HC Deb 12 June 1828 vol 19 cc1318-33
Sir F. Burdett

, in presenting a petition from the Catholic inhabitants of Drumlane, praying for Emancipation, remarked, that the claims which the people of Ireland so justly sought for from the legislature, had been disposed of, at least for a time, by the other House of parliament. He could not present this petition, without saying a few words upon the subject to which it referred. It appeared to him, that more rational expectations were now held out to the country of the final adjustment of this question and he trusted that they would have the beneficial effect of allaying that irritation which it was impossible for men situated like the people of Ireland not to feel. But he hoped and trusted, that better times were at hand, and that in the next session something would be done to settle this question. His hopes arose from what had occurred in another place, and from manner in which this question had been recently discussed; there. Such a view of the present state of things he was anxious to believe would; induce the Catholics of Ireland, while they relaxed not in their constitutional efforts for relief, to rely more confidently upon the approaching success of their claims. They should bear in mind that this branch of the legislature had repeatedly decided in favour of those claims; and they should recollect, that though the other House had refused to take them into consideration for the present, there were circumstances connected with their discussion there, which augured well for their final success. When he reflected upon the opinions which had been expressed in the course of that discussion,—when he found the most determined opponents of the measure looking at the question with a temper materially altered,—and when it was agreed upon all hands, that it was impossible for things to remain in their present state,—he did hope that in the ensuing session, his majesty's ministers would introduce some measure for the amelioration of the laws affecting the Roman Catholics. The obsolete objections which had been so frequently urged against the measure appeared to have been thrown aside. The noble duke who presided over his majesty's councils had fairly entertained the question; and much was due to him for having got rid of that odium theologicum with which it had been hitherto invested. Whenever the question should again come before parliament, it would not be necessary to enter into any arguments founded upon the Treaty of Limerick, or upon any other treaty; but the question would stand, as it ought to stand, upon the grounds of common sense. He could collect, from all that had passed in another place, that such would be the case, and that this question, which had so long occupied the attention of parliament, would be brought to a final settlement, satisfactory under every view, and to all parties. It was now a question of securities; and, when those who opposed the measure, and who now asked for securities, expressed themselves dissatisfied with those which had been hitherto offered, it was incumbent on them to state what securities would satisfy them. Whenever they should know the amount and the species of securities demanded, then it would be wise to legislate. So far he fully agreed with the noble duke; and he allowed, that it would not be for them then to enter into terms with any party, and that they ought not to ask the leave of the pope or of any other power to do so. They ought, to use the language of the noble duke, to "legislate fearlessly," and he would add, justly. Let them act justly, and they would raise up a greater security for the establishments of the country, than any which the utmost ingenuity could devise. There could not be a more powerful security for the maintenance of the establishment, than the affections of a conciliated and contented nation. For his part, he did not think highly of any other species of securities; and, upon that point, he perfectly agreed with lord Liverpool, who resisted this question upon constitutional principles, but who put no value upon any kind of securities. Lord Liverpool contended, that the claims of the Catholics could not be granted under the present constitution of this country; but, he admitted at the same time, that, if it could be shown to him that these claims could be acceded to consistently with the constitution, that they ought to be granted at once. He, however, would not hesitate at any securities which could be conscientiously accepted; and he was satisfied that the Catholics would not hesitate to give any securities which they could give conscientiously. For himself he would say, that he should be sorry that they should do any thing which would take away from the grace of the measure, and rob it of its beneficial effects. Everybody knows (continued the hon. baronet) that, in conferring a favour, there is as much obligation laid on the party favoured, by the manner in which it is granted, as by the boon itself. It would be more wise and more dignified, on our part, and more calculated to have the effect desired, if we could see this measure granted without any conditions. The grand security will be, that it will unite all men, of all religious persuasions in one common bond of constitutional freedom. In possessing equal rights, they will have a common interest in supporting the state. They will be no longer considered as belonging to different parts of this great kingdom, nor as sectaries having different interests from each other, and placed under a different system of law with various disqualifications. The grand security is, that this proposition will take away all the causes of dissatisfaction; and, I may here remark, that, existing as they do at present, the petitioners have not, on any occasion, been found wanting to their country. Their services have not been withheld, though they have not ceased their complaints, as they should not; for were they, as it has been said by their ablest advocate in another place—were they capable of enduring this grievance without complaining, they would not deserve relief. They have brought forward their claims by legal and constitutional means, and they have the good wishes of every generous and just mind in the country, whatever may be his religious opinions. The grand security then is, in the first place to take away all cause of discontent from millions of our Catholic fellow-subjects. If we should find that they are not contented with the justice we have administered to them, the effect would be to unite the whole Protestant interest against them. The Protestant establishment would then be placed on a rock, from which they would in vain endeavour to remove it. In