HC Deb 27 July 1807 vol 9 cc969-71

Upon the gallery being re-opened, we found

Mr. Brand

opposing the Irish Insurrection bill, most particularly on the ground that he could not think it advisable to confide to the hands of any man, however respectable, the power of overturning the decision of a jury.

Mr. Whitbread

proposed to restore the clause inflicting a penalty on magistrates who shall omit to give a return of those who act under them in cases where any subject may think himself injured, either in person, property, or family. This was not admissible, consistent with the forms of the house, unless an engrossed clause were ready for that purpose.

Mr. W. Smith

proposed that in consequence of the lateness of the hour (nearly half-past four o'clock), the further proceeding on the 3d reading should be postponed till to-morrow. Upon this, a division took place; we could not learn the numbers, but the motion was lost by a considerable majority.—By this time the clause was engrossed; upon the question, that it stand part of the bill, there was another division nearly the same as on the last question.

Sir, J. Newport

then moved the alteration of the duration of the bill from two years to one; upon this a third division took place: For the motion 28; against it 112. A long debate next ensued on the question that the bill do now pass.

Mr. J. W. Ward

expressed strong doubts as to the propriety of agreeing to the bill, after every attempt to amend it had been rejected. He was particularly astonished that the house had negatived the amendment on the duration of the bill, and asked what the people of this country would think, were the Mutiny bill to be passed for more than one year, though it was doubtless as necessary as this bill could possibly be? He, however, acknowledged that the great weight of the authority (Mr. Grattan's) which the house had heard in support of the bill, induced him reluctantly to vote for its passing into a law.

Lord Milton

was decidedly against the bill, and was determined to oppose the motion for passing it.

Mr. Sheridan

said, he could not agree to the bill in any shape; but most particularly the amendments, which would make it in some degree palatable, were rejected. If, said he, the time of reading the bill a third time had afforded me the best possible opportunity of delivering my sentiments on it at such length as I chose, I should not have profited by the advantage. I certainly did wish, and mean, to have selected the fittest occasion for giving fully my reasons for the abhorrence I feel for its principle, and the contempt I entertain for its provisions; but circumstances have since embarrassed my judgment, and I will state them shortly and sincerely. When I find the principle of the bill admitted on the plea of necessity by all those to whose judgement and information I am bound to pay the utmost deference, when I find I cannot oppose their acquiescence without arraying my knowledge of the fact of the real situation and temper of Ireland against their superior means of information, I feel the presumption and hazard of taking upon myself the responsibility of an earnest endeavour to persuade the house to reject a measure which I am almost single in regarding as the worst, the foulest, and the foolishest measure that ever solicited the sanction of parliament; but still more am I influenced by observing in my attendance on the committee, where I avow to have shunned taking any part, washing my hands, and absolving my conscience from meddling with, or tampering in any attempt to mend that which is so hateful in principle that it is perhaps best that it should carry with it all its unequal proportion of deformity. I say, I cannot but have been induced to forego my first determination, by observing that so many efforts at modifica- tion, moved by most respectable characters, and supported by the most unanswerable arguments, have been rejected and reprobated by insulting majorities.

Mr. Grattan

re-stated, that he had been informed that there were held in Ireland treasonable meetings, for the purpose of organizing a force to assist the French. The bill was to put down the French interest in Ireland, not to oppress the Irish nation. He did not mean to accuse his countrymen of treason or disaffection; but he was certain, that there was a French party in Ireland; it was against them, and not against Irishmen, that the operation of the bill was directed; and sooner than run a risk of losing the constitution altogether, he would take upon himself his full share, in common with his majesty's ministers, of the responsibility which would attach to the measure.—The house then divided on the motion that the bill do now pass. The numbers were, Ayes 106; Noes 8; Majority 98. Adjourned at half-past 6 on Tuesday morning.