HL Deb 01 July 1858 vol 151 cc702-29

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


said, he had endeavoured as far as possible to make his Bill acceptable to their Lordships. The object he had in view, which was also the object of the clause he moved on the Bill which came up from the other House, was to allow the admission of Jews into the House of Commons; and, if the Bill passed, Jews would be admissible into the other House by a Resolution of that House. Before, however, such a Resolution could pass it would be necessary, under his Bill, that Jews should present themselves at the table of the House to be sworn, and there object to the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," when it would be in the power of the House to direct the omission of those words from the oath. That was a compromise which he ventured to hope their Lordships would be disposed to accept, for he thought that after a conflict of twenty-five years it was time for them to consider whether the question was not one which admitted of a compromise. This subject had been before their Lordships for six weeks during the present Session, and he could not but express a sanguine hope that it would be settled by them on the present occasion once for all. He knew he had to contend with a violent opposition. He knew that on that side of the House on which he sat there were many among his noble Friends with whom he had the honour of acting, who thought so keenly on this subject, and were actuated by such strong religious feelings and conscientious obligations as to hold that it was not one which admitted of any compromise. He trusted, however, that other noble Lords would be disposed to concur in the view he took, and in the mode by which he sought to give it effect. But he believed there were other noble Lords on his side of the House who agreed with him that this was a question that ought to be disposed of; but who entertained objections to the admission of Jews by Resolution, and who had an idea that to allow a separate action on the part of either House was unconsti- tutional and might lead to mischievous consequences. He could not for the life of him see how it was possible that a Resolution so restricted and so guarded could lead to any mischievous results. He could well understand that it might form a precedent for a similar course; but if they supposed that it would in time to come justify the House of Commons in assuming an independent and separate action, that he thought was not warranted by the provisions of the Bill. He had said on a former occasion that he believed there was the most perfect apathy and indifference in the country in reference to the admission of Jews to Parliament. It had been said that apathy and indifference arose from the country relying on the resistance to their admission by their Lordships' House. But could that answer be given now? There could be no doubt that for the last six weeks the country had been well aware that this question was on the point of being settled, through concessions to be made by their Lordships. Could the country, then, rely on the continued resistance of their Lordships' House? It was certain they could not; and yet during that time the question had scarcely been mentioned in the country, and he did not believe that half a dozen petitions had been presented to that House on the subject during those six weeks. There was a Bill before their Lordships' House for the abolition of church rates, which would come on for discussion to-morrow evening. That Bill excited very strong religious feelings in the country; but was the same silence observed out of doors with respect to it? On the contrary, he found that in one day there had been no less than 213 petitions presented to their Lordships' House in favour of the Bill for the Abolition of church rates, a fact which showed that when there was a strong feeling in the country on any subject the people would make themselves heard. From the entire silence, then, that had prevailed for the last six weeks in the country on the subject of the Jew Bill he was led to say that the people were perfectly indifferent about it. Their Lordships were therefore in the position to act as they thought would be most conducive to the good of the country. Was, then, the conflict between the two Houses to go on for ever? He maintained that it could not go on for ever; that the position of their Lordships was not tenable; and therefore he trusted that the matter would be satisfactorily disposed of that very night once for all. The noble Earl concluded by moving that his Bill be read a second time.

Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a.


