HC Deb 05 March 1811 vol 19 cc240-4
Sir John Newport

rose, pursuant to notice, to move a resolution, ordering that no Public Bill should pass that House, unless the same interval should occur between its first and second reading, which took place between the first and second reading of every Irish, Private Bill. He said that it was but fair,. that the Irish should have a fair opportunity of knowing the exact state of their public business in that House. This he conceived to be impracticable under the existing regulations. There was an act then pending in the House, limiting the number of persons concerned in stagecoaches. This would considerably affect private property in tolls, and would in all probability be passed into a law before any portion of those most interested in its-provisions would know any thing of any-such measure having been agitated. After some further observations, he concluded with moving,—" That, in order to afford to the people of Ireland an adequate opportunity for communicating to parliament their representations on the probable effect of the legislative regulations about to be enacted, exclusively affecting that part of the united kingdom, and thereby to lessen the inconvenience to which they are subjected, by the removal to a considerable distance of the seat of the legislature, it is just and expedient that such an interval of time should be required to elapse between the second reading and the committal of every Public Bill, exclusively affecting Ireland, as is now directed between the first and second readings of Irish Private Bills by the standing order of this House of 30th June 1801."

Mr. Foster

opposed the Resolution, on the ground that no inconvenience had arisen out of the regulation now existing, and that the one proposed would have the effect of unnecessarily retarding the public business. He objected also to the preamble, the wording of which implied a direct censure on the Union between both countries—a measure which, although sincerely and strenuously opposed by himself, had yet been cordially supported by the right hon. baronet.

Mr. Hutchinson

thought the objection of the right hon. gent. to the preamble rather singular: the preamble was disapproved of because it censured a measure which had been supported by his right hon. friend. Did that preamble stale what was not the fact, or rather did it not speak the language of the commercial interests in Ireland? Were not those interests from day to day, in every session, obstructed and injured by the pernicious system of hurry, precipitance, and inadvertance which marked all their proceeding upon Irish questions? One ground of the right hon. gent.'s objection to the proposed regulation was, that no inconvenience resulted from the present mode. His personal experience enabled him to set the right hon. gentleman right on that head. He had known repeated instances, in the course of the last and former sessions, in which measures involving the interests of one of the first commercial cities in the empire, the city which he had the honour to represent (Cork), were rapidly carried through that House, though he had made earnest but ineffectual applications for time to consult with his constituents upon them. He had, then, no doubt that the present mode was a bad one. Whether that proposed by his right hon. friend could completely remedy the evil, he was not equally certain; but sure he was, that some change in the present regulation was imperiously necessary; and as the resolution proposed must, in some degree, effect that change, it should have his cordial support.

Mr. Parnell

said, that the right hon. bart. who had brought forward this motion, did not merit the imputation cast upon him, of having unnecessarily made an attack on the Union. That Ireland would suffer by the loss of her local legislature was an evil that even the friends of the measure allowed. They argued, that though this evil would arise, the advantages that Ireland would derive from the concessions that were promised as the immediate consequences of the measure, would more than compensate it. The right hon. bart. therefore, adopted only the language of the best friends of the Union, and did now act I in a manner inconsistent with his former conduct. In respect to the impediment which the right hon. gent. opposite alledges would he thrown in the way of public business by the adoption of the proposed regulation, he has not been fortunate in selecting the instance with which he endeavoured to support his argument. It is not required to make the regulation an act of the legislature, but merely an order of the House to govern its own proceedings. If, then, circumstances should arise, requiring a Bill to pass in the same expeditious manner as that in which it was requisite to pass the Treasury Bills, the House would be able, on a special case of necessity properly made out, to suspend its order for the occasion, and prevent any detriment to the public by making an exception to the general rule. The right hon. gent. had argued, that as most of the Irish business related to taxation, and as no petitions could be received against a tax, the proposed regulation was on this account unnecessary. But though it be true that no petition can be received, still the members representing Ireland ought to be allowed time to communicate with their constituents, and the people had an undoubted right to have the opportunity of making their opinions known. They possessed the privilege of being able to meet together for the purpose of instructing their representatives, and no obstruction ought to exist in the way of their free exercise of this valuable right.

