HC Deb 29 February 1860 vol 156 cc2008-9

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [1st February],"That the Bill be now read a second time."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.


said, when the Bill was last under consideration, he had moved the adjournment of the Debate, because the Measure proposed to alter the present state of the law, under which no person could be excluded from a corporate office on the ground of religious belief. The law in respect to admission to those offices was analogous to the system adopted in regard to the admission of Members to that House. The constitution of this country was Christian, and that fact was expressed by the connection which existed between the Church and the State. The constitution both of the Civil Corporations and of this House recognized that fact by admitting the various sects of Christians according to their denominations, with a distinct provision as to the admission of Jews which constituted an exception from the general rule. He trusted that that principle would never be changed, for upon it was founded the greatness of the country, and the high moral character which it possessed in the eyes of the whole world. By virtue of that principle the meanest subject had the right of appealing to the great code of morality if any injustice were done to him. For the law and the State both being Christian, any violation of Christian morality was inconsistent with the character of both. His reason for objecting to the present Bill was, that it appeared to ignore, or depart from, that principle upon which legislation had hitherto proceeded, and which recognized the fact that the laws of England were based upon Christianity. The Bill seemed to lay the foundation of an internecine war between the various powers of the State, for it proposed to abrogate the declaration taken on admission to corporate functions against the use of the civic power for the purpose of attacking the Church. For those reasons he had moved the adjournment of the Debate when the Bill was moved at a late hour of the night. In the present thin state of the House, however, it would be absurd for him to enter into so great a question. He should, therefore, content himself by expressing his dissent to the passing of the Bill, and his hope that on some future occasion the House would feel disposed to consider more seriously the grave question it involved.

Question put, and agreed to;

Bill read 2a and committed for To-morrow.