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permanent. Those objects were the liberties of the people. and the security for the Protestantism of the person occupying the throne. The Bill of Rights provided that the person on the throne should be a Protestant, and should not marry a Papist. Then there were the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and the declaration against transubstantiation, which it was said were permanent also. He begged to observe, that the oath of allegiance, which it was contended was permanent, was altered before the end of the year in which the Act was passed. The alteration, to be sure, was not very material, but it shewed that the permanency which was ascribed to the Jath, really did not belong to it. Then, with respect to the oaths taken by members of Parliament, the declaration against transubstantiation, and the invocation of the saints, they were not created by the Act of William III., but by the Act of the 30th of Charles II. During the reign of Charles II. certain oaths were imposed on Dissenters from the church of England by statutes 13 and 14; and next, Roman Catholics were excluded from Parliament (by the operation of oaths) by statutes 25 and 30. At the period of the revolution, when King William came, he thought proper to extend the basis of his Government, and he repealed the oaths affecting Dissenters from the church of England imposed by statutes 13 and 14 of Charles II., and likewise the affirmative part of the oath of supremacy, which Dissenters could nut take. That was the history of the alteration by William III of the oaths established in the time of Charles II. The oaths regarding Dissenters from the church of England were altered, because one of the great principles of the revolution was to limit exclusion from the benefit of the constitution as far as possible. Therefore that principle was recorded in the Bill of Rights, as well as the liberties of the subject and the Protestantism of the Crown.
Some noble lords maintained that it was part of the principle of the constitution of 1688, that the oaths which excluded Roman Catholics from Parliament were equally permanent with the Bill of Rights, by which the people's liberties and
the Protestantism of the Crown were secured. If noble lords would do him the favour to look at the words of the act (he had it ready,) they would find that the difference between that which was permanent and that, which was not. The Bill of Rights declared that the Protestantism of the Crown should last for ever--that the liberties of the people should be secured for ever; but it was remarkable that as to these oaths which were enacted on the same occasion, not one word was said about them lasting for ever, or as to how long they should last. Then, what followed ? The next act was, the union with Scotland; and what did that act say? Why, that the oaths to be taken by members of Parliament were to be the same as those laid down in the 1st of William and Mary, until Parliament should otherwise direct. There was what was called a permanent act of Parliament to exclude for all future periods Roinan Catholics from sitting in the legislature. He would beg to observe, that if the act of William was permanent, which excluded Catholics from Parliament, the 8th clause of the 10th chapter of another act, passed in the same session, required the same oaths to be taken by officers in the army and navy previously to their accepting their commissions. He would ask noble lords why, if the act which excluded Catholics from Parliament were permanent, the other, which excluded them from the army and navy, was not likewise permanent ? He would like to ask the noble and learned lord on the woolsack-he meant on the cross-bench-(Eldon)—to answer that question. If the oaths were permanent in the one case, they were equally so in the other; and yet the noble and learned lord consented to the bill of 1817, which repealed oaths required to be taken by officers of the army and navy. He supposed that the noble and learned lord would answer his question by saying, that one act was permanent, and ought to be permanently maintained, but that the other act was not permanent, and the Parliament did right in repealing it in 1817. But the truth of the matter was, that neither act was permanent; and the Parliament of Queen Anne recognised by the act of Union that the first act, relating to seats in Par
liament, was not permanent; and the noble and learned lord did quite right when he consented to the act of 1817, which put an end to the 10th clause of the 1st of William III.,
Then, if this principle of exclusion—if this principle of the constitution of 1688, as it was called-was not permanent, if it was recognised to be not permanent, not only by the act of Union with Scotland, (in which it was said that the exclusive oath should continue till Parliament otherwise provided,) but also by the later act of Union with Ireland, he would ask their lordships, whether they were not at liberty now to consider the expediency of doing away with it altogether, in order to relieve the country from the inconveniences to which he had already averted ? He would ask their lordships, whether they were not called upon to review the state of the representation of Ireland, -whether they were not called upon to see, whether, even supposing that that principle were a permanent one, it was fit that Parliament should remain as it had remained for some time, groaning under a Popish influence exercised by the priests over the elections in Ireland. He would ask their lordships, he repeated, whether it was not right to make an arrangement, which had for its object, not only the settlement of this question, but at the same time to relieve the country from the inconveniences which he had mentioned. He had already stated the manner in which the organization he had alluded to worked upon all the great interests of the country: but he wished their lordships particularly to attend to the manner in which it worked upon the church itself.
