HC Deb 20 April 1863 vol 170 cc401-48

Order for Second Reading read.


Sir, as a considerable time has elapsed since I obtained leave to introduce this Bill, and as many hon. Members may probably now be in the House who were not present on that occasion, I think it right, without entering into all the details I then laid before the House, that I should preface the Motion for the second reading by a brief reference to the main facts on which the Bill is founded, as well as to the provisions of the Bill itself. I am the more anxious to do this because I am well aware that very strong feelings of objection exist in many quarters to any alteration of the existing law as regards the religions instruction of prisoners in county prisons in England and Scotland. Those are feelings which I cannot but respect, because I believe them to be founded on religions conviction, but they are feelings, I must add, which appear to me to be utterly mistaken and misapplied with reference to the provisions of this Bill. I cannot bring myself to understand that this Bill raises any question that can be connected with the truth or error of any church or form of religious belief. If that were the question at issue, I should agree with my hon. Friends who object to any alteration of the law in this respect, their objection being, I believe, founded on conscientious attachment, which I fully share with them, to the doctrines of the Protestant religion as professed by the great majority of the inhabitants of this country. But I do not think this question enters at all into the consideration of the subject now before the House, nor does that subject involve the admission of any principle which can possibly be injurious to the maintenance of Protestant doctrine. The Bill, in fact, involves no new principle; it involves only the extension of a principle we have already sanctioned and recognised repeatedly, that extension being demanded by regard to our own consistency as well as by a sense of justice to a large portion of our fellow subjects—the Roman Catholics of this country. I formerly stated, that although the terms of the Bill, following the terms of the existing law, are general, and do not refer to any particular denomination of Christians, yet the application of its provisions will he chiefly, at all events, confined to Roman Catholics. I desire to state this without reserve or concealment. What are the main facts with which we have to deal? The principal fact is, that there are to be found in the county and borough gaols of England and Wales a very large number of prisoners who are members of the Roman Catholic Church. According to a Return made on the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Arundel (Lord Edward Howard) at the beginning of last year, there were no less than between 3,000 and 4,000 Roman Catholic prisoners in the county and borough gaols of England and Wales, besides about 1,500 Roman Catholics in the convict prisons of this country. I am afraid, also, that from the increase of crime since then, the number is now larger. Nor is that surprising. Considering the great facility of intercourse which of late has been created between Ireland and the other portions of the United Kingdom, and bearing in mind the higher rate of remuneration for manual labour obtained in this country, the result has been a large influx into England and Scotland of Irish labourers, nearly all of whom would be Roman Catholics. They form a considerable portion of the population of our large towns, and especially of that class which is devoted to manual and unskilled labour. That is, to a certain extent the case in London; and it is so to a greater extent in Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, and other centres of commerce and manufacture. Considering the circumstances, the lives these people lead —the ignorance too often, I fear, arising, from inattention to their spiritual and moral interests—it is not surprising that the labouring classes of the population furnish the great bulk of our criminal population, and of the inmates of our gaols; nor is it a matter of surprise that there should be found among them a large number of Roman Catholics. But before considering their condition in prison, let us consider their normal condition in this country. In a religious point of view, they have perfect freedom; they have chapels and priests, with the fullest opportunities of attending the public worship of their Church, and of receiving the private ministrations of their priests. In addition, they receive, out of a grant annually voted by Parliament, aid for their schools, in order to remove the ignorance which too often prevails among persons in that class of life. But let us go a step further. Many of our recruits are taken from that class— a vast number of Irish Roman Catholics are to be found in the ranks of the army. The discipline of the army, the duties which it has to perform, and the stations where troops may be posted, make it impossible that a soldier can have the same individual freedom as to attending the ministrations of his Church, or of receiving the private instruction of his priest, as he had before enlistment. The connection between the priest and the soldier, as a member of his congregation, is severed when he enters the army. What does the State do? The State provides, by commissioned Protestant chaplains, for the religious instruction of the great bulk of the army. Presbyterian chaplains are attached to certain Scotch regiments, and Roman Catholics are placed upon the same footing. By the Return presented last year it appears that there are no less than eighteen commissioned Roman Catholic chaplains provided for by grants annually voted by this House, for the religious instruction of Roman Catholic soldiers, and they are exclusive of the provision which is made for the religious instruction of troops in Ireland, and in various stations abroad. But let us go a step further. The soldier, when he enlists, finds his religious wants provided for by the State, and I am happy to say no objection is ever made to that particular Vote in the War Estimates. But what is the case if he commits an offence which results in a sentence of imprisonment? If he commits a military offence, he is tried by court martial; and if there be a military prison in the district which is not full, he is sent there to undergo his punishment. In these prisons, if within reach of a commissioned chaplain, it is part of the duty of such chaplain to give his attendance in them; but when the prison is too remote from a commissioned chaplain, then special provision is made for the services of a local priest to minister to the spiritual necessities of the prisoner. But supposing there is no military prison near, or that it is full, then the Roman Catholic soldier is sent to undergo his sentence in the borough or county gaol. Or let us take the more common case, that the offence committed is against the ordinary law of the country; the offender is given up to the civil power, and, after conviction, is sent to the civil prison. What is the consequence of this, which may be the result of the mere accident of there being no military prison near, or its being full? Here we come to what seems to me to be a defect in the law, for which a remedy should be found. The law, with regard to county prisons, is most specific, and therefore I shall refer to it. The law relating to the borough prisons is, in the main, of the same character, but I need not refer to the details. In all county prison it is very properly required that a chaplain of the Established Church should be appointed, who is paid in proportion to the number of prisoners which the gaol is capable of receiving. Upon that chaplain, not by regulation, but by law, are imposed certain duties. He is bound not merely to read, the services of the Church, but to visit every room and cell in which prisoners are confined, irrespective of their creed; and to him is committed the responsibility, or the right, or the duty, whichever it may be called, of prescribing the lessons which are to be taught, and the books which are to be read by the prisoners for their moral and religious instruction. Roman Catholic prisoners equally with Protestants, subject only to one modification, are committed to the exclusive care of the Protestant chaplain. There is a modification, I allow. It is contained in what is called the "special request clause," by which, at the special request of any prisoner who is not a member of the Established Church, he may, under such regulations as are consistent with the rules of the prison, be visited by a minister of his own church. Let the House bear in mind, that although the request be made and complied with, it in no degree modifies the obligation cast by law upon the Protestant chaplain to visit every room and cell in the prison, and to prescribe the lessons and books to be used by all the prisoners. In one case only is that law relaxed, and that is in regard to persons under sentence of death. In those cases, out of regard, I presume, to the highest interests of persons standing on the verge of eternity, it is provided, that where the person so condemned is not a member of the Established Church, at his special request he may be attended by a minister of his own faith, to whose exclusive care he shall be left. I think the contrast between what is done for a Roman Catholic soldier in a military prison with what occurs to him in a civil gaol shows that the law is defective. Circumstances have changed since the law was made. Owing to causes to which I have referred, the Roman Catholic population in the country has largely increased, not, in- deed, by conversions, but by a large influx of Irish Roman Catholics, and therefore it is not surprising that the number of Roman Catholics in our gaols is very much larger than it was at the time the existing Act was passed. The large number of Roman Catholics in our prisons is a matter which it is right the House should take into account. It is not necessary, nor probable, that the provisions of this Bill, although general, will be applicable to the great majority of prisons. There are some, which I enumerated when I brought in the Bill, in which the proportion of Roman Catholic prisoners to Protestants is very large. I will now only refer to Liverpool, the strongest case certainly, where, out of 888 prisoners, 485 at the date of the last Return were Roman Catholics, all of whom are subject to the general law I have mentioned. I may say here that there are some exceptions in the Return I have quoted, and I refer particularly to the case of Stafford County Gaol, and to the gaol at Knutsford, where the visiting magistrates have disregarded the special request clause, and have authorized the regular visits of Roman Catholic priests. In saying that they have disregarded the law as it stands I do not mean to say a word to their disparagement, because I think that they have done right. But this is a course taken in very few instances, and in the great majority of cases magistrates feel that they are bound to abide by the letter and the spirit of the law, and have refused to sanction similar arrangements, until they can act under the authority of Parliament. Well, then, how does this special request clause act? The Return to which I have just referred gives some instructive information on this point. With the exception of the few cases in which the visiting justices allow Roman Catholic prisoners to be visited by their priests, special requests are rarely made, and out of the 485 Roman Catholic prisoners in Liverpool, the total number of requests made to be visited by a priest was only thirty-six. I know that some of my hon. Friends allege that the very infrequency of these special requests argues a preference for Protestant teaching on the part of prisoners, and that if permission to visit is given to Roman Catholic priests, it will be an interference with the religious freedom of those prisoners. I must say that this seems to me to be an extraordinary argument. I believe that the infrequency of these requests arises not from the preference of prisoners for one form of religion or another, but from an aversion or indifference to any religious instruction whatever; and if Protestant prisoners were only visited by Protestant chaplains when they made a special request to that effect, the result would probably be just the same. Just for a moment attempt to reverse the case. Let my hon. Friends, who object to the provisions of this Bill, suppose they were Members of a Protestant minority in a community composed chiefly of Roman Catholics, living under a Roman Catholic Government; and that persons professing their own religions faith, from their circumstances in life, from the peculiar temptations to which they were subjected, or from any other causes, composed a considerable proportion of the criminal population of the country. Would it be satisfactory to them, or would it be a sufficient answer to them, when they asked that adequate provision should be made for the religious instruction of those persons, to be told that all prisoners were placed by law under the exclusive care of Roman Catholic priests, but that they might be visited by Protestant ministers if they made a special request, though even those visits would not exempt them from repeated personal intercourse with Roman Catholic priests, with whom it would rest what books were provided for their instruction? That would be a state of the law anything but satisfactory to my hon. Friends; they would refuse to acquiesce in any such arrangements; and how, then, can we expect our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen to be contented with the state of the law which I have now described, or how can we think them unreasonable in pressing for some change? Now, what has been done in Ireland? That, as we know, is mainly a Roman Catholic country, and there the law has made ample provision for the religious instruction of prisoners. I find, from a Return made to the House, that in every gaol in Ireland there is a paid Protestant chaplain, although in some of those gaols there is not a single Protestant prisoner. Ample provision is also made where there are Presbyterian prisoners for the regular attendance, secured by payment, of a Presbyterian chaplain. Besides this—and I think rightly, for it shows that whatever our opinions may be, circumstances are sometimes too strong for us, and that it is necessary to modify principles in the face of facts—in every county and borough prison in Ireland there is a paid Roman Catholic priest to minister to the wants of Roman Catholic prisoners. Now, I do not ask in this Bill that the law in England and Scotland should be placed in the same state as in Ireland. The provisions of the Bill will only be applicable to a small minority of the prisons in this country. I propose to recognise the justices in England, and the local authorities in Scotland having charge of the prisons, as the persons to whose discretion it may be left to decide whether the number of persons dissenting from the Established Church in any prison is such as to require that their spiritual wants should be attended to by the regular visitation of a Roman Catholic priest or a minister of any other denomination. If the justices should be of opinion —and there are some cases, like that at Liverpool, where they can hardly fail to be of opinion—that the number of prisoners is so large as to require the regular attendance of a Roman Catholic priest or Dissenting minister (though the number of Protestant Dissenters in our prisons is so few that the appointment of a Dissenting minister will hardly be necessary) they will be empowered under the Bill to select and appoint a priest or minister for this purpose. That appointment will not necessarily carry with it remuneration, and it will be subject to the ordinary regulations of the prison, and be liable to revocation by those who made it. The justices are responsible for the discipline and good order of the prison, and it is therefore right that they should have the right of excluding from the prison any officer whose presence they might think dangerous to good order. There may be cases in which it is unnecessary that the whole time of the priest or his regular attendance should be secured, but in which magistrates may be of opinion that a priest should be allowed to visit the prison. In such cases the magistrates will be competent to make an arrangement similar to that made in the case of the military prisons. Another question will be, whether the circumstances are such as to entitle the Roman Catholic priest to any remuneration; and if that is decided affirmatively, the salary will be defrayed out of the ordinary fund applicable for the maintenance of the prison. But where there is only a small number of Roman Catholic prisoners, and no regular appointment is made, the Bill contemplates an extension of the special request clause, by enabling the justices, without a special request being made by individual prisoners, to allow the visits of a priest or Dissenting minister, under such restrictions as they may think fit to impose to guard against the introduction of improper persons into the gaol. The second clause of the Bill provides means by which prisoners may be distinguished according to their religions belief. There will be no practical difficulty in this, and it is proposed, therefore, that a list should be kept, and should be open to the ministers of different denominations, in order that they may know what prisoners of their own denominations are confined in the gaol, and that they may, on the other hand, have no excuse for encroaching upon the duties of the Protestant chaplain by interfering with any other prisoners than those of their own Church. The last clause of the Bill is one which, in connection with the preceding, modifies that part of the law applicable to county prisons in England which imposes upon Protestant chaplains the duty of holding personal intercourse with all prisoners, of whatever creed, who may happen to be confined there. In the case of prisoners visited by ministers of other denominations, the chaplains of the Established Church will be exonerated from the legal obligation of visiting them. These are the general provisions of the Bill. They are few, but important, and I earnestly hope that they will be favourably considered by the House. Remembering what took place last Session, when I objected to the Bill introduced by the hon. Member (Mr. Hennessy), because I thought it contained provisions which would be subversive of good order in our gaols, and went beyond the necessities of the case, I felt that I was bound, having, admitted that some change in the law was necessary, myself to bring forward a measure on this subject. After expressing such an opinion, I could not have resisted such a Bill, if again brought forward by the hon. Member, without stating how far I was prepared to go in modifying the existing law. Under those circumstances, Sir, the Government have thought it right to introduce this Bill, believing that it will remove a substantial grievance, and at the same time that it contains provisions which will prevent any injurious consequences arising from the adoption of the practice which it seeks to establish. I hope the House will take the same view, and that they will agree to the Motion which I beg leave to make—namely, that the Bill be now read a second time.

