§ Sir A. SPROT
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 5 and 6, inclusive.
The Amendment seeks to omit from the Schedule the repeal of a Statute of Edward VI. This Act has nothing whatever to do with the liberties of Roman 1596 Catholics. It is purely a Measure for the regulation of the Church of England. It enacts that images existing in churches and cathedrals should be destroyed and that only one prayer book is to be authorised for the Church of England, and it imposes penalties, not upon Roman Catholics, but upon the clergy and members of the Church of England for 1597 contravening those Regulations. There is no reason in the world why the repeal of that Act should be included in a Bill for the removal of disabilities from Roman Catholics because it imposes no disability upon Roman Catholics.
I think there are very few words that I need say in regard to this particular item in the Schedule, but I think I ought to call the attention of the House to what is the actual effect of the Statute which it is proposed to repeal. To state it as shortly and simply as I can, it is a Statute which forbids the keeping, directs the destruction, and aims at the general suppression of various books and images. Many of those books are the books of devotion of members of the Roman Catholic Church. Others are books which are in the keeping of lovers of beautiful books, museums, and other places, and very much the same thing in regard to anything in the possession of museums and collectors applies to images. I think the House may like to know what are some of the hooks which it was attempted by this Act to suppress. They included antiphons, missals, scrayles, manuals, legends, pies, portuyses, and couchers.
Not to waste the time of the House, I may explain what they are in one comprehensive phrase. They are books of devotion of either the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of this country prior to the date of the Reformation.
I think the words I have used do cover them, With regard to images, I do not think that anybody in this country now would wish, as should be done provided this Act is to be literally put into force, to deface and destroy the beautiful carvings which still, in spite of the bigotry of ancient days, do adorn some of our places of worship in this country. I suggest that we would like to keep those images, if you choose 1598 so to call them, or representations of persons which are things of beauty in our public buildings, and which, under this Statute, would not be allowed to remain unless they happened to be images ofany monarch, prince, nobleman, or other deceased person not commonly reputed to be a saint.There is a real, practical reason for the repeal of this Statute, and that is that it is little short of a scandal to the intelligence of his country as a whole that there should remain upon the Statute Book an Act which forbids the keeping in this country of the books of devotion which are used and reverenced by the Roman Catholic community.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
Will the hon. Member say whether these books, statues, and so forth, have been destroyed, and, if so, whether this Bill could in any way restore them, or, if they have not been destroyed, whether they are menaced at the present time by any threat of destruction?
I may inform the hon. and gallant Member that the Bill does not attempt in any way to restore books which have been burned. We have tried to make it a practical Bill. In regard to his second question, I doubt whether they are menaced, but I think the answer to the suggestion contained in that question is that we ought not to have a law which is admittedly obsolete and might possibly be inconveniently put into force at some time by some ill-advised person, if I may so describe him.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I entirely acquit my hon. Friend of any intention in the world to let the House be under a misapprehension in regard to the effect of this Act of Edward VI, and I credit him with the fullest anxiety to tell the House what has been said by the highest Courts in the land about this Act. But it is, I am afraid, only illustrative of the insufficient attention to the provisions of this Bill which has allowed him to make the speech to which we have just listened. My hon. Friend, in moving terms, asked us all to assent to the proposition that it would be a scandal and a shame to destroy beautiful books. He was thinking of them not as religious hooks, but rather as works of 1599 art, but I should like the House, before they keep this Act in the Schedule, to know a little more about it. I, for one, wholeheartedly and sincerely assent to the proposition, voiced from both sides of the House, that no Roman Catholic should be under any disability of worshipping, as an hon. Member opposite said, in his own way with the utmost freedom, and although some hon. Members may think I am not sincere in saying that, I honestly believe that I am sincere.
This Act of Edward VI was passed for a particular purpose. Certain orders had been made in the previous reign which required, in the course of the turnover from the unreformed Church to the reformed Church, the removal of certain images and books of devotion. When Edward VI came to the throne, it was found that those books of devotion and images which had been ordered to be removed had not been, in some cases, destroyed. This Act was, therefore, passed for the sole purpose of giving validity to or recognising the validity of the orders, which had been made, not by Parliament, but by executive authority, requiring the books and images in question to be removed. Some 300 years later an effort was made to suggest that this Act of Parliament was still operative to prevent the erection of images in a cathedral, and in a very well known case, with reference to the Cathedral of Exeter, the Privy Council decided and laid it down that this Act had long ago been spent. It was passed for a particular purpose with reference to particular and identifiable books and images, which had been ordered to be removed, and it was impossible to invoke its aid in establishing the general illegality of images in reference to Exeter Cathedral.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I will tell the hon. Member in a moment. The next time that this Statute was under examination was as recently as the year 1919, by the House of Lords, in a case of which, I am sure, my hon. Friend knows the name, namely, Bourne v. Keane, where the general validity of a bequest of sums left for the purpose of saying masses was considered by the 1600 House of Lords. Lord Birkenhead, as Lord Chancellor, repeated what was said in the Exeter Cathedral case, and said that this Act was entirely spent and no longer operative. It is exactly the same as the Statute, if the House will forgive the comparison, which is on the Statute Book to-day, for the attainder and execution of Catherine Howard. That Act is spent, but it is on the Statute Book to-day. It is part of the history of this country, but nobody in his senses proposes to take the trouble to ask the House to repeal that Act for the execution of Catherine Howard. Why? Because, of course, it was passed for a particular purpose, and to dig it up and repeal it would be very much like those people who, when Cromwell and Wyclif had done their work and were beyond the reach of anybody, dug up their bodies to show their execration of them.
An hon. Member opposite asked why we should not repeal this Act. I am coming now to something more controversial. I cannot help thinking that the intention or the desire to repeal this Act is not because it has in fact prevented anybody from keeping one of these books. It has not. It is not because it is likely to be invoked to prevent the keeping of books or these images in Roman Catholic churches in the future, because the Privy Council and the House of Lords have refused to allow it to be invoked. What the House of Lords has said, is final and conclusive in this matter. What is the reason for putting this in the Schedule? I am entirely at a loss to know, unless this be the reason, that some people think that it would be generally advantageous to what they desire, namely, to see this country reconverted to what is called the old faith, if Parliament could be induced to pour, I will not say contempt, but some sort of discredit upon the Reformation settlement of 300 years ago.
I do not wish to raise any angry passions. I do most sincerely respect the hon. Members' religion and desire to enjoy the right to exercise their religion, but what am I to think of the activities of their representative in an attempt to repeal an Act of Parliament which was long ago spent, which was only part of the history of our country as a result of that great upheaval known as the Reformation, when with my correspondence this morning, I received a copy of the Advent 1601 Address of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Clifton, in my own constituency? He is a reverend gentleman for whom I have very great respect, and with whom I have had many delightful conversations at dinner and elsewhere. This statement in his Advent message appears to be all the more lamentable, for he says:There would have been no change of religion if the Reformers had had to build churches. The whole movement here, as elsewhere, was naught but a political, social and financial ramp, with religion as a pretext and a war-cry.The only reason I can see for putting this in the Schedule is to assist a movement which suggests that we are beginning to be a little ashamed of the Reformation. Even if mine were the only voice in this House to say it, I say that I am not prepared to assent to any effort to throw any sort of discredit on the Reformation, which I believe to have been the foundation of our liberties.
§ Sir HENRY SLESSER
I really think in the latter part of this speech hon. and learned Friend has been talking about matters which have nothing to do with this Schedule. I thought, when he was quoting what some bishop had said, that it would have reference to the Act in question, but, apparently, it was some general observation which had nothing whatever to do with the matter which the House is now considering. Therefore, I am not going to discuss any of the latter matters of which he spoke, which, if I may say so, seemed designed to prejudice the issue. The question is whether the House, having assented to the general principle of this Bill, is prepared to repeal Statutes which do affect Roman Catholics? May I remind the House that those of us who do not, possibly, accept exactly the same view of the structure and mission of the Anglican Church as does the Solicitor-General have accepted an Amendment which says the Anglican Church shall not benefit by this Bill. It cannot be said that an Anglo-Catholic or High Churchman is seeking anything in this Measure, because we have accepted an Amendment to say we shall gain nothing out of it, but leave the matter where it is. The hon. and learned Member knows perfectly well that the decisions of the Privy Council 1602 are subject to review, and, as far as the Privy Council is concerned, what it says to-day, it may unsay to-morrow.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I am afraid the hon. and learned Gentleman interrupted prematurely. Having a logical mind, I was proceeding to deal with his speech in the order that he made it. I say he did not tell the House that the decisions of the Privy Council are open to review, and, therefore, as far as the Privy Council is concerned, he will agree with me that on several occasions the Privy Council in several matters affecting the Anglican Church have decided certain matters to be illegal, which, subsequently, they decided were legal, and vice versa.
