§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
§ Clause 4 (Schedules to be filled up. Penalty for neglect).
§ MR. BAINES
said, that he had to move that the words "religious profession" be omitted from the clause. He thought that the number of petitions which had been presented to the House that day—and indeed for some time past—from various parts of the country, and he might say from all denominations of religion, was a very clear proof that it was undesirable that the demand which it was proposed to make on every householder in this country should be made in the forthcoming Census. He might venture to add that on no other occasion had the sentiments of Gentlemen in that House, especially those sitting on his side, corresponded more exactly with those of their constituents than upon this question. It would be remembered that in the original form of this clause the words "religious profession" were inserted, and a penalty varying from £1 to£5 was applied to the inquiry under this head, as well as to all other inquiries proposed to he made to householders. It was well known to the House that since then an intimation had been made by the Home Secretary of his intention to withdraw the penalty which attached to the words "religious profession;" but he thought he was justified in saying that although in one respect the Bill became less objectionable in consequence of the penalty being withdrawn, yet in another respect it became still more objectionable, because the Returns 1696 that would be obtained by an inquiry thus made would necessarily be extremely defective and entirely worthless. To make the inquiry of householders concerning their "religious profession" was a thing new in this country. It had never taken place on the occasion of any Census being taken in England, Scotland, or Ireland. On one special occasion—not the decennial Census—an inquiry of that nature was made in Ireland, but the result was not of that satisfactory nature to induce the Government to have determined to make that inquiry in the Irish Census Bill of this year. It was felt not alone by Dissenters, but by Churchmen, that to inquire into the religious profession of individuals was objectionable, both on the grounds of feeling and of principle. He had heard individually a greater number of indignant objections expressed by Members of that House, who belonged to the Established Church, against this clause, than be had heard, from those belonging to various Dissenting bodies. Members for very large constituencies had stated that the objections proceeded from Churchmen as much as from Dissenters, and in some cases from clergymen of the Church of England. Although he was a Dissenter, he had not taken up this question merely on the grounds of Dissenters. He had stated on the second reading that he objected to it on general grounds, and he desired to see perfect fairness and entire equity for all religious bodies in this country. It was supposed by some per-sons that those who advocated the opinions on the subject which be entertained were actuated by a desire to conceal their religious belief; but no supposition could be more erroneous, as was demonstrated by the fact that they who were most strenuous in their opposition to the proposed inquiry were men who every day proclaimed their faith to the world. It was, then, upon no such unworthy ground as that, that they objected to the clause; they did so because—with what seemed to be an instinctive feeling in the minds of Englishmen—they deemed it a duty to resist an authoritative demand on the part of the Government upon a point which they regarded as beyond the legitimate scope of civil interference. The civil governor had a right to inquire into the particulars of the civil condition of the people, such as age, sex, occupation, birth-place, &c, but he had no right to intrude into the domain of conscience. It was with Dissenters a matter of principle to maintain the freedom, in- 1697 dependence, and purity of the Church of Christ, by keeping it free from State control; they neither admitted the authority nor received the patronage or pay of the State; and our history recorded but too many instances of persecution and intolerance to justify the jealousy on the subject by which they were animated. He was happy to know that the intolerance of former days had passed away, but there were still relics of injustice, as in the church rates, which compelled men to pay to a Church to which they did not belong. It was therefore that the Dissenters were united on the present occasion as one man in opposition to the proposed declaration—the Wesleyan body, who sympathized to the greatest extent with the Established Church, being the most zealous in the cause. But there was another objection to the clause as it stood, which many excellent men entertained, and that was, that, inasmuch as they were in the habit of attending a place of worship belonging to the Established Church in the morning and a Dissenting chapel in the evening, they would have a difficulty in subscribing to a particular form of declaration as to their religious profession. It would not be easy to state the religious profession of children of every age. Some persons who had not the slightest disinclination to proclaim their own religious sentiments, were indisposed to ask their guests and the inmates of their houses to submit to a similar ordeal. Again, it was quite obvious that the proposed inquiry would operate very invidiously in the case of one class of those inmates, who were willing to conform to all the usages of the family which they served, but who would not unnaturally dislike being called upon to make a declaration which in their opinion might tend to prejudice their employer against them—supposing their belief to be different from his—or subject them to annoyance on the part of their fellow servants. There was a still stronger argument against it, arising from the number of those who, judging from all outward manifestations, were of no religion whatever. In 1851 a calculation was made from the returns of attendance on places of worship on the census Sunday, as appeared in the very able Report of Mr. Horace Mann, according to which no less than 5,200,000 persons who were in a condition to attend places of worship in England and Wales were found not to have attended on the census Sunday, a very large proportion of 1698 whom, it was feared, were habitual nonattenders. He should feel strongly against asking men what was their religious profession when he knew they had none to make, as it would be tempting them to say that which was delusive and false. Besides, in a considerable number of cases, he feared answers might be given of a very undesirable character, such as outrageous protestations against religion, which no one could desire to see recorded upon a public document. He therefore thought that between those who could not and those who, on conscientious grounds, would not, answer the questions, the majority would give no answer, and returns obtained under such circumstances would be utterly destitute of all value. Another objection, too, existed in the great power given to the enumerators to put down such answers as they thought fit to those who did not fill up that column, and which power, necessarily given to a certain extent, and unexceptionable as regarded the ordinary returns of the census, would be open to grave objections with respect to the returns of religious professions. The enumerators would have their own prepossessions and prejudices, and might put down such answers as they thought fit with reference to religious profession in the case of those who did not fill up the schedules themselves. Such a discretion would be altogether unsafe, and must be attended with unsatisfactory results. It might be said that similar inquiries were made as to religious profession in various European countries; but those countries were either despotic or the Government paid the clergy of every do-nomination. But a very different state of things existed here. Nonconformists only wished to be let alone; they did not ask for and would not receive the money of the State, and the Government had, therefore, no right to put questions to them as to their religious profession. In the United States, which bore the strongest resemblance to England of any foreign country, a return was made of the number of churches, and of the amount of accommodation in sittings, but a man was never asked to make a statement of his religious profession. It had been stated that in the last religious census the form had been suggested by Dissenters and was used for their profit and benefit alone, and to the prejudice of the Established Church. He appealed to the right hon. Baronet, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, then the Home Secretary, who brought in 1699 the Census Bill of 1851, and to the then Under Secretary of State, now the head of that department, who also took an active part in carrying that measure, whether there was the slightest truth in the allegation. He utterly denied it, and challenged contradiction when he declared that no such suggestion ever was given by the Dissenters, who, in fact, had nothing whatever to do with it. The suggestion was made by the Registrar-General, and he would read the words of the Report, in proof of his assertion. In the first page Mr. Horace Mann, addressing the Registrar-General, said—It will doubtless be within your recollection that, when making preparation for the General Census, and determining what information was most worthy to be gathered by the aid of the complete machinery then specially to be provided, it appeared to you exceedingly desirable to seize upon so rare an opportunity in order to procure correct intelligence on two important subjects of much public interest and controversy—namely, the number and varieties and capabilities of (1) the religious, and (2) the scholastic institutions of the country.The Registrar-General was a Churchman, and he was assisted by another member of the Establishment, who drew up the Report—a most honourable and fair Report, every page of which bore marks of impartiality. The statement that these returns were not exactly fair to the Established Church was destitute of all real substance; and any candid mind looking into the returns must be satisfied that there was no unfairness whatever, either in the mode of collecting the returns or in the result ultimately presented. Certain instances were quoted which, until they were examined into, gave some slight colour to the impeachment, For instance, in a publication issued by the Cambridge Church Defence Society, it was stated (no doubt for his special benefit) that in the borough of Leeds there were returned only 200 as the number of sittings in the chapels of the Wesleyan Reformers, whereas the attendance was given as 650 in the morning, 723 in the afternoon, and 1,030 in the evening. But the Report itself explained that seeming inconsistency at a glance. Only the free sittings in the Wesleyan chapels, 200 in number, were given. The column for appropriated seats, probably three or four times that number, was not filled up. He thought it likely that the four chapels of the Wesleyan Reformers would contain an aggregate of 1,600 or 2,000 sittings. Another charge made was with reference 1700 to the Latter Day Saints, whose number of sittings was given as 1,220, while the attendance in the morning was given as 3,644; afternoon, 365; and evening, 1,000. But the fact was that this inconsistency arose from the transposition of two lines of figures, by which the numbers belonging to the Roman Catholics were given to the Latter Day Saints, and vice versâ. All the figures he had quoted belonged to the Roman Catholics. And the excess of attendance over sittings in the Catholic chapels arose from the notorious fact, that in the mornings service was performed several times to successive congregations, and that many of the worshippers did not sit but stand. But he challenged the most minute scrutiny of the tables to detect the least dishonesty or attempt to impose on the public. A reference to the aggregate, as stated by Dissenters and the Church of England, would at once show that there was nothing like dishonesty, but, on the contrary, the most perfect honesty in the returns made. The general sum of the matter was this:—the number of sittings in the Church of England was given at 5,317,915, and in the chapels of other denominations 4,894,648. That was a very near approximation, giving a majority of 400,000 or 500,000 to the Established Church. The estimated attendance on the Census Sunday in the Church of England was 3,773,474, and in the chapels belonging to other denominations 3,487,578; the attendance in each case bearing to the Church accommodation as near as possible the proportion of 71 per cent. There was a mere fractional difference between the two. This afforded internal evidence of the most decisive kind of the honesty and substantial accuracy of those who made these returns. There were two modes in which a census applying at all to the religious sentiments of a country might be made—the one proposed by this Bill, the other that adopted with perfect success in 1851. He would read to the House a passage from the Census Report of 1851 on this subject:—There are two methods of pursuing a statistical inquiry with respect to the religion of a people. You may either ask each individual, directly, what particular form of religion he professes; or, you may collect such information as to the religious acts of individuals as will equally, though indirectly, lead to the same result. The former method was adopted, some few years ago, in Ireland, and is generally followed in the Continental States when such investigations as the present are pursued. At the recent Census it was thought advisable to take the latter course 1701 partly because it had a less inquisitorial aspect,—but especially because it was considered that the outward conduct of persons furnishes a better guide to their religious state than can be gained by merely vague professions. In proportion, it was thought, as people truly are connected with particular sects or churches, will be their activity in raising buildings in which to worship, and their diligence in afterwards frequenting them; but where there is an absence of such practical regard for a religious creed, but little weight can be attached to any purely formal acquiescence. This inquiry, therefore, was confined to obvious facts relating to two subjects. 