that case it would become, as it is now, indeed, a Protestant as well as a Catholic question; and more Protestant than Catholic, as concerning the interests of the State, and as concerning the stability of the country. It is Catholic only as a matter of grievance to a number of persons professing that religion. It is a cause of weakness to the Protestant government, by making the Protestants look on each other with feelings of reproach and ill-will. We who advocate these claims, are placed in an unfriendly position towards those who oppose them; not, I admit, with violence and virulence, as formerly, for there are now hardly more than two or three of that spirit remaining. I confess that I cannot help looking on them as bigots, and as Popish bigots, too, according to their own shewing; because, if, as they say, it be the character of the Catholic Church to be intolerant, and to refuse justice to those who differ from it, they make themselves liable to all the objections which they urge to the admission of the persons, whose rights and just claims they oppose. The existing law is the only means by which seven millions of people can be kept united together as one man against the government of the country. The only means by which such a union as this can be effected among persons of all classes, is the feeling of the persecution they suffer for their religious opinions. Ireland displays, in this respect, a singular phenomenon. It shews how easily men are governed with their own consent. There is an Association, I will not say armed with no authority, for it has the greatest authority, but with no power, except what it derives from the voluntary obedience of the people. It is difficult to say whether any government could be devised, by which millions of men could, in the same way, be brought to act as one man on all occasions. This is the great danger we have to dread; and it is a situation not to be endured; but I see no alternative for it, but the settlement of this question. Nobody pretends to deny that this danger exists. Nobody proposes to begin a war of extermination against seven or eight millions of our fellow subjects. The danger has arisen from the mode in which it has been fostered and fomented by the impolicy of those administrations who have succeeded each other, since this question has become a matter of dispute. By degrees they have, by their mode of proceeding, fomented the discontent of the Catholics, until they are made a compact body, of which we cannot get rid, and ought not, if we could, by any means. Their situation admits of no alternative but that single measure of justice which would cost us nothing, and which would leave us strong and united, to rely on our own power, to resist any consequences that might ensue. I really do believe, that nothing would strengthen the Protestant establishment so much, as to take away every cause of dissatisfaction, not only among the Catholics, but the Protestants. The great body of the Protestants of Ireland, fully one half of them, are anxious that this question should be settled. Every body agrees that it ought to be settled; and no man is able to point out any other way of settling it than the present. We have been told by a noble person of high legal authority, in the very last debate on this subject, that it was surrounded with all sorts of difficulties, great, and almost impossible to overcome; but he said "it was our duty, somehow or other" (these were his very words) "to surmount them." When I heard this, I expected to find some way pointed out for surmounting these difficulties; but here we come to a" lame and impotent conclusion;" for nothing was offered beyond pointing out our duty, and the danger of not doing it: not one word did I hear as to the way in which it was to be done. Our proposition was, to do justice; and then we should have little to fear from those imaginary dangers with regard to the pope's power, of which nobody in this House pretended to be afraid. In concluding I have only to repeat my satisfaction at the view which the first minister of the country has taken of this subject. It seems to be really a question of that kind which belongs to the government to settle. The measure ought to come from the administration; and, since we now have at the head of the government a man capable of deciding on questions of policy and judging for himself—a man of strong understanding, who sees his point, and is not to be deterred from pursuing it, I will express my hope and faith—though I must confess my hope is stronger than my faith—that that line will be pursued, and that we shall not be obliged to bring forward any more motions in this House, in utter despair that it is in our power to serve those on whose behalf we make them, except by bringing their cause under discussion. The question can only be properly brought forward by the government itself; for it is of such magnitude; it affects all the interests of the country so deeply; it absorbs the resources of the country to such an extent; for, unquestionably, if it were not for this dispute with the people of Ireland, millions of public money might be saved—that it is of the highest importance to have it put into a train of settlement without delay. I trust that it will never fall to my unhappy lot to bring it forward again. If it should, I shall be much disappointed. But I do hope, that next session we shall take it into consideration, on the motion of his majesty's ministers themselves. They alone are able to make a proposition that shall set the question at rest, and give tranquillity and security to the whole kingdom.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, that as the hon. baronet had expressed a hope, that the present administration would take up this question in the next session, and introduce some measure for its settlement, lest any misconception should go abroad respecting his sentiments, he was anxious to speak upon this point for himself, and for himself alone. Under the constitution of the present government, each individual member of it was at liberty to entertain and support his own opinions regarding this question. Conceiving then, that it was only necessary for him to state his own individual opinion on the subject, he would refer the hon. baronet and the House to the declaration which he had repeatedly made respecting it, and, speaking then as an individual member of the government, he explained, as he was at liberty to do, his own sentiments on the question. To that declaration, and to those opinions, he still adhered, and he conceived that, in saying so, he had said enough to satisfy the House that his sentiments upon the subject remained unaltered.

