HC Deb 19 July 1877 vol 235 c1513

rose to ask a Question of the Speaker with reference to the Privilege of Members. He had lately received no fewer than 10 printed Circulars headed "Laymen's Association." He would read one of them— Sir,—As one of your constituents, I beg to address you as to the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874. The passing of that Act was so notoriously partizan, and the confusion and injustice consequent on its working have been so prejudicial to the work of the Church in many parishes, that I am compelled as a matter of duty to ask you whether you will vote for its repeal. I beg very courteously, but still firmly, to inform you that the next Election I shall, apart from all questions of politics, feel it my duty to withhold my vote from any candidate who will not pledge himself to the repeal of this Act. He had no objection to any number of his constituents individually expressing their opinion with reference to any vote of his; but he did object to a body of men banding themselves together to manufacture printed papers asking his constituents not to support him if he did not give his vote in a particular way. That seemed little loss than intimidation, and he wished to know, Whether a breach of Privilege had been committed?


The hon. and learned Member for Marylebone has handed to me a copy of the Circular which he has now read. I cannot say that the offence contained in it is of so grave a character as to constitute it a breach of Privilege. At the same time, I am bound to observe that expressions such as those contained in that Circular are calculated to influence the independent judgment of Members, and as such are highly reprehensible.