Mr. C. W. W. Wynn
moved the Order of the Day for the House resolving itself into a Committee of Supply.
§ On the question that the Speaker leave the Chair,
observed, that on the accession of the present Administration to Office, the expectations of the country had been wound up to a very high pitch, and however reluctant he might be to use the language of complaint, he could not but say, that those expectations had been sadly disappointed. It would be in the recollection of the House, and of the nation at large, that the existing Ministry bad attained to their situations on the three great principles of Retrenchment, of Noninterference with Foreign States, and of Reform. To advert to the first, he had been grievously disappointed to find that so large a military establishment was to be proposed. The great mass of the community were persuaded that such an establishment was unsuited to its wants and beyond its means. Where was to be found the necessity for such an army, if there was to be no interference with the affairs of other countries. In the expenses of the army, the last Administration effected a reduction of 300,000l., reducing the annual expense from somewhere above 6,300,000l. to 6,100,000l. The number 694 of men composing last year's military establishment was 81,000; this year it was to be augmented to 88,000. He was utterly unable to comprehend the necessity for all that when Ireland was in a state of perfect peace. Oh, yes, there were Proclamations enough. Yes, Proclamations enough from both parties, but no war. Was Ireland to be kept by force of arms, or was it to be preserved by the observance of the just and legitimate principles of good government. If the former was to be the course pursued, neither the additional quantity nor any number that could be estimated by any man, would prove sufficient for the purpose. He would venture to tell the noble Lord, that not all his professions of economy, nor all his practice of it in the abolition of civil offices, would be available to meet the reasonable demands of the country, if he did not cut down the military establishment of the country to the standard that its necessities required. He talked of the difficulty of getting rid of taxes; but let him only strike off 10 or 15,000 men from the army, and he might repeal 4,000,000l. of taxes without any embarrassment or difficulty, and without imposing one-half the amount of new taxes which it would seem he intended to lay on. As to the Budget, it certainly, so far as it went, had his approval, with the slight exception that he could not at any time assent to the duty on raw cotton; neither did he think that the tax upon steam-vessel passengers was in accordance with the principles Ministers professed; with these slight exceptions he certainly was not opposed to the Budget of the noble Lord. It was with the deepest disappointment he heard from the noble Lord, that he could make no further concession unless he imposed fresh taxes. He really did hope for further relief than so small a sum as 480,000l., which was the extent of the apparent diminution in this year's taxes: but if, in consequence of the alteration of the Beer duties, the Excise turned out as productive upon the whole year as might be inferred, it would prove from the Return of the last quarter, that the country would have been burthened as heavily by the present Ministry as by the last; in fact, it would turn out, he feared, in the end, that not a shilling had been remitted. For example, they might diminish the force in Canada; there were more troops in Canada than in the whole of the United States, 695 with their vast extent of territory, and, after all, for no useful purpose; for no military force could defend Canada from the United States, if the hearts of the people became alienated from the mother-country—if the militia of the colony were not prepared to resist invasion. He again pressed upon the House the weighty obligation under which it lay, to insist that Ministers should reduce the Army Estimates. He begged them to remember that every thousand men cost the country forty or fifty thousand pounds. Another place in which military force might be diminished, was the Ionian Islands. What occasion was there for maintaining a force there at all? But he feared it was idle to press those considerations any further; there was something infectious in the Ministerial benches, and the moment the advocates for reform and retrenchment got seated there, they were afflicted with all the fear of dispensing with the soldiery which distinguished their predecessors. It was in vain any longer to contest the point —either the great military establishment of the country was to be kept up for the purpose of awing the people, or for the purposes of foreign intervention. It. was on that ground, then, that he would recommend to the House, to give the Ministers a vote on account, and send them back to reconsider their Estimates. It was in vain that they sought to conceal the purpose, or lay claim to an observance of their undertaking on the subject of noninterference—it might be very agreeable to play the great man. The present Administration might very well like to be one of the great Powers. The noble Lord opposite might desire to figure away as a great man; but whether that was or was not the wish of the present Administration, they might assure themselves of this, that they had arrived at a point when they must use force. The last proposition of the five great Powers had been rejected, and they must now use their last resource, —force. On the 2nd of November, the Speech they heard from the Throne led them to infer that the intention of the then existing Ministry was, to support the principles of the Holy Alliance, under which Europe was parcelled out and settled, as the phrase went. On the 4th of November the Belgian Deputies received from the Duke of Wellington an assurance that there should be no interference in the internal affairs of the country, and that as- 696 surance was reported to the Congress then sitting at Brussels. On the 4th of that month, a Protocol was issued from the five great Powers, recommending an armistice; on the 10th the Belgians accepted that proposition, conditionally, that no interference should be attempted in their internal concerns, and especially, that no interference should take place with respect to their limits. On the 17th of November, the five great Powers accepted the Belgian offers of an armistice upon the terms they stated, and gave an assurance, that the whole proceeding on the part of those powers should be perfectly amicable. On the 6th of December a note was delivered to the five great Powers, to inquire whether the Belgian Government had correctly interpreted their intentions, and in a few days the independence of Belgium was recognized, and the Belgians were recommended to send Commissioners. On the 6th of January the Belgian Deputies delivered a note to the Congress assembled here, asserting that the Belgians alone were entitled to settle their limits, and that they would tolerate no interference upon that subject. On the 19th of January the Committee of Government at Brussels declared to the Allied Powers, that the Belgians would not consent to their interfering as to the limits of Belgium. On the 20th of January notwithstanding this Protocol was issued by the Congress at London, expressly upon that very subject, and setting at nought the declaration of the Belgians. On the 2nd of February, the Belgian Congress delivered in a protest, declaring that, they would not have their limits interfered with; and on the 23rd, it appeared that Lord Palmerston, who was one of the great Powers, wanted to know the state of the Belgian debt, with the view of determining what portion of that debt was to be fixed upon Holland, and what upon Belgium. If any thing could be called an interference, here was one. We were already at an expense of 120,000l. a year, owing to our interference with the debts of Russia. Again, as a further evidence of the spirit of interference, the five great powers declared on the 17th of February that they would not recognize the Duke of Nemours or the Duke of Leuchtenberg as king of Belgium should either of them be elected. Could there be more striking instances of the spirit of interference. Would the British nation say, that this was non-interference? Would they say that this was 697 not dictation to an independent State? Would they say, that this was not a revival of the odious system of the Holy Alliance —a system which, thank God, in spite of all such attempts to revive it, would crumble to atoms? The Government had taken on itself to refuse the Sovereignty to the Due de Nemours, and to the Due de Leuchtenberg; but would the noble Lord tell the House to whose appointment the Government would consent. He had reason to believe, indeed, that our Ministers had in conjunction with the other powers settled who was to be king of Belgium. He inferred that from finding that one of the Protocols of the congress at London had not been published. In the Courier Newspaper he found the following statement:Protocol No. 15 of the Conference held at the Foreign Office, on the 7th of February, 1831, in the presence of the Plenipotentiaries of Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia:—The Conference was opened by the French Plenipotentiary, who presented a declaration, stating, that the Government of the King of the French considered the refusal of the King to accept the Crown of Belgium for the Duke of Nemours, as offered by the Congress, was in unison with the tenor of the Protocol of the 11th of January.—He wanted to know, what this protocol of the 11th of January was, having reason to believe, though he should be happy to hear that such was not the case, that that protocol contained an agreement as to who should be king of Belgium. The protocol of the 7th of February went on——and that, being informed that this offer was to be made, his Majesty had directed his plenipotentiary to repeat his former declarations on this subject. The plenipotentiaries decided upon introducing those communications into the present Protocol, and subsequently took into consideration the possibility of the throne being offered to the Duke of Leuchtenberg; being unanimously of opinion that the latter choice would not be in unison with any of the principles laid down in Protocol No. 12, of January 27.Now he wanted to see this protocol, "which stipulated,"—He wished particularly to beg the attention of the noble Lord to the next three lines——which stipulated that the King of Belgium should himself be answerable for the principles of the country; and that he should be accountable by his personal situation, for the safety of the neighbouring Slates. If the 698 sovereignty of Belgium were offered by the Brussels Congress to the Duke of Leuchtenberg, and if that Prince accepted it, he would not be recognized by any of the five great Powers: (Signed) Esterhazy, Palmerston—and the names of the Ministers of three others of the great powers.Did such declarations as these come within the meaning of non-interference? Would the British nation say that this was non-interference? Would it not say that it was an attack on an independent State? Would it not say, it is a following-up of the system of the Holy Alliance, which our present ministers, when out of office, had condemned? What! The people of England— the friends of freedom,—they who made choice of a Sovereign for themselves—they who would let none interfere with their choice,—they who maintained their choice —ought a Minister of England to join with despots to force on a free people the king that should rule them? The five great Powers had refused to agree to the election of the Duke of Nemours, and said that they would not agree to that of the Duke of Leuchtenberg. He asked what then in accordance with that protocol, which was kept concealed, were the principles on which Belgium was to be allowed to choose a king?
