§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that under no circumstances could he consider it as other than a most painful duty to have to submit to the House the continued application to Ireland of the provisions of the Insurrection act. For although he had more than once thought it his duty to support bills of this description when proposed by others, he could nevertheless assure the House that there was not a man in it, who was more sensible than himself of the objections to which they were liable. Most gratifying indeed would it have been to the noble lord at the head of the Irish government, if he, had felt himself justified, consistently with a due regard to the safety of the lives and property of the quiet and loyal inhabitants of Ireland, in dispensing with a measure which, 1523 though not inconsistent with the practice of the constitution, was certainly a deviation from those principles of moderation and mildness which ought to characterise the government of a free and civilized community. But the state of Ireland did not admit of the gratification of private feeling at the expence of the public safety; and as a necessity unfortunately existed for measures of extraordinary vigour and severity, the noble lord would be the last to shrink from the responsibility of recommending such measures to parliament. Nothing but the necessity of the case could justify this appeal; but if he could satisfy the House that that necessity unfortunately now existed he could prove that the state of Ireland was such as to require the adoption of extraordinary measures; that the existing laws were not sufficient to meet the emergency to and if he could farther show, that the measure which he now proposed was particularly calculated to meet and to remedy the existing evil, he flattered himself that, whatever might be the objections to the measure on the score of principle, he should nevertheless be the entitled to the approbation and support the House. So short a time had elapsed since the original enactment of this law, when the circumstances which called for it were fully detailed, that it could not be necessary for him to enter into a recapitulation of the events of the last eight or nine months, which formed the ground of the enactment. Every one would recollect what was the state of Ireland as then laid before the House in the despatches from the lord lieutenant; and if he adverted to that state of things at that time, it was only with the object of showing by a comparison with the state in which they were now, the necessity of re-enacting this bill. At the period to which he alluded, a general system of insubordination prevailed throughout Ireland, more certainly in some districts than in others, but the distinctive marks of the peculiar evil were to be found in every part of the country. This system of insubordination had been for smile time progressively increasing, and had in one district been matured into open insurrection and rebellion and warfare with the king s troops. It was to be observed moreover, that this was not any sudden ebullition of popular feeling, excited by some temporary and fleeting cause; but that it had regularly and 1524 gradually grown up from small beginnings until a system had been organised, the avowed object of which was to interfere with the administration of property, to tyrannise over individuals, and to prevent the enforcement of the laws, and the due execution of justice. This system was built upon a general combination among the disaffected of the lower orders, and it was maintained and conducted by the means of secret associations, of which it was not easy to fathom the source, but of which the objects could not be mistaken. The most dangerous and destructive principles were avowed and enforced, illegal oaths were imposed, converts were daily made, the most severe denunciations were held out against the payment of rents, taxes and tithes, and against the letting of lands in any manner at variance with the orders of these secret associations. Their denunciations of vengeance, easily called forth by resistance to their authority, were carried into effect with unheard-of barbarity, and the nightly assemblages of armed people, afforded the means of forming their plans and of executing their decrees. Another object of these nightly meetings was the collection of arms, and the making of proselytes, with a view to the complete extension of their principles through the country. It would be most painful for him to state, and for the House to hear, the excesses, the outrages, the cruelties which had been committed—the violations of property, the robberies, the burnings of houses, the murders, which had afflicted and disgraced Ireland. Into these he would not enter, because it was not his wish to make an appeal to the feelings of the House on a question on which he was most anxious to apply himself to their calm and unbiassed judgments. It was sufficient for him to state, that, in February last, a system of terror was completely established through a part of the country; that a systematic attempt was made, and nearly perfected, to establish a power in the country stronger than the law, and to convince the people, that, while they might offend the law with impunity, they must not disobey the orders of these self-created legislators without incurring the most immediate and dreadful punishments. It was not to be supposed, that a system of this kind could be formed without exciting the notice and the fears of the government. The government of Ireland had seen the 1525 evil, and had endeavoured to remedy it, by the application of all the means which the laws and the constitution afforded; and he was sure there was no gentleman present who would blame ministers for not, in the first instance, applying to parliament for extraordinary powers. It was, in all cases, the undoubted duty of government not to apply to parliament for an extension of power, until they had tried and found the inefficacy of the existing laws; for nothing could tend more effectually to create a disrespect and contempt of the law, than for the government to call upon parliament, upon every slight emergency, to strengthen its hands, without a fair application of the power which could be legally exercised. In the present case, every means had been tried to re-establish tranquillity, without success; and it was only on their failure that the Insurrection act had been applied for. The assizes were held: many persons were tried, convicted, and executed; but the desired effect was not produced. Government had recourse to special commissions: numerous offenders were brought before them—and the severity of the law was tried, to an extent scarcely justifiable under other circumstances. But the effect of the execution did not survive the execution itself: on the very night, sometimes, after some of these misguided individuals had forfeited their lives to the offended laws of their country, offences of the same kind, and of equal enormity, were perpetrated; and witnesses were attacked, and sometimes murdered, for having given their evidence againt some of these offenders. But though the law was, in many instances, administered with a severity calculated to enforce a dread of the law, superior to that inspired by the acts of the insurgents, it was not an indiscriminate severity. No government ever took more pains than the government of Ireland—no individual ever applied himself so devotedly as the lord lieutenant, to look for cases in which mercy might be exercised, without injury to the public; but he was sorry to say that while the punishments which were inflicted had no effect in deterring others from the commission of crimes, as little did the mercy which was shown make any impression upon the feelings of those to whom it was extended; on the contrary, it seemed rather to operate as an encouragement to the commission of offence. Nor was the government backward in applying means 1526 of prevention as well as of punishment. The counties in which this insurrectionary spirit prevailed, were filled with the special police, an establishment which had been found to be productive of great benefit in Ireland; the military force was increased by one half, and disposed in the most effectual way over the country; but neither the vigilance of the police, conducted in the most active and able manger and with the utmost zeal, nor the efforts of the military, directed by the most skilful officers, were