Mr. W. Baring

remarked, that if the object of government was to preserve public order and defend those who had property from those who had it not, the situation of the government of Ireland must be peculiarly difficult; because there was no country in the world in which the division between the rich and the poor was so broad and sudden. In England, there were intermediate links in the chain of society between the highest and the lowest; but in that country they were wanting altogether. What resource had the government under these circumstances? Was it to rely upon the number of the population or the regard they had to the laws of the country? What reason had they to hold the laws in reverence? If they looked back to times past, they would find the Penal-laws worse in their nature, than any that history recorded. If they looked to the present time, they found a law which was peculiarly grievous to to them: he meant the Subtenantry-act. Whatever necessity there might have been for that act, no doubt it must inflict great evils on the population. By this act, the landlord was enabled to turn out a great portion of his tenants on the wide world. This alone was sufficient to convulse a country. In other countries there was an aristocracy on which the government could rely; but the aristocracy of Ireland had abdicated its power. In England, where there was a resident aristocracy, it had great influence over the people. Yet here the government found it necessary to require the assistance of the ministers of religion, for the maintenance of order and the defence of property. But in Ireland, where the priests had the whole power of the State in their hands, where they possessed the concentrated influence which ought to belong to the aristocracy, as the natural protectors of the people, it was thought proper not only not to demand the assistance of the priests, but actually to outrage them by offensive laws. The right hon. Secretary would, perhaps, tell the House, how the government of Ireland was to act in the anomalous situation in which it was placed. It did not depend on the aristocracy, but a faction; and its only means of control over the people was the bayonet. Whether it was possible, under such circumstances, to carry on the government, and allow the holding of public meetings, and the enjoyment of the other political rights which constituted the blessings of Englishmen, was a problem difficult to be solved. He was afraid not. If no concessions were to be made to the Catholics of Ireland, it would be better to take from them their privileges, which only served to work up their feelings and excite discontent.

Sir. J. Yorke

said, it was quite true, that all the odium theologicum, which Dr. Duigenan was accustomed to fire off, was gone, and fires and faggots were now certainly out of the question. He thought the hon. baronet had rather gone beyond the noble duke's speech. There was great liberality in it no doubt; and a de- sire to say as little as possibly could be said, when his grace could not well see his way through the matter. Indeed, he believed there was not a learned doctor in the House of Lords, either on the spiritual or temporal benches, who could state how they could get out of the difficulties which surrounded this question. In giving up those laws which had been framed by their ancestors, they should receive some equivalent security in their stead. This was the feeling which obviously influenced the government.

Mr. Wynn

said, it was with extreme regret that he had heard of the vote to which the House of Lords had come, on the resolution transmitted from that House for their lordships' concurrence. He should have thought such a resolution could not have been met, in any British House of Parliament, by a negative. He could conceive that their lordships might have said, that they had not made up their minds on the subject: he could understand them, if they had asked for delay, and postponed the further consideration of the question to the next session: but he confessed he was not prepared for a negative from their lordships to a resolution couched in such language; and when it was notorious that every man, both in and out of parliament, concurred as to the dangerous situation of Ireland, it was surprising that their lordships should refuse to enter upon the consideration of the means by which they might possibly avert such danger. He had not had the advantage of hearing the debate which had taken place elsewhere; but he must confess that, judging from the reports which he had read, he indulged in none of the sanguine expectations of the hon. member for Westminster; judging by the report which he had seen, of the speech of the noble duke alluded to, he could merely see throughout it a studious wish to excite hopes, and an equally studious determination to say nothing which could warrant their existence. He greatly preferred the conduct of his right hon. friend opposite; it was open, and manly. He had referred to his former declaration. In that declaration, the right hon. gentleman had stated, that he would not be satisfied with any security which would not exclude Roman Catholics from parliament and from the councils of the state. However he might dissent from the right hon. gentleman, he could not charge him with that vagueness of expression which had been employed in another quarter. He did not at all anticipate the change which the hon. baronet appeared to reckon upon with so much confidence. The danger which arose from the present position of the question was clear and manifest. A resolution was proposed, declaratory of the necessity of taking into consideration the laws which produced such danger, and to that resolution the Lords had given a negative. Was there in all this any ground for hope that something would be done next session? They had now what was called a government, and it was incumbent upon that government to declare, whether the law was to remain in its present state, or to undergo alteration.

