§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, What course the Government propose to take in respect to a Bill to amend the Law as to Oaths now standing for second reading; and, whether the objects proposed to be attained under the said Bill are not already, to a great extent, provided for by Statute?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
Her Majesty's Government, without denying that there are points in the Oaths Bill which deserve the consideration of Parliament, are unable to concur with the Bill in its present form. The objects proposed to be obtained in the Bill introduced are, to a great extent, provided by the Evidence Amendment Act, 1869, which enables a witness who objects to take the oath, or a person upon whose conscience the oath is not binding, to give evidence, after making a declaration in the words stated in the Statute. So far as witnesses are concerned, there is no necessity, as the Government are advised, for the Bill.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the Act of 1869 did not apply to jurors at all; that many jurors were escaping from duty, rightly or wrongly, by professing to be persons without religious belief; that the Act of 1869 did not affect any case in which barristers, solicitors, magistrates, or other persons were required to take the oath of allegiance, or any of the cases of promissory oaths in any of these classes.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I am not able to answer the hon. Gentleman on a question of law. If he desires to have an answer given perhaps he will be so good as to put the Question on the Paper.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, his only object was to direct the attention of the First Lord of the Treasury to these classes. He did not desire an answer.