1. The amount of ACCOMMODATION which the people have provided for religious worship; and, 2. The number of persons, as Attendants, by whom this provision is made use of.There were many weighty reasons in favour of making such collective returns of religious statistics as were made on the last occasion. They formed a record of one class of the public institutions of the country. The churches and chapels were already registered, and they merely wanted in addition the amount of accommodation and the numbers attending them on a particular day, or an average extending over a certain length of time. Religious statistics of this kind were desirable and highly valuable. They were of use to the historian, the statesman, and most of all to the philanthropist and man of religion. They exhibited the comparative numbers of the different sects in the country,—as well as the comparative progress of the population, and of their means of religious accommodation and observance. If we had a Census in 1861 on the same plan as that of 1851, the most valuable and important conclusions could be drawn as to the progress or otherwise of the amount of accommodation provided by the various religious bodies. Between 1831 and 1851 there was an increase in population in England and Wales of 27 per cent, and in the accommodation for religious worship of 42 per cent, showing a most gratifying amount of religious activity in the different churches. From such a return, too, could be learned the less gratifying, but more salutary, knowledge of the deficiency still existing of religious accommodation. It could be learned also how far a defective attendance at places of worship was caused by want of accommodation, and how far it was to be ascribed to a want of disposition to attend. The returns for 1861 would show how far the religious zeal of the community had been stimulated by the Bishops, clergy, and laity of the Church, and by the ministers and members of other denominations, in providing more abundant and adequate 1702 religious accommodation; they would also show, not merely in the general but in precise localities, where the existing deficiencies existed, and serve as a guide to the efforts to supply them. The returns before the House afforded the most triumphant evidence of progress in the means of religious worship—far greater than in population, and the most gratifying—he might say stupendous efforts which had been made both is the Establishment and out of it to supply means of religious worship to those in want of them. From the whole facts might be drawn one salutary lesson. It did so happen that there was something approaching to a balance between the members of the Establishment and the Nonconformist sects; he thought that fact should teach them to respect the power of each other, and the efforts each was making to advance the grand cause of religion and the welfare of the country. He had never drawn any mere sectarian conclusion from these returns. He looked on them as valuable for far higher ends; and he believed, if his Amendment were adopted, they would, as in 1851, have returns the ultimate effect of which would be to stimulate both Churchmen and Dissenters to a wholesome and honourable competition, highly favourable to the general interests of the people of this country. He, for one, would appeal to Dissenters, and he was sure every gentleman connected with the Establishment would put it to Churchmen, that they should make these returns with the most perfect and undeviating accuracy, remembering under what sanction, and for what high and sacred purposes, they were designed. He hoped he had said enough to induce the Committee to adhere to the mode of the religious Census adopted in 1851, and he begged now to move the first Amendment of which he had given notice, to strike out of the 4th clause the words "religious profession."
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
Sir, as I am responsible for the Bill on which the hon. Member for Leeds has moved the present Amendment, as the subject to which his Amendment relates has excited great attention and interest in a large part of the community, and as the proposal was made by me quite deliberately and with as full a consideration as I was then able to give to it of all the consequences of the provision, I trust the Committee will bear with me while I lay before them the grounds on which that proposal was made. I must 1703 begin by stating that in my opinion the presumption must be considered to be in favour of including religion among the subjects comprehended in a census. It is true that it has not been the practice in this country to require any statement of religious profession. I am quite aware that it is so; but I wish to bring under the attention of the Committee that the general practice of civilized States in which differences of religion exist is to make an inquiry as to that fact; and persons on the Continent who have paid attention to statistical subjects, and the general principles which regulate them, have recommended that religious profession should be included. I hold in my hand an extract from the decisions arrived at by the Congress at Brussels, and the extent to which the principles have been followed in different European States. It says—"V. The census should comprise the Christian and surname, age, sex, language, occupation, and religious profession of every individual." The principle is adopted in Austria, Bavaria, Belgium, Denmark, France, [Ironical cheers.] I am not aware what there is to elicit those cheers. I am merely reading a list of those countries on the Continent in which the principle of the clause is adopted. Besides those I have named there are Prussia, Saxony, Sweden, and Wurtemberg. The principle is not adopted in Holland and Spain; the reason given with regard to the latter country is that the details are obtained through the civil administration. I believe it is also the fact that a religious census is taken in some of the British Colonies, and, indeed, it is stated in the Report of Mr. Horace Mann that a method of inquiry as to the particular form of religious profession of the people has been adopted in Ireland, and is generally followed in continental States where such investigations as the present are pursued. Therefore, I must maintain, with great deference to hon. Gentlemen who cheer at the mention of particular States on the Continent, that the general practice of civilized countries is to include religion in a census of the population. I will state also that we have before Parliament a paper particularly relating to the subject of the religious census of Prussia. In 1834 my noble Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, then Foreign Secretary, addressed a letter to the British Minister at Berlin, requesting that he would transmit details of the census then about to take place in Prussia, where there is a 1704 perfect system of religious toleration, rendering that country a model for imitation in that respect, and showing that there was no necessary connection between intolerance and a religious census. This is the answer of the head of the department at Berlin to the first question, relative to the mode of taking a religious census:—In the kingdom of Prussia a census of the inhabitants is made every three years, in which the several religious persuasions are distinguished. The last was completed at the end of the year 1831, and its result will be stated below. At the conclusion of the present year, 1834, another census will take place, which is already prepared, the results of which will not, however, be wholly arranged till the middle of next year. In these censuses religious relations are only distinguished in so far as they relate to civil matters. Hence, the census in progress will contain only four classes of inhabitants, according to religious distinction. The first division is into Christians and non-Christiana; of the latter there are in Prussia only Jews, as the Mahomedan Tartars who became Prussian subjects in the year 1793 were ceded with the province of New East-Prussia in the year 1807, and are now Russian subjects. The Christians again fall into two great divisions, according as they recognize, or not, a foreign ecclesiastical superior,—namely, the Pope. The first are under the head of 'Roman Catholic Christians." The latter would be wholly comprised under the head of 'Protestant Christians,' if the doctrines of the Mennonites, or Baptists, did not influence their civil relations, which makes it necessary to distinguish them, inasmuch as they refuse to perform military service and to take oaths. Other religious sects, which, like the Quakers in England, hold the same doctrines, form no distinct congregations, have obtained from the Government no exemption from the general duties of a citizen, and are only allowed to dwell in the country as aliens, whose liberty of conscience, however, is not interfered with. Hence arises the following classification of the different religious professions, namely:—1, Protestant Christians; 2, Roman Catholic Christians; 3, Mennonites; 4, Jews. Commerce and military connections have, indeed, brought into the Prussian dominions a very small number of Christians belonging to the Greek Church, who are recognized by the Government as a separate religious society; but, as their number does not amount at the most to more than 200 or 300, it has hitherto not been deemed necessary to give them a separate head in the statistical tables, and they have been included under the Roman Catholics, as they are only considered by the Church of Rome as schismatics, not as heretics. Nevertheless, the statistical department has now been directed to cause them to be counted separately; this will be done for the first time in the forthcoming census. The number of inhabitants who belong to each of the four religious persuasions first mentioned is shown in the annexed survey, according to the census at the end of the year 1831, for each circle. By this survey it appears, in general, that the Prussian State at the end of the year 1831 contained 7,941,721 Protestant Christians, 4,915,153 Roman Catholic Christians, 14,756 Mennonites, and 167,330 Jews.1705 The Committee will see that this completely exhausts the enumeration of the religious denominations and religious professions of the people of Prussia, and therefore all those difficulties enumerated by the hon. Member for Leeds, and which seemed to me rather in the nature of bugbears, would disappear in the face of a regular enumeration. Well, there has been the example of a religious census taken in the United Kingdom. It was not taken in England and Scotland, but in Ireland, and, although it was not taken under an Act of Parliament, but under a Royal Commission, yet it was a complete religious census, and an example of what a religious census would be in this country taken under the authority of an Act of Parliament. In truth the precedent rather goes against the argument of my hon. Friend, because, being taken simply under the authority of a Royal Commission, and there being no compulsory power, while public opinion was very much excited as to the numerical difference between the Roman Catholics and Protestants, the circumstances were eminently unfavourable to a religious census. Now, I hold in my hand extracts from the Report of the Commission on Public Instruction in Ireland, presented in 1835. The Commission say—Although from our inquiries being in every case held on the spot, the Commissioner was usually unable to give the parties concerned more than a few days' notice of his visit, yet we are happy to state that our inquiries were almost invariably attended by the clergy of the established Church"—And here let it be observed that the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland may almost be regarded as a Dissenting body, as they represent a small portion of the population, and, therefore, would not naturally be eager to give assistance for such a census,—and very generally, especially in country parishes, by the clergy of other denominations; and that we found almost universally a disposition prevailing in all quarters to aid our investigations, and to furnish us with the information which it was our duty to obtain.The Commissioners also say—In numerous instances, however, the officiating clergy of the parish, and more especially of the Established Church, in accordance with the suggestion contained in the circular letter from which an extract has been above given, tendered at the place of holding the local inquiry, an original census taken by them or under their direction, comprising either the whole or a portion of the present population of the parish, distinguishing the religious persuasions to which the individuals therein set down respectively belonged.1706 They add—and this passage is material—that,On the whole we present to your Majesty the Census of Ireland for the past year, with the full confidence that it affords a very close approximation to the truth in a matter where perfect accuracy is nearly unattainable. If, however, there is any part of our census which exhibits the true state of the population more precisely than another, it is that which relates to the members of the Established Church; as not only the comparative smallness of their numbers in some parts of the country and their social position render them more easy of enumeration, but in a large number of parishes we have been enabled to return the Protestants of the Established Church, on the authority of censuses made for the occasion by their own clergymen, and carefully investigated at the local inquiry held by the Visiting Commissioners.This is the general conclusion at which the Commissioners arrive:—It appears that the population of Ireland, as deducible from the census which we now offer' consists of 852,064 of the Established Church, 6,427,712 Roman Catholics, 642,356 Presbyterians, and 21,808 other Protestant Dissenters, making in the whole 7,943,940 persons. But it is observable,"—I beg the attention of the Committee to this point,—It is observable that in proceedings upon the Census of 1831, the religion of 18,951 persons included therein could not now be ascertained, on account of changes of residence which had taken place since that year, and the difficulty of observing their actual domicile.This census was made in 1834, upon the enumeration-books actually obtained in 1831. Therefore, the difficulty of ascertaining the religion of these 18,951 persons arose on account of their change of residence; but it was not stated that there was any difficulty in ascertaining the religious persuasion of each person whose residence had not changed.Of the persons so omitted a considerable portion were doubtless supplied by means of original censuses leaving, however, a residue which ought not to be altogether overlooked in estimating the total population of Ireland for 1834.I think the statement I have read to the Committee will show that, at all events, in taking the religious census of Ireland in 1834, none of these gigantic difficulties which my hon. Friend has conjured up were found to exist; and I am not aware that there is any fundamental difference between Ireland in 1834 and Great Britain in 1860. But, in considering the course to be pursued in the present year, I had to decide before I laid this Bill on the table whether I should adopt 1707 the plan that was followed in 1851, or propose a general census of religious persuasions. That a beginning had been made in 1851 in respect to a religious census is apparent from the fact that my hon. Friend, as well as many other Nonconformists have occasionally adverted to it, as affording the means of a numerical comparison between the Established Church and the Protestant Dissenters of this country. ["No, no!"] Surely my hon. Friend said he inferred from the return of the persons attending religious worship on a given Sunday, that there is about an equality of numbers between the Established Church and the Protestant Dissenters in England. He, therefore, as well as many others, seeks to use the return as a general census of religious persuasions.
