HL Deb 06 May 1836 vol 33 cc613-5

Viscount Duncannon moved the Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Constabulary (Ireland) Bill.

Report brought up and read—several amendments agreed to.

The Duke of Leinster

proposed the insertion of a clause such as was introduced into all former Bills, referring to secret societies, that Freemasons be exempted from taking the oath that they do not belong to any secret society.

The Earl of Winchilsea

said, that he could not see why, if secret societies were to be objected to at all, freemasons should be exempted from that objection.

Viscount Melbourne

referred to an Act of 1794, and was understood to say that the Freemasons' lodges were generally considered not to be political societies.

The Earl of Roden

said, that although the Freemasons' lodges were not political societies at present, they might, at any future period, become so, and prove a very dangerous body, over which the Government would have no control. He thought, therefore, that there would be great danger in admitting the proposition of the noble Duke.

The Duke of Richmond

would support the amendment unless, very strong proof were brought of the likelihood of Freemasons' lodges being turned to political purposes.

The Earl of Radnor

said, there was one ground upon which he thought it would be hard to prevent a Freemason from being admitted into the constabulary body-namely, that, if he was rightly informed, a man who had once become a freemason, could never by any possibility, withdraw himself from that body, whereas with Orange lodges, and other secret societies, this was not the case.

The Earl of Haddington

thought the constabulary force of Ireland should be kept free from all secret societies whatever.

Lord Ellenborough

proposed to introduce an amendment upon the clause of the noble Duke, with a view to extend the exemption only to such Freemasons as now actually belonged to the constabulary force, but not to any future appointments.

The Duke of Leinster

said, that, belonging as he did to a secret society, he was not at liberty to enter into any particulars in respect to them, but was understood to assure the House that there was nothing of a political tendency in the proceedings of Freemasons' societies

The Earl of Winchilsea

said, he hoped his noble Friend would take the sense of the House upon his amendment, if the noble Duke opposite was not prepared to agree to it, for he had read a report of a political speech, said to have been delivered at a Freemasons' lodge.

Viscount Strangford

said, it was perfectly impossible that any speech delivered at a Freemasons' lodge could have been reported.

The Marquess of Londonderry

said, that knowing as he did what secret societies were, he must insist upon the principle of applying the same regulations equally to all of them. He hoped that his noble Friend would persevere in pressing his amendment, and that if it were carried, the noble Duke would be content to receive his amended clause as an instalment, as was then generally said of amendments of the kind, and be satisfied.

The Earl of Winchilsea

explained, that he had read the report of a speech made by the Noble Grand Master of the Freemasons of Ireland; and added, that unless the noble Duke opposite agreed to the amendment proposed by his noble Friend upon his clause, he should oppose the clause altogether.

The Earl of Ripon

said, that of the two propositions he should rather prefer the clause us it stood, because if it were admitted that there was no danger in permitting Freemasons to remain in the constabulary who happened to be there already, he could not see that any objection could be urged against admitting others of the same body.

The House divided on the Duke of Leinster's clause. Contents 44; Not Contents 41: Majority 3.

The report was received.

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