§ Mr. Hume,
in rising, pursuant to notice, to bring forward his Motion respecting the office of Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, enlarged upon the importance of the subject, and claimed the indulgence of the House while he briefly stated the grounds on which he sought to rest his Motion. In the year 1823 he brought forward a motion upon the same subject, which, unfortunately, did not then receive the attention to which he thought it entitled. The present time, however, would prove, he trusted, more propitious. Few who had attended to the state of Ireland but had made up their minds as to the causes of its distress; and with the view of impressing his own opinions upon the House did he then address them. He would not go back antecedently to the period of the Union, but rather confine himself to the time which had elapsed since then. Comparing the time when his former motion was brought forward with the present, he could not help congratulating the House on having gotten rid of one great impediment to the progress of salutary legislation in Ireland. When the former motion was under discussion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not say that the time might not come when that Officer and his establishment should be withdrawn from Ireland; his objection was, that the time had not then come, and since then it was gratifying to think that a fortunate change had taken place, 556 which made it probable that the House might think that the office of Lord-lieutenant might now be abolished without inconvenience. The Irish expenditure had been so often before the House, that he felt unwilling to go through details respecting it, though he might be permitted to say, that an expense of between one and two hundred thousand a-year might be saved; but important as he thought financial concerns—the saving was, in his estimation, quite a minor matter,—the objections which he had to urge to the continuance of such an office were of so much more importance. He might, however, be permitted to observe, that the office had already cost the country many millions of money, and that the objections to it in a financial point of view concurred with those he should make on other principles. Since the Union, for example, a sum of ten millions and a half had been expended on the Charitable Institutions of Ireland, and no doubt intended to have been expended for the public good, being an amount seven or eight times greater than at any period before the Union; so that the office of Lord-lieutenant, and the shadow of a Court, tended nothing to preserve the people from pauperism, but it tended to this—it tended to keep up party spirit, for it was administered solely by one party and tended to preserve its power, and it tended to excite and maintain those feelings of rancour and hostility which it should be the object of all the friends of that country and of this to see at an end. He could not but observe with regret that the Union, so far from being beneficial to Ireland, had been disadvantageous, by placing greater resources in the hands of a predominant faction. Had the expenditure of Ireland been placed, in the year 1800, under the direction of the English Treasury, there could not be a doubt that it would have managed that expenditure infinitely better, and not have allowed the public money to be converted into an instrument to foment and maintain a spirit of party, under the influence of which no country could be happy. When a committee of that House, with the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, at the head of it, recommended that great reductions should be made in the expenditure of Ireland, and when these recommendations had been so little attended to in the Estimates laid upon the Table, to what could he attribute this 557 fact, but to the local influence of the Irish Government, which was too strong even for the Government of this country. The continuance of the office of Lord-lieutenant in Ireland could only have the effect of supporting private influence and local interests, and of defeating the main purposes of the Union, When that was brought about, all public men were agreed that the object was not alone to unite the two countries in name, but to blend them into one complete and perfect whole, conferring upon Ireland all that was good in the English system; and it was looked upon by the King, at that time, as the happiest event of his reign, having for its object to consolidate the interest of both countries, and assimilate them to each other. It was expected that immediately after the Union, peace would prevail in Ireland: had that expectation been realized? It had been treated as a province—it had been treated as a Colony, and its Government had been disgraced by all the vices and all the abuses of a Colonial Government—all the vices and all the abuses of delegated authority; such had, in his opinion, been amongst the chief causes of the evils of Ireland; they had in that country every one of the disadvantages of delegated power, and Parliament must remove that source of evil, or it would do no good. From the earliest period of the connection between the two countries, instead of assimilating the habits of the people, the frame of their institutions, or the nature of their Government—instead of consolidating and identifying their institutions, there had been a continual attempt made to preserve every contrast and every dissimilar institution. The Union was to remedy that, and promote similarity; but there had been, ever since the Union, a constant endeavour to render the two countries as different as possible, and to place them as remote from each other as might be in the scale of social existence. All their institutions were kept separate. Bills were passed for each, and there was a uniform maintenance of all possible distinctions. If there had been no Lord-lieutenant that could not have been done—such efforts could not have been made to separate, when the object ought to have been to blend. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had done something towards extending the benefits of the English system to Ireland; but he could proceed 558 only a very little way, for the separate Court and the separate Government, and the separate law institutions under different judicial chiefs, checked his well-meant endeavours and impeded his progress. All governors of colonies and viceroys proceeded to their destinations with a crowd of friends and relations, upon whom they bestowed every place of confidence and emolument. Must not such practices disgust and alienate the people, who were the sufferers by it? There could be no peace or union so long as all the evils of a colonia system were preserved instead of those which the blessings of identity with a sister country promised. It was well known that to the Orange party all places of value were given, except such as might be reserved for the immediate followers of the Viceroy. Out of 2,800 public offices in Ireland only 264 were held by Catholics. Let the Members of that House but look at Canada, and they would there see a perfect picture of what was going on in Ireland. He could not see any reason why the affairs of Ireland should not be conducted in a similar manner to those of Scotland. He did not mean to say that it could be done at once, but at all events, an approximation might be commenced. Irishmen must feel themselves degraded, because, though they were nominally acknowledged as a part of the United Kingdom, they were, in fact, no more so than Jamaica, as far as their government went. The Lord-lieutenant, or Governor-general, was appointed in the one case by the King in Council, and was under the control of the Colonial Secretary. In the other case he was appointed in the same manner, but under the control of the Secretary for the Home Department. The hon. Member then went on to contend that this