My Lords, had the noble and learned Lord withdrawn his Bill in deference to the often expressed opinion of the House against the surrender of a great principle of the constitution, instead of for the purpose of making way for the Bill of my noble and gallant Friend, he would have merited all your Lordships' gratitude; but I cannot think that it will conduce either to public respect for your wisdom and consistency, or to a satisfactory settlement of the oaths question, that you should take up and return to the Commons a measure such as that now before the House, in lieu of that which they asked you to accept. That Bill your Lordships approved of, in so far as it substituted one oath for the three oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration, and rejected the proposition it contained of admitting Jews to sit and vote in Parliament. What will that assembly think of your consistency, when you send down to them a Bill without the enactment you before approved of, and enacting the very thing you before disapproved of? Far better would it have been to have taken the issue upon the Bill of the noble and learned Lord, and that if an Act for the relief of Jewish disabilities should originate in this House, it should be endorsed with the name showing a legitimacy of parentage instead of going forth stamped with the brand of illegitimacy, the damning evidence of an erring parent. The honour, if honour there is, in carrying a measure of the kind through your Lordships' House belongs of right to the venerable Peer who has for years been the consistent advocate of the Jewish claims, and not to my noble and gallant Friend who has for years been their opponent, but who now has changed his colours. In moving that the second reading of this Bill be deferred for six months, I shall not need to trouble your Lordships by discussing the principle upon which objection is made to the admission of Jews to sit and vote in Parliament. My views upon that subject I have lately had the honour of laying before the House. I will only say they were in perfect harmony with those which your Lordships have repeatedly affirmed, and by majorities increasing in proportion as the question by repeated discussion became better understood. I shall, therefore, confine my observations to the question of a compromise as it is now submitted to your Lordships by the Bill of the noble Earl. I regret that the noble Earl has not offered any explanation in support of his Bill that could enable me to join him in his endeavours to put an end to the controversy between the two Houses of Parliament, and to promote a satisfactory adjustment of the oaths question. I can see nothing in the proposition he has made calculated to promote objects so desirable. The Bill, on the contrary, appears to me to be fraught with great injury to the future good government of the country, and, so far from being calculated to lead to a satisfactory settlement of the difference between the two houses, to contain within it the germ of much greater agitation on the oaths question than your Lordships have ever hitherto had to deal with. Nor is likely to conduce to a feeling of mutual respect between the two Houses of Parliament that the mere will of the one should overbear the convictions of the other—that the House of Lords, in fact, should yield to the dictation of the House of Commons. Before I enter further into the consideration of the Bill before the House, I owe it to your Lordships, and especially to that large majority that has been hitherto opposed to the Jewish claims, to offer a few words in explanation of the fact of so prominent a part having been undertaken by me as the moving of the Amendment. I will only say that I neither sought for nor coveted such a distinction. It was solely owing to that disorganization and want of concert among the party I have alluded to by the sudden and unexpected defection of two noble Earls connected with it, followed by the suggestion of compromise among others. My noble and gallant Friend was the first to go over—he was the last from whom I should have apprehended such an example. I had always regarded him as a man of great determination, and from the gallant profession he belongs to, the least likely to have entertained a thought of yielding or turning; but I am bound to say that in announcing his change my noble Friend did state what at once disentitled the opponents of the Jewish claims any longer to expect his co-operation; nay, he showed conclusively that his vote should always have been given on the other side. My noble Friend said he had always given a cold and reluctant vote against the Jews; this he could do no longer. I unhesitatingly say that he ought never to have given such a vote—a vote to exclude a fellow subject from the enjoyment of constitutional rights that he believed him, as his Motion this day shows, to have been fully entitled to. He owed it to the Jews to repair the wrong he had done them; but it would have been, I think, a more generous proceeding on his part if, instead of proposing a kind of half measure on their behalf, he bad given his vote and support to the Bill the House of Commons were at the time pressing you to accept. My noble and gallant Friend's example was followed by the noble Earl on the cross bench, whose defection was not less a matter of surprise and regret, considering the noble Earl's intimate acquaintance with the history of his country, his associations with the most eminent of its modern statesmen, and the fact of his having been selected to conduct the opposition to a Bill for the admission of the Jews to Parliament. Considering also the abilities he displayed in the conduct of that debate, he was naturally looked up to as one of the greatest authorities upon the question, and as one of the least likely to act in opposition to the principles he had so ably advocated. But we were doomed to lose him, and with no better reason assigned for his change than that great men before him had changed upon great questions. The party, however, was strong enough to have borne the loss of the two noble Earls. But when the ill-omened word "compromise" was uttered in the most influential quarter, and passed from mouth to mouth among the more immediate friends of the noble Earl at the head of the Government, at once that great party he had before so ably formed and led became disorganized: no one knew whom to consult, whom to trust; and such was the consternation of the party, that noble Lords opposite appeared to consider the victory as already won, and that the only point to be determined was by whom the Bill or terms of capitulation should be drawn up, whether by the noble and learned Lord, the tried friend of the Jews, or by my noble and gallant Friend who had for so many years opposed them. The result was that Bills were laid upon the table by both noble Lords, and had remained there for above a week, and were within four days of that appointed for their second reading, without any indication of opposition being offered to them, when it appeared to me that unless notice of oppo- sition were given immediately, none could be offered with any hope of success; the breach was open, and the enemy might walk in unopposed. I, therefore, stepped as private out of the ranks to occupy it. I do not mention this with any view of claiming your indulgence; that, I am sure, I shall receive in the same measure as it is always accorded to those that address your Lordships from a sense of public duty, but I do ask that the cause I have undertaken may not be prejudiced by the mere fact which I have endeavoured to explain of its having fallen into the hands of one who feels himself quite incapable of doing it justice. To myself as well as to many of your Lordships it is, I am sure, a source of much regret, that the House should now be called upon to initiate a compromise of a great principle of the constitution, after the long, the intelligible, and decided stand it has made in its defence. I had hoped from the cordial reception your Lordships gave to the suggestion of the noble Lord, the Chairman of Committees, that the proposition of a compromise, if compromise were possible, should originate with the other House of Parliament would have been acted on, and that your Lordships would thereby have been spared the humiliation of now sitting, as it were, in judgment upon all your past decisions upon the Jew question, and of exhibiting, should you unhappily be induced to pass this Bill, a deplorable example of weakness and inconsistency where most of all you should be strong and uncompromising. The House, it appears to me, is less in a position now than ever it was to propose any measure of concession upon the Jew question, for not only have you by an unusually large majority made decision in the present Session that you would not admit the Jews to Parliament, but it stands upon record that without even dividing upon the question you rejected the reasons of the Commons against the course you had taken. You thereby substantially re-affirmed your oft-repeated decision, and in such form that you could not, with any regard for consistency, or I might add, with self-respect, offer any compromise, properly so called, that could meet the requirement of the Commons. The Bill before you is totally at variance with the principle to which you stand pledged, for it is a distinction without any difference in point of principle whether the Jew be admitted to sit and vote in Parliament by a legalised order of the House to which be belongs, or by a more direct legal sanction. In either case the Jew is put upon an equality with the Christian as a member of the Legislature. What is the compromise or middle course the Bill proposes? What does the Jew give up of his claim? What do you ask the Commons to abate of what they have demanded? Nothing whatever. If you should pass this Bill you will do the very thing, with only a slight and immaterial change in point of form, that you have over and over again refused to do, and upon reasons that have more and more commended themselves to your own judgment and to public approval; and you will do it without any alteration of circumstances whatever to justify your change. I see nothing whatever in the proposed measure to render it less objectionable than that which you have rejected. Does it provide in any way for the security and future government of our Christian Church Establishment? Does it in any way vindicate the principles to which you are pledged? Is there anything within the four corners of the Bill to compensate to a Christian nation for the surrender of the great principle of Christianity which has hitherto been the exclusive rule and acknowledged basis of our Government? To maintain this principle your Lordships have steadily refused to admit any but professed Christians to sit and vote in Parliament; if you now depart from this rule, and by admitting the Jew practically declare it as your opinion that he ought to be admitted, the public will naturally ask what right had you ever to exclude him, or to deny his claim, as you have done for the last fourteen years? Principles do not change. What is right now in point of principle, must have been right from the beginning; and you could not have been justified, but upon the clearest and most undeniable