Motion made, and question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, he rose to move as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. His right hon. Friend, in introducing the measure, expressed a hope; that the discussion upon the second reading would be conducted in a spirit of charity, and that no attack would be made upon the convictions of any religious denomination in the community. He cordially concurred in that hope, and in the course of a few observations he intended to offer he should endeavour as much as possible to refrain from making any which might be hurtful to the feelings of his Roman Catholic Friends. What was the history of the measure? In the last Session a Bill was introduced by the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Hennessy), called the Roman Catholic Prisons Bill, That Bill contained a provision which was deemed extremely objectionable by both sides of the House — namely, that the Roman Catholic chaplain of a gaol should be appointed by the self-styled Roman Catholic bishop of the diocese. It was found that the House would not hear of a Bill with such a provision, and it was accordingly withdrawn; the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) undertaking to introduce a Bill which would meet the exigencies of the case. In the first place, he must make an objection to the title of this Bill. From a Return moved for by the noble Lord the Member fur Arundel (Lord E. Howard), it appeared that the number of Protestant Dissenters of different denominations in the gaols throughout the United Kingdom amounted to only 12½ per cent of the whole number, and that in no one instance had any of them requested the attendance of the clergyman of his own denomination. All were perfectly well satisfied with the attendance of the regular gaol chaplain. That being so, the Bill before the House might be considered as exclusively a measure for Roman Catholic prisoners; and he thought it would have been more frank and candid to have given it a title similar to that borne by the Bill of the hon. Member for King's County. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not styled his measure a Roman Catholic Bill; for there were many people in the country, unaware of its provisions, who would never suppose that in a Bill with such a title as "Prison Ministers Bill" a dangerous principle like that involved in the measure could be found in every clause. During the time he had had the honour of holding a seat in that House few measures had come before them requiring more discussion and consideration on the second reading than that Bill demanded. The principle once admitted and affirmed, the details of the measure were of comparatively trifling importance. By the law as it stood prisoners not belonging to the Established Church were entitled to be visited by the minister of their own denomination at their own request. In no one instance had such a request met with a refusal. He had looked through the Petitions in favour of the Bill, and found that none of them came from prisoners or from officers of gaols. All were Petitions from Roman Catholic congregations, wishing, very naturally, that the ministers of their religion should be allowed to look alter prisoners in gaols. On the other hand, amongst the three hundred Petitions against the Bill some had come from the magistrates of several counties, including Middlesex, Leicestershire, East Sussex, and Cumberland. There was also a number of Petitions from visiting justices, who stated their opinion that there was no necessity for the measure, that it would lead to great confusion and irregularity, impose a new charge on the ratepayers of the country, and, more than that, conduce to the injury of the Established Church. He held in his hand a number of Reports from governors and chaplains of gaols. He should not trouble the House by going through them, but should confine himself to reading two from Bristol, the city which he represented, and to which there was a considerable influx of Irish. The governor of the gaol there stated that during the year ending the 1st of January 1863 there had been 725 prisoners in the prison under his charge, of whom 553 were members of the Church of England, seventy-six Roman Catholics, and ninety-six members of other denominations. Out of the whole number of Roman Catholics only two had requested to see their own priest, and they had been permitted to do so. During the last quarter of a century there had been no complaint on the sub- ject from the Roman Catholics confined in that gaol, while, on the contrary, unsolicited requests had been made by Roman Catholic prisoners to attend the Protestant place of worship. The chaplain of the Bridewell in Bristol wrote to him to say that during the year 1862 the number of prisoners confined in that establishment was 1,194, of which 350 were Roman Catholics. Of the latter, only two had requested to see their priests. It was to be observed that a deduction for interested motives was to be made from even the small number of Roman Catholic prisoners that did ask for their clergyman; for about three years ago, a woman having sent for a priest, it turned out that the one who came to visit her was poor, and she expressed herself to the effect that it was not religious advice she wanted but something more solid. Looking through the Returns, he found that of all the Roman Catholic prisoners confined in the gaols of Great Britain only a very small proportion wished for the attendance of a priest. But it might be said, as it had been heretofore, that no deduction against such a Bill as that before the House should be drawn from that fact, inasmuch as prisoners were a class of persons not likely to ask for spiritual advice. Something was said on that point last year by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), for whose opinion he had a very high respect. However, he begged to remind the right hon. Gentleman and the House that the Protestant chaplains did not go into the prisons of the country to make proselytes. The commandments of God were binding on Roman Catholics and Protestants alike, and a man might receive instruction in those commandments without reference to points of controversy. The House were told that this was a Permissive Bill. He confessed that he had no predilection for permissive Bills. He always entertained a suspicion that the authors of such measures had a doubt on the subject themselves, and were endeavouring to introduce the thin end of the wedge. The permissive character of the Bill did not make it less objectionable. It would give rise to different modes of dealing with the same question in different parts of the country, and it would involve the visiting justices in endless controversies, on the one hand with the taxpayers objecting to be saddled with a new charge, and on the other with Roman Catholic congregations, urged on by their priests. But his objections to the principle of the Bill rested on far higher ground. The right hon. Baronet had stated that the Bill contained no principle hostile to the Church of England. He begged to differ from him entirely. For the first time since the Reformation Parliament was called on to sanction the payment out of the public money of priests for every gaol in the United Kingdom. An alteration had already been made in that respect in the convict prisons; they were then asked for Roman Catholic chaplains for the county gaols, and the next step would be to ask for their appointment in all the workhouses. He was unwilling to say anything which might hurt the feelings of the Roman Catholics. He believed that, as a body, the Roman Catholic priests in this country served their flocks with zeal; but they were irresistibly, and he might say unconsciously, the agents of a foreign Power, and the tale of the doings under the influence of that Power in other countries was a sad one to tell. The state of those countries could not be better described than in the words used last year by the noble Lord at the head of the Government in the debate on the persecution of Protestants in Spain. The noble Lord then said — However liberal the Roman Catholic laity may be, history tells us that wherever the Roman Catholic priesthood have been predominant the utmost amount of intolerance has always followed. Although in countries were they are in a minority they are constantly demanding not only toleration, but equality, in countries where they are predominant neither toleration nor equality contents them. He would appeal to the Members of the great Conservative party opposite, who in times of great difficulty had been the consistent supporters of the Protestant Church, and who had always shown the greatest jealousy of Roman Catholic aggression, and to the friends who sat around him, the upholders of civil and religious freedom, not to sanction a measure which, trivial though it might seem, would inevitably undermine the foundations of that liberty which free Protestant England had so long maintained. He was aware of the difficulties which always awaited an independent Member in opposing a Bill brought in with all the weight and authority of Her Majesty's Government, but the objections he entertained to that Bill were such as to override all such considerations. He therefore moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, and confidently appealed to the House to reject, on the second reading, a Bill which was uncalled for, unnecessary, and dangerous, and which in principle and detail was opposed to the opinion of the great majority of the people both in England and Scotland.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."