deputed power led to abuses which could never exist if the country were governed as Scotland, or any other part of the United kingdom. Under such circumstances it was impossible that the people could feel independent, for they had not been treated with that equality which their situation and importance required. If the Lord-lieutenancy of Ireland ought to be kept up, so ought the Parliament of that country. It was inconsistent with all principles of freedom that so arbitrary a Government should be suffered to exist. A late Act of the Irish Government was sufficient to evince the character that 559 universally belonged to it; he alluded to the proclamation that had been issued for putting down a political society. Such a course appeared to him to be beneath any free Government, and could not have taken place if the institutions of the two countries had not been separated. In the Act of Union he found no reference to the keeping-up of the Lord-lieutenancy, and he, therefore, might try by the motion which he was about to submit to remove the present degrading stigma from the Irish people, and to give to them the reality of those promises which the Union had held out. The Irish were now happily placed on an equality as to their religious opinions, and they ought to have equality of rights in every other respect. At present they were degraded and felt their degradation—let them be released from that mark of dependence a colonial government, and they would soon be imbued with the sense of independence. Ireland was not less warm or less eager for the advantages of a good government than any other nation, and would well know how to appreciate the boon, which lie thought it was high time to grant. In what he was saying he did not intend to cast any blame on the Government here or on the Government there; the fault was in the system itself, and not in the individuals who administered it. There certainly were instances of persons who so exercised their delegated authority as to excite the praise and universal concurrence of those over whom they presided. This was the case with respect to the Governor of Canada, Sir J. Kempt—against whom he had never heard a word uttered; but that was, he was afraid only a solitary instance, and if they would but, on the other hand, look to New South Wales, Van Dieman's Land, and the Canadas, in former times, they would find examples enough of dissatisfaction. His remedy, therefore, was to remove the cause; and he would venture to say that if Ireland were once set free from the burthen of a separate and a bad government it would speedily rise, both in civilization and prosperity, to a much higher grade than it had ever before reached. The strength of England depended on the union of Ireland, and Ireland could not be cordially united with England unless she were trusted as an integral part of the dominions. At present the Government of that country was 560 in a continued state of vacillation. One Viceroy never followed the policy of his predecessor in such a manner as to give confidence to the people that anything was fixed and could be depended upon. When Ireland possessed her separate establishments, a separate Parliament, when she had a separate military force, a Secretary at War, a separate artillery and commissariat, it was consistent enough that she should have a Lord-lieutenant, but since the Union that had ceased to be the case. The war business of that country, the Customs, the Excise, the Post, the Stamps, had all been removed to London; and the Lord-lieutenant, with his Secretary, was therefore remaining behind with no real business to transact, for of himself he could do no- thing; he had always to wait for instructions from the Secretary of State in London. In fact, the Lord-lieutenant had little more to do than to pass some accounts laid before him by the Vice-treasurer of Ireland (an office, by the way, which he thought wholly unnecessary, and ought to have been abolished if the Government showed a due regard to economy), and the nominal execution of some orders which might be as well done under the direction of a Secretary for Ireland resident in London. The whole, or nearly the whole business of the departments to which he had referred, was now centred in the Treasury here. The business of the Council office was, he observed, but trifling, and might without inconvenience be as well performed here. It was true that the Viceroy held a Court in Dublin, but he should be glad to know of what importance that was to the people of Ireland. It might be of some service to a few little great men, who were anxious to make a great show at the Castle; but, in his opinion, its real effect was to destroy that natural society which otherwise would be found in Dublin. If the Court were removed, he believed that many landed proprietors would reside in Dublin, as many did in Edinburgh, which could not take place as long as they were exposed to the annoyances of the mobs and bustle of state parties. The presence of a Court was no doubt a benefit to a certain number of haberdashers, and tailors, and Court-dress makers, but was their advantage to be purchased at such a price to the country and to their fellow-subjects in other parts of that kingdom? The fears of 561 those who thought that Dublin would be injured by the removal of the Court were, he thought, quite vain and idle. From the situation of Dublin—it being the centre of communication between this country and the whole of Ireland—the seat of the law courts—possessing a fine harbour—it must always be the metropolis, and an increasing metropolis too, of that country. When he last brought this subject before the House, he was met by a statement of the evils which the removal of the legislature had brought upon Dublin—that grass was growing in the streets, and that a great portion of its houses were gone to ruin. He had since made inquiries into the fact, and he would state the result. So far then from its being true that Dublin had decreased since the Union, it had increased in the number of houses and inhabitants. From the year 1800 to 1822, (the year before that in which he first introduced this subject) the increase of the number of houses was 3,463—from 16,401 in 1800 to 19,864 in 1822—being nearly a fifth. The population was at the former period 223,000, having increased between that and 1822 to the extent of 40,000 or 50,000. The increase in the shipping was also great. In 1800 the number of ships was 2,575; in 1822, it was 3,400; and at present it was 4,000. The tonnage had also increased by 113,000 tons. It was suggested that this increase of shipping might have been occasioned at the expense of the out-ports; but this was not the case, for the out-ports had increased at the same time. In 1800, the number of vessels in all Ireland was 4,800; in 1822,7,900; and last year 11,700. The tonnage in 1800 was 664,000; in 1822, it was 953,000; and in the last year, 1,470,000, being an increase of upwards of 500,000 tons in the last seven years. It was impossible, then, to assert with any justice that Ireland had deteriorated since the Union. The exports in the year 1790 were, exclusive of those to England (as we understood,) in official value, 3,450,137l. In 1820,7,160,000l., they having been more than doubled within that time. His hon. friend below him suggested, that a similar increase had taken place in other respects. If this were the case, then they had every right to expect that a still greater augmentation would take place were that country to be relieved from the unnecessary pressure which the establishment of a delegated 562 government inflicted upon her, and which was kept with evident disadvantage to her interests as well as to the interests of the whole United Kingdom. The hon. Member then entered into an examination of the business done in the office of the Secretary for Ireland, which he said was divided