HL Deb 08 June 1863 vol 171 cc496-514

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving the second reading of the Bill, said, that although questions connected with religion usually excited feelings of jealousy, he hoped this measure would be discussed with calmness and moderation. The object of the Bill was to amend the law relating to prisons in England and Scotland with respect to the religious instruction of the prisoners therein. The law, as it at present stood, was settled by the Act of Geo. IV., c. 64, which required justices in quarter sessions to appoint chaplains—priests of the Established Church—to the prisons within their jurisdiction, and to pay them certain stipends out of the poor rates. The justices were also empowered to allow ministers of other denominations to attend upon prisoners, if a request were made for that purpose; but unless prisoners made such request, ministers other than those of the Established Church could not visit them, except in cases where they were under sentence of condemnation. The direct object of the Bill, therefore, was to provide for the religious instruction of prisoners not belonging to the Established Church; and although it applied to persons of all denominations, it was in fact chiefly required for Roman Catholics. There were a great number of Roman Catholics belonging to the labouring classes of the people; and it appeared from the Returns, there were in the county and borough gaols of this country a large number of Roman Catholic prisoners—in some years as many as 3,000 or 4,000. Their Lordships would feel that these unfortunate persons, many of them brought up in ignorance and vice, ought to have an opportunity afforded to them of obtaining religious instruction; but this, as the law at present stood, they could not do without making a special application to the justices; and this was well-nigh hopeless, because it was obvious that those who most needed religious instruction were the least likely to make a request to see a minister of religion. It might be observed that by the Act of George IV., which regulated the prisons of Ireland, and provided that grand juries should appoint chaplains, they were enabled to appoint Roman Catholic clergymen if they should think fit, and such chaplains were almost universally appointed in that country, in addition to Protestant chaplains. Yet it appeared by the Returns that in Ireland the Protestant prisoners were very few. For example, in the gaol of Galway there were five prisoners belonging to the Established Church and seventy who were Roman Catholics; and in Cork gaol there were eight prisoners belonging to the Established Church and above a hundred Roman Catholics. Yet in every gaol in Ireland ample provision was made for the religious instruction of the Protestants, and chaplains were appointed to visit them at the same rate of remuneration as was paid to the Roman Catholic chaplains. From that statement their Lordships would feel it would he only reasonable that in this country, where many Roman Catholic prisoners were undergoing punishment, some means of affording religious instruction should be found for them; and accordingly this Bill sought to provide those means. The measure, their Lordships would probably be of opinion, did not go beyond the necessity of the case, and that to a practical grievance it applied a practical remedy The Bill provided, that where the number of prisoners confined in any prison belonging to any religious denomination other than the Church of England in England, and the Church of Scotland in Scotland, was so great as in the opinion of the justices or other persons having the appointment of chaplain to require the ministrations of a minister of their own persuasion, the justices may appoint such minister to attend upon the prisoners of his own persuasion, and might award to him a reasonable sum for his services, to be paid out of the fund legally applicable to the expenses of the prison. This minister was to hold his appointment at the pleasure of the authority by whom he was appointed, and was bound to conform in all respects to the prison regulations. The clause further provided, that where no such minister was specially appointed, the visiting justices might, without any special request from a prisoner, permit a minister of the particular denomination to which a prisoner belonged to visit such prisoner at seasonable hours. Practically, this Bill would apply to only a few prisons in England and Wales—he believed to not more than sixteen in the whole, and amongst them would be those of Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and Birmingham. In some of those prisons the number of Roman Catholics was so large that the magistrates would be justified in appointing regular chaplains to visit them. The objections which had been raised to the Bill did not appear to him to be of great weight. First, it was said that there would be an addition to the poor rates; but he thought their Lordships would set aside such a ground, and say that while the whole of the people of Ireland were rated for the religious instruction of Protestant prisoners, they ought not to grudge the small provision which would be necessary for Roman Catholic prisoners in England. It was next said that the Bill would create dissensions amongst the visiting justices; but he did not think those gentlemen would act so unreasonably as to seek to withhold from the most wretched class of their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects the means of religious instruction. He thought the Bill had been well arranged for the purpose of meeting a practical grievance, and it would in addition relieve Protestant chaplains from the necessity of visiting those who never liked to see them. In truth, the Bill was not of a religious character at all—it was a measure of prison discipline. He had stated generally the grounds why this Bill should be read a second time, and he felt confident that their Lordships would agree with him that they ought not to withhold from any portion of the people that religious instruction which, if afforded, might make them better citizens.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