I had to inquire, then, whether this was a satisfactory way of taking a general religious census of the population, and whether I should propose to Parliament a repetition of the method of 1851, or the plan embodied in this Bill. Upon matured consideration, I decided against recommending a repetition of the plan of 1851, and in favour of the one now before us. It appeared to me, in the first place, that the introduction drawn up by Mr. Horace Mann, although, no doubt, a work of considerable research and ability, goes into matters quite foreign to the statistical precision and dryness, if I may so, suitable to those returns. For instance, he gives a description of the religion of the Druids, and passes in historical review the religious progress of this country—even furnishing a particular account of the religious opinions of the Swedenborgians, the Mormons, and various other sects; information which is certainly interesting, but hardly falls within the limits of a statistical classification of the population. There is, moreover, a reprint of the Thirty-nine Articles, which I should scarcely have thought necessary to be laid on the table of this House. It seemed to me, therefore, that the system adopted on the former occasion was one altogether more lax and less accurate than was requisite for statistical purposes. It is obvious that an enumeration of the persons who attend places of worship on a given Sunday, even if quite accurate, must lead to very fallacious results, if relied on as the basis of a religious census. The same person may have attended more than once at the same place of worship or at different places of worship on the same day. Others may be included who are 1708 simply present from accident or curiosity, and who do not belong to the congregation in any way; while many who belong to particular denominations may be absent from various causes. Again, the total number of persons returned as having attended churches and chapels on the Sunday in question is only 7,261,000, thus avowedly leaving a very large proportion of the population wholly unaccounted for.
Now, nothing is further from my intention than to bring charges of deliberate dishonesty against those who made these returns of attendance at public worship. I doubt not they were made with perfect honesty and, also, as far as possible, with perfect correctness. But what I object to is the method, which is loose and inaccurate, and necessarily leading to fallacious inferences. What we want to get at is an account of the religious profession of the population. This House, as a civil legislature, has nothing whatever to do with the punctual performance of religious duties, or with the private opinions of each person. It may be conceivable, for example, that an individual who attends the worship of the Established Church, who calls himself a member of that Church, and brings up his family in that communion, may nevertheless be au Arian or a Socinian. That is a possible contingency. Yet it is a fact with which we, the Parliament of England, have no concern whatever. All that we are entitled to ask a man is, "What is the religious faith of which you make a public profession?" It is a matter of indifference to the civil Government whether he attends regularly at a particular place of religious worship. All we wish to know, if I may say so, is under what religious banner he is enlisted, and to what religious persuasion he ascribes himself and brings up his children.
My hon. Friend says there is a great difficulty with regard to the religion of children. Now, this is a knot which the State cuts with great facility. Ask the Court of Chancery how it can tell the religion of a child. That tribunal has no difficulty in laying down rules as to the religion in which children who are its wards are to be educated. We cannot enter into metaphysical questions as to how the religion of a child originates. It is sufficient for us to regard the children of parents connected with a particular persuasion as also belonging to that persuasion. On that principle all religious censuses have been made. On that plan the Irish Census 1709 of 1834 was framed, and no objection was practically taken to it. For these reasons it seemed to me not to be desirable to repeat the method followed in 1851, in taking the religious census—for that was, in fact, a religious census, however imperfect it may have been. As such it was always used, and it has been over and over again quoted as exhibiting the numerical proportions of the different religious sects. It must be admitted that we have proposed a simple mode of ascertaining the religious profession or denomination of each individual.
I have heard it answered that I individually have some wish to give an unfair advantage to the Church of England, and to do something which was hostile and unpalatable to the Dissenting body of this country and Scotland. I can assure the Committee in the most positive manner, and with the most perfect sincerity, that I have no such intention. No such idea ever crossed my mind. I desire to be perfectly neutral as between the different religious persuasions. I simply wish that the truth may be ascertained, and it appeared to me that the plan proposed by the Bill was the most direct and effectual mode of ascertaining it. Certainly I was quite unprepared for the expression of feeling which has since occurred. I can only say that I suggested to my right hon. Friend now the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in 1851, when the census was under consideration, the expediency of extending it to religion, and I most distinctly recollect there was then a general belief that such a census would be particularly unpalatable to the Established Church. I was certainly under the impression that a census which would throw together into one body all the Protestant Dissenters of the country—for in that manner it would be necessary to take the enumeration—would place those denominations in a position, in comparison with the Established Church, which would not prove disadvantageous to them in a numerical point of view. I think they would have had no reason to fear the result of such an exhibition of their strength as would have been afforded by the plan to which they have offered so much opposition. But I must admit that I thought this proposal would not fail to be generally acceptable to persons of all persuasions. Let me just call attention to the manner in which it has been received, as far as I am aware, in England. The members of the Established Church have either made 1710 no objection or are rather favourable to it than otherwise. [Mr. BAINES: No!] A few petitions have, I believe, been presented from members of the Established Church of England, and I am not aware that either they or the heads of the Church have made any remonstrance against the proposal. My hon. Friend said he had heard members of the Established Church object strongly to it, but he did not mention whether they were members of the Church who sat in this House or out of it, because I think it would practically make a good deal of difference whether such persons spoke under the influence exercised over their minds by those whom they represented, or merely gave opinions based on their own individual judgment. I believe, then, I am justified in saying that, as far as publicity goes, there is no serious opposition to this plan on the part of members of the Established Church in England. Nor, again, am I aware that the Roman Catholics have made any special objection to it. The Roman Catholics of England, it is true, are not a very numerous body, but they are quite capable of making themselves heard in this House. I am, however, quite ready to admit that the Nonconformists of this country, of whom I wish to speak with all possible respect on account of the strong religious feelings by which they are animated, and their perfect sincerity on all religious questions, have manifested a very strong and very general opposition to this census. I will advert presently to some of their objections. In Scotland, I believe, there has not been so much interest or feeling excited as in this country; yet there the body who dissent from the Established Church have been, upon the whole, hostile to this plan. My hon. Friend is under some mistake as to the Irish Bill. It does not contain any specific directions as to the particulars to be included in the Returns made; but I think it was intended to comprise religious profession among the subjects of inquiry, and that this was made known publicly in Ireland. Well, I am told that no objection, but rather the contrary, has been expressed in Ireland to a religious census which will include all religious persuasions, and that the Established Church, the Roman Catholic body, and the Presbyterians are all satisfied that such an enumeration should take place. Therefore, when my hon. Friend speaks of the universality of public opinion on this subject, he must allow me to make the not inconsiderable deduction of the public opinion of Ireland, 1711 where the great bulk of the population is dissident from the Established Church. Under the circumstances, I confess I was surprised at the reception given to an alteration which seemed to me fitted to remove what I could not but look upon as an unfounded objection to a reasonable proposal.
The first objection I heard urged was that it was an infraction of religious liberty to question a man with regard to his religious profession under threat of a penalty. When this was communicated to me I stated that I should be prepared in Committee to make an exception of the penalty as applicable to the question respecting a man's religious persuasion, thereby obviating the alleged infraction of religious liberty. Still, that concession did not at all mitigate the opposition which existed. It appears from the authentic explanation of my hon. Friend that there is no wish on the part of the Nonconformists of this country to conceal their religion; he says they are ready to proclaim it, but that their feeling is not to state it in answer to any authoritative demand. [Mr. BAINES: Hear!] Well, but if you remove the penalty, surely it is not an "authoritative demand" in any other sense than that it is made by the persons employed and authorized by the Government. When a man has the full power of giving or refusing an answer as he thinks fit, how can the inquiry put to him come within my hon. Friend's category of "authoritative demands?" But there is a singular inconsistency on the part of those by whom this objection is urged. Great numbers of congregations approach this House describing themselves either generally as Protestant Dissenters or in some cases mentioning the particular denomination to which they respectively belong; and yet these very persons protest in the same petitions against being called upon to state that they are Protestant Dissenters, or what is their religious persuasion! How is one to understand the state of feeling of individuals who actually come before this House and publicly proclaim their religious profession, and nevertheless tell us in the same document they have insuperable objections to declaring it when they are asked to enter it in a column of the paper left with them by an enumerator? I will give the Committee some examples of that to which I refer. I hold in my hand a petition presented only to-day by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds. It is "the humble petition of the undersigned members of the 1712 congregation of Free Church Methodists in the town of Burton-upon-Trent, in the county of Stafford," and is against "the religious persuasion clause," as it is called. These people call themselves "Free Church Methodists." Why should they object to inserting in a census paper the description which they thus give themselves? The great majority of these petitions are in the same form. I have before me the last Report of the Select Committee on Public Petitions. At page 1,487 I find under the head "against statement of 'religious profession,' "the following:—"The minister and representatives of the denomination of Nonconformist churches called General Baptists assembled at their annual association held at Wisbech, in the county of Cambridge," the name of the chairman of the meeting being given. Again, another petition is from a meeting of the "General Assembly of General Baptist Churches in England and Wales, held in Worship Street, London;" another is from the "Western Unitarian Christian Union of Wilts, Dorset," &c.; another from the "Minister and Deacons of the Independent Chapel, Tavistock;" another from the "Annual Meeting of the Bible Christians of the Shebbear district, held at Barnstaple;" another from the "London Second Circuit of Primitive Methodists;" and so on through about a page and a-half of this Report, where the petitioners sometimes describe themselves as Protestant Dissenters merely, and sometimes refer themselves to some particular shade of Protestant dissent. Yet these are the persons who come before this House with the specific prayer that they may not be called upon to state that they are Nonconformists. I confess I am greatly at a loss to understand the nature of their objection.