grounds of national policy, in excluding any British subject from participating in every privilege of our free constitution. If such grounds existed a month ago, in what respect are they now changed? If they have not changed, then are you bound, excluding all personal considerations, all narrow views of a temporary expediency, and consulting only the true and permanent interests of the empire, to maintain as their best security the open acknowledgment of the true faith of a Christain by each Member of the Legisture. The insistance of the House of Commons to admit those to assist in the framing of our laws who regard Christianity as a system of imposture, is unsupported by reason, for their reasons have been before you, and you have rejected them; they, therefore, will not justify you if you should give way upon such a question; nor will it be any apology for you, nor in any degree uphold your dignity in public estimation, that your surrender to the demand of the Commons is not made in the exact form that they had proposed. If you substantially give up what it is your duty to defend, it will matter little in what manner you do so; the voice of public opinion will condemn you, declaring you wrong from the beginning—wrong for first refusing what, if you pass this Bill you will practically confess you ought never to have withheld—wrong for giving in now with a very bad grace, and wrong if you have allowed your convictions to be overborne. Interwoven as Christianity is with the whole system of our Government both in Church and State, I see no way by which, without offence to the cause of truth, you could commit the interests of the Church and the framing of our laws to any who deny Christ and reject the divine laws. A precedent, however, for a compromise, upon a question somewhat analogous to that of the Jewish claims, does exist in the settlement of the Catholic claims. The analogy exists in the fact that in both eases there was a difficulty to be overcome regarding the national church and religion of the state; in all other respects the cases are widely different. The claims of the Roman Catholics were those of about one-fourth of the entire population of the United Kingdom Public opinion had been strongly expressed in their favour, promises had been held out to them in times of difficulty, and especially at the period of the union with Ireland. They did not, like the Jews, seek the acquirements of new rights, but the restitution of rights of which they had been deprived; for the first founders of the constitutional liberties of England were Roman Catholics. England was still Roman Catholic when her liberties were improved, and her independence established under the third Edward; and even after the severe struggles incident to the establishment of the Reformation, which terminated in the exclusion of Roman Catholics both from Parliament and from office under the Crown, they were found, as they are at the present day, ready to shed their blood under the banner of a Protestant Sovereign, and enrolled among the defenders of their country. Nevertheless the agitation for the restoration of their civil rights lasted nearly half a century before they were eventually conceded; nor did they obtain them until their claims had been recommended from the Throne, and a Bill brought in upon the responsibility of the King's Government removing their disabilities, but upon terms that appeared to afford due security for the maintenance of Protestantism in Church and State, that being at the time considered essential to the well being and independence of the country. The solemn oath imposed on Roman Catholic Members of Parliament, by which they bound themselves to do nothing to weaken or disturb the Protestant religion and Protestant government of the kingdom was on their part a compromise of great moment, inasmuch as it pledged them to a policy adverse to the known views and pretensions of their ecclesiastical rulers; but in the case of the Jews no such compromise is offered, no such claims can be pleaded; they cannot plead nationality, their rule and practice is to keep themselves aliens in blood as well as in religion and association from the nations among whom they are dispersed; they have no public services to point to; the voice of public opinion, so far as it has been expressed, is against their claims, only a few individuals of their nation have given it any support, and the Bill now proposed for your acceptance does not, as the Roman Catholic Relief Bill did in the case of Roman Catholics, go a single step towards removing the objections that exist against Jews being enabled to legislate for a Christian Church. If, therefore, you should pass this Bill, enabling those that deny the Christian faith to exercise a free and discretionary power for the overthrow of the Established religion, the Roman Catholic will then have just reason to be dissatisfied with his position—as a Member of the Legislature, he, a professed Christian, with his hands tied up as much as they can be by the obligation of a solemn oath not to interfere in any way with the religious establishment he may disapprove of, while those who are not Christians are perfectly free to do as they please. This anomaly was especially apparent in the Bill of the House of Commons, and also in the Bill presented by the noble and learned Lord, and would seem not to have been the effect of accident, as in each of them the last clause but one specially provides— That nothing in this Act shall be held to alter or affect the provisions of an Act passed in the 10th year of King George IV., chap. 7, for the relief of His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects. When I find an Act so deliberately proposed as a permanent settlement of the oaths question, I am led to inquire how is it that those who formerly were loudest in demanding equality of rights for their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects now seek to render their position in respect of legislative freedom one of decided inferiority to that they would accord to those who repudiate Christianity? How is it that the Roman Catholics have themselves voted for such a measure? Do they—can they support it as a final and satisfactory settlement of the oaths question? Can it be supposed that the Roman Catholics, as a body, will acquiesce in it?—or does it not rather look like a cunningly-devised plan for getting rid of the Roman Catholic oath, by rendering it such a grievance to the Roman Catholic body that they may get up an agitation for its repeal, impossible for Parliament, even if so disposed, to resist? Let me warn your Lordships that you fall not into this trap, if trap it is—at all events, that you commit not so glaring an inconsistency, so mischievous a blunder, and by the Roman Catholics an act of so great injustice, as to adopt this measure. Better would it be at once to abolish all oaths, except, perhaps, the oath of allegiance, and thus put an end to religious distinctions. But before taking such a step—before thus admitting to the Legislature the avowed enemies of the Christian name—you should determine whether or not you will maintain the union of Church and State; you should determine whether or not the interests of religion are henceforth to be of any concern in the Legislature and government of the country. You must determine whether Christ, whom the Legislature in its three branches now acknowledges as supreme King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the only Ruler of Princes, is still to be so invoked and so obeyed, or whether the divine law is to be henceforth ignored, and the divine blessings unasked in the great councils of the empire. Let the nation at large be appealed to, and declare its will upon these points as emphatically and unequivocally as it once did against a Papal supremacy and in favour of a Protestant government, and I am bound to say that to the national will so expressed your Lordships must defer; but until such appeal has been made, and the national will clearly ascertained—until the universities, the clergy, the learned professions in general—until all whose judgments in such a matter are deserving of consideration, shall have had opportunity of declaring their opinions, do not commit the House to a step from which, once taken, you cannot afterwards recede. Let the position—the isolated position of the Queen—be considered. She alone of the three estates of the realm will be under the obligation of a Christian profession. Let it not be forgotten that she remains the temporal head of the Church, and bears the title of Defender of the Faith. Is she willing to take counsel in the government of the Church, whose interests are committed to her charge, with those who regard it as a system of imposture, and her faith as a false faith? Let it be also remembered that, as the first estate of the realm, the Sovereign is practically without the power of resisting the united will of the other two estates. Is she, with perhaps conflicting views of truth and of duty, to be compelled to take counsel of those who do not acknowledge the same Divine guidance? Let the will of the Queen as well as that of the nation be clearly ascertained to be in favour of the policy now proposed, and a gracious communication be made, with the responsibility of her minister, to the two Houses of Parliament, as was the case when the Roman Catholic claims were recommended; but until these preliminaries be complied with, do not compromise the destinies of this great empire by tampering with the oaths of Parliament. Rather consider calmly and deliberately the important objects for which those oaths were enacted, and that one great end they at present serve is that of uniting the nation, through its Legislature, in allegiance to the Divine Being, as well as to her who is Queen by God's grace. Personal considerations must not be allowed to have weight in dealing with such a question. The blessings of good laws, of great wealth, and of power were not given to this country for our mere temporal gratification, for the indulgence of luxury and ease, or to minister to national vanity. Higher objects should surely be aimed at, and chiefly the extension of those blessings which we have so largely derived under the profession of the Christian faith. Let your Lordships remember that yours is no unimportant part in the government of the country—that upon you mainly depends at this moment the conservatism of a Christian Legislature. If, consistently with a higher duty, noble Lords could admit the influence of personal considerations, I am sure there is no Member of this House that would be otherwise than pleased that an individual so respectable, so generally esteemed, and so imbued, as from his associations Baron Rothschild must be, with British feelings, should be enabled to take his seat in Parliament as the representative of this great city. But what brought him to this country? Was it not that he admired and desired to enjoy the blessings of our excellent constitution? Let us show that we are also sensible of its excellence, and that we value it too highly to imperil its permanence by taking away the corner stone of its strength which is Christianity. I beg to move that the second reading of the Bill now on the table be deferred to this day six months.