said, it was with great diffidence that he rose upon that occasion, to second the Amendment as proposed by the hon. Member for Bristol, and he only did so because he considered that the question involved in the Bill was intimately connected with the question of civil and religious liberty. Though he felt he had a difficult task to perform, he hoped to acquit himself of it in such a manner as not to give any offence to those who differed from him, Therefore, he should say nothing that was repugnant to the feelings of Roman Catholics, but should base his objections to the measure on the ground that it was one which was not well received in the country, and because it would not work well in our gaols and houses of correction. A Bill of a similar character was brought into that House by the hon. and learned Member for the King's County last year. It was introduced in a most temperate speech, but it was afterwards withdrawn, his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford having recommended the hon. Member not to press his Motion to a division, but to request that the Secretary of State for the Home Department should himself bring in a Bill to meet the grievance which he wished to remedy. In the measure which was proposed last year it was stated distinctly that there were certain large gaols in which there was a preponderance of Roman Catholics, and his hon. Friend referred to several gaols at Liverpool, Manchester, the vicinity of London, and elsewhere. But was Parliament to legislate for the whole of England and Scotland because in some few gaols there was a large number of Roman Catholic. It would be a very weak and reckless proceeding on their part to allow that permissive Bill of the right hon. Gentleman to pass through the House, when throughout the length and breadth of the land there were in nine gaol out of ten few, if any, Roman Catholics at all. No complaint had been made in any instance against the visiting magistrates of the gaols of this country; no complaints had been made by Roman Catholic prisoners, and the House ought, therefore, to consider well the step they were about to take before they adopted the advice which the right hon. Gentleman had so distinctly given, to follow the example of Ireland, and be guided by what had been done there. The two cases were quite distinct, and could not be argued in the same breath; for while this was a Protestant country, in Ireland a large proportion of the population were Roman Catholics. The right hon. Gentleman had laid great stress upon the good effect which had followed the appointment of Roman Catholic chaplains in the army, but that was a totally different case. When those men were enlisted, and sent abroad to fight the battles of their country, they were taken away from their priests and their chapels; therefore the Government were bound in some sort to provide them with the spiritual consolation which they required and could not otherwise obtain in foreign countries. Arguments of that kind could not be applied in favour of the Bill which they were now discussing. Let them reflect upon how it would affect the discipline of the gaols. Were not the visiting justices unanimous in their endeavours to carry out that discipline? whereas if they threw among them that brand of dissension, no one could tell what would be its effect. One man might say, "Here are five or six Roman Catholics in the prison of which I am a visiting justice. I insist that you shall appoint a priest to look after their spiritual welfare;" others would be of opinion that such a number did not sanction the appointment, and there would be such diversity of opinion among the visiting justices of the various gaols as had never yet occurred. Moreover, in the Bill there was nothing whatever which provided for the manner in which the ministry of Roman Catholic chaplains in gaols was to be carried on. Were Roman Catholic chapels in gaols to be built and school rooms attached; and if so, at whose expense? Were they going to allow such things as that, or merely to pay the salary of the priest? The Government ought to look into the whole of the details of the question, and to state distinctly to the country whether they intended to sanction, not only Protestant but Roman Catholic chapels in gaols, because that was what they would have to do if they made up their minds to legislate in this direction. He did not deny that there might be some grievance existing, but he thought the remedy might either be afforded by the action of the right hon. Gentleman himself or by a Bill authorizing the magistrates in the particular gaols in which there were numerous Roman Catholics to issue an order for the admission of Roman Catholic priests, so as not to bar, in any way, the intercourse between the prisoner and his priest; but if they went beyond that, and said that this permissive Bill was to have effect in all the gaols of England, it would prove a never-failing source of misery and contention. On the one hand, the measure was not a party one; on the other, it was. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman had a difficult task to perform, but he had failed to arrive at a satisfactory result; for he (Colonel Barttelot) believed that not only would the Bill not work well, but it would not be satisfactory to the people generally, while it would be most unsatisfactory to the county magistracy. He hoped, therefore, that the House would reject it.


said, he wished to say a few words in explanation of the vote which he was about to give on the question. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the measure said that it was both uncalled for and unnecessary. He could not agree with either of those propositions. His hon. Friend, with his usual candour had admited that there was a grievance to be remedied. Now, a measure which dealt with a grievance that admitted of a remedy could neither be unnecessary, or uncalled for. No person, who was acquainted with the management of the county prisons, could be unaware of the difficulties which would attend the working of the Bill. Those difficulties had been alluded to by his hon. Friend, but it formed no reason why they ought not to attempt the remedy of a grievance, that there might be some subsequent inconvenience in dealing with questions as they arose. The Returns which had been presented in the last year, on the Motion of the noble Lord — and he was bound to say that the noble Lord deserved their thanks for obtaining those Returns, which were most valuable to the country, and had thrown great light on the subject; and he was confident that when the House had full information before it, it would never refuse to deal honestly and justly with any case—those Returns showed that in England and Wales there were 16 prisons which had above 50 Roman Ca- tholic prisoners in them. The lowest number was 54, the highest 485, and the average was upwards of 130 in each. The special request clause of the Act of Parliament enabled those prisoners who desired it to ask for the attendance of a minister of their own faith; but it was not reasonable to expect that any gentleman, however kind-hearted he might be, or however warm might be his charitable feelings toward those of his own communion, would undertake the spiritual care of from 100 to 200 prisoners without remuneration. The Bill provided that where the magistrates thought it requisite they might appoint a Roman Catholic minister to attend on the Roman Catholic prisoners, and give him a reasonable remuneration. That was nothing but reasonable and just. His hon. Friend who spoke last thought it would be better to deal with each particular prison as necessity might arise, instead of legislating generally for all the prisons in the country. He though that would have been difficult; how should they have been able to set about it? Were they to say that where there were 100, 150, or 200 prisoners the Act should come into operation? or were they to go into cases with reference to the length of imprisonment and other details? The magistrates on the spot seemed to him to be the best able to judge of the necessities of the case; they would know whether it would be just and reasonable, under all the circumstances, that some pecuniary aid and recompense should be given. One of the strongest arguments that had been advanced against the Bill was, that the prisoners themselves did not want it. He might be wrong in his judgment of that class of the community, but he supposed if it were left to prisoners who professed to belong to the Established Church to say whether they would receive the visitations of the chaplain, they would take their hats off and say, "We would rather be excused; and if you would give us a little beer, we would like it much better." He suspected that such an indulgence would be more popular with the prisoners than a chaplain to do them good. It was urged that the only parties who asked for this were the fellow-countrymen of Roman Catholic prisoners outside the gaol. But surely the persons who were anxious to promote the reformation of prisoners were not the persons who were in gaols themselves, but benevolent and philanthropic people outside of them, who wished that criminals during their incarceration should be taught to lend a better life when they were released, and who thought it best not to trust altogether to the deterring effect of the gibbet, the lash, and other agencies of that kind. Although he happened to differ from Roman Catholics in his view of religious matters, he could not see why, when there were such numbers of them in many of our prisons, they were to be shut out from that religious assistance which other prisoners had. He knew it might be said—and no man was more I sensible of it than he was—that Protestant chaplains generally, and he might say universally, would apply those general principles of our religion which, thank God, were common to them all, and would endeavour to reform these men without reference to proselytism. But they could not account for people's prejudice. If they took the strongest Protestant Member of that House and shut him up in a Roman Catholic prison—what would be his mode of receiving a Roman Catholic priest who visited him? The fairest rule by which to judge of the measure before them, as of every measure in human life, was—"Do unto others as you would be done to yourselves." That rule, applied to whatever case they would, whether round or square, never failed to bring them out right. He knew, that if he were to go into one of those Roman Catholic countries which the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) was said to have painted with a stronger brush than the hon. Member for Bristol professed himself able to use, he would much rather be visited by a minister of his own persuasion than he would be visited by the best Roman Catholic priest that country could produce; and he would do unto others as he would be done by, He saw no difficulties in the way of carrying out the mean sure that might not be met by mutual forbearance and by fairness on both sides— by the Roman Catholic party not pressing for too much, and by others meeting that party in a fair spirit. That was not the occasion in which to touch on the small matters of detail in the Bill; but when they tame into Committee, there might be a question as to the party in whom the appointment should be vested. As he understood the right hon. Gentleman, the appointment was to be vested in the visiting magistrates; but, as he read the Bill, it would rest with the magistrates in quarter sessions, and he thought that the latter arrangement would be the better, as the visiting justices ought to be relieved of the responsibility. The Bill provided that an account was to be kept of the religion professed by each prisoner on entering prison, and from that record a list of the Roman Catholic prisoners might be given to the Roman Catholic chaplain, but he ought not to have any unnecessary access to the books of the prison. He could not have any hesitation in saying that the Bill met the grievance which even its opponents admitted to exist in a manner as little objectionable as possible; and therefore he, for one, should give the second reading of the Bill his hearty support.