My hon. Friend says they have "an instinctive feeling" on this subject. That was his expression in describing the sentiments of the bodies whom he represents; they do not wish to conceal their religious profession, but they nevertheless have "an instinctive feeling" and "a conscientious scruple" against being called on to mention it for the purpose of the Census. If instinctive feelings or conscientious scruples of this kind are entertained, all one can say is that, while it is proper to respect them, it is useless to attempt to reason against them. The House will recollect the important consequences which were produced by the conscientious scruple of a 1713 King of this country on the subject of the Coronation Oath, as affecting the emancipation of the Roman Catholics. That unhappy conscientious scruple was the cause that prevented the settlement of this great question in the year 1801, when it was proposed by Mr. Pitt. At the outset George III. appealed to his conscientious scruples, founded on the oath he had taken. He said, "It is impossible for me to listen to argument on the matter. I have an instinctive feeling which tells me that it is wrong in me to emancipate the Roman Catholics." And, accordingly, the resistance which the King then made led to the downfall of the powerful Government of Mr. Pitt, the important question of the Catholic claims remaining open until the year 1829. Therefore, I quite feel that these scruples which I have no doubt generally exist among the Nonconformist body must be respected, but that it is vain, by any arguments I can use at present, to attempt to mitigate their strength.
The taking of the census is a process for the success of which it is necessary to obtain the general and cordial co-operation of the people. We may nominally threaten a penalty, but practically that penalty cannot be enforced; and the only hope of procuring an accurate enumeration of the people either for civil or religious purposes is with their general consent. Now, I have received a report from the Registrar General in which he expresses great alarm as to the effect of any general resistance on the part of the Dissenting bodies to the proposed method of taking the census. He thinks that not only will the religious census necessarily be imperfect if orders are issued from the different centres and governing bodies of the Nonconformist Churches to their members to withhold information—a plan which, I understand, is likely to be adopted, but it is possible that the discontent which would be excited would render the census defective in other particulars; thereby producing evils not limited to the subject immediately under consideration. I hold in my hand a copy of a circular sent out by the London Board of Congregational Ministers, and containing a Series of resolutions unanimously adopted at a meeting of ministers held on the 25th ultimo, at the Congregational Library. This document protests against this provision of the Census Bill, among other reasons, "Because they are confident that should this obnoxious requirement be enforced, such numbers of the Nonconform- 1714 ing community will conscientiously decline to supply the information demanded as must necessarily vitiate the entire return." Now the persons who make this prophecy have the power of fulfilling it. Those who predict that a religious census cannot be taken, when it is avowedly one of a merely voluntary character, will have the power of fulfilling their prophecy and impairing its completeness and accuracy. In a matter of this kind it seems to me vain and idle to argue against my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, who is the master of twenty legions. Under these circumstances, seeing that there has been excited among a large portion of the people of this country, and directed against this proposal, a strong religious sentiment, the sincerity or depth of which it would be impossible to question, although I must be permitted to think it rests altogether upon illusory grounds, I am not prepared to insist on this part of the Bill now before the Committee. At the same time I trust that the reasons I have stated will be weighed by the members of the Nonconformist body, and that having obtained their wishes, on this occasion they may be inclined on some future census to mitigate their hostility to a religious enumeration, and to consider, not upon the grounds of instinct or of mere sentiment, but upon more argumentative and rational grounds, the substance of their objections to it. This is not the only country in which the proposal of a census has been met by an unreasoning objection. [Cries of "No, no!" on the Ministerial side, followed by Opposition cheers.] Well, I withdraw the word "unreasoning," and call it an objection based upon feeling and sentiment. It is well known, as a matter of history that the passage of Scripture referring to the census ordered by King David was once very generally regarded as indicating the general impiety of such an enumeration, and I am not sure that the taking of even a general census of the population in many countries of Europe was not delayed for centuries on that account. In other parts of the world there have also been objections to a complete enumeration of the people. In most Mahomedan States there has been an overwhelming repugnance to furnishing information regarding one-half of the population—namely, the women. It has been viewed as a terrible affront to inquire of the Mussulman and some other Oriental nations what was the entire number of the inmates of a house. I find this passage in the work of that 1715 celebrated traveller in the East, Volney, published towards the close of the last century:—All the calculations of population in Turkey are arbitrary, because there are no registers of births, deaths, or marriages. The Mussulmans have even superstitious prejudices against the taking of a census. The Christians alone can be enumerated by means of their capitation tickets.I inquired of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes), who has devoted much attention to statistical subjects, whether the known objection of the Mussulmans to a census which includes women, had prevented the British Government in India from making a complete enumeration of the population. The hon. and gallant Member told me that he had himself superintended a census of the Deccan; that it comprised females as well as males; that the head of each house made his return, and that this objection had been overcome. That example shows that where an aversion to a particular item of the census exists in any population it may gradually be overcome, and that the progress of inquiry and the increase of intelligence may lead to the removal of prejudices which, at a given moment, are invincible. I think the time will come when the objections which have been so fully stated by my hon. Friend to a religious census will be found to rest rather upon imagination than upon reality. But it is impossible to deny that at present they do weigh with a large section of the people, and that, influencing as they do their judgments and feelings, it is now impossible to carry a religious census into effect with a reasonable prospect of success. Upon that ground, Sir, I acquiesce in the Amendment now before the Committee.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
Whatever varying opinions may float through the Committee, I think that as to the remarkable speech which has just been delivered hon. Gentlemen on both sides will be inclined to admit that the right hon. Baronet has been thoroughly impartial. The sentiments he has uttered, as far as I can gather, have somehow or other contrived to irritate and reflect upon every party in this House. [" No, no," from the Opposition.] What! are hon. Gentlemen on the other side then quite satisfied with the right hon. Baronet's impotent conclusion? Why, the right hon. Gentleman, before drawing his extraordinary parallel between the Mussulmans of the East and the Dissenters of England, talked of the singular 1716 inconsistency of the great body of Nonconformists in this country. I ask any sensible man in this House whether it is true that where sentiment and feeling exist it is impossible there can be reason? Was there ever a speech so full of singular inconsistency as that of the right hon. Gentleman? After supplying the best arguments he could find, and displaying his great research, he told the opponents of his plan that they are such—he did not say "brutes"—but such "Mussulmans" that he hopes they will become more rational in future, and not resist his wise and sensible provision. Meantime, however, says the right hon. Baronet, as you are the masters of twenty legions, and command so many votes, I withdraw my obnoxious proposition. I am very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has withdrawn the proposition, and given such excellent reasons for retaining it. There was one part of his speech, however, in which he showed more sentiment and feeling than reason. He expressed a wish, why I do not know, to assimilate this country to the continental system. Why, in the world, he should go to the Continent for his example I am at a loss to imagine. He adduced the instances of France and Prussia. Now, we all know that in France the State subsidizes all forms of religion. In Prussia, I believe, it subsidizes but two—Roman Catholics and Protestants; and for this reason, that all who are not Roman Catholics are classed as Protestants, and it is supposed that there are no Dissenters. But what analogy is there between Prussia or France and this country? If the Government of this country subsidized all forms of religion, it would have a right to put this question; but it does not, and a great proportion of the people repudiate its jurisdiction in spiritual matters. Therefore, I say, that it has no right to ask this question. The right hon. Gentleman referred to Spain, but he forgot to inform the Committee that, in that country, it is penal for any one to be a Protestant, and that within the last few days he has received a petition from a Protestant complaining that he was included among the Roman Catholics. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of civilized countries, and seemed to draw a distinction between civilized and constitutional countries. Why did he not go to America, where the manners, institutions, and customs of the people are more congenial with those of England than elsewhere, and tell the House how they take 1717 the Census there? In the last report upon the American Census it is stated:—In a previous publication we returned the churches, but without the extent of accommodation or the value of church property, which were not included in the tables, on the ground that it was not probable that they were places exclusively set apart for religious worship. If the object extended no further than the mere ascertainment of churches, the value of the property, &c, there could be little objection to it, but as it is evident that conclusions will be drawn from the results favourable or adverse to the character of the various communities—a matter justly more important than a mere question of bricks and mortar—it cannot be considered a sound one, and ought to have been, as it has been, reversed.Therefore, it appears that, so far from our brethren in America taking the Census as it is taken in Prussia and France, they take it as was done in the year 1851 in this country. ["No, no."] Not the present census, because they have even altered that. They stand upon the broad ground that no man has a right to inquire the religious opinion of another—the ground on which I resist this most mischievous proposition of the Government. I will not condescend to narrow the question by going into figures. I say that the Government has no right to inquire as to the religious persuasion of any member of the community. The right hon. Baronet entered into a very minute criticism of the Report of Mr. Horace Mann, and endeavoured to discredit the Census of 1851. I was very much surprised to hear him take that course, because the Home Secretary in 1854, the noble Lord now at the head of the Government, when questioned by Mr. Apsley Pellatt upon the subject, said, "I entertain no doubt as to the accuracy of the Returns with regard to all the facts to which they refer, I repose entire confidence on the accuracy of these Returns." Now, forsooth, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary of 1860 gets up and says that these Returns are not to be relied upon.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
I did not at all dispute the numerical accuracy of the Returns. What I disputed was the accuracy of the method.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
So far I am glad to hear that the right hon. Baronet does not now dispute the accuracy of the Returns, but if he does not dispute the accuracy of the Returns of 1851, why is he not satisfied with the system? Why does he give those reasons of sentiment and feeling, instead of arguing the point, which I do not think he has done? He 1718 has forgotten that several local inquiries were made into these Returns of the year 1851. The Bishop of Oxford impugned their accuracy, but, after inquiry, he stated in his charge to his clergy in the year 1854, that he was perfectly satisfied of the accuracy of the census so far as his diocese was concerned. Therefore I am surprised that—not here, but in reply to deputations attending in Downing Street—the accuracy of these Returns has been impugned. I believe that an inquiry is now being made into the subject by the National Society, and that every day the accuracy of these Returns is confirmed. This very morning a very long letter has appeared from Mr. Horace Mann, in which he affirms that the accusations have been carelessly made, and goes so far as to say that they are ludicrously false. I do not go so far as that, because I am satisfied that no hon. Gentleman would make accusations which he did not think he could prove, at least, in this House. But I do not think the accusations ever have been proved in this House. I think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was carelessly made, and that the conclusion at which he arrived is not what it ought to have been, considering the tenor of that speech. As far as this proposition is concerned, I object to it on two grounds. In the first place, I object to it as an infringement of religious liberty, because the State has no right to ask the religious opinions of men whom it does not pay or assist in any manner, and who repudiate its spiritual jurisdiction; and, secondly, I think that the statistical facts proposed to be ascertained will prove mere fiction. The noble Lord at the head of the Government stated to a deputation which waited upon him at the Home Office lately, that the only wish of the Government was to ascertain facts which would be important as the foundation of legislative action. That was stated to a deputation from hon. Members opposite, who tendered their allegiance to the noble Lord opposite on condition that this religious profession clause was adhered to, and among that deputation was the real master of twenty legions. On that occasion the noble Lord gave an implied pledge that he would not give up the clause. I believe he said he would stick to it. That does not always mean that a Prime Minister will stick to it; but, at all events, he said that he wished to ascertain facts which would be important as the foundation of legislative action. I say that is impossible to ascer- 1719 tain facts, and that you would only get a great blue-hook, containing, not facts, but fictions, under the semblance of Parliamentary authority. For these reasons, and because I think it both unwise and unworthy of any Government to get up sectarian differences among the population of England, which would he the effect of this clause, I heartily oppose it.