On the 10th of February, this protocol, dictating who should not be King, was presented to the Belgian Government. With all the cunning that had been exhibited, however, he thought that the Powers were over-matched; because, when one of the Protocols was sent to Belgium, Bresson, the French Representative there, had refused to sign it; in fact, he dared not sign it; for he well knew what the state of the public feeling in France was on the subject. The consequence of this had been, that the paper had been thrown back with contempt upon the five great Powers. Nothing, in his view of the subject, remained, but for a hostile force to enter Belgium. The Belgians were prepared to receive such a movement; and, unless the noble Lord was ready to confirm the decrees of the five Powers by marching troops into that territory, he maintained, that they must be content to have all their protocols rejected in like manner. He had entered thus fully into this subject, because it was evident that it was proposed to keep up the military establishments of the country to support such a measure; and were the people to be 699 made to pay for this interference? It was on those grounds that he called on the House not to sanction such a proceeding; and he therefore proposed to call for copies of all the protocols and documents connected with Belgium. He was not aware, after this rejection to which he had alluded, whether all negotiations were not at an end; and he would ask the country, whether it was in a condition to enter Belgium for the purpose of forcing the Belgians to receive a King such as the Government of this country should think proper to dictate? He knew that he should be told in reply, that it was necessary to support the dignity of the Crown; but he begged leave to tell them, that that was hot the way to support its dignity: the true dignity of the country Was to be supported by retrenchment and economy, for that would be the means of maintaining happiness and peace throughout the kingdom. He begged leave to move as an amendment, "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to direct that there should be laid before that House copies of all the protocols of the Congress of the five Powers held in London, respecting the affairs of Belgium, as far as England was concerned, since October 1830."
§ Lord Palmerston
begged leave to say a few words in reply to the hon. member for Middlesex, as he was the humble representative in that House of the five great Powers, whom the hon. Gentleman had been pleased to attack. First, however, he would make a few remarks with respect to the military establishments of the country, as Unit subject had served the hon. Gentleman to introduce the other to the House. The hon. Gentleman complained, that he could not see why the military service of this year was to exceed that of the year gone by; and he had observed, that as there were no disturbances in England, and as Ireland was at peace, he was at a loss to understand why an additional body of 10,000 men had been raised. He (Lord Palmerston), however, thought that it was impossible that any one should say that there was nothing in the internal state of England to justify the Government being armed with a power to enforce the execution of the laws and to protect the property and lives of his Majesty's subjects; and as to Ireland, the hon. Gentleman need not go far to obtain an answer to 700 his observation, for, without stirring from his seat, and without looking far from his own place, he might learn why it was necessary that an adequate military power should be kept up with respect to that country. [A loud "hear, hear!" from Mr. O'Connell, who was sitting immediately below Mr. Hume.] All, however, that the Government had done was to complete the peace establishment, and beyond that, they had not added one man to the military force of the country. With respect to the colonial questions broached by the hon. Gentleman, it was unnecessary to go into any argument to prove, that our colonies should be supplied with adequate military garrisons—at all events, they were points which would be much better discussed in the Committee, and the same observation might apply to a great many of the remarks of the hon. Gentleman. With respect to what related more particularly to his own department, he must say, that the course pursued by the hon. Gentleman was one not less inconvenient to the service of the country than unusual in parliamentary proceedings. He apprehended that it was usual for the House of Commons when the Government was in the course of negotiation with other countries not to step between the Government and the termination of those negotiations. He apprehended, that if that House felt sufficient confidence in arty Administration to think that it was fit to be trusted with the government of the country, it ought to be content to wait till the negotiations were ended, and not impose on the Government the necessity of offering an imperfect view of transactions. He knew that an example had lately been afforded on the other side of the Channel to keep the hon. Gentleman in countenance; but the great inconvenience which had been occasioned by the Belgium Congress publishing, from day to day, the important State documents that reached that assembly, was so manifest, that the example was one to avoid, and not to imitate. If he did not follow the hon. Gentleman through all the details into which he had entered, he trusted that the House would believe that it was not because, when the proper time came, the Government was not ready to go into the minutest and most particular discussion, but because it felt that the greatest public inconvenience would arise from these premature discussions. At the game time, he could not 701 allow the remarks of the hon. Gentleman to pass entirely without notice; and he would therefore give a general answer to the charges that had been brought. The hon. Gentleman said, that the Government had been following the doctrines and principles of the Holy Alliance; and that it had been departing from its pledges of noninterference. He totally denied that this was the case; and he took upon himself to say, that there was nothing in the course of the proceedings which could, in the slightest degree, support such an allegation. To state the matter as shortly as he could, he would say, that in the first place, the hon. Gentleman seemed to have been labouring under a strange confusion in his mind, and to have imagined that the internal arrangements, and the external boundary of a State were the same thing. If there were any two things distinct from each other in the world, surely these were they. Did the hon. Gentleman forget that Belgium had never, in the history of modern times, been an independent State? First, it had been a Spanish, then an Austrian, and a French possession, after the French conquered it at the beginning of the war. How, then, could the Belgians set up a right of postliminium to portions of the Dutch territory, seeing that this was a right which could only belong-to independent states. The doctrine that every state had a right to fix its own limits was set up by Buonaparte, and upon it there was a slight difference between him and the rest of Europe; he contended that the limits of France ought to be the confines between Europe and Asia. The rest of the world thought it more convenient that those limits should be somewhat nearer Paris. The majority was against him, and he lost Belgium in the quarrel. When he was conquered by the Allied Powers, the natural course, perhaps, would have been, for Austria to have entered again into possession of Belgium. But she gave up her claim, and the Powers of Europe disposed of Belgium, by uniting it to Holland, not for any purpose of advantage to Holland—not as an act of grace and farour to the King of the Netherlands, but for the purpose of making the appropriation of Belgium contribute to the peace and security of Europe. Events having occurred by which that union had become no longer possible, he said that the Powers who had formerly been parties to the treaties which regulated the disposition of Belgium 702 had a right, to concern themselves