into twelve departments, the management or direction of the whole of which might, he contended, with the exception of one department, be removed to London, and be performed by an Irish Secretary resident here. His chief business was correspondence with London, the whole of which would cease when the Secretary came to reside in London. His next business was connected with the Customs and Excise, which were already transferred here. The country correspondence being dependant on the Secretary, would of course be removed with him. He also received petitions and memorials relating to law cases, but as he did not decide on them it would be better that they should at once be transmitted to the officers who did decide them. In one word all his business might be as well, or better performed in London, except that perhaps which relates to the local police, but surely there could be no difficulty in the management and super intendance of that and other local matters, without the costly and cumbrous machinery of a Lord-lieutenant and his court—for such a purpose. There was one other point to which he wished to direct the attention of the House, and that was the prerogative of mercy exercised by the Lord-lieutenant. The House was told on a former occasion, that it would be impossible to conduct that important branch of internal government—the extension of mercy in criminal cases—if the proposed change were carried into effect. He had ascertained how that objection could be overcome, and he found no insurmountable difficulty. If there were any, he should be glad that some right hon. Gentleman would explain in what it consisted—for he was unable to perceive it. He would ask how criminal cases were managed in Scotland, and whether an assimilation to the practice of that country might not take place? If the government were to pay proper attention to judicial appointments in Ireland, he had no hesitation in asserting that the Judges there might, as in England, be trusted with the recommendation of cases for the consideration of the Crown. He was not aware 563 how the present Secretary of State for the Home Department decided upon the various cases submitted to him, but he knew of no difference between a case tried in Westmoreland or Cumber- land, and one tried in Ireland. Formerly, when a journey to Dublin took ten days, there might be a plea for the maintenance of a local jurisdiction, but thanks to the hon. Baronet (Sir H. Parnell), who first brought road-making under the serious attention of the House, and to whom not merely Irishmen, but Scotchmen and Englishmen were so much indebted—thanks to him, Dublin was now brought within a thirty-six hours journey. In point of fact, Dublin was nearer to London than Edinburgh; so that any objections on the score of distance would equally apply to Scotland. But how could any objections of this kind be offered, when the decision of criminal cases here was often suffered to lie over for two or three months? He was persuaded, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not place that objection in the van of his arguments. With respect to the feeling of the people of Ireland, he was quite satisfied that the higher nobility, as well as the lower, and j the landed proprietors generally, would like to see the present system altered; that the mass of the people would approve of being raised from a colonial condition, to become an intregral part of the United Kingdom, governed by the same King, and forming, in the same manner as the English and the Scotch, one united people—which however that might be now, nominally, was not in reality the case,—the Irish differing in opinion, and in their feelings, as much from the rest of the inhabitants of the empire, as if they did not belong to it. His only difficulty was, to select the way in which he should bring this subject before the House. He might have moved that the House should resolve itself into a committee, to consider the expediency of making some change in the form of government in Ireland. That, however, was not the shape in which he intended to submit his Motion, which was as follows:—"That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, praying that he will be graciously pleased to consider whether the office of Viceroy were any longer necessary in Ireland, or whether it could be dispensed with consistently with the advantage of that country, and the general interests of the United Kingdom," This 564 Motion, he should observe, did not prescribe any particular lime for carrying the contemplated object into effect, but left it to the discretion of Government to select the most convenient opportunity for introducing a change of system.
Lord F. L. Gower
commenced by adverting to the different line of argument, on which the hon. Member had rested a similar motion in the Session of 1823, from that which he had thought proper to adopt upon the present occasion. His proposition had been then grounded on the existence of the Catholic disabilities; but it was now recommended on account of the political circumstances of the country, as well as by economical considerations. Yet he was entirely at a loss to discover the proofs by which the hon. Gentleman established his assumptions. He had asserted, that the defects and abuses existing in the charitable institutions of Ireland would have been remedied, but for the continuance of the office of Lord-lieutenant since the Union, but he had not supplied the House with one proof of his assertion. As to the estimates to which the hon. Member had alluded, he requested the House to suspend its judgment till he should have an opportunity of explaining the whole of the reductions contemplated, and the reasons why they were carried no further. It was not judicious, in his opinion, to debate the present subject so soon after the settlement of the Catholic Question, involving as it did, a great difference of opinion amongst the wise and moderate of all parties in Ireland. He did not pretend to say, that it was a question which the House might not with propriety take into consideration, and still less was he inclined to affirm, that the hon. Member had adduced arguments which deserved to be treated with inattention or disrespect. He was not, however, prepared to assent to his inference, that the subversion of the executive power in Dublin, and its resurrection at the Home-office, shorn of its usual attributes, would be productive of benefit to Ireland. The hon. Member had, moreover, shown his ignorance of the habits and feelings of the Irish public when he appealed to their national pride, assuming that it was violated by submitting to what he termed the degradation of a colonial government. In reality no such prejudice had been ever for a moment entertained by Irishmen of any class whatever. The court of the Lord-lieutenant had not 565 merited the stigma which the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to affix to it, by stating that it was surrounded by numerous needy dependents, who received profitable promotion, and cherished at the same time a rooted jealousy and dislike of the native inhabitants and whatever might be considered peculiarly Irish. Such an observation applied to the courtiers who accompanied King John when a guest in Ireland, but his own personal experience of two vice-regal courts of the present day Jed him to form a contrary conclusion. The argument that the Irish establishment tended to prevent an assimilation between the habits of the people with those of England was, in his judgment, equally destitute of foundation. What had been urged respecting a late arbitrary act of power on the part of the Lord-lieutenant only tended to convince him the more of the utility of that office. As to the vice-regal influence on the administration of the Criminal-law, it would not be difficult to prove by details, with which the hon. member for Limerick was