Amendment moved, to leave out "now" for the purpose of inserting "this Day Six Months."


in seconding the Amendment, said he had hoped that after the large majority which had been pronounced in their Lordships' House against the admission of the Jews to Parliament, the question had been settled for this Session at least. He objected to dealing with a great principle like this upon the low grounds of expediency, compromise, and concession: the stand he took, and which he should rejoice if their Lordships would take also, was upon the higher ground—that a Christian nation could not exist without a Christian Legislature, and that a Christian Legislature could not exist without a Christian test. He asked their Lordships, therefore, whether they were prepared to say that the time had arrived when there was no necessity for a national profession of faith? It was said that the Bill of the noble and gallant Earl would furnish a solution of a very difficult question, and that it was most inconvenient for their Lordships' House to be in constant collision with the House of Commons. But he (Lord Berners) could conceive nothing more derogatory to the honour of their Lordships' House than to lay down the rule that whenever there was a majority in the other House sufficiently pertinacious in pressing their views of a public question, this House was to become the mere registrar of the views of that House. Now, the danger which he apprehended was not a collision with the House of Commons, but with the Crown itself, should once a Radical Prime Minister accede to office, and create a Jew Member of their Lordships' House. The collision which would then ensue, they might rely upon it, would prove a much more serious one than that which had recently taken place with regard to the question of life peerages; and he appealed to them whether they were prepared to force, or allow any one to force, the conscience of the Crown. He had endeavoured to consider this subject altogether apart from party feelings, because he thought it was too important and serious a matter for party feelings to enter into, and the conclusion at which he had arrived was, that if one Jew were admitted to sit as Member of the Legislature, neither their Lordships' House nor the monarchy would be longer safe.


My Lords, after the repeated discussions which have taken place in your Lordships' House on this subject it is entirely unnecessary for me, on the present occasion, to enter into any arguments in support of this Bill. I give my support to it without the slightest hesitation, but I am bound to say not with unmixed satisfaction. I do not think that it is the best mode of settling this question; nor can I agree with the noble Earl at the head of the Government that it is the only course consistent with the dignity of this House. There is no disgrace either to individuals, or to Governments, or to legislative assemblies, in changing an opinion on public grounds and uninfluenced by any unworthy motives. If, when the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Lyndhurst) first introduced his Bill into this House, the pressure of circumstances had been fairly stated, the position of the House would at least have been as good as it is now. It would have been more desirable also if, when the Reasons of the Commons for disagreeing from our Amendments came up, instead of immediately disagreeing from those Reasons, we had postponed the consideration of them for a short time, as was proposed in order to see if any plan could be devised for passing that Bill into law. But still, though many think that this is not the best mode of settling the question, it is the only one which I am able to obtain. I wish to do full justice to the Government on this point. There is no doubt that they have great difficulties to contend with. A difference with his political friends is one from which every Minister most naturally shrinks. If the noble Earl thinks—though I cannot follow his reasons—that this course is most in accordance with the dignity of the House, and most likely to obtain the suffrages of his political friends, I am ready to support him. He is perfectly master of the situation. If he had chosen he might certainly have postponed the admission of Jews to Parliament for this Session, and probably for some years more. But it must be admitted that the position in which we now stand is a most unsatisfactory and unseemly one. To say nothing of other arguments, the anomaly of our not being able to prevent a Jewish Member of the other House sitting on Committees, acting in Conferences, and taking part in almost every Parliamentary proceeding, except sitting and voting, is so great as to make it a mere mockery for any one to stand up here and appeal to high Christian principle for the maintenance of such a barren restriction. I believe this Bill will carry out the object which we have in view, and I therefore give it my cordial support. I congratulate the House on there being every probability of the measure now passing into law. And I cannot help congratulating the noble and learned Lord opposite, who certainly by the industry which he must have thought himself dispensed from showing at a time when other men claim rest, and, above all, by the singular ability with which he has, year after year, destroyed the force of these appeals made to your Lordships' feeling against his Bill, has done more than any other man in this House to bring the question to a successful issue. But what is more creditable to him than anything else is the utter absence of any personal feeling which he has shown to-night in willingly adopting any course which was most likely to obtain the object which he has in view.