capable of producing the desired effect of tranquillizing the country, or of affording protection to the peaceable and loyal inhabitants. At the meeting of parliament the plans of the insurgents were advancing rapidly to a state of consummation. It was under these circumstances that the government of Ireland felt itself compelled to apply to parliament for extraordinary powers, and that parliament thought it right to grant them. It was gratifying to him to be able to state that at the moment he was addressing the House the danger no longer existed to the same extent; that in the districts which were the principal seats of the disturbances, a very great diminution had occurred in the number of offences, and it might be hoped that some reform had taken place in the spirit and feelings of the people. By the munificence of this country, in administering to the wants of Ireland, a spirit of kindness had been excited, which it was to be hoped would lead to a firm attachment to the government and to the laws of the country from which the relief had proceeded. But when he said that a considerable improvement had taken place, he was also bound to add, that there still unfortunately existed sufficient ground for apprehension, that, if government were now deprived of those extraordinary powers with which it had been invested, a recurrence of the evil would be the inevitable result. When crimes of the nature of those to which he had been alluding had attained a certain degree of maturity, it was not to be expected that the spirit which had led to them could at once be suppressed; it required something more than a temporary submission to the law, to show that the country was really and, effectually tranquillized. In Tipperary seven houses had been burned, and nine attacked and robbed of arms, and one murder committed in one district, within the short space of ten days. But the 1527 magnitude of the evil did not depend upon the number of houses attacked or burned, or upon the number of outrages committed; an increase in the number of crimes might take place in the most peaceful communities, might be adequately met by an increased vigilance in the administration of the existing law; but the real nature of the evil in Ireland was to be found in the peculiar and distinctive character of the outrages committed. It was impossible to peruse the papers on the table, without seeing that the crimes now committed were marked with the same features which had distinguished them from the beginning. They bore the marks of the same systematic attempt to raise the power of the populace above the power of the law. The outrages committed were in general preceded by some notice to the suffering individual, whose whole offence consisted in his disobedience to this illegal authority.—Another distinctive character which marked these outrages was, the systematic efforts which were made to inflict vengeance upon those who were in any way instrumental in brining any of these criminals to justice. It was most distressing to know, that in the state in which Ireland had been, the law could not be put in force without risk to the lives of those well disposed individuals who dared to give their testimony in courts of justice. To such an incredible extent was this carried, that it had become, in the administration of the law, almost a matter of course to commit the witness to one gaol, while the criminal was sent to another, as the only means which the magistrate possessed of securing to him effectual protection. The papers would present to the House a very recent instance, in which even this precaution had been found unavailing, in which an individual, who had been so committed to a gaol as a place of security, previous to his giving his evidence, had been induced to go out for a day, and on that very day had paid the forfeit of his life for his indiscretion. But what was the general state of the country, as represented in the papers before the House? That the people were all sworn to the same undefined object which marked these associations from the commencement, and that they still retained the arms of which they had illegally become possessed; that they had the disposition to attempt, and the means to execute their general purpose of violence and revolution. He would, then, 1528 put it to the House, whether it would be prudent to withdraw these powers from the hands of government? Whether it would be just or humane to leave the peaceable and well disposed inhabitants of Ireland, at the mercy of such criminals as those he had described I Or whether, after what he had stated, it could for a moment be contended that the ordinary laws in existence were sufficient to meet and put down the existing evil. The great claim which this law had upon the approbation of parliament, was, that it was precisely calculated to meet the evil complained of., In many instances it operated rather in the way of prevention than of punishment; it arrested the culprit in the commencement of his course; it saved him from the commission of crime of a deeper die, and from a severer punishment. The ordinary laws in force admitted no interference, for the purpose of preventing the meeting of these insurgents. But this bill effectually prevented the meeting, by restraining the parties to their dwellings; if it failed in that, it enabled you to find out, by examination of the houses, those who had been present. If the government were to be deprived of this power of thus checking crime, they would have no other alternative left but that of inflicting the last dreadful sentence of the law, and depriving the criminal of life. With whatever propriety, therefore, this might be called, and it was justly called, a measure of severity, as applied to a country in a state of tranquillity, yet, in a country like Ireland, where the law had for a time lost its power, and where there was known to exist a determined spirit of insurrection, it was in fact quite the reverse; and if there were gentlemen who felt for the severity which might be exercised under this law towards those who were guilty of crimes, and who as such were to be its victims, he begged they would also feel for the sufferings of those whom this law was intended to protect, who were by all admitted to be innocent of any offence, whose punishments, if the law did not now pass, would be infinitely more severe than any that could be inflicted upon the most criminal offender. It was a fact not undeserving the consideration of the House, that, at the very moment of these deliberations, the wretched and deluded criminals against whom this law was directed, were looking forward to the time of its expiration as to the time when they might renew their outrages with comparative security. It 1529 was for the House, then, to decide whether they would confirm these expectations; whether they would run the risk of consigning the loyal and peaceful part of the community to the tyranny of the disloyal and the turbulent; or whether, by granting the powers which were now required, which had been in no instance abused, and which had been admitted by parliament to be requisite for the suppression of the evils which existed, they would restore to the suffering parts of Ireland comparative tranquillity and peace. He well knew that individual character could be no ground to warrant parliament in conferring powers of extraordinary severity; but, admitting the severity of the case, which, he apprehended, was fully established, he might fairly, say that a government that had wisely, moderately, but firmly executed the powers already confided to it, had a strong claim to their renewal. There were those in the House who must know how justly the utmost reliance might be placed in the noble marquis at the head of the affairs of Ireland, and how dearly he was attached to the true principles of freedom; but it was because he knew that in free countries especially, the constitution could dot sometimes be maintained without unusual means and exertions, that he called upon the British parliament to continue the law before the House. He (Mr. G.) asked for no new and untried authority, and he asked it for a period shorter than parliament had ever before granted it in any case of similar danger. He asked it, finally, for the purpose of maturing measures of civil police and internal administration under which he was as willing as any man to allow Ireland ought to be governed. He moved that the Speaker do leave the chair.