Then we come to the decision of the House of Lords. As I read it, the speech of Lord Birkenhead is dealing with another issue, that of masses and chauntries. There is doubt to-day, in the opinion of many eminent ecclesiastical lawyers, whether this Statute does not operate in futuro as well as for dealing with those- matters which are now spent. Although we agree that the case of Catherine Howard, whose attainder some would like to see reversed, dealt with a matter which is exhausted and spent, there is the other part of the Act of Edward VI, which directs that certain things in the future shall not be-done, and, although they may not he. done, Roman Catholic fellow-subjects are under peril of informers, and are treated in this respect as potential criminals, and if we are sincere in wishing to do away with their disabilities, I do not see why we should not do away with a Measure which forbids a Catholic to keep a missal in his house. We accepted an Amendment excluding the Anglican Church, and therefore this Amendment is merely an attempt to destroy the whole benefit of the Bill, and, in the end, our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects will have no, protection at all.
Mr. R. W. SMITH
In intervening in this Debate, I feel it necessary to state what has been stated by every Member who has spoken, that I am in favour of absolute religious liberty for all people in this country; but I am sure I am voicing the feeling of a great many back- 1603 benchers in this House when I say that we really do not know where we are with regard to this Bill. I want to put very shortly to the learned Solicitor-General or those in charge of the Bill one point with regard to the matter with which we are dealing now. The whole of the Act of Edward VI is to be swept away, but that is not to apply to the Church of England. How can you sweep away the whole of an Act and at the same time make it apply to a certain body in this country? It seems to me that by doing that, we are not giving religious liberty. We are refusing to allow certain things to members of the Church of England but allowing them to everybody else. The Church of Rome is forbidden, under the Act of Edward VI, to do a certain thing, and we are now going to permit it. We are also going to allow all other churches to have missals and various things in their churches, but the one body which is going to be left out is the Church of England. It seems to be perfectly extraordinary to sweep away the whole of an Act, and at the same time say that part of the Act is to be left, and is to be applicable to one Church alone in the country. I should like to have some explanation.
§ Mr. HARNEY
We have already passed Clause 1, which says that the enactments specified in the Schedule to the Act are hereby repealed. But that has a parenthesis which states that the enactments referred to are enactmentsaffecting the civil and religious liberties of His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects.The only ground which has been put forward for striking out that parenthesis is this, that the statutes enumerated in the Schedule are not statutes that affect the civil and religious liberties of Roman Catholic subjects. The late Solicitor-General said the first of these Acts, that of Edward VI, was passed for the express purpose of ex-post facto doing something which had been omitted. It appears that there were some books and images which those who were in authority in the Reformed Church desired to be destroyed, and they also desired to prevent a repetition of the same class of images and literature in future, and they passed an Act saying that these images and this literature which commended themselves to Roman Catholics, should be destroyed, and that no images and no 1604 literature of a like character should be produced in future. If anybody can tell me that that is not an enactment which, not only in the past but at the present time, affects the religious liberty of Roman Catholics I really am at a loss to understand it. I want to know why it is that while making protestations of our religious tolerance we should be leaving on the Statute Book Acts of Parliament which in express terms prevents Roman Catholics from doing certain things—Acts which if they were enforced would call forth a howl of execration from all fair-minded persons. Nobody would dare to put such Acts into force. This Act to which we are referring is on the Statute Book and it could be put into force, and it seems impossible to reconcile an objection to the removal of a potential authority of this character with avowals of tolerance such as we have heard here.
§ Sir J. PENNEFATHER
I cannot help thinking the promoters of this Bill have gone too far, perhaps inadvertently, in endeavouring to repeal the whole of the Act, because the Act has more than one bearing. In the preamble to the Act it is clearly stated that the object of the Act is to ensureThat the Book of Common Prayer set forth shall be used and observed in the said Church of England,I do not suppose the promoters of the Bill really want to strike that out.
The recital to which the hon. Member refers is a recital stating that an Act of Parliament has been passed to secure the use of a uniform Book of Common Prayer. That is an Act of Parliament which we do not propose to repeal at all. There is no suggestion of repealing that. To repeal a subsequent Act of Parliament which states that an Act has been passed does not repeal the other Act.
§ Sir J. PENNEFATHER
But am I not correct in stating that the Preamble to this particular Act which it is proposed to repeal does state that the object of that Act was to ensure that the Book of Common Prayer set forth should be used and observed in the Church of England? That, I am informed—I think on very good authority—is actually in the Preamble to that particular Act. Then, may 1605 I suggest that any disabilities which may be contained in that Act could be removed by simply amending it—a much less drastic procedure than repealing the whole Act? I read that Act last night in the Library, and I came to the conclusion that it was really intended to apply much more to the Church of England than to the Roman Catholic Church, that the disabilities which were imposed were disabilities upon the Church of England, and not a disability upon the Church of Rome. In any case I hope the promoters of the Bill will meet the views of those who feel that there is a strong danger in repealing the whole of that Act by withdrawing it from the Schedule, and inserting an Amendment which will cover the particular disabilities which they think ought to be removed.
I do not think that this Act would help Roman Catholics, first because I think there is no doubt the original Act was made for the Church of England and the disabilities therein are disabilities affecting the Church of England. If I were given any instance of where Roman Catholics suffer disabilities now, I should be glad to review this matter; but I do feel this is the one important Section that we should be very careful over, because it is not our business to do away with the Reformation laws of the Church of England. It is a matter for the Established Church to look into itself, and I hope it will look into it, and put it in order. Under a Roman Catholic Disabilities Bill we ought not to do away with one of the pillars of our Reformation.
§ The following Amendment stood on the Order Paper in the name of Sir A. SPROT:
§ In page 2, to leave out lines 7 and 8, inclusive.1606
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
With reference to the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Lanark (Sir A. Sprot), I understand that point has already been dealt with in the new Clause which was passed.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
On that point I would like to explain that the new Clause merely saves certain rights, but that fact does not dispose of the question of whether this Bill ought to go into the Schedule. It may be that the effect of leaving it in the Schedule is to create a contradiction with the substance of the Bill.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It is quite true that a Clause has been admitted into the Bill saving a particular title to lands affected by the Act in question, but I submit with great respect that does not preclude the question whether the Act ought to be put into the Schedule at all.
If I am correct in my recollection, the effect of this Amendment was discussed on the Clause, and I understood Mr. Speaker to say that when we came to this Amendment on the Schedule it could not be discussed at any length.
§ Sir A. SPROT
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 7 and 8, inclusive.
I believe that the Amendments which have been made to the new Clause cover this point.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do so on two grounds, which seem to me to be very good grounds. One is that the Act concerned is spent, and if it is not spent it is obsolete. It is so spent and so obsolete that it is not to be found in the ordinary editions of the Statutes within the precincts of this House.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I searched and could not find it, but I went down to the Temple and there I found an edition of the Statutes published in the 18th Century. It is a magnificent edition of all the Statutes. I have read the Act very carefully from beginning to end, and it is printed in excellent type and on magnificent paper. I challenge anybody to say where in this Act there is anything which is not spent and is not obsolete. If anyone can point to any part of this Act which has any effect whatsoever upon any person to-day, then there might be some reason for repealing it. The Act is absolutely spent, and I suggest it is not right in a Bill which is entitled, "The Roman Catholic Relief Bill," to deal with the question in this way. This is a disability which Catholics ought to be relieved of, and it is not right to include such an Act as this in the Schedule. Casting my mind back for some parallel to the proposal now put before the House, it occurred to me that perhaps my hon. Friend might include in the Schedule the Act for the execution of that unhappy lady, Catherine Howard.
§ Amendment negatived.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, column 3, after the word "sections" to insert the word "three."
This Amendment is intended to preserve the third Section from repeal. Sections 12 and 16 were reserved in the Committee stage. Section 3 has the marginal heading of "Saving of titles for strangers." I am not sure what it means but the intention of that Section is to save the rights and titles of certain persons whose titles were not intended to he interfered with and under these circumstances we did not want to repeal anything which ought to he kept alive. This is merely a formal Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.1608
§ Further Amendment made: In page 9, line 8, column 3, after the word "Sections" insert the word "Ten."—[Sir A. Sprot.]
§ Sir A. SPROT
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 9 and 10, inclusive.
This Amendment refers to the Act of George I. It is an Act merely to appoint Commissioners to deal with the forfeited estates of certain persons who took part in the rebellion of 1715. We should not have an Act of that kind in a Roman Catholic Relief Bill because there is no connection between one thing and the other and I submit this ought not to he included in the Schedule.