said, it was with great reluctance that he was about to give the vote which he felt it his duty to give on this occasion; but, whilst he regretted to find himself separated from many political friends with whom he generally acted, the House would believe that he was influenced by no other than conscientious motives. There was one point with reference to which there seemed to be an unanimous opinion among their Lordships, and that was that after the long-continued discussion of this question, it ought now to be settled at once for all in one way or the other. But how was that to be done? If the House of Commons had sent up Bills for the admission of the Jews to Parliament by repeated and increasing majorities for the last ten years, he thought it very unlikely that that House would now change its opinions; and though their Lordships might reject their Bills, that would never put an end to the question. What had been the history of the measures sent up to their Lordships from the Commons? There had been first of all the Catholic Emancipation Bill, throughout which, though he (the Duke of Cleveland) always found himself in a minority, he had always been in favour of religious toleration. By degrees those minorities became a majority, but the Bills sent up from the Lower House had been invariably rejected, until in 1829 Sir Robert Peel thought the question could be resisted no longer. Then, again, there were the cases of the Reform Bills—and their Lordships very wisely decided upon acceding to the oft-repeated wishes of the House of Commons and eventually agreed to those measures. He asked whether some such grounds of expediency did not exist at the present moment. In this ease a gentleman of the Jewish religion had been elected, not once or twice, but repeatedly, by one of the largest, most intellectual, and wealthiest constituencies in the country—that of the City of London. Why that constituency had gone on electing this gentleman time after time, it was not very easy to say, but the fact was that it was so. It might be said, on the other hand, that if a constituency chose to elect a person who was ineligible by law for a seat in the other House it was not for Parliament to pass an Act solely for one man. There was a good deal of argument in that; but their Lordships laid down a precedent for such a course in 1833. In 1833, Mr. Pease, the Quaker, was returned to Parliament, and asked leave to take his seat on taking an affirmation instead of the oaths, and shortly after the noble Earl (the Earl of Carlisle) introduced a Bill permitting Quakers and Moravians to make affirmation instead of oath, simply, as he, (the Duke of Cleveland) believed, for the purpose of enabling Mr. Pease to sit. Let their Lordships take, as an illustration of how the Bill would work, the number of Quakers that had been elected since then, and they would find that never more than three had had seats at one time in the other House. He believed that, they would never see more than three Jews in the other House together. In the provinces Jews were scarcely known, and where they were not known they would never be elected by constituencies. Except through one or two metropolitan boroughs, Jews would not find their way into Parliament. So far as the Church of England was concerned he did not believe that the admission of Jews into the other House would be at all dangerous. Other measures then before their Lordships might be productive of danger to the Establishment. Take, for instance, the Bill for the abolition of church rates without providing an equivalent, and the address agreed to the other night for the removal of some of the services from the Book of Common Prayer. Upon the whole he should support the second reading of the Bill.


said, he regretted that on this question he was obliged to differ from his noble Friend at the head of the Government, because, having listened to that noble Earl's speech, as well as to the arguments which had been urged by the noble and gallant Earl in support of his measure, he had not heard any new fact, any new principle enunciated, or any new argument advanced to make him give his vote for the Bill with which their Lordships were then dealing. It was said that this Bill was a compromise offered to their Lordships, and that it was advisable by means of this compromise to put an end to the unseemly contest which had been for a long time waging between the two Houses of Parliament. Now, he must say that he did not think this was a case to settle by compromise. To pass a Bill to admit Jews to Parliament was either right or it was wrong. If Jews ought to be admitted, on what ground did a majority of forty in that House, on the 20th of April, refuse their consent to the Bill sent up from the House of Commons? Certainly they did not reject it on the ground that they would have any difficulty in sitting on the same bench with Baron Rothschild: it was no personal feeling which induced their Lordships to come to that decision, but they did so on the ground that they would not admit Jews into Parliament because they were unwilling to un-Christianize the Legislature. If he wanted an argument against the admission of Jews into Parliament he would only have to refer to the last clause of the Bill which had been proposed by his noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) which stated that nothing contained in the Bill should extend or be considered to extend to enabling person or persons of the Jewish persuasion to fill certain high offices—such as those of Lord Chancellor, Prime Minister, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Lord High Commissioner of Scotland. Now, the principle on which these exceptions were made applied with equal force to the admission of Jews to Parliament. It was said by some noble Lords that however objectionable this compromise was its acceptance was desirable, inasmuch as it would put an end to a difference which existed between the two Houses of Parliament. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville), though an advocate for the admission of the Jews to Parliament, had stated that this was not a satisfactory mode of settling the question; yet he was giving it his support. The great argument put forward for the admission of the Jews was that the people of England were in favour of it. Now, if he (the Duke of Rutland) proved to their Lordships that the people of England were against the admission of Jews to Parliament he thought their Lordships ought to have no hesitation in voting against the Bill of the noble and gallant Earl. In the first place, be contended that if the character and the number of the petitions presented to that House on the subject of any particular measure were any test of the feeling of the people of this country, then the people of England were rather against the admission of Jews to Parliament than for it. But then it was said, that as the House of Commons had so often passed Bills for the admission of Jews, and by such constantly increasing majorities their Lordships must assume that the people were in favour of it. That was certainly a new doctrine for those who put it forward. He remembered the time of the corn-law agitation. There were at that time large majorities in the House of Commons against the repeal of the corn-laws; but Parliament and the country were then told that those majorities were no test of the feeling of the people of England; that that feeling was decidedly in favour of a repeal of those laws, and that the votes of the House of Commons were not to be considered as any indication to the contrary. The most that could be said by the supporters of the measure for the admission of Jews to Parliament was that the people were indifferent on the subject. When this compromise was first spoken of in their Lordships' House, the noble Earl at the head of the Government said he would take time to consider it. Had there been any manifestation of popular feeling in its favour since his noble Friend made that announcement? He (the Duke of Rutland) would implore of their Lordships to wait till the constituencies should have had an opportunity of expressing their opinion of this compromise—to pause till they have ascertained whether it was the wish of the people that the Bill of the noble and gallant Earl should be passed. If the constituencies pronounced an opinion in favour of this compromise it would then, if carried into effect, be sasisfactory as a compromise. Up to the present time no opinion in favour of the admission of the Jews had been pronounced by the electors of England. The present House of Commons was elected on quite a different "cry," and its opinion was no accurate test of the real desire of the country. Under all the circumstances of the case he considered that the admission of Jews to Parliament by an Act such as that now before their Lordships would be alike repugnant to the feelings that had on so many occasions been expressed by majorities of that House and to the best interest of the people of England.