well acquainted, that a most beneficial effect was thereby practically exercised on the working system as compared with that of England. He could himself bear testimony to the success of the exertions of two Viceroys continually directed to this subject. It was not in his power to devise, nor had the hon. member for Aberdeen suggested, any mode of removing the difficulties which opposed themselves to the adoption of his advice. He was never more convinced of the advantage that accrued from oral communication between the executive government and legal advisers who were acquainted with the habits and feelings of the people, than he had been by the results and proceedings of the late trials in Ireland, and the loss of this advantage could not be compensated by correspondence with the Secretary for the Home-department, however the modern rapidity of communication might facilitate and recommend such a mode of intercourse. He readily admitted the great improvements which had been made in this respect, for which he was as grateful as any man to the hon. Baronet already alluded to: but even with the certainty of receiving an answer to a letter in four days, he did not think that written communications could supersede the necessity of having an officer on the spot to decide. It might do very well amongst sailors, one of whom 566 on being told he might, as a great indulgence, have two days to take leave of his wife and family, replied—"I always do those things by letter," but it would not do in deciding the delicate questions connected with the administration of justice. The general advance of the prosperity of Dublin since the Union, it was admitted, had been demonstrated; but was it not rather illogical to conclude, that the system under which that prosperity had been created ought to be changed? In fact, no case had been made out which could induce the House to adopt the proposed resolution, and the discussion of the subject at present was both impolitic and inconvenient. The hon. Member had assumed that the higher classes would universally repair to the metropolis, and form a court of their own in the event of the vice-regal establishment being withdrawn. This inference, however, he had no doubt would be disclaimed by the gentlemen of Ireland, and he was equally sure that the Irish court tended to effect a much more beneficial communication between the upper ranks of Irish society than could be otherwise attained.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
had heard nothing from his noble friend that could create any rational idea that the question was not fit for parliamentary discussion. The proposition was not for the abolition of the office of the Lord-lieutenant, but merely for an address to the Crown to consider whether the present system of local government in Ireland was necessary to be continued. The hon. member for Aberdeen had made out a case to warrant an inquiry, first, upon the ground of good government; and, secondly, upon that of economy. He did not believe that his Motion would be unpopular in Ireland, not even in Dublin, except with those immediately in connexion with the expenditure of the Castle. The time was not distant when Government would be obliged to come down to the House with some such proposition, and it was fitting to hasten its motions. The early tendency had been to localize everything in Ireland, but the present tendency was to assimilate the two countries. Nothing could be more injurious to Ireland than the system of constant shifting and changing in the government. Chief Secretary had followed Chief Secretary, and every one seemed to have been selected with the view of contrasting him with his predecessor. Let the House look at the long list of Chief Secretaries 567 since the Union, and ask themselves how it was possible that a permanent system of government could be carried on in Ireland? On the average, every Chief Secretary had remained in office about nineteen months. Another ground of his objection to the present system was, that just as a Lord-lieutenant had earned a character in Ireland, and could therefore be of some service to it, he was recalled, and another appointed, who had all that labour to go through. These circumstances naturally led to misgovernment; and the fact was, that a small body of gentlemen, known in Dublin by the name of the Castle Government, but not known in this country at all, assumed all authority, and, in consequence of their knowledge of parties in Ireland, had it at any time in their power to create or to continue distractions in that country. Nobody in Ireland believed that the Lord-lieutenant or the Chief Secretary, or the Home Secretary, had any real influence in the government. Right or wrong, the belief was, that the authority of government was exercised exclusively by a small coterie at the Castle. What was the result of such a system? Injurious under any circumstances. Let it be supposed that the Lord-lieutenant and the Chief Secretary were perfectly identified in opinion with the Home-office, what was the Irish Government but a useless and expensive piece of machinery? On the other hand, let it be supposed that the Lord-lieutenant had strong political opinions of his own, that he was an honourable, upright, unbending man, and not on the best terms with the Home Secretary, what must be the necessary result of their collision but mischief? The noble Lord seemed to attach much importance to the influence of a Court in Ireland. He (Mr. Spring Rice) was not one of those who wished to divest the monarchical rank of its dignity; but he was averse to the mimic splendour of the vice-regal throne; and he was sure that society in Ireland derived no physical or moral advantage from the existence of a Court in Dublin. He believed that the moral character of the Irish people depended upon higher principles than those which pertained to the establishment of a Court; principles which, as they did not rise with that establishment, he trusted in God would not fall when the time arrived—and he would be bold enough to prophesy it was not far distant—when that Court 568 should be removed. As to the prosperity of Dublin, it must necessarily increase with the improvement of the government. Had it been found necessary to establish a Court at Edinburgh for the moral improvement of the people? And, without undervaluing the society of Dublin, he would ask if the society of Edinburgh was to be despised in comparison? The fact was, that the tendency of Dublin was every day more and more commercial? It was an outwork of Liverpool, to which it was united by that flying bridge, a steam-boat. So highly did he think of the value to Ireland of steam-boats, that much as he valued the Lord-lieutenant of that country, he valued a single steam-boat more than a whole wilderness of Lord-lieutenants. The only argument which the noble Lord had advanced against the motion was the old argument of 1822; namely, the effect which the existing government in Ireland had on the administration of criminal justice in Ireland. If, for the better administration of criminal justice in Ireland, it was desirable to support a Lord-lieutenant in Ireland, why was it not desirable, for the better administration of criminal justice in Scotland, to introduce a Lord-lieutenant into Scotland? Reference from Courts of Law to Government ought to be deprecated rather than encouraged. The practice had already diminished in Ireland; and in every future year it would become less. On these grounds he entirely concurred in the motion of his hon. friend. It did not pledge any one who voted for it to the abolition of the office; it only pledged him to the opinion that it was a fitting case for the Government to exercise its deliberation upon. Whatever might be the present decision of the House, he was persuaded the time was not far distant when it would be in favour of the Motion.
