HL Deb 14 July 1840 vol 55 cc718-20
Lord Lyndhurst

begged to present a petition from Mr. David Salomons, a gentleman of the Jewish persuasion, who stated, that he had filled many offices of trust and dignity, and had served the office of sheriff of London and Middlesex. The petitioner stated that he was elected in 1835 an alderman of the city of London, but in consequence of his refusal to subscribe the declaration required by the act 9 George 4th, his election was declared void, and another gentleman was elected in his stead. The petitioner then applied to the Court of Queen's Bench for redress, and that court decided that he ought to have been sworn in, but the decision of the Queen's Bench was reversed on appeal by the judges of the Court of Exchequer Chamber. The petitioner now prayed their Lordships that he might be permitted to make the declaration required by the act 1 Victoria, c. 5 instead of subscribing the declaration rendered necessary by the act 9 George 4th. If he (Lord Lyndhurst) received any concurrence from their Lordships, he would bring in a bill to carry into effect the object of this petition, with a view of getting rid of the anomalies which existed in the present state of the law. A gentleman of the Jewish persuasion might be sheriff of a county because he was not obliged to take the oaths of office until six months after he had entered upon the duties of his office, and then he was protected by the Indemnity Act. It was formerly doubted, indeed, whether he might be the sheriff of the county of a city or the county of a town, but the Legislature interposed four or five years ago, and settled the question by providing for his eligibility. It therefore appeared to him, that there was no reason why a gentleman of the Jewish persuasion should not be a member of a town council, either as councillor or alderman. In fact, the law was evaded on this subject, for if there was a flexible town council, all they did was this—not to call upon him to subscribe the declaration previous to his election, and if so, he came into the appointment with his acts made valid by the Municipal Act itself, and was himself protected from all consequences by the operation of the Indemnity Act. Persons, therefore, who had conscientious scruples on the subject, were not in so favourable a situation as those whose consciences were less tender. What was the practical effect? A Jewish gentleman was one of the town-councillors or aldermen in the corporation of Southampton, and this was also the case in Birmingham. He repeated, therefore, that if he should receive the concurrence of their Lordships, he would bring in a bill to carry into effect the object of the petition.

Lord Brougham

observed, that the best way for his noble Friend was to try and bring in his bill. He could assure him of his own support to the measure.

Lord Holland

would also give his support to the bill.

Petition laid on the table.