said, he was not going to argue the question of the admission of the Jews, but he rose to express his opinion that this Bill was a very unsatisfactory mode of settling the question. It involved a principle of the deepest importance, and their Lordships ought carefully to deliberate before they adopted so dangerous a course. The principle of this measure was, that a great step of public policy might be determined by a Resolution of one House of Parliament; and if this Bill became law it was probable that the other House would, in the present Session, pass a Resolution to give effect to the Bill, while their Lordships would reserve their opinion, and might at a future time come to a different conclusion from that adopted by the other House of Parliament. It might, therefore, happen that years hence the question would be setled in their Lordships' House by a single Resolution, and by a majority of a single vote, without that ample opportunity of discussion which was afforded by the forms of the House in the case of a Bill. Nor was that all. If the other House were allowed to do that by a Resolution which ought to be done by a Bill agreed to by both Houses, they were laying down a principle which might be adopted in other matters; so that they were creating a most dangerous precedent. Nor did it end there. There was nothing to prevent such a Resolution being moved again and again, whenever it suited the views of parties or individuals, and the House might, by dexterous arrangements, be taken by surprise. It might happen that when some individual presented himself at the table to take the oaths, his friends would muster for the occasion, and carry at once a Resolution relieving him from that part of the oath objected to by Jews. This was a constitutional objection which the House ought well to consider.


wished in the first place to observe, in reply to an observation which had fallen from the noble Duke (the Duke of Rutland) that his noble Friend (Earl Granville) had not stated that this was not a satisfactory way of settling the question of admitting the Jews to Parliament; what his noble Friend stated was, that it was not the most satisfactory way of settling it. The noble Lord who had just addressed the House (Lord Redesdale) appeared to him to mistake the effect of the Bill under discussion. The noble Lord seemed to think that the Resolution which the Bill would enable either House of Parliament to pass, would be one to meet the case of an individual, and would be passed as often as an individual presented himself at the table and objected to the oaths as they were now taken. But what did the Bill really provide? Why, that if either House should be of opinion generally before any person came to the table, and without reference to any particular case, that that part of the oath of abjuration to which persons of the Jewish persuasion objected, ought not to be exacted from them, they might, acting on its opinion, adopt a Resolution of general application, omitting those parts to which it appeared that conscientious objection existed, and which prevented members of the Jewish persuasion taking it. It would enable either House so to modify the oath, that it would admit all Jews who had an objection to taking it in its present form, and it would be unnecessary to pass a Resolution applicable to any particular individual. The noble Duke (the Duke of Rutland) had asked what circumstances had arisen to induce the majority of their Lordships to alter their views on the subject of the admission of the Jews? He (Lord Brougham) thought that a most material circumstance had arisen to induce them to adopt that course. It had now been found that by the law and constitution of Parliament, any person might perform nine-tenths of the duties of a Member of Parliament without taking any oath at all—without undergoing any of the formalities incident to taking a seat in either House—for it had been found that any person might sit and vote in Committee without having conformed to any of these requirements; for no lawyer could deny that the penalties for enforcing the oath of abjuration applied only to voting in the House, and not to voting in Committees. He thought, moreover, that the exemption from the formalities of the oath ought to be extended to many others besides Jews, for it was certain that there were many classes of Christians in the House who differed as entirely from the body of the Church as the Jews themselves.