§ Mr. George Moore,
adverting to the statements which had been made by the hon. member for Aberdeen respecting the amount of buildings, shipping, &c. in Dublin, observed, that although, since the Union, the prosperity of Dublin had increased only a fifth, the population, and, he believed, the wealth of Ireland had doubled. Much of the prosperity of Dublin was undoubtedly to be attributed to the increased expenditure which the Court occasioned. The inhabitants of Dublin had not petitioned against the proposition of the hon. member for Aber- 569 deen, because they did not think the House would entertain it for a moment. There might be some exceptions; but he was fully persuaded that no circumstance could be calculated to produce greater exasperation of feeling, or increase the sense which, he was sorry to say, was growing in Ireland, that her interests were not properly regarded hero, than the withdrawing of the Lord-lieutenant from that country. He believed that there was in no part of the United Kingdom so much distress as among the little retail dealers of Dublin, and that distress would be much increased were it not for the expenditure of the Court. Under those impressions he must oppose the Motion; and he hoped the time was far distant when the Government would make a similar proposition.
§ Sir H. Parnell
said, he would shortly state the grounds on which he agreed with his hon. friend, the member for Aberdeen. As to the benefit which the people of Dublin derived from the expenditure of 30 or 40,000l. a year among them, that must be very insignificant; and as to the administration of criminal justice, how was the law administered in Scotland? No condemned person could be executed in Scotland without a previous reference to the Home Department; nor could he be executed until forty days after his condemnation. Why was not such a law as applicable to Ireland as to Scotland? He considered the residence of a Lord-lieutenant in Ireland as a positive evil. It deprived the Irish of the advantage of having Lord-lieutenants of Counties; the principle being, that a deputy could not have a deputy. He was convinced that the feelings of Ireland were misrepresented when it was said they were hostile to the abolition of the office of Lord-lieutenant. He had reason to know the contrary. He would undertake to say, that most of the intelligent classes in Ireland were favourable to the abolition. He had heard the speech of the noble Lord with satisfaction, for it indicated a disposition on the part of his Majesty's Government to get rid of the office.
was surprised to hear it said that the people of Ireland were favourable to the abolition of the office of Lord-lieutenant. He was in Ireland three weeks ago, and was frequently present when the proposition of the hon. member for Aberdeen was discussed, and he had 570 never heard a single individual who did not express himself decidedly hostile to it. He was convinced, that if the people of Ireland believed there was any serious intention to abolish the office, petitions would pour in against the measure from every county, and almost from every parish. He conceived that the abolition of the office of Lord-lieutenant would have the effect of greatly increasing absenteeism. Whoever had not visited Ireland could not be aware how much the presence of a Court in that country diminished the number of absentees and the duration of their absence. He opposed the Motion because he was convinced that it would have a most injurious effect in this respect to remove the Court and the Lord-lieutenant from Ireland. The morals and behaviour of all classes were improved by mingling together; and Ireland would, he believed, be injured, and many tradesmen utterly ruined if a proposition were to be carried which would deprive her of all splendour, and banish from her few remaining gentlemen.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that it was perhaps doubtful whether this office ought to be abolished; but, for himself, he had nearly made up his mind that it ought. Nothing was, in his opinion, more useful than unity of government, particularly in governing a country difficult to be governed—and such was Ireland. Besides, the peculiar advantages of a monarchical government was always supposed to consist in its steadiness; which, it was contended, more than compensated for the great difference existing between its expense as compared with that of a republic; although, in fact, the trappings of Royalty cost more than all the establishments of a republic. But in Ireland they had only the trappings, and not a single advantage of a monarchical form of government, since they had that perpetual change which was considered so destructive. Besides, there was no more reason for supporting a separate local government in Ireland than in any one of the northern counties of England, for the communication between them was just as easy; and if Lord-lieutenants of Counties were established, as in this country, all the difficulties urged against the measure might be met, except that respecting the administration of justice. As the hon. member for Aberdeen, too, had so clearly stated, there would be a great saving effected by the 571 adoption of his suggestion. If he thought the removal of the Lord-lieutenant would be injurious to Ireland, the anxiety to economise would have no weight with him; but thinking, on the contrary, that the measure would be productive of good, he should support the Motion.
