HL Deb 01 July 1904 vol 137 cc268-313

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name. I do not propose, in doing so, to again go over the reasons which induces me and those who join with me to earnestly appeal to your Lordships' generosity to remove an offensive part from the Royal Declaration. I do not intend to go into all those matters which have stirred our feelings deeply in connection with this subject. They have been sufficiently debated in your Lordships' House already, and I am only too sorry to have to bring the matter up again; but I am afraid it is one of those questions which, until settled, will be always with us, for our religious feelings are wounded in the deepest and most painful way. I fear, however, that I must go a little into the history of the question, because there were certain incidents connected with the treatment of the subject in the session of 1901 and last session which bear upon the general position which it now occupies. Let me at once say that we do appreciate very much indeed the generous feeling we find everywhere that, so far as is possible, this grievance should be set right.

But we are met with a reminder that that generous feeling actually took shape in 1901, that a Committee was then appointed to deal with the problem, that it did deal with it, that it brought forward a modified form of Declaration, one which, in the opinion of those who framed it, ought to have met our demands, and that the attitude we took up on that occasion not only defeated the benevolent intentions of those who were striving to help us, but made it appear hopeless and unnecessary to take any further steps in that direction. It will be remembered that Lord Herries moved for the appoint-msnt of a Committee to consider the question; and I wish to quote some words used in the debate, because I think they will tend to remove misapprehension which exists in the minds of some of your Lordships that the Catholic Peers ostentatiously kept away from that Committee. Lord Herries had suggested a doubt whether it was wise that they should be on the Committee, and the late Prime Minister, in moving the appointment of the Committee, said— I am rather disposed to agree with the noble Lord (Herries), without being in any way bigoted, that it would be better if the Roman Catholics stood aside from the Committee, and allowed their fellow Peers to judge in this matter, as I think they would be somewhat embarrassed in dealing with it. What I imagine the noble Marquess had in his mind was that it would be possible for us to accept less if presented by a Committee of which we did not form a part, than we should be justified in accepting if we ourselves were supposed to be the framers of the Motion. That was no doubt what was in the mind of the noble Marquess and it was also what was in our minds, and I think that is an important consideration.

When the statement was made that it might be considered better that noble Lords should be judges of this question without the intervention of Roman Catholic Peers, it never crossed our minds that we were not to be given the opportunity of putting before the judges o: this question the reasons why we were anxious that the matter should be dealt with. No effort of any kind, either directly or indirectly, was made to ascertain what the grievances were which the Roman Catholic Peers entertained, and which this Committee was specially appointed to deal which; and, that being the case, I do not think it is very surprising, when we found that the Report of that Committee did not meet the views of those on whose behalf it was appointed, owing to the fact that no attempt to ascertain those views was made, that when it came before your Lordships it was received with very little favour. The most rev. Primate the lati Archbishop of Canterbury moved that the Report be referred back to the Committee. Lord Grey spoke strongly on the subject. One or two of his remarks bear out the view I wish to put before your Lordships, and I will read them. Lord Grey, speaking, not of the original Declaration, but of the amended Declaration brought in by the Committee which was intended to solve all our grievances said— It offers an unnecessary and gratuitous insult to 12,000,000 of loyal subjects of.the King. A little later the noble Earl said— Roman Catholics will realise that the King, in language which can be used by any infidel, is required afresh to repudiate officially and publicly the most sacred doctrine of their religion, and that they are the only sect which are selected for this treatment. And he went on to say— If I were a Roman Catholic, instead of being an ultra-Protestant, as far removed from sympathy with Roman Catholicism as any Member of this House, I think I should prefer to leave the Declaration unamended, and regard it as an archaic and meaningless form, rather than accept this amended Declaration, which will stand forth as the deliberate reaffirmation by Parliament of an anti-Catholic spirit. I quote that from the speech of Lord Grey, who states that he is as far removed from sympathy with Roman Catholicism as any Member of this House, because, when my noble friend Lord Llandaff made a statement of the same kind, it was seized upon as an argument to show how hopeless it was to meet the views of such retractile people as we were, and that what we wanted was to abolish the Declaration altogether. I quote it to show that it was felt by others as well as by ourselves that this amended Declaration left very much to be desired. It was partly on an argument such as that the Bill was carried through your Lordships' House, but was not sent down to the other House. The Roman Catholic Peers, in difficulty as to how far to support it, felt that it was a well-intentioned effort to meet their wishes, but did not go far enough, and abstained from voting.

The matter rested during the Coronation year, and was brought up again last year, when Lord Grey brought in a Bill for the total abolition of the Declaration. I should like to assure your Lordships that in all we have done as regards moving for an amendment of the Declaration, we have never had it in our minds to get rid of the Declaration altogether, although we have held the belief that it was not necessary, and that the simplest form of dealing with the question would be to abolish it. In the early part of 1901 Lord Grey brought in his Bill, but gave way to Lord Herries, who moved for a Committee. Naturally, when Lord Grey came forward with a Bill to abolish the whole Declaration, we gratefully acknowledged the generous proposal, and gave him all the support we could; but I suggested to him whether it would not be wiser, instead of moving for the abolition of the Declaration, to bring in a Bill to modify it. We have not, as I have said, had it in our mind to abolish the Declaration; we only wish it to be amended.

I now come to the point as to the character of the amendment we desire. What we feel very strongly is that tenets of our faith, so cherished by us and so sacred that it is almost painful that they should be discussed in an Assemblage of this kind at all, should not be required to be publicly repudiated by the Sovereign immediately on his accession to the Throne. At present they are repudiated in a very offensive form. That offensiveness I believe the whole House, with, perhaps, very few exceptions, and I cannot but think the whole country also, is anxious to take away. The object of my Motion is to ask your Lordships to meet us thus far —that while we on our part fully accept the position of the Protestant Succession, while we are fully prepared to stand under the Throne and hear our King assert in as strong language as you wish that he is a Protestant, and, if you like, that he is not a Roman Catholic, we do ask you to stop there and not insist on the King himself having the painful duty of picking out tenets of the faith of the greater part of Christendom throughout the world and publicly repudiating and rejecting them. And we ask this because we do not believe there is any real necessity for it.

We quite feel the justice of what was said by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year that the Coronation Oath did fully safeguard such questions as the maintenance of the reformed religion, but that it was necessary, in addition to that, that the Sovereign should go further and assert that he was himself a Protestant. I am bound to say that as part of the Coronation service is the reception of the Sacrament, I should have thought that assertion was hardly necessary. Still, there is logic in what the most rev. Primate said, that the Sovereign should make it clear and manifest that he is a bona fide Protestant and not a Roma a Catholic in disguise. To that we quite agree; but we do dissent from the view that it is necessary to repudiate our doctrines in the way in which they are repudiated.

Again I must trouble your Lordships with one or two extracts from the speeches which were made on this subject. Lord Spencer, who was a member of the Committee, speaking in the debate on 8th June, 1901, said that in some ways he differed from the majority of the Committee, but not sufficiently to justify signing a Minority Report. He therefore assented to the general propositions of the Committee; but he used these words— I should have desired that the actual mention of doctrines should have been omitted from this Declaration. I have alluded to the speech of the most rev. Primate. He stated, as I have just reminded your Lordships, that he did I think some assurance was necessary as to the private belief of the King; that is to say, that the King was not merely a man who was minded to keep up the Protestant religion, but was himself a Protestant. But the most rev. Primate expressed the opinion that the matter should be dealt with. He used these words— There is a widespread feeling, not only in this House and in the country, but in the Colonies, that this matter can hardly be allowed to stand indefinitely exactly as it does now. And a little later on he said— But if it is true, as I think it is true, that some such Declaration is necessary, it surely does not follow that it need be couched in insulting words, and I do not think it need, strictly speaking, denounce anything at all. It seems to me perfectly possible, at least it is not beyond the wit of man, to devise a Declaration which should be mainly positive rather than negative in character and form. I do not believe it is impossible to draw up a Declaration which should avoid not only anythiug offensive, but anything denunciatory. I trust the matter will not be allowed to rest. Therefore, I venture to say that there is a widespread feeling everywhere that the matter ought not to be allowed to rest. It appears to me, whether your Lordships accept the Motion which I now move, or whether you accept the Amendment which I see has been placed on the Paper by the noble Earl beside me, Lord Jersey, that it will be necessary that some Committee should be appointed to deal with the matter and to see whether the problem cannot be solved. There are some, I think, including the noble Earl on the Woolsack, and, I think, Lord Rosebery, who have stated that in their opinion it would not be possible to draw up any form of Declaration which did not in some form or other denounce or repudiate certain tenets of oar faith. The most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that in his opinion it ought not to pass the wit of man to be able to devise some Declaration of the kind. I venture to think, that being the state of the case, that I am justified in calling upon your Lordships to take action of some kind.