Lieut.-Colonel McINNES SHAW
I beg to second the Amendment.
It is all very well to say that these Acts do not cause trouble to anyone, but I think we ought to hear from the promoters of the Bill how any Roman Catholic is going to be hurt by the repealing of this obsolete Act.
There is a very serious reason for this proposal. This happens to be one of the Statutes which describes certain Roman Catholic bodies as superstitious and by reason of applying such a description to Roman Catholic bodies, it puts them outside the protection of the ordinary law of the land. It is for that reason we ask that these Statutes may be wiped off the Statute Book. The suggestion that this particular Statute is one which could have no effect at the present time is very unfortunate, and I am afraid, again, that some of my hon. Friends have not studied the Acts quite so carefully as some of us. Section 23 of this Act specifically provides that estates given to superstitious uses are vested in the Crown for the use of the public, and that is one of the things which we say should not apply to Roman Catholic bodies, but that estates properly given to such bodies should be held by them. I can only, of course, hope that the House will decline to pass this Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Once more I am afraid that I have, not to complain, but to suggest that my hon. Friend is inaccurate. He may have studied the Act, but quite evidently he has not studied it sufficiently long to appreciate what it does. It was passed after the rising of 1715 to confiscate the 1609 estates of people who took part in them. They were not merely Roman Catholics. The estates of everybody who took part in that Rebellion were confiscated. My hon. Friend said that there was a Section of the Act, the number of which I forget, which deals with estates of Roman Catholics at the present time. My hon. Friend is inaccurate, and I say that, not on my own authority, but on the authority of the House of Lords which decided that the Act did not profess to have any operation beyond the existence of the Commission which was set up to inquire into the lands which were owned by the people who took part in the Rebellion. The House of Lords said that the Act had long since undergone exhaustion. It is an Act which set up Commissioners, and it is described asAn Act for appointing Commissioners to inquire of the estates of certain traitors and of popish recusants, and of estates given to superstitious uses, in order to raise money out of them severally for the use of the public.The money raised by that method went for the use of the public, and the Act gives no power to take any more money out of those estates, the greater part of which are owned by the Crown or by people who received them from the Crown. The same observations that I made on the other Act apply to this Act, and I do not propose to repeat them. My hon. Friend suggested that this Act places certain Roman Catholic bodies outside the protection of the law. I shall be very glad if he or one of his friends can give some authority for that most remarkable statement. There is not a vestige or a tittle of authority for it. If my hon. Friend was referring to the fact that the epithet "superstitious" is used to describe the purposes to which these estates were given, he is well aware of the fact that the House of Lords decided in the case to which I have referred that money given to these purposes is not money given for superstitious uses.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Then my hon. Friend, no doubt, will inform the House, but I challenge him to produce a single Section in this Act which affects any estate or person to-day, and to repeal this Act is simply tantamount to saying that the Parliament of that day 1610 was not justified in the measures which it took in reference to the 1715 rebellion. Whether that is a matter which ought to detain this House or not, I beg leave to doubt. Some of my hon. Friends seem to think that our time can be profitably spent in recalling these unhappy things.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I do not understand the hon. Member's interruption. I do respectfully protest against my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Herbert) suggesting that these Acts have any effect to-day in putting either Roman Catholics or Roman Catholic institutions or orders outside the protection of the law. They enjoy the fullest rights and privileges under the law, and this Act does not touch them in the least degree. If the House thinks it right to repeal this Act in face of that, I shall not criticise the decision of the House, but I do criticise my hon. Friends for allowing the House to think that it has any operation to-day when the House of Lords has said that it has no operation or effect whatsoever.
§ 2.0 P.M.
Perhaps the House will allow me to answer the particular matter on which the Solicitor-General has challenged me Personally. I do not think that I stated specifically that this Act placed certain Roman Catholic bodies outside the pale of the law. What I did state was that this was one of a series of Acts by which the description of these bodies as "superstitious" did in certain cases put them outside the pale of the law. The hon. and learned Member may be perfectly correct in his description of a particular statement in a judgment by the House of Lords, but I think I am right in saying that that decision did not deal with the case of a Roman Catholic order, and it is the cases of Roman Catholic orders which are particularly concerned here, because they are the bodies which are definitely put outside the pale of the law in certain respects, and which, in spite of anything the hon. and learned Member may say, has had the effect of their not being entitled 'to the protection of the law.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I think I must again intervene, because, whatever view the House comes to on this matter, it should know what the Act provides. This Act provides for two distinct matters. It is an Act for appointing Commissioners to inquire into the estates of certain traitors and popish recusants and estates given to superstitious uses. The real truth therefore is that it applies to two or possibly three different matters. The first 22 Sections or so deal with the estates of traitors and popish recusants, and Section 23 to estates given to superstitious uses. Now "superstitious uses" can have no reference to traitors, so let us be clear about that. It does describe estates given to superstitious uses as vested in the Crown. Everyone knows that where you have a trust, and that trust is on an illegal basis or for superstitions uses, it is liable to forfeiture, and that phrase which there appears, as the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Herbert) has said, is continued to be used in subsequent decisions and Acts, and is a phrase which applies to religious orders to-day. After all, if the Roman Catholic is to be relieved from disabilities, "superstitious uses" means, in the language of this Statute, uses by Roman Catholics, and there it is, an unrepealed Statute the effect that Catholic orders are superstitious and so forth. I hope that the House will reject this Amendment.
Vice-Admiral Sir REGINALD HALL
If, as the hon. and learned Member states, the Act deals, in Sections 1–22, with the steps to be taken after the 1715 Rebellion, and from Section 23 onwards with other matters, could it not be agreed to retain Sections 1–22, and repeal the remainder as necessary?
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
The difficulty that arises in discussing whether these Acts are obsolete is that they are not to be found in any ordinary edition of the Statutes. As far as I recollect, the Statute in question, and I have had the opportunity of reading it, the Section referring to superstitious uses is bound up with the provision regarding the Commissioners who are to deal with the estates that are to be forfeited because of superstitious uses. If I am right in that—and I have heard no sign of dissent on the part of my hon. and learned Friend—then I am certainly right in saying that the provisions of the Statute 1612 are obsolete. The Commissioners were appointed in the year 1715, and, although by the Act they were provided with a salary of £1,000 a year, apparently fur life, we can confidently say that they have been long since dead; and, therefore, if I am right in saying that it was only those Commissioners, appointed in 1715, who had power to deal with estates that were given to superstitious uses, it follows that that Section of the Act, like all the previous Sections, has become absolutely obsolete.
There is one matter on which I should like to appeal to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), as one very learned in the law on these questions. Was it not a fact that, down to the decision of the House of Lords in 1919, most lawyers supposed That the gift of money for the purpose of saying Masses for the souls of dead persons was a gift for a superstitious purpose, and, indeed, was the only gift which was obnoxious to the law as being a gift for a superstitious purpose? The expression "superstitious purpose," before 1919, meant the purpose of saying Masses for the souls of persons who were dead. My hon. and learned Friend may say that there are other purposes which are regarded by the law as superstitious. The decision of the House of Lords in 1919—and the House will recollect that in this respect the House of Lords resembles His Holiness the Pope, for the House of Lords, like the Pope, is infallible, and whatever it says is the law is the law, and cannot be altered except by an Act of Parliament; indeed, the House of Lords has no power of reversing or revising its own decisions—the of Lords in 1919 laid it down, and laid it down once and for all, that the legal profession was mistaken in thinking that a gift for the saying of Masses for the souls of dead persons was a superstitious use, and I venture to think that nowadays there is no gift which would be obnoxious to the Statute of 1715, if the Commissioners who were appointed by the Act of 1715 were still alive and still enjoying their £1,000 a year.
§ Amendment negatived.1613
§ Mr. SPEAKER
With regard to the next Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for North Lanark (Sir A. Sprot)—to leave out lines 11 and 12—is that covered by the decision of the House on the new Clause as amended, or is it a separate point?
I think, if I may say so, that the House will come to the conclusion, on considering the matter, that the way in which the new Clause which has already been passed was amended, has made it necessary, as a matter of drafting, that the repeal of Section 5 should be left out of the Bill, and that, therefore, this Amendment should be accepted. If my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark (Sir A. Sprot) will move his Amendment, I should like to say a word or two upon it.
§ Sir A. SPROT
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 11 and 12 inclusive.
It appears to me that this point is met, as you, Mr. Speaker, have suggested, by the new Clause which was passed at the beginning of the discussion, and that, therefore, it is unnecessary that this Section should be repealed.
