HC Deb 10 June 1824 vol 11 cc1197-9
Mr. Brownlow

rose, to move, that the petition which he had presented on a former evening, against the Catholic Association, be referred to the committee now sitting upon the state of Ireland. The ground of his motion was, that the Catholic Association was one of the principal causes of the disturbances which prevailed in Ireland. The members of that body had been very properly described as the bellows blowers, who fanned the bad passions of their countrymen into the flame of discontent. Seeking only the gratification of their vanity and self interest, they were utterly regardless of the success of the cause which they pretended to advocate. He had been accused of being actuated by party motives; but that was not the case. If he desired the Catholic cause to be brought into discredit, his wish could not be more easily attained than by allowing the Association to continue its present course.

Mr. Horace Twiss

said, he would support the motion, for the same reasons which would induce him to vote in favour of the motion of the right hon. baronet (sir J. Newport) for referring the petitions against the Orange associations to the same committee; namely, that he considered both associations to be, in some degree, connected with the disturbances of Ireland. He highly disapproved of the proceedings of the Catholic association, and declared his belief that if the association continued in existence, the number of votes in that House in favour of Catholic emancipation would yearly decrease. He entreated the members of the association, if they were friends to the cause they professed to advocate, to anticipate the acts of the government and dissolve themselves.

Mr. Secretary Canning

said, he would support the motion, because he considered the association to be one of the subjects to which that committee ought to direct their attention. The proceedings of the Catholic association were so nearly balanced between legality, and illegality, that they required to be narrowly watched. But he felt no hesitation in fraying, as a minister of the Crown, that, as at present advised, it was not the intention of the government to propose any new law with regard to the association. He, however, entirely concurred in the advice which had been given to the association. He thought they Were pursuing a most dangerous course, without considering how nearly they exposed themselves to the extremity of the law.

Mr. Hutchinson

said, he had the strongest objection to the motion. The object of the Catholic association was, to state the grievances of the Catholics. As to whether it was an illegal body or not, that was a question for the law officers of the Crown; but it appeared to him that there could be nothing unlawful in meeting to state their oppressions and grievances, and to bring them under the review of the public. Their proceedings were public; but it was otherwise with the Orange societies, who did every thing in secret, and were illegal in their constitution and purpose.

Sir J. Newport

said, that if the motion should be agreed to, it would be impossible to refuse assent to the one which he should submit, for referring to the same committee the petitions against the Orange societies.

Mr. H. Sumner

said, that the Catholic association usurped the functions of government, and did other unconstitutional acts, inconsistent with the peace and security of the country. He thought the House ought not to separate without ascertaining from the law officers of the Crown, whether the law, as it stood, was sufficient to put an end to the evil; or if insufficient, whether it was the intention of government to introduce a bill for the purpose of correcting its imperfections.

Mr. Peel

said, it appeared to him a matter of course to send the petition up stairs as it had been alleged, that the present disturbances were in a great measure owing to this association, though it might be premature at present to express any opinion of its legality or illegality. He thought that all these secret societies should be put down, and would therefore support both propositions.

Mr. Spring Rice

gave his hearty support to the motion.

Sir F. Blake

called upon the hon. member for Armagh to use his influence in putting down the Orangemen, they having declared their determination to continue the same line of conduct.

Mr. Dawson

denied that any of the disturbances in Ireland arose from that body, and should give his consent to the motion, in order that the House might be satisfied of the fact.

The motion was agreed to: as well also sir J. Newport's motion for referring the petitions against the Orange lodges to the same committee.