said, that although he had listened attentively to the speeches of the Home Secretary and the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, he confessed he was yet at a loss to understand what was the practical grievance which they sought to make the foundation of a Bill involving in its principle such important innovations; and they had not succeeded in showing that it would be an actual remedy for the grievance, assuming it to exist. So far as the speech of the right hon. Baronet went, it seemed to be rather an argument in support of some minute verbal alteration of what he termed the special request clause of the existing Act, than an argument and a reason for introducing a measure of that description. If there were any defects in the wording of the special request clause—and if they were not removed, as he believed they were, actually in point of practice—such defects might be remedied without such an extensive innovation as that proposed by this measure. With respect to the point urged by the Member for Oxfordshire, that some provision ought to be made for the remuneration of Roman Catholic priests for their ministrations to prisoners, unless be much mistook what took place in that House last year, those who promoted the Bill then under discussion declared, one and all, that it was not their object to procure any such remuneration, and that its absence was not at all the ground of their grievance. He wished to state briefly what appeared to him to be some of the most grave objections to this Bill. And, first, it appeared to be at one and the same time opposed to the rights and privileges of the Established Church and also to the right and the independent exercise of liberty of conscience. It was quite true, as the right hon. Baronet had said, that they must distinguish be- tween the man who was a free agent and the man who was subject to imprisonment. He fully admitted that; but although by law they were entitled to imprison the body, the law gave them no power over the will and the conscience; and, accordingly, the special request clause left the wilt and the conscience perfectly free; and, from all the inquiry he had made, he did not believe that any substantial difficulty had arisen in its application. On the contrary, whenever the individual will had been exercised, full liberty had been allowed, and no instance to the contrary had been adduced. Our prisons had hitherto been conducted, so far as religious ministrations were concerned, in accordance with the principles of the Constitution; and one of the main features of that Constitution was the parochial system. Under that system there had been appointed in each parish a regularly-ordained minister of the National Church, and to him was confided the cure of the souls of the whole population within his parish. Upon that system there was engrafted the principle of toleration, and any one might dissent from the doctrine and the discipline of the Established Church, choose his own minister, and refuse to take part in the services and ordinances of the Church. That he was free to do in the exercise of his individual will, and in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience. The same right had always been conceded to prisoners; but that was the first time a proposal had been made for the appointment of ministers of a denomination opposed to the Established Church, without regard to individual liberty of conscience, and that whether the persons to whom they were to minister wished it or not. What would be said if a Bill were introduced enacting, that in case of there being a certain number of Dissenters or Roman Catholics in a parish, the court of quarter sessions or some other similar body should have the power to appoint for them a Roman Catholic priest or a Dissenting minister? And yet the principle involved would be precisely the principle of the Bill, Let them apply the same rule to prisoners as to the free, and let both have the same right to the individual exercise of conscience. By the Bill they took it away; for without consulting the prisoners, without their making a request, if it appeared from the register that there were a certain number of any persuasion in gaol, the visiting justices were, if they thought fit, to appoint a person to be their minister, whether they desired it or not. There was no precedent for anything of the kind, and the principle was entirely new. He objected also to the operation of the Act being made in a great measure dependent on what had been called a creed register, as he thought that the mode by which it was sought to ascertain a prisoner's religions persuasion was objectionable. It was true that prisoners were asked to state their religious persuasion on entering the gaol; but he apprehended that, practically, that was an extremely fallacious test, and that it would be much wiser to determine the matter by a prisoner's request, after he had had time for consideration, than by a statement made at a time when a prisoner might have many reasons to desire to conceal his identity or to disguise his opinions. He thought, therefore, that if the Bill were to be adopted, the register would be a bad basis to act upon. There was another serious objection to the Bill, which had not been adverted to. In whom was the appointment to be vested? [Sir GEORGE GREY: The same justices who appoint the chaplain in quarter sessions.] That altered his objection in degree, but not in substance. The Bill proposed an alteration of the law to be carried into effect by a vote to be given from time to time at quarter sessions. That was giving a legislative power to persons who were incompetent to exercise it, and beyond that, it was giving it to persons who were not in the least degree desirous of exercising or of possessing it. They were told last year that the Bill then before them had met with the unanimous approval of the visiting justices; but the numerous petitions that had been presented against the present measure showed that the visiting justices did not desire to possess the power with which it was proposed to invest them. Besides introducing into quarter sessions an element of discord, the Bill, if passed, would lead to there being one law in one county and another in another; and even in the same county the law would vary, from time to time, with the majority at the quarter sessions. There was another objection to the Bill. Already there existed sufficient grounds of dispute and dissension with respect to the appointment of justices, but this measure would introduce into those disputes the element of religious controversy, and so make things worse than ever. It was impossible, in considering the question, to avoid referring to the circumstances out of which the Bill had arisen. He regarded it as one of the unhappy instances of an attempt to compromise a question which did not admit of such a mode of treatment. No doubt, its appearance was due to the discussion which took place last Session on the measure introduced by the hon. and learned Member for the King's County; but he ventured to say that nothing which then occurred laid the slightest foundation fur such important innovations as those embodied in the Bill. The real object was to compromise the question raised by the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County. It had been admitted by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, with his usual candour, that though the present measure was applicable to every sect and denomination of Dissenters, its operation would be almost exclusively confined to Roman Catholics. Now, for his own part, he trusted he had never said one word which could give just cause of offence to his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects; but, in discussing such a question as that before the House, he might surely he permitted to repeat their own statements, and use their own language. The Roman Catholics admitted that they possessed an almost perfect discipline and organization, and that they were subject to a foreign ecclesiastical Power. It was impossible to lose sight of these things when considering the measure. Bearing them in mind, then, he said the real object of this Bill was to accomplish that which had long been the desire of the Roman Catholic Priests— namely, to give them a status, recognised by Act of Parliament, such as they had not hitherto enjoyed. Everybody knew the memories they cherished of the former position of their Church, and the hopes they expressed of its restoration. The question really raised by the Bill was, in truth, substantially the same as that which was discussed in connection with the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill and with the Roman Catholic Charities Bill. It was idle to say that the Bill was merely permissive, when it placed the power of deciding whether it should be acted upon or not in such bodies as those he had described. The measure was, in fact, nothing more than a provision for Roman Catholic prisoners, None of the other dissenting communities desired any alteration of the law—a fact which, of itself, constituted a strong objection to the Bill, Though brought forward ostensibly for the benefit of all, the measure was repudiated by all except the members of one Church. It thus did not meet the exigencies of the case, but left the grievance, if one really existed, which he denied, in full force. He was bound to say that, in his opinion, the Bill introduced last Session by the hon. and learned Member for King's County was more fair and more candid. It openly avowed that the nomination of the priests was to be vested in the Roman Catholic bishops. Under this measure would the priests be nominated by anybody else? Was it possible that the visiting justices or the magistrates assembled in quarter sessions could do anything in such a matter except upon the nomination of the Roman Catholic bishops? This Bill was, in truth, nothing more than the Bill of last year in disguise, seeking to do indirectly what its predecessor fairly sought to do directly—namely, to establish, as paid ecclesiastical officers of the State, certain priests who were to be nominated by the Roman Catholic bishops. He objected to it because it was inconsistent, with the position of the Established Church, and with the liberty of will and conscience; because it gave the power of altering the law to persons who neither desired nor sought to possess it, but amongst whom it would introduce religions controversies; because it would cause the law, when so altered, to vary in different counties; and because its certain effect would be to give to the Roman Catholic priests a status which they had long wished for, but which was inconsistent with our Protestant constitution.


said, that Roman Catholic prisoners felt deeply aggrieved by the existing law on the subject, although their complaints did not reach the quarters visited by the hon. and learned Gentleman, possibly because they feared they should meet with no redress. The hon. Member for the King's County deserved thanks for introducing this subject to the House, as did also the Home Secretary for this measure. As an humble Roman Catholic Member, and speaking to some extent possibly for other Roman Catholics, and especially, he hoped, for the Roman Catholic poor, he was grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having brought the measure before the house. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Selwyn) had spoken of the Bill ns an important ecclesiastical measure, but he differed from him. He thought it was move in the nature of a police measure, which the Home Secretary, being Minister of police and justice for this country, had most appropriately taken in hand, and which he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would bring to a happy conclusion. That such a Bill was necessary had been affirmed by some of the greatest authorities in Parliament. Its necessity had been acknowledged by no less an authority than the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who, with the sound English sense and the happy urbanity of manner for which he was so eminently distinguished, had often said, that if they wanted to reform a criminal, or to get at a man's heart, they must use the language to which he was accustomed, and which in his youth had an effect upon him. Then there was another right hon. Gentleman whose loss not the House only, but the whole country deplored. He meant Sir George Cornewall Lewis. That right hon. Gentleman had once made use of this expression, that he could not see how on principle that which was fair in Ireland was inadmissible in England. There was another right hon. Gentleman of very great experience, the right hon Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who by bringing in the Bill declared his opinion that the law ought to be altered. They had also the testimony on this subject of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), and that happy mixture of authority combined to show that the measure ought to receive the approval of the House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to think that the Act of George IV. for regulating the discipline of prisons should never be changed. That Act was passed at a time when punishment was more like revenge than anything else—when reformation was little known and less thought of. That was a time when it was death to break down the bank of a reservoir to get at the fish inside it, or to kill a sheep for the sake of its skin. But they lived in happier and more enlightened times, and he trusted the principles of the present day would not only be persevered in, but improved, as he believed they would be by the passing of the Bill. The late Lord Herbert, in a department where the system of red tape was particularly supposed to prevail—namely, the army—succeeded in doing away with all distinction between the attendances of Protestant and Catholic chaplains. The experience in military prisons had been spoken of disparagingly, but most unjustly, as appeared from Sir Joshua Jebb's Report, in which he expressed a high sense of the manner in which visitors, superintendents, governors, chaplains, and others, in the zealous discharge of their duties, had contributed to the generally satisfactory state of discipline maintained in military prisons. There was no interference between one set of religionists and another when both were properly cared for. Both parties kept within their own limits. Then there were the Irish prisons. Who ever heard of complaints about conflicting interests in Irish prisons? During the last winter life had hardly been safe in the metropolis, and we had been occupied in dealing with the most dangerous classes in the community. Why should we not imitate the Irish system, which had been so successful in maintaining order and reform? Further, he went to the Colonies, and there he found a mixed system of Roman Catholic and Church of England chaplains prevailing, with the greatest possible harmony. He ventured to say there would be no confusion under the Bill of the right hon. Baronet. He was sorry to say he had some complaints to make on the part of his unfortunate co-religionists. Roman Catholic prisoners had to make a special request if they wished to see their priest. Now, many prisoners would not do so, because they feared, that if they did, they would not in other respects be treated the same as the Protestant prisoners; many, too, were ignorant that they might send for their priest, and many abstained from preferring the request because they were reluctant to give trouble. In some prisons they were more equitably dealt with than in others. In some the law was not stretched, perhaps, but every consideration was shown within the limits of the law; in others more strict conduct was pursued. Although a prisoner was asked when he entered the gaol whether he was a Roman Catholic, he was never afterwards treated as such. In one prison where care was taken to inform the prisoners who were Roman Catholics that they could see a priest if they wished, the priest had seen twice as many of the Catholic inmates as in a neighbouring prison where there were three times the number, but where it was not the practice to tell the Roman Catholic prisoners that they might see a priest if they chose. One prisoner, who had been seventeen limes in prison, and therefore had need of spiritual advice if ever any man had, stated that he never knew that he could see a priest until by accident he had met one in the corridor of the prison. Another Roman Catholic prisoner, who had refused to attend the Protestant service, although supposed to be dying, was left unaware that he might see a priest if he so desired; but a magistrate meeting a Roman Catholic was the means of sending a priest to him. The man did not die, and he afterwards stated that one of the chief authorities of the prison, on being asked by the prisoner why he had not told him he might see a priest, said it was not his business to tell him. Was it not obvious that where the priest was most wanted he was the least likely to be sent for? There were many little irksomenesses to which the Catholic prisoners were subject. In one instance a prayer-book was taken from a Roman Catholic prisoner, and never returned. There was sometimes another advantage taken of a Roman Catholic prisoner, who, upon being asked whether he desired to see a priest, answered in the negative; his answer was taken to imply a definite resolution, and not that he simply did not desire to see a priest at that time. In one prison which he could name, not a hundred miles from the House of Commons, a Roman Catholic prisoner's reply, that he did not want to see a priest, was taken to mean that he desired to become Protestant. He had seen it stated that a different practice had been adopted at Wakefield when all the prisoners were assembled, and the system was found to work well. Hon. Gentlemen, no doubt, desired that Roman Catholic prisoners should enjoy equal physical advantages with their Protestant fellow prisoners; but when the Roman Catholic refused to attend chapel, he was locked up in his cell during the period of service, and thus had to undergo an additional seven hours' solitary confinement during the week; and in some cases such confinement was extended from Saturday night until Monday morning. It was no wonder that under such circumstances some Roman Catholic prisoners should pretend to become proselytes, and, after leaving prison, should curse the hypocrisy they had been urged to practice. The measure referred to the moral welfare of no less than 3,000 persons, confined in the borough and county gaols of this coun- try, and therefore was entitled to receive the fairest consideration at the hands of the House. It was said that Roman Catholic prisoners did not want to see any priests; but what was the reason? In one London prison it was thought that the law would allow some little latitude being taken, and that a Roman Catholic priest should be allowed to accompany an officer to all the prisoners belonging to that Church at the season of performing their Easter duties; and the mere fact of it being announced that a priest was there, raised the number of those who attended his ministrations to forty or fifty, instead of twenty, the usual number. It was, however, found that the law did not sanction the practice, and it was discontinued. In another prison, when the inmates were assembled for service, the number increased from one to sixty; but the Solicitor General giving an opinion against the legality of the practice, the assembly was not continued, and the numbers seeking the aid of the priest diminished. He had a petition from the Roman Catholic priest attending the Liverpool gaols, who stated that although in Kirkdale Prison out of 453 prisoners, 141 were Roman Catholics; and in Walton Gaol, out of 888, there were 485 of that faith; yet, notwithstanding all the facilities which were afforded him, be only saw 120 in the two prisons. If hon. Gentlemen wished to burden the country with the expense of a larger number of criminals than might otherwise be, they would reject the Bill; but if they were desirous of acting upon principles of justice as well as of expediency, they would give their support to a Bill which would place one class of prisoners upon an equality with others. He had heard that the aid of Roman Catholic priests had been invoked by the prison authorities to govern a refractory prisoner; and in the case of one old woman, who evinced symptoms of madness, the Protestant chaplain recommended, and the doctor ordered, that she should be allowed to occupy her mind by attending the Protestant service. Where priests were brought into communication with prisoners of their faith it was admitted by the authorities that order was better maintained and dicipline better enforced. The Irish system succeeded because spiritual advisers were able to control the feelings of the prisoners, and why should not Irish prisoners have equal justice in this part of the United Kingdom? By declining to pass the Bill the House would take upon itself a great responsibility. It was a permissive Bill only, and to reject it would be to fetter the discretion of all justices hereafter who might wish to promote the spiritual welfare of the Roman Catholics under their charge. Catholics were equal with Protestants in the eye of the law, and why, therefore, should they not be treated as equal in a mutter of such vital importance to their conciences? Methodists, Catholics, Unitarians, and members of the Established Church had served together upon the local relief committees in Lancashire, and in acting together had learnt to respect each other's prejudices. He hoped that the soothing of religions hostility which had thus resulted might spread from Lancashire into the remotest parts of this kingdom, and he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary upon being the one to propose a beneficial measure to the House of Commons, upon whom must lie the deep responsibility of rejecting it.