said, he rose to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. He did so on three grounds:—1st. That he considered it wrong to pay for the propagation of error. 2nd. That it was unnecessary. 3rd. That the results would be mischievous and injurious to the interests of the Established Church. The Protestant religion was established by law, and the Protestant Church was connected with the State in this country, and therefore they were bound not only to maintain them, but to refrain from encouraging any other creed that was hostile to them; and he believed that to subsidize the ministers of other denominations was an act of hostility to the Church of England. He loved religious liberty, and considered that the true principle of toleration was to allow every man to worship God in the way in which he might think fit; but he did not think it required him to give legislative sanction to the interference of ministers of other denominations, or to set up antagonists to the ministers of the Gospel appointed to give religious consolation to prisoners by the justices of the peace. That the Bill was not necessary was clear from the fact that the justices already possessed a permissive power, where there was a large number of prisoners not of the Established Church, to allow ministers of their own denomination to visit them. That power, so far as Roman Catholics were concerned, had worked well. But in many cases Roman Catholic prisoners attended the ministrations of the Protestant chaplains; and if this Bill passed, that privilege would be denied to them. By Returns to Parliament it appeared, that in eleven prisons, of 1,515 Roman Catholic prisoners only 317 had availed themselves of the permission to be visited by priests of their own faith. One of the greatest objections to this Bill was, that it would give a status to Roman Catholic priests which at present they did not possess, and they would be put upon an equality with clergymen of the Established Church. Further, if it was conceded that Roman Catholic or Dissenting chaplains might be appointed to gaols, he did not see how they could withhold them from union work- houses and other public institutions. He objected to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, and their doctrine that some sins were venial and some mortal: such doctrines could only have a tendency to create a confusion between right and wrong in the minds of the prisoners, and could not lead to improvement. Their Lordships should also remember, that as Roman Catholic priests were above the law, and held authority of those who were superior to the law, the justices would have no power over them. The case of the Rev. Mr. Fox and the guardians of the South Dublin Union was a case in point; and after reading the correspondence in that case, and quoting the Returns of the Inspectors of Prisons, proving the proportion of criminals to population, those of the Romish Church was double that of the Protestant, and arguing that the teaching, the doctrine, and discipline of Romish priests were not such as to promote the reclamation or improvement of criminals, he said, he felt it to be his duty to move that this Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and insert ("this Day Six Months").


My Lords, it is with the most sincere regret that I feel it my painful duty to express opinions opposed to those entertained by my noble Friend who has just spoken; and, I fear, to those of other noble Friends in this House. My Lords, so great is my respect for the religious scruples of my noble Friend, and for every statement he has made, and so firmly am I convinced of the honesty of his objections, and so highly do I value the unity of action, that if this were a matter of minor importance, or if it were a question upon which I myself had a shadow of doubt or hesitation, I should infinitely prefer to waive my own opinions and yield to objections the force of which I do not feel, and obey scruples which I do not myself entertain. But I do not look upon this as a matter of minor importance. My opinion of the policy and justice of this measure is so clear and so decided, that painful as it is for me to differ from my noble Friend, and from others, I cannot refrain from giving that vote in support of this measure which I believe I am called to give by justice. My noble Friend objects to this Bill, that it lowers the status of the Church of England, and puts other denominations of Christians upon the same footing as the Church of England. I think I may appeal with tolerable confidence to a public life of more than forty years to obtain for me the credit of refusing to consent to any measure which, in my judgment, would be injurious to the interests or derogatory to the position of the Church of England in this country. It is nearly forty years since, in one of my first addresses to Parliament, I opposed a measure brought forward by the late Mr. Hume, calculated as I believed to injure the interests of the Established Church in Ireland. Ten years later, rather than consent to a measure which I conceived was likely to injure that branch of our Established Church, I seceded from a Government presided over by a man to whose memory I can never look back but with the utmost respect, regard, and affection, and from a Cabinet with which I had no other cause of difference, and with many of the Members of which I have always continued on the terms of intimate friendship. I appeal to the recollections of your Lordships, whether from that time down to the present moment, when any measure was brought forward threatening, as I thought, the independence and integrity of the Church of England, I have not been one of the foremost to oppose it; and whether, when any measure was brought forward calculated, in my opinion, to secure the position and to augment the influence of that Church, my voice has not been raised, and raised energetically, in its favour. I say this in answer by anticipation to those who might he disposed to say that in this matter I had allowed myself to be overruled by the opinions of others to consent to a measure which I deemed to be unfavourable to the position of the Established Church.