Lord Althorp

concurred with his hon. friend, the member for Westminster, in entertaining great expectations from the tone and temper with which the question had been discussed in the other House. It was gratifying to observe the difference which existed in that tone, from what was manifested on former occasions. The noble duke at the head of his majesty's councils admitted the existence of the danger which resulted from the agitation of this question, and he appeared desirous to settle it, if he could have sufficient securities. Now, this was an important admission. He trusted, however, that the Catholics of Ireland would not be induced, on that account, to press forward with less zeal, in the constitutional assertion of their rights. It was impossible that things could remain as they were, and some proposition must, sooner or later, be brought forward. The right hon. Secretary had informed them of the constitution of the present government; but he considered it a most unconstitutional administration. It was founded upon the principle of division with regard to a question of the greatest importance to the country; and, while so constituted, it never ought to have the confidence of that House. He never would give his confidence to such an administration; but, before he became directly hostile to it, he should wait to see its measures.

Sir T. Lethbridge

agreed with the noble lord as to the mischiefs of having an administration divided on this most vital question. He considered it as the greatest misfortune this country laboured under. If, of late, he had placed his confidence in his majesty's government, it was because he considered it formed on a united, intelligible, and clear principle. What had happened elsewhere could not be taken as a ground of argument in that House. He had not seen any thing in the manner in which it had been received elsewhere, that looked like matter of congratulation to the hon. baronet, or those who took the same views. The resolution was negatived by a majority of forty-five. He wished, from the bottom of his heart, that the Catholic question could be settled with satisfaction to all parties. He must add, that he did not see that ground of alarm which was pictured out to them in a way bordering on intimidation, and which was any thing but politic on the part of those who advocated the Catholic claims. Besides, it was contradicted by what happened in Ireland, year after year. The Catholic Association certainly should be put down. The only way of settling the question was by abstaining from making speeches here and elsewhere. By refraining from this course, by letting time pass, and through the progress of other circumstances, some alteration for the better might eventually take place. He was quite ready to admit, that there was in the country a growing feeling of a description favourable to the concession of the Catholic claims. It was a question on which calm deliberation should be exercised to the fullest extent. Let it make its way fairly to the minds and feelings of the people of England, and it would be carried. But, if it were made the handle of attacks on individuals, on parliament, and on the government—if they were to be told, that unless emancipation were granted, Ireland: would be dismembered from this country, he would oppose, with all his strength, a course which he conceived to be most unconstitutional.