said, that the House ought to be very careful how it recognised the endowment of other churches and seets than the Church of England, because that was the principle contained in the Bill. The analogy drawn from the appointment and payment of Presbyterian and Roman Catholic chaplains in the army did not apply. The provision of those chaplains was an entirely exceptional arrangement, because the State was bound to provide for the religious instruction of those who, entering its service, placed themselves beyond the reach of the religious advantages which they might otherwise have enjoyed. But gaols were generally situated within easy access of ministers of all denominations, and the prisoners were not debarred from the visits of such ministers as they might wish to see. Did anybody suppose, that if Roman Catholic priests were admitted into the gaols, they would be satisfied with that concession? They would want at chapel in which to perform their service, and be doubted whether they would consent to use the chapel of the gaol. The Roman Catholic bishops in synod in Ireland had resolved, that upon the erection or re-erection of any gaol chapel, the Roman Catholic chaplain should insist on a certain portion of it being set apart exclusively for Roman Catholic services; and he had received a letter from the Protestant chaplain at Naas, stating that he had been ousted from the chapel of the gaol, and to that day he performed the services of the Established Church in a room in the old part of the prison, while the Roman Catholic chaplain reigned supreme in the chapel. At present, in this country, they were tolerably free from religious dissension; but if the Bill became law, he predicted, that considering the strong feelings which existed against the Papacy in the middle classes, they would not long remain free from such dissension and mutual distrust.


said, that one of the main points in the Bill had not been at all noticed in the previous argument. By the third section the magistrates had the power of nominating a Roman Catholic priest as chaplain, and to order a remuneration for his services; but, looking to the end of the clause, it was perfectly immaterial whether they appointed one or not, since the Roman Catholic priest could intrude himself into the gaol, if admitted by the governor, or even any of his subordinates.


said, that as one of the representatives of the county in which there was, he believed, the largest proportion of Roman Catholics, he was anxious to do away with the erroneous impression that no grievance had been complained of under the present system. He felt bound to say that in Lancashire for years past he had received from all classes of his Roman Catholic neighbours representations of the hardships to which prisoners were subjected as the law stood, and he thought that these representations required the serious consideration of the House. It had been shown that the special request clause was exercised by very few prisoners, and he believed the cause to be that these prisoners came chiefly from the dregs of the people, and, whether Protestants or Roman Catholics, there was a disinclination to call in the services of any minister of religion whatever. There was no doubt that the spiritual wants of Roman Catholic prisoners were less attended to than those of any other class of the community, and he intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill with the sole object that that grievance should be remedied. He was not at all blind to the inconveniences which might arise from the first clause of the Bill, but he would deal with that in Committee, and would at that moment affirm the principle of affording to Roman Catholic prisoners rather more prospect of being reached by their spiritual advisers than existed under the present law.


said, an appeal had been made to the body of Dissenters and those who specially advocated religious liberty for their support to the Bill. He was strongly attached to the principles of Protestantism and to the voluntary principle, both with regard to education and religion, But notwithstanding, having anxiously considered the measure, he had found it impossible to deny the justice of the principle on which it was based. There were two plain principles on which the Bill rested. The first, that is was the duty and interest of the State to see that prisoners under confinement should receive moral and religious instruction. And next, respect for the rights of conscience, which he believed all, whatever might be their religious opinions, were desirous to exhibit. Well, then, there was no possibility of prisoners providing such aid for themselves. It must therefore be provided for them by others. It would be a mockery to offer to Roman Catholics the instruction of a Protestant minister. If there were, then, a sufficient number of prisoners in any gaol, professing that religion, to require the devotion of all the time or nearly the time of a priest, there was a just claim for the appointment of a chaplain, and a just claim that he should be paid.


Sir, I am unwilling for a moment to stand between the House and their natural impatience for a division. I will do so only for a few minutes, and I do so from a conviction that the decision on this question is one at which the House ought not to arrive in an impatient spirit. I believe the country will not be satisfied if it thinks that we have come to a conclusion on this question without that due deliberation which the gravity of the subject demands. Sir, I admit, the objections to the Bill are not of a light character; but, on the other hand, the arguments in its favour recommend themselves, not merely on the ground of expediency, but of justice. Therefore, I would claim, from all who take part in this debate, the exercise of a spirit of forbearance. There are two great objections which have been urged against this Bill. One is, that it affects injuriously the status of the Church of England. Sir, if I thought this measure had even a tendency to impair the authority of the Church of England I should oppose it. In this age, when the elements of government are daily diminishing, when the power of governing nations is every day weakening, it would be most unwise to impair the influence of an institution that has contributed in so eminent and beneficial a manner to the formation of that English character which, after all, is the best security for the preservation of all we most value. And, Sir, I cannot conceal from my own conviction that the time may come, and is even nearer than many imagine, when, in our peril and perplexity, we may find a guide and guardian in that institution, which by the services thus rendered to us will establish fresh claims to the confidence and gratitude of the country. Happily, in my opinion, for this country, the still existing privileges of the Church of England are great and manifold; but this should always be remembered—that the privileges of the Church of England, entirely in theory, and greatly still in practice, embody and represent popular rights. That is the source of their strength. I cannot myself see what popular right is represented by the Church of England exercising an arbitrary power to prevent the captive, who is not in her communion, from enjoying the consolations of his religion. Sir, I say that, on the contrary, such a policy is injurious to the Church of England It is the interest of the Church of England—it is the interest of all ecclesiastical institutions, and, indeed, of all religious bodies— to favour the development of the religious principle—to cherish, encourage, and nurture those spiritual influences which hitherto have controlled and regulated man— Placed on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise and rudely great. I am told in this instance that there is a wider and deeper objection, if such there can be, against this Bill, than that it is antagonistic to the interests of the Church of England. We are told by the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment that he looks upon the measure as dangerous to the Protestant spirit of this country. Sir, there are many Gentlemen in this House who are in the habit of enlarging upon and exalting the Protestant spirit of England. In my opinion, it is not easy for them to use language that can adequately describe the strength and power of that spirit. It is fervent, it is profound, it is general; and, of all the subjects of Her Majesty, the Roman Catholic subjects of the Queen are the last who ought to have a doubt as to the power and strength of that spirit. Why, it is only recently that they have had conclusive experience of the power of the Protestant spirit of this country. It is a fact that at this moment there is only one Member of the House of Commons among the numerous representatives of Great Britain—who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and that one is returned to the House by the traditionary friendship of his neighbours, bearing as he does an illustrious name, and being the member of a family of which all Englishmen, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, are proud. Of what is this remarkable state of things a consequence? It exists because those who advised the Roman Catholics of this country took a course into the merits of which I am not now disposed to enter, but which was supposed by the Protestant people of this country openly to outrage or cunningly to circumvent, the Protestant feeling of this country. Well, then, are we to fear for the Protestant interests of this country if the Bill now brought forward should be sanctioned by the House? What does it propose to do? It proposes, in the appointment of Roman Catholic chaplains, to trust to the discretion of the natural leaders of that people who, it may be from exaggerated, but certainly from profound and sincere convictions respecting the conduct of the Roman Catholic party, have returned so many Parliaments to Westminster in which there has been only one Roman Catholic Member. Why, if there be any class of men who can be said to faithfully represent the feelings of the country, it is that composed of the magistrates in counties, cities, boroughs, and corporations. They must be the chief men of their districts, and they must adequately represent the feelings of the country; and who can suppose that under this influential representation proceedings will be originated or sanctioned which can possibly misrepresent the people of England, or betray the Protestant sentiment of the country? I cannot share in any apprehension on the subject. And when we are told, as we have just been told, that one of the objections to this Bill is that it throws on the magistrates assembled at quarter sessions, and on similar occasions, the weighty responsibility of considering the question of the appointment of a Roman Catholic chaplain to a gaol, I must say that I cannot understand why men who have been appointed magistrates—why men intrusted with the exalted duties of such an office—should not bear the burden of such a responsibility. Are we to be told that in the case of those gentlemen that dignity is not to be attended with responsibility? I think, therefore, that whether we look at the influence of the Bill on the status of the Church of England, or whether we look at its probable influence on the Protestant spirit of this country, or on the Protestant character of our institutions, it is but forming a mean conception of that Church, it is but taking a poor view of that spirit, if we suppose that the Bill before us can possibly endanger the one or diminish the other. That is an opinion which I cannot for a moment entertain or sanction. we must look at this Bill in its real character, and not in the light of those visionary apprehensions which have been raised by some hon. Gentlemen, and which are not only not sanctioned by fact, but, I think, cannot be entertained with a due regard for the real interests of the Church. What is this Bill? As my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire said, it is a Bill to do an act of justice. It is said that the Roman Catholic prisoner has never required the assistance which this Bill proposes to extend to him, but the objections which have been raised to it on that ground appear to me to be founded on a complete fallacy. This is a Bill to do justice, not merely to the Roman Catholic prisoner, but to the Protestant community. On what possible ground, after having adopted those principles with regard to the treatment of criminals which have been confirmed by a long series of legislation, can you justify it to Protestant England that there shall be in the gaols of the country a considerable portion of the penal population whom you will take no care to reform, and whom you are prepared periodically to let loose to ravage society, unchanged by the influences of religion? Great fault has been found with this Bill because it is a permissive Bill. But the same speakers who have urged that objection tell you at the same time that the circumstances of the case, even if the policy of the measure were admitted, only require a very limited application of it. They say that in all the gaols of the country interference only is necessary in some eight or ten. It is a permissive Bill, therefore, because the evil to be remedied is limited in its character. You cannot make it compulsory on courts of quarter sessions to appoint Roman Catholic chaplains to gaols where there are no Roman Catholic prisoners. It is admitted that the grievance, though anomalous and vexatious, is limited, and by this Bill you meet it in that practical manner in which all our legislation is carried on. At the same time, you secure that limited application which alone is required, while you avoid that partial legislation which is always a blot. You have a Bill brought forward which is general, and that is the basis of all sound legislation, but practically, by being permissive, you have made the application limited, because the necessity of the case so requires it. You have provided a remedy for the evil and inconvenience, while you have not violated the sound principle that legislation should be general and universal. Thai there are no Dissenting criminals who require the consolations of their particular pastors is a fact of which the hon. Member for Sheffield may be justly proud [Mr. HADFIELD: Hear, hear!], and I congratulate him upon it; but if I were a Dissenting criminal, I think I should require the consolation of my minister; and no doubt, when this Bill has passed, we shall find that the privilege which it confers will be exercised. I hope the House will pass the measure. It is a measure in harmony with all the legislation which this House of late years has sanctioned on these subjects. I am told that it introduces a new and dangerous principle. Where, I ask, is the new principle? The principle on which the Bill is founded is one which has been long acknowledged, and which has for several years been acted upon. If the status of the Church of England be imperilled by the presence of Roman Catholic chaplains in a gaol, surely it will be equally imperilled by their presence in a regiment. If the presence of a Roman Catholic chaplain in an English gaol be dangerous, surely it is equally dangerous in an Irish gaol? It is too late to take such high ground, and put forward such objections. The speech of the hon. Member who moved this Amendment would have been an excellent speech for the time before Catholic Emancipation or the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act, but it will not do now. In my opinion the strength of the Church of England does not depend upon devices of that kind, or upon the policy recommended by the hon. Gentleman, but on deeper grounds and on principles which are of a much more enduring nature. The privileges of the Church of England represent popular rights, and so long as they represent popular rights national sympathy will always rally round that great institution. The power of the Church of England and the Protestant feeling of the country will not be supported and maintained by a course of action inconsistent with all our previous legislation, which by placing obstacles in the way of ameliorating the character and condition of our criminal population must produce consequences injurious to society at large.