My Lords, in discussing this measure I shall deal with it as one which specially affects the Roman Catholics, because, although it applies to other denominations, it is practically, as the noble Duke said, for the relief of the Roman Catholics. My noble Friend (Lord Berners) says that the Bill places the Roman Catholic Church upon a footing of equality with the Church of England; but I think my noble Friend must have considered the provisions of the Bill very imperfectly when he makes that assertion. I have seen it stated over and over again that this is a Bill for the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church; but those persons who use that language misconceive entirely the essential character of an endowment. I hold it to be essential to an endowment that the possession of it should be permanent and certain; that it should not depend on the voluntary action or caprice of any party; that it should not only be the property of the individual possessor, but that it should be capable of being secured to his successors, and that it should be maintainable at law as a positive and substantial right, and should only be withdrawn by the omnipotence of Parliament. But is that the case with the concession which the present measure will extend to the Roman Catholics in this country? What does this Bill do? It provides, that in any case in which it is the opinion of the justices that the number of prisoners differing from the Church of England in any prison is so great as in their judgment to require the ministrations of a clergyman of any other religious persuasion, the said justices may appoint a minister of such religious persuasion to attend the said prisoners, and may award him such reasonable recompense as they may think fit. It goes on to say that the said minister shall hold his appointment at the pleasure of the justices, and shall be subject to all the rules and regulations of the prisons they may attend. Now, I appeal to your Lordships whether every one of the essentials of an endowment are not only studiously omitted here, but absolutely contradicted. It is left entirely to the justices to appoint if they think fit; they may refuse to pay the minister; they may pay him just what sum they think fit, and they may discharge him when they please. This certainly does not look very much like placing the Roman Catholic Church on a footing with the Church of England. My noble Friend says that the existing law is perfectly sufficient for all the purposes of the spiritual instruction of Roman Catholic prisoners. I regret to have to state that I differ from my noble Friend upon that point altogether. I do not think that the provisions of the law as it stands are satisfactory, or that they are founded in justice. The law is, indeed, so manifestly unjust that in all the principal prisons, I believe, the magistrates depart from its strict letter. The law is that every prisoner shall, without any distinction, be visited by the chaplain of the gaol, who, of course, must be a clergyman of the Church of England. Now, I know well the honesty and the love of fair play of my noble Friend, and I ask him to reverse this position. I ask him whether, if this were a Roman Catholic country containing a considerable number of Protestant prisoners, and if they were compelled to receive, whether they would or, not, the visits of Roman Catholic priests, so that the whole period of their confinement was not only a penal sentence, not an attempt, at reformation alone, but one continued system of proselytism, would he consider the provisions of such a law satisfactory? My noble Friend Bays that this restriction does not apply to the case of prisoners who desire to see a minister of their own persuasion. But the law makes no such provision. The law says that the chaplain shall be a clergyman of the Church of England; it is the good sense of the magistrates which says to the prisoners, "If you desire to see a minister of your own persuasion, we will take upon ourselves to supersede the law and allow you to see him." But is it reasonable to argue from the supposition that men of the character and the past lives of the majority of our prisoners will readily come forward and ask for the services of a minister of their own persuasion? It is to be said—and to be said to the great credit of the Roman Catholic prisoners—that a very considerable number of them do request to receive the ministrations of one of their own clergymen; and it was also greatly to the credit of the clergy of the Roman Catholic persuasion that in no case do they neglect the call so made upon them. With regard to Protestant Dissenters there have been no such demands, and for very sufficient reasons. There are no such broad distinctions between the different sects of Protestant Dissenters as to prevent the members of