Meeting the Prime Minister

Minutes of a meeting between Prime Minister Lord John Russell and a deputation from the City of London concerning the admission of Jews to parliament. 29 August c.1848. RAL 000/573.

Minutes of an Interview in Downing St. on Tuesday Augt. 29th with Lord J. Russell on the parts of the City Deputation in reference the Removal of Jewish Disability

Mr Smith presented a petition to his Lordship from the City requesting to know his future intentions in reference to the removal of Jewish Disabilities & the period of the next Session of Parliament at wh. [which] his Lordship would introduce a new Bill. Mr Smith claimed for the Committee and friends of Baron Rothschild in the City credit for great consideration for the convenience of HM's Govt. in the forbearance they had shewn in not urging on Lord John or the Govt. the prosecution of the Oath's Bill introduced by Ld John after the rejection of the Jewish Disabilities Bill in the House of Lords. The Gentlemen present were quite disposed to continue the same forbearance as far as they could but felt it due to their own character & to the confidence placed in them by the majority of the City constituency to request Lord John to give them such information as he could as to his future intentions to enable them to justify to their fellow constituents their abstinence from all agitation & their responsibility in advising Baron Rothschild not to claim or resign his seat but await patiently the decision of the Legislature on a renewed appeal to them to modify the Oath wh[ich] prevented him (Baron R.) from taking his seat.

Mr Smith also requested Lord John in his answer to state whether if a new Bill was introduced by the Govt. he had decided upon again bringing forward the Jewish Disabilities Bill or the General Oaths Bill now on the table of the House.

Lord John in his reply was understood to feel great difficulty as to the course he should pursue in consequence of the few days appropriated strictly to Govt. business in the House of Commons before Easter when it was impossible to postpone the Navigation Laws and when it was probable that urgent measures regarding Ireland might require the early & serious attention of Parliament that under these circumstances he felt unable to pledge himself to introduce at the Commencement of next session any Bill to modify the Oath [which] now obstructs Baron Rothschild's admission into the House & suggested that there were two [routes] open to Baron Rothschild & his friends.

1.That the Bill to remove Jewish Disabilities be introduced by some Members of Parliament unconnected with the
Govt. at the commencement of the session.
2.That on the reassembling of Parliament Baron R should present himself to take his seat & after declining to take
the Oath as presently required should resign his seat & again present himself to the Electors. Lord John thought that
his return a second time under such circumstances could not but have considerable weight with the House of Lords.

Lord John declined to give any answer at present as to what description of Bill or measure he should propose to the House & whenever the subject should again be introduced to the notice of Parliament.

In answer to the above it was stated by Mr Smith & other of the Gentlemen present that however important & urgent other measures might be & however much they might justify L[ord] John in declining to pledge himself as to the future - still that the strength of feeling in the city in reference to the Jewish question - the position of Baron R[othschild] in reference to the Constituency & the importance of that Constituency made it impossible for those present to consent to any delay in the introduction of a Bill next Session & that therefore altho' they should strongly deprecate the Agitation & possible disorder produced by a City Election under such circumstances in the present state of the public mind still that they should have no alternative.