§ Sir Robert Wilson
said, he considered the present to be a measure which would retard, instead of advancing, the tranquillity of Ireland. Besides, if the House passed this bill without receiving from ministers a guarantee of an investigation into the state of Ireland, then no such investigation would at all take place. When it was found that the causes of any recent conflagration still existed, it became a duty to take such measures as would prevent the operation of those causes in future. He begged leave to disclaim all imputation on the character of the noble marquis now at the head of the Irish government. This was the more 1530 necessary, as he was arraigning a measure which might almost be considered as one in which he Was personally interested. Foe that noble marquis he always entertained the greatest respect, He believed him to be a statesman possessed of a most comprehensive mind, and of many splendid qualities. But that consideration in no way removed his objections to the proposed measure which were founded on the nature of the measure itself, and without any reference to those by whom it was to be put in execution. When the bill was introduced in the early part of the session, it was passed without any previous investigation. That haste had been justified by a reference to suspensions of the Habeas Corpus act in this country, agreed, to by parliament with as little preliminary inquiry. But the cases were not parallel; and, if they were, he would say of both measures, that they had been asked for by government in the lust of power, and granted by parliament in the wantonness, of confidence. We were in both countries travelling over and over the same dangerous and shameful round—a demand of justice, on the part of the people, invariably met by an act of severity on the part of the governors. The enactments of the bill were tremendous, and were calculated to dissolve all the elements on which social civilization depended. Although25 years had elapsed since he first knew Ireland, never should he forget the scenes of horror he had then witnessed in that country; never should he forget the tears and howlings of women and children, lamenting the fate of their husbands and fathers, who were sent either as felons to New South Wales, or as conscripts to swell the armies of the king of Prussia. He knew that the calumniators of the Irish would be ready to palliate the conduct of the Irish government, at the time to which he alluded, by saying that brute force was the only vis medicatrix for the disorders of Ireland. He would, just state one fact, which he had himself witnessed, and leave the House to judge how far such an exhibition of cruelty could be conducive to the restoration of tranquillity in any country. He remembered having been in Ireland, when a man against whom no absolute charge was preferred, but was only suspected of being an United Irishman, was apprehended; and when it was thought expedient by the high sheriff to endeavour to obtain from him, by tor- 1531 ture, a confession of his own guilt, as well as an inculpation of others, he remembered seeing that man tied to the scaffold, hung up by the back, another part of his person tied to the calves of his legs, his back excoriated with flogging, and salted, until the whole presented a shocking and undistinguishable mass of bleeding flesh. He (sir R. W.) should not have possessed the feelings of a man if he had not remonstrated with those who were superintending this dreadful barbarity. He did remonstrate. And what was the answer he received? "You know nothing of the Irish. They can be governed only by cats-o'-nine-tails and halters. The drummer and the executioner are the best ministers in this country." Who did not remember the atrocities committed by a magistrate of great, authority in another part of Ireland? Against that magistrate various actions were instituted by individuals, on whom he had ordered without cause, the infliction of the most brutal punishment. Among others, Mr Wright, a teacher of French, hearing that Mr. Fitzgerald, high sheriff of Tipperary, had received some charges of a seditious nature against him, waited on Mr. Fitzgerald, who, without investigation, sentenced him to be flogged, and then shot. The unhappy man surrendered his keys to have his papers searched, protesting his innocence. Next day the unhappy man was dragged to a ladder in Clonmellstreet, to undergo his sentence. He knelt down in prayer, with his hat before his face. Mr. Fitzgerald came up, dragged his hat from him and trampled on it; seized the man by the hair, dragged him to the earth, cut him across the forehead with his sword, and then had him stripped naked, tied up to the ladder, and ordered him fifty lashes. Major Rial, an officer in the town, came up as the fifty lashes were completed, and asked Mr. Fitzgerald the cause? Mr. F. handed the major a note, written in French, saying he did not himself understand French, though he understood Irish, but he (major Rial) would find in that letter what would justify him in flogging the scoundrel to death. Major Rial read the letter.—He found it to be a note addressed to the victim, translated in these words:—"Sir, I am extremely sorry I cannot wait on you at the hour appointed, being unavoidably obliged to attend sir Laurence Parsons. Your's, Baron de Clubs." Notwithstanding this translation, which major 1532 Rial read to Mr. Fitzgerald, he ordered fifty lashes more to be inflicted, and with such peculiar severity, that the bowels of the victim could be perceived to be convulsed and working through his wounds. Mr. Fitzgerald, finding he could not continue the application of his cat-o'-nine-tails on that part without cutting his way into his body, ordered the waistband of his breeches to be cut open, and 50 more lashes to be inflicted there. He then left the unfortunate man bleeding and suspended while he went to the barracks to demand a file of men to come and shoot him; but being refused by the commanding officer, he came back and sought for a rope to hang him, but could not get one. He then ordered him to be cut down and sent back to prison, where he was confined in a dark small room, with no other furniture than a wretched pallet of straw without covering, and there he remained six or seven days without medical assistance. Nevertheless, a bill of indemnity in favour of the magistrate in question, was introduced into the Irish House of Commons, and passed, amidst the applauses and eulogies of members who, for that act merited a