with the separation of that country, not with the question whether Belgium, having freed itself by its own arms, should again be subjected to the yoke of Holland, for no such interference had taken place—not with its form of government, or internal constitution, for no such interference had been thought of; but he said, that the other Powers of Europe, and England among them, had a right to look to those circumstances in which their own interests were concerned, as well as those of Belgium itself. They had a right to say to Belgium, "You, never having been an independent State, have no right to despoil Holland of its ancient and historical boundaries. Holland is a State whose independence concerns the security of the other countries of Europe: you are but a Power of yesterday, and have no right to convert yourselves into aggressors, and to claim as yours that which belongs of right to another." He said, then, that the Powers of Europe, and England among them, were bound to see that the ancient territories of Holland were not encroached upon. The Duchy of Luxemberg belonged to the German Confederation; and the Confederation had a right to say to the Belgians, that they should not meddle with Luxemberg, because there were others who had a better right to it than they. There was nothing in the principle of noninterference, fairly and reasonably laid down, which prescribed to a State the absence of all interference in what passed in a neighbouring country, when that which was passing concerned the interests of the other party: and if Belgium chose a Sovereign who might become dangerous to the neighbouring States, those States had a right to say "Such a person to us will be dangerous, and such a person we refuse to recognise." He said, therefore, that the Powers of Europe had a right to say to France, "You cannot consistently, with your relations with other Powers, accede to the appointment of the Due de Nemours as King, and thereby virtually attach Belgium to yourself." On the one hand they had a right to say this to France; and on the other, they had a right to say to Belgium, that if the Due de Leuchtenberg was elected, because he, from the circumstances of his family, would make Belgium the centre of political intrigues, him they would not acknowledge. He said, that this was not interfering with Belgium in any 703 sense inconsistent with sound and rational principles. The hon. Gentleman had then gone on to remark on the debt of that country, and to dwell upon the Protocols that were before the public, but which he (Lord Palmerston) was not going to produce, th6ugh, when the proper time came, the hon. Gentleman would be welcome to have copies of the papers. He begged, on the subject of the debt, to remind the House of this—that when Holland and Belgium were united, a treaty was signed, by which the separate debts of the two countries were united, and made common and joint; and he should think, if it should be stated that on the separation of the two countries each party should resume its own debt, and if the debt contracted by those parties since their union were to be divided between them in a fair portion, it did not strike him as inconsistent with the justice of the case or the principles of independence. In conclusion, he begged to observe, that at the proper time he was quite willing to accede to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman for the Papers, and to defend the conduct of Government, such as it would appear on the face of these Protocols to have been; but he felt, that to agree to the proposition when the negotiations were incomplete, would be prejudicial to the public interest; and he, therefore, should oppose the Amendment.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, that it had been his intention to have asked for some explanations respecting so humble an individual as himself; but he had been prevented by the Evesham business, and he would therefore take an opportunity of asking that explanation on the next night that the House sat. With respect to the business before the House, what had fallen from the noble Lord was no denial of the interference of this country—or, at least, it was a denial only in words. It would be most unjust it this country had interfered, and the speech of the noble Lord was itself a most unjustifiable interference. He had thought proper to speak of Belgium as a Government of yesterday. Yes, it was a Government of yesterday, because it was only yesterday that it had thrown off the tyranny of oppression with its blood, and broken the Union with Holland, which was the most unjustifiable that had ever been accomplished. But there were more Governments of yesterday besides that of Belgium! And the noble Lord should 704 whisper such a remark not loud, for Talleyrand might hear, and what would the yesterday Government of Louis Phillip say to it? But if they were to talk of yesterday Governments, he wanted to know what the Government of the King of the Netherlands itself was? The noble Lord had contended, that an interference with respect to boundaries was not an internal interference; but suppose the five Powers of Europe were to prescribe such a boundary, that Brussels was cut off from Belgium, he should like to know whether that was not an internal interference? A man might, on the same principle, go to a fanner, and say, "I am not going to meddle with your internal affairs, for I am only going to settle what the extent of your fields shall be! I am not going to meddle with your internal affairs, for I am only going to examine what money you have got in your purse! I am not going to meddle with your internal affairs, for I am only going to tell you whom you may marry and whom you may not." And after this he might say, that the whole had been done on the strictest principles of non-interference: but he would venture to pronounce, that to say so was not consistent either with common sense or common honesty. He would also pronounce, that Belgium would not suffer such an interference; and, therefore, this country, as one of the five great Powers, must retreat or go to war; and he would ask (without saying anything of Ireland) whether England was in a condition to undertake a war?
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he would put a simple question to his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex. His hon. friend had endeavoured to prove, that the Government had departed from its pledge of noninterference; but his hon. friend himself approved of this country mediating for peace between the two Governments. But how could we possibly do that if we had nothing to do with the limits of those Governments? If it was consistent with the doctrine of non-interference to insist upon peace, it was absolutely necessary that in offering that mediation we should give some opinion as to the limits between them. The object of the Government had been to do everything in its power to preserve the peace of Europe (because, if the peace of Europe were broken the peace of this country must be hazarded), and it had not done anything that could be legitimately considered as breaking its pledge of non-inter- 705 ference. Another point for consideration was, that Sovereigns might be proposed by Belgium whose appointment would inevitably be the cause of war in Europe. Any country in such a case had a right, by the law of nations and of justice, to interfere so far as to prevent any Sovereign being elected, or at least to say, that they would not acknowledge any one, whose election would necessarily produce war with any | other Power. It was on this principle only that England had agreed with the other four Powers to object to the two Princes who had been named. The Government, however, had not only acknowledged the independence of Belgium, but had guaranteed its neutrality—that was to say, all the five Powers had consented to consider it in future as a neutral power; and this was an object of the greatest possible value to Europe at large. He again begged to observe, that the only interference the Government had undertaken was, to preserve the peace of Europe; and it had not interfered further than that necessity had required.
