The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 39
Jan. 9th.—The Earl of Derby, in a speech at the Liverpool Reform Club, says: "For my part I utterly disbelieve in the value of political oaths. . . . I should hope that if Mr. Bradlaugh again offers to take the oath, as he did last year, there will be no further attempt to prevent him."
Feb. 7th.—Reopening of Parliament. Mr. Bradlaugh again attended at the table to take the oath, and Sir Erskine May, the clerk of the House, was about to administer the same when Sir Stafford Northcote, interposing, moved that Mr. Bradlaugh be not allowed to go through the form. Sir W. Harcourt, in moving the previous question, said the Government held the view that the House had no right to interpose between a duly-elected member and the oath.
Mr. Bradlaugh, addressing the House from the bar for the third time, begged the House to deal with him with some semblance and show of legality and fairness. He concluded: "I want to obey the law and I tell you how I might meet the House still further, if the House will pardon me for seeming to advise it. Hon. members had said that an Affirmation Bill would be a Bradlaugh Relief Bill. Bradlaugh is more proud than you are. Let the Bill pass without applying to elections that have taken place previously, and I will undertake not to claim my seat, and when the Bill has passed I will apply for the Chiltern Hundreds. I have no fear. If I am not fit for my constituents they shall dismiss me, but you never shall. The grave alone shall make me yield."
When a division was taken there were for the previous question 228, against 286. Mr. Samuel Morley voted with the majority against the Government. Sir Stafford Northcote's motion was then agreed to without a division.
Feb. 8th.—Mr. Labouchere, in committee of the whole House, proposed for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the law of Parliamentary Oaths and Affirmations. The Bill was afterwards formally blocked by Mr. Molloy.page 17
Feb. 17th.—Mr. Labouchere asked the Attorney-General whether the resolution of Feb. 7th had not vacated the seat. Sir Henry James answered that it had not.
Feb. 18th.—Mr. Gladstone writes Mr. Bradlaugh that the Government have no measure to propose with respect to his seat.
Feb. 21st—Mr. Bradlaugh of himself takes and subscribes the oath, and takes his seat.
Feb. 22nd.—Mr Bradlaugh expelled the House of Commons.
Mar. 2nd—Re-elected for Northampton. For Bradlaugh, 3,796; for Corbett, 3,688.
Mar. 6th.—On the motion of Sir Stafford Northcote, the House reaffirms its motion of the 7th Feb., Mr. Gladstone supporting an amendment moved by Mr. Marjoribanks, by which the House would have declared the desirability of legislation, for the purpose of giving members an option between oath and affirmation.
Mar. 7th.—Lord Redesdale introduces in the House of Lords a Bill, requiring every peer and every member of the House of Commons before taking the oath or making the affirmation, to declare and affirm his belief in Almighty God. The Bill, introduced "from a sense of what was due to Almighty God," was afterwards withdrawn "in deference to Lord Salisbury."
To this date, 317 petitions with 62,168 signatures had been presented against Mr. Bradlaugh being allowed to take his seat; while in favor of the same 1,051, with 250,833 signatures, had been presented.
Mr. Labouchere's Affirmation Bill blocked by Earl Percy.