§ Mr. Fox Maule
wished to ask whether the Government had made up their minds to take up the subject on which almost the existence of the Scotch church depended, or whether they intended to allow the dis- 1428 cussion on the hon. Member for Argyle-shire's bill to come on on Monday.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, the House would remember, that at the commencement of the Session, a question was put to him as to whether it was the intention of the Government to bring forward any measure to put a stop to matters which so seriously disturbed the Church of Scotland. He then stated, that after the most careful review of the subject, the Government had determined not to introduce any measure on the subject. So matters stood until the hon. Member for Argyleshire moved for leave to bring in a bill on the subject. The Government did not oppose the introduction of that measure, but a discussion took place, in which it was plainly intimated that to its principle her Majesty's Government was opposed, and that, at a future stage, they would consider it their duty to oppose its enactment. The consequence of that was, that communications were made to the Government from Scotland, which led the present Government to entertain a hope, not very confident, however, that legislative measures, founded on such principles as the Government would be able to support, might conduce to the peace of Scotland, and to the settlement of the disputed points. He had stated to the House that as matters stood at the time, he could not pledge himself to the introduction of such a measure, but that it would be the duty of Government very carefully to consider the representations made to them on the subject before they finally decided. That was on the eve of the meeting of the general assembly of Scotland. That assembly embodied the views of the general Church of Scotland. At the meetings of the assembly proceedings took place which were known to the House, and which he might be permitted to say he deeply deplored, though he would not characterise them by any harsh terms. Yet after careful reflection, he was bound to state to the House that the hope he had originally entertained on the subject had perished, and that Government stood in the same position with respect to the question as at the commencement of the Session. He could not hold out any expectation on the part of the Government, of any measure which would produce those effects which would alone justify their interference in the matter. Under these circumstances, it was open to the 1429 hon. Member for Argyleshire to move the second reading of his bill on Wednesday next, when an opportunity would be afforded for full explanation and further discussion on the subject. He therefore thought it would be inexpedient, particularly as the question which had been put to him had been so carefully limited, to enter on the present occasion upon anything like argument on the subject. However, he might be allowed to be explicit upon another point, namely, that it was the intention of Government to oppose the second reading of the bill.
§ Sir A. L. Hay
said, that there was a document in existence respecting these proceedings alluded to by the right hon. Baronet, called the claims of right, and which was of a most important nature. He wished to ask whether, before the House proceeded to discuss the bill of the hon. Member for Argyleshire on Wednesday, the right hon. Baronet would have any objection to request her Majesty to lay a copy of this paper on the Table of the House.
§ Sir James Graham
was not then prepared to answer the question of the hon. and gallant Member, as no notice had been given that such a question would have been put.
§ Mr. Fox Maule
wished to ask the hon. Member for Argyleshire, whether he intended to move the second reading of his bill on Wednesday.