Sir I am unwilling to detain the House; but as I have been much alluded to in the course of the debate, I am anxious to state shortly the grounds on which, in full consistency with what I have done and said on former occasions, I shall give my hearty support to the second reading of this Bill. If this question were that which it has been represented to be by many hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in the debate, a question between Protestants and Roman Catholics, I, who am as sincere a Protestant as any who oppose the Bill, and who, in a fair and honourable sense, am as much an anti-Catholic as they, should undoubtedly oppose a measure which I thought inconsistent with the interests of the Protestant Church. But my view of the Bill is entirely different. I think it is a question, not between Protestants and Roman Catholics but between sound sense and most respectable and honourable prejudice. There are no prejudices which are more lasting in men's minds than those founded on the perversion of just and honourable and reasonable opinions. The perversion of the best is often productive of the worst results. I was in hopes that all prejudices on these matters had been dispelled some thirty-four years ago, when this House resolved, after the longest deliberation, and in consequence of discussion lasting for years, that the distinction of religious opinions should make no distinction in civil, political, or social condition. Parliament, when it repealed the penal laws, when it placed the Roman Catholic in all respects on a footing of equality with the Protestant, affirmed substantially the principle that no danger was to be apprehended to the Protestant faith from the intercourse of Catholic priests with any part of the community. We have affirmed the principle that there is no danger to the Protestant religion in the access of Roman Catholic priests to those who in this and the other House of Parliament are intrusted with the duty of voting on matters which most deeply affect the welfare and destiny of the nation. We see no danger to the Protestant Church from a Catholic priest having intercourse with officers and soldiers who bear arms in the service of the country, and on whom the destinies of the nation may depend. Are we, then, to be called on to say that there will he danger to the Protestant Church and the Protestant religion if a Roman Catholic priest have access, not to men within these walls or who bear arms in the service of the country, but to men confined in a prison suffering for their crimes, and whom it is the duty of the State, if possible, to reform? To reject this measure would be to act in opposition to everything which has been the foundation of the policy of this country for the last thirty-four years. It has been well argued that it would be a reversal of the policy which has been pursued in regard to the improvement of the condition of the criminal population. There is nothing which has more occupied the attention of men than the moans of reforming the criminal during the period of the confinement awarded to him in consequence of his delinquency. And are Catholic prisoners to be less the objects of our attention than Protestant? Or is it that you consider the Catholic so hopeless a criminal that nothing can redeem him, and therefore you would let him go out of prison in the same moral and spiritual condition as he entered it? That is not the opinion of men who have devoted themselves to the moral improvement of the criminal. But then, it is argued, he can have the advice of the Protestant clergyman. But will any man, who knows anything of human nature, tell me that the advice of the Protestant clergyman would be as effective as that of the minister of his own religion? What are his earliest impressions? He may forget the precepts of good, but he will not forget the aversion instilled into his mind when he was told that there was something in the Protestant religion which he should avoid as inconsistent with his salvation. Well, that impression will remain in the mind of the most abandoned, and when the Protestant clergyman comes to give advice, he has two things to do—two enemies to overcome— first of all, the dislike inherent in the mind of the Roman Catholic to anything that proceeds from a minister not of his own faith; and next, the wickedness and irreligion which have grown upon him in the course of his life. Give him, then, the benefit of having advice and consolation from a man who approaches him with all the advantages derived from early association and the doctrines which were inculcated into his mind when he was most capable of receiving religious impressions. But then, I am told, there are complaints. Yes, but complaints which are founded on facts are more powerful than complaints which are founded on prejudice. We know there are a great many Catholic prisoners who cannot have access to ministers of their own religion. We are told they do not ask for them. Yes, but the man who wants religious instruction most is the very man least likely to ask for it. The very fact that he does hot ask for it is the most conclusive proof that he stands in need of it. You might as well say that an ignorant boy at school did not ask for a lesson. Why, the more he stood in need of instruction the more he would like to go to play and avoid his lessons. So it is with the criminal: the more he needs instruction the less likely is he to ask for it; and the religions instruction which he would receive from a minister of his own faith is that which is most likely to go to his heart, to improve his mind, and to send him out of prison a better man than he was before. There is something, I think, ungenerous in endeavouring to take advantage of the compulsory seclusion of a criminal in order to sap the faith in which he was born. I am for all being Protestants; and if it were possible to conceive such a thing that every Roman Catholic in the United Kingdom should rise up to-morrow a Protestant, I should say that it would be a blessed thing for the country. But do not let us attempt making proselytes by taking advantage of the seclusion of criminals in a prison to which they have been consigned as well for improvement as for punishment. I hope, then, the House will not go back, as I think they would do by assenting to the rejection of this Bill, from that course of policy which we have so long pursued, but that hon. Members will feel, that so far from the Bill being a danger, it will be a source of strength to the Church of England, by removing a subject of obloquy and reproach.


