HC Deb 02 July 1822 vol 7 cc1498-500

Mr. Goulburn moved for leave to bring in his bill for the continuance of the Irish Insurrection act. At so late an hour in the evening, it would be impossible to give the measure that/consideration which its importance demanded. He proposed, therefore, to postpone the discussion to a future stage of the bill.

Sir R. Wilson

protested in the most unqualified terms against the measure, and trusted that an early day would be fixed for its discussion.

Lord Folkestone

said, the House would bear in mind, that when, at the opening of the session, this measure was introduced, the reason alleged for its introduction was, that Ireland was in a state of insurrection, and even of actual rebellion. Now, he would take the liberty of stating, that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus had not been carried into effect in a single instance. The information upon which the act had at first been passed, had been meagre; and the noble marquis opposite had pledged himself that the whole state of Ireland should be gone into. Many members had, no doubt, voted for the measure upon the faith of this pledge, which had not been redeemed. The noble marquis and others had said that Ireland was in a state of absolute rebellion. This had, however, been denied by the attorney-general for Ireland, who had described the whole disturbance in Ireland as being contemptible. The House had thus been induced to pass the bill under false pretences. The noble lord then referred to the papers on the table, in order to show that the state of Ireland had, instead of improving, become absolutely worse under the operation of the measure. The turbulence and violence had no doubt been put down, but then the putting of them down had been only temporary, and the spirit of the people had not been corrected. It would be dangerous to render permanent a measure which conferred such powers, and which had been found not efficient. [Mr. Goulburn said, it was intended to continue the measure only for one year]. One year would not be sufficient for ascertaining whether the measure would be beneficial or not. It had already been in operation for five months, and it had not done any good; there was, therefore, no presumption in favour of a measure which should continue for a year. He thought it wrong to delay the discussion, as the government, or at least several members of it, were well acquainted with the state of Ireland. It was true that marquis Wellesley was new as governor of Ireland; but it was equally true that the system of government was not new.—Lord Liverpool and lord Westmorland were well acquainted with Ireland; and even the noble marquis opposite knew something about the mode by which it was governed. That noble lord had, before the Union, introduced a measure with regard to Irish tithes, a subject to which the feelings of the people of Ireland were much awake. A great deal had been said about the cause of the present disturbance in Ireland; but hat cause must be sought either in the tithes or in the Catholic question. With regard to the latter question, it was known that one-half of the government was for it, and the other half against it. At one time they had an anti-Catholic lord lieutenant and a Catholic chief secretary, and now the state of things was just the reverse. This could be no inducement for him to agree to a measure which appeared to be quite ineffectual. He thought they should introduce some real radical measure, which would ameliorate the condition and correct the spirit of the people of Ireland.

Mr. Plunkett

said, he had never declared that the state of Ireland did not call for the measure in question. He had only observed, that the disturbances in Ireland were in no way connected with religious feeling.

Mr. Denman

complained that the measure would be putting Ireland for ever out of the pale of the constitution. He thought the clause which refused costs to those who had been successful in actions against magistrates under the act, was peculiarly objectionable; and that, for the purpose of removing that and other offensive clauses, the bill should be entitled a "Bill to continue and amend the act in question."

Leave was given to bring in the bill.