§ Sir R. Peel
was bound to give his decided opposition to the motion of the hon. member for Middlesex; for he was not prepared to compel the Government to produce copies of all the protocols when the noble Lord, on his responsibility, stated, that it would be prejudicial to the public service that those documents, pending the negotiations, should be produced; he was content with the assurance, that the lime would come when full information would be afforded; and he therefore could not consent to postpone the vote for the Army Estimates till those papers had been laid on the Table of the House. In the present state of this country and its foreign relations he could not offer any opposition to the amount of the force proposed; for he could not view the present condition of England, and the threatening aspect of her foreign affairs, without admitting that the Government was justified in increasing the military force of the country to the full extent of the peace establishment. So convinced was he that it was impolitic to provoke any annoying discussion in that House, with reference to the other countries of Europe, that he, though only an humble Member of it, should abstain from stating the reasons that induced him to support the military establishment that was proposed; nor would he imitate the example which had been set in the popu- 706 lar Assembly of a powerful and liberal neighbouring State, and obstruct the great object of maintaining peace by an undignified and useless discussion. He wished, however, that it might not be inferred from his silence out of office, by the House, that he was indifferent to the permanent interest and honour of the country. He had such confidence in the progress of knowledge—such confidence in the force of justice throughout the world, that he was persuaded, that whatever country provoked an unjust war, against the wishes of Europe, bringing on it that most terrible of all inflictions the human race could suffer—a war without a just cause; he had such confidence in the force of public opinion, and the sense of justice, that, let the financial resources of that country be what they might—let her military means be ever so great—the might and valour of her soldiers ever so noble—he was sure that she must ultimately fall a victim to the force of public opinion, which would heal all internal dissensions, and, rallying the whole of Europe around one object, vindicate the great cause of peace and justice. He said this with perfect confidence—if France, when she vindicated her own rights, when she revolted against the unjust proceedings of her late monarch if France had then been assailed by the Powers of Europe in a confederacy to prevent France from choosing her own Government, he was confident that the Powers of Europe, would have been unable to control her actions, he was confident that their unjust cause must ultimately have failed, and that she would successfully have vindicated her right, to choose her Government against the combined Powers of Europe. Their efforts would have failed against France, and would have recoiled against themselves in the madness of such a struggle. France had a right to choose her own Government in the circumstances in which she was placed. The unjust and oppressive Ordinances issued by the late government, deserved and excited a spirit of hostility which made them recoil on the heads of those who issued them. But he was equally confident, that if unjust ambition should tempt France by force to enlarge the limits of her empire—if she should be urged on by the recollections of the victories of Napoleon—if a military faction should prevail over the good sense of the country, he was equally confident, then, that Europe, united in a just cause, 707 would resist France successfully, and that a different result would teach France that it was not for her interest to provoke war. He would say no more on that subject; but he earnestly hoped that the confidence of his noble friend (Lord Palmerston) in the assurances of France might be justified, and that she was not preparing her present great armaments for any purpose of aggression. At the same time he must own, that he could not read the speeches of her Ministers, and he could not know of her immense military preparations, without feeling alarm. His noble friend knew of all these preparations, and he hoped his noble friend might, be justified in the confidence he placed in the assurances he received from France. He relied on the intentions of Ministers, and was prepared to give them his support—his ardent and efficient support—in their proposition for the Army Estimates. He was sorry that his noble friend had entered, in the debate, into so much detail on the subject of Belgium. It would have been better to have postponed that discussion, and he did not think the speech of the hon. member (Mr. Hume) called on him to enter so far into the subject. As his noble friend had entered into it, he must say, that he could then hardly believe that he was turned out of office for his principles of non-interference. He believed, and he had reason to believe, that there was no variance between his opinion and the opinions of his noble friend. He thought it highly probable that his Majesty's Government— taking no notice of that subordinate subject, the Civil List, on which there did not seem to be much difference of opinion, and not referring to that question of Reform, on which there was a great difference of opinion between him and it—on the whole, he thought his Majesty's present Ministers would not act very differently from the last Ministers. It was not, however, on the ground of Reform that the late Ministers were turned out of office, but on the ground of the Civil List, and on the ground of an unwillingness (o make retrenchment. That, he repeated, was at least the public view; but after hearing his noble friend's statement, to say that these two grounds were the causes why the late Ministers lost office was one of the most extraordinary assertions that was ever made. In that part of his noble friend's speech in which he spoke of the Army Establishment—of the necessity of 708 keeping up a large force—so much did it resemble his noble friend's former speeches, that it reminded him of those happy times when his noble friend was Secretary of War, and he was sitting beside him, applauding every sentiment he uttered, and he could not believe now that he was politically opposed to his noble friend, however he might be personally. He had heard that his Majesty's present Government was opposed principally to the late Government on the ground of retrenchment and non-intervention. He did them the justice, when he heard that declaration, to doubt their intention of carrying it into effect.; he had confidence that their conduct and their declarations would not agree; that in what regarded the interest of the country he knew them to be honourable men, and he knew that they were prepared to throw overboard their declarations, whenever the time came that the honour of the country was to be vindicated or its dignity sustained. He knew that they would not allow their declarations to stand between them and the honour of their country. He knew that they would imitate their predecessors, for men, if in office, seemed really to be like the Indians —they inherited all the qualities of those enemies they killed. The present Ministers had killed their opponents, and had immediately entered into possession of all their doctrines. They found it necessary to support all the Monarchical institutions of the country; they found it necessary to preserve the honour and interest of the country, and he knew them to be too honourable men to suppose that they would sacrifice to their prejudices what the interest of the country required, and that they would in office pay much regard to their own flash speeches out of office. That was, in truth, their conduct, and whatever might have been their expressions, he was confident, however much they might desire to make retrenchment, that when they came to look into the details, they would make no retrenchment but what the interest of England demanded. That was also the principle of the late Government. He did not object to the Army Estimates, and he had always been confident, that when the Ministers came to apply themselves to the details, they would be of the same opinion as the late Ministers. He did not blame them for their professions and speeches out of office, and though he did not believe that 709 they intended to produce such an effect— that they did not intend to promote dissatisfaction—though he was convinced such had not been their intention—yet he was bound to say, such had been, he was afraid, the effect of their speeches; and out of office, they had produced that dissatisfaction for which, when in office, they found that there was no reasonable grounds. He had always, he said, been confident, whatever might have been the speeches of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that they would not carry them into effect. He hoped the country would see from the conduct of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in whose personal honour and integrity he was disposed to place the greatest confidence—he hoped, when the people saw that the noble Lord, who was an admirer of popular rights, and in the exercise of his controlling power, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, did not propose any reduction in the Estimates, submitted to the House last year, and that he even found it necessary to make an addition—he hoped, when the country saw this, that it would not view the general conduct of that House with dissatisfaction. The hon. member for Middlesex, indeed, said, that the Estimates had been reduced last year 