HC Deb 24 July 1861 vol 164 cc1426-8

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he should oppose the Motion, on the ground that it was an Indemnity Bill for one class of Her Majesty's subjects, and not for all. For three consecutive years they had passed Bills of that nature, none of which had been printed. The right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, had said that those Bills were printed, but from inquiries which he had made he believed the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken. [Mr. BOUVERIE handed the hon. Gentleman a printed copy of the Bill.] Well, he believed he might say that the Bill had never reached himself or hon. Members before. Why should it be rendered necessary to pass an indemnity Bill to protect persons omitting to make a declaration that was perfectly obsolete, useless, and ought to be blotted out of their statute book? He called the declaration which parties were called upon to make on taking certain offices a test, which had the effect in many instances of preventing men of fine mind from accepting office. The mere fact that it was necessary to pass an Indemnity Bill every year for protection of persons who did not make the declaration was a strong argument in favour of abolishing all tests of this description.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'this House, having, during each of thirty-one consecutive years, passed a Bill, which became Law, for indemnifying persons liable to make and subscribe, but who had not made and subscribed, the Declaration imposed by the Act of the ninth year of King George the Fourth, chapter seventeen, and having during each of three consecutive Sessions passed a Bill for abolishing such Declaration, will not be satisfied with any measure respecting such Declaration, except one for its abolition,"—instead thereof.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, the hon. Member had taken a very singular mode of benefiting the class whose cause he advocated, as his Motion, if carried would have the effect of rejecting the Indemnity Bill. He could not suppose that was his object, as the Bill indemnified persons who, by omitting to make the declarations required of officials and others, rendered themselves liable to penalties. He hoped the House would persist in the policy it had pursued for a number of years, and consent to go into Committee. The hon. Member really wished to engraft on this Bill that measure which he had passed through the House in the early part of the Session, but which had been rejected by the other House. It was a rule of the House that no Bill which it had passed could be re-introduced in the same Session, and the hon. Member, therefore, sought to evade that rule by the course he now adopted. His Bill was rejected in the Lords upon the second reading, by a majority of 49 to 38, and the more legitimate mode of proceeding would be to bring forward the same Bill in the next Session.


said, he would remind the right hon. Baronet that the Test and Corporation Act was repealed upon the ground that, instead of passing annually an Indemnity Bill, as they had done time out of mind, to shield persons who did not take the declarations under that Act, they ought entirely to erase the Act from the statute book. He did not understand why, in the present case, the same argument should not apply to the wiping away entirely the test to which his hon. Colleague referred.


said, he would strongly advise his hon. Friend (Mr. Hadfield) not to divide the House upon his Amendment. At the same time he would express a hope that the Government would take up in the next Session the Bill which had three times passed the House.


said, there was a vast difference between the declarations formerly required by the Test and Corporation Act which were declarations of religious belief, and that imposed by the Act to which the hon. Member's Motion applied. The latter declaration was only to the effect that a person admitted to any corporate office should not use the power thus accruing to him for the purpose of attacking the Church of England. That was not a grievous restriction, and he could not participate in the objections which had been urged to it by the hon. Member. He trusted he would, therefore, not interrupt the passing of the Indemnity Bill, which be himself admitted was necessary in other cases.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

House in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Qualification of Persons),


said, it was not his intention to move the other Amendment of which he had given notice, but if he took his seat in the House next year he would re-introduce his Bill.

Clause agreed to, as were the remaining clauses.

Preamble agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read 3° To-morrow.