HL Deb 06 February 1854 vol 130 cc257-8

begged to ask his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies what course had been adopted by Her Majesty's Government with reference to the Criminal Code of Malta, passed last year by the Legislative Council, and sent home to be laid before Her Majesty in Council, which contained sundry enactments adverse to religious liberty? Whether the provisions of the said code, as far as related to offences against religion, of which a translation had been furnished to the House of Commons, in a return delivered upon the 15th of August last, had been adopted, altered, or cancelled? And whether Her Majesty's Government were prepared to furnish any further information of their intentions in the matter?


said, he should be most happy to afford his noble Friend the fullest information in his power upon the subject. At the close of last Session a question had been raised in the other House of Parliament affecting the Criminal Code of Malta. That code was a matter, as their Lordships were no doubt aware, which had been under the consideration of successive Governments, as well as the Legislative Councils of Malta, for many years. In the course of that time there had been numerous attempts made to reform that code; but the greatest difficulties had always intervened, and it was not until the end of last Session that any effort for that purpose had been successful. A code, however, was then adopted, and, under the circumstances of the case, although objections had been taken to a portion of it, the Government felt that it would be most undesirable, unless it should be absolutely necessary, to throw back upon the island the consideration of the whole code, more particularly as the objections which had been taken to it here applied to one chapter only, which related to offences against religion. It would be remembered that power had been reserved to the Crown to enact ordinances upon this subject by an Order in Council. A Bill was now before the Council for that purpose, and he had advised that the code, as it had been sent home, should be re-enacted, with the single omission of the chapter relating to offences against religion.

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