Mr. Wellesley Pole

said, that until some case was made out of actual inconvenience under the present mode, he should not vote for any change in it.

Mr. Shaw

of Dublin said, that he could not agree with the right hon. gent. who spoke last, in thinking that no inconvenience had resulted from the present mode. He had had personal experience of many, affecting his constituents in particular, where measures were hurried through the House: amongst others, the Dublin Police Bill had not been treated with that consideration which it called for. Upon this and many other occasions, he himself had in vain applied for time; striking instance of the hurry and inadvertence which had prevailed in hurrying bills through that House, without due consultation with those who were more immediately to be affected by them, was, that when the magistrates were about to enforce a certain clause in the Wide-street Commissioners bill, they found, for the first time, that that very clause had been repealed by the provisions of the Dublin Coal bill, passed the preceding session. Such was the negligence and haste with which these bills had been hurried through that House. Circumstances of this nature could not but create that dissatisfaction and distrust, which it must be the wish of every honest man to remove. The effects were, however, but too obvious; and the general complaint in all the public meetings in Dublin was, that any thing was attended to in the House of Commons but Irish business.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

was surprised to hear the hon. gent. who spoke last select the Dublin Police Hill as an instance of that hurry and neglect of which he had complained. That Bill was brought into the House some time before Easter, and was not passed into a law till some time after Easter. What had appeared so very absurd in the repeal of the clause of the Wide-street Commissioners Bill by the Dublin Coal Bill, would not be thought so extraordinary when it was known that 'the Wide-street commissioners fund was principally supplied by the product of a duty on coals; here however it was evident that the hon. gent.'s observations could not apply, because that Bill was a private Bill, and therefore its delay could not have been owing to those alledged inconveniences which the resolution of the right hon. bart. meant to remedy.

Mr. Shaw,

in explanation said, that he meant the Paving Bill.

Mr. Croker

had the satisfaction of knowing that the Bill alluded to by the last speaker, so far from having been hurried through the House improperly, had been brought in on the 17th of February, and postponed for various reasons to the 14th of April, and even then it had been still further postponed. Neither the Police nor the Paving Bill bore the hon. member out in his statements. When such charges were brought forward, he was anxious that it should be proved there were solid grounds for them, or that they should be flatly contradicted, that it might be known not only here but in the sister kingdom, that they had no foundation. He defied the hon. bart. to name one Irish Bill which had been hurried through the House, if an Irish member had wished it to be deferred. If the hon. baronet could not do this, he would not consent that the House should throw a slur on itself, and, by acceding to such a motion, seem to evince a conviction that such a measure was necessary.

Sir J. Newport,

in reply, instanced the inconveniences which had been experienced through a money Bill being hurried through the House, imposing a tax on advertisements, which Bill was passed before the representations and explanations of the people of Ireland were received. He also mentioned another instance of the tax imposed upon hand bills. He thought it his duty, however friendly he might be to the legislative union of the two countries, to bring those circumstances forward, and to communicate to the House the general feelings of the people. Nothing could be more injurious to the interest of the empire than to oppose such a Resolution; nothing more likely to counteract the efforts of the Union.

Mr. Foster,

in allusion to what had been said by the hon. baronet respecting the Bill which he had spoken of as having been passed before the remonstrance of the people of Ireland could be received, appealed to the House (having stated the progress of it) if it could be said to have been hurried through the House. He then replied to the other statements of the hon. baronet, and vindicated the conduct of the House, in the instances to which allusions had been made. He denied that the House had been in the habit of neglecting the business of Ireland: so far from that being the fact, every degree of attention was paid to it which the importance of the subject could require.

Mr. Hutchinson

would not take individual instances that might be adduced, as proving that general inconvenience was not experienced.

A division then took place, when the numbers were, for the motion 29—Against it 74. Majority 45.