We have come to the conclusion that, in view of the new Clause in the amended form in which it was ultimately passed, it is really necessary that this Section should be left out. Therefore we do not oppose the Amendment. But I desire to point out one matter of considerable importance which arises here and which might conceivably be raised in another place. There were two Amendments down to the new Clause which, to some extent, conflicted with one another. One in the name of the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Sir J. Pennefather) proposed to make the words in question run, "Remove the existing disabilities of Roman Catholics." That was not moved. That would probably have been sufficient for my hon. Friend, but in place of it was moved one which left out all reference to Roman Catholics. This Section ought to be repealed, or at least modified, because of the very remarkable and absurd restriction it imposes upon the disposal of property. From the Protestant point of 1614 view it is advisable that they should get rid of this honestly and properly. Therefore I hope my hon. Friends who have been so interested in this matter will consult with their friends in another place as to the possibility of it being advisable to amend the new Clause and still leave that Section repealed.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir A. SPROT
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 15 to 18, inclusive.
Here we get to the question of processions. This Section being repealed will legalise processions through streets carrying images for adoration. This is one of the provisions of these old Acts which a great many people think it would be very dangerous to remove. The second point refers to registration and licences, etc., of religious orders. That is a very important matter which I am afraid I am hardly competent to deal with from a legal point of view. I think the repeal of these Sections should not stand.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I beg to second the Amendment.
As far as processions are concerned I desire to say very little. One may think it would perhaps be better if there were in religions processions in the public streets. Such things may, under certain circumstances and in certain neighbourhoods, be likely to provoke disorder.
On a point of Order. I think it is out of order to discuss processions, because these Sections do not deal with processions at all.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
If I am out of order, Mr. Speaker will tell me so, but I think the hon. Member is wrong because the Statute it is proposed to repeal, in Section 26—
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
No, 26. I apologise for being indistinct in my utterance. I am reading Section 26 from 1615 a Manual of the Law specially affecting Roman Catholics:And be it further enacted that if any Roman Catholic ecclesiastic or any member of any of the orders, communities or societies hereinafter mentioned"—Those are the communities and societies dealt with in Section 28 and the following Sections, which raise the whole of the monastic orders—shall after the commencement of this Act exercise any of the rites or ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion.I think the hon. Member will now admit that this Section precludes religious processions by those professing the Roman Catholic faith in the public streets.
The Section the hon. Gentleman refers to is as to wearing particular clothes, and exercising rites, neither of which is a procession.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
He may not exercise any rites or ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion nor wear the dress of a particular order through the public streets.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
It does not prohibit processions in express terms, but the provisions of the Section in effect do prohibit religious processions, because a Roman Catholic priest cannot take part in a procession wearing the habits of an order. Whatever may be the view of my hon. Friend the Courts of this country would take the view that an ecclesiastic taking part in a procession was committing an offence within this Section. Therefore, the Section is one which deals with or restricts the rights of processions. I do not want to deal with the question of processions at any length, because the second question, that of monastic orders, is far more important and one to which I think the promoters of the Bill have not given the consideration that it deserves. One might wish that no religious procession could be held in the public streets at all. A religious procession is something which those who take part in it regard with solemnity, and one would not wish to go through the public streets arousing, possibly, opposition in the minds of persons who see the pro- 1616 cession. I am afraid, however, that that is a counsel of perfection, and that if this House were to pass a law to say that there were to be no religious processions, that would be considered to be rather a harsh exercise of power by Parliament.
In regard to Roman Catholic processions there is this to be said, that so far as Roman Catholics are concerned there are certain objects which they regard with extreme veneration, which in their view all persons who profess and call themselves Christians ought to regard with veneration also, and yet, as they know, the very thing that they regard with veneration is the very thing which to those who are of the Protestant reformed faith, seem to he entirely contrary to the teaching of our religion. I am trying to use words which cannot create offence, and I hope that I am succeeding in doing so. In these circumstances, when the thing which Roman Catholics venerate and regard as being something that Christians ought to look upon with veneration and solemnity, is the very thing which the majority of the people of this country do not so regard, and indeed regard with very opposite feelings, surely, it is right that such things should not be displayed in the public streets, where they are likely, certainly in many districts, to arouse feelings which we might all hope should be done away with as far as possible. That is all I desire to say on the subject of processions. I wish very much that the promoters of the Bill had paid more regard to the considerations which I have presented to the House.
Now may I turn to the other matter which seems to me to be one of far greater importance, and that is, the question of the monastic orders. In 1829, after a long and bitter struggle, those professing the Roman Catholic faith were removed from the disabilities which had affected them ever since the days of Queen Elizabeth. They were disabilities which were really imposed from a political point of view rather than from a religious point of view. The animosity towards the Pope, I take it, was mainly founded on the claim of the Pope that he could depose the Sovereign of this Realm. When that claim was put forward, that a foreign power had the power to establish or depose the Sovereign in this land, it aroused the opposition of the people of 1617 this country, and induced them to pass the Measures which were repealed in 1829.
When the Catholic Relief Act was passed in 1829, apparently by universal consent—as far as I can see there was no question raised at the time—it was agreed that monastic orders of male persons should not be permitted within the Realm. The prohibition did not apply to females. Whether it was that females were regarded as harmless, or whatever the reason may have been, the Act of 1829 made the express proviso that this prohibition on persons bound by monastic ties should not apply to communities of females, but only to communities of males. The provisions of the Act, recognising as it did at that time that there were members of these monastic orders within the Realm—Jesuits and other orders—made elaborate provision that those who were then within the Realm might remain within the Realm, but that no new persons bound by the monastic oath should come, in, and that no persons should take those monastic vows within the Realm. It was, obviously, the intention that those who were within the Realm at the time might stay there, that in course of time they would die, and that there never would be any monastic communities of persons bound by monastic vows within the United Kingdom.
Apparently, from the very first, the Act was never observed. The provisions with regard to registration of those persons who were within the Realm at the time were never enforced, and persons under monastic vows have freely come into the country since then. There are a number of them within the Realm now. Their presence here is, according to the Act, illegal. Some 50 years ago an enterprising person applied to a Metropolitan police magistrate for a summons against one of the monastic fathers. I think it was one of the fathers at Farm Street, where there is a community of Jesuits, and where a church is established. Although the Act never had been enforced, and it had been in existence for more than 70 years, this enterprising person applied to the Metropolitan magistrate for a summons against one of the fathers at Farm Street, with a view to presenting a Bill of indictment against him on the ground that he was 1618 offending against the provisions of the Act of 1829. The magistrate refused the information on a number of grounds, whereupon the enterprising person went to the Court of King's Bench for a mandamous to command the magistrate to issue the information. The Court of King's Bench said, I think, that two of the reasons which the magistrate had given were bad reasons, but that the third one was good. The third reason was that it was within the discretion of the magistrate to exercise his discretion, and that therefore nobody had anything more to say about it. And that, so far as I know, is the first and last occasion on which it has ever been attempted to enforce this Act.
That being so, this Act having never been put in force for a period of nearly 100 years, it is surely reasonable to suggest that an experience of 100 years has shown that the Act is not necessary. Why should it not be repealed?? That is an argument which would appeal to most persons, and that is, therefore, why I want to put before the House certain considerations which I do not think the promoters of this Measure have recognised at all. If they had taken them into consideration they would not have brought forward this Measure in its present form. Who are these people who are bound by monastic vows? They are the members of a corporation formed under a foreign law. They are bodies called into existence, created, by a foreign law. The policy of this country has always been one of extreme jealousy with regard to the creation of corporations, and quite rightly, because once you form a corporation and give it the power to hold property in its corporate capacity, to collect money and act together, you are giving to that body a power which no individual possesses.
