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The Duke of Wellington's speeches on Catholic Emancipation (15)

March 31, 1829

These documents are taken from: The Speeches of the Duke of Wellington in Parliament, collected and arranged by the late Colonel Gurwood, C.B., K.C.T.S., (London, John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1854)


ROMAN CATHOLIC RELIEF BILL

THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON said:

My Lords, I beg to lay upon your Lordships' Table a Bill for the relief of His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects from certain civil disabilities now affecting them; and I have to move your Lordships to give to this Bill a first reading.

Bill read a first time.

THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON said

I have now to move, my Lords, that this Bill be printed; and I shall propose, with permission of your Lordships, that the second reading be taken on Thursday next, in case the printed Bill should be, as I have reason to expect it will be, laid on your Lordships' table in the course of to-morrow.

Lord BEXLEY trusted that the noble Duke would not attempt to carry through the House a Bill of such vast importance with so much precipitation.

THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON said:

My Lords, respect for the importance of this question, respect for the dignity of this House, respect for the declaration made by His Majesty in his most gracious Speech at the opening of the Session, respect for the Address which the House presented to His Majesty in reply to his most gracious Speech, and I hope that I may be permitted to add, respect for my own character, will induce me to avoid acting with precipitation on this great occasion. But I must be permitted, my Lords, to say that the House has now been sitting for nearly two months, and that this measure has been under our discussion, day by day, upon the presentation of petitions; and it having been publicly put to your Lordships, that the question for your consideration is, whether Popery shall or shall not be established in this kingdom, I am desirous of an early opportunity of stating to your Lordships the grounds on which the measure really rests, and upon which must rest that decision in its favour to which I trust your Lordships will eventually come.

I beg that your Lordships will recollect that the second reading of this Bill is the first stage at which you can deliberate on the principle of this question; for although, on the presentation of petitions, we have for the last six weeks been perpetually adverting to the subject, it has never yet been brought fairly under discussion. It cannot therefore appear extraordinary, I trust, to any of your Lordships, that I should be anxious to take the first opportunity to enable your Lordships to come openly and fairly to a full discussion of it. The noble Baron on the cross bench (Bexley) has produced various precedents to prove that upon former occasions, when Bills, similar in principle to the present, were introduced into your Lordships' House, they were not brought into discussion without a week's or a fortnight's, or, in some cases, a month's previous notice. I do not mean to dispute those precedents, but I would ask the noble Baron, are there not many other important subjects which your Lordships have discussed in a short interval after their introduction into your House, especially when they were brought under consideration on the first day of the Session in the Speech from the Throne? Under these circumstances, considering how desirable it is that your Lordships should come to a decision upon this measure, considering how desirable it is that the public should know your opinions upon it, considering how desirable it is that the agitation of this question should be speedily brought to a close, I entreat your Lordships to let me proceed to the second reading of this Bill upon Thursday next, if the Bill should be printed and in your hands to-morrow. For these reasons, and under the circumstances which I have stated, I must, my Lords, persevere in my original intention.

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See also Gleig's Life of Wellington (1862)
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