one receiving religious consolation and instruction from the ministers of the other; and Dissenting ministers do not object to prisoners of their persuasion receiving the ministrations of the Church of England chaplain. The case of Roman Catholics, however, is widely different. They have been instructed that even to listen to the teachings of a minister not of their own persuasion is a heinous sin. A prisoner of no particular strength of religious feeling would not object to listen to the chaplain of the Church of England, because he does not consider his teaching to be of any authority whatever; but he will most earnestly deprecate being visited by a priest of his own faith, who has more power over his mind, and to whom he will attribute a great deal more authority and responsibility than he would to the minister of any other persuasion. My noble Friend says he does not desire that Roman Catholic prisoners should be deprived of the offices of their religion. But was it right that they should only receive them in those cases in which they have made an express request for that purpose? We have been led to believe that reformation is the great object of punishment. I am afraid it does not follow as frequently as philanthropists would wish; but undoubtedly it is one of the objects of punishment, and one of the agencies which we must use in bringing it about is that of religious instruction and consolation. It must not be forgotten that we have here to deal with a very considerable class. I do not know whether my noble Friend has seen a Return moved for in the House of Commons by Lord Edward Howard. From this Return it appears that there is a very large number of Roman Catholics in the various gaols of England. In the eleven convict prisons of the country there are 1,388 Roman Catholics, being an average of 126 to each prison. In fourteen of the other prisons the average number is 133, the number in each of the fourteen exceeding 50. Now, I am as sincerely opposed as any one can be to the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. I believe it has encumbered the simplicity of public worship with a vast amount of unnecessary forms and ceremonies, in which the spiritual character of religion is overloaded with that which is merely external and apparent to the senses. I think that many of its doctrines are not only not supported by, but are absolutely repugnant to the written Word of God. I think that some points to which it attaches the greatest importance are points in which it derogates from the worship to be paid to the Almighty alone, and from the merits of the only Mediator in whom Protestants are taught to place their only trust. But whatever I may think of the mode in which the Roman Catholic Church overloads the foundations of scriptural truth, yet I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that those foundations are at least the same with its members as with us—that we both acknowledge the same God and the same Saviour, that we look to the same Mediator for the remission of sins, and that we derive our religious and moral teachings from that same source to which alone Christians can look for the foundation of their religious belief and moral practice. Therefore, although the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church may he mingled with much of error, I cannot assent to the position of my noble Friend, and deny that the influence of the priests of that Church must have a most powerful tendency to guide the minds of prisoners of their own persuasion, and to awaken those prisoners to a sense of their former evil life. Prisoners are persons who stand peculiarly in need of religious instruction. Either it is desirable that Roman Catholic prisoners should have the teaching of their own Church, or it is not. If it is desirable, we are hound to give it to them, in order to accomplish the main object of punishment—namely, the reformation of offenders. They will not accept your teaching; they are not desirous of it; and it is not your duty to force it on them. But it is your duty to let them have religious instruction which they will attend to. My noble Friend does not dispute that in some cases this instruction is now given, and rightly given. The only point in dispute is whether it should be given gratuitously, or should he paid for. My noble Friend does not dispute the propriety of allowing Roman Catholic clergymen to give instruction in prisons; but he contends that they should do so on their own responsibility, and at their own expense. It is quite true that there are prisons in which there are very few Roman Catholic prisoners; and in these it is never impossible, and seldom difficult, to procure the attendance of a Roman Catholic clergyman; but there are many prisons in which it would be unjust and impossible to call on the