I trust the House will see its way to accept the Motion which I have put down, but, at all events, I do hope the issue of this debate will be that some Committee will be appointed to consider the problem; and 1 do ask, whether Roman Catholics be placed on that Committee or not, that at all events the Committee will not report on our grievances without at least having given us the opportunity of stating fully what our grievances are. They are grievances which, when stated, it may be found impossible to meet; but, at all events, let us bring them before the Committee; let them be fully considered, and let us see whether it is not possible to devise some form of words which shall declare the Protestantism of the King without insulting the faith of so many of his subjects. I really cannot understand why it is that so many people are determined that this latter course must be resorted to. It has been stated that Protestantism is a very negative thing; that you cannot define it. It is almost suggested that the only form of profession of Protestant faith is to denounce and attack the faith held by other people. I can hardly suppose that that is a view which can be supported, and I would quote the opinion of the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack, who is distinctly of another opinion. The noble and learned Earl said on 8th June, 1901— But can anybody suppose that there is the least doubt as to what the Protestant faith is? I do not mean to say that there are not differences and divergencies in the forms of Protestant profession; but everybody does know, as a matter of fact, the meaning of the Protestant religion, certainly as contrasted with the Roman Catholic faith. If that is so clear and manifest, is it impossible to devise some form of words which the Monarch can use without specially picking out our doctrine for condemnation? I cannot but think, with the most rev. Primate, that the problem is not beyond the wit of man to solve. If that be so, I would earnestly beg your Lordships to pass this Resolution as an expression of your opinion that, if possible, it ought to be solved. Of course, a Resolution of this House is not an Act of Parliament. It may be that even if your Lordships express that opinion it will be found beyond the wit of man to devise such a form of words. I cannot myself believe that it would be, and I trust that the generous expression of regret at this insult offered to our faith, which we feel, believe me, more deeply than even insulting words to ourselves, will lead to the grievance being taken in hand and dealt with.

I have read the Amendment to be moved by the noble Earl. If he could see his way to move it as a rider to my Resolution I would gladly accept it, for that would bring in what I think many of your Lordships are slow in accepting as our statement that we are perfectly prepared to do nothing which would endanger the Protestant Succession. If the noble Earl will allow that to follow as a rider, and if it is thought that that would make my Resolution more palatable, and that less danger would lurk in it in consequence, I would gladly accept it. The Amendment standing in the name of Lord Stanmore does not carry us any further. I content myself for the present with moving my Resolution, and I trust your Lordships will feel that it is not too much to ask that Parliament should not only relieve us of this sore trial, but also the future Sovereigns of England of what must be to them a most painful, and, as we maintain, a most needless ordeal.

Moved to resolve, "That whereas, under the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, the Sovereign is required to join in Communion with the Church of England as by law established, and ample securities are provided to ensure the Protestant Succession to the Crown ; and whereas in addition to these secure ties, the Sovereign is required, immediately after his Accession, to make a Declaration, commonly called the Declaration against Transubstantiation, which is deeply and needlessly offensive to many millions of loyal subjects of His Majesty, this House is of opinion that the Declaration aforesaid ought to be amended so as not to include the condemnation or repudiation of specific doctrines which form part of the conscientious beliefs of any of His Majesty's subjects."—(The Duke of Norfolk.)


My Lords, every Member of this House respects the feelings which have caused the noble Duke to bring forward this Resolution. He has addressed us with an earnestness of feeling, and yet at the same time with a moderation of language which will add greatly to the high esteem in which he is already held in this House and in the country. Happily, we live in days when we trust our fellow-subjects, quite irrespective of what their religious beliefs may be. We do not think it necessary to prove our own orthodoxy by insults to those who hold different religious views, and I can assure the noble Duke and those who belong to his Church that I have not put down this Amendment out of hostility or indifference to the feelings of those who are wounded by the words in the Declaration. It would be most repugnant to my own feelings to support words which criticised or cast a stigma upon tenets which are dear to his great Church, and which are held by millions of our fellow-subjects. At the same time I am afraid I must persevere with my Amendment as an Amendment independent of his Resolution.

The noble Duke has alluded to what has taken place in this House during the last three or four years upon this subject. It has been widely debated, as a matter of this importance ought to be, and I think that two points come out clearly—the first, the one to which he has alluded, namely, that there is a desire, a very general, if not a universal desire, on the part of the Members of this House to make alterations in the Declaration which would remove all language which is offensive to Roman Catholics; and the other is that this House has unmistakably shown its intention to maintain a Declaration by the Sovereign when, under the Act of Settlement, he succeeds to the Throne, and one which will be a proof to his subjects that he belongs to the Protestant Faith and to no other. An oath, it is true, may not be an absolute security, but it is a security the importance of which is understood by the person who takes it, and by those before whom it is taken—in this case the nation at large I respect, and I quite understand, the views of those who, like the noble. Duke, object strongly that the dogmas of one religion should be picked out for special repudiation in a Declaration; but I think, my Lords, we cannot approach this subject entirely free from past considerations. The memory of a people is tenacious; causes and events of past times leave their impressions upon succeeding generations long after they have lost their vividness. So it is in the case of this; Declaration. Our forefathers struggled with determination to take every human step possible that the successions to the Throne should be Protestant, and to prevent the accession of a Roman Catholic King. They carried out their policy with hardship and with insults, I admit, and I regret it. Those hardships have slowly, perhaps too slowly, been removed, and the insults, I believe, everyone in this House would be only too glad to obliterate; but is it within the range of practical politics to eliminate the language of the Declaration which tries to make it clear that no ruler of this realm shall owe obedience, spiritual or otherwise, to any foreign authority, however venerable, however deservedly respected?

The original framers of this Declaration selected as a test tenets which they apprehended must be held by any Roman Catholic, assuming that if the Sovereign repudiated those tenets he would,.be repudiating the faith which they dreaded. I have already said they put it into language which we most of us regret, and I have no hesitation also in saying that I trust the opportunity will be taken to remove the most offensive words from the Declaration before circumstances demand them to come into use again. We must recollect also that there are many in this country who have a conscientious objection to waiving in the Declaration taken by the Sovereign the repudiation of the Roman Catholic religion. We, perhaps, in this House can take a wider, a juster, and a more generous view. We can believe, and we do believe, as the noble Duke has said, that the members of his Church have no wish whatever to interfere with the Protestant Succession, but this House does not contain all the intelligence or all the feeling in the country; and I would ask, even if this House decided to make the alteration and to eliminate the words to which objection is taken, does this House think that it will represent the views of the country? I doubt it. But at the same time, I believe it is necessary that a Committee should be appointed to consider this subject, but whether at the present moment it is not, of course, for me to say.

The noble1 Duke suggests that there should be no condemnation or repudiation of specific doctrines which form part of the conscientious beliefs of any of His Majesty's subjects. Well, if you could strike upon a form of words which would not attack? the conscientious opinions of anyone, and whilst exercising this reticence would also safeguard that upon which the nation has hitherto set its mind, it would be a good thing; but I think it would be perhaps unwise for us to say beforehand that we would have no repudiation of any doctrines in the Declaration. But, of course, if a repudiation should be found eventually to be necessary, that could be expressed in terms courteous and respectful to all. I think, though the noble Duke does not quite agree with me, that there lies in the Amendment which I have put down the germs of a decision which will eventually cause, if not full, perhaps some satisfaction, some just satisfaction, to him and his co-religionists. Ask this House to remove any words which will give offence and the response will be favourable, but do not ask this House to go so far as to break entirely with the past. Do not ask it to take a step which might, and which undoubtedly would, be misconstrued in the country. We want to maintain, and we must maintain, every possible guarantee that the Sovereign of this country should belong to the Protestant faith. I think we can do so without casting any reflection or any insults upon those who differ in religion. The Sovereign of this country, it must be remembered, is placed in a political position, and it has been political reasons which have hitherto governed this country in this matter.

I certainly trust, after the debate in your Lordships' House, that there will be a still more generous disposition to come together and try to do everything in our power to relieve those who have hitherto, I quite admit, been allowed to suffer under a grievous wrong and a grievous insult. There is no question of the Church of England. That is protected under the Oath taken at the Coronation. But we have asked, the nation has asked, that their King shall make a clear Declaration, and I, for one, must say that I think we ought to adhere to this demand. The principle running through that Declaration has been asked for by succeeding Parliaments, who have been the representatives of the will of the nation. It has been assented to by a long line of illustrious Sovereigns. Let us try so to word the Declaration that, whilst it will give full confidence to the nation, it will in no wise contain a single expression which could justly offend the feelings of any of the loyal subjects of the Crown in any part of the Empire.

Amendment moved— To leave out the words after the word 'That' and to insert the words 'this House, while desirous that no expression unnecessarily offensive to any of his subjects should be required of the Sovereign on His Accession to the Throne, is of opinion that nothing should be done to weaken the security of the Protestant Succession.'"—(The Earl of Jersey.)


My Lords, I do not propose to trespass very long on your Lordships to-night, partly because, mainly because, this time last year when this matter was debated I ventured to state my views on the subject very fully. The noble Duke, in speech the high merit of which has been so well described by the noble Earl who has just sat down, referred to what I said last year, but I am not quite sure that I can accept the quotations by themselves and apart from their context as accurately conveying the opinion I then gave expression to, and to which to-night I desire to adhere. I yield to none in my dislike to any tests that arc unnecessary, above all to unnecessary tests of a religious kind which are a bar in any way to civil employment. But there must be, and there are, exceptions to that rule. Take an example from a much lower grade in national responsibility. We have again and again reiterated in this House our view that there is nothing inappropriate in a religious test being applied to a man who has to teach a particular faith so as to show that he holds the faith which he has to inculcate in others.