§ Sir G. Murray
said, that he was induced to offer a few observations to the House upon this subject in consequence of the great interest which he took in all questions which were connected with the condition of Ireland. In reply to the observation of the noble Lord, that there was a continual change in the system of governing Ireland, owing to the frequent change of its Lord-lieutenants, he would merely say, that the system of government in Ireland did not depend upon the individual who was Lord-lieutenant, but on the administration in England to which he owed his appointment. The vacillation observable in the policy pursued by the different Secretaries of State for Ireland was not attributable to the individual character of the different noblemen who had acted as viceroys, but to the system adopted by the administration in England. That vacillation was now at an end, for a new system had recently been adopted with respect to Ireland, which would be beneficial, he trusted, not merely to that country but to the empire at large. It had been stated by the hon. member for Limerick, that the government of the Viceroy was of no importance, for that, although there were a Lord-lieutenant and a Chief Secretary, the authority was not in their hands, but in the hands of a nameless body to which he alluded, but which he said was too contemptible to be named, and could not be known to the House. If the hon. Gentleman would point out to the House how that body could be removed he would cordially give him his support, or if the hon. Gentleman could prove that the existence of this body was the necessary and unavoldable accompaniment of a Lord-lieutenant, he would admit that he had made out a case for the removal of the vice-regal government. Another objection to the office, made by the hon. Gentleman, was founded on the supposition, that if the Lord-lieutenant concur in the views of the Government, his presence was not necessary in Ireland—they could do as well without him. He did not agree with the hon. Gentleman in that opinion. The viceregal government in Ireland was, in 572 his opinion, very advantageous to that country, the time might come when this machinery could be dispensed with, but hitherto it had been essentially necessary, and positively useful; certainly the time had not yet arrived when it could be laid aside without considerable injury. Another supposition put by the hon. member for Limerick was, that if the policy of the Lord-lieutenant, differed from the policy of the Government, the office could not possibly be of any use to it, nor of any benefit to Ireland. In that opinion he agreed with the hon. Gentleman, but that must be a very weak government indeed which would allow such a state of things to continue. Even if the Lord-lieutenant were right in his opinions relative to the policy to be pursued in Ireland, and the government wrong, the government must be very weak which did not remove the Lord-lieutenant: and for this reason, that where responsibility is, there must always be the chief authority. A government ought not to allow its character and its responsibility to be compromised by an individual acting under it, but in contradiction to its own views. In another point he thought that the hon. member for Limerick had treated the interests of the metropolis of his country very lightly; he had mentioned Dublin as a mere outwork of Liverpool. Now he could not consent to look upon Dublin in that subordinate point of view. He confessed that he was inclined to think that the residence of the Lord-lieutenant in Dublin was of great advantage to that metropolis, and also of no slight service to the country in general. There was but one argument against it which appeared to him to be deserving of any weight, and that was founded upon economy, a consideration which the hon. member for Northamptonshire was inclined to throw overboard in his mode of treating this question. He admitted that a saving to the public would accrue from the removal of the Viceregal Court from Dublin; but he thought that that saving would be a minor consideration, unless it could be distinctly made out that Ireland would receive no detriment in any other respect from having such a measure carried immediately into effect. Having thus gone through all the points directly bearing on the question, he did not deem it necessary to trouble the House with any more remarks relative to the government of Ireland; but he should not consider that 573 he was doing his duty if he sat down without adverting to some observations made by the hon. member for Aberdeen with regard to the Colonies. The hon. Member said, that the inhabitants of the Colonies felt themselves degraded by being placed under a delegated authority. It did not appear to him that the inhabitants of the Colonies could feel any degradation whatever on that account; they were, in every respect, his Majesty's subjects, although living remote from the scat of Government. He could not conceive that they could entertain such a feeling, at any rate he did not consider them in a state of degradation. He believed that the inhabitants of the Colonies had just as strong a claim to the consideration of his Majesty's Government, and of that House, as any other portion of the people of this Empire. He should consider it as great a dereliction of duty to omit furthering the interests of the inhabitants of the Colonies as if he were to neglect the interests of his own constituents. He must also beg leave to remark, that he could not understand upon what principle the hon. Gentleman could suppose that the connection between the mother country and the Colonies could be continued, unless they were under a delegated Government. He could not understand how they could have any communication with this country, if some delegated authority, by whatever name it might be called, were not established in the Colonies. Such an authority was established by the State for the purpose of promoting the benefit of the Colonies, and if it were abused, reference could be made to the Government at home; and that authority, whatever might be its name, would be made responsible for its misconduct. Notwithstanding the imputations which the hon. member for Aberdeen had thought fit to cast upon colonial governors in general, he was happy to find that hon. Member disposed to do justice, at least, to one of them, he meant an hon. and gallant friend of his, the Governor-general of the Canadas. It was no more than justice to that officer to state, that he had discharged every part of his duty with zeal and ability; and in the instance of that very Governor, the delegated authority which the hon. Gentleman so much objected to, and thought so degrading to the colonists, had afforded the most useful assistance to his Majesty's Government in promoting those measures 574 which had been recommended by a committee of that House, which it was his intention steadily to pursue, and which would, he hoped, remedy the defects which had grown up in the system of government in Canada, and tend to the general contentment and prosperity of its inhabitants.
§ Mr. O'Connell
remarked, that if it were known in Ireland that it was seriously intended to bring this motion forward, the House would have heard of it in a very different way from the sentiments uttered by the hon. Member who opposed the question. He submitted, that it was not wise to legislate for a country against the feelings of the inhabitants, and the Irish were universally opposed to this; and with good reason; for it would assuredly increase absenteeism. He was not, and had no right to be, the eulogist of past governments; but he hoped that, under the improved feeling, a person of high rank filling the office of Lord-lieutenant would have an influence over factions which it would be in vain to expect from a government of clerks. He would strenuously oppose the motion.