Mr. Spring Rice

said, he agreed in the opinion, that the Catholic cause was rapidly gaining ground. The hon. baronet, who had last spoken, seemed to think, that the result which the friends of the Catholics had in view, was only to be gained by abstaining from discussion. But how was it, that the friends of the Catholic cause had made any progress in their great work? It was by discussion: and, if they hoped to make any progress hereafter, it must be, not by silence, but by discussion. If they abstained from discussion, the inference would be, that they were doubtful of the justice of their claims, and were unwilling to have them discussed. Discussion was the mode by which alone the question could be advanced; and, therefore, he warmly recommended frequent discussion. He wished to remind the House of what had happened early in the session. They were told, in the course of the debate on the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts, on the authority of the right hon. gentleman opposite, that the silence of the Dissenters proved that they felt no grievance. Now it was very singular, that the perseverance of the Catholics should be adduced as a reason for withholding emancipation, while the silence of the Dissenters should be assigned as a ground for not granting their just claims. With respect to the conduct of the Roman Catholics generally, a distinction, he thought, might be drawn between the proceedings of the Catholic people of Ireland, and those of the Catholic Association. He had not defended the conduct of the Association. On the contrary, he had always said, that it threw great difficulties in the way of Catholic emancipation, and gave a cause of triumph to its enemies. But now, he thought, the existence of the Association gave the friends of the Catholics some assistance, and afforded some aid to their arguments; for in what way did the law stand with reference to the Association? It was but four years back, when the King's Speech described the Association as a body whose proceedings were contrary to the constitution, and hostile to the peace and prosperity of Ireland. The hon. baronet proposed, that the legislature should proceed instantly against the Association. Now, he contended, that, to be effectual, in the sense of the hon. baronet's observation, there was but one way of putting down the Association. Let those who deprecated their proceedings, only give their countenance to the measure of emancipation, and they would hear no more of that body. That was the only course by which the Association could be put down. In speaking of this subject, his hon. friend (sir F. Burdett) should recollect, that many of the painful circumstances connected with the Catholic question were to be traced to over-excited hopes. Let him not, from the ardency of his feelings, excite hopes that might not be fulfilled. He would say this, that if there were in the country any man, or any class of men, who held out hopes, by suggestion, by inference, by exciting warm expectation (he did not refer to his honourable friend), but if there were individuals who dealt in that ambiguous language, which was calculated to excite hope, without any intention of satisfying the expectation which they thus created, a heavy responsibility devolved on them. He would now say a few words on the subject of securities. He wanted no security, beyond what the peace, happiness, and the improved state of the country, would afford. But suggestions had been thrown out with respect to securities; and those suggestions had a tendency to produce a very injurious effect. Now, if any thing entitled him to the regard or confidence of his Roman Catholic countrymen, it was the caution which he wished to impress on their minds, with respect to securities; for he would say, that there was not a more dangerous principle on the face of the earth than that which would induce them to proceed to the consideration of an abstract proposition of securities, on a case not actually made out. He hoped that they would disclaim securities—that they never would be the parties to a bill founded on securities. If securities were asked for, let their opponents state what security would satisfy them; but the proposition for security ought not to come from their friends. If the securities demanded were not inconsistent with the principle on which any bill that the supporters of the Catholic claims might bring in, was founded, they would, of course, be agreed to. But he repeated, that the opponents of the Catholic claims, and not the Catholics themselves, ought to point out the securities required. He would call on the Roman Catholics not to offer securities. He would say to them, "Wait till you are told what securities are demanded; and, if they appear contrary to your religion, to your feelings as conscientious men, to a fair adjustment of the question—refuse them at once." But, above all things, "do not allow yourselves to be involved in pledges with respect to abstract propositions on the subject of securities, which will certainly be directed against you, and which cannot, by possibility, be used in your favour." He therefore trusted, that, during the recess, no consideration of securities would take place in Ireland. He had stated before, that the House had a right to give their opinion, and to legislate on any subject which came before them and if, to- morrow, the Catholics, as one man, declared their feelings to be hostile to any proposition which parliament, in its wisdom, might think proper to entertain for the purpose of settling this question, he trusted that the House would not be deterred for an instant in proceeding with that measure, if they conceived it to be right.—This was a case of expediency; and, would any man tell him, that the state of the feelings of the people of Ireland was not to be considered, in deciding upon that case? If not the very first point, it was one of the very first, which the House ought to take into consideration, when they had to decide on a case of expediency. He rejoiced to think, that the feeling in the House of Commons in favour of the Catholics had been so indisputably manifested; and he was happy to see that the same feeling had advanced in the House of Lords. He relied on the justice of that cause, and on the good sense of the tribunal before which it was to be tried, for its ultimate triumph.

Lord Morpeth

said, he felt deeply for the situation of his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects of Ireland, but he was not so sanguine in his hopes of the success of their cause, as some gentlemen appeared to be. There were, however, in the present state of affairs, some circumstances of a satisfactory nature, which led him to entertain a hope, that the ultimate fate of the question would be propitious. As to the motives of the noble duke at the head of the administration, he could, not dive into them; and therefore his hope was not founded on those motives. His hope rested on the declaration of the hon. baronet opposite, that the Catholic cause was making progress. If the noble duke had given any thing like a pledge for the settlement of this important question, that pledge ought to be redeemed. When a case of difficulty and danger was confessed to exist, it must be the paramount duty of a statesman to attempt to extricate his country therefrom. It was not the part of a statesman to excite any hope which he did not mean to satisfy. No individual should take a course from which a friendly feeling to the Catholics might be inferred, unless he intended to redeem the pledge thus given. These were the reasons which induced him to cherish a feeling of hope for the present, and of pleasing anticipation for the future. He trusted that another session would not pass over without some measure being adopted to set this question at rest, in the only way in which it could be, or ought to be set at rest.