Roman Catholic clergyman to give his services without any remuneration, if it be desirable that the prisoners of his religious persuasion should have the advantage of these services. I belong to a county in the gaols of which there is the greatest number of Roman Catholic prisoners, while my noble Friend belongs to one in the gaol of which there is perhaps the smallest number; and this circumstance may, perhaps, have influenced us in forming the opposite conclusions at which we have arrived. I find that in the borough gaol of Liver pool there are about 350 or 360 prisoners who are members of the Church of England. The Protestant chaplain of that prison receives a sum of £400 a year for his services. In the same gaol there are 460 Roman Catholic prisoners. The Ro man Catholic priest attends twice a week, and the remuneration for his services to about a hundred more prisoners than are attended by the Protestant chaplain is just nil, as against the £400 paid to the latter gentleman. My Lords, it is impossible to look at those Returns, and to argue in the face of the facts which they disclose that you are dealing justly and equitably as between the ministers of the two Churches. My noble Friend objects to any payment being made to a Roman Catholic priest. Why does not my noble Friend object to the payment of Roman Catholic Chaplains in Ireland? [Lord BERNERS: I think it wrong in Ireland.] In Ireland the system is compulsory. The law compels the appointment of Roman Catholic chaplains in the gaols of that country, and provides for their payment out of the county rates. If it would be a mortal sin to do this in England, we are sinning deeply in Ireland, because there the law not only gives you the opportunity, but compels you to do it. Certainly, among my noble Friends coming from the north of Ireland, who are most strongly opposed to the Roman Catholic religion, I have never heard any objection raised to the payment out of the county rates of the Roman Catholic chaplains in the gaols there. It may be said that there is a much larger number of Roman Catholics in Ireland than in this country. But this Bill merely provides that the magistrates shall have the power of appointing Roman Catholic chaplains in those prisons in which the number of Roman Catholics is so great as to render it desirable, in their opinion, that such a course should be adopted. I think it a matter of great importance that the magistrates are to have the power of dismissing the Roman Catholic chaplain, so that he should feel that he is under their jurisdiction, and is responsible to them for the manner in which he discharges his duties. My noble Friend apprehends that this provision may be overridden, and that, while nominally in the hands of the magistrates, the appointment of the priest may in reality be in the hands of the Roman Catholic bishop; and my noble Friend referred to a case in which he says Archbishop Cullen insisted on a particular appointment, and in which the Irish Poor Law Commissioners—as I think very unwisely—yielded; but I feel persuaded that there is not much fear of magistrates in this country allowing themselves to be brow-beaten or unduly influenced by an imprudent Roman Catholic bishop. I am sure they would maintain their authority if any attempt were made to set it at defiance. No doubt, there are imprudent and ill-judging bishops in the Roman Catholic Church, as I am afraid there are in all other Churches; but, though the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church may be that the Church and bishops are superior to the law, that happily is not a doctrine which prevails in this country, and magistrates would take care to let their authority be felt, and to show that no man was superior to the law. It is true that the Roman Catholic bishop might prohibit the clergyman from acting; but in that case the deprivation of religious instruction would lie not at the magistrate's, but at the bishop's door. I think that consideration will weigh with Roman Catholic bishops in this country, and I am not apprehensive that any result of this kind will ensue. It appears to me that the Bill is one which meets the justice and the equity of the case, and does not go beyond it. It does not place the Roman Catholic Church in a position different from that of other denominations. Still less does it place it on a footing in the slightest degree of equality with the Established Church. I should regret very much if the Bill had that effect; but it has not. What it provides is, that where duties are to be performed—laborious, painful, and responsible duties—you shall not, if they are services to the State, insist on their performance without remuneration; that you shall make a fair return for services which you may deem valuable in carrying out the great work of prison reformation.