I think that in the judgment of the whole House it is absolutely necessary that there should be some security given to the nation as a whole as to the attitude which the august personage who occupies the Throne holds towards the faith which is professed by a vast majority of the subjects over whom in the home regions of the Empire he rules. The Declaration which has been commented upon to-night and on previous occasions was, of course, originally imposed for the purpose of securing, in the first instance, that the Sovereign should not be in any way hampered in the discharge of his great duties by allegiance of any kind to an external Power, and further that he should not be able to throw the weight of his incomparable authority in favour of any change in the national faith. We all agree that those principles have to be secured, and no one has expressed himself more clearly to that effect than the noble Duke himself. There is, therefore, need of a Declaration of some sort; and further, everyone in this House is agreed that such Declaration when made should be drawn so as to give a minimum of pain or disquietude to any citizen or group of citizens in this country, which counts among the proudest of all its boasts the boast of maintaining absolute religious liberty.

Reference has been made to the security given by the Coronation Oath. But note, my Lords, that it is what it pio-fesses to be a Coronation Oath. Some little time, however, must always elapse between the date of the Accession and the date of the Coronation, nor do I know that there is any constitutional or legal compulsion on the Sovereign to have a Coronation ceremony at all. If that be so, we must beware lest we regard what takes place in that service as in itself adequate for meeting the need which in the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the people of England exists for some security of this kind. Then it was said by the noble Duke that the Declaration might be so altered as to do all it aimed at while avoiding any specific reference to a faith which has to be repudiated.


Specific doctrines.


While avoiding any reference to specific doctrines which have to be repudiated. Well, my Lords, I should like to see in black and white the Declaration which does that, and which yet meets the difficulties which we are face to face with. Obviously no one nowadays would choose the epithets to which exception is, I think, most legitimately taken in the Declaration as it now stands. Those epithets belong to a period two centuries ago, when on both sides controversialists were accustomed to be far less sensitive than they are to day to the feelings of those who differed from them. Those epithets belong to a period entirely different from our own, and they are, in the fullest sense of the word, an anachronism to-day. On the other hand, as we have been reminded by the noble Earl who spoke last, we cannot in this matter act as though the history of England 200 years ago had been different from what it was. When King James II. ascended the Throne he took the Coronation Oath in a form not very different from that in which it is taken to-day, and, apart from that, there was the voluntary Declaration on the part of the Sovereign, publicly made to the Privy Council, that— I shall make it my endeavour to preserve this Government both in Church and State as it is now by law established. It is impossible to forget that those things were said, those sacred promises solemnly made, and that the events of the next few years followed. Without the slightest desire to suggest that history is likely to repeat itself in any such way, we are bound to take care lest we loosen obligations which 200 years ago were found necessary, because the simpler sort of promises had proved incapable of resisting the strain put upon them.

It is our duty to take heed how we weaken a D claration which, however painful and offensive in its outward form, is yet in its practical bearing universally admitted to be incapable to-day of giving way after the fashion in which, the simpler promises yielded to strain 20J years ago. We have to beware lest in the desire to be kindly and conciliatory in language we do anything to weaken the effectiveness of the Declaration. I stated in the former debate, and the noble Duke has quoted what I said, that possibly words of a merely positive sort, with a complete absence of denunciation, or even of repudiation, might be devised. I am bound to admit that subsequent communications I have had upon this matter make me feel less sanguine than I was as to the practicability of devising such words so as to meet the demands of all thoseconcerned. It does not seem to me that repudiation need necessarily contain anything whatever of insult or anything which could legitimately cause offence, but repudiation of some kind I have come to think is absolutely necessary if the Declaration made is to hold the character we all desire that it should hold of an effective and really binding sort so as to be acceptable to Englishmen generally.

But, my Lords, I feel that in this matter we are absolutely bound to throw the responsibility on the Government of the day and to leave the responsibility there. It is for that reason that I feel more than a difficulty as to the words of the noble Duke's own proposal. He desires that something shall be done to bring about an amelioration of the existing tension, for it is nothing less, on this subject, but in stating how it is to be done the noble Duke seems to me to go somewhat further than it is necessary to go when he lays down specifically the character of the Declaration which should be devised. The noble Duke says that it is to be done by a Declaration which must have a definite and specific character which he describes. It does not seem to me that we need go into such detail as that when we are expressing our desire that some modification of that Declaration may now or hereafter be made which shall meet the difficulties while retaining its effectiveness and its power. If the noble Duke will show us— and if His Majesty's Government will take in hand the task of giving effect to what he has shown — how a new Declaration can be framed in the way he desires, I for one shall welcome it, and feel that we have done the right thing, supposing always we retain the effectiveness while altering the form. But at present I fail to understand how this can be done, if repudiation of doctrine forms no part of the document. I, therefore, feel that our business is to leave upon the Executive Government of the day the responsibility of dealing with what I admit to be a grave difficulty. It is for them to say in what way, and by what means, the modification can be brought about which we all wish to see effected in the Declaration taken by the Sovereign at an hour when we desire, above all other times, that we shall as far as possible be of one heart and one mind in giving a welcome to him who is to rule over the country.


My Lords, I wish to say a few words on this question. It seems to me that the objection to the Motion of the noble Duke is that we do not wish to pledge ourselves not to insist upon distinct repudiation of certain doctrines which are held by the Church of Rome. There is no doubt we I have been told by those who represent the Roman Catholics in this House that they do object to this distinct repudiation of their doctrines, that it wounds their feelings, and that they consider it most objectionable, and will not be satisfied with anything except doing away with it. It seems to me that our discussion is merely between this and a simple affirmation that the Sovereign is in favour of the Protestant religion. If this is really true, I do not deny that I myself would recommend that we should be content with this simple affirmation. I It will satisfy the people of England that the King intends to be a Protestant, and that is all we can hope for as to any security this Declaration may give us against having a Catholic Sovereign. What now, for instance, is our danger, if there is any? If the heir to the Throne happened to be brought up as a Catholic, known to be one, and the whole country felt that as soon as he ascended the Throne he would throw his whole weight in that direction, there would be such a rising among the people, such a strong feeling, such a violent Protestant outbreak, that there would be no chance whatever of such a man succeeding to the Throne. The laws would be put in force, and if there was any danger of the laws not being sufficiently strong, new ones would be enacted. This is not the danger we have to fear; I do not deny that there is some slight danger, but not in that direction. There is no doubt that during our life-time there has been a pretty strong current in favour of conversion to the Church of Rome. It is, I am happy to say, less strong now than it was some years ago, but it is not yet spent. These conversions, as you know, have chiefly taken place in the upper classes, among families where you would least expect it. You have no guarantee that what has operated on so many others may not operate on the Royal family. We have no certainty that even the occu-pant'of the Throne may not become converted to that Church.

There is, I am happy to say, no tendency whatever, so far as I can see, of any present member of the Royal family taking that line, but we do not know what may happen in another generation. These conversions just as often as not take place in middle and later life, and many of these men, long after they had reached years of discretion, would have been most happy to have taken this Declaration against transubstantiation and everything else. We have no security whatever against the danger which I have mentioned, which is the only one I can see any possibility of. If, therefore, this Declaration is not by any means a certain and sure guarantee that we shall have a Protestant Sovereign, then I maintain we have no right to hurt people's feelings unnecessarily in order to cause it to be made. Therefore, I cannot help feeling that it would be quite sufficient to calm the feelings of the people of this country and satisfy sensitive consciences, if the Sovereign in some form or other declared that he is in favour of the maintenance of the Protestant religion.

I think we all feel that the English Catholics are not people who ought to be unnecessarily wounded and offended. They are among the most loyal of British subjects. They have shown themselves in time of danger and difficulty as ready as any of our fellow-Protestants to come forward to give their money and risk their lives for their country. We many of us most fully incline not only to take away those most offensive words which are used now, and which everybody is in favour of removing, but even to take away, if necessary, this formal repudiation of doctrines which they hold so dear. I have not before spoken on this matter, and I beg to say that I shall have the greatest pleasure in voting for the Motion submitted by the noble Duke.


My Lords, I gave way to my noble relative and I am very glad I did so, because we have had from Earl Cowper an important declara tion in favour of the Motion moved by the noble Duke. The Roman Catholic Members of this House are in regard to this question in a special position, and, as one of them, I rise for the purpose of expressing freely my own opinions. Those opinions may not be shared by others who do not belong to the Roman Catholic Church, but I am speaking for myself alone, and I wish to exercise, therefore, complete freedom in what I desire to submit to your Lordships. In one respect, at all events, I agree with what fell from the most rev. Primate. This question, of course, involving considerations of a constitutional character and great fundamental constitutional statutes, can only be really and effectively dealt with by the Government. All that can be done until they deal with the question is that Parliament should, as far as it can, express its own views in regard to the matter.