Mr. Brougham

said, he entirely concurred with his hon. friend, the member for Westminster, in considering it a very serious evil, not to say a great calamity, that the other House had rejected their temperate resolution. But he must say, that though the resolution was rejected, there were great grounds for consolation. He admitted, with his hon. friend, that his hope was more lively a great deal than his faith, on the present occasion; but, nevertheless, there were some circumstances from which he derived great comfort, in the manner in which the resolution of that House had been rejected. No man who had attended to those circumstances could doubt that a better day was approaching. He could not say, that the circumstances to which he alluded arose from the co-operation of new allies, or the accession of new friends; but from the recorded admissions of former foes. The tone of their adversaries was different from what it used to be. The friends of the Catholics had not now arrayed against them the same unbending, intolerant, and bigotted spirit, by which all former attempts at conciliation and concession were uniformly opposed. They had, in the first place, all the theological lumber thrown overboard. They had no longer to talk of councils and decrees. It was now admitted, upon high authority, that this was a question of expediency alone, and must be met with legislation and not by negotiation. The latter was not the way to cops with the difficulty of the case. The legislature had no right to go to the Roman Catholics and say, "Will you take this portion of power, and give us this or that security?" That was not. The way to proceed. The legislature ought to make up their own minds on the subject. Due regard being had to the rights of the great body of their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, it was for parliament to legislate according to the exigency of the occasion, and the situation of the empire, and it was for those who said that securities were necessary, to propound those securities. It was not for those who denied that any necessity for securities existed to come forward and propose securities. Enough had been admitted to point out to them how they ought to proceed. Dangers were confessed, difficulties were admitted, embarrassments were not denied; and yet they were told, that the way to get out of this unpleasant situation—the way to remove those embarrassments—the way to escape from those dangers was—not that they should exert themselves, but that they should do nothing. He knew not how any person could advise them to take such a course. But they were told, in terms, that no step should be taken with respect to this important question; and those who were charged with the high duty of protecting the empire—of guarding against danger—of providing against difficulty—of anchoring the vessel of the state in safety and security—those pilots who were engaged to steer the vessel clear through dangers and difficulties—were counselled to remain in a state of apathy and supineness. A feeling might exist in some minds, but fortunately it did not exist in all quarters, that inaction, that suffering the danger and difficulty to remain, without making any exertion to overcome them, was the prudent course. That the danger and difficulty ought at once to be settled was, on the contrary, the natural and necessary consequence of an admission, that danger and difficulty did exist. Of one thing there could be no doubt—that whatever the Catholic question had gained—and he trusted that it had gained more than he was yet warranted in stating—it had gained much from the concessions of its enemies—it had gained much from the progress of liberal opinions in this country; but it had gained more than all from the justice of the cause, from the perseverance of its advocates, and from the magnitude of the object they had in view. If the Roman Catholics would listen to his advice, he would say, "Let them persevere in all steadiness, but in all peace; let them persevere, keeping the king's peace, and obeying the parliament's laws, but never ceasing to urge the throne and the legislature with their petitions, until that which is their just due is obtained for them."

Lord Ebrington

said, it had been his lot to hear those expressions in the other House to which so much importance was now attached. In those expressions there certainly was a tone which indicated the desire of some satisfactory termination of the question; but in the sequel it appeared, that there were great difficulties in the way of that settlement. The right; hon. Secretary had stated, as strongly as language could convey the sentiment, that there was no intention on the part of government to entertain this question.

Mr. Peel

.—I was speaking in my individual capacity, and not as the organ of government.

Lord Ebrington

.—Now, when he considered the vague and unsatisfactory expressions which he had heard in another place, and contrasted them with the plain and distinct opinions which the right hon. gentleman had that evening avowed, he could not think that any thing was to be expected from government, with respect to this great question. In making this observation, he did not mean to say that he did not entertain hopes of the ultimate success of the question. He, however, grounded those hopes on the increasing information of the country, and the increasing spirit of liberality which was observable in that House.

Ordered to lie on the table.