HC Deb 20 February 1861 vol 161 c697

said, he rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill to allow Affirmations or Declarations, instead of Oaths, in certain cases, in Great Britain and Ireland. The measure was intended to redress a practical grievance of which there would be many examples soon, and there had been one already. He contended that an oath added nothing to the testimony of a witness, for before he took the oath he was asked if he believed in its sanctity, and if he chose to tell a he and say he did when he really did not, he was then sworn and his testimony was received; whereas, if he spoke the truth and said he did not believe in it, his testimony was rejected. He thought there was no greater test of a man's fitness to give evidence than his consenting to be made an outlaw in society rather than say what he did not believe. He knew an instance of a gentleman of considerable property now in London, who, knowing these questions were liable to be put to him in a court of justice, was obliged to associate with himself in his business a person who could swear for him. His Bill provided that a person should be exempted from taking an oath on his statement that an oath would not in his judgment and to his obligation to speak the truth.


seconded the Motion.

Motion agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir JOHN TRELAWNY and Mr. DILLWTN.

House adjourned at a Quarter after Five o'clock.