Now, my Lords, as far as my own individual opinion is concerned, I place no faith whatever in Declarations of this kind. I believe that bad men will take as many of them as you like to put before them, and that good men will be controlled, and much better controlled, by the most simple expressions that can he found. But, my Lords, that is not the position which I desire to take up as a Roman Catholic Member of this House. I do not ask your Lordships to have no Declaration at all. I believe that there is truth in what has been said by others already in this discussion, that a great amount of importance is attached, I think erroneously, to some Declaration of this kind; and, therefore, in full accordance with the Motion made by my noble friend opposite, I think it would be wise, in the interests of the Roman Catholic body, that a Declaration of a fitting sort should be retained. There is nothing, I think, of greater interest to the Roman Catholic people of this country than that there should be no suspicion that we have the slightest desire to interfere with the Protestant Succession. That Succession has, as the most rev. Primate has reminded us, been in existence for more than two centuries, and nothing could be more unwise than that a limited body like the Catholics should set themselves against what I believe to be the deliberate opinion of the people of this country.

The people of this country are in the majority Protestants, and if they think it important to their interests, their religious or their secular interests, that their Sovereign should be of the same creed, I am not here for a moment to gainsay their right to require that that should be the case. That opinion is not a new one in history. It was the opinion which animated the League in France in the 16th century when they refused to acknowledge Henri IV. until he had been reconciled to the Catholic Church. That being the view of the majority of the people of this country, I think it is right and proper that their wishes in regard to the matter should prevail, and certainly the worst thing that could happen in the interests of the Roman Catholic portion of the population would be that any change should be attempted to be made in the substantial provision for the Protestant Succession. But I ventre to submit that the Declaration in its present form gives no more real additional security than would be given by a moderate Declaration such as nobody in this House or out of it doubts would be drawn up at the present time if the question were now to be raised in the first instance. It seems to me, from what has already been said in this discussion, that there is a general feeling—I had almost said a universal feeling—in this House that the language in this Declaration which is offensive to Roman Catholics should be got rid of, but we seem to be impotent with regard to the matter. If you wish to get rid of those words, surely it is not beyond the wit of man to devise some Declaration which, while it would give such security as a Declaration of that sort is supposed to be able to give, would at least not inflict upon the King's Roman Catholic subjects the pain of hearing from the Throne a Declaration having words in it which are insulting to the Roman Catholic faith.

I hope, my Lords, that we shall hear something of a more definite and distinct kind in regard to the views of His Majesty's Government on this matter. I have little quarrel with the Amendment of my noble friend opposite. He supported it in a speech marked by the ability and moderation which always distinguish him, but I confess I am unable to see what advantage will be gained in regard to this matter by passing my noble friend's Amendment. My noble friend makes two statements. He states his desire to get rid of the words in the Declaration which are offensive to Roman Catholics, and he expresses his desire to do nothing which would weaken the security of the Protestant Succession. I agree with him. But he makes those two statements by way of preface, and then he stops short. He draws no conclusion. How is my noble friend going to get rid of the offensive words of this Declaration unless by having the Declaration altered; and does my noble friend mean to say there is no possible means by which this Declaration could be altered, so as to remove from it its offensive character as regards Roman Catholics, and at the same time to retain every security for the Protestant Succession? I cannot think that is impossible. I, therefore, feel the greatest hope that we shall have some sort of assurance such, for instance, as will be conveyed by the adoption of the Amendment of Lord Stanmore, that this question will be fully and deliberately considered.

When this Declaration was first introduced to be taken by the Sovereign, it was already taken by a great many persons in the country, by a previous Act of Charles II., but it was applied to the person of the Sovereign in days immediately succeeding to the Declaration—that untruthful Declaration—which was made by James II., and to which the most rev. Primate has alluded. It is, therefore, not very surprising that, if our ancestors at that time thought that by heaping up words they would give greater security to themselves in regard to this matter, they should have taken that course. But, my Lords, I venture to say that it is perfectly futile. As I said just now, a bad man— Charles II., for instance—would have taken twenty such Declarations, and. if I may use the expression, would have made no bones about it; but a good man would only be troubled in his conscience by this heaping up of words, and you have in reality no necessity for them. If you want a Declaration, have a Declaration; but you have no necessity whatever for making it of a character which is insulting towards a large portion of His Majesty's subjects.

This Declaration I venture to say must be amended. I am not now speaking of it as it affects the Roman Catholic body; but there is language in it which the Sovereign is obliged to declare, and which I heard our present Gracious Sovereign declare from the Throne, which, in my judgment, and I think it must be so in the judgment of every one of your Lordships, is a gross insult upon the King. After the experience of James II. and of others of the House of Stuart, for they were not a truthful family, it was perhaps not unnatural that Parliament should have tried to tie them up in this manner; but, my Lords, we all feel very differently towards the Royal family under whom we now ha e the happiness to live. We all know that there is no shadow of dishonesty, no chance of untruthfulness, with regard to them; and surely, that being the case, it is highly improper that we should force the Sovereign when he opens his first Parliament, at one of the most interesting and important periods of his reign, to use these words. I am almost ashamed, my Lords, to read them, but for the purpose of this argument it is necessary— And I doe solemnely in the presence of God professe, testifie, and declare that I doe make this declaration and every part thereof in the plaine and ordinary sence of the words read unto me as they are commonly understood by English Protestants without any evasion, equivocation, or mentall reservation whatsoever, and without any dispensation already granted me for this purpose by the Pope or any other authority or person whatsoever, or without any hope of such dispensation from any person or authority whatsoever, or without thinking that I am or can be acquitted before God or man, or absolved of this declaration or any part thereof, although the Pope or any other person or persons or power whatsoever should dispense with or annull the same, or declare that it was null and void from the beginning. My Lords, those are the words of men who distrust their Sovereign. We do not distrust our Sovereign. We are animated towards him by the warmest feelings of loyalty, and I do say that it is most unbecoming that a new Sovereign should be required to use words of such a description, implying such distrust, on the first occasion that he meets his Parliament. Unfortunately, this is a matter in which it is dangerous to wait. We all hope that the life of King Edward VII. may be greatly prolonged. Already during his short reign he has given us many occasions and many reasons for gratitude. We are bound to him by every tie of attachment and respect. But, my Lords, all human life is uncertain. If a demise of the Crown takes place there is no help; the Declaration must be taken, because you cannot at that time alter the law. Therefore, my Lords, I do submit that in whatever form it be, by whatever means it is brought about, you must in that respect at least alter this Declaration before the Crown becomes vacant; and if you are going to touch it at all, I am confident there is no Peer among your Lordships who would consent to leave those words, which are insulting to Roman Catholics, in an altered Declaration.


My Lords, I think it may be convenient to your Lordships that before the debate proceeds further something should be said from this Bench as to the manner in which His Majesty's Government regard the Motions which are before your Lordships' House; and I am the more impelled to make such a statement because both the most rev. Primate and the noble Marquess opposite made in the course of their speeches a direct appeal to His Majesty's Government for information as to the manner in which they propose to deal with this most important question. I take it that I shall not be contradicted if I say that in all parts of the House there is a widespread and earnest desire that this question should be settled in a reasonable and temperate manner. Indeed, we can scarcely do otherwise than look back with mortification at what the noble Marquess, I think, called our impotence to deal with this problem. We feel that it is deplorable that this grievance should remain rankling in the minds of the Roman Catholic subjects of the King, and it is particularly deplorable that at the time of the accession of the Sovereign, when men's thoughts are full of loyalty, and hope, and patriotism, their feelings should be distracted and tortured by the kind of doubts to which this question has given rise.

The noble Marquess has stated that His Majesty's Government should deal with the matter themselves. I am almost tempted to reply that the noble Marquess somewhat over-rates the power of the Government of the day to dispose of a question so much controverted as this. The Government of the day is not in the position of a superior authority imposing terms upon two reluctant disputants. There are limitations upon our powers of even suggesting terms to them. Those limitations, to my mind, are in in two directions. In the first place, it is impossible for us to put forward any settlement which is disapproved of by the great body of our Protestant fellow-subjects. I assure the noble Marquess that we deeply appreciate the feelings which he has expressed on behalf of his co-religionists, but the feelings of he Protestant community are not less deep-seated; and no Government, however strong, could trifle with those feelings or force upon the Protestant people of this country a settlement of which in their hearts they disapproved. That is one limitation upon our power to solve the problem; but, my Lords, there is another. I do not believe any Government will find it possible to effect a settlement of this question unless the leaders of public opinion on both sides are able to show us that they have arrived, of their own accord, at the basis of a settlement. It does not seem to me that it is for the Government to discover, still less to dictate, the terms of a compromise; but I do think it is for those who, either on behalf of the Protestant or of the Roman Catholic community, come forward as the leaders of public opinion, to show that they are at any rate within a measurable distance of an agreement on this question.

I ask your Lordships whether, up to the present time, evidence has been forthcoming to show that we are near enough to such an agreement to admit of a hope that it may be brought about? The history of these discussions is recent in your Lordships' minds. We have not forgotten the abortive attempts at legislation that took place in the year 1901; they were to many of us grievously disappointing. In the earlier stages of this discussion it certainly seemed that we were not very far apart. The Protestant community readily admitted that the Declaration was offensive and needed amendment. Roman Catholics, on their side, freely admitted their readiness to maintain the Protestant Succession. Well, your Lordships recollect what happened. We introduced a Bill containing an amended Declaration. The noble Marquess who spoke last read to your Lordships those parts of the Declaration which seemed most offensive to him and his co-religionists.