subjection, to the severities before the inflictor of which they thus erected a screen. But was that all? No. That very individual was made a colonel in the army, and was sent out to the Mediterranean in the command of a regiment; from which command, however, he was removed in four-and twenty hours after his arrival, by the brave, amiable, and ever-to-be lamented sir Ralph Abercrombie. Motions of inquiry into the causes of the discontents had been frequently made, but uniformly rejected. In the meanwhile, the Insurrection act had been at various periods renewed. Parliament were now called upon to pass it for another year, without any previous investigation of the evils which had been formerly occasioned by its operation. The effect of those evils still manifested itself. The wounds of the body might be healed (although in many cases the sufferer had gone to the tomb), but, the wounded spirit remained, an its deep and bitter execrations were yet pouring forth. And, was not that the natural order of things? Was it not in the course of nature, that grievances should produce hatred; that neglect should produce lawlessness; that intolerance should produce impatience and insurrection The time had, however, come, when we 1533 must change our system in Ireland—when we must endeavour to discover remedies for the evils that for so many centuries had been accumulating in that unhappy country. The first remedy which he should recommend, was to put an end to all those heartburnings, arising out of religious distinctions; for how could that be called a man s country, in which he was not permitted freely to enjoy his full share of civil rights? He knew it would be said, that the House of Commons had done their duty on this subject; and that the impediment arose in another place. But, could any man believe, that if those members of the cabinet, who affected to favour the cause of the Catholics, had exerted themselves with sincerity and earnestness, the question would not have been carried in the other house of parliament by acclamation? Every one knew in what principles the late prince of Wales had been educated, and the subsequent professions of that illustrious personage; and he (sir R. W.) had no doubt, if ministers had acted on the subject of Catholic emancipation honestly and becomingly, that his majesty would have been happy to exclaim with Joseph 2nd.—"Thank God! the influence of fanaticism is about to cease in my empire." Was it not monstrous that between four and five millions of our fellow-subjects should be deprived of their civil rights for following a creed, which they believed, a creed which not long ago our own ancestors believed, and which they abandoned, not from any gradual conviction of its error, but in sudden deference to the will of a cruel tyrant, who had been baffled by the head of the Catholic church in the pursuit of a criminal object? The next remedy he should recommend, was the removal of an evil which had long been a main cause of the discontents and insurrections of Ireland, whatever shape they might have assumed;—the tithe system. The abolition of the present system of tithes, and a new regulation of the revenues of the church, were indispensable. This was a subject with which the legislature had frequently interfered. They had interfered with it in the reigns of Henry the 4th and Henry 5th. In the reign of Henry the 8th, parliament called upon the king to take the administration of the revenues of the church into his own hands. In 1735, the parliament of Ireland passed a resolution relieving pasture land from the payment 1534 of tithes. Since the Union, the noble marquis opposite had brought into the imperial parliament a measure exempting pasture land from the payment of tithes. It was idle, therefore, to talk of the inexpediency of any interference on this subject.—Thegallant member proceeded to recapitulate from Hume, the history of tithes for some time after their first introduction into England. From the tithes of Ireland her bishops derived the most princely fortunes. While the salary of an English bishop averaged about 3,000l. a-year, the total revenue of the Irish archbishops and bishops was no less than 118,000l. per annum. But by leases falling in and other means, this hierarchy in reality received much more; and an Irish archbishop had lately died worth 150,000l.,although he did not bring a single shilling with him into Ireland. M. Chateaubriand, the champion par excellence in France, of divine right, in church and state, could not defend the consecrated title of tithes, and only lamented over them as "the abolition of a patriarchal tribute the most venerable amongst men—as a broken link which had connected the bounties of the earth with the hopes of heaven, the interests of the priest with the prosperity of the labourer, and the chaunts and canticles of all ages with the flowers and the fruits of all seasons."—The third remedy which he would prescribe for the evils in Ireland, was the education of the lower orders. That was an object at present grossly neglected. It was true that parliament voted every year 18,000l. for a Protestant school; 9,000l. for a Catholic school. With that inequality he would not quarrel. But what he quarrelled with was, that a grant of 11,000l. was voted to an association called the Kildare Association. He was sure that the House intended that the institution should be open for the instruction of the lower orders, whether Catholic or Protestant. But the trustees for the Kildare Association, managed the matter in a way utterly subversive of that intention With a view to remedy if possible the etas which for five-and-twenty years had oppressed Ireland, and had been a source of embarrassment and peril to the empire at large, he should propose as an amendment to the motion: "That it be an instruction to the committee, that they do investigate the causes of the present distressed state of Ireland, with a view to the adoption of such measures as may be cal- 1535 culated to restore and preserve the tranquillity of the country, and render unnecessary those provisions of extraordinary severity, which are incompatible with the spirit and practice of the British constitution."
§ Mr. Lucius Concannon
urged the immediate necessity of adopting measures calculated to heal the wounds of his native country; and warmly expressed the indignation which he felt at seeing ministers allow month after month to elapse, and calamity after calamity to occur, without any endeavour to arrest the progress of the evil.