said: I am anxious to vindicate the vote I am about to give upon this question from the reproach of being the result of prejudice and of ig- norance The noble Lord has just told us that he is a strong Protestant, and I believe the people of this country feel that they have a great security in having the noble Lord at the head of the Administration. But we are not about to legislate for the convenience of one Administration or another, and for such a purpose to pass any law, would be in violation of the great principles on which our Constitution is founded—while we are, at the same time, prepared to secure to Roman Catholic prisoners that wide latitude of religious freedom which exists in this country. The immediate question now at issue is not whether the Church of England shall be shorn of her privileges or her possessions. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, has never understood the Church except as a wealthy corporation beside the State. He thinks that all our attachment to the Church of England is an attachment to her wealth and power. He gives us no credit for believing that she is the depository of religious truth. In speaking of the Church, never once does he attribute to her that quality which is her only title to the possessions which she holds—her only title to the position which she occupies—her being the sanctuary and exponent of that Protestant and Christian truth to which the people of this country are attached. I value the Church of England not for her wealth and her position; I value her for the principles of which she is the exponent, for the religion of which she is the sanctuary; and I am not to be diverted from acting according to my conviction by any loose imputation of prejudice. What is that word "prejudice," thus used, but a nick-name for a sincere opinion—nay, worse, but a nick-name for an honest faith? I believe that throughout this discussion there has been a strange oblivion of the fact that the opposition of the people of England to this Bill is founded upon a conviction, that the teaching of the Church of England is the true teaching of the ancient Catholic Church, and is therefore preferable to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which is comparatively of very modern origin. Look at one of the facts which we discover in an examination of this question. It appears that the Roman Catholic prisoners in this country are, in proportion to the number of our Roman Catholic population, more than double the prisoners of the Church of England, and exceed, by a still larger proportion, the prisoners of other denominations; and yet we are told that we are prejudiced if we think that the religion which has produced the fewer criminals is best adapted for reformatory-purposes. I do not, however, desire to force upon any Roman Catholic prisoner the ministration of a clergyman of another Church, however true I may believe the doctrines of that other Church to be, or however pure I know is the morality which teaches. But in voting against this Bill, I refuse to debar the Roman Catholic prisoner from access to the teachings of that Church; and I do so for his own sake as well as for the sake of the community, which is deeply interested in his reformation. This may be a prejudice; but it is a prejudice that reaches wide and deep through the people of this country—it is a prejudice on which your Constitution is founded — it is a prejudice under which Her Majesty and her family are, thank God, entitled to the throne of these realms. It is unwise to touch these great questions, these deep feelings, these mighty truths, in a spirit of levity; and I must observe that you will not induce the people of England to adopt what you call measures of amelioration and of charity, by violating their convictions. You are so full of charity for the Roman Catholic priest—for I say it is not for the Roman Catholic prisoner—that you are ready to cast imputations upon the loyal people of England— upon that Protestant people, who by their virtues have for generations maintained a free and peaceful state, while Roman Catholic despotisms, and constitutional governments, and Transatlantic republics, have been shaken to their foundations, and scattered by the evil passions which prevail among mankind when not corrected by the pure influences of such a religion as that which has blessed England for ages. But let us look at the substance of this proposal. For my part, I do not believe that this is an honest measure. It is assumed that a grievance exists. None, however, has been proved. The noble Lord the Member for Arundel (Lord E. Howard) has put forward some complaints of the treatment of Roman Catholic prisoners—he makes allegations, some very few of which he says are set forth in one Petition, but in no one instance has he ventured to give the name or the place from whence those supposed grievances have been alleged. Now, I do not wish to dispute the veracity of the noble Lord. I do not wish to infer that the noble Lord has conveyed to us any information other than that he has received. Nevertheless, I think I have a right to question his facts, when find the noble Lord is so careful in withholding the name or the place upon which his information is supported. It is impossible to satisfy the ambition of a priesthood who seek to become dominant in England as well as every other place. It is useless, when such motives are avowed, to expect that such a priesthood will he stopped by any reason or argument, that they will be very scrupulous as to their facts, or will furnish means by which their allegations can be investigated. It is idle to ask the House to read the Bill a second time upon the grounds alleged. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) said he would vote for the measure upon the principle of doing unto others as he would wish to be done by. Well, then, let us place before the House the condition of the Roman Catholic prisoners in England, in comparison with that of Protestant prisoners in a Roman Catholic country. If you will go into that question, I will ask the House whether they have forgotten all the dark secrets of the dungeons in Italy, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has adduced. Is there any parity of position between the condition of Roman Catholic prisoners in Protestant England and that of all other prisoners in the dungeons of Italy when she was Papal? Let us take Spain, too. There are Protestants, at the present moment, lying in the prisons of Spain. Matamoras still lingers in prison there. Is his position, I ask, at all analogous to that of the Roman Catholic prisoners in England? Why, you know it is not. Well, but what produces the difference? The difference is this: — Our gaols are conducted on those principles of humanity, charity, and Protestant Christianity, which still characterize our laws, and not upon those principles of intolerance and persecution which disgrace the criminal code of Spain, and of other countries in which the morality and religion of Rome are dominant. [Cries of Divide!] I am sure the House will not, under the circumstances, refuse a hearing to an independent Member on this side, who thinks it his duty to oppose the Motion for the second reading of a Bill to which he has a conscientious objection —an opposition commenced by the independent Members on the Government side of the House—that it will afford its indulgence on this important occasion—when we, the Conservatives—and I speak as a Conservative, though an independent Member—when we, I say, have to combat the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman who occupies the position of leader of that party in this House. Would it be becoming, under such circumstances, for any party within these walls to endeavour to stifle expression? Well, then, I say that this Bill is not an honest Bill. Last Session we had a Bill before us which was proposed by the hon. Member for the King's County. That measure sought to enact that the Roman Catholic bishops of the district in question—the hon. Member had so far guarded his language from a breach of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act—the hon. Member, I say, proposed that the Roman Catholic bishops should nominate the Roman Catholic chaplains who were to exercise spiritual functions in the county gaols, and were to be paid by the State. The present Bill, however, proposes that the justices at quarter sessions shall appoint the Roman Catholic priest or chaplain to attend upon the Catholic prisoners. Now, has the House forgotten the whole case of the difficulties of Ireland? When the Roman Catholic priests who were appointed to the workhouses and gaols in Ireland had so misconducted themselves as to demand the interference of the Government authorities—when the Government authorities, representing the whole power of this country, thought fit to remove them, they found the Roman Catholic bishops assuming a position of defiance. They thus replied to the Government— "You have no power to confer spiritual functions, neither have you power to take them away, so far as our Church is concerned. And we tell you, that if you do not employ the chaplain we have found for you, no other shall be appointed." Why, even the whole power of the Government of the State was impotent before that declaration. I ask the House, then, if this usurped power of the Church of Rome in a matter temporal, be sufficient to paralyse the whole authority of the State in Ireland, what chance would the magistrates at quarter sessions have in a conflict with it? It is sheer hypocrisy to place this power in the hands of such an authority, for they must accept the Roman Catholic chaplains that are proposed by the bishops, under the organization of the Roman Catholic Church and the constitution which has been given to it by the Papal Brief of 1850. The fact is this:—The Bill is sought for not for the sake of Roman Catholic prisoners, for no one yet has produced a single complaint from a prisoner upon this point; but it is sought for the purpose of gratifying the ambition of the Church of Rome. And it is for that reason that I shall vote against it. Let me now allude to a point which struck me in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Arundel. The noble Lord admitted that the Roman Catholic prisoners did not ask for consolation from their priests, and he accounted for it in this way. He said, that if they did not go to the Protestant chapel, they knew they would be confined so many more hours in a solitary prison. But whose fault is that? Is it not the fault of the Roman Catholic priesthood themselves? And are we to understand, that being in a position of enormous wealth, which enabled them to quadruple and quintuple their establishments within a very short period—I will not stop to inquire as to how or where they obtain this wealth—are we, I say, to understand that the Roman Catholic priesthood in this position will not attend upon their own criminals, upon criminals of their own religious persuasion, with sufficient regularity to relieve them from the infliction of this additional confinement, unless they —the priests—are well paid for their services? On the part of the Protestants of England, I say that we have given full toleration in our legislation to the members of the Church of Rome. Nay, I will go so far as to say that we have gone to the extreme limits of toleration, inasmuch as we have placed the priesthood of that Church in a position which enables them almost to defy our laws. But there is one thing which we will not do. We will not pay for the enforcement of the Roman Catholic religion upon criminals who refuse to follow it willingly. Such a violation of religious liberty is such a measure as this, that it appears to me to be a total departure from those principles of toleration which have ever distinguished this country under its Protestant Constitution. Now, it may be right for the State to say that we believe the religion of our Church may he true—that it produces and teaches morality, and that it is in accordance with the free and independent opinions of the people, and therefore it shall be used for reformatory purposes in our prisons. But nothing can excuse a Government saying, we believe the religion of a Church to be false— we know that the morality it teaches is very much inferior to that of other religions denominations, and yet we will enforce the teaching of that particular religion which we do not believe upon those whom we have within our grasp, and who do not desire or ask for it—upon the prisoners in our gaols. [Cries of Divide !] If the House will permit me, I will read the advice of a most distinguished person — one of the most active leaders of the Ultramontane party abroad —an advice given to the Roman Catholics of this country, not as individuals, but as members of a priestly organization. Speaking of the political future of England, Count Montalembert, who avowed that he longed for the restoration of the Church of Rome in England as the dominant Church, gave this advice in 1856 to his co-religionists in this kingdom— What remains to them (English Roman Catholics) now is to obtain in practice a more sincere and equitable observation of the principle of equality in all that refers to the nomination of employments, an equal share in public grants, the intervention of ecclesiastics paid by the State in the army, in the prisons, and in the hospitals, and this they will attain—slowly, perhaps, but they will attain it—their rights, their rapidly increasing numbers, the necessities of the time in which we live, everything is for them, Such is the advice of Count Montalembert. I do not believe that the noble Lord opposite wishes to advance the objects of the Court of Rome, as expressed by the distinguished Ultramontanist I have quoted. And yet I tell the noble Lord, that by this Bill, he will be advancing these Ultramontane priests towards that high position to which the Church of Rome so ardently aspires. Let me warn the House against fancying, that by paying the Roman Catholic priests they may control that power with which they are armed. Rome, no doubt, will let you fancy no until she establishes her Church in a position of equality. But, once established, you will find that the Church of Rome, now under the direction of the Ultramontanist, or Jesuit party, will be just as inimical to everything English and to our Protestant Constitution as she has ever been. It is idle to look upon Rome now as Rome was when Pitt gave the Maynooth grant; Rome, then, at the instance of the Roman Catholic Powers of Europe, nearly driven into rebellion against their ecclesiastical head by the vexatious intrigues and tyranny of the Jesuits, found it necessary for her own security to suppress the Older. Rome, herself at that time the victim of a revolutionary movement, was a suppliant to Protestant States for protection. All this is now reversed. The organization which supports her is the same as it was three centuries ago—her aim is still as high, her ambition is as great —and although his Holiness is cooped within the narrow confines of a city, the ambition and the organization of which he is the head is as wide-spread and as rampant as it was a century ago.