I beg my noble friend's pardon. I read the parts which related to the King. I did not read a word of the part which relates to Roman Catholics.


The noble Marquess read with great emphasis a long passage comprising fully one-half of the Declaration.


But not the part relating to Roman Catholics.


What I wish to impress upon the House is, that in our Bill of 1901 the passages which the noble Marquess read were expunged from the Declaration which we proposed to your Lordships. Your Lordships recollect the course of the debate that then took place. It became apparent that our proposal, which was criticised by our Protestant friends, was not acceptable to the Roman Catholic Peers, nor indeed to many other Peers. It is quite true, as the noble Duke reminded the House, that Lord Grey, as well as Lord Llandaff, took exception to the terms of the amended Declaration; but there was this that was remarkable in their criticism of it, that they gave us distinctly to understand that they infinitely preferred to keep the old unamended offensive Declaration rather than to substitute for it what I think the noble Lord called a "milk and water" Declaration fortified by the sanction of recent legislation. Well, my Lords, we made our attempt, and in the face of criticism of that kind we had no choice but to abandon it. We naturally ask ourselves whether this evening's discussion has brought us any nearer to an agreement. I listened attentively to the speech of the noble mover, and I ask permission to associate myself with those who have commended the noble Duke for the tone and temper by which his remarks were characterised.

The noble Duke made, I thought, some very important admissions. He told your Lordships that in his view it was reasonable to retain a Declaration, that it must be one which would be effectual for the maintenance of the Protestant Succession, and I think I understood him to add that it must be drawn in terms which would make it perfectly clear that the Sovereign not only was to be a Protestant, but that he was not to be a Roman Catholic. Well, my Lords, I welcome the feelings which led the noble Duke to make that overture to us; but I am obliged to look at the terms of the Resolution he has placed on the Paper, and I observe it is for him a sine qua non that the amended Declaration shall not include the repudiation of any specific doctrine which forms part of the conscientious belief of any of His Majesty's subjects. Now, my Lords, we have to consider what kind of a Declaration that would be in which no repudiation found any place at all. I am one of those who believe— I regret to have to say it—that if we are to have a Declaration, and it is to be an effectual Declaration, it is impossible to avoid in some shape or form a repudiation of certain doctrines. Without such repudiation it seems to me the Declaration would be little more than a feeble echo of the Coronation Oath. In these circumstances is the offer which the noble Duke makes to us— that is, of a Declaration without the language which, in the view of many of us, must contribute to make it effectual — is that an offer which we are able to accept? I fear that I must answer that question in the negative, and that I must say that those who sit near me prefer to vote for the Amendment of the noble Earl. The noble Earl's Amendment came in for criticism on the part of the noble Marquess. He suggested to your Lordships, in effect, that it was little more than a platitude, and that it required some operative words at the end to give it any importance. I do not agree with that. It seems to me that the Amendment of the noble Earl emphasises what we have already affirmed by our attempt at legislation in 1901, our desire to expunge from the Declaration any words which give needless offence to our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. That was our feeling in 1901, and it is our feeling now.

But the real question is whether we can go a little further, and whether the time has come for re opening the investigation of this question, and accepting the suggestion which will be made later in the evening to your Lordships by the noble Lord on the Cross Benches of the appointment of a Committee. I am aware that the Committee of 1901 appeared to many of your Lordships an unsatisfactory and inconclusive inquiry. My impression is that the Committee was given a mandate by this House, and that it carried out its mandate faithfully and conscientiously ; but when I say that, I do not suggest that I cannot conceive of an inquiry which might be fuller and more convincing in its results, and which might during its course elicit, to an extent to which the Committee of 1901 did not elicit, the opinion of Roman Catholic Peers. But again I ask the House whether we shall be well advised to embark upon such an inquiry, unless we could arrive more near an understanding than I am afraid has yet been the case. What I am afraid of is this, that what might be called a fishing inquiry would not only not lead to any result, but might have the effect of further accentuating the differences to which we all desire to give as little prominence as possible. But, my Lords, while we do not see our way this evening to vote for the appointment of a Committee, I am certainly inclined to say that if, as the result of those less formal communications which are so easily made between parties who do not agree in opinion, it should prove to be the case that there really is a common ground upon which such an inquiry can proceed, then we should certainly be glad to see such an inquiry instituted, and all I can say is that if that happy condition of things should arise, no Members of your Lordships' House would be better pleased than His Majesty's Government to see a satisfactory and friendly termination of a difference which we all sincerely regret, and which we all sincerely desire to see removed.


My Lords, I also desire, on behalf of my noble friends who sit on this Bench, to associate myself with what has been said with regard to the speech of the noble Duke who introduced this Motion. We all of us, I think, sympathise with the motives which induced him to re-open this question, and our sympathy was increased by the form and manner of his speech. The noble Duke did not show the slightest trace of bitterness, when some little bitterness would have been, in the opinion of many of us, quite excusable. The noble Duke and the noble Marquess who has just sat down both alluded to the abortive Committee and the abortive attempt at legislation of 1901. The failure of that Committee to reach a conclusion satisfactory to your Lordships was, as a matter of fact, due to a misunderstanding, possibly on the part of the Committee, but also on the part of some Members of your Lordships' House.

When the subject was first raised in March of that year by my noble friend Lord Herries the terms which he employed in his speech led us to suppose that the exception which was taken by Roman Catholic Peers to the Declaration rested mainly upon what Lord Salisbury very properly called the "language of indecent violence" which is to be found in it; and when Lord Herries, in that speech, used the phrase that the desire of Roman Catholics was that the offensive words should be removed, we, the Members of the Committee, understood that it was to the terms of violence that the expression was applied and not to the repudiation of any particular doctrine. It may have been our fault, but I think other members of the Committee will bear me out when I say that it never occurred to those of us who served on the Committee at that time that anything more was demanded of us than the deletion of those particularly offensive expressions.

Now, the issue is a perfectly clear one. It is at any rate admitted by noble Lords who arc Roman Catholics that a Declara-of some kind may be necessary, and the one point at issue is whether that Declaration should contain a specific repudiation of one or two particular Roman Catholic doctrines, or whether no repudiation should appear in it at all. I confess that I am disposed to agree with noble Lords who think it may be found exceedingly difficult to arrive at a form which will stamp the Sovereign as a Protestant without some words of repudiation. What, my Lords, is the definition of a Protestant? A Protestant, I suppose, would describe himself as a member of the Catholic Church who repudiates or protests against certain doctrines which he considers to be accretions upon the Catholic faith; and how, without naming what those accretions are, he can justify his name of Protestant is to me a question of some difficulty. But I do most freely agree that if a form of words could be found which would satisfy ordinary public opinion—I will not say extreme Protestant opinion, but ordinary public opinion—that the Protestant character of the Sovereign was safeguarded by them, I should certainly say that those terms ought to receive the closest consideration from your Lordships' House.

And then the question which the noble Marquess has dealt with arises, how are any further proceedings to be taken in this matter? The noble Marquess gave reasons against the appointment of a Committee to deal with the subject. Well, I am inclined to agree with what fell from my noble friend behind me, that it would be better if His Majesty's Government would undertake the task themselves. They are in a position to obtain the best expert opinion on the subject, they can receive representations from Roman Catholic Peers and from other noble Lords, and from all other persons who are interested in this matter to an extent which I think it would be somewhat difficult for a Committee of your Lordships' House to do. If a Committee were to allow general evidence from religious bodies of all kinds, I fear it would find its task not merely long and troublesome, but also of a kind which would be likely to stir up a good deal of ill-feeling in the country. I should have thought it would have been possible for His Majesty's Government, working, so to speak, behind the scenes, to receive the matured opinions of those most qualified to speak on behalf of different religious bodies, and they would then be able to come down to the House and tell us whether they had been able to get over this particular difficulty of the form of words, and whether they had found it possible to devise some means of ensuring the Protestant character of the Declaration without including the repudiation of different doctrines. It is impossible for us to support the Motion of the noble Duke as it stands; but if he will agree to strike out the last few words of it, stopping at the word "amended" in the third line from the bottom, it appears to me that the Motion might then well appear upon the Journals of your Lordships House, and it would be an encouragement to the Government to proceed with the matter. I may point out that by the omission of the words after "amended" the Motion does not bind your Lordships House either one way or the other, either to include or to strike out the repudiation of specific doctrines.


My Lords, I desire to put before your Lordships a consideration to which no reference has been made, and to make an appeal in the interests of persons whose sensitiveness has been, and is, very seriously wounded. But first, I should like to say a word on another point. Those who know the history of the language of the time are perfectly aware that the word Protestant is a positive and not a negative term. The authorised version of the scriptures makes that perfectly clear. The same statement is true when you look back to the history of the word. In a catechism of 743, the curious question is put, "What is the value of the proposal" to certain persons named? The answer is, "the power of protesting," and it may interest your Lordships to know that the Bishop's power of protest was worth that of 240 ordinary taxpayers. In the actual wording of the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement there is no sort of antithesis between Protestant and Catholic. Your Lordships are perfectly aware that Protestant as an adjective is in antithesis to Popish, and Protestant as a substantive is in antithesis to the Papacy.