said, that although he fully concurred in the indignation expressed against the ministers for their want of exertion to remove the causes of the misery of Ireland, yet as he could not consent, on account of any fault of theirs, to leave the loyal inhabitants of that country exposed to the dagger of the midnight assassin, he should, however reluctantly, vote for the bill. While he made this sacrifice of personal feeling, he might be allowed to ask how the ministers justified themselves for not having, during the session, proposed any measure for the relief of Ireland, except that insufficient measure for the leasing of tithes? One cause of Ireland s misfortunes was, that redundancy of population, which appeared to increase with an accumulated force. That redundancy of population did, in his opinion, produce the moral degradation of Ireland; and, operating on the principle of reaction, that moral degradation had the effect of keeping up the excessive population. The Irish gentlemen were not guiltless in this case, by their practice of multiplying freeholds for election purposes. He should be sorry to narrow the elective franchise; but if leases for life no longer gave a vote in Ireland, the gentry would have a direct interest in diminishing the population on their estates, and of removing the great evil. A heavy responsibility rested on the government, for its conduct towards a country, which, from its natural advantages, might have been a paradise, but which, by mismanagement, had been made a terrestrial hell.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, that when the act had first been passed, he had never discharged a inure painful duty than in giving it his support. If at the time when the Insurrection act had been first proposed this session, ministers had not given 1536 an absolute pledge, their declarations and the mode of bringing forward the measure, had created a strong belief that they intended to take immediate steps to remove the real causes of that disorganization and discontent, which they introduced a temporary measure to repress. From the limited duration of the Insurrection act, as at first acceded to by the House, from the rapidity with which it was carried through all its stages, by the suspension even of the standing orders of parliament, from all the circumstances connected with that proceeding, as well as from the speech of the noble mover, every person was led to believe that ministers were determined to reform, or rather to abandon that system under which Ireland had so long suffered; and to remove those irritating causes of discontent which had so long and so lamentably prevailed. Now, what been done? Had measures of conciliation, by which alone those evils could be alleviated, been resorted to? No; a system of coercion alone had been pursued. What boon had Ireland received during the present session? With the exception of the remission of the windowtax, which he admitted to be a great boon, what had been done for that country? The people of Ireland had, under the pressure of actual famine and disease, received some relief from grants made by that House. It was, however, a temporary relief, meant to meet a temporary disease, and did not enter into the general policy of the government of the day. Was, he would ask, the Tithe-leasing bill any effectual remedy for the evils arising out of the present mode of supporting the established church? Could any man who looked on tithes as producing any portion of the discontent which was felt throughout Ireland, consider that bill as any thing like a remedy? With respect to the Police bill, as introduced into the House, so far from doing away the evils complained of, it really aggravated them. The measure as amended was calculated to have a better effect. What, then, had Ireland received, after all the promises held out to her?—A mere measure of police, and an inefficient Tithe bill, calculated less to tranquillize than to irritate. These two measures were surely not such as the legislature should offer for the relief of Ireland. The objections to the passing of the Insurrection act now, were much stronger than at the beginning of the session. In the first place, the hope that 1537 it was only passed to give time for permanent measures of amelioration had not been realised. The people of Ireland had expected remedial measures, ministers held out hopes that such would be introduced, but all had ended in disappointment. In the next place, the dispatches on which it was professedly grounded, would as much warrant a perpetual as a temporary Insurrection act; as in the last page of them that bill was demanded, not for any immediate protection, but to promote "the extension and cultivation of peace and good order." In former cases such a. treasure had been asked for only as a remedy for an existing evil; but here the recommendation went far beyond that limit, and this most severe measure of coercion was pointed out for the first time as necessary "for the extension and cultivation of peace and good order." He very much doubted the propriety of passing such a law on documents so meagre and jejune as the dispatches now on the table. There was no period at which information of a similar character and nature could not be laid before parliament. The dispatches from lord Whitworth, upon which the measure of 1816 had been founded, had been of a character essentially different. Why were anonymous communications to be laid before parliament, and how could they be depended upon? He, as a magistrate of Ireland, never wished but that his information and his name, when he happened to be in communication with government, should be coupled together. He was anxious to be fairly and publicly responsible for whatever he did in his official capacity. He believed that such would be the feelings of the most respectable magistrates of Ireland. He believed, also, that so far from the people of Ireland feeling any prejudice against a magistrate for performing his duty, they would esteem and respect him, if he administered justice fairly and impartially, however strictly. He was disposed to accede to the act now proposed as a remedy for existing evils; he believed it would be found useful in quieting the disturbed districts. The crime to which it referred was fairly described, and the punishment attached to it was not too great. But he would now, and must ever, protest against the principle which superseded the trial by jury—a principle introduced not only unwisely but unjustly; not only without evidence but against evidence of the most decisive character. If 1538 juries had been found either unwilling or unable to do their duty, then, perhaps, he would not blame the legislature for dispensing with the great constitutional principle of jury trial. A measure thus infringing upon the constitutional liberties of the people could only be defended in a case of extreme emergency, when, if the trial by jury were found at a particular period unsafe, it might be suspended. But how stood the case here? Since the disturbance in the county of Limerick, the trial by jury was resorted to. Two special commissions had been held, and he believed one if not both of these commissions was attended by the present attorney-general for Ireland. No jurors could have assembled under circumstances of greater terror and apprehension than prevailed at the period to which he referred. They were assembled under circumstances that might have shaken the resolution even of the most constant and firm-minded men; yet, though placed in this perilous situation, it was impossible for any juries to behave with a more tin, daunted spirit [Hear!]. He confidently asserted in the hearing of the attorney-general for Ireland, that no men had ever performed a public trust with more undaunted spirit than the juries of Munster at the late special commission (Mr. Plunkett assented). The right hon. gentleman assented. What pretence was there then for abolishing jury trial in similar cases [Hear, hear, hear!]. If the experiment of trial by jury had been attempted under all possible disadvantages, and if it had been found to answer every purpose for which it was originally instituted—that of affording substantial justice—he would turn round and boldly ask parliament, what good reason could be adduced for suspending the great constitutional right of the country? [Hear, hear!]. It was in the power of, the magistrates, under this bill, to try the accused party without a jury; it was in their power to extend to the prisoner in the dock, if they pleased, the merciful interposition of a jury; but surely a jury trial should have been the rule, and not the exception [Hear!]