HC Deb 09 February 1891 vol 350 cc206-7
MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)

I beg to ask the Attorney General whether persons professing the Roman Catholic religion are eligible for the offices of Lord High Chancellor of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland?

MR. SUMMERS (Huddersfield)

I wish also to ask the Attorney General if, according to the existing law, any religious qualification is necessary for the office of Lord Chancellor of England or Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; and especially whether a Roman Catholic or a Jew is eligible to hold either or both of said offices?


In reply to the questions of the hon. Members opposite I must respectfully decline to answer these questions. They involve points of law of great difficulty, which cannot be properly dealt with within the limits of an answer in this House. I know that very different opinions are entertained by lawyers of great eminence both in and out of the House, and therefore upon such a point my own personal opinion would be of no guidance to the hon. Members.


If I put the question on the Paper on a future day, will the Attorney General answer it, after he has had time for consideration? As this is a question of Imperial importance, I would also ask whether it is not the duty of the Attorney General, as paid Law Adviser of the Crown, to answer questions of this character put by hon. Members, or whether he simply gives his opinion upon questions on electoral law only?


As far as I am aware, most of the questions I have answered came from hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. I have no objection to answer proper questions. Whatever the day on which the hon. Gentleman puts this question down my answer will be the same.

MR. DE LISLE (Leicester, Mid)

May I ask whether there are any constitutional means of ascertaining what the state of the law is on the subject, for this is a matter of great interest to a great many of Her Majesty's subjects?


I am not aware of any means. Should any Government make any appointment which raises the question, it will then have to be decided.