§ Mr. Brownlow
said, that from what he had heard, he believed the motion was entitled to his humble support, and to the consideration of the House. No substantial or satisfactory arguments had been used to show why the office of viceroy of Ireland should not be abolished; and in the speeches of the noble Lord and the right hon. Secretary, he had been pleased to observe that they had placed the question before the House simply as one of time; they raised no objection upon principle. But he asked, Why was it not time now? There was nothing to justify the continuance of the office on principle; and if, as was universally acknowledged, a great saving could be effected by the abolition, was it not their duty, as Members of Parliament, to press it on the consideration of the Ministry? He thought the time had arrived. The proceedings of the last thirty years had been founded upon a system of assimilation. First, the parliaments of the two countries had been assimilated; and then in succession various Boards; and, to complete the system, it was only necessary to assimilate the government of the two kingdoms; so that an English cabinet might take the power from the hands of a Lord-lieutenant, who was sometimes with and sometimes 575 against it, and administer the English constitution in Ireland as it was administered in England. He contended that it was folly to talk of the Irish people being attached to that form of government. They had suffered too much oppression under it, and witnessed too much corruption; and, in his opinion, the people never would believe that they were well governed, or that pure justice was conceded to them, until this form of government was abolished. The change would injure no one; for he thought that the presence of a court in Dublin, instead of alluring, kept many persons from it, who, unable to mix with their fellows at the Castle, were unwilling to approach the capital at all.
denied that there had been expressions of public opinion in Ireland upon this subject. As a county member, he felt himself bound to say that he should be sorry to see the office of Lord-lieutenant abolished without some more cogent reasons for the abolition than any he had heard that night; and he should, therefore, in the absence of any direct instruction from his constituents, whose opinions on the subject were to be regarded, deem himself bound to oppose the motion of the hon. member for Montrose.
also opposed the motion, because he was satisfied that, if the office of Lord-lieutenant were abolished, some person, under some other name, must be sent to Ireland, in order to fulfil those duties which were required of the Government, and which could not be efficiently performed by any officer in this country.
§ Sir Joseph Yorke
said, the arguments of the hon. member for Montrose were unanswerable, and he had no doubt they had produced a very considerable effect on the understanding of all the members of that House. For his part, the very reason given by some persons for opposing the motion was the reason which induced him to support it. It was because Ireland was no longer to be considered a colony, but an integral part of the empire, that he desired to see the distinction of a Lord-lieutenant abolished. Ireland was now an integral portion of the empire; and he should vote for her being considered so by the abolition of this useless and expensive office. The government of Ireland had ever been a most corrupt one, celebrated for jobbing and chicanery, and 576 therefore the sooner some alteration was made in it the better. He knew of no alteration that could be more beneficial than the abolition of the office of the Lord-lieutenant.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that he should be unwilling to allow this question to go to a vote, without expressing his entire concurrence with the statement which had been made by his right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. In declaring that it was his intention to oppose the motion of the hon. member for Aberdeen, he begged leave to exempt himself and the government of Ireland, with which he had formerly the honour of being connected, from the accusations which his hon. friend (sir Joseph Yorke) had made, of general corruption in those who formed the administration of that country. For his own part, he could confidently state, that he knew nothing of any such corruption; and he could appeal to all those who were in any way acquainted with the government of Ireland to say, whether the corruption of which the hon. Member had spoken, had any existence, except in his own imagination? From his former connexion with that government, and from the knowledge which his present situation had enabled him to acquire concerning it, he could conscientiously say, that no government had ever a greater desire to promote the interests of a people than the government of Ireland. After these preliminary remarks, he begged leave to make a few observations upon the question then under discussion. In the first place, it appeared to him that the hon. member for Limerick had argued it upon grounds to which his right hon. friend had perhaps offered a sufficient reply. That hon. Member appeared to draw a nice distinction as to the effects of the motion. He contended that it did not call upon the House at once to abolish the office of Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; but merely recommended the propriety of taking the subject into consideration, and of addressing the Crown to ascertain whether it might not with propriety be abolished. He did not admit that distinction. He knew that there were different modes of shaping a motion, in order to attract and to gain over some particular votes; but he was very much mistaken indeed, if the present motion had not been so framed, rather to catch a few votes of persons professing different 577 opinions, than to gain general concurrence. This was rendered evident, by the supporters of the Motion throwing a sort of ambiguity over its object, which was well calculated to secure the votes of those who did not wish the office to be immediately abolished. The hon. member for Limerick had mentioned the embarrassments which, he said, arose from the state of the government in Ireland. He did not concur with the hon. Gentleman in his opinion; he knew, on the contrary, that his opinion was most erroneous; and that hon. Gentleman had failed to prove the existence of the evils to which he alluded, and of which he said the people of Ireland had a right to complain. For his own part, he could assert that no such evils existed, but if they did, would they be remedied by removing that authority which at present secured some control over them? But, supposing the office of Lord-lieutenant to be abolished, what was the system proposed as a substitute for it? The only one he had heard of was that of his hon. friend behind him, to appoint a secretary of state for Ireland, who should reside in this country. But how could such an officer living in this country attend