said, he thought that the Committee ought to hare some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman after the announcement he had made of his willingness to omit the words "religious profession" from the Bill that the Government would not use the powers given to them by the Bill so as to carry out any inquiry such as that which was made in 1851.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that there were in the Act under which the Census of 1851 was taken some general words enabling the Secretary of State to add particulars, under the authority of which the inquiries as to places of worship and places of education were made. Those words were omitted from this Bill, and therefore the Secretary of State would have no power to direct inquiries to be made as to any particulars which were not included in the Act.
said, he was glad to hear that statement, but he was afraid that the words were still large enough to enable the Secretary of State, either by the form of the schedule or by directions to the enumerators, to include matters of this kind. He should not have been so anxious upon this subject had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds, who had dug up a buried controversy, had attempted to defend what no one had accused, and had, with the force of twenty legions, urged the Government to repeat what the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had properly described as accurate in itself, but faulty in its method, and likely to lead to erroneous conclusions. He was still more rejoiced that the Committee had received a public pledge that the Government did not intend to repeat the inquiry of 1851, because the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. B. Osborne), after reading from an American document a passage condemning even the enumeration of buildings, had followed it up by insinuating that it would be very desirable to repeat the proceeding of ten years ago. With regard to the mode of taking the census, all that he had heard from members of the Church of England was that if there was to be a religious 1720 census at all, this was the proper mode of taking it; that they were perfectly satisfied the Church would come well out of it, but that they were sure that the Dissenters would not consent to it; that the apples would not be numbered, that the proposal would raise a frightful storm, and they wondered how Government could have been so foolish as to put such a proposition in the Bill. The hope that had been expressed, that the Nonconformists would, within the next ten years, become as sensible as Mahomedans was a sort of consolation which would, no doubt, cause the sugarplum which they had just received to be swallowed with much additional zest and satisfaction. As it took some thirty years to remove the conscientious scruples of the Sovereign in 1801, he supposed that it would be at least the same period before the Nonconformists of this country became, in regard to this subject, as intelligent as Hindoos and Mahomedans. For his own part, he had never been able to understand their scruples. Probably if he was a Nonconformist he might, but as he did not happen to have that privilege, he could not understand what difference it could make to a religious body to have it ascertained whether its members were ten or ten thousand in number. There seemed, however, to be an objection to the ascertainments of such facts, and he thought that the Government had good reason for giving way upon this point. The hon. Member for Liskeard was in error in stating that the National Society was making an inquiry to test the accuracy of Mr. Horace Mann's religious census. The statistics which that society was collecting were similar to those which it had collected ever since its foundation; they referred to education, and had nothing to do either with Mr. Horace Mann's figures or with this religious question. All that he hoped was that, now Government had shown such extreme deference to what they called instinctive feeling and conscientious scruples, they would upon educational questions show an equal respect for the conscientious feelings of great bodies of the people. Had the Government adhered to this clause, he should have been glad to have supported it, but as they had given way, he should not oppose its withdrawal.
§ MR. MARSH
said, that religious censuses had been taken in Australia without any objection from the people, but they were as uncertain and as unsatisfactory as they could possibly be. On the last oc- 1721 casion on which such an inquiry was made he had about 300 people in his employment. He never asked them what their religion was, but put down all the Irish as Catholics, all the English as belonging to the Church of England, and all the Scotch as Presbyterians. That was almost the universal rule, except that some persons followed the example of a friend of his, who, having eighty-six servants, lumped them and put all down as belonging to the Church of England. In the Colonies there was, however, a reason for a census of this sort which did not exist in this country. There a certain sum of money was reserved to be divided among all religious denominations, and it was therefore important to ascertain how many members there were belonging to each sect. In England no such reason existed, and therefore an inquiry as to the religious professions of the people was mere idle curiosity, and its results would prove of no practical value or serve any other purpose than to enable some statistical member of the British Association to draw an erroneous conclusion as to the relative numbers of the different denominations. It was remarkable that there were a good many questions to be considered at the statistical congress in the ensuing week, but religious persuasion was not among them. When statistics attempted to deal with things which were not positive and certain, they were almost sure to go wrong. Illustrations of this were to be found in the statement as to the education of prisoners in the gaol calendars and in the weekly statement of the value of goods exported from this country. Prisoners concealed their knowledge in order that their sentences might be mitigated; and in one case he had a servant who had been transported, and who during seven years professed to be unable to read or write, but directly his sentence had expired proved to him that he could read as well and write better than he could. It was very wise of the Government to withdraw the obnoxious portion of this clause. There ought to be a delicacy in asking as to a man's religious opinions, and men ought to act in harmony with the speech of the Irish gentleman in the time of the Prince Regent, who, being asked to what religion he belonged, replied, "In such excellent society as the present I am of no particular persuasion, but when I am at home I am of the old faith." Instead of trying to expose religious differences, they ought to endeavour to conceal them.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, he did not think that the right hon. Baronet could well have come to any other decision than that at which he had arrived. The Church of England had no reason to regret the course which he had adopted. The victory of instinctive feeling which they had witnessed that day would for ever dispose of Mr. Horace Mann and the Census of 1851; and he hoped that they would never again hear those most fallacious Returns, and the still more fallacious inferences which had been drawn from them, cited in debate. There was a good deal to be said against a census having reference to religious opinions. He did not know what business the State had with the matter; but he wished they had heard a little more of those arguments in the year 1850. When it was proposed to frame the census upon a plan which it was thought might be favourable to the religious body which had the greatest political organization, and could apply the sharpest whip to its members, they heard nothing about the impropriety of examining into religious opinions. Ever since the Census of 1851 was published it had been made the basis of reproaches against the Church of England, and attempts to undermine her position as an Establishment. It was all very well to renounce it now, but it had been appealed to in continual debates with very telling effect. He hoped that after the exposé of that day's debate all that would end. The country would now know that it was Churchmen who wished for facts, and Dissenters who did not. The Dissenters had by their conduct admitted that there was something awkward, something they did not wish to be inquired into, in the Census Returns of 1851. If a trader had kept his books in rather an intricate and unusual manner, and when any one proposed to check them he threw up his hands in virtuous indignation and objected to any examination, they would all know what to believe. If a lady was asked her age and declined to tell it, they would all know what to infer from the denial. And so, too, if they asked the Dissenters their number and they did not like to tell them, they all knew what to believe. It would hardly need any facts to show that the Census of 1851 could not in future be relied upon; but he wished to call the attention of the House to the fact that in many cases the congregations of Dissenting chapels were returned at larger numbers than the buildings would hold. At Bradford the Wesleyan Reformers had 1723 a chapel capable of holding 810 persons. The number returned as attending religious worship was 1,061 in the morning and 1,483 in the evening. At Halifax the chapel would hold 400 persons; the numbers returned were 460 in the morning and 526 in the evening. At Leeds the chapel would contain 200; the numbers returned were 650 in the morning, 723 in the afternoon, and 1,030 in the evening. What a crush there must have been! A right rev. Prelate, whose impartiality was well known, and who entertained no strong views upon religious questions, stated in the other House that in his diocese Sunday-school children had been driven from chapel to chapel at various times of the day, and that where two or three denominations had each a chapel they had clubbed their congregations at different services, so that all three might count for each. These were the sort of things which had tainted the Census of 1851 with fraud, and had affixed to it the character which those on his side of the House had always endeavoured to enforce, and which hon. Gentlemen opposite had now stamped indelibly upon it as true. Whatever else might be said, whenever those Returns were appealed to in future, Churchmen would be able to say that they asked to verify them and the Dissenters would not consent.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
said, that the obnoxious portion of the clause had not been withdrawn either courteously or generously, because, although the right hon. Baronet made a speech which was rather that of a philosopher than a statesman, there was in it a great deal of sneering and cynical observation upon the Opposition on the part of religious bodies to this census. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was an instinctive feeling or sentiment against this clause, and he likened it to the instinctive feeling which he said animated George III. to refuse to consent to Catholic emancipation. That was a most unjust and unsound illustration. George III. told Mr. Pitt from an instinctive feeling, that his yacht was ready, and that he was prepared to start for Hanover if emancipation was pressed. He might remind the right hon. Baronet that Home Tooke wrote that what was called firmness in a king was called obstinacy in a donkey, and he therefore thought that this allusion to the instinctive feeling of George III. was an unjust sneer upon a great body of persons who had from conscientious motives opposed this census. 1724 The right hon. Gentleman was "willing to wound but yet afraid to strike." Had the provision been proposed by the Conservative party, those who remained of the effete body of the Whigs would have raised the cry of civil and religious liberty throughout the country, and would have made great capital of it; but being in office the right hon. Baronet and his colleagues endeavoured to pass the matter by with a sneer. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord R. Cecil) compared the compulsion to declare religious opinions with the compulsion of a trader to exhibit his books. Why, a trader was responsible to his creditors for all the property which he had received, and was therefore bound to show his hooks. Again, the noble Lord, as a sort of satire upon the question, said that if a lady was asked her age she would not answer.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
explained that he said, that if a lady was asked her age and did not reply, every one knew what to think.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
