§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
moved the second reading of this Bill, the object of which he explained to be to enable persons who entertained a conscientious objection to take an oath to make a declaration instead.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, he had no 1480 intention of opposing the Bill but feared that the change which it effected might have serious consequences. A vulgar notion prevailed among certain persons that if they could only escape from taking an oath they were under no obligation to tell the truth, and with this view various modes were adopted in order to evade the law, such as kissing the thumb instead of the Testament. It would be easy for such persons to allege a conscientious objection, and thus avoid taking any oath; and who was to decide as to the validity of such a plea?
§ Lord CRANWORTH
agreed that such difficulties might by possibility arise out of this Bill; but, on the other hand, under the existing practice, there were frequent failures of justice from persons refusing to take the oath from conscientious scruples. He concurred entirely in the necessity of the measure.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
added his opinion in favour of the Bill, which he believed to be essential for the proper administration of the criminal law. Many cases had occurred in which justice had been altogether defeated from the want of such an enactment, and many such cases would occur again if this Bill were not passed into law.
§ On Question, agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly; and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Eleven o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter before Five o'clock.