189,000l., and that they ought to be reduced this year the same sum; but was there ever any thing so absurd? Was there no notice to be taken of the circumstances of the country? Was the House to be bound down by an iron formula of one gradual and continued reduction, to which the estimates must always conform? His Majesty's Government must judge of these circumstances, and, if necessary, make no reduction. As to the reduction of 200 officers, of which the noble Lord had boasted, he admitted that every office ought to be reduced which was not necessary. He admitted that every officer employed in collecting the revenues, whose services were not wanted, ought to be reduced, but not one ought to be reduced whose services were necessary. With respect to the declaration of the Government, that it would govern without patronage, that was all very well; but was not an addition to the army an increase of patronage? It happened, certainly, that by adding to the number of men, the number of officers was also increased, and the Ministers could not increase the army without adding to their patronage. As for retrenchment, he was 710 ready to admit that it was necessary to be adopted to the greatest possible extent, and he trusted to posterity—a very early posterity—however, to do justice on that point between the late and the present Administration. He would allow the hon. Baronet to chaunt the hymn of victory again over the reduction of the Lieutenant-general of the Ordnance, which the former Administration had not effected, but the country expected from the promises of retrenchment a much greater reduction of the national burthens. After attending to the matter, he doubted if it were practicable for retrenchment to be carried much further than it was carried by the late Government. As to the doctrines of non-interference, he must say, that since he had been in public life, he had never heard the doctrine of the right of interference defended on such grounds, or carried so far, as it had been carried by the noble Lord to-night. Lord Castlereagh had never placed it on such high grounds. The King's Speech had been attacked for what it contained about interference; but his noble friend (Lord Palmerston) had vindicated that Speech in the able speech he had delivered. His noble friend said, that what gave our Government a right to interfere with respect to Belgium was this: —That Belgium had never in modern times been an independent State; that first she had been dependent on Austria, and afterwards on France; and that she had been rescued from France in 1815 by the Allies; and that Austria having waived her claims, the Allies had a right to interfere and settle her destiny. If that were the ground of the proceedings of the Government, he was not disposed to adopt them: and grounding the right to interference on the dependence of Belgium, what would his noble friend say of the South American Provinces? He would not say surely, that as they had not been independent, we had a right to interfere with them. His noble friend said, the Belgians were legislators of yesterday; but he had never before heard that the age of nations made any difference in the right o f noninterference. The true ground of one nation interfering with another was stated by his noble friend, when he said, that it was possible for the situation of one State to be pregnant with danger to other Powers, and they had then a right to interfere to protect themselves. That was the true principle; but that, because a 711 nation or people first became independent yesterday, another had a right to interfere with it, he must positively deny. He admitted the propriety of mediating to share the debt equally between Belgium and Holland; but suppose that Belgium should refuse to take the share allotted to her, would his noble friend say, that we ought to go to war to make Belgium take her share? It was quite proper to mediate and try to settle the differences between Belgium and Holland, though to interfere in the internal concerns of States by mediation, did not imply war, but only the compulsion of argument. His noble friend said, that we had a right to compel Belgium to relinquish Luxemburg under the treaties of 1815; but that was what the late Ministers said, and what was said by his Majesty in his Speech. His noble friend admitted, that, by the Treaty of 1815, Luxemburg belonged to the Germanic Confederation. But if we had a right to separate Luxemburg from Belgium, what became of the right espoused by his noble friend of a people to choose their own government? He must say, that was not a correct assumption. His noble friend was right in refusing the assent of England to place the Duke of Nemours on the Throne of Belgium. Common sense said, it was not right to suffer France to encircle our shores with her power, under the influence of civil expressions, for, in a time of war, those countries might be to us a great means of annoyance. His noble friend said, and he agreed with him, that the probability of such a danger gave one State a right to interfere in the internal concerns of another. If his noble friend's declaration were right, that was a full justification for the Speech delivered from the Throne at the opening of the Session; and, in making that declaration, as well as in his conduct, he was persuaded that his noble friend was only guided by a sense of duty, and only looked to the permanent interest of the country. He would repeat his declaration, that he should feel ashamed of himself if he permitted any personal feelings—any jealousy —or any political hostility to interfere with the cordial support which he felt it necessary, on all proper occasions, to give to his Majesty's Government. It was the more agreeable to him to be enabled to do so, because from the course the present Ministers were pursuing, though they had 712 dispossessed him of place on the ground of not following out retrenchment; on that point, and as respected our foreign policy, there was no difference between him and them, and he had nothing to complain of in their conduct. He hoped, on that more serious subject, Parliamentary Reform, when they came to take that up—he hoped that they would have the like regard to the interest and honour of the country, and act on the same faith and honourable principles that they had acted on in regard to these two subjects, and he hoped that they would not submit, —he meant to use the word submit—he hoped they would not submit, induced by the taunts of the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) and those acting with him, in looking at the details of that important question— he hoped, he said, that they would not be induced by the taunts of the hon. Gentleman to propose any measure for the consideration of the House pregnant with immediate or contingent prejudice to the institutions of this great country, or dangerous to the public welfare—over which it was their bounden duty to watch.
§ Lord Palmerston
explained, that his argument was, that the government of Belgium had no right to deprive the government of Holland of any part of its territory.
Sir James Graham
could assure the House, that he meant to delay it but a short time; but he should be unworthy of the situation he held, and he should not act fairly towards his colleagues, if he did not trouble the House with a few observations, in reply to the right hon. Baronet. He should begin with that topic with which the right hon. Baronet concluded his speech. The topic of Parliamentary Reform, which was second in importance to none, was the real subject of the difference between that right hon. Gentleman and his successors. It would be the duty of his Majesty's Ministers to propose measures of Parliamentary Reform; and, as the right hon. Baronet had recommended them, in proposing a measure to improve the Representation of the people, not to forget what was due to the Monarchy and the institutions of the country. He begged leave to affirm, as the Ministers had already assured the House and the country, that the limit to their proceedings in respect to Parliamentary Reform—the precise limit to which they meant to direct their efforts, was to give 713 security to the institutions of the country, and strength to the Monarchy. The right hon. Baronet had told them, with somewhat of irony, that their present conduct was inconsistent with their former pledges on the two subjects of non-interference; but in saying that, the right hon. Baronet had done justice to their motives, and had given them credit for acting honestly, and with a view to that great and proper object, the good of the country; and the Ministers presumed that these admissions might lead him to believe, that in what respected Parliamentary Reform, they would act on the same motives, and with the view to the same object—the public good, which was the only one they had at heart. With respect to retrenchment, the right hon. Gentleman said, that he (Sir James Graham) might chaunt the hymn of victory over the abolition of the office of Lieutenant-general of the Ordnance, which the last Government seemed to think was not material. If that were the proper occasion, he could mention a great number of offices, and offices that constituted in themselves a great patronage; if that were the occasion, he could mention several offices, connected with that department with which he was more immediately concerned, which had been abolished; but that was not the time to enter upon such explanations. The right hon. Baronet talked of what the late Government could do; he could state what the present Ministers had done. He could appeal to the House and the country, as for as related to patronage, whether the present Ministers had not faithfully redeemed their pledges. The right hon. Baronet said, the