I do not want to arouse opposition on the benches opposite, but I cannot help observing that the trouble we have got into with regard to trade unions is due to the fact that we have allowed these bodies to be constituted without putting on them the obligations which are always inherent whenever associations of persons are formed into a corporate body. The trade unions have the power of joining together a number of people, of collecting funds and exercising corporate acts, without the responsibilities which the law 1619 attaches to all other corporations. Therefore, it is important to consider whether, by the repeal of these sections, we are going to permit foreign corporations to come into this country, to hold property here, exercise rights not as individuals, but as corporations. With regard to corporations formed in this country—
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I am not sure that I observe the relevancy of the hon. Member's interruption. I am putting this point seriously to the House. In the case of corporations formed under our own laws we make stipulations before such a corporation is formed. With regard to foreign corporations coming into this land we require them to register, to say who they are, to put down their rules under which they are formed, to give their constitution, and to satisfy us as to who is the person in whose name they act, his address, who it is that can sue for them and can be sued for them as well. It is a matter of great importance that you should know who is the person to be sued. I am sure the promoters will realise the importance of the point I am putting and, therefore, it is not right merely to repeal each provision. It may be right to allow monastic orders to come into this country, and hold property in this country, but if that is to be done it ought not to be done by a simple repeal of the provisions of the Act of 1829.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I have not the honour of belonging to that lodge. But I have no doubt there are other hon. Members who may be able to speak for it, but as far as I am aware, in fact, I am quite certain, the only obligation which members of the Loyal Orange Lodge enter into is to serve God, honour the King and be loyal. That is the obligation which they enter into. It may seem to the hon. Member an offensive obligation, but so far as we are concerned, to fear God, honour the King and be loyal, is a virtue to be commended.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I gather from the interruption that the hon. Member did think so, and therefore I thought I was entitled to inform the House, as far as I could, what are the relations of the members of the Loyal Orange Lodge between one another and their Sovereign. I do not wish to be diverted from the course of my argument, which is that a simple repeal of these provisions which make monastic orders illegal is not the right course to adopt. If monastic orders are going to be allowed to come into this country, to hold property in this country, and to act in their corporate capacity, there ought to be some provision in the Bill for their registration, setting out their rules, who are the persons who may represent them in this country so that they can sue and be sued without difficulty. I do not think the promoters of the Bill can have taken this point into consideration. It is not a matter really for a private Member's Bill at all, it is a matter of very great importance concerning the whole community and it is worth the consideration by the Government as to whether they should appoint a Committee to consider it.
I speak for what the hon. Member opposite describes as the Loyal Orange Lodge, as I speak for every member who holds the Protestant faith. We are most anxious that every legitimate grievance of those who profess the Roman Catholic faith should be removed. We are most anxious, if there be any injustices under which they are suffering now, that they should be taken away. If such a course as I have suggested were adopted, and if a Commission were appointed, they could inquire into what are the grievances and injustices, if any, from which Roman Catholics suffer, and what are the proper measures to take to relieve such injustices. It is too late now to appeal to my hon. Friends to allow that course to he taken, but I can assure them that we would give the most sincere support to any Measure for the removal of any injustices. This proposal, simply to repeal the provisions with regard to monastic orders, without laying down any conditions by which these corporate bodies—corporations created by a foreign Power under rules which we do not know, with nobody to represent them—we do say that to do that, to allow such 1621 bodies to be legal bodies here, is not wise. There ought to be some provision made for their registration and their legal status.
My hon. and learned Friend who seconded the Amendment has done so with so much earnestness and so much lucidity that I feel bound to answer him to the best of my ability. I think there is a very definite answer to most of his arguments. The questions he has dealt with he described as falling under two heads. One was in reference to religious processions, and the second in reference to the question of monastic orders. With regard to the question of religious processions, my friends and I were most anxious to meet those who were feeling uneasy about processions, as far as we could, but the unfortunate fact with which those who are uneasy about processions are faced, is the fact that there is no law at the present time which prevents these processions as such, whether they be Boman Catholic processions or others, except in so far as there are certain local Acts in certain places which have to be observed. Therefore, while we are as anxious as they are that there should be no processions in this country which would be calculated to lead to religious or political disturbances, we feel that that is a matter which ought to be dealt with, but not in the form of legislation dealing with any particular religion or with any particular political party. I suggest that this Parliament has no right or justification, in these days, for dealing with the processions of any religious body, any more than it has a right to deal with the processions of any political body. Therefore, if these processions have to be dealt with, they should be dealt with by legislation which applies to all impartially. I hope that the House will not misunderstand me. I am merely giving this explanation in order to show that there was no refusal on our part to try to meet those who are anxious about this question of religions processions. The whole difficulty in our doing so arose from the fact that. any Amendment of this Bill such as that which was on the Paper was necessarily out of order for the reasons that I have stated.
Now I turn to the question of the monastic orders and the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend, which 1622 would at first sight appear to have so much in their favour. I cannot refrain, in the first instance, from making a reference to his statement that this legislation was brought about for political rather than for religious reasons. That may be perfectly true, but in the days when those particular Acts were passed it was sometimes a little difficult to. separate religion from politics, and I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend will agree that the less politics have to do with religion and the less politics and religion are mixed up the better for both. The whole object of this Bill, which is merely to repeal enactments, which are aimed at a particular religious body, is to clear politics of religious strife as far as possible. The hon. and learned Member raised a point which certainly did seem to be a very serious one, when he dealt with the question of the legal position of corporations in this country, and especially corporations formed under what I think he described as a foreign Power. I understood him to include the Pope as a foreign Power. I do not want to quibble over that. He argued that we must be very careful indeed before we allow corporations of that kind to be legal in this country.
The first answer to that is this: The law against these particular corporations has not been actively enforced for many years, and it is a very great mistake, as this is a serious legal matter, that we should have a law making these corporations illegal which is not enforced. That brings me to the hon. Member's suggestion that what we want to do ought not to be done by the repeal of the. Statute, and not to be done by a private Member's Bill, but by a Government Bill, after a full inquiry. If the House desires to deal with the question of the position of corporations in this country as a whole, by all means let it be done by the Government, after full inquiry, and not by a private Member's Bill. We are merely seeking here, not to put any corporation outside the law, but to remove certain enactments, in the nature of penal enactments, which apply to and are directed against one particular type of corporation only, and that a much smaller class of corporation and a much less definite one than my hon. and learned Friend thinks. Many of these Roman Catholic com- 1623 munities, bound together by monastic or religious vows, are not formed under any foreign Power. They are formed in this country and formed as English corporations. But, again, there are other such corporations in this country already, I think I am right in saying. There are Moslem corporations in this country, Mohammedan corporations, corporations within the Established Church of England, bound together by what may be described as monastic and religious vows. None of these are affected by this particular Statute which we propose to repeal. If it be the case that all these other bodies are lawful under the law as it at present stands, why should those of one particular religion be unlawful? If the position of corporations of this kind is unsatisfactory, I venture to say
§ that the promoters of the Bill are doing good service by calling attention to the fact and by taking a first step towards putting the law in a satisfactory position by putting the law in regard to all corporations of the kind on the same footing to whatever religion they may belong. In all the circumstances I appeal with confidence to the House to follow the course which it has adopted earlier in the day and to repeal this Statute for the express purpose of removing a disability which applies to corporations of one particular religion and to that one alone.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 183; Noes, 36.1625
|Division No. 527.]||AYES.||[2.58 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Gardner, J. P.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Adamson. W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gates, Percy||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gibbins, Joseph||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. w.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Goff, Sir Park||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Baker, Walter||Gosling, Harry||March, S.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gower, Sir Robert||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillary)||Grace, John||Maxton, James|
|Barnes, A.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Barr, I.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Batey, Joseph||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Montague, Frederick|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Grundy, T. W.||Murnin, H.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Briant, Frank||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L, (Exeter)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. 8.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Connor. Thomas P.|
|Bromley, J.||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Buchanan, G.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Palin, John Henry|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hardie, George D.||Paling, W.|
|Carver, W. H.||Harney, E. A.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hayday, Arthur||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hayes, John Henry||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Charleton. H. C.||Henderson, T, (Glasgow)||Potts, John S.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Preston, William|
|Clayton. G. C.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Radford, E. A.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Herberts. (York, N.R.,Scar. & Wh'by)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hilton, Cecil||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Connolly, M.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cove, W. G.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Riley, Ben|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn. N.)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Robinson, W.C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Jacob, A. E.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Dalton, Hugh||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Savery, S. S.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Kennedy, T.||Scurr, John|
|Dixey, A. C.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sexton, James|
|Duncan, C.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Dunnico, H.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Skelton, A. H.|
|Edwards. C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kirkwood, D.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Lansbury, George||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Lawson, John James||Smith. Rennie (Penistone)|
|Finburgh, S.||Lee, F.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Forrest, W.||Livingstone, A. M.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Looker, Herbert William||Stephen, Campbell|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E||Lowth, T.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C-|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wilson, c. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Sullivan, Joseph||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sutton, J. E.||Welsh, J. C.||Windsor, Walter|
|Taylor, R. A.||Westwood. J.||Welmer, Viscount|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.||Wood, Sir S. Hill (High Peak)|
|Thurtle, Ernest||Whiteley, W.||Wright. W.|
|Tinne, J. A.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Viant, S. P.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Wallhead. Richard C.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)||Mr. Blundell and Sir Henry Slesser.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Sandon, Lord|
|Applin, Colonel H. V. K.||Holland, Sir Arthur||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Beamish, Captain T, P. H.||Hurd, Percy A.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Bowater. Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||MacIntyre, Ian||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Moles, Thomas||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Pennefather, Sir John||Sir A. Sprot and Lieut.-Colonel|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Penny, Frederick George||Mcinnes Shaw.|
|Haslam, Henry C.|
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Mr. PENNY
Without wishing to be considered in any way unjust or intolerant regarding the removal of abuses or actual disabilities suffered by Roman Catholic subjects of this realm as such, I feel no actual disabilities are being incurred by them at the present time, with the possible exception of that relating to exemption from Income Tax in connection with their charities. The Acts which we are here asked to repeal do not appear to me to have anything whatever to do with that particular matter. For that reason alone, I think the short title of the Bill is a misnomer, and is to a great extent misleading. I know that view is held, not only by myself, but, by a large majority of our people throughout the country. Since the Bill was introduced, I have received a very large number of letters from constituents of mine—not only individual letters but petitions—asking me to do all I could to protest against the Bill. They feel that the Measure is unnecessary, and, while I have had this large number of requests to protest against the Bill, I have only had one application asking me to support it. Accordingly I contend there is but little demand for a Bill of this nature at the present time.
