§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3:
§ Savings relating to the Church of England and saving of rights of title.
§ 3.—Nothing in this Act nor the repeal of any enactments or parts thereof specified in the Schedule thereof shall in any way 1582 alter, add to, or abridge the law relating to services, acts, matters, or things performed or done in any church or chapel of the established Church of England or relating to clergy or ministers of the said established Church of England, or relating to any right of presentation to any benefice or other ecclesiastical living or office in the established Church of England.
§ Nothing herein contained shall adversely affect the title to properties which were vested in the Crown by the Statute, 1 Eliz., cap. 24.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
moved, after "Church of England," where those words last occur, to insert "or authorise the carrying of the Host in procession through the streets." The noble Lord said: I fully realise the delicate task before me in moving this Amendment, especially as I have many Roman Catholic friends and relations. The Amendment is not put forward in any hostile spirit and I will deal with the subject as reverently as may be in my power. I think I ought to explain in the first place what the Host is for the benefit of those of your Lordships who may not know. I am given to understand—my noble friend will correct me if I am wrong—that it is a wafer consecrated by the priest and thereupon, according to the Roman Catholic faith, it becomes the body of our Lord. That doctrine, of course, is diametrically opposed to all other creeds in this country. Members of the Roman Catholic church naturally look upon the Host as particularly venerable and their Church commands its followers to uncover and kneel as it passes by. It is much to be feared that if Protestants do not do the same assaults may occur. Furthermore it is feared, having regard to the very strong Protestant feeling in the country, that disturbances will very likely take place, even if there is not actual violence, in the event of such processions being legalised. At all events I submit that great bitterness of feeling would be likely to be engendered on both sides which would be deplorable.
Clause 3, page 2, line 5, at end insert ("or authorise the carrying of the Host in procession through the streets").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)
§ VISCOUNT FITZALAN OF DERWENT
I thank my noble friend for having given me private notice of his Amendment, of which otherwise I probably should not have been aware. I regret that there was not time for it to appear on the Paper in 1583 the ordinary way, but we have to accept the exigencies of Parliamentary business. I cannot possibly accept my noble friend's Amendment because the whole purpose of this Bill is to remove disabilities and restrictions and this Amendment would create a new restriction. These processions—let me tell my noble friend that he was perfectly correct in the description he gave—are held now all over the country every year. The only point connected with them which is dealt with in this Bill is the removal of the existing liability of a Roman Catholic priest who takes part in these processions in his canonicals, in his habit, to a fine of £50 for so doing. As regards the processions, I repeat that they are held throughout the country every year.
I would ask your Lordships also to consider whether the whole point is not sufficiently guarded under Clause 2 of the Bill. These processions do not take place now except by leave of the police, nor will they under this Bill. No change whatever is made in the present arrangement as regards these or any other religious processions They are the custom and in no circumstances whatever would they take place without the permission of the local authorities and the police. My noble friend seems rather anxious for our care in this matter, but I can assure him we are really old enough to take care of ourselves in this regard. Naturally, with processions of this kind, sacred processions which my noble friend has described, we should not want or dare to run a risk in the matter. We should never do anything at all in this direction without the leave and the sanction of the local authority and the police.
I must remind your Lordships with regard to this Amendment that, as I told your Lordships the other day, a similar Amendment to this was attempted to be moved in another place and was declared by Mr. Speaker to be out of order. It is true the actual words of the Amendments are not the same, but the intention is. I will read the words of that proposed Amendment—In page 1, line 11, after the word 'shall,' to insert the words 'be deemed to authorise or make lawful any public procession 1584 carrying and exposing for adoration or religious worship any image or other object of religious adoration in or through any street or public place whatsoever.'I submit that the Amendment proposed by my noble friend is precisely similar to the one I have just read out. Mr. Speaker's words on that Amendment were these:—The next Amendment, I am afraid, is not in order. It is outside the scope of the clause and I think also would have been outside the scope of the Bill as a whole.I quite admit that our proceedings here are not dependent on the proceedings in another place and I should be one of the last to suggest that we should be in any way at all so dependent. But I would suggest that we ought to consider whether to pass an Amendment of this character, which has been declared by the Speaker in another place to be out of order, would be wise. I doubt whether it would be wise and I doubt whether it would even be polite. I hope, therefore, that my noble friend will not press the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
In view of what my noble friend has said I am in somewhat of a dilemma. I promised faithfully those societies that are interested in this subject to press this Amendment to a Division. Therefore I am afraid I must do so.
§ THE EARL OF BALFOUR
I must say that I hope my noble friend will not interpret his pledges—I do not know what the pledges are or to what body they were given—as requiring the House, in this very unexpected fashion, to deal with a subject which must inevitably be one of embittered religious controversy. The other House of Parliament was declared by the highest authority to be incapable of dealing with that subject in connection with this Bill. I imagine that under our rules there is no authority which can make a similar pronouncement, but I do think it would be very unfortunate if the unanimity which marked all our proceedings in the earlier stages of the Bill were so violently upset as must necessarily be the case if an Amendment of this character is pressed at this stage. If my noble friend could find it consistent with his obligations to those outside this House—of which, of course, I cannot judge—to withdraw the Amendment, or not to press it to a Division, I 1585 am sure that he would be acting in harmony with what I believe to be the general spirit of those who have been dealing with this Bill hitherto.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
After what the noble Earl has said, I feel that I am really forced not to take the matter any further. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ Remaining Clause agreed to.
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ Bill reported without amendment.