establishments had not been effectually reduced according to the promise. He admitted this. Further reductions were consistent with their sense of duty. The Ministers ought to have credit for the reductions they had already made in establishments; but if they had found it their duty, in one respect, to increase, they had added to the efficacy of the force without increasing the expense. How was that? By cutting off what was superfluous, and making that which was essential efficient; by throwing overboard patronage. He asserted, that they had sacrificed great patronage, and he could say that of the department to which he belonged. Without adding to the expense, that great branch of the public service had been materially increased. The Ministers did not take credit 714 to themselves for all these improvements, for they had been enabled to make some of them by the state of efficiency in which they found the War-office. He gave the right hon. Gentleman, the late Secretary of War (Sir Henry Hardinge) the greatest credit for his exertions. He considered that right hon. Gentleman one of the most efficient, regular, judicious, and meritorious public servants the country had ever possessed. The arrangements at the Horse Guards were the cause that the present Ministers had been able to raise 8,000 men additional, without any increase of expense. But the question was asked, whence arises the necessity for the augmentation? In return he would ask, had ever a Government succeeded to office under circumstances more full, more overwhelmed, he might say, with difficulty? He could assure the right hon. Baronet, that he meant to cast no odium on him; but he must be allowed to remind him of the state of the Home Department, over which the right hon. Baronet had presided, and he must know, that when he left office the Metropolis was in such a state that his Majesty's late Ministers declared, that it was not proper for his Majesty to visit the City of London. He wished the House to recollect, that without employing any military force, the Ministers had succeeded in vindicating the law—that without shedding even a drop of blood by the hand of a soldier, except that of the man whose case was alluded to the other evening by his hon. friend the member for Wilts, when he described the great forbearance of the Yeomanry—except that one life, no blood had been spilled by the military, and yet the insurrectionary spirit that prevailed in the country had been subdued. Was there nothing, too, in the state of Ireland to justify some caution, when, in that country, with loud, and he might say shameless, assertions, Great Britain had been threatened that the Union should be repealed by physical force? Yes, he said threatened, for the use of physical force was threatened. What had been done? The Government had vindicated the supremacy of the law, and by the Courts of law. Such threats had been met by the civil power, and when made, had only induced the Government to exert the powers the Constitution had placed in their hands. He adopted to the fullest extent every word of what his noble friend (Lord Althorp) had said on a former even- 715 ing and though he considered civil war as the greatest of all possible evils, short only of dismembering the empire, he, for one, would fight for Ireland as he would fight for Kent—Toto certandum est corpore regni. He was not blind to the perils; of such a contest; but, as far as it depended on him, the country should never cease to resist the separation, and he was sure that the whole people of England, who had never been conquered, would not allow themselves to be overcome by the people of Ireland. He corrected himself, he did not say that the people of the two countries were opposed; it was not the people of Ireland who threatened, it was only some demagogues. [O'Gorman Mahon called out "Name, Name!"] It was only one or two demagogues, who knew not in what the interest of the country consisted, who sought for the Repeal of the Union, There never was a country which had derived more benefit from another than Ireland had from England since the Union. That country derived wealth from this, and found here the market for her produce. It was not Irish people, and it was not the Irish patriots—they never would; it was only demagogues who desired the separation [O'Gorman Mahon called again, "Name, Name!"] With reference to Belgium, he would only state, that his noble friend did; not say that being legislators of yesterday ' was the cause of our interference, but, being new, it was necessary to prevent them from interfering with other States. Luxemburg was expressly given to Holland by the Treaty of 1815, and it had long been connected with the House of Nassau. Belgium could not be allowed to interfere with it, unless she were to be allowed to commit an aggression on another power; an aggression, too, which as it was likely to alter the balance of power, could not be allowed. It was the duty of the Government to interfere. The right hon. Baronet said, that there was no difference between the doctrine of the Ministers and that of the King's Speech; but, if he recollected right, that Speech spoke of the enlightened policy of the King of Holland, and expressed disapprobation of his revolted subjects. It expressly called the policy of the king enlightened. A most ambiguous reference was made in that Speech to the Treaties of 1815, by which Holland had been united to Belgium, as if it were doubtful whether his Majesty's Government did not feel itself 716 bound to maintain the union of Holland with Belgium by force; but that was directly contrary to the opinion of his Majesty's present Ministers. The right hon. Gentleman admitted the propriety of the reason which the Government gave for not allowing the Duke of Nemours to be King of Belgium. The Government was opposed to war, and it was solemnly pledged to avoid that greatest of all possible calamities, by all the exertions in its power, that were consistent with the honour and safety of the country. He would appeal to the public and the House if it had not successfully preserved peace, and he hoped that the honour of England remained untarnished. The blockade of the Scheldt had been raised, and not a blow struck. The siege of Maestricht had been raised, and not a drop of blood had been spilled. Great difficulties had been overcome by negotiations. His noble friend had stated, that he had received assurances from all the foreign governments of Europe of their peaceful dispositions, and there was no reason to doubt the fidelity of those assurances. Ministers could not. shut their eyes, however, to the fact, that ail Europe was arming on a large scale. Consistently with their declaration they would do what they could to preserve peace, and it was their policy to preserve peace by showing that, should the honour of the country be attacked, or the security of the nation endangered, they were prepared to repel the aggression. He was a humble individual, and he was aware, that it was very easy to strip him of any popularity he might possess, but while his conscience told him that he had not been regardless of the situation and condition of the country, he should be contented with the silent approbation of his own heart, convinced as he was, whatever might be the result, and he had no doubt it would be one of triumph and exultation to his country, that according to his duty, he had zealously endeavoured to preserve peace, and strenuously exerted himself not to leave the country defenceless.
§ Sir J. Yorke,
having observed upon the universality of the present debate, although the ostensible subject was the Army Estimates alone, referred to the ultra-economical recommendations of the hon. member for Middlesex, who certainly appeared to labour under the effects of what was vulgarly called "a bee in the bonnet." Most assuredly, if he continued to recom- 717 mend a diminution of the force of the country in times like the present, he should feel it necessary to move for a Committee de lunatico inquirendo. Absorbed, as he must have been, by that interesting species of literature comprised under the designation of Parliamentary Returns, it was not strange that he should not have found time to look at the public newspapers for the last six-months, which would otherwise have convinced him of the necessity of putting the kingdom in a posture of defence. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that a Government ought always to be able to abduct us from all scrapes, past, present, and to come, without even the intervention of political negotiation with other States; but he should have considered, that the kind of intervention heretofore employed, to which he so much objected, had been entirely of an amicable nature. To the unfortunate circumstances which had occurred during the memorable days of July, he feared they might attribute all the troubles throughout Europe, which at present threw so much business on the hands of diplomatists; and the question now was, not whether we were to abstain from interference with others, but whether others were not likely to interfere with us. Had not the case of Holland and Belgium been instanced as similar to that of England and Ireland? and surely, when doctrines of this description were afloat, the House ought to weigh well the danger of parsimonious reductions in the military force requisite for the protection of the institutions of the country. He gave Government credit for having been zealous in the work of administering justice between man and man, and cordially congratulated them on their triumph over an hon. Member whom he did not then see in his place; nor did he disapprove of their policy respecting the amount of the army which it appeared they thought it necessary to maintain.