said, he never rose to trouble their Lordships with greater reluctance, or with more disinclination to address them, than on the present occasion; but he could not give a silent vote upon the subject. He did not intend to enter again upon the whole question, which they had so often argued in that House, of the admissibility of Jews into either House of Parliament, but he wished to state to their Lordships his reason why it was that he must give the same vote now that he had always given hitherto. The reason was briefly this. His vote had been given on the solemn and conscientious conviction that a man repudiating Him who was the central point of the whole Christian dispensation, and declaring Him to be an impostor, must in the whole tone of his thoughts, and in the whole scope and series of his principles, be so at variance with the sacred principles and tone of thought of the entire Christian community, that he could not safely be trusted with a discretionary power in making laws for that community. He had never been one of those who wished to exclude from any civil privilege on grounds of religious difference those from whom he unhappily differed; on the contrary, he was one of those who, from the earliest times, advocated the admission of the Roman Catholics into Parliament. He had never taken what might be considered the ground of excluding his fellow-countrymen from taking their seats in Parliament for a mere religious difference; but it appeared to him, as it ap peared to others, and as it appeared to the late Dr. Arnold, a man of the extremest liberal views, that when you touched on the vital and fundamental point of denying the truth of our common Christianity, it was impossible safely to entrust a man, either in the capacity of a magistrate or a Judge, with the due and honest administration of those Christian laws from which he differed on fundamental points of view, and in connection with matters which must be left for him to deal with, if they were doubtful matters, according to his own discretion, when that discretion must be guided by a set of principles antagonistic to his own; and, still more, he (the Bishop of Oxford) could not believe it could be right in a Christian people to give a discretionary power of legislation to those that were the professed antagonists of our religion. The noble and learned Lord who had just spoken (Lord Brougham) said there were many persons in Parliament who were just as hostile as the Jews to the religion professed by that House. That might be so, but he would not attempt to gauge those differences—it was not his business to fix these shades of difference and dissent—but it was most material to remember that no one such man had ever yet been admitted to Parliament on his professed hostility to our faith; on the contrary, they had come professing that they held the common basis of our common Christianity, and upon that profession, whatever might be his own internal qualification—with which the Searcher of hearts and not man had to do—he was on his own profession qualified by that community of thought, which in such matters was the only expression and exponent of his religious faith, to sit in the Legislature of a Christian land. The argument of his noble and learned Friend was, he thought, at once met by this simple answer. It had been further said that there was at this moment great novelty in reference to this question, and that this justified noble Lords in changing their views upon it; and the novelty, forsooth, was this. It was discovered that a man not professing himself a Christian, and without taking any oath at all, neither of allegiance nor of abjuration, that such a person could, by a simple slip in the adaptation of our laws, take his seat in Committees of either House. But his noble and learned Friend, with his acute logical head, would see at once that this was not an argument for admitting the Jews to Parliament, If it were an argument for anything it was an argument for admitting men without any oath at all; because it was not the Jew in particular that was able thereby to sit in Committees, to take his place in Parliamentary discussions and in the legislation of either House, but the unsworn man, a man who had taken no oath of allegiance to our Sovereign would be able, in the loose state of the law, to take his place and vote. What, then, was the conclusion? Not that there was this reason for admitting the Jew, but the conclusion his noble and learned Friend brought them to was either to sweep away all oaths or to remedy the law that admitted these anomalies and allowed the individual to take his seat in Committees of the House. Really, therefore, he must hold that the argument of his noble and learned Friend was without any weight at all. Another point had of late been strongly urged upon the House. It had been said that they had had argument after argument directed not to the sense but to the feeling of that House, and that it was time they now no longer listened to feeling, but that at last, albeit though tardily, they should listen to sense. It was because he believed that to be one of the truest reasons, and one of the hardest and simplest logical deductions from the facts on which those who had opposed the admission of the Jews had acted, that he saw no reason for their Lordships to be changing their views under the change of circumstances that beset them. What did they amount to after all? Was there any one thing that had really happened, which any reasonable man did not anticipate would happen at the beginning of the Session. And what had happened since? Was it not known that the House of Commons would make the threats they had made since? Was there any novelty in that? And he could not help thinking, in his apprehension of the case, that their Lordships were precisely in the same position they were in when they last voted on this subject. His noble Friend on the cross benches had argued that the frequent repetition of these things coming up to their Lordships' House ought on constitutional principles to induce their Lordships at last to pass them, because the constitutional position of their Lordships' House was rather that of being a check on the more popular branch of the Legislature, but that, after so constant a recurrence of these representations, their Lordships should yield to them at last. That argument, however, produced no effect on him because, although it was perfectly constitutional in the other House to send up these measures to the higher branch of the Legislature, provided they really spoke the voice of those who elected them and sent them there; yet he believed that the other House of Parliament in this matter did not represent the feelings of the people of England. Their Lordships were asked to yield their legislative opinion in this matter to the opinion of the other House, and yet in the same voice and at the same time they were told that the people of this country were absolutely apathetic on the subject of the point their Lordships were urged to yield. There would then appear to be no other reason, except that of inconvenience, left why their Lordships should change their opinions on this subject. If, however, they were to make a change, he should prefer unspeakably the Bill of his noble and learned Friend behind him than the one they were now discussing. He preferred it, in the first place, because, instead of limiting this licence to the Jew, it openly and aboveboard gave it to all who were non-Christians. He thought it was a mere delusion to say that they could give it to the Jew and withhold it from the Mahomedan, the Hindoo, or the men of any other nation or faith. In many respects the Mahomedan was nearer to them than the Jew. The Jew declared tha tthe Central Point of the Christian faith was an impostor, and the Mahomedan, at least, admitted our Saviour to have been the second of Prophets. It appeared to him to be a mere delusion to say that they would give this privilegium of admission to the Jew, and that still they would retain something of the savour of Christianity by admitting other castes or creeds that denied our holy religion. Would it not surely be more creditable and more consistent to decide that they would no longer require from any one a profession of Christianity as a preliminary to his sitting in Parliament, rather than say we do not require this preliminary from the Jew, but we do from any one else. Then, again, he would ask their Lordships to consider whether, in connection with the proposed Bill, they had considered the relationship in which their Lordships' House ostensibly stood to the other House of Parliament, and both of them ostensibly to the Established Church. Was it intended that there should be a perfectly new system of relationship established between Parliament and the Established Church? or was it still to be the theory that matters affecting the discipline and doctrine and standing of the Established Church were, because it was the Established Church, to be debated fairly and freely in both Houses of Parliament, who were to be taken as being, to a certain extent, the legislators for that religious body? Had they considered this point? Had they formed any plans by which to adapt this new system to the necessities of the case? Were they prepared to adopt any new system, or to withdraw for the future from the discussion of at least one branch of the Legislature, matters affecting the Established Church, or to provide some other way by which internal legislation could be provided for that Church? He would ask their Lordships to weigh these things against the promise of present expediency, and their Lordships would pardon him if he said that this House would not stand higher in the estimation of the country if upon a simple threat of political difficulties—if upon the simple pretext and appearance of sudden expediency in relation to the relinquishment of a national rule—they did readily grant to the unwise desire of another body that which large majorities of their Lordships' House had hitherto consistently denied, not only as a political necessity, but as a religious duty.


said, he regretted that he should be compelled to differ from the noble Earl at the head of the Government, to whom he usually gave a cordial support; but upon the present occasion he had a higher duty to perform. He conceived that if he were to vote for a measure which was to admit any individual into Parliament who denied the Saviour of mankind, he should be doing an act for which he would be responsible to the great and eternal Judge. The noble Duke on the cross benches (the Duke of Cleveland) said, "Why, here has been a Jew elected again and again by the largest and wealthiest constituency in the United Kingdom to a seat in the other House of Parliament." But were their Lordships to be bound to an act of that sort, when those who elected the individual knew very well at the time he was legally precluded from taking his seat? He agreed with his right rev. Friend (the Bishop of Oxford) in thinking the Mahomedan, who admitted our Saviour to have been a great prophet, came nearer to them than the Jew, who proclaimed our Saviour to be an impostor. They commenced their proceedings with a prayer in which the name of the Saviour was invoked, and if persons who ridiculed the Divine Being were admitted, those prayers would be nothing but a mockery. He should certainly give his most conscientious support to the Motion of his noble Friend.


said, that having been for thirty-eight years a Member of Parliament, and during the whole of that time a supporter of Conservative policy, regretted that he was compelled to separate himself upon this occasion from the noble Earl at the head of the Government. The question of admitting Jews to Parliament had been frequently discussed and decided in that House, and no reasons had been assigned why their Lordships should now change their course, and he for one was not ready to stultify the votes he had given on all former occasions. Something had been said about the necessity for concession, but concessions had never been made without some bugbear having been held up to induce them. It had been urged among other reasons by those who were in favour of the admission of Jews to Parliament that, unless a measure with that object was agreed to by their Lordships, a collision between the House of Commons and the courts of law would be the result. Now, he was under no apprehension that any such consequence would flow from the rejection of the Bill under consideration, and he could not therefore consent to stultify himself by recording that evening a vote in direct opposition to those which he had previously given. He might perhaps be permitted to say in conclusion that it would, in his opinion, be extremely desirable for the Conservative party to consider whether that large number of Liberal measures which were daily coming up from the other House of Parliament should or should not be at once assented to, for he could not help thinking it would be much better that they should gracefully receive the sanction of the Members of that party than that noble Lords should be brought down Session after Session for the next ten years to vote against them, and then at the end of that period be called upon to give them their support.