But I wish to make an appeal in the interests of those whose sensitiveness has been and is being very seriously wounded —I need hardly say that I mean the members of the Church of England. There are two sides to this question. I sympathise most heartily with the noble Duke and all of his communion in this House, and I shall be very glad indeed if, in the ripeness of time to which the noble Marquess at the head of His Majesty's Government has referred, we could, with one accord, join in getting rid of the objectionable words in the Declaration. But there is another side to the question. We of the Church of England are under the ban of the spiritual sovereign of the other communion; I am assured that all of us are excommunicated. Do your Lordships know what this means? I will read the actual phrase printed in a London newspaper at the time of the death of Archbishop Benson. I apologise to the noble Duke and to the noble Marquess opposite by name, and to all Members of your Lordships' House for having to read such a sentence from the gutter Press of the time— An old heretic absolutely hung round with a catena of interdicts and excommunications, whose sole hope of salvation rests upon a miraculous and invincible ignorance of God's.truth. Then, again, as a Bishop and priest of the Church of England, I am told by the spiritual sovereign of that communion, and in our own generation, that my orders are invalid; that the members of the Church of England have not been rightly confirmed, nor have ever received the Holy Eucharist, and, from the Sovereign downwards, we are all excommunicate and with without sacraments. I say that my whole soul revolts against that most terrible statement as being as insulting to me as anything complained of by the noble Duke can possibly be insulting to the members of his faith.

One more example. Take the case of mixed marriages. In our own generation there has been a serious change made in this matter. I remember the time when, if a Roman Catholic married one of our Church, they went naturally to both Churches; the sons were brought up in the religion of the father, and the girls in the religion of the mother. All that has been changed, and now if a Roman Catholic marries a member of the Church of England he is absolutely for-bidden—so I am told by the highest authority—to enter the Church of the other partner, even if for the comfort of that other partner, and to receive the blessings of the Church on the union. I am also told that the requirement now made is that all the children born of such marriages shall be brought up in the Roman Catholic communion. I say, my Lords, that I should be thankful to take part in the ripeness of time in removing the words complained of in the Declaration, but I do say this, that if the time is to become ripe we must bear in mind not only the very sensitive people who feel sensitive, but that we should ask in their sensitiveness whether some regard should not be paid to the sensitiveness of other persons. As far as hardship and insult are concerned, I believe that the Protestants are the aggrieved persons, and it in not from them that any relaxation in the direction indicated should at first come.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words with regard to what has just fallen from the right rev. Prelate. I think he introduced into the few remarks he made to your Lordships matters which are hardly relevant to the question before us. If I was asked to pass an opinion, I should say that I consider he is quite safe, because he is evidently convincingly ignorant. The question before us is, What are we to do in the circumstances in which we are at present? I think we may be satisfied that almost the whole of your Lordships are in favour of some amendment of the Royal Declaration. The only question before us is how far it should be amended, and here I would like to say that I think the noble Marquess the Leader of your Lord ships' House is under some slight misconception as to the attitude which was taken up by the Catholic Members of this House when the Bill was brought before your Lordships which proposed to amend the Royal Declaration. Not a single Roman Catholic Peer voted against the Second Reading of that Bill. It is quite true that we complained that our articles of belief were inserted against our approval, but we did not oppose the Second Reading; and, as far I am individually concerned, I should have preferred that the Bill had passed and that the Royal Declaration had been amended in that form than that it should remain as at present. I do not think it is fair to say that we were so hostile to the Bill that it was evident it could not be proceeded with.

I would like to refer to a speech made ninety years ago which, I think, meets the case in point, because we are told that it is absolutely necessary that certain specific doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church should be condemned in order that the public might be sure that the King was a Protestant. The words I would quote were by Mr. Canning. I do not think anyone will consider that Mr. Canning was in any way inclined to the Roman Catholic religion. In 1813 Mr. Canning said that to continue these enactments against transubstantiation when it was no longer, as it once was, a symbol of dangerous politics, was as absurd as that I of having had occasion to advertise a runaway felon and to describe him by his red hair, you should for all time characterise red hair as a crime. The Protestant Succession is sufficiently secured without any condemnation of this sort.

After the speeches we have heard today I must say I am rather inclined to assent to what has been proposed by my noble friend Lord Crewe, namely, that the noble Duke should leave out the words after "amended" and be satisfied if the House would adopt his Resolution down to that word ; and if, after this, your Lord-ships would go further and agree to the Amendment which is to be moved by the noble Lord on the Cross Benches, Lord Stanmore, I think the end which we have in view, which is that this matter should be further considered, will be attained. I have risen for the purpose of appealing to the noble Duke to be content with moving his Resolution down to the words "shall be amended," and to appeal to your Lordships to agree to the proposal to be submitted by Lord Stanmore, so as to secure the appointment of a Committee to consider this matter.


My Lords, after the expressions of opinion we have heard I think it is clear that the vast majority of your Lordships do feel that a change must be carried out. The Government shrink from the responsibility of doing it, but hope people in private may mature things so that some action on their part might become more possible than the noble Marquess regards it at present. I do not know how my noble friend Lord Jersey would regard the Motion if I accepted the suggestion to leave out all the words after the word "amended," and whether he would then withdraw his Amendment. I feel the justice of what Lord Jersey said. He said, in effect, "We all wish to amend this. Why do you insist on committing us to the statement that nothing will be accepted which includes the condemnation or repudiation of specific doctrines? Why not leave it to a Committee to deal with the matter?" I feel the force of that, and therefore I do not wish to press my Motion to a division and try to commit your Lordships—partly because I think it is clear you are determined not to be committed— to the statement in the latter part of my Motion. I do not know what position Lord Jersey would take up if I accepted the suggestion which has been thrown out by Lord Crewe.


My Lords, I intervene only for a moment to deprecate the alteration of Motions by suggestions made across the floor of the House, the full effect of which may not be immediately apparent. The suggestion is that all which appears in the earlier part of the Motion should be retained, and only the last three lines omitted. It will be observed that in the earlier part of the Motion it is stated that— Whereas, in addition to these securities, the Sovereign is required, immediately after his accession, to make a Declaration, commonly called the Declaration against Transubstantiation, which is deeply and needlessly offensive to many millions of loyal subjects of His Majesty, this House is of opinion that the Declaration aforesaid ought to be amended. I am quite sure that I speak truly the feeling of a great number of our Protestant fellow-subjects when I say that any amendment which would negative the positive disavowal of the Roman Catholic faith would be what this country would not accept, and acceptance of this suggested Amendment would be an assumption by your Lordships that that is what the country would accept. What the Protestant people of this country desire is that there should be a Declaration such as no honest person could take if he were a Roman Catholic, and which therefore forms an additional security for the Protestant Succession. I do not wish to go into what happened on the previous occasion, but I think Lord Herries is a little mistaken in regard to what took place in connection with the abandonment of the Bill by His Majesty's Government. My noble friend Lord Llandaff expressly stated, and his statement was not repudiated by anybody at the time, that he would prefer that the coarse and violent language in which the Declaration was contained should be retained than that it should be so amended that it should still retain the power of repudiating doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church; and it was upon that that my noble friend the late Lord Salisbury stated that it was impossible for His Majesty's Government, in the circumstances, to endeavour to pass the Bill. It appears to me that the acceptance of a new form of Motion today would be dangerous, and I hope your Lordships will not acquiesce in any such course.


My Lords, as I have already stated, I am prepared to withdraw my Motion in favour of the Amendment of the Earl of Jersey. It reaffirms the opinion of your Lordships' House that the Declaration ought to be amended, and I trust that it will be followed by the acceptance of Lord Stan-more's Motion, and that the Government will appoint a Committee.

On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Motion," resolved in the negative.

Words inserted.

Resolution, as amended, agreed to.


My Lords, I now rise to move the Amendment of which I have given notice, namely, that a Select Committee be appointed to consider whether any unnecessarily offensive words may not be expunged from the Declaration, without incurring the danger contemplated. My Motion as it appears to me, is the only logical and reasonable complement and fulfilment of the Resolution which the House has just adopted. That Resolution contains two propositions, the one that the King's Declaration made upon his accession ought not to contain words unnecessarily offensive; the other that nothing should be done to impair the security of the Protestant Succession to the Crown. But there the Resolution stops. The only logical conclusion to it is to attempt to find some mode of reconciling the two propositions there put forward. That task I believe to be not impossible, and easier, instead of more difficult, now than it was a year ago.