. Thu right hon. gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) had taken care to speak only of the origin of the present insurrection; he seemed to consider the present insurrection as peculiar in its nature and origin, whereas the causes of this and all previous ones were the same. If be looked into the correspondence in the British Museum, he 1539 would find that even in 1640 and 1650, the very same causes which were now spoken of, the mode of letting property, the oppression of the peasantry, and the local impositions, were referred to as the causes of evil in Ireland. If they could pass a measure of fifty times the strength of the Insurrection act, supposing such adamantine legislation were within the power of parliament, it would only skin over the wound not heal it. When conciliatory measures were called for, the answer was "the house is on fire, first extinguish the flames, and then we may talk of improvement." But how could the legislature be justified, when, for years, the same evils were daily recurring and increasing, without any efficient effort on the part of the government to put an end to them? What had been done for Ireland? Had not an inquiry into the state of that country been refused? Had any thing been done which would conduce to its permanent improvement? When the motion of his right hon. friend (the member for Waterford) for an inquiry had been brought forward, what had been its result? It had been refused; and that refusal had been justified on the ground that the House, in courtesy, ought to wait until they saw what government was about to do. They had waited, and. they now saw that government had done nothing, and were not disposed to do any thing effectual. How had the subject of the tithe system been met when that measure had been brought forward by his hon. friend (sir John Newport) in an amendment to the motion of the hon. member for Aberdeen? That motion had been met by carrying the previous question; and this after the strongest declarations of opinion ever made by the individuals most intimately acquainted with Ireland and her real interests. Such was the conduct of the present government. What had been the remedies resorted to by the best and wisest men in times and cases similar to the present? He would read to the House a few words from the recommendation of the celebrated lord Bacon, in which that great philosopher, in speaking of the best mode of rendering Ireland happy and prosperous, thus stated his sentiments:—"The reduction of that country, as well to civility and justice as to obedience and peace, which things, as affairs now stand, I hold to be inseparable, consisteth in four points.—1. The extinguishing the relics of the war." He (Mr. Rice) would, call on the 1540 government to extinguish the relics of party feelings. The 2nd point was, "the recovery of the hearts of the people." Now, he would ask of the House, and of the members of all past administrations since the Union, whether any one measure had been set on foot, which had for its object "the recovery of the hearts of the people" [Hear, hear!]. The 3rd point was, "the removing of the roots and occasions of new troubles." He demanded of the House, whether the Insurrection act was the true mode of "removing the roots, and occasions of new troubles" [Hear, hear!]. And if the Insurrection act were not likely to have that effect, he would ask, which of the nominally remedial measures that had been introduced of late years was calculated "to remove the roots and occasions of new troubles?" [Hear, hear!]. The 4th point was, "Plantations and buildings." These might not in themselves be applicable to Ireland in her present circumstances; but reasoning by analogy, and looking to the encouragement of her fisheries and manufactures, the principle was perfectly just. Bacon went on to say, that—"Towards the recovery of the hearts of the people there are but three things in rerum natura: 1. Religion;" which (observed Mr. Rice) implied the most extensive toleration. 2. "Justice and protection." By this was meant, not only an equal administration of the law, but that it should be equally accessible to all. The 3rd point was—"Obligation and reward." Did these come within the character, of the Insurrection act? [Hear, hear!]. On this third head Bacon had expressed himself:—"3. Obligation and reward.—prœmium et pœna. I am persuaded, that if a penny in the pound which bath been spent in pœna (for this war. is but pœna, a chastisement of rebels, without fruit or emolument to the state) had been spent in prœmio, that is, in rewarding, things had never grown to this extremity." He (Mr. Rice), in quoting the passage relative to justice, did not mean to say, that justice was administered in Ireland with unfairness or partiality; but he was hound to state that a system which would render justice accessible to all did not exist in Ireland. The expense of legal proceedings operated, in many cases, as a denial of justice; and when the poor could not have redress by law, they would undoubtedly seek it by some other means. The consequence resulting from such a system 1541 was, not merely the injustice which one party must unavoidably be subject to. The evil extended farther. The poor, when denied justice by the law, would endeavour to work out a wild and savage kind of justice for themselves; and the want of a legal remedy was, in many instances, the occasion and pretence for serious violations of the peace. This was one cause of the crimes by which that country was too frequently degraded. As an illustration of this part of his argument, the hon. gentleman referred to a case which came within his own knowledge. An individual died, leaving 15l. or 20l. to certain persons. The executor got possession of the property, and the legatees, to whom he refused to deliver it up; proceeded against him in the Assistant Barrister s court. When the cause came on to be heard, the assistant barrister stated, that he had no jurisdiction with respect to legacies, and the plaintiffs were nonsuited. They then got an engagement front the executor to pay the demand, and on this engagement they again sued him in the Assistant Barrister s court: but the same objection was taken, and successfully taken. What did they then do? They proceeded criminally against the party, and turned into a breach of the peace that which was, in fact, a civil question. It was a common thing, as the hon. member for Mayo (Mr. Browne) had formerly stated, when any dispute arose about the tenure of lands, to break the peace, and lay an information for the purpose of deciding, in the shape of a criminal question, that which the law did not enable them to set at rest in any other way. The legislature had done away with wager of battle in this country; but the Stamp act, sanctioned and upheld by the gentlemen opposite, had indirectly encouraged it in Ireland. [A laugh.] When his right hon. friend (Mr. Grant) had, on a former occasion, called on the landlords of Ireland to provide better habitation and more enlarged comforts for their tenants, he forgot that their good Wishes had always been opposed by the gentlemen belonging to his majesty s Treasury. Ireland had always met a formidable antagonist in the person of the chancellor of the exchequer for the time being Whatever might have been done for the lower orders of that country was rendered of no avail by the counteracting influence of the right hon. gentleman who presided over the 1542 taxation of the country. How did the case stand? What encouragement did the people generally receive? If they built a house, it must be with taxed timber; if they enjoyed the light and air of heaven, it must be through taxed windows; if they wished to enjoy the warmth of a fire, it must be at a taxed hearth. If they were desirous of drinking any liquor stronger than water, they could only indulge themselves by paying a tax. Now, what effect had this system of severe taxation produced? He would prove that in proportion as taxes were increased, crime also increased—and vice versa. If they looked to the number of convictions in criminal cases, as compared with the rise and fall of duties on malt and spirits, they would find this proportion clearly established:—
From this it appeared, that whenever there was a decrease in the duty on malt and spirits, there was also a decrease in crime. The hon. gentleman then proceeded to animadvert on the prevalence of illicit distillation in Ireland; and demanded how could country gentlemen enforce the law against others, when they were themselves but two often in the habit of using spirits illegally manufactured; and encouraging their tenants in habitual violations of the law. It was impossible that government could put down distillation in Ireland, until, by lowering the duties, they removed the temptation to commit the offence. In agreeing, however, with the limitations he had stated to the passing of the bill, he did not rely altogether on his own opinion. The magistrates of the county of Limerick had solicited a renewal of the bill, although they wished to see an alteration in the mode of trial. He thought that an opinion coming from such a quarter was entitled to great consideration. It was, therefore, from a wish to promote an inquiry into the state of Ireland, and not from any wish to oppose the bill itself, that he should give his vote for the amendment.