That part of the church of England which existed in Ireland was in a very peculiar situation : it was the church of the minority of the people. At the same time, he believed that a more exemplary, a more pious, or a more learned body of men, than the members of that church did not exist. The members of that church certainly enjoyed and deserved the affections of those whom they were sent to instruct, in the same degree as their brethren in England enjoyed the affec
tions of the people of this country; and he had no doubt that they would shed the last drop of their blood in defence of the doctrines and disciplines of their church. But violence, he apprehended, was likely to affect the interests of that church; and he would put it to the House, whether that church cou.d be better protected from violence by a Government united in itself, united with Parliament, and united in sentiment with the great body of the people, or by a Government disunited in opinion, disunited from Parliament, and by the two Houses of Parliament disunited. He was certain that no man could look to the situation of Ireland, without seeing that the interest of the church, as well as the interest of every class of persons under Government, was involved in such a settlement of this question as would bring with it strength to the Government, and strength to every department of the state.
Having now gone through the general principles which had induced him to consider it desirable to bring forward this measure, he would trouble their lordships for a short time longer, whilst he explained generally the provisions of the bill before the House. The bill was in itself very simple. It conceded to Roman Catholics the power of holding every office in the state, excepting a few connected with the administration of the affairs of the church; and it also conceded to them the power of becoming members of Parliament. He believed it went further, with respect to the concession of offices, than any former measure which had been introduced into the other House of Parliament. He confessed that the reasons which had induced him to consider it his duty to make such large concessions now, arose out of the effects which he had seen following the acts passed in the year 1782 and 1793. He had seen that any restriction upon concession had only had the effect of increasing the demands of the Roman Catholics, and at the same time giving them fresh power to enforce those demands. He had therefore considered it his duty, in making this act of concession, to make it as large as any reasonable man could expect it to be, seeing clearly that any thing which should remain behind would only give ground for fresh
demands, and being couvinced that the settlement of this question tended to the security of the State and to the peace and prosperity of the country.
He had already stated to their lordships his opinion respecting the expediency of granting seats in Parliament to Roman Catholics, and he did not conceive that the concession of seats in Parliament could in any manner affect ary question relative to the church of England. In the first place, he begged their lordships to recollect that at the time those acts, to which he had before alluded,—the one passed in the 30th of Chs. II., and the other at the period of the revolution, --were enacted, it was not the church that was in danger, it was the state. It was the state that was in danger, and from what? It was not because the safety of the church was threatened. No! but it was because the sovereign on the throne was suspected of Pupery, and because the successor to the throne was actually a Papist. Those laws were adopted, because of the existence of a danger which threatened the state, and not of one which threatened the church. On the contrary, at that period, danger to the church was apprehen led, not from the Roman Catholics, but from Dissenters from the Church of England. He would ask of their lordships, all of whom had read the bistory of those times, whether any danger to the church was apprehended from the Roman Catholics ? No! Danger to the church was apprehended from the Dissenters, who had become powerful by the privileges granted to them under the act of Parliament passed at the period of the revolution. He thought, therefore, that it was not necessary for him to enter into any justification of himself for having adopted this measure, on account of any danger which might be apprehended from it to the church. Roman Catholics would come into Parliament by this bill, as they went into Parliament previous to the act of the 30th of Charles II. They sat in Parliament up to that period, and were not obliged to take the oath of supremacy. By this bill they would be required to take the oath of allegiance, in which a great part of the oath of supremacy was included, -namely, that part which referred to the jurisdiction