The noble Earl who moved the Resolution which has now been adopted, said, among other things, that it was not for him to say whether this was or was not the time suitable for appointing a Committee of Investigation. Why not, I should like to know. The noble Earl is as independent a Member of your Lordships' House as any noble Lord present, and it is surely as open to him as it is to any other of your Lordships to say whether in his opinion the formation of a Committee to discuss this question is desirable or undesirable. I cannot conceive why he should leave that point without an expression of opinion of his own. But, however that may be, we have advanced, I think, some way towards agreement. The offensiveness of certain of the expressions used in the King's Declaration is admitted generally by Members on both sides of the House and of all shades of opinion. On the other hand, the opinion of the House that nothing should be done to impair the security of the Protestant Succession is equally clear. Therefore it remains to be seen by what process we can best arrive at harmonising those two propositions. Surely the way in which that could be most effectually effected is by the constitution of a Committee of this House— a Committee not like the one which three years ago sat for a few minutes to consider a previously prepared document brought before it to be adopted almost without discussion, but a Committee upon which representatives of those who feel aggrieved by the expressions in the Declaration should be present — upon which Prelates of the Established Church, which is said to be threatened by any alteration of the Declaration, should also sit—a Committee composed of men from both sides of the House, impartial and experienced, who would give, not ten minutes or so, but a full and careful consideration to the question what words could be expunged without danger, and what words could be retained without offence.

Personally, I should be glad to see the Declaration altogether abolished, because I regard it as a mischievous anachronism —an anachronism, because the main object of its imposition upon the Crown was to prevent the exercise by a Roman Catholic of executive power then personally exercised by the King. But that executive power the King no longer exercises. It is now exercised by the Cabinet of the day, and if there is really an apprehension on the part of the British public against entrusting executive administration to Roman Catholic hands, that Declaration which the Sovereign makes should be required also from every member of the Cabinet on his becoming a confidential adviser of the Crown. But, as a matter of fact, that apprehension is no longer entertained. People are not now so sensitive as they used to be as to Roman Catholics occupying this or that office. There is hardly any of the highest offices of the State to which a Roman Catholic may not now aspire, and during the last twenty years no less than three different Secretary ships of State have been held by Roman Catholics. One of them held the Home Secretary ship, in which Department the executive power of the Crown in almost all that relates to executive administration in this country is vested. Those powers were admirably administered by a Roman Catholic, namely, by my noble friend Lord Llandaff. And what was the result of that appointment? Was there a panic created throughout England? Was there a general alarm at this executive power being placed in the hands of a Roman Catholic? Not at all. It was regarded with the utmost calmness. It caused no ruffle on the surface of society. Everybody knew that the interests of the Crown were as safe in those hands as in those of the sternest Prostestant.

But that is not the question before the House. I have stated my personal opinion that it is clear that the great majority of this House, and I believe the great majority of the country, desire that a Declaration of the King's Protestant belief should be retained. The only question then that remains is to render that Declaration as little offensive as may be to members of another faith. Now, if such a Committee as I have suggested be appointed, I think it would not only be not impossible, but really not very difficult, to arrive at a form of words which, on the one hand, would ensure the Protestantism of the King, and, on the other, would remove from the Declaration all that is offensive to Roman Catholics. I cannot understand, I confess, the position of the Government on this question. My noble friend the noble Marquess [Lord Ripon] and the most rev Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, say it is for the Government to initiate this matter. But the Government do not seem to accept that responsibility.

I hold that you will find in such a Committee as I have suggested the easiest, the best, and the safest way of arriving at an agreement or of discovering that an agreement is impossible. If the Committee do arrive at an agreement this question is then harmoniously settled, which your Lordships may be well assured the mere passing of the noble Earl's Resolution will certainly not effect. That Resolution will certainly not set the question at rest permanently. If, on the other hand, the Committee should really find out that the Protestant Succession to the Crown rests on so narrow a basis, on so insecure a foundation, that the omission of two or three words from the Declaration is likely to bring it to the ground with a crash, then at least those who object to any alteration will have a better ground for maintaining their j argument than they have at present. I say, therefore, that in the interests of both parties the appointment of such a Committee is desirable. I would only add that it seems to me the conduct of His Majesty's Government with regard to this matter like that of a spoilt and pouting child. They have said, "We, acknowledge that something should be done, we have proposed something to you to be done, but as you have rejected our prescription you shall not try any other." I say, now that the Government prescription has gone, let us try the prescription of referring the matter to a large Committee, well and carefully appointed, and let them thresh the matter 1 out by seriously considering what words are justly objected to, and what words must necessarily be retained. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.

Amendment moved— To add the following words to the Resolution, and that a Select Committee be appointed to consider whether any unnecessarily offensive words may not be expunged from the King's Declaration without incurring such danger."—(Lord Stanmore.)


My Lords, I must confess that I regret the line which His Majesty's Government took with regard to the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Crewe, namely, to omit the last three lines of the noble Duke's Motion; and if the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack will allow me to say so, I doubt the accuracy of his suggestion of order in that matter, because both in this House and in the other House, I have known cases constantly happen in which, by leave of the House, movers of Resolutions have been allowed to slightly alter the terms of those Resolutions before they moved them.


The noble Lord is mistaken. I never said it was out of order.


I beg the noble and learned Earl's pardon. I misunderstood him. I am sorry His Majesty's Government did not see their way to accept the amended Resolution in preference to the one moved by Lord Jersey; and for this reason, that the amended Resolution of the noble Duke would have given some definite conclusion for the House to arrive at. By passing that Resolution the House would have distinctly affirmed the desirablity of amending the Declaration as it now stands. The Resolution that we have now before us to amend, moved by Lord Jersey, suggests nothing at all. It leaves the whole question hung up without any suggestion being made. That, I think, is unfortunate, because from what I could gather, listening carefully to all the admirable speeches that have been made in the House to-day, there is practically unanimity that it is desirable, if possible, to amend this Declaration. I therefore say, my Lords, that it is almost the necessary consequence of our debate that further steps should be taken by way of appointing some sort of inquiry, whether it be by a Committee of this House or a Joint Committee of both Houses, or by a Royal Commission, to determine what further steps should be taken and whether some agreement could not be arrived at between the parties.

The noble Marquess said he thought that before the Government could consent to a Committee there should be some definite sign of a drawing together of the various parties to this discussion. I think my noble friend, Lord Herries, has tonight given a very considerable indication that there is such a drawing together. I think his speech distinctly showed that there was a desire on the part of the Catholic Peers, as voiced by my noble friend, to endeavour to come to terms with other parties in this House who desire to see the Declaration amended. I am not, of course, in a position to speak with authority in the matter, but I should hope very much that, supposing a Committee either of this House or of the two Houses was constituted, we should find Catholic Peers willing to take their seats on that Committee and to give to it the benefit of their advice and knowledge. On all grounds I would earnestly press on His Majesty's Government to complete the work of to-night by consenting to such a step being taken as will secure a further consideration of the matter from all its lights, and with the assistance of all parties.


My Lords, I agree with almost every word in the earlier part of the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down. The noble Lord told us that we were in the awkward position of having come to a Resolution which had no definite conclusion, and then he went on to recommend that the Resolution should be the basis of the appointment of a Committee. I should have drawn just the opposite conclusion, and should have ventured to urge that if this House thinks it right to appoint a Committee to consider so grave and important a subject as this, it should give that Committee some much clearer mandate than it can find in the Resolution now before the House. Although the noble Lord who has just sat down does not attach any importance to the argument, I confess I am very much impressed by what has been said by the noble Marquess the Leader of this House as to the absolute necessity, before anything can be done in this matter, that some rapprochement between the various parties should be arrived at. I am not at this hour going to detain your Lordships with any further remarks, but I wish to take the opportunity of testing the feeling of the House upon this question, and therefore I venture to move "the previous Question." I trust we shall be willing to adopt that course as marking on the one hand our sense of the importance of the subject, and on the other our utter incapacity of dealing with it at the present moment.

Moved, The previous Question.—(The Duke of Northumberland.)


I submit I that Lord Stanmore's Motion does give a distinct mandate. It says— To consider whether any unnecessarily offensive words may not be expunged from the King's Declaration without incurring such danger.


My Lords, perhaps it is due to the House that I should explain the view His Majesty's Government take of the Motion which has been made by the noble Duke (the Duke of Northumberland). I do not agree with the criticisms which have been made by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Tweed-mouth), nor do I agree with the criticisms of the noble mover of this particular Amendment. Lord Tweed-mouth seemed to think that the Resolution to which the House has just come was an unsatisfactory Resolution. I cannot agree with him. It seems to me to be an expression of the opinion of the House in very felicitous language. In the first place, we express the opinion that we do not desire to see anything in the Declaration which is offensive to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, and, on the other hand, we assert our conviction that nothing must be done to injure the security of the Protestant Succession.

Neither can I agree that His Majesty's Government have failed to provide any prescription for the ill which the whole House admits. It is well known that on the last occasion—namely, last year—on which this subject was discussed in your Lordships' House, the then Leader of the House (the Duke of Devonshire) declared that the offer which the Government had previously made was still open, if that offer recommended itself to those who were interested in the subject. And, my Lords, that brings me to remind your Lordships that that offer was the outcome of the recommendation of a Committee. Well, the offer failed. That is to say, we have tried a Committee, and a Committee has not succeeded, and now we are asked to try another Committee. The Government naturally hesitate before assenting to the appointment of a Committee, which course has already been prescribed, and has failed to effect a are. But we do not desire, of course, to take such an attitude as would absolutely close the door. My noble friend, the Leader of the House, has already explained to your Lordships that he is not without hope that an approximation of view between the two extreme sides of opinion on this question may be brought about, and I can assure your Lordships that if any such communications as the noble Marquess referred to reach His Majestycs Government, we shall receive them with the greatest respect, and with every But it is clear we have not reached that point yet.