* I regret, Sir, that I cannot justify it to myself to yield to the impatience of the House by remaining silent on this occasion, but what I have to say shall be short, and I will endeavour that it shall be to the purpose. I say, first, that this Bill is unconstitutional, in so far that it enables magistrates, who are the nominees of the Crown, and not the representatives of those who pay the taxes, to levy taxes; and as the administration of these funds is neither under the control of this House, nor of any other authority responsible to those who pay them, it becomes of the utmost importance to consider what are the objects to which this money is applied. It is to take into the service of the State a new class of officers in our county prisons—namely, Roman Catholic priests—and not only thus to extend and sustain, at the public cost, the authority and influence of that priesthood, but by another and distinct provision in this Bill, to prevent any prisoner, who may be still a Roman Catholic, from the opportunity of conforming to the Protestant faith—even though he desire to do so. Now, Sir, I say at once that the Roman Catholic priesthood constitute in this country neither more nor less than a political conspiracy, organized under the name of religion, and fraught with danger to the liberties of this country, civil and religious—owing no allegiance to our Sovereign, or to the laws, in so far as they conflict with the claims of Papal supremacy, and not abating one jot or tittle of those claims as manifested at Rome itself. And I say they will necessarily use all the power and influence, all the money and patronage they can obtain from us, to harass and injure our national interests at home and abroad, in so far as those interests are identified with Protestantism. That such is the fact— that political organization and action is the keystone of the Papal policy—is manifest from this debate. For the first time in this Parliament, the noble Lord at the head of the Government and the right hon. Gentleman opposite have both spoken in support of a Government Bill, vying with each other which shall be most earnest in conciliating the political power which this priesthood have secured to themselves in this country. What justification does the noble Lord offer for this Bill? He says it is required for the better moral government of the prisons; I ask, where does he find any evidence of such a statement? Has any prison inspector, any magistrate, any governor of any prison in the kingdom ever so stated? I defy the Government to adduce a single tittle of evidence to that effect; while, on the other hand, I charge the Government with a knowledge that the very reverse has been the result of the experiment of introducing these paid priests of Rome, since last year, into the Government prisons. Is it not the fact that at Dartmoor the Romish priest has caused the greatest confusion and disorder in the prison? And that at Perth—another Government prison—is it not the fact that the Home Secretary has had to yield to the Roman Catholic priest, so far as to issue an order that no Roman Catholic shall be permitted to see a Scripture reader or a Protestant minister? But why should we seek for further evidence that the Romish priesthood habitually sanctions disloyalty, riot and sedition, and that the Government as habitually ignores the fact, and dares not resist the political agency by which they sustain themselves in the open avowal of such conduct? Will the right hon. the Secretary of Ireland deny that he knows, or has good reason to believe, that the agrarian murders of the last autumn—the disloyal demonstrations continuously taking place in various parts of the country—ramifying, too, under the name of St. Patrick's Brotherhood, in this country and abroad—are any other than a new manifestation of that Ribbon system which, by overwhelming evidence, is identified with and sustained by the Irish priests? Will the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department deny that the Garibaldi riots at Birkenhead, and in Hyde Park, were organized by the Romish priests, and that such organization is so complete as to have put a stop to freedom of discussion on such subjects throughout this country? What are the results, on the other side, of the efforts at conciliation? The constant concessions to these Romish demands, for the last thirty years, amounting in hard money, paid directly to the priesthood in one form or other, to above £300,000 a year. Where is the evi- dence of their having been conciliated? What have we gained but an increase of their demands, coupled with threats of vengeance for the least delay in granting to them still further means of developing those political and social objects which they openly avow will stop at nothing short of the absolute supremacy of the Romish power in this country? The right hon. the Member for Oxfordshire says, this Bill is to do to others as we, if in the situation of these prisoners, would be done by. Does he then assert that those prisoners who express no desire to see their priests are not in that respect free agents; if they are so, and no one has denied it, what more does he ask for them, or would he desire for himself, than to be allowed to attend, as they desire to do, the Protestant worship? But, says the right hon. Gentleman, they will derive no benefit from it, because they are Roman Catholics; and he approves of a Bill which prevents them from having the opportunity, which they desire, of becoming Protestants, and thus extends the secular power and the public money to keep them forcibly under the control of the Romish priests. What more can be necessary than to point to such arguments, in order to exhibit the extent to which the political power of this priesthood has already brought under control, not the Government alone, but even the debates in this House, in which the right hon. Member takes so distinguished a part? Is it so strange that Roman Catholics should desire to emancipate themselves from the thraldom of their priests, that no other reason can be alleged for the indifference of prisoners to their ministrations than an indifference to all religion; and if that be so, is it not more reasonable to allow a Protestant minister to endeavour to arouse in their breasts the spirit of religion, than to cast them back forcibly into the arms of those who have hitherto failed to create such a spirit? But why should we suppose that the Roman Catholics of this country are not as ready to throw off the shackles of their priesthood as the Italians? Why should the Government of this country give to those priests the power to keep them to their faith beyond what even France or Italy gives, and corresponding, so far as it goes, to the utmost demands the priests have ever made of any Government in Europe? And is not the Government, by this Bill, exercising over the Roman Catholic prisoners the same compul- sory power? Is it not denying them the same freedom of conscience which Spain, at the instance of that priesthood, refuses to extend to Matamoros and his Protestant fellow countrymen? To suppose that either the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or the right hon. Gentleman opposite, really believes that this measure is demanded as a means of reforming criminals, is absurd. There is not a shadow of evidence to justify it; but, as I before asserted, the Government will know by their experience even since last year, that it will have a contrary effect. That it is demanded by any consideration for the feelings of the prisoners, is directly contrary to the published evidence; while to say that it is good for their spiritual interests thus to force upon them that religion which the Queen has solemnly declared to be "superstitious and idolatrous," is a mockery alike of the religion and of the Constitution of the country. I go further, and deliberately say, that, in my humble opinion, it is inconsistent with that duty and loyalty to the Throne which the responsible Ministers of the Sovereign might be expected to manifest. Nor does it appear to justify the Government in this policy, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, who represents the Church of England on this occasion, also bids for an alliance with Home. The right hon. Gentleman may be presumed to know best the interests of his party; but if those interests demand such an alliance, the Church of England will do well to consider whether it will accede thereto, and thus inevitably draw down on itself that retribution which is foreshadowed by the unholy coalition with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 152; Noes 122: Majority 30.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Friday.

Acton, Sir J. D. Beaumont, S. A.
Adam, W. P. Beecroft, G. S.
Atherton, Sir W. Bellow, R. M.
Ayrton, A. S. Berkeley, Col. F. W. F.
Bailey, C. Berkeley, hon. C. P. F.
Baines, E. Blake, J.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Bonham-Carter, J.
Baring, T. G. Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.
Bass. M. T. Bouverie, hon. P. P.
Beaumont, W. B. Bowyer, Sir G.
Brady, Dr. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Bramston, T, W. Locke, J.
Bruce, H. A. Longfield, R.
Buchanan, W. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Buckley, General Lygon, hon. F.
Butt, I. M'Cann, J,
Buxton, C. MacEvoy, E.
Calthorpe, hon. F. H. W. G. sM'Mahon, P.
Maguire, J. F.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Mainwaring, T.
Castlerosse, Viscount Manners, rt. hon. Ld. J.
Cavendish, hon. W. Martin, J.
Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B. Merry, J.
Cogan, W. H. F. Mildmay, H. F.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Mitchell, T. A.
Collier, R. P. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Morritt, W. J. S.
Cox, W. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Crawford, R. W. O'Brien, Sir P.
Dalglish, R. O'Conor Don, The
Davey, R. O'Reilly, M. W.
Dering, Sir E. C. Padmore, R.
Dickson, Colonel Paget, Lord A.
Dillwyn, L. L. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Palmer, Sir R.
Douglas, Sir C. Palmerston, Viscount
Duff, M. E. G. Patten, Colonel W.
Dunne, Colonel Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Dunne, M. Peel, rt. hon. F.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Pender, J.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. (Cov.) Pinney, Colonel
Ennis, J. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Evans, T. W. Potter, E.
Ewart, J. C. Potts, G.
Fergusson, Sir J. Proby, Lord
Forster, C. Pryse, E. L.
Forster, W. E. Puller, C. W. G.
French, Colonel Robertson, D.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Robertson, H.
Gavin, Major Russell, F. W.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Salomons, Mr. Ald.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Scholefield, W.
Gower, hon. F. L. Scully, V.
Greene, J. Seely, C.
Greenwood, J. Seymour, A.
Gregory, W. H. Sidney, T.
Grenfell, H. R. Smith, J. B.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Smith J. A.
Grosvenor, Earl Stacpoole, W.
Gurdon, B. Stansfeld, J.
Hadfield, G. Steel, J.
Hanmer, Sir J. Stirling, W.
Hartington, Marq. of Taylor, P. A.
Hay, Sir J. C. D. Vane, Lord H.
Headlam, rt. hon. T. E. Verney, Sir H.
Henley, Lord Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Herbert, rt. hon. H. A. Vivian, H. H.
Heygate, W. U. Waldron, L.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Watkins, Colonel L.
Howard, Lord E. Westhead, J. P. Brown-
Hubbard, J. G. Willoughby, Sir H.
Hutt, rt. hon. W. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Ingham, R. Wood, W.
Jackson, W. Woods, H.
Kingscote, Colonel
Knight, F. W. TELLERS.
Layard, A. H. Mr. Brand
Leatham, E. A. Colonel White
Lennox, Lord H. G.
Adderley, rt. hon. C. B. Angerstein, W.
Addington, hon, W. W. Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.
Archdall, Captain M. Malins, R.
Aytoun, R. S, Martin, P. W.
Beach, W. W. B. Miller, W.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Mills, A.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Mills, J. R.
Blackburn, P. Mitford, W. T.
Bovill, W. Montgomery, Sir G.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Morgan, O.
Bruce, Major C. Morris, D,
Butler, C. S. Morrison, W.
Caird, J. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Cairns, Sir H. M. Mundy, W.
Cartwright, Colonel Mure, D.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Newdegate, C. N.
Close, M. C. Nicol, W.
Cobbett, J. M. North, Colonel
Craufurd, E. H. J. Ogilvy, Sir J.
Cubitt, G. Onslow, G.
Du Cane, C. Packe, C. W.
Duncombe, hon. A. Parker, Major W.
Dundas, F. Peto, Sir S. M.
Dunlop, A. M. Pevensey, Viscount
Du Pre, C. G. Phillips, G. L.
Dutton, hon. R. H. Pigott, Sergeant
Edwards, Major Powell, F. S.
Ellice, E. (St. Ands.) Quinn, P.
Enfield, Viscount Repton, G. W. J.
Ewart, W. Rogers, J. J.
Ewing, H. E. Crum- Rose, W. A.
Fane, Colonel J. W. Sclater- Booth, G.
Farquhar, Sir M. Scott, Sir W.
Farrer, J. Selwyn, C. J.
Fellowes, E. Seymer, H. K.
Foley, H. W. Seymour, W. D.
Gard, R. S. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Getty, S. G. Smith, Abel
Gilpin, Colonel Smyth, Colonel
Gordon, C. W. Somes, J.
Gore, J. R. O. Spooner, R.
Gower, G. W. G. L. Stuart, Lieut. Col. W.
Greenall, G. Sykes, Colonel W. H.
Gray, Captain Tempest, Lord A. V.
Grogan, Sir E. Tite, W.
Haliburton, T. C. Tollemache, J.
Hanbury, R. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Hardy, J. Vance, J.
Hibbert, J. T. Vansittart, W.
Horsfall, T. B. Verner, Sir W.
Howes, E. Watlington, J. W. P.
Hunt, G. W. Way, A. E.
Kekewich, S. T. Whalley, G. H.
Kendall, N. White, J.
Kennard, R. W. Williams, W.
King, J. K. Wyld, J.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Wyndham, hon. P.
Langton, W. G. Wynne, W. W. E.
Lefroy, A. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Lee, W.
Long, R. P. TELLERS.
Lysley, W. J. Mr. W. H. G. Langton
Mackie, J. Colonel Barttelot