My Lords, I am well aware not only that in the course I feel called upon to take I differ from several of my noble Friends around me, but that this measure has met with much misapprehension and prejudice—honest prejudice, no doubt—and that it is not likely to be popular in the country. But where I have clearly seen my way with regard to the justice and policy of a measure, I hope that I never have shrunk, and that I never shall shrink, from incurring the risk of unpopularity; and I think I make a much greater sacrifice than in taking a course which may subject me to unpopularity out of doors, when I find myself differing on this question from so many of my noble Friends around me, with whom, on most occasions, it has long been my happiness to act. All considerations of this sort, however, must give way to considerations of policy and justice; and believing the measure to be founded not only upon policy and justice, but upon the higher principle of Christian charity and religion, I deem it my duty to give a conscientious and a cordial vote in favour of the second reading.


said, that no declaration on the part of his noble Friend who had just sat down was required to free him from the slightest suspicion of doing anything which, in his opinion, could tend to injure the Established Church. Nevertheless, while he gave his noble Friend the fullest credit for being actuated by the most perfect sincerity of feeling, he could not but think he had arrived at a most erroneous conclusion; though the question was certainly not without its difficulties. His noble Friend had taken much pains to show that the Bill proposed no endowment in the case of the Roman Catholics. No doubt, it was not an endowment in the strict sense; but Roman Catholic priests were to be paid for their services out of the rates, and the difference between that and endowment was rather one of words than of substance. Hitherto, the duty of attending to the spiritual wants of the Roman Catholic or Dissenting prisoners had been left to be performed by voluntary effort, and he did not see why these denominations should be assisted in this duty any more than in the duty of attending to their sick, or of carrying on other works of charity, to which they were found fully equal. Great inconvenience would be occasioned when a Roman Catholic priest was introduced into our prisons as a kind of rival chaplain to the chaplain of the Established Church, and dissensions would arise which could not but be mischievous. The new principle which it was now sought to introduce was not called for by toleration or by necessity; for by the existing law prisoners could be visited alike by the Romish priest and the Dissenting minister. The Dissenters were not asking for such a measure; they did not call upon the State to endow their ministers, and decidedly objected to an endowment of Roman Catholic priests. Moreover, the Bill would introduce a new subject of discord all over England without any adequate advantage. Questions of a most invidious character would arise; the church rate question had created nothing comparable to the discord which would be occasioned by such a measure. On all these grounds, he felt bound to oppose the second reading.