Why not?


The noble Lord opposite asks me why not. I have explained to him that there is no such approximation of view at present. If the noble Lord wishes me to go back into the arguments which have just been engaging your Lordships I will do so, but I think it is clearer from the speech of the noble Earl (Lord Crewe) than from that of anybody else, that there is a profound difference of opinion as to the way in which this subject ought to be approached. The noble Earl explained that what was essential in the Declaration as it stood was dissociation from the Roman Catholic position; that is to say, the mere assertion of adhesion to the Protestant faith was not, in his opinion, sufficient.


What I said was that, like the most rev. Primate, I found it difficult to conceive the possibility of finding words which would express the Sovereign's adherence to the Protestant faith without such repudiation, but I said that I hoped such words could be found.


At any rate, the noble Earl experienced great difficulty, and nothing that had been said in this debate had solved the difficulty, in his opinion. I think, therefore, that I am justified in saying that the difficulties have not been swept away, and that the time for appointing a Committee has not arrived. We shall cordially support the proposal of the noble Duke behind me, which will have the effect of not closing the door, and will at the same time prevent your Lordships from arriving at any decision.


My Lords, I should like to say a single word as to the ground on which alone I can support the noble Duke's Amendment. It is because the Government suggest that it is the best course for us to pursue, with a view to arriving at a solution of what is an admitted difficulty. If I understand rightly the speech of the noble Marquess who has just sat down, His Majesty's Government accepts the responsibility of ultimately having to deal with this matter, provided the preliminary steps can be taken which they have themselves suggested. That being so, I certainly think that we ought to adopt their advice as to the mode in which it is desirable to proceed. But if the previous Question means shelving this matter altogether, and saying that we are not to hear any more about it, and that those epithets which we all regard as so undesirable are to remain in the Declaration, then I could not vote for the noble Duke's proposition. It is on the other understanding that I shall be prepared to vote for it.


My Lords, as I understand it, the House has now distinctly affirmed the principle that it is desirous that no expressions unnecessarily hurtful to Roman Catholics shall be contained in the Declaration. Having brought this matter forward, I feel bound to express my thanks to the House for having affirmed that, although it falls short of the decision I had hoped might have been come to. It seems to me that the obvious thing to do now is to appoint a Committee. That is the only logical position. If His Majesty's Government shrink from that, and if, as I understand, they pledge themselves—




I understood the noble Marquess, the Lord Privy Seal, to say that if a rapprochement could be brought about which would produce something like a settlement, His Majesty's Government would consider it, and do their best to secure its realisation.


What was said as to the position of His Majesty's Government in regard to a rapprochement was that, if conclusive evidence of such a rapprochement were within our knowledge, we should then be prepared to consider the question of appointing a Committee, but that in the absence of such evidence we felt bound to oppose the Motion of the noble Lord.


My Lords, I should like to observe that the noble Marquess, the Lord Privy Seal, can hardly be aware of the terms of the amended Declaration as brought before the House by the Committee of 1901. If he will refresh his memory on that point, I think he will see that the amended Declaration was very nearly as objectionable as the original Declaration; and it was more objectionable in one respect. It is sometimes more possible to put up with something old which you have inherited, and for which you are not responsible, than to put up with something new for which you are responsible; and it certainly appeared to me that the result of the labours of the Committee, as shown in the Declaration which they brought forward, was at all events in that latter respect much more objectionable than the Declaration we have been considering to-day.


I did not say that the amended Declaration was perfect. My point was to call attention to the fact that the prescription of a Committee had been tried and had failed.


Yes, but I would point out to the noble Marquess that it does not follow that, because one Committee has failed, a wiser Committee would not succeed. I should like also to remind the noble Marquess that there is a most remarkable circumstance connected with this whole subject, and that is the difference between what people say in public and what they say in private. I have not met anyone in private who has not admitted that the Declaration is offensive and superfluous, but when they come to talk about the matter in public, they appear to be so dreadfully intimidated by the fear of Orange opposition that they lose all their common sense. It has been mentioned already this afternoon, but I think it might be mentioned again, that at this particular moment there is nothing whatever to prevent every single Member of the House of Commons and of this House being a Roman Catholic.

There is another fact to which I should like to draw attention, which throws a good deal of light upon the sincerity of the arguments which have been adduced, and upon the real weight that lies behind them. I believe that most of the Noncomformist bodies, to whom much of the opposition to this proposal is due, and certainly the great mass of the Liberal Party have all committed themselves to the position that to impose a test upon any teacher in any school supported by public funds is a thing not to be tolerated. Look at the consequence of that in regard to a teacher who is to teach religion. That teacher may be a Roman Catholic, and yet no danger arises to the child; but in the case of the King, who teaches nobody, and whose religious opinions will not affect, probably, a single one of his subjects, we are at once told that the whole situation is in danger if the King is to be—what? —to be relieved of his Coronation Oath?— No—to be relieved of the provisions of the Act of Settlement?—No.but merely to be relieved of a test which is admitted to be offensive,

which is not necessary, and which puts the King in a most disagreeable position, compelling him to do that which is most disagreeable and offensive, not only to his Roman Catholic subjects, but, despite the presence of the right rev. Prelate who spoke a short time ago—the Lord Bishop of Bristol—to all well-instructed Christians, who are not the victims of ignorance and prejudice.

Last year we heard with very great pleasure a statement from the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury that he did not think it impossible to devise a form of words which should not condemn or repudiate specific doctrines, and we hoped, after that statement, that the most rev. Primate, in conjunction with the noble Duke who brought this subject before your Lordships to-day, might have been able to arrive at such a modified Declaration as might be passed by the agreement of the whole House. I ask, if such a course is a desirable one, and one which we all wished to see carried out, how can we arrive at it except by the appointment of a Committee? I earnestly hope your Lordships will see your way to pass the addition moved by the noble Lord on the Cross Benches, for it is not to the credit of this House that an important question of this kind should be pushed on one side for fear of opposition which has only to be looked in the face for it to be seen how little importance there is in it.

On Question, their Lordships divided:— Contents, 36; Not-contents, 103.

Norfolk, D. (E. Marshall) Westmeath, E. Cage, L. (V. Gage)
Fife, D. Granard, L. (E. Granard)
Grafton, D. Halifax, V. Grey de Ruthyn, L.
Llandaff, V. Heneage, L.
Kipon, M. Herries, L. [Teller]
Killanin, L.
Arundell of Wardour, L. Leigh, L.
Abingdon, E. Brampton, L. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Camperdown, E. Braye, L. Newton, L.
Carlisle, E. Burghelere, L. North, L.
Crewe, E. Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Feversham, E. Dormer, L. Stanmore, L. [Teller]
Gainsborough, E. Dunning, L. (L. Rollo) Sudley, L. (E. Arran)
Kimberley, E. Emly, L. Tweedmouth, L.
Canterbury, L. Abp. Northumberland, D. Lansdowne, M.
Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor) Wellington, D. Winchester, M.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry) (L. President) Abereorn, M. (D. Abercorn) Zetland, M.
Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal) Ailesbury, M.
Bath, M. Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward)
Marlborough, D. Bristol, M.
Viscount Halifax.
Clarendon, E.(L. Chamberlain) Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore) Harris, L.
Albemarle, E. Hatherton, L.
Amherst, E. Portman, V. Hawkesbury, L.
Carnwath, E. Hothfield, L.
Cawdor, E. Kenyon, L.
Chichester, E. Bristol, L. Bp. Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll)
Coventry, E. London, L. Bp. Kinnaird, L.
Dartmouth, E. Ripon, L. Bp. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore)
Dartrey, E. Addington, L. Lawrence, L.
Hardwicke, E. Allerton, L. Lindley, L.
Harewood, E. Alverstone, L. Maenaghten, L.
Harrowby, E. Amherst of Hackney, L. Middleton, L.
Jersey, E. Ashcombe, L. Monek, L. (V. Monck)
Lindsey, E. Bateman, L. Monckton, L. ( V. Galway)
Mansfield, E. Belper, L. Mostyn, L,
Morton, E. Blythswood, L. Napier, L.
Mount Edgcumbe, E. Calthorpe, L. Newlands, L.
Northesk, E. Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort) Ormathwaite, L.
Onslow, E. Chelmsford, L. Raglan, L.
Portsmouth, E. Cheylesmore, L. Ravensworth, L.
Roberts, E. Clanwilliam, L(E. Clanwilliam) Robertson, L.
Romney, E. Colchester, L. Saltoun, L.
Rosse, E. Congleton, L. Scarsdale, L.
Saint Germans, E. Cottesloe, L. Tenterden, L.
Selborne, E. De L' Isle and Dudley, L. Tredegar, L.
Stradbroke, E. Douglas, L. (E. Home) Wenlock, L.
Waldegrave, E. [Teller] Dunboyne, L. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Ellenborongh, L. Wimborne, L.
Forester, L. Windsor, L.
Churchill, V. [Teller] Glanusk, L. Wolverton, L.
Cross, V. Greville, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.