to the affairs of Ireland? How could he obtain that information which he must possess, to discharge the functions of his office properly? He could have no means of obtaining any such information; and he put it to the House, whether it were not more probable that the system, which formerly prevailed in Ireland, and to the ill effects of which no one could be insensible, would revive under such a change, and would lead again to all those evils which the legislature had ever been most anxious to check, than that the abolition of the office of Lord-lieutenant should lead to the improvement of Ireland. The hon. member for Limerick under-valued the importance of the office on one principal circumstance, and he was surprised that he should do so at that moment. Last session, a measure was carried through Parliament, which, it could not be denied, had been very conducive to the peace and tranquillity of Ireland. That measure was still in its infancy, and consequently required the protecting care of some official organ of the Government residing upon the spot. That official organ, at present, was the Lord-lieutenant, and under his administration the best effects had hitherto resulted from that 578 measure. How unwise, therefore, would it be, to afford any interruption to the progress and general diffusion of the good which had already manifested itself, by any change in the administration, more especially such a change as that proposed by the present Motion. He thought that it was incumbent upon the House not to add to those changes already made, another change which might give rise to feelings of dissatisfaction in the minds of the Irish. The hon. member for Limerick had also told the House, that one of the main grounds of complaint against the Lord-lieutenancy of Ireland was, that the Lord-lieutenants had been frequently changed. Was it likely, however, if that office were abolished, and the duties were to be executed by a Secretary of State for Ireland, that he would be less frequently removed than had been the Lord-lieutenants of Ireland? He believed not, and if the House looked for an example to our own history, it would find that there had been no less than nine Secretaries of State for the Home Department since the year 1800. If the frequent changes, therefore, of the Lord-lieutenants of Ireland were made the ground for abolishing the office altogether, some other remedy must be adopted than the appointment of a Secretary of State for Ireland to supply his place. He would not detain the House by entering more largely into the subject, which had perhaps already been sufficiently argued: he would merely say, however, that the House ought, in deference to the feelings of the people of Ireland, who were interested in retaining the administration of an officer of the Crown, of such rank as the Lord-lieutenant, and of keeping amongst them gentlemen of such wealth as those who are generally appointed to fill that office, out of deference to the people of Ireland, the House ought to reject the Motion of the hon. member for Aberdeen. It was evident from the speech of every Irish Member who had spoken on this subject, that the measure would be very unpopular in Ireland. The hon. member for Limerick had even thought it necessary to defend himself as well as he could from the unpopularity which he knew would attach to him, on account of the part he took in this debate. Then the hon. member for Queen's County came forward, animated by a species of chivalry, to support the hon. member for Limerick, and to share with him the unpopularity which he 579 seemed to expect would attach to him for the opinions he had expressed upon this subject. From whence could such a dread of unpopularity arise, but from the conviction that the general feeling of the people of Ireland was in favour of the continuance of the office of Lord-lieutenant. Under these circumstances he should certainly feel it to be his duty to oppose the Motion.
§ Mr. Hume,
in reply, said, that he had not heard a single argument from any member of his Majesty's Government, which did not go to support the Motion. All the difference between him and them was, as to the point of time at which the change was to take place. They were told the people of Dublin would not like the change; but was that House to consider the feelings of the people of Dublin, when opposed to those of the rest of Ireland, and the whole of the empire? The great argument urged against his proposition was, that it would make more absentees than at present; but in his opinion the office of Lord-lieutenant was the cause of absenteeism, and it was to put an end to a faction, and destroy a source of mismanagement, which drove liberal men out of the country, that he called on the House to give its assent to the Motion.
§ The House divided—For the Motion 115; Against it 229: Majority 114.
|List of the Minority.|
|Althorp, Lord||Dering, Sir E.|
|Anson, Hon. G.||Dick, Q.|
|Attwood, M.||Denison, W. J.|
|Astley, Sir J.||Ducane, P.|
|Baring, F.||Duncombe, Hon. W.|
|Belgrave, Lord||Dundas, Hon. G.|
|Bernal, R.||Dundas, Sir R.|
|Benett, J.||Encombe, Lord|
|Birch, J.||Ebrington, Lord|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Ellison, Cuthbert|
|Blake, Sir F.||Ewart, W.|
|Blandford, Lord||Fazakerley, J. N.|
|Brougham, H.||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Brougham, J.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Brownlow, C.||French, A.|
|Butler, C.||Fyler, T. B.|
|Buxton, T. F.||Gordon, R.|
|Colborne, R.||Guest, J. J.|
|Coke, T. W.||Guise, Sir W.|
|Calvert, C.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Crompton, S.||Heron, Sir R.|
|Cavendish, H. F. C.||Heathcote, R. E.|
|Cavendish, C. C.||Howick, Lord|
|Cavendish, W.||Hoy, B.|
|Cholmeley, M. J.||Honywood, W. P.|
|Cave, O.||Howard, H.|
|Davies, Colonel||Howard, R.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Ramsden, J. C.|
|Knight, R.||Rickford, W.|
|Kennedy, T. F.||Stanley, Hon. C.|
|Kemp, T. R.||Smith, W.|
|Labouchere, H.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Lambert, J. S.||Sykes, D.|
|Langston, J. H.||Tennyson, C.|
|Latouche, R.||Townsend, Lord C.|
|Lawley, F.||Thomson, P.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Tufton, Hon. W.|
|Macdonald, Sir J.||Tynte, C. K.|
|Marshall, W.||Vyvyan, Sir R.|
|Marshall, J.||Warburton, H.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Warrender, Sir G.|
|Maberly, J.||Waithman, Ald.|
|Macauley, C.||Webb, E.|
|Milton, Lord||Western, C. C.|
|Morpeth, Lord||Wemyss, J.|
|Monck, J. B.||West, J. R.|
|Ord, Wm.||Wilson, Sir R.|
|Palmer, F.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Parnell, Sir H.||Wood, Ald.|
|Pendarvis, E.||Wood, C.|
|Philips, Sir G.||Wood, J.|
|Philips, G.||Wrottesley, Sir J.|
|Ponsonby, Hon. T.||Wyvill, M.|
|Protheroe, C.||Yorke, Sir Jos.|
|Poyntz, W. S.||TELLERS.|
|Pryse, P.||Hume, J.|
|Rancliffe, Lord||Rice, T. S.|
|Rowley, Sir W.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Robarts, A. W.||Portman, E. B.|
|Robinson, Sir G.||Whitmore, W. W.|