oath which by an Act passed in the last Session has been substituted for the Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration, in the form therein required: Whereupon the Clerk reported the matter to Mr. Speaker, who desired Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild to withdraw; and he withdrew accordingly.
said that, following the precedent of last Session, he had to move two Resolutions. The first was,—That it appears to this House that Baron Mayer de Rothschild, a person professing the Jewish religion, being otherwise entitled to sit and vote in this House, is prevented from sitting and voting by his conscientious objection to take the Oath which, by an Act passed in the last Session of Parliament, is substituted for the Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration in the form therein required.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he did not rise for the purpose of delaying the proceedings of the House by opposing the Motion, but to remark upon the extreme inconvenience which the regulation provided by the Act of last Session had imposed upon many hon. Members. Under that Act, if a person professing the Jewish religion were elected by any constituency in the country, he and his advocates were at perfect liberty to come to this House and choose their own time for proposing the Resolution which the Act of Parliament directed should be submitted to the House on the occasion, and that Resolution was to have the force of law itself. Now, what he complained of was, that in the present instance no notice whatever had been given to the House of the intention to propose the Resolution. In saying this he had no desire to reflect upon the conduct of the hon. Gentlemen who had brought the Gentleman, who had been elected, to the table that day, but wished to remark that the House were establishing a precedent by which they might be constantly taken by surprise, for he assured them that both himself and many other hon. Members were totally ignorant up to the present moment of the course which was intended to be taken on the present occasion. This was a grave question, because if they once established a precedent by passing Resolutions which might be considered as partaking of the nature of privilege, having also the force of law, the greatest inconvenience might result. He wished to ask, 461 for his own information, whether, in the opinion of the Speaker, this Resolution, which was passed under the authority of an Act of Parliament, had effect for the! Session only, or during the existence of the Parliament; or whether it was a perpetual obligation until rescinded? He wished, also, to put a question to the hon. Member for London (Baron Lionel de Rothschild) whether the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hythe, who bore his name, was a british subject by birth, by naturalisation or otherwise?
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he should be glad to hear the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman on the first question, which was a very proper one; but, as to the second, he submitted that if the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) was of opinion that the Gentleman who had come to the table was not duly qualified, the proper course to try that question was to present a petition to the House.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
observed that the scene they had just witnessed was a strong example of the evils of compelling any one to take the Oaths at all. The conscientious opinions of those Members of the House who happened to be Jews were now to be respected, but there were many others whose conscientious opinions were not yet respected. Many persons who held peculiar convictions on religious subjects were absolutely still denied that lawful justice which was the common right of British citizens. There had been several cases before the police courts in which men had been questioned about their religious opinions, and when those were found not to be consistent with those of the great majority of people in the United Kingdom, their just complaints and rightful claims before those courts had been denied. This injury was done them because they were too honest and truthful to swear in a form contrary to their own consciences. He trusted, however, that the day was not remote when oaths would be abolished as immoral and impious—a Pagan institution, which had been imported into a Christian country.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that with regard to the objection which he understood the hon. Member for Warwickshire to make, that the hon. Member for Hythe had come to the table without notice, he thought it most unreasonable, because he conceived that it was to the public interest that the House should be full.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
explained that he objected to the form under which they were proceeding, under which the House was called upon to pass the Resolution without notice.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, it seemed to him that the hon. Gentleman had repeated the objection to which he had adverted, because if the hon. Member for Hythe came to the table without notice, the question must be raised without notice. But there was another statement which he should like to hear from the Chair, whether the Speaker conceived that these Resolutions, which were declared by the Act to be necessary, were in force permanently for the Parliament, or for the Session; in short, what was the opinion of the Chair on that subject, which would guide the House now and on future occasions?
§ MR. SPEAKER
In answer to the question addressed to me, I should say that it is a well-established rule of Parliament that a Resolution of this House expires with the Session in which it is passed. It has force during the Session, but has no force after prorogation or dissolution. If a Resolution remained in force as long as it stood on the Journals, and until it was rescinded, there would be no difference between a Resolution and a Standing Order, but there is a difference well known to every Member of this House. In my opinion the course now proposed is the correct course, and in strict conformity to the statute passed during the last Session of Parliament on which the Resolution now moved is founded.
Resolved—That it appears to this House that Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild, a person professing the Jewish Religion, being otherwise entitled to sit and vote in this House, is prevented from so sitting and voting by his conscientious objection to take the Oath which by an Act passed in the last Session of Parliament has been substituted for the Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration, in the form therein required.
said, he had then to move the second Resolution, which was,—That a person professing the Jewish religion may henceforth take the oath prescribed in the Act, omitting the words, 'and I make this declaration on the true faith of a Christian.'
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that although his objection to the admission of Jews into Parliament was as strong as ever, he should not, after the statement of the Speaker, divide the House. Up to that 463 moment he had been in utter uncertainty as to when this matter would be brought before the House, and he did not think it fair to a great number of hon. Gentlemen who shared his convictions on the subject, that the House should be moved in this manner in their absence.
Resolved—That any person professing the Jewish Religion may henceforth, in taking the Oath prescribed in an Act of the last Session of Parliament to entitle him to sit and vote in this House, omit the words "and I make this declaration upon the true faith of a Christian."
Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild being again come to the Table, desired to be sworn on the Old Testament, as being binding on his conscience: Whereupon the Clerk reported the matter to Mr. Speaker, who then desired the Clerk to swear him upon the Old Testament.
Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild was sworn accordingly, and subscribed the Oath at the Table.
§ House adjourned at Three o'clock.