said, he was told that that was a plagiarism from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, from whom he would not be much surprised to hear such a jaunty sort of expression upon a question of religion, but what had it to do with the question before the House? He was sure that every one. would rejoice that this obnoxious clause had been withdrawn; but it appeared to him to have been withdrawn in a manner which was most ungracious to religious bodies who opposed it from an instinctive and natural feeling, upon which the Whigs, if in Opposition, would have traded, but at which, being in office, they sneered.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he wished to protest against the expression which had been current in the debate that the Legislature had nothing to do with religion. That never had been true in this country; neither under the Commonwealth, nor under any form of monarchy. It was entirely untrue to say that the Legislature of England, which had to provide so many things essential for religious worship, had nothing to do with religion. The example of the United States had been referred to; but in the United States there was no Established Church; nor did the present condition of that country invite the imitation of England. It was well known that he had much community of feeling with the Protestant Dissenters; that his sympathy for them were very great, and that he would be no party 1725 to anything calculated to injure or reflect on them. He should not have been surprised at the Roman Catholic party objecting to a religious census; but he confessed he was both surprised and pained at seeing the Nonconformist body object in so arbitrary a manner to furnishing the necessary information, which could only be obtained properly by means of the census. However, as the proposal contained in this clause could not be carried out, he was satisfied that the next best thing was now to be done. We were in the Census to have no specific information at all with regard to religious persuasions, but were to rely upon other natural sources of information—the registries of births, marriages, and deaths. He believed that the Returns of 1851 with respect to religion were entirely fallacious, and therefore rejoiced that they had been given up, as they could not be improved in the ensuing Census. An attempt had been made to draw a parallel between the conduct of the Dissenters on that occasion, and that of those who opposed Catholic Emancipation; and reflections had been cast freely upon those, and the memory of those, who opposed that measure. Yet, it had recently been admitted by the leading organ of public opinion, the intelligence and power of which were well known throughout the world, that the proceedings of the opposition to Catholic Emancipation had been too surely justified by the event. The memory of King George III. and of his faithful adviser, Lord Eldon, had been vindicated from the imputation of unreasoning bigotry. Of the sincerity of that Sovereign's convictions no doubt was ever entertained; for it was well-known that he would have abdicated rather than assent to that measure. His political foresight was now respected. He trusted that a better temper would be manifested by the Roman Catholics, and that there would be a revival among them of national feeling, as contradistinguished from a blind submission to the behests of Ultramontanist faction. In conclusion, while he regretted that the Government did not feel themselves strong enough to insist upon the retention of that part of their Bill which related to religion, he tendered them his best thanks for sweeping away the erroneous Returns of 1851.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
said, that if the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, had possessed, among his other attainments, a knowledge of the history of Nonconformists, he would not have made 1726 the speech which he had addressed to the Committee upon the present occasion. The right hon. Gentleman had referred them to the Continent for examples worthy of imitation. He (Sir Morton Peto) had had some experience of the Continent; and in Austria, which had a concordat with Rome, none of his agents were permitted to have a Roman Catholic servant, because they were assumed to be Protestants. It was sometimes assumed in that House that the Roman Catholics alone were persecutors; but on a recent visit to a Protestant State in the North of Europe, he found thirteen persons belonging to the same denomination as himself were imprisoned, and compelled to subsist upon bread and water, simply because they had a decided religious conviction. The accuracy of the Census of 1851 had been impugned; but he believed that any inquiry which might be instituted into that question would result, as previous inquiries had resulted, in showing that the Census of 1851 was substantially correct. Why should Dissenters be compelled to make a religious confession to a Government from which they derived no assistance in religious matters? They had no objection, as far as he was aware, to give the number of their places of worship, the amount of accommodation provided in each, and even the number and description of their schools; and he maintained that it would be unjust to require more of them. He was glad the subject had been debated, though he regretted the spirit in which it had been treated by the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, by the character of whose remarks he felt, as a Nonconformist, that he had been personally insulted. There was no body more devotedly loyal to the Crown, more anxious for the welfare of their fellow-subjects, or even more ardent in their support of the Government to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged, than the Dissenters of England. It was, therefore, to be deplored that the Home Secretary should have deemed it his duty to pass upon them a gratuitous insult. He would not continue his remarks, inasmuch as Government had thought fit to withdraw the obnoxious part of the clause; but he thought that Churchmen and Dissenters had a higher duty than quarrelling as to their relative numbers; and that when inquiry was made in the country as to the various places of worship, they would find that over and beyond all there was a large outlying population, who were neither Church- 1727 men nor Dissenters; and instead of Churchmen and Dissenters quarrelling as to which was the most important body, let them coalesce to bring back these wandering sheep to the fold of Christ, and in a Christian feeling, laying aside all spirit of antagonism, let them act together for the benefit of the entire community.
§ MR. FRANK CROSSLEY
said, he could not compliment the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary upon the good grace with which he had yielded to the pressure to abandon the proposal. Indeed, he could not help saying that he had done a right thing with a bad grace. He had withdrawn an objectionable proposition, but he had also clearly intimated that nothing but the force of numbers could have induced him to give way. Yet there were very strong and cogent reasons why Dissenters should refuse their assent to a religious census. The Government had no right to inquire into a man's religious profession, and if they had a right to demand what his faith was, they might claim an equal right to know how he observed its teachings. In reference to the remarks of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Robert Cecil), he wished to point out that in many chapels numbers of persons were compelled to stand during the whole service, and were crowded in the building just as hon. Members were crowded in that House during an important debate; and just as the House, with sittings for only about 200 had 650 Members, so several chapels held a far greater number than the regular seat accommodation could provide for. He thought it very desirable that the numbers belonging to each denomination should be known, and suggested that either the principle of 1851 should be adopted, or that the number of places of worship and the numbers of seats should be ascertained, so as to obtain an approximation to the results.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
said, he believed it could be shown that if people were compelled to make a public confession of their religious opinions, the result would be in some cases to inflict upon them great hardships in a social, and even in a legal point of view. Some years ago a man in the West of England was sent to prison for a period of one year and nine months for having written some words upon a gateway expressive of his religious convictions. Subsequently, upon the attention of the Home Secretary being called to the case, the punishment was remitted; but still the 1728 fact remained that the public statement of opinions which might be thought heterodox in some particulars might expose even a well-meaning man to heavy pains and penalties. Again, if a man were to describe himself, in compliance with an Act of Parliament, as of no religious opinion whatever, would he not disqualify himself from giving evidence in a court of justice? The Americans contented themselves with obtaining an account of the churches and other places of worship belonging to all religious denominations, and the number of persons they were capable of accommodating. Similar facts might be gathered in this country from the authorized publications of the different Dissenting communities, and he thought the Home Secretary would do well to have them compiled for the information of the public generally.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, be rose for the purpose of expressing a hope that, notwithstanding the over-learned, but perhaps not over-lively, speech of his right hon. Friend (Sir George Lewis) the great Dissenting bodies would rightly understand the spirit in which these words were proposed and the spirit in which they were withdrawn. He trusted that it would be understood by every body of persons in the country that the words were inserted because it was thought that the results of the provision they introduced would prove exceedingly useful to the legislation of the country, and that its withdrawal was due to a becoming deference to a strong expression of opinion on the part of Dissenters. When the whole of the grants for education which were annually voted by Parliament depended upon the fact of there being large Dissenting bodies who proclaimed themselves as such, and as such desired and received Government aid, it could not be said that an accurate account of the numerical strength of each denomination would be an entirely worthless document. He could not sympathize with the feeling that induced a man to decline to state his religious profession, because he believed England to be the most religious country in the world, and religious profession was perfectly consistent with the spirit of this country. Allusion had been made to the time when religious opinion carried with it civil disability, but even in the worst times of persecution the English people boldly avowed their religious opinions, and it was a proof rather of a decline than of an advance of religious sentiment that there should be an indisposition on 1729 the part of any considerable body to make the same declaration. At the fame time he thought that in the face of the opposition which existed Government had done wisely in withdrawing the clause.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he sincerely hoped the Government would not pursue the same course in regard to Ireland as they proposed to adopt in regard to England. In Ireland no difficulty whatever would exist in obtaining a religious census. Every one had a religion of some kind, and no one was ashamed to avow it. It was absurd to say that they could ever arrive at any conclusion worth having, unless they took a correct religious census of the people, and he hoped the Government would insert a clause in the Irish Census Act, not only authorising, but directing the Lord Lieutenant to take steps for the purpose. The real meaning of the opposition in England, besides the conscientious conviction, lay in the idea that the floating masses of the people, of no particular religious persuasion, would, if there was a religious census taken, be all put down to the Established Church.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he was happy to say that the announcement made by the Government of their intention to discontinue the prohibition against the taking of a religious census in Ireland had not excited the smallest opposition in that country. On the contrary, so far as his information went, it was the universal desire that such a census should be taken. The Government intended, therefore, to take it, and when the Irish Bill came to be discussed in Committee he should consider the propriety of introducing words to that effect.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Before I touch upon the question immediately before the Committee, I cannot refrain from congratulating hon. Gentlemen opposite on the additional proof we have this day received of the unanimity and subordination to their chief which prevail among the occupants of the Treasury bench. A few days since we heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer turning into open ridicule the statements and intentions of the Prime Minister; while at the commencement of our proceedings to-day the Secretary of State for India presented a petition, couched in the strongest language, against the proposed religious census, adding, in defiance of our rules, an emphatic declaration to the effect that he cordially concurred in that condemnation. That is to say, the right 1730 hon. Gentleman cordially concurred in condemning a proposition brought forward by Her Majesty's Government, to which he, therefore, was a party, which the noble Viscount the Prime Minister, in answer to a deputation, has openly approved, and which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has to-day advocated in clear and forcible terms. One of the public journals has described a recent speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a "frantic indecorum;" I am not sure that the escapade of the Minister for India should not be included in the same category. With respect to the omission of these words in the Bill, I must express my deep regret that we are not to have any census of religion. This I regard as a great misfortune much to be deplored, and I cannot help thinking that the Protestant Dissenters of this country and their representatives in this House will be sorry for the course they have taken on this subject. I am free to use this language, because I am not aware that I ever said anything approaching to disrespect of my Dissenting fellow-citizens; on the contrary, I have again and again expressed my sincere convictions that we, Christians of the Church of England, are deeply indebted to our Dissenting brethren for the manner in which they have filled up that vacancy which exists in the means and administration of the Church of England, and, therefore, I never hear a discussion like this without regretting that we Protestant Christians do not think more of the substance of our Christianity, and less of forms. Upon this subject I have watched the proceedings of the Dissenters with astonishment. I came down to the House to hear some satisfactory reason given for the course they have pursued, and I listened with attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds; but that hon. Member said nothing which I could qualify as being like a reason. I concur entirely with what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary on this subject; and it seems to me that the Protestant Dissenters are now trying to stop a purpose of great public importance without being able to assign anything like a fair reason for their conduct. Therefore, I am bound to express my belief that they are actuated by what I cannot call by any higher expression than a matter of prejudice. A friend of mine put into my hand a letter from one of his constituents, in which the writer declares that "when a Government official 1731 asks me my religious profession, he is guilty not only of impertinence but of insult." How are we to account for such extravagant ideas? We have been told to-day that the Roman Catholics have no objection to make a declaration of their religion; but, on