The promoters of the Bill have told us that it is non-contentious. But from the interest taken in the Bill in this House to-day, we can see how false that state- 1626 ment is. I cannot understand why the Government, at a time like the present, when we want peace and good will in the country, should give facilities to a private Member's Bill of such a contentious nature. I can only think that the Government must have been as ill-informed on the provisions of the Bill as we were when it was first introduced. The Prime Minister has stated in most urgent and eloquent terms, both inside and outside the House, that if this country is to progress in the right direction it is essential that we should have peace and good feeling. I think this Bill is likely to exacerbate feeling throughout the country. Speaking of the area which I know, I say that it, will do so, and I do not think a private Member should be allowed to bring in a Bill which has such far-reaching effects as this Measure. I do not for a moment contend that we are not all of us entitled to embrace whatever faith we like. There is good in every religion and all are entitled to their own convictions in this matter; but we have to remember that this is a Protestant country and these Acts which we are asked to repeal were placed on the Statute Book in order to protect our national faith. We know quite well that they have been obsolete for a long time, and have never been brought into force, and I submit, therefore, that there are no actual disabilities.
The same argument could be brought forward in regard to the Emergency Regulations which the Government passed the other day for they were brought in 1627 as protective measures to be used only in ease of necessity. If occasion should arise, those protective measures were there to assist the country. We might go even further and say we ought to have no restrictive legislation whatever, but should wait until a crime is committed and then bring in legislation to meet that particular crime, if we carried the argument to its logical conclusion. These Statutes should not be removed, for the reason that they were brought in to protect the faith of this country. The promoters of the Bill stated the other day that a priest at the present time, if he attended a public function, was in danger of being fined. All that T can say is that if he went through the streets in Full canonicals and thought there was that danger, he could take his vestments and don them at the place where the function was being held, or, if he was very afraid of anything happening to his person, he need not attend the dinner at all, or he could attend it in the ordinary costume that one would wear at such a function. Our forefathers placed these Laws on the Statute Book to protect the great work of the Reformation, far which so many of our noblest men and women endured martyrdom at the hands of the Papists, who, in my opinion, are behind this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "Peace and good will!"] I want peace and good will, bat we see our churches in many parts of the country being permeated at the present time with Roman Catholic practices, alienating the congregations because the people of this country realise that the clergy, to a large extent, are not fulfilling the solemn ordination vows which they took. The clergy are talking about the falling away of congregations, but it is because they do not appeal to the people in the right way. They do not teach them the established faith of this country. We know that the church bell is in the steeple, but the sooner the high dignitaries of our Church realise that the bell which is going to call the people to church is that which is in the pulpit, and not the one in the belfry, the better for them and our faith.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member will have to bring in another Bill. His proposal cannot be incorporated in this Bill.
§ Mr. PENNY
I am sorry if I have transgressed, but I was trying to show how tore Church was being permeated by Rome, and that the Romanists are really at the back of this Bill. The promoters tell us they are extremely anxious to remove the disabilities which exist at the present time, but I would ask them, if they are so anxious to remove disabilities, why they are not anxious to remove disabilities from those of their own faith? The promoter of the Bill tells us he is a Protestant, and I ask him if he realises the disabilities we labour under at the present time in regard to mixed marriages at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. I have a statement here, signed by Bishop Knox, a very reverend gentleman, who is sincere, just as we are in this House, and who wants to protect tile great faith of this country, and I know what he says in regard to Malta is correct, from my own personal knowledge. He states:In Malta, where the question of civil marriage is of extreme importance and ha, been a subject of repeated representations to the Colonial Office, there have been and often recur instances of scandals of a grave nature caused by the refusal of the ecclesiastical authorities on the island to allow the introduction of civil marriage, or to recognise marriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics celebrated in a Protestant place of worship. The consequences have been most serious to British soldiers and sailors serving their country in Malta.Will any guarantee be given to us that if this Bill gets its Third Reading, some alteration or relaxation in that regard will be made to the people of our own faith? Can we have some concession from the promoters of the Bill to meet us in this respect? I speak in all sincerity. I believe in my faith. I believe in letting people worship as they please. At the same time I am a Protestant and I am standing up for the people who profess that faith, but are under disabilities. In Spain a similar position obtains. The Bishop states—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
On the Third Reading the hon. Member will speak to what is in this Bill, and not to what he would like in half-a-dozen other Bills.
§ Mr. PENNY
With due deference, I thought in speaking of that I could refer to disabilities under which others are labouring. I was trying to point out the disabilities under which people of our own faith are placed, and asking those who are promoting this Bill whether, in that greatness of heart which they are expressing at the present time, they would be prepared to make some concession to the people who are suffering those hardships, if we allowed this Bill to be given its Third Reading. As I stated at the commencement of my speech, I do not think there is any necessity for this Bill to be brought in. If there are definite hardships being incurred, there is no one in this House who would not help in their removal, but. I would ask, could not that be brought about by the promoters preparing a definite, specific schedule of actual hardships and incorporating them in a Bill to be brought before this House? I am quite sure there is not a Member of this House who would not give such a Measure the most sympathetic consideration. I sincerely hope that the Bill before the House even now will be withdrawn, although I am afraid that the influences at the back of it will not permit of that being done.
The introducer of the Bill stated that the Roman Catholic Church has a great body of men and women who are loyal to this country and have given good service to the nation, which we know. Amongst my own friends I have a great number of this faith, and whom I hold in the greatest regard and esteem, but is it contended that these men and women would not be just as loyal to the State and the nation if this Bill were not passed to-day? Their loyalty is not based on a Bill such as this. I feel very strongly about this, and am glad I have had this opportunity of giving expression to what is felt by a great number in my constituency. It is considered that this is a Bill which on no account ought to have been brought in by a private Member. If the Government wanted a Bill of this kind they should have brought it in themselves. I feel that no actual disability, with the one exception mentioned, is incurred at the present time, and that the Bill will stir up a certain amount of enmity in the country, which it is so necessary to avoid. Also, I feel 1630 the Title is absolutely misleading. For these reasons I must vote against the Bill if it goes to a Division, and I sincerely hope there will be a great number of hon. Members in the House who will do the same.
§ Sir A. SPROT
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House, while desiring to continue the fullest possible liberty for Roman Catholics in the exercise of their religion, and absoulte equality in regard to exemption from taxation, declines to pass into law a Bill which, without conferring any benefit on Roman Catholics, seeks to repeal certain Acts of Parliament, affect-in, the Church of England and establishing Reformation in England and Scotland.I wish to refer to the fact that there had been little discussion upon this Bill until to-day. It was brought in an the 10th March under the Ten Minutes Rule, and my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. D. Herbert) made a ten minutes' speech. Six days afterwards, on 15th March, it received its Second Reading after 11 o'clock at night. At that time no one had awakened to the seriousness of this Bill, and nobody had studied its provisions. In his speech my hon. Friend made an appeal for charity and toleration from everybody. I wish to say that those who are acting with me are as full of charity and toleration towards Roman Catholics as anybody else in any other quarter of the House. We desire that Roman Catholics should receive the fullest liberty for the exercise of their religion, and we believe they are receiving the fullest liberty at the present time. In introducing the Bill my hon. Friend said there was an inequality with regard to Roman Catholic charities as affected by the Income Tax. That turned out to be altogether a mistake.