thought it his duty to vote for the second reading, but at the same time he felt strong object- tions to some of the provisions of the Bill. With its professed principle he agreed—namely, that of enabling a better provision to be made for the religious instruction of the Roman Catholic prisoners. It was quite necessary that the present state of the law should be amended. As the House had been reminded, Roman Catholic chaplains were regularly appointed and paid in Irish gaols; and in the great convict establishments in this country the same system existed. His principal objection to the Bill was, that the appointment of Roman Catholic chaplains was loft discretionary with the Courts of Quarter Sessions. He thought Parliament ought to define the class of prisons to which Roman Catholic chaplains should he appointed, and also ought to lay down the limits of the salaries to be paid to them. From his experience, he could not believe that in his part of England any Roman Catholic chap lain was at all likely to be appointed. Under the existing law, Roman Catholic prisoners were entitled to the ministrations of priests of their own faith, if they chose to ask for them; but under this Bill those ministrations might be forced upon them, and this appeared to him very objection able. He should support the second reading, but only in the hope that Amendments would be introduced in Committee.


said, that after the appeal that had been made to their Lordships in support of the Bill upon the ground of justice, he would have been unwilling to vote against it, had not a careful consideration of the subject, and an attentive hearing of the speeches that had been delivered, led him to believe that no injustice would be done by rejecting the measure. The noble Earl who spoke last (the Earl of Chichester) had told them that there was little probability that in his part of the country any bench of magistrates would be found to consider a Roman Catholic chaplain a necessary officer in their prisons. If that were likely to be practically the result of this Bill, the question of the justice of the claim was scarcely involved in their decision; and an important principle was involved—namely, whether it was right or not that in this country now for the first time steps should be token to appoint Roman Catholic chaplains to great public institutions. One main difficulty which had been forced upon him in considering this question was, that he could find nothing to point out definitively where that principle was to stop. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment alluded to the union workhouses, and no doubt, if this measure were adopted, great difficulties would arise with regard to workhouses. Poverty was no crime; many were forced into the workhouses from sheer destitution, and it was well known that in the poorer districts a large proportion of the inmates of the workhouses were Roman Catholics. No doubt some persons might say that it was desirable to have Roman Catholic chaplains appointed for these workhouses; but he was not persuaded that the country was prepared for such a step. He thought it was right that every Roman Catholic prisoner should have free access to his spiritual advisers, as he thought the instruction they would receive, however imperfect it might be, was likely to do good; but he did not see that it was therefore necessary that in every prison there should be a Roman Catholic priest invested with the status of a prison chaplain. He was told that there was no difficulty—all honour to our Roman Catholic brethren for it—in obtaining religious instruction to Roman Catholic prisoners by voluntary exertions. It might be hard to accept those services without payment; but he was not there-fore prepared to sacrifice a principle, and to go out of the way to pass a measure which must lead to great difficulties hereafter, He was almost of opinion, that after all, if, as was stated, this measure was not likely to lead to the appointment of Roman Catholic chaplains, it was quite possible there might be a party in the country whom it was thought desirable, for various political reasons, to conciliate, without any great regard to sacred principles; and this Bill might have been introduced to conciliate these persons rather than from any desire to do justice and secure instruction to Roman Catholic prisoners. Under any circumstances, he could not think that the country was prepared to see Roman Catholic priests occupying the same status in our prisons and workhouses as the clergy of the Church of England. If the measure were practicable, if there should be no difficulty with regard to the appointments at the quarter sessions, he was afraid, that when the principle was extended to workhouses, such dissensions would arise as would make us very sorry we had ever touched the question. The noble Earl opposite had stated that the Roman Catholic bishops might be restrained from interference in the appoint- ment of these chaplains; but every one was aware of the great difficulties which had arisen all over Europe from a collision with Roman Catholic bishops. For some reason or other Roman Catholic bishops were a difficult set of persons to deal with; and his advice to their Lordships would be not to step out of their way to give these bishops a stronger position than they now occupy.


regretted the speech of the right rev. Prelate, which contained at least two fallacies. This was no innovation, because there were already Roman Catholic chaplains bearing the Queen's commission; and surely there could be no greater danger in allowing their ministration to prisoners in gaols than to soldiers dying on the field of battle. There was also a necessity for the Bill, because Returns showed that there were hundreds of Roman Catholic prisoners who did not obtain religious instruction. Under the existing law, although a prisoner might ask for the services of a priest of his own Church, yet he was forced to receive the visits of the Protestant chaplain, who frequently presented him with tracts questioning the validity of the religious instruction afforded by his own priest. In Scotland recently it appeared that a Scripture reader visited the Roman Catholics confined in a gaol; and when appeal was made to the Secretary of State, an order was given that the instruction should be confined to secular subjects; but, notwithstanding that instruction, the Scripture reader was allowed to continue his visits. He only regretted that the Bill was not made compulsory. It was said this Bill would lead to unpleasantness at quarter sessions; but the whole of his experience convinced him that the good sense of the majority of magistrates would never allow them to act otherwise than as their sense of justice dictated. He could not agree that the adoption of the Bill would be a source of danger to the Established Church. He should be sorry to think that the foundations of that Church were so weak as to be endangered by so simple a measure as this. For these reasons, he should support the second reading of this Bill.


, who was imperfectly heard, supported the Bill. He considered that Roman Catholic prisoners were entitled, on the principles of religious toleration, to receive instruction from the ministers of their own persuasion; and the Roman Catholic community, paying the same taxes with members of the Established Church, were entitled, as a matter of justice, to see that their fellow religionists shared the advantages secured to other prisoners. He contended that no status was conceded by this Bill to Roman Catholic priests to which they were not fairly entitled. He thanked Her Majesty's Government for having brought forward this measure, and he did so the more readily that he agreed with them on so few other questions; and he also desired to express his thanks to the noble Earl below him (the Earl of Derby) and the leader of the Conservative party in the other House of Parliament for their manly advocacy of this measure.


regretted that the speech of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) should have contained an insinuation, and a very offensive insinuation. His language implied that those on that (the Opposition) side of the House who advocated this Bill did so, not on the ground of the inherent justice of the claim on which it was based, but for the sake of gaining political support.


explained: Referring to the observation of a noble Earl, that the measure would lead to no practical result, because no Roman Catholic prison chaplains would be appointed under it, he had said that the argument founded on justice was not very strong, and that it might be supposed there was some other motive for the support given to the Bill.