the contrary, desire to do BO. We of the Church of England—no small body numerically in this country—likewise have no objection to make such a declaration. If any man were to come to me officially, and were to ask me my religious profession, I should have no more hesitation in saying that I was a member of the Church of England than I should have to acknowledge that I was a Member of this House. I can see no insult or offence in the question, and can feel none. I can only account for the part which the Protestant Dissenters take in one way, and that is by believing that they are afraid of the results of the examination. I can see no other rational mode of accounting for the unreasonable outcry they have raised than by supposing that they are afraid of being found numerically not so strong as they claim to be, or as they were made to appear by the last census. When I say this, let me distinctly state that if any charges of unfairness are made in respect to the mode of taking the religious part of the last census, I do not participate in them; but I concur in the statements made as to the defective method then adopted, and am glad to hear that the Government have no intention to repeat it. I believe the results were, however unintentionally, unfair towards the Church of England, and the hon. Member for Leeds has to-day given a proof of this. The hon. Member spoke of 14,000 places of worship connected with the Established Church, and 20,000 places of worship connected with the Dissenters; but my belief is that the number of 14,000 places of worship, as being the amount connected with the Established Church, is a very great understatement. I speak from memory, but I believe that there are in England and Wales some 11,000 or 12,000 parishes["More, more!"] and that in consequence of the divisions and districts the number of benefices in connection with the Church of England is not less than between 18,000 and 19,000. Therefore, if the last census only gave the result of 14,000 places of worship, that was a manifest understatement and injustice to the Church of England. A census for religious or any other purposes should be accurate 1732 and reliable, but the last census was not so. I very much wish that the religious statistics of the country could be ascertained, and the Protestant Dissenting body have incurred serious responsibility by the unreasonable determination they have come to that this useful information shall not be communicated to Parliament. Then comes the question whether, entertaining these views, I shall be disposed to divide the House for the purpose of maintaining the words in the clause. I think it would be very injudicious to do so. If I find fault with the Government at all, it is not so much for withdrawing the words in question as, in the first instance, for withdrawing the penalty. I do not say that, with the powerful opposition from the Dissenting body, they could have proceeded with the penalty; but when the penalty is withdrawn it becomes a matter of option to state the religious profession, and therefore no reliance could be placed on a return so made, especially after the opposition manifested against it. I am not disposed to blame the Government for the course they have taken to-day. I rather thank them for the intention they entertained to give this information; but I think the responsibility must rest with the Protestant Dissenting body, who have taken their course with such vehemence and unanimity. Though we might charge the noble Lord at the head of the Government with using language on a former occasion inconsistent with the course taken by the Government to-day, I am not disposed to do so, and am not surprised that the noble Lord should regard the opposition now manifested as constituting a change of circumstances, and a reason for a change of conduct.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I think my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has been very unjustly accused of attempting to cast some insult on the Nonconforming body; for it is only by a perversion of the meaning of an argumentative illustration he has used that such a charge could be supported. I entirely concur with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and with the Member for Leeds in thinking that there is value and utility in a religious census. I mention the hon. Member for Leeds, because in the latter part of his speech, he elaborately and successfully showed the utility in embracing in statistical information the gradual progress of religion. I entirely concurred with my right hon. Friend as to the ex- 1733 pediency of putting into the Census a religious enumeration; and it never occurred to my mind that it was an inquiry which any person, whatever might he his religious opinions, could reasonably object to. I quite deny that it was to be an inquiry into the shades and grounds and character of every person's religious opinion; for inquiring of each individual to what denomination he belongs would be only like asking in what denomination he was christened; in which he was brought up; if married, where he was married, and where he intended to be buried. These are questions of fact; and it was not intended to ask as to the intensity or shade of a person's belief, but simply to record the fact to what denomination of Christians he and those belonging to him professed to be attached. My right hon. Friend has shown that there is nothing in the question which was proposed to be asked by this clause that need cause any man to refuse an answer, and he stated, in illustration of that opinion, that numerous petitions have been presented, which an immense number of persons have signed, describing themselves as belonging to some one denomination or other of the Christain Church. Therefore, I concur in thinking that there is not a shadow of reason in the objections taken to calling upon persons to record their religious profession. I differ from the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) in his opinion that the intention which we have announced to take away the penalty for not answering the religious question, at all strengthens the case of those who object to the declaration of religious profession. It did appear to me that there was a fair objection to the penalty, and I certainly should have imagined that when the penalty was taken out of the Bill, and the declaration was left optional, every ground of objection on the part of the Nonconforming body had been entirely removed. The question then was put on the Dissenters' own ground—that of the voluntary principle, and I should not have conceived that they would have the slightest cause to object to such an arrangement. I have said that I concurred with the hon. Member for Leeds in thinking that there is value in a periodical enumeration of the different sections of the Christain Church, but I do not agree with him as to the mode of obtaining the information, because nothing could be more entirely fallacious than the mode adopted in 1851. You may say, perhaps some valuable information may be given by the enumeration of the different 1734 buildings devoted to Divine worship by different denominations. That may be an enumeration of considerable importance, and may be obtained, I believe, through the medium of the registration; but to ask, as was done in 1851, how many people attended on a given Sunday in different places of worship would procure no information from which any useful conclusion could be drawn. You might get an enumeration of how many people attended Divine worship in the morning, afternoon, and evening; but how do you know that they were not the same individuals who attended these several services in some places, and entirely different congregations at each service in others? No inference of value could be drawn from such information, and therefore I entirely protest against adopting such a mode, attended with trouble and leading to no reasonable conclusion. I concur with the right hon. Baronet in regretting extremely that this objection has been so strongly taken up by the Nonconforming body; and it is impossible to deny that their opposition lays them open to suspicions, as to the motives which have given rise to it. With respect to the enumeration of 1851, I do not believe that there was any fraud practised, but I cannot but think that there is no truth whatever in the conclusions which have been drawn from it. I did not expect there would be so strong an opposition on the part of the Nonconformists to the proposition of the Government, but, at the same time, I quite concur with my right hon. Friend that the opinions and feelings of so large, so highly respectable, and valuable a body of men, placed as they have been on a religious principle, are entitled to respect, and therefore the Government would, I think, be much to blame if they persisted in calling on the Committee to retain in the Bill words to which such strong objection has been taken. Nevertheless, with all respect to the Nonconforming body, I still entertain the opinion 'that their objections—however founded, in their own mind, on religious principle—are not borne out by any reasons that will bear the test of argument. We defer to their feelings, but we cannot assent to their reasoning.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, the noble Lord, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, had given excellent reasons for pursuing the course they had abandoned. He had been charmed with the language and argument of the 1735 Home Secretary. How convincing were the facts, and how well arranged the matter! But, after being convinced by the right hon. Gentleman, he was disappointed to hear that the right hon. Gentleman was about to withdraw a proposition so satisfactorily supported. It appeared from the statement of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, that the Dissenters had not a shadow of reason for the course they had taken; and yet they were to succeed in their object; so it might be concluded that when they had good reason on their side they would fail. At present, however, whether the Dissenters were right or wrong, it appeared that they were too powerful for the Ministry to withstand, and were enabled to dictate their own terms to the Government. It was said by the hon. Member for Leeds that it was decreed that the Church of Christ was not to be subject to the Government. [Mr. BAINES: In matters of religion.] He had always understood it to be the duty of the Christian Church to be subject to the State: such, at all events, was the interpretation which he drew from the Sacred Writings. It must not be supposed that the Church of this country objected to a proper religious census. He had been applied to by a clergyman in Staffordshire to press for such a census; for this clergyman stated that, at the last census, his parishioners, being much engaged at the time in the glass-works, absented themselves, in consequence of their unwashed condition, from the church on the day of the taking of the Census; so that they were not put down in the account. Yet, if they were asked how they would be enrolled, they would reply, and truly, that they were members of the Church of England. When the Church-rate question was under discussion, the Church of England had been described as a sect; but no one would be persuaded that that was true, when he stated that 80 per cent of the women of England were married in the Church. That was a great fact; for, with that part of the population on the side of the Church, the other part would be sure to be brought round. He saw, also, among the papers he had occasion to examine that 78 per cent of the children at school, were in schools of the Church of England. That was a good fact; and another fact was, that the Dissenters were afraid of a religious census. When, therefore, he was told of the number of the chapels of the Dissenters, and the Church of England was being turned 1736 into a sect, it was his firm determination, with all respect to the person who made the statement, not to believe a word of it. Why should he not say, "I am Protestant, and belong to the Church of England?" He had said so all his life; and yet the Dissenters, when they came into this House, and were asked to say that they were the same men out of it as in it, complained of the question as being an offence. With respect to Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland, had risen with alacrity to inform the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell), that the words "religious profession," which had been struck out of the English Bill, should be introduced into the Irish Bill. Now, it should be recollected that those words were not at present in the Bill for Ireland. Why, then, did the right hon. Gentleman evince so great an eagerness to place Ireland on a different footing to that of England in respect to the Census? He believed the people of Ireland to be less than 6,000,000 at that moment. He also thought that the Roman Catholics were sincere in their desire to have their religious profession enumerated in the Census Bill. The Presbyterian body he believed to be equally anxious for that course. The Episcopalians were not ashamed to rank among the members of the Church of England. Nevertheless, he objected most strongly to the principle of legislating for a common empire upon different principles. They were willing to have one common census for England and Ireland. He should, therefore, claim for himself the right of objecting to any measure for Ireland framed upon a different principle to that for England.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he wished to explain. The Irish Act of 1850 adopted a different mode of taking the Census, inasmuch as the Government of that day availed itself of the assistance of the constabulary in the collection of that Census, and the Return for Ireland was more complete than that for England. In the Act of the present year the Government had followed verbatim the law of 1850, except so far as omitting the prohibition of taking the religious census. When he gave notice of the Bill he stated, however, to the House that it was his intention by that measure to take a religious census.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, it was stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell), that nobody in Ireland objected to the religious 1737 census. He wished, therefore, to ask the hon. Member for Leeds whether there were any Protestant dissenters in Ireland, and if there were, why they did not share the conscientious scruples of their co-religionists in this country with respect to the religious provision of the Census Bill?