§ Sir A. SPROT
The income Tax Commissioners give a rebate of Income Tax on sums of money devoted to charity, and there is no distinction as to whether they come from Roman Catholic sources or any other sources. We have to-day been through all the Acts of Parliament which it is desired to repeal, and it has been established decisively that most of those Acts do not refer to Roman Catholics at 1631 all, and inflict no disabilities or hardships upon them. In only one or two small cases can any hardship, injustice, inequality, or disability be pointed out. We have had a long Debate this afternoon, and we have carefully considered each of these Acts of Parliament which apparently it is considered necessary to repeal, but in my view hon. Members did not, study those Acts sufficiently before putting them into the Schedule of this Bill I believe that many hon. Members did not realise the purport of the Acts which we are asked to repeal by this Bill.
This Bill was represented as being one which would remove certain old-fashioned and out-of-date restrictions which were of no avail at the present day, in fact this Measure was represented as a harmless and quite a fair Bill. It has turned out, however, to be nothing of the kind, and it has proved to be a sham. This has been called a Roman Catholic Disability Removal Bill, but with regard to the greater part of its contents it does not deal with any inequalities or disabilities of Catholics at all. I regret very much that this Bill has been left to the House without the direction of the Government or the Whips, because that has had the effect of keeping away from our discussion a large number of hon. Members who otherwise would have taken part in the Debate. I regret that this Bill has been introduced at all, because it places many hon. Members in an awkward position. Under these circumstances I submit that this Bill has not received sufficient consideration, and that such a Bill ought not to be passed as a private Member's Measure. After the useful discussion we have had upon this Bill, I think another Bill should be prepared stating definitely what are the disabilities and grievances of Roman Catholics, and if such a Bill were introduced and confined to those disabilities and grievances I should give it my hearty support. I submit that considering the way these questions have been introduced, this Bill ought not to receive a Third Reading at the hands of this House.
§ Major STEEL
I beg to second the Amendment.
I think a great many of us will be put in an extremely difficult position by this Bill. There is no doubt that hon. 1632 Members in all quarters of the House are anxious to do away with any injustice or remove any real disability under which Roman Catholics really are suffering. A great many hon. Members, I am sure, never realise that there were so many disabilities which have been put forward this afternoon. I had no idea until a few days ago that exemptions from Income Tax which apply to Protestant charities did not also apply to Roman Catholic charities. As a matter of fact that point does not seem to be agreed to by everybody because the Mover of the Amendment denies that Roman Catholics are suffering under any disability of that sort. I have a great deal of sympathy with the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Sir M. Macnaghten) in which he said that he thought the whole of this question ought to be considered by a Commission. We really ought to find out whether these disabilities, such as the one regarding exemption from Income Tax, really do exist, or whether they do not. I am quite certain, if such a disability really does exist, this House would unanimously wish to do away with it. One of the reasons so many of us are doubtful about this Bill is the form of the Measure. The promoters have brought in a very short Bill, the whole object of which is to repeal a very large number of old Statutes, about which most of us know nothing at all. That is the reason a certain amount of suspicion has been created in the minds of many of us. We ere asked to pass a Bill repealing Statutes about which we know nothing.
If, on the other hand, the promoters had brought forward the grievances under which they allege Roman Catholics are suffering, and had put them down in a positive form, so that all of us knew exactly what we were voting about, then I am perfectly certain, if they were real grievances, this House would have passed that Bill without a Division. It is the fact that a great number of us do not know exactly what it is all about and it is because of the form of the Bill that I say—and I hope I shall cause no offence by saying it—a certain number of people do feel that there is more in this than meets the eve and are therefore a little bit suspicious about it. I suggest that the proper way to go about 1633 the matter is to set up a Commission, find out really what injustices there are, and put them down in a positive form in the shape of a Bill. I am certain, if that were done, this House would pass it without a division, whole-heartedly and unanimously.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I have risen to appeal to the Movers of this Amendment not to press it to a Division, but to let, us have it on record that this Measure, which at any rate all Roman Catholics in the community consider is greatly to their relief, has been passed unanimously by this House. We have tried on every occasion during the passage of the Bill to meet any possible objection. When at an early stage a question which touched a good many of us was raised, namely, that the Anglo-Catholics of the Church of England were looking for some benefit out of this Measure, we immediately agreed to the Clause which now says the Bill shall not touch the Church of England at all. Then, when the question of processions and the possibility of their being abused was raised, we immediately agreed to a Clause dealing with the power to make by-laws regulating processions. Finally, move—and I am sorry it has not gone into the Bill—a new Clause to remove the greatest deprivation of all, namely, the fact that Roman Catholics are excluded from the great office of Lord Chancellor, and in order to meet the objection we withdrew also the claim for the removal of that deprivation. At every point, when any reasonable objection has been taken that this Bill was going to be used for any purpose other than the direct relief of Roman Catholics, we met the hon. Member and his friends in Committee and on Report here, and I think it is a. little unkind that, we should now be accused of having some baleful, sinister object in view, when all the Amendments we have accepted have been in the direction of limiting the Bill solely to the relief of Catholics.
That being so, the hon. Member and his friends, being unable now to suggest that this Bill really does anything unfair, or that we are giving anyone else any advantage or privilege, now take an entirely different line. First of all, we were told, in the many letters that have been referred to, and I myself have been 1634 told, that this was a dangerous and sinister conspiracy, and that it was a very potent Bill for evil. Now we are told so impotent is this Bill, and so little conspiratorial is it, that it is of no use at all, and the desire is to save Catholics from wasting their time and deluding themselves into thinking that they have got a Measure that will be of any advantage to them. Surely, however, the Catholics themselves are the best judges whether they are under disability or not. They unanimously think they are, and, so far as I know, every Member of the party on this side of the House has gone into the Lobby in support of general liberty, and desires that these persons should have the same religious rights as all other persons. I do appeal, therefore, to the House, even if they think the Bill is not going to do very much, at least to give it a Third Reading now, and allow it to go forward as the unanimous decision of this House.
I have only one more observation to make. I think the hon Member for Kingston (Mr. Penny) made a most unfortunate speech. He, alone, during all the discussion which has taken place in this House, thought fit to raise, as I thought, a religious contention, talking about the objects of Catholics and their defects, describing the Catholic faith as a kind of crime, and saying he would prevent crime before it, was detected. Those were most unfortunate observations, which I urn sure will not commend themselves to his constituents in Kingston-upon-Thames. I understand from him that the inhabitants of Kingston-upon-Thames, a pleasant riverside resort, are all very much opposed to this Bill, but I am sure they did not authorise the hon. Member to say these things on their behalf about Catholics who suffer from disabilities. I do appeal to the Movers of this Amendment, in common fairness to our fellow-subjects, who, they say, are as loyal and patriotic as anyone else, to withdraw the Amendment and allow these slurs on their position in the State once and for all to he removed.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I hope that my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment will do nothing of the kind. Speaking for myself, I have long since been tarred, shall I say, with any obloquy 1635 which attaches to someone who holds very extreme views on some matters, and, therefore, it requires no particular courage on my part to advocate the cause I have been trying to support to-day. I am under no misapprehension as to the support I get from my own constituency, nor, indeed, on this question, would support in my constituency affect either my vote or my speech on these matters; but I think it argues considerable courage on the part of some of my other friends who have not been accustomed, perhaps, to interest themselves in these matters as I have, and, if I may do so, I tender the-al my most humble thanks for what they have done to stand up for what they think to be the right thing, especially in face of the interruptions from many Members on the other side of the House. I have listened to the whole of this Debate, and hon. Members opposite were more active, when my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston (Mr. Penny) was speaking, in ridicule and laughter than in using arg[...]ments to support this Bill.
I want to say something about the professed object of the Bill. We have been left very much in the dark as to its real object. My hon. Friend who introduced it. limited himself to a few minutes. I think he himself felt, to use his own expression, that it was a little ridiculous to bring in a Bill for the purpose of dealing with things of the kind he has been mentioning. He mentioned one or two trivial matters. He went on to say the Bill proposed to remedy serious and practical injustices which exist at present. We have heard nothing of those injustices to-day, or only in passing We were told in the "Times" that the main object of the Bill was to secure exemption for Roman Catholic charities. The Noble Lord who wrote that letter is one of whom no one would either think or speak but with respect and honour, and especially any member of the Conservative party, to which he gave such great services in this House. His utterance on the matter is therefore worthy of the greater respect. In that letter he said it was urgent that Roman Catholic charities might at once become entitled to the benefit conferred on all other charities under the Finance Act of 1921. He put that in the forefront as the only real object of the Bill. We have not had a word about it to-day. I doubt 1636 very much if there is any difference between Roman Catholic and any other charities in respect of exemption. I have very good reason to believe—and the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Blundell) knows the authority upon which I make this statement—that the authorities think there is no disability affecting Roman Catholic charities.
