§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he had an Amendment to propose. The Bill itself, which, contrary to usual practice, had been circulated among Members, was a perfect curiosity. It recited no less than twelve Acts of Parliament, most, if not all of which, he believed, had been repealed by subsequent Acts of Parliament. Among them was the 25th of Charles II., 664 which required an oath against Transubstantiation. Another required a declaration that the signer would upon no pretence take up arms against the King; and yet in 1688 all classes took up arms to get rid of a tyrant. There was a declaration against the oath called the Solemn League, and an Act of the 30th of Charles II. disabled Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament. Another Act extorted an oath not to injure the Church. He would, therefore, beg to move the Amendment of which he had given notice.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "considering the long period during which yearly Indemnity Bills have passed, on account of the non-compliance with the requirements of Acts of Parliament made and passed in times of political excitement and trouble (some of them two hundred years ago), imposing oaths and declarations as stated in the Indemnity Bill, a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report first of all whether a complete and effectual Indemnity can be given by Parliament for all omissions to the present time; and, in the next place, whether the time has not arrived to repeal so many of the said requirements as are useless and no longer required for the present times,"—(Mr. Hadfield)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, that whatever objections might be offered to the oaths and declarations to which the hon. Member referred, there was nothing antiquated in the present declarations. As far as he knew, there was no declaration at present in force of an earlier date than 1828, when the old declaration against Transubstantiation was repealed, and another form of declaration enacted instead. In the same manner the old oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration were repealed in 1858, and a short oath appointed in lieu of them. The mistake which the hon. Member made was in supposing that because those oaths and declarations were repealed, therefore the original Acts imposing them were also repealed. That was not so; the Acts remained in force, and they had to be read as if they contained the new form of declaration or oath. He very much agreed with the hon. Member in his desire to see the repeal of the Acts themselves; he did not believe that any of the security which the Church or State had enjoyed during 665 the last 100 years was derived from their existence on the statute-book. He, however, could not understand why the hon. Member proposed an Amendment to this Bill, because it took the same direction as the hon. Gentleman desired to go, the only difference being that it did yearly what the hon. Member desired to see done once and for all. If the Committee were appointed, it would be impossible to pass the Indemnity Bill this Session, and great inconvenience would result from the old Acts being revived. He suggested that if the hon. Member thought it better to proceed by way of Committee than by a Bill, as he had hitherto done, he should move, next Session, for the appointment of a Select Committee, a course to which the House would probably assent; but the effect of referring this Bill to a Select Committee would be altogether to prevent it passing this Session. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. SOTHERON ESTCOURT
said, he hoped the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment, for unless he did so the Indemnity Bill might run the risk of not passing this year. Surely the hon. Member did not intend that the persons who had not taken the oaths should be liable to the pains and penalties to which they would be subjected unless the Bill passed into law. If the hon. Member would next Session bring forward the grievances which he believed persons laboured under from the experience of the present law, and point out how changes could be made, he might then properly ask for a Select Committee; but it would not be proper to stop the progress of the Bill in order that the hon. Member might obtain a Select Committee in this manner. This would be to prevent a present remedy to evils about which they were all agreed. At this period of the Session it would be better to allow the Bill to pass as usual, and if the hon. Member moved for a Select Committee next Session he would meet with support on that side of the House.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2o, and committed for Monday next.