HC Deb 08 September 1887 vol 320 cc1670-1
COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, S.W., Bootle)

had the following Question on the Paper:—To ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is a fact that, on the 24th ultimo, at the Curragh Camp, on the occasion of the presentation of new colours to the 5th (Militia) Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers by the Marchioness of Londonderry, wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the regiment having been formed up into square on parade, the Service of Consecration of the Colours, taken from a Romanist book called The Pontificale Romanum, was performed by a Roman Catholic Priest named Father Dillon, assisted by the Senior Anglican Military Chaplain in Ireland; whether it is the case that, on the occasion of Consecration of Colours of one of Her Majesty's Regiments by a Roman Catholic Priest at Devonport last year, a severe reprimand to all concerned was administered by the then Secretary of State for War, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government; whether the celebration of Romish ceremonies in public is in accordance with the provisions of 10 Geo. IV. c. 7 s. 26; and, what course Her Majesty's Government propose to take in the matter?

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

As Question 48 is exceedingly offensive to millions of Her Majesty's subjects, and as the hon. and gallant Gentleman in whose name it stands is not here to ask it, I beg to ask your leave to put it to the Secretary of State for War, in order that we may have an expression of opinion from the Government regarding the matter.

THE SECRETAEY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

I am quite ready to answer the Question. It is the fact that on the day named the Marchioness of Londonderry presented Colours to the 5th Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, being the regiment formerly known as the Dublin County Militia. The ceremony of consecrating the Colours took place, consisting in the reading of two collects in English by the Roman Catholic chaplain, followed by the prescribed prayers for the blessing of standards by the Church of England chaplain. The regiment is mainly composed of Roman Catholics; and it was considered desirable that the chaplains of both denominations should co-operate in the ceremony. The ceremony appears to have satisfied everyone on the spot, and was not in any way similar to the one which took place last year at Devonport.


I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is in Order, or respectful to Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, to speak of and to use the expression "Romish ceremonies," which appears in the third paragraph of the Question?


I did not take any exception to the expression when I first saw it, nor do I think that any exception can be taken to it now. I do not suppose that any insult to any Member of this ' House was for a moment intended.


We consider it extremely offensive.


With that knowledge, I shall take care in future that Questions are so framed as not to offend the prejudices and feelings—very just feelings—of hon. Members.