said, he thought the present imputation of the right rev. Prelate was equally unjustifiable. He totally repudiated any other motive for supporting the measure except a belief in its justice. In all the prisons of Ireland they had Roman Catholic chaplains, their appointment not being a matter left in the discretion of the magistrates, but being made compulsory, and their right to enter the prisons was one that he had never heard questioned by any political party. He maintained that the opponents of this Bill, if they were consistent men, were bound to move the repeal of the present law in Ireland. There was no difference of status between a Roman Catholic prisoner in England and a Roman Catholic prisoner in Ireland. In each case the man was a British subject under temporary restraint, and there was no reason on earth why he should be treated differently in this matter in different parts of the United Kingdom. He wished there were a simple clause in this measure enacting, that whenever the number of Roman Catholics in a prison exceeded a certain minimum, then the governing body of the prison should be required to appoint and pay a Roman Catholic chaplain. It was said, that if this Bill were passed, Scottish magistrates would refuse to act upon it; but such a clause as he suggested would prevent their deliberately setting themselves up against the law. It was a question of policy whether they ought or ought not to have Roman Catholic prison chaplains. He thought that they ought, and the right rev. Prelate thought they ought not; but having once decided that there should be such chaplains, Parliament ought to take measures to insure that they should be appointed in a given case, and not leave it in the discretion of the various governing bodies of prisons to appoint or not appoint them as they thought fit. To leave the matter optional would create great religious excitement all over the country, and in Scotland might cause the intention of the Legislature to be wholly defeated.


said, he did not think the Bill as it stood would lead to the appointment of any Roman Catholic chaplains in Scotland; while he believed, on the other hand, it would engender contests between members of the Established Church and the Free Kirk for the nomination of a minister of their own denomination. The provisions of the measure ought to be more definite and explicit.


said, he regarded this as a question of principle, which was not to be disposed of by merely appealing to the practice existing in the prisons of Ireland or elsewhere. He would give the most thorough toleration to all religious persuasions, but he held it to be a very erroneous principle to encourage and pay people to teach that which we believe to be false.

On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion? their Lordships divided:—Contents, 65; Not-Contents, 30: Majority 35.

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

Westbury, L. (L. Chancellor.) Devonshire, D.
Newcastle, D. Grafton, D.
Somerset, D. Bolton, L.
Bristol, M. Boyle, L. (E Cork and Orrery.)
Normanby, M. Camoys, L.
Abingdon, E. Carew, L.
Airlie, E. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Belmore, E. Colville of Culross, L.
Camperdown, E. Cranworth, L.
Carnarvon, E. Dartrey, L. (L. Cre-morne.)
Chichester, E. Dormer, L.
Cowper, E. Ebury, L.
De Grey, E. Foley, L. [Teller.]
Derby, E. Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
Ducie, E. Heytesbury, L.
Granville, E. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Grey. E. Leigh, L.
Hardwicke, E. Lovat, L.
Powis, E. Lyttelton, L.
Saint Germans, E. Lyveden, L.
Sommers, E. Manners, L.
Wicklow, E. Mostyn, L.
Yarborough, E. Overstone, L.
Eversley, V. Petre, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Ponsonby, L. (E. Bess-borough.) [Teller.]
Sydney, V. Portman, L.
Bath and Wells, Bp. Rivers, L.
Worcester, Bp. Saltoun, L.
Abercromby, L. Stafford, L.
Arundell of Wardour, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Belper, L. Stourton, L.
Blantyre, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Wodehouse, L.
Marlborough, D. London, Bp.
Cholmondeley, M. Ripon, Bp.
Westmeath, M. Salisbury, Bp.
Amherst, E. Berners, L. [Teller.]
Bandon, E. Calthorpe, L.
Desart, E. [Teller.] Castlemaine, L.
Harrowby, E. Congleton, L.
Mayo, E. Denman, L.
Tankerville, E. Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)
Melville, V. Egerton, L.
Carlisle, Bp. Feversham, L.
Cashel, &c. Bp. Polwarth, L.
Chichester, Bp. Rayleigh, L.
Lichfield, Bp. Redesdale, L.
Llandaff, Bp. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)

House adjourned at a quarter before Nine o'clock, till To-morrow Twelve o'clock.