Duty. Criminal convictions. Malt. Spirits. In 1815 there were 771 14s. 0d. 5s. 6d. In 1816 there were 907 17 4 6 0 In 1817 there were 532 17 4 5 6 In 1818 there were 499 9 4 5 6 In 1819 there were 531 14 0 5 6 In 1820 there were 723 14 0 5 6
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that in every instance of conviction under the Insurrection act, the same consideration had been given, as would have been bestowed upon 1543 it had it occurred under the ordinary jurisdiction of the laws. The highest credit was due to the lord lieutenant, for the manner in which he had uniformly exercised the prerogative of mercy. He denied that the conduct of the government of Ireland had justified the gentlemen opposite in stating, that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus act was demanded from a lust of power. The hon. member for Limerick, objected to the reenactment of the Insurrection act, because no inquiry had been made into the state of Ireland; but had that House shown any reluctance to inquire into the three great subjects of Catholic emancipation, tithes, and education? The minute attention which had been given to the subject of illicit distillation was another proof that Irish affairs were not neglected in that House. With respect to the scarcity of food now existing in that country, it was a subject of great delicacy and difficulty, and one in which government could never interfere, before great partial distress had arisen. Would it have been wise in government to prevent, by a premature interposition, that exhibition of public benevolence which had gone so far to alleviate the existing distress. With regard to tithes, every pledge which had been given by his noble friend at the commencement of the session had been fully redeemed. The hon. and gallant member had quoted a passage from a French writer on this subject, which he (Mr. Peel) professed himself wholly unable to understand. This writer talked of "uniting the chaunts and canticles of all times with the fruits and flowers of all seasons." [A laugh.] The right hon. gentleman concluded by supporting the motion, and by protesting against any modification of the Insurrection act as calculated to produce all the evils of an unconstitutional measure without any of the advantages which would arise from the present measure.
§ Mr. J. Smith
said, that nothing but a system of coercion had been pursued in the government of Ireland for the last two centuries; and what had been the fruits of that system?—insurrection and rebellion. He would put it to the House whether, during all that period, any fair attempt had been made to redress the real grievances of Ireland? The cause of the greatest evils in that country was, that the occupiers of land were made responsible for rents which could not be met by any industry or fair ingenuity. It was 1544 not in the power of that House to remedy this; but it was in the power of government to mitigate the evil. The measure now under consideration was hostile to every moral feeling. It required the father to inform against the son, and the son against the father, or made them liable to the same penalties. This was contrary to every principle of good feeling and moral duty. He could not but regard the Catholic question as one fruitful source of the miseries which afflicted Ireland. Many years back a consideration of the tithe question had been promised; but such a consideration parliament certainly had not yet gone into. One simple fact upon the subject was sufficient. Perhaps there were in Ireland 700,000 Protestants; all the remainder of the population being followers of the Catholic faith. The revenue of the church in that country was larger in proportion than those in any other country of Europe; and the mass of that revenue was exacted from persons who had no interest or feeling in the system which they so maintained. He firmly believed that a fair independent income might be given to the clergy of Ireland, and yet the bulk of the population be relieved from the oppressive system of tithes; and, some time or other, measures to that effect must be adopted.
§ Sir J. Newport
was not prepared to take upon himself the responsibility of opposing the present measure, under the circumstances upon which it was demanded; but he thought that its continuance ought to be limited to the 1st of May next. He trusted, however, that no farther prolongation of the law would be found requisite; for heavy would be the evil of teaching Ireland to believe that, in spite of all the promises held out to her at the Union, she was still to remain the victim of penal statutes. Forty three years had now elapsed since one of the greatest lawyers and statesmen of his country, the lord chief baron Burgh, speaking of the situation, as to penal laws, of Ireland, had said, "penalty, punishment, and Ireland, are synonymous, and they are written on the margin of her statute-book in letters of blood." If the Irish were alienated from the laws under which they lived, to what cause but to a defective government could that alienation be ascribed? He did say that ministers had not done their duty towards Ireland. He had the highest respect for the noble person at the head of the Irish go- 1545 vernment; but his confidence in no man should prevent him from speaking where he thought negligence was apparent. If the lord lieutenant was new, the cabinet was not new. The noble marquis opposite of all men was bound to seek a remedy for the distresses of Ireland; for it was under his auspices that she had lost her, independent legislature. He regretted to see that from some of the statements on the table of the House, the measure wore more the appearance of a permanent measure than any of the former Insurrection acts. They alluded to a sort of moral improvement which was to grow out of it. Now the measure was, in its whole nature and tendency, not moral but coercive; and he would tell the House, that for any purpose of moral improvement, coercive measures would not he effectual.