§ Mr. BLUNDELL
Religious orders are described as superstitious bodies, and consequently are not entitled to receive relief in respect of charities administered by them.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The hon. Member is dealing with a very technical matter which even now I do not profess to be capable of explaining in a few sentences. I am a lawyer and my hon. Friend perhaps suffers from greater difficulties. He will not misunderstand me when I put it in that way. But it is not the case that Roman Catholics are not entitled to the relief that other charities are entitled to, especially now that it has been decided that money left for superstitious uses is not void as a charity. Supposing I left money to-morrow to a Roman Catholic community for saying Masses, the most superstitious use one can see in the eyes of the law—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—I am not describing it as superstitious in my own terms, I am speaking of it as the extremest case the law could contemplate of what is called a superstitious use. Supposing that money was left to a community for this so-called superstitious use, it would be left to Mr. A, B, C or D and it would be entitled to exactly the same exemption as if anyone left money for what is a charitable purpose in connection with the Church of England or the Wesleyan body or any other Church.
Some members are under the impression that if you leave money to a monastic order it is void as a gift to that order. A monastic order in this country cannot hold property because it is not a corporation. Mr. A, B, or C has to hold the money for it. But it does not follow that because it is left to a monastic order it is a charity in the eyes of the law. Money left for a charity in order to be entitled to exemption under the 1920 Act must be left for what are charitable purposes in the eyes of the law. Charitable pin-poses are the pro- 1637 motion of religion, education, relief of poverty and a large category of public objects. Money left to a monastic order, unless the trusts are carefully defined and limited to what are really charitable purposes, need not be a charity at all, because a monastic order might, for instance, devote the money to hospitality for people who are neither poor nor deserving. Money left to a monastic order might be used for the upkeep of a fabric, which would not be charitable at all. Unless the money is defined as being available only for what in the eyes of the law is a charity, it will not be a charity merely because it is mixed up with other charitable purposes.
The position is, that if anybody likes to leave money to a Roman Catholic charity and to define the charity to which that money is left, they get exactly the same exemption that any other charity gets. I go further. A little while ago there were two cases, one of the case of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial Schools. It was decided that that was a public School within the meaning of the Act, entitling it to exemption from Income Tax, notwithstanding the fact that it was a Roman Catholic foundation. Just about the same time, a Quaker School claimed exemption. The law, so impartial is it in this respect, decided that the Quaker School, although substantially of the same character as the Roman Catholic foundation, except in one respect, was not a public School Within the expression in the Act and, therefore, not entitled to exemption.
§ Mr. BLUNDELL
May I remind the hon. and learned Member that the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School was not run by a religious order?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It was not run by a religious order, but it would not have made any difference if it had been run by a religious order for this purpose. It was intended as a memorial for Cardinal Vaughan for the education which members of the Roman Catholic faith give to people in their institutions. I pass from this point, not wishing to worry the House with a definition of what is a charity, to say that if there exists any disability on the part of a Roman Catholic charity—I am speaking now with such responsibility as I have—I very much doubt whether this Bill will do anything 1638 to relieve that disability. My hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk smiles. I do not charge him with any discourtesy in smiling at what I say. I know how courteous and considerate he has always been in connection with this Bill. I regret that a Bill of this sort has been brought forward, introduced into the House origiNally, commended to the House in various ways, as a Bill designed for this purpose, when I really believe that purpose is not needed, and that if it is needed this Bill will not effect the purpose. I should have preferred that the matter had been considered by those who are competent to consider this very technical question, and that the House had had an opportunity of passing an Act which really dealt with this matter and did give Roman Catholics the exemption to which they are entitled.
I go further and say that, as I do not believe this Act will do anything to relieve Roman Catholics, I hope that an Act will be passed, upon a proper examination of this difficulty, which will give them the equality to which they are entitled. I shall not dissent from any action to give them that equality if further examination shows that this Bill fails, as I believe it will fail, to do anything for them. Most of the Acts that are repealed by this Bill are, as we have heard already to-day, utterly remote from any disability. I should be surprised if any of my Roman Catholic friends in this House are conscious of any disability under which they have been living. Many of them, including the distinguished nobleman to whom I have referred, have occupied and hold great positions with great honour, and it would be surprising to hear that any of them have been conscious of any disability which has crippled their opportunity of service to the State. My object and the object of my friends, I take it, has very largely been served this afternoon. Although we may be a comparatively small number in this House it would have been wrong if this Bill had gone through under the impression that it was really required in order to remove an injustice under which, up to this moment, Roman Catholics have been labouring. I believe this generation and this House of Commons is absolutely innocent of having put any disability on Roman Catholics, and the discussion 1639 which has taken place to-day has made it plain that this House, whatever may he the views of some hon. Members opposite, is determined that while the freedom of every body shall be maintained it shall be only so maintained consistently with the maintenance of the Reformation settlement in this country.
I desire to say only a few words during the last stages of this Bill, and I will be as short as I possibly can. I desire to express my great satisfaction that the greater number of those who have opposed the Bill are now absolutely satisfied that the Bill will not upset the Established Church of England and will not interfere with the work of the Reformation. We are left, apparently, with the objection to the Bill based on these rather slight and peculiar grounds:—It is said that Roman Catholics do not suffer under any disability in regard to taxes, but that if they do, it should be removed in another way. Then we are told that all the enactments we propose to repeal are, in fact, obsolete, and that there is no reason for troubling to repeal them. I think there can be no doubt of the fact that Roman Catholics at the moment, in certain instances—I do not make a sweeping assertion—certain Roman Catholic orders do suffer from certain injustices in regard to Income Tax and other taxation which other individuals and other corporations in this country do not.
As to the way to remove this disability, these injustices arise from these ancient Statutes which we propose to repeal, and the proper way to put Roman Catholic religionists on a level with others in this country is to sweep away those particular enactments which are directed against them alone. It is far more satisfactory from the theoretical and lawyers' point of view that it should be done in this way rather than allow an obsolete law to stand and pass some other law. There is one other thing I must say. The hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Penny) and the hon. Member for Ashford (Major Steel) appear to have discovered and given expression to the idea that there is a deep Anglo-Catholic plot behind this Bill. As the mover of this Bill origiNally, who took it up at the 1640 request of members of the Roman Catholic Church, and as a member of the Established Church of England and not an Anglo-Catholic, I desire to say that from the beginning of our association until this moment, there has not been the slightest attempt whatever to get anything for Anglo-Catholics under this Bill. There are on the back of the Bill the names of members of the Church of England who are far more deeply opposed even than I am to Anglo-Catholicism. That should be sufficient guarantee that there is no such plot behind this Bill.
In conclusion, let me express my satisfaction that the House this afternoon will pass a Bill calculated, as I believe, to do some general good throughout the country. I say that for this reason: If we are to get through the difficulties of these times, it depends not so much upon Parliament or upon legislation as it depends upon the good will and the good hearts of the people of this country. The greatest influence for good among people generally is the religious influence. I appeal to all who are not of the Roman Catholic religion to realise that a man is probably a, better citizen, and more likely to do good for his country, if he is a devout Roman Catholic, than if he is an irreligious man. In a spirit of general toleration for all those who do not agree with us on these particular lines of religious matters, I appeal to the House to act up to modern ideas, and for the sake of peace and good will in this country to remove these disabilities from a loyal body of co-Christians with ourselves.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put": but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I am glad to be allowed three minutes in which to say that I trust my hon. Friend will stand by his Amendment. The result of the discussion has been to establish the fact that, except in regard to the monastic orders, there is no injustice which this 1641 Bill takes away, because there is no injustice to be taken away. It does make a difference with regard to the monastic orders.
§ Mr. HERBERT rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put"; but MR. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
It does not make any difference with regard to the individuals who belong to those monastic orders; they are free to come into the country; they are free to exercise the rites of their religion, as free as anyone else. What they are not free at this moment to do is to exist as corporation in this country. That is what this Bill would do for them. I think that the speech of my hon. Friend who brought in the Bill amounted to an admission that he did not realise that that would be the consequence of the Bill. To call this a Roman Catholic Relief Bill is a misnomer. It implies, and falsely implies, that Roman Catholics at the present time are subject to disabilities, which do not in fact exist. With one observation which was made by my hon. Friend that religion and politics ought to he kept apart, I most heartily agree—
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR rose in his place, and claimed to move. "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House proceeded to a Division.
§ Mr. Blundell and Sir H. Slesser were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, but there being no Members willing to act as Tellers for the Noes, MR. SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.
§ The remaining Government Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No, 3.
§ Adjourned at Four Minutes after Four o'clock until Monday next, (6th December).