said, he would not have troubled the House had it not been for the very distinct allusion of the right hon. the First Lord of the Admiralty to the country from which he (O'Gorman Mahon) came. He rose to vindicate himself and his country from the aspersions into which the right hon. Baronet had allowed himself to be betrayed. He used the epithet with regret; but he could not describe what had fallen from the hon. 718 Baronet on the subject by any other terms than as very unwarrantable and unworthy aspersions. The hon. Baronet turned about, and made these aspersions, instead of answering the just taunts of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Ft. Peel), who had defended the last Administration from the charges of a want of economical retrenchment, and of adherence to non-interference, by contending, that on neither of those points had the present Administration acted differently. The fact was, that the last Government went out on the question of Reform. They honestly declared that they would oppose it, and by that declaration they fell; and he hoped that every man who made a similar declaration would do the same. For his part, he liked to sec, whether in friend or foe, an open manly declaration of principles on which they pledged themselves to stand or fall. That was infinitely preferable—honesty in a manly foe was infinitely preferable to treachery in a malicious friend. Instead, however, of replying to the right hon. Baronet opposite, the right hon. First Lord of the Admiralty turned round as if he had determined to have one cheer from the House. The right hon. Baronet thought to himself, "I'll have a blow at Ireland, and then I'm sure the House will cheer me." [no, no, no.!] Where did the noes come from? [several hon. Members exclaimed "No!"]. They began on his side of the House—not on the opposite. He thought some of the hon. Members near him might borrow a great deal from the other side: for instance, the First Lord of the Admiralty might learn from the gallant Admiral who had just spoken, that to talk of raising the blockade of the Scheldt, as if he were talking of raising the siege of Maestricht, was not an expression that would be quite intelligible to the country gentlemen. What did the right, hon. First Lord of the Admiralty do? Ireland had not been alluded to. She had not formed any part of any attack on the present occasion. But the right hon. Gentleman added to the late declaration of a noble Lord, which savoured so strongly of blood. Was it not a declaration of blood, to say that civil war must be resorted to in order to resist that which the Irish were determined to accomplish by reason? For he denied that the Irish people had ever talked of force. If, however, the right hon. Baronet had any manly and generous spirit, he would stand up and say who the one or two demagogues in Ireland, 719 or from Ireland, were, to whom he had alluded as urging the people of Ireland to dismember the empire. He denied that the people of Ireland wished for the dismemberment of the empire. But they would never consent to any union by which their independence was not secured. They did not desire dismemberment, but they desired independence. The noble Lord talked of civil war. Was as he prepared to enter upon civil war? Me (O'Gorman Mahon) recollected well sitting below the bar, when Sir George Murray (he forgot for what place the right hon. Baronet sat) described the Irish soldiers as having mounted the same breach, fought in the same field, and being laid in the same grave, as their English comrades. He called upon that right hon. Baronet to remonstrate against the declaration of the noble Lord, that he was ready to turn upon the same men hostile bayonets. These were the men to be immolated. He trusted, however, that they would not be abandoned to such a fate; and as long as he lived, so help him God they should not. He only spoke for himself, but the independence of his country he would endeavour to maintain. After all the threats, the bloody threats which had been thrown out, he should be the most degraded coward that ever lived, if he did not say to those who threw out those threats, who dared to say that they were ready to deluge the fields of Ireland with blood,[no, no.!] Should he hesitate to say to that House what he would say to his countrymen? No! by Him who made him! Let the Union between England and Ireland be completed. Let it be completed by placing Ireland upon the basis upon which she was thirty years ago, with her own Legislature. That would be the only way to effect a real union. Some hon. Gentlemen had talked of rebellion in Ireland. God forbid that there should be a rebellion in that country. The Irish people loved their King-, George the 4th—he meant they loved their King-, William the 4th. He was not wrong, however, in saying George the 4th; for when the late King visited the shores of Ireland, he found millions of warm and loyal hearts standing round him. The affection which the Irish had borne to George the 4th they had transferred to William the 4th; let the English take cave they did not diminish it. He trusted that the Irish would not, as on former occasions, be driven into insurrection. No one could deny, that at the 720 period of the Union, the Irish had been goaded into insurrection, for the purpose of enabling the Government to carry that measure. Let not the present English Government try similar means at the present moment to prevent the Repeal of that Union. If they did—if they destroyed thousands of Irishmen—would England be better for such bloody laurels? He repeated, that he had not any intention of intruding on the House. His object was, to know if he was one of the demagogues alluded to by the First Lord of the Admiralty. He should not have supposed such a thing possible, were it not that there were only two Irishmen in the House, the member for Waterford and himself, who were favourable to a Repeal of the Union. The hon. member for Waterford was at present absent from the House. When he heard the hon. Baronet say, that there were only one or two demagogues who were advocates for the Repeal of the Union, and who were urging the people of Ireland to dismember the empire, he had a right to ask the right hon. Baronet if he was one of the individuals alluded to. If he was, he trusted that the right hon. Baronet would have the manliness to stand up and say so. If not, it was equally due to the right hon. Baronet's character that he should stand up and disclaim the imputation.
§ Mr. G. Dawson
regretted that the hon. Gentleman should have pursued a course which was certainly disorderly. He rose not to imitate that course, but for the purpose of shewing the disposition of the late Ministers to retrench as far as appeared to them to be consistent with the public good. It appeared by a Return which had been laid on the Table last Session, that no fewer than 4,050 offices had been reduced since 1821; the salaries of which amounted to no less a sum than 700,974l. Fifty-six of those offices had salaries attached to them of from 1,000l., to 3,000l. pounds each, and sixty-eight of those offices had salaries attached to them of from 500l. to 1,000l. each; making 124 offices reduced, with salaries attached to them of 500l. each. He stated this, to show that the late Government deserved at least as much credit as the present for a disposition to retrench.
§ Mr. R. Grant
said, he would not say a word or a syllable that would tend to increase the strong feeling that had been manifested by the hon. member for Clare. 721 But he must vindicate his Majesty's Government from the charge of contemplating with delight the contest of blood which would take place if those who were endeavouring to dismember the empire, were to be successful in their efforts. He, for one, and he most sincerely believed he might say the same of every member of his Majesty's Government, could not look forward to such a prospect without horror and agitation of mind. He would ask the hon. member for Clare to be pleased for a moment to reverse the case. Let it be supposed, that the Irish people had reaped from the Union all the benefits which they expected from it. Let it be supposed, that they had participated in all the glories and prosperity of England; and that, in that event, the people of England had become jealous of their equality of advantage, and had called upon their Representatives, and upon the other House of Parliament, to disunite the two kingdoms, and to drive the Irish back to their original condition. Did the hon. member for Clare doubt, that if, under such circumstances, the Irish people, with their well-known spirit, chose to go to war to resist that disunion, they would almost be justifiable? Nay, would not the hon. Gentleman himself, with his ardent and patriotic feelings, be disposed to take a part in their hostilities? If that was an improbable supposition, were the English absurd, when they saw the Irish persevere in their endeavours' to destroy a fundamental law, to unseal that union which was intended to last to eternity; and if they foresaw, not with complacency, but with horror, the scenes of blood to which such endeavours, if so persevered in, must lead; were they absurd in imploring the advocates of the Union to be more guarded, to be less warm in their language, lest they should produce, however unintentionally, effects so deplorable? He would proceed to make a remark or two on what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken. That right hon. Gentleman had, very properly, claimed for the last Government the credit which was due to it for the reductions which it had made; but he had associated with that claim something like an insidious view of the reductions made by his Majesty's present Government. He would not enter into the right hon. Gentleman's detail of figures. He was not prepared to do so; nor, indeed, 722 had he any suspicion of their accuracy. But was it possible for that right hon. Gentleman not to see, that when any member of the late Government claimed merit to that Government for having carried reduction to the utmost possible extent—that when he said, that the late Government had reaped every thing, he effectually established the claim of the present Government to the merit of having, in that reaped field, gleaned so large an additional crop? He could not help also adverting to the speech of the right hon. Baronet opposite. Sentiments more accordant with justice than those with which that right hon. Gentleman had commenced his speech he had never heard. But, although in the early part of his speech the right hon. Baronet had been so delicate that he would not even mention the name of Belgium, but talked of a certain country, and of certain measures, in the latter part of the same speech he deliberately went into the whole question of non-interference, to prove that his Majesty's present Government had been guilty of