said, he considered the present measure as a lamentable evil, which could only be justified by the extreme necessity of the case. As a permanent measure he should not merely deprecate it, but consider it as amounting to an extinction of the constitution of Ireland; and in that light he knew it was viewed by the noble marquis at the head of the government of that country. If he thought for a moment that the passing of the present measure was to supersede the necessity of measures of amelioration, he would be the last man to consent even to its temporary enactment. That there was no indisposition in the legislature to apply itself to such objects, would be evident to all who looked at the past and present condition of Ireland. If any country in the world had made greater progress in civilization during the last half century than another, that country was Ireland. Let hon. members recollect the time when Ireland had truly been the victim of penal laws. Let them remember those statutes which, as chief baron Burgh forcibly expressed it, "had visited the Catholic in his cradle, and accompanied him to his grave." Those laws were now no more. Was that nothing done for the country? Thirty-eight years ago Ireland stood destitute alike of commercial advantage and constitutional privilege. Were the rights, the laws, the free trade, which had been given to her, nothing? And had there been any indisposition on the part of government to the granting of those immunities? Upon the question of emancipation, different opinions were entertained. For 1546 himself, he confessed he thought it the prime measure for the salvation of Ireland; but those were no true friends to the success of that measure, who said—"give us emancipation, or we will not give you the means of securing the tranquillity of the country." He felt the importance of emancipation as a political measure, but he did not believe that it had a jot to do with the troubles which at present were agitating Ireland. The wretched people who were in arms against the government of the country would pay no more regard to emancipation if it were presented to them, than they would pay to that elegant passage which the gallant member who spoke second in the debate had supposed to have some reference to the subject before the House. He agreed that it was the duty of government to originate their own measures, and not to look to gentlemen on the other side; but with respect to tithes in Ireland, government had originated its measure. It was true that gentlemen opposite treated the measure as ineffective and unsatisfactory; but the answer of government was, "It is the best measure which, under the circumstances, we have been able to bring forward." If hon. gentlemen disliked that measure, government was entitled to say—"Propose to us another, and we will take it into consideration." Government had done the best which it could do. It was not disposed to take up principles which some honourable members were desirous of adopting. The hon. member who treated the rights of the church as different from the rights of the landowner, and thought that government had a right to resume the property of the church whenever it was expedient, had introduced a principle which put an end to the safety of property altogether. The principle which that hon. member was desirous of applying to the rights of the church, some one else would apply to the property of the land-owner; a third would carry it to the rights of the fund-holder; and a fourth to every species of private property. If hon. gentlemen knew the state of the country a little more intimately, they would not object to the present measure. There never was in any country pretending to civilization, a more rigorous system of despotism than that exercised by those miscreants, the leaders of the disaffected. The murders and other crimes and cruelties, of which they were either the direct 1547 perpetrators, or the cause, were horrible. Their object, undeniably, was, to possess themselves of the whole landed property of the country. From his official situation, he had access to know, that when the Insurrection act was in force, crimes were restrained, and when that act was not in force, they broke out. The act was very similar to that which he had proposed in 1807, during the lieutenancy of the duke of Bedford. He had that morning received a communication from the crown solicitor of the county of Cork, informing him that a great part of the law expenses for that county arose from its having to maintain in its gaol a hundred persons, not criminals, but witnesses, who sought security there from the terrorists who desolated the country. The communication likewise added, that one of them who had relinquished the protection afforded him, had fallen a victim to the vengeance of those infuriated wretches.
§ Mr. Grattan
wished the bill to be limited to the 1st of May. He trusted the House would feel it its duty to make a serious inquiry into the state of Ireland.
§ The House divided: For the original motion, 135; For sir R. Wilson's amendment, 17.
|List of the Minority.|
|Barrett, S. M.||Nugent, lord|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Concannon, L.||Ricardo, D.|
|Cradock, S.||Robarts, Col.|
|Fitzgerald, lord W.||Stewart, W.|
|Hume, J.||Whitbread, S. C.|
|Hutchinson, hon. C. H.||Williams, J.|
|Monk, J. B.||Wilson, sir R.|
|Moore, P.||Smith, J.|
§ The House went into the committee, in which a division took place on sir J. Newport's motion, for limiting the duration of the bill to the 1st of May, instead of the 1st of August: For sir J. Newport s motion,37. Against it, 94.
|List of the Minority.|
|Brown, D.||Glenorchy, vis.|
|Barrett, S. M.||Grattan, J.|
|Bankes, H.||Hume, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Hutchinson, hon. C. H.|
|Brougham, H.||Hamilton, lord A.|
|Concannon L.||Hill, lord A.|
|Cradock, S.||Kingsborough, lord|
|Calvert, C.||Langston, J.|
|Calcraft, J.||Lamb, hon. G.|
|Fitzgerald, lord W.||Monck, J. P.|
|Grant, J. P.||Martin, J.|
|Maberly, J.||Robarts, Col.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Rice, T. S.|
|Newport, hon. sir J.||Robinson, sir G.|
|Nugent, lord||Stewart, W.|
|Palmer, C. F.||Wilson, sir R.|
|Parnell, sir H.||Williams J.|
|Prittie, hon. F.||Wood, alderman|
|Powlett, hon. W.||TELLER.|
|Ricardo, D.||Davies, col.|