HL Deb 19 August 1833 vol 20 cc750-1

The Earl of Gosford moved the third reading of the Separatists' Affirmation Bill.

The Bishop of Hereford

would merely Say, that he was neither satisfied with the Bill itself, nor convinced of the necessity of its introduction. The objection of the complainants was not to the words "So help me God," but to "swear not at all;" and their affirmation, according to this Bill, was as completely an oath as that which the law at present required them to take. If there were to be any alteration at all, it ought to be in the shape of a general Bill, and not confined to one—and that not a numerous class—and he should, therefore, move, that the third reading be deferred until that day three months.

The Bishop of Chichester

did not see any grounds for refusing that relief to the Separatists which had been granted to the Quakers. What constituted the validity of an oath but a conscientious feeling? The Separatists declared, they could not conscientiously take an oath, and where then was its validity? He should support the measure, although he would prefer a more general one.

Lord Suffield

said, the Separatists did not, like the Quakers, object to an oath, but only to that which called down upon themselves, under any circumstances, a curse from Heaven. He should like to see a false affirmation in Courts of Justice visited with the same punishment as perjury.

Lord Ellenborough

observed, that this difficulty occurred to him—whether the words in which the Bill was couched would really effect the relief which was sought for by the parties? He suggested the expediency of not pressing the third reading until that point should be ascertained.

Earl Grey

, although he was opposed to a general law on the subject, thought the parties in the present case were entitled to relief; not so much for their own sake, as for that of the public, whose interests, especially in Courts of Justice, might otherwise suffer.

Their Lordships divided on the Amendment—Contents 16; Not-contents 35: Majority 16.

The Bill read a third time, and passed.

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