that very act of interference which they disclaimed. The right hon. Baronet had pronounced an culogium on the present Government; but he had wound up that eulogium by saying, "I do not see that you are so much better than ourselves." The right hon. Gentleman's topics of praise had much the same effect as the hon. member for Middlesex's topics of blame:In equal paths our guilt and glory run.In speaking of retrenchment, the hon. member for Middlesex saw many thousands of pounds in the estimates of the present Government which he had not seen in the estimates of the late Government. The right hon. Baronet said, he founded on that his support: but he had hardly said that, when he said that he had gone through the estimates item by item, and did not discover any reduction. The hon. member for Middlesex alleged that the people of England would not be satisfied with the reduction of offices which the present Government had effected. The right hon. Baronet gave credit to the present Government for the reduction, but then spoke of them as trifles. Trifles as they were, however, night after night had been spent, in the last and preceding Sessions, in vain at tempts to obtain them. One word on the question of Parliamentary Reform. The 723 hon. member for Middlesex had said, that the present Ministers had forfeited their pledge of economy; that they had forfeited their pledge of non-interference; and, therefore, that they could not expect the confidence of the people of England with respect to their pledge of Reform; although he (the hon. member for Middlesex) believed that they would redeem it. Now, if his Majesty's Government redeemed their pledge of Reform, that would not extinguish the other charges against them; because, whatever they had hitherto done in the way of retrenchment, was done by the agency of an unreformed Parliament. But if Government redeemed their pledge of Reform, it would put a stop to any alleged misconduct—it would terminate the career in which they had hitherto been supported. Then as to the question of non-interference; not being a Cabinet Minister, he did not pretend to enter into the details, or to be acquainted with the arcana of that question. It appeared to him, that the whole confusion which existed in the argument on the subject had been produced by forgetting this—that we were mediators between Belgium and Holland. As mediators, we must resolve the questions submitted to us by both parties, and the question of the boundary-line must be first determined. He was persuaded that the country at large would judge of the present Government more candidly than by estimating the whole of their probable proceedings by what had been done in the exceedingly short time in which they had been in Office. In conclusion, he called upon the House to give the present Government fair play. It was impossible for Ministers, during the short period which they had been in Office, to have completed any part of the circuit of improvement which it was their determination to run. Let the House wait a little longer before it came to a decision on their merits. It was inconsistent for Gentlemen to announce in one breath their conviction of the difficult task which Ministers had to perform in the present circumstances of the country, and then to suppose in the next that they could set all that was wrong to rights by one single and simultaneous effort.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that from the strange misrepresentations which the hon. and learned Gentleman had just made of his speech, he was almost tempted to suppose 724 that the hon. and learned Gentleman was not in the House when he delivered it. What he had said was this,—that he could not state all the reasons which he had for supporting an increased military force for the present year, for he was not desirous of entering upon topics which might excite irritation in popular assemblies. He spoke cautiously and guardedly on the point, for reasons which he was sure the House would understand without his explaining them further. The hon. and learned Gentleman represented him (Sir R. Peel) to have said, that he was proud to give his active support to the Government. He trusted that he should be ready to support his Majesty's Government on all proper occasions. What he said was this,—that if an appeal should be made by the Government to that House, for increased resources, to ensure the preservation of the permanent interests and honour of the country, he should forget all causes of alienation, and should assist the executive Government, with all his power, in vindicating the honour and safety of the country.
§ Sir George Murray
said, that whoever had not been in the House when his right hon. friend had spoken, and had only heard the speech of the right hon. member for Norwich, would suppose that his right hon. friend had thrown blame on his Majesty's present Government. The members of the present Government, when out of office, taunted the late Administration with being too slow in their measures of retrenchment, and yet they were not themselves proceeding more rapidly. They had also declaimed against non-interference, yet they adhered to the same system. Similar objections, in his mind, applied to the conduct of the Government respecting Reform. They had certainly held out greater expectations of Reform than they now seemed disposed to realize. In reply to what had fallen from the hon. member for Clare, he declared, there was not a man in the House who did not entertain friendly feelings towards Ireland. He himself could truly say, that he felt the most sincere and warm attachment to Ireland and the Irish people. He much regretted that there had been any disposition exhibited to represent, or even to suppose, that the interests of Great Britain and Ireland could be different. The interests of the two people he looked upon as inseparable, and he considered that it was impossible to promote the interests of 725 the one country without promoting those of the other. It was, likewise, a source of great regret to him that the terms "civil war" had been made use of, and his regret was much increased when he heard the right hon. the First Lord of the Admiralty make a distinction between the people of Great Britain and the people of Ireland. This was a distinction which he never could admit in his own breast, or never would acknowledge in that Assembly. He regarded the inhabitants of the two countries as one people, and never could allow that the House was bound to attend more to the interests of one than of the other body of his Majesty's subjects. When hon. Members talked of a dissolution of the Union, he would admit that they were right if they found, that measures for the improvement of Ireland were not brought forward in that House. At least, under such circumstances, men would have some excuse for talking of the Repeal of the Union; but when always an anxious desire was displayed to listen to every argument, and attend to every suggestion, for the improvement of Ireland, there were no grounds for the endeavour to effect the repeal of the Legislative Union between the two countries, which seemed to imply a separation of interests, which never ought— and, he trusted, never would be admitted.
Sir J. Graham,
in explanation, denied that he had made any assertion to the effect that a distinction was to be made between the people of the two countries, or that their interests were to be considered separate. What he had said was, that agitators (he would not repeat the offensive word demagogues) were anxious to produce this distinction and this separation.
§ Mr. North
said, he rose for the purpose of answering an argument which was fraught with danger to the sister kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. R. Grant) had argued, that if all the benefits and advantages which the people of Ireland expected from the Union with England had been realized; and, if the people of England, finding that they were not deriving the benefits and advantages they had anticipated from this Union, were to endeavour to dissolve the Union, the people of Ireland would be justified in resorting to civil war. Now, this argument was the most unfortunate and dangerous which could be well advanced; for on hearing this, his (Mr. North's) countrymen might be easily led to conclude, that if they 726 should have reason to believe that the benefits anticipated for Ireland in the Union had not been realized, while those expected by England had been realized; and that if, upon endeavouring to obtain a dissolution of the Union by legislative enactment, they should fail, through the anxiety of England to maintain the existing ties—then would they be equally justifiable in resorting to civil war. When the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. R. Grant) rose to answer the hon. member for Clare, he (Mr. N.) had hoped it was for the purpose of doing away with the effect of the unfortunate expressions which fell from the First Lord of the Admiralty. When the right hon. Baronet spoke of the supremacy of England, he surely could not have been aware of the full import of the term he used; but it came on his ear with a jar, like a discord in music. Something told him within that something had taken place, which derogated from the honour of his country.
Sir J. Graham
was sure the hon. Member would be obliged to him for setting him right. The hon. and learned Gentleman laboured under a strange misapprehension. He denied that he had ever used the expression of "the supremacy of England." What he had said he was not inclined to retract. He had said, and he repeated the expression, that Government was determined to vindicate the supremacy of the law over all the agitators in Ireland.
§ Mr. North
resumed. He was most highly gratified by the right hon. Baronet's explanation; not for his personal satisfaction, because he knew the First Lord of the Admiralty never could mean to assert the supremacy of England over Ireland, whatever unfortunate expression might escape from him in the heat of debate; but because a proud and irritable people—a people excessively jealous of national honour —might misconstrue these expressions. The terms upon which the Union was to be maintained were terms of perfect equality between the two countries; Ireland claiming for herself, and being satisfied with nothing less, than the perfect and complete enjoyment of the rights of British subjects, co-equal and co-existent with England. He would not trouble the House longer, he had risen simply with the view of obtaining that explanation which had now been given.
said, that as it was stated the production of these papers would be 727 injurious, he would withdraw his motion.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ The House went into a Committee of Supply, but Mr. Hume immediately moved that the Chairman report progress. The House accordingly resumed.