HC Deb 02 July 1888 vol 328 cc59-60
MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

asked Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, Whe- ther his attention has been called to a report in The Derry Standard of the 27th instant, where it appears that County Court Judge Webb directed the Court Crier at Letterkenny Quarter Sessions, on Tuesday last, "not to ask the question of Presbyterian witnesses in future" with regard to the binding force of the form of oath taken with uplifted hand; and, whether, considering that there is no legal obligation on the part of magistrates to require a Presbyterian witness to declare in Court that this form of oath is binding on his conscience, he will cause instructions to be sent to the Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland to advise the magistrates that no such duty is imposed upon them?


I have not seen a report of the case referred to; but I have no doubt that it is correctly stated in the Question. I should be glad that the course suggested by the hon. and learned Member could be taken; but I am aware that there have been conflicting decisions on the point, and in that state of facts the interpretation and application of the existing Statute must be left to the Court in each individual case, in the absence of a judicial authority binding on all. But, as I have already given the House to understand in replying to the Question of another hon. Member, the Government would be extremely glad to see the matter settled in the direction which the hon. and learned Member desires.