HC Deb 05 November 1830 vol 1 cc210-3
Mr. O' Connell

presented a Petition from Cocker-mouth, praying for Reform, and declaring that Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot were necessary for the salvation of the country. The petitioners also said, and he thought their words prophetic, that vengeance would speedily fall on the heads of those who lent themselves to the oppression of the people. The Government was as imbecile as it was mischievous, for it had put into the mouth of one of the most popular Sovereigns who had ever sat on the Throne, a Speech which could have no other effect than to make him disliked by his subjects. What else, however, could they expect when there was insanity at the helm? He said insanity, and he was justified in saying it, because the Premier, but one year before his elevation, declared that he should be mad if he thought himself capable of filling the situation of Prime Minister of this country. He had since accepted that situation, and, therefore, he (Mr. O'Connell) felt he was at liberty to say that insanity ruled over the destinies of the nation.

Mr. Beaumont

, although one of the most ardent friends of liberty, felt himself called on to protest against the sentiments of the hon. member for Waterford, and to deprecate the use of expressions which he considered abominable, and language which he must characterise as most offensive. As one of those who had always proved themselves the friends of liberty both in and out of that House, he deprecated the use of such language; and hoped the hon. Member would refrain from using it in future.

Mr. Arbuthnot

said, that if his Majesty's Ministers were thought to be unworthy of the confidence of the House and the country, it was in the power of the Members to express that opinion, and effect their removal; but he thought that it would be derogatory to the character of Parliament to take any notice of language such as that now addressed to them.

Mr. O'Connell

justified the expression he had used. What else was it but adopting the Duke of Wellington's own words?

Mr. Beaumont

repeated his hope that the hon. Member would, for the future, preserve a greater temperance of language, although he might feel as strongly as he liked.

Mr. Croker

was much surprised, that the hon. member for Waterford, if he felt so strongly averse from the language of the Speech from the Throne, had not recorded that feeling more effectually, by taking the sense of the House on the subject when that Speech was under its consideration the other night, and when he had the opportunity of ascertaining the feelings of the Members in one of the most numerous assemblies ever congregated on such an occasion. He protested against a declaration such as they had heard from the hon. Member, so immediately after he had given his assent to an Address in reply to the Speech which he so heavily condemned. He did not, however, protest so much against the language of the hon. Member, nor was he disposed to read him a friendly lecture, like the member for Northumberland (Mr. Beaumont); but he protested against such attacks being directed against the members of his Majesty's Government, at a moment when there was not one of the persons attacked in the House to reply to them.

Mr. Hobhouse

, on the part of all those who dissented from the terms of the Speech from the Throne, protested on his part against the conclusion of the hon. Secretary for the Admiralty, that they or the House were at all pledged to the principles of the Speech, because they allowed the Address to pass without opposition. Even the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Home Department, had expressly declared that the House was not pledged to the terms of the Speech by agreeing to the formality of an Address, He believed, indeed, that the language of that Speech, and the declaration respecting Reform, which followed it, had armed new opponents against the Ministry, and that many of the greatest friends of the Government were disposed to withdraw from it their support. What confidence, indeed, could the country have in such a Government? What could be expected from a Ministry which left the destinies of Ireland in the hands of an individual? For that they were so was plain, from the admissions made in that House. That hon. Member had been charged with an attempt to produce a rebellion, and he had replied with a modesty, peculiar to himself, and which he had no doubt was perfectly well founded—"No, I did not excite the people to rebellion; I prevented a rebellion." The Government, however, which left in the power of an individual the means of exciting or preventing a rebellion was unworthy of the confidence of the House or of the country. He trusted that the hon. Secretary would learn more accurately what took place in the House before he again reproved hon. Members for inconsistency.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that so far from being open to the censure contained in the speech of the hon. Secretary, he had actually seconded the Amendment to the Address moved by the noble member for Woodstock.

Mr. Croker

said, that his observations applied not to the fact of the hon. Member having spoken against the Address, and seconded the Amendment, of which he was aware, but to the fact that he had not ventured to take the sense of the House on that Amendment.

Mr. John Wood

said, that he came up to town with a strong disposition to look with favour on the acts of the Government during the present crisis, but the declaration respecting reform had totally changed his opinions. The Duke of Wellington, Prince of Waterloo, had, like his brother Minister, Prince Polignac, issued his Ordinances against Reform, and was determined to abide the issue, in spite of the opinions of the people.

The Petition laid on the Table.