intimated that a Report had been presented to the General Assembly in Ireland that a deputation had waited upon the Chief Secretary in Ireland for the purpose of expressing their desire for a census to be made of the religious denominations in the country.
§ MR. BAINES
said, he would appeal to the Committee whether he had allowed a word to drop from him that could have cenveyed the slightest offence to any hon. Member of that House. He studiously avoided saying anything that could wound the feelings of any Gentleman. He wished he could say that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department had been as inoffensive to the Dissenters as his (Mr. Baines') arguments were towards the members of the Church. That speech of the right hon. Gentleman was, in his opinion, contemptuous and discourteous towards the Dissenting body, describing them as it did as being deficient in the faculty of reason. When the right hon. Gentleman was conscious that that body constituted 5,000,000 of the population of England and Wales, and formed the great strength of his own party, he (Mr. Baines) did not think that that was the language which the right hon. Gentleman should have used towards them. In reply to the question of the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners), which was one that would better have been addressed to an hon. Member for the sister country, his information only enabled him to say that there was a considerable body of Wesleyans in Ireland, and he believed that they objected to the form of inquiry it was proposed to introduce. It was absurd to say that Dissenters were afraid of such an inquiry, but they felt that there was a great difference between the admission of right in the Government to make such inquiry, and one founded upon the free will of the people themselves. He had himself given notice of an Amendment, which he believed would produce the most accurate Returns that could be obtained of the religious opinions of the people generally. He repudiated the allegations that had been made of any wish on the part of the Dissenters to conceal their numbers.
§ SIR CHARLES DOUGLAS
said, he could not allow the debate to close without expressing his satisfaction at the result that had been arrived at. He did not believe it was a fact that the Roman Catholics of this country were indifferent on this question. He knew from communications which he had in private with many persons, that the Roman Catholics would object to any declaration of religious profession as much as any other body of men. It had been said that the members of the Church of England did not object to the question of religious profession being slated; but he thought that they would be taking a very short-sighted view of the case if that were true, and he believed it was for the interest of the Church that details of this character should be suppressed.
§ Amendment agreed to; the words "religious profession" struck out.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that in the Irish Census the state of education of the population was taken, and he thought it desirable the same should be done here. With that object, he moved in line 29 the insertion of the word "education."
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he was afraid that the insertion of that word would convey no intelligible meaning as to the kind of return required. Before sitting down, he wished to reply to the statement which had been more than once made during the debate, that he had offered an intentional insult to the Dissenters of this country. Now, he was not aware what part of his remarks was open to any such interpretation; and he was quite unconscious of having intended any such insult, or of having used any expressions which could be fairly construed into an insult. There appeared to be great sensitiveness in the minds of many Dissenters on the subject of the proposed census. He was at a loss to know what he had said which could be taken as an affront to them, for the expressions which he attributed to the Dissenting body were in many instances used by their own representatives and organs. The hon. Member (Mr. Baines) thought it uncourteous arid unfair to say that there was a want of reason in the objections urged by the Dissenters. In stating the grounds on which the Government had submitted their proposal, he had certainly said that these were reasonable grounds; and having examined the objections taken on the other side, he had also said that, in his opinion, they were not 1739 founded on reason, but, according to the statement of the Dissenters themselves, rested rather upon feeling than upon argument. That was not his expression; it was used by the hon. Gentleman himself. Was there anything improper or unfair in this treatment of the subject? As hon. Members knew, this was not the first time that faith and reason had been opposed to each other. The greatest advocates of religion had maintained that it was impossible to scrutinize faith by the light of pure reason. He gave the Dissenters credit for being animated on this question by a strong, fervid, and sincere religious feeling; but he must be allowed to retain his opinion that their objections to the proposal of the Government were not founded on reason.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
proposed at the end of the clause to add the following words, taken from the American Census instructions:—"And of all places where educational instruction is imparted to the youth of the land."
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, the propriety of including educational statistics in the census had been considered before the Bill was introduced. The fact was that the Education Commissioners, who had made extensive inquiry on this subject, had obtained educational statistics extending over a considerable part of the United Kingdom, the sum of £10,000 being assigned to them for defraying the cost of their inquiries. They would report upon the subject in full, and the information which they had procured would be quite sufficient, he believed, for all practical purposes. That being so, the Amendment was unnecessary.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
reminded the Home Secretary that the Commissioners had only taken certain selected districts of the country.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, their statistics, though certainly incomplete, would be sufficient to serve as a guide for the whole country.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he thought the Amendment too valuable to be dismissed without more consideration. By a recent Act certain employers would be prevented from engaging the services of boys except on production of a certificate that they had attended school, signed by a competent schoolmaster. The information elicited by the hon. Baronet's proposal would afford valuable assistance in carrying that Act into effect, whereas the statistics of the 1740 Commissioners would not supply what was requisite.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
replied, that if the Amendment were adopted the information obtained would not individualize the schools; it would enumerate, without describing them, and would not assist in the administration of the Mines Regulation Bill. To do that it would be necessary to have a complete register of schools, not taken at intervals of ten years, but renewed from time to time. Hon. Members who desired to engraft upon the Census Bill provisions for securing educational statistics must remember that the operation was an expensive one. The enumeration, the printing, and the digest of the proposed educational statistics would probably add not less than £30,000 or £40,000 to the cost of the Census, which, as it was, would amount to more than £100,000. Believing that the grant made by the Treasury to the Commissioners would elicit sufficient information for all practical purposes, he was not disposed to allow a new inquiry of this nature.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
observed, that as there was no religious, there should be no educational census.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to; as was also Clause 5.
§ Clause 6 (Enumerators to take account of Houses, &c, and to distinguish the Boundaries of Parishes, Boroughs, &c).
§ MR. CAIRD
moved in line 31, to insert after the word "division" the words "with particulars as to the number of rooms having windows in each house." There could be no better means of coming at accurate information as to the material improvement of the people than by inquiry as to the improvement that had taken place in their dwelling-houses.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that one great objection to the window tax was that it caused an intrusion into private houses. He believed that if an enumerator went into a house to count the windows in each room, he would stand a good chance of being summarily ejected.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that the Government had consulted with those who had managed the Census in former years, and were advised not to insert any particulars in addition to those which they had put into the Bill. Besides this he did not think the information sought for by the hon. Gentleman would be of any practical use.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to; as were also the remaining clauses.
§ MR. BAINES
proposed a clause requiring returns of all places of worship, schools, and educational establishments, similar to-those obtained in the Census of 1851, under the heads of "Public Worship' and 'Education.'" He made this proposal because he was of opinion that it was desirable to have the fullest and fairest census—religious and educational. At the same time, it was not his intention to divide the Committee on that subject. He thought the clause of great importance, and gave it up with reluctance, in deference to the opinions of others.
§ Clause negatived.
§ MR. BLACKBURN
said, he hoped that in the Scotch Census Bill, a similar clause to that which had originally stood in the English Bill, for obtaining information as to religious professions, would be inserted. The members of the Established Church of Scotland would have no objection to it, and if the Dissenters objected, they could state their objections when the Bill came before the House.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate would state what course the Government intended to take with reference to the Scotch Census.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.