HC Deb 20 February 1868 vol 190 cc992-4

asked leave to introduce a Bill to repeal the Act of 14 &c 15 Vict., c. 60, intituled "An Act to prevent the Assumption of certain Ecclesiastical Titles in respect of places in the United Kingdom," and of Section 24 of 10 Geo. IV., c. 7. It would be in the recollection of the House that the subject was discussed several times last Session, and a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the operation of the Acts referred to in his Motion. The Committee sat a considerable time, and heard a great deal of evidence in support of the object which he had now the honour to bring before the House. He believed it was the wish of the House that there should not be a lengthy discussion on this matter; and he would, therefore, simply ask leave to bring in a Bill to repeal those Acts which had been recommended to be repealed by the Committee to which he had referred.


seconded the Motion.


said, the hon. Member for Meath had forgotten to state that the Report of the Committee upon which his Bill was founded was only carried by a majority of 1, that majority being caused by the absence of the hon. Member for the University of Dublin, then Attorney General for Ireland, and now Vice Chancellor of Ireland (Mr. Chatterton), who was absent from the Committee on official duty in Ireland. He did not now mean to oppose the Bill; but he should certainly give it every opposition in his power on the second reading.


said, that having last Session called attention to the proceedings and the Report of the Select Committee, it was not his intention now to enter into the subject again. A draft Report had been proposed by the representative of the Government in the Committee (Mr. Walpole), in opposition to the Report upon which the House was now asked to act, and that draft Report was only rejected by the vote of the Chairman, the hon. Member for Meath. Remembering that, and seeing that the object of the Bill was the formal and legal establishment of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, with all the privileges claimed by that Church, and with all the appurtenances of temporal power which that Church asserted; and seeing that the proposal involved a very serious change in the Constitution of the United Kingdom—seeing that it aimed at that which he believed to be a direct invasion of the Prerogatives of the Crown—he wished to ask Her Majesty's Government—and he hoped the Home Secretary would give him an answer—whether it was their intention to support the Bill in its future stages? He asked this question because he knew that in England, in Scotland, and in the North of Ireland there was a very strong feeling that no such invasion of the Constitution of the country ought to be sanctioned by Parliament. The concurrence of Her Majesty's Government in that view might reasonably have been taken for granted after what occurred upon the Select Committee last year; but circumstances had lately arisen which rendered it exceedingly dubious as to what might be their course on any important subject of this kind, and he therefore should feel obliged if the Home Secretary, or any Member of Her Majesty's Government, would inform the House whether it was the intention of the Government to support the Bill on its second reading and on its future stages?


said, he could not say what course the Government would pursue in regard to the Bill until it had been laid on the table, and they had an opportunity of judging as to its proposals. At present he should not offer any objection to the introduction of the Bill.


said, he wished to correct a misapprehension in the mind of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Armagh (Mr. Vance), who supposed that the decision of the Committee was arrived at by reason of the absence of the hon. Member the Attorney General for Ireland; the fact being that the majority would have been larger but for the absence of the hon. and learned Member for Exeter, so that the majority in favour of the Report was not accidental.


said, he believed that the hon. and learned Member for Exeter was not present during any part of the Committee's proceedings, and could not therefore have voted. The fact was, that the Report of the Committee was carried by the casting vote of the Chairman.


said, that the fact was, that the Report was carried by a majority of 1, by reason of the absence of the hon. Member for Whitehaven.

Motion agreed to. Bill to repeal the Act of the fourteenth and fifteenth Victoria, chapter sixty, intituled, "Anl Act to prevent the Assumption of certain Ecclesiastical Titles in respect of Places in the United Kingdom," and of Section Twenty-four of the Act of the tenth George the Fourth, chapter seven, ordered to be brought in by Mr. MACEVOY, Sir JOSEPH M'KENNA, and Mr. LEADER. Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 37.]