On Question that ("now") stand Part of the Motion? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 143; Not-Contents 97: Majority 46.

Resolved in the Affirmative: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.

Cleveland, D. Blantyre, L.
Devonshire, D. Boston, L.
Newcastle, D. Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)
Somerset, D.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bath M.
Lansdowne, M. Camoys, L.
Salisbury, M. Campbell, L.
Carew, L.
Airlie, E. Chesham, L.
Albemarle, E. Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin & Clayneboye.)
Bathurst, E.
Caithness, E. Congleton, L.
Carlisle, E. Cranworth, L.
Carnarvon, E. Dacre, L.
Chichester, E. Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)
Clarendon, E.
Derby, E. De L'Isle and Dudley, L.
Graham, E. (D. of Montrose.) De Tabley, L.
Ebury, L.
Granville, E. Foley, L.[Teller.]
Grey, E. Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
Hardwicke, E.
Lucan E. [Teller.] Leigh, L.
Malmesbury E. Londesborough, L.
Powis, E. Lyndhurst, L.
Saint Germans, E. Manners, L.
Sommers, E. Minster, L. (M. Conyngham)
Stanhope, E.
Stradbroke, E. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Wicklow, E.
Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.) Mostyn L.
Overstone, L.
Hardinge, V. Portman, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Ravensworth, L.
Rossie, L. (L. Kinlaird.)
Sidmouth, V. Saye and Scle, L.
Stratford de Redcliffe, V Sefton, L. (Sefton)
Torrington, V. Skene, L. (E. Fife.)
Bath and Wells, Bp. Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)
Derry and Raphoe, Bp. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Hereford, Bp. Talbot de Malahide, L.
London, By. Vivian, L.
Manchester, Bp. Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss)
Audley, L.
Belper, L. Wodehouse, L.
Northumberland, D. Leicester, E.
Portland, D. Lovelace, E.
Sutherland, D. Morley, E.
Bristol, M. Munster, E.
Portsmouth, E.
Belmore, E. Rosslyn, E.
Buckinghamshire, E. Scarborough, E.
Camperdown, E. Spencer, E.
Cathcart, E. Verulam, E.
Cowley, E. Yarborough, E.
Craven, E.
Devon, E. Doneraile, V.
Ducie, E. Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)
Ferrers, E.
Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.) Carlisle, Bp.
Worcester, Bp.
Arundell of Wardour, L. Kenlis, L.(M. Headfort.
Ashburton, L. Kenmare, L.
Blayney, L. Kintoro, L. (E. Kintore.)
Bolton, L.
Castlemaine, L. Lovat, L.
Cloncurry, L. Lurgan, L.
De Freyne, L. Mont Eagle, L.(M. Sligo.)
Dorchester, L.
Dormer, L. Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)
Dunsandle and Clanconal, L. Panmure, L.
Erskine, L. Ribblesdale, L.
Feversham, L. St. John of Bletso, L.
Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.) Sudeley, L.
Gage, L. (V. Gage.) Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Glenelg, L. Vernon, L.
Gray, L. Wharncliffe, L.
Hatherton, L. Wigan, L.(E. Crawford and Blacarres.)
Hawke, L.
Holland, L. Worlingham, L.(E. Gosford.)
Howard de Walden, L.
Canterbury, Archbp. Durham, Bp.
Llandaff, Bp.
Chelmsford, L. (L. Chancellor.) Oxford, BP.
Salisbury, Bp.
Buckingham and Chandos, D.
Abinger, L.
Marlborough, D. Bagot, L.
Rutland, D. Bateman, L.
Berners, L.
Exeter, M. Braybrooke, L.
Amherst, E. Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Beauchamp, E
Bradford, E. Calthorpe, L.
Cadogan, E. Churchill, L.
Cardigan, E. Clarina, L.
Dartmouth, E. Clifton, L. (E. Darnley.)
De La Warr, E.
Doncaster, E. (D. of Buccleuch & Queensberry.) Colchester, L.
Colville of Culross, L,
Crofton, L.
Effingham, E. De Ros, L.
Harrington, E. Dinevor, L.
Lanesborough, E. Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)
Leven and Melville, E.
Lonsdale, E. Grantley, L.
Mansfield, E. Lilford, L.
Nelson, E. Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)
Pomfret, E.
Vane, E. Raglan, L.
Rayleigh, L.
Canterbury, V. Redesdale, L. [Teller.]
Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.) [Teller] Sondes, L.
Southampton, L.
Combermere, V. Stewart of Garlies, L.(E. Galloway.)
Dungannon, V.
Hill, V. Templemore, L.
Melville, V. Tenterden, L.
Bangor, Bp. Walsingham, L.
Chichester, Bp. Wynford, L.
Richmond, D. Harewood, E.
Cholmondeley, M. Hillsborough, E. (M. Downshire.)
Winchester, M.
Manvers, E.
Brooke and Warwick, E. Mayo, E.
Desart, E. Onslow, E.
Erne, E. Portarlington, E.
Poulett, E. Ardrossan, E.(E. Eglintoun.)
Romney, E.
Seafield, E. Bayning, L.
Selkirk Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.)
Lifford, V.
Maynard, V. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
St. Vincent, V.
Strathallan, V. Clonbrock, L.
Forester, L.
Cashel, &c., Bp. Kilmaine, L.
Exeter, Bp. Methuen, L.
St. Asaph, Bp. Sandys, L.
Winchester, Bp.
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