HC Deb 29 March 1831 vol 3 cc1132-5
Colonel Lushington

presented three Petitions from the Guild of Butchers, from the Guild of Tanners, and from certain Freeholders in Carlisle, against the Reform Bill. They complained of the rights and privileges which had been secured to them by very ancient charters being destroyed and that the Reform Bill would seriously injure them. In all the sentiments of the petitioners he fully concurred.

The Marquis of Chandos

supported the petition, but said, that he had always been friendly to Reform, and although he opposed the Reform Bill, he still was a friend to a moderate Reform. He felt convinced that it was necessary to grant some mea- sure of Reform to the people, but he could support only such Reform as would, while it secured the rights of the people, preserve the Constitution.

Mr. Hart Davis

said, that a very considerable number of the citizens of Bristol which he had the honour to represent, would be deprived of their franchise by the Bill before the House, and that every part of it should have his most deadly opposition. At the same time, he would not say that he was an enemy to all sorts of Reform.

Sir A. Dalrymple

said, that the Reform Bill deprived persons of their hereditary political rights, which had descended to them from centuries ago, and which they expected to transmit to their posterity. He should therefore oppose the Bill.

Mr. Moore

presented a Petition from the Sheriffs and Common Council of Dublin against the Irish Reform Bill. He agreed with the petitioners in thinking that the passing of the measure would place the constituency in the hands of the enemies of the Protestant Church, and lead to its destruction, as well as to the Repeal of the Union with England. The Bill would create precisely that class of voters who would return Representatives disposed to co-operate with the hon. member for Waterford in the accomplishment of the latter object. He had also to present a Petition from the Corporation of Brewers in Dublin, to the same effect, who also stated that to make the payment of 10l. rent entitle a man to vote, would be adequate to establishing in Dublin Universal Suffrage.

Mr. S. Rice

would not be led into a discussion of the Irish Reform Bill till the proper opportunity, but when that should arrive, he would undertake to argue, that never had a measure been proposed which tended more directly than the present to tranquillize the public mind in Ireland on the subject of the Union.

Mr. George Dawson

said, the Irish public was not as yet aware of the unmixed evil that must result from the passing of this measure. There might exist some difference of opinion as to the fact of the Ministerial plan of Reform being a revolutionary measure with respect to England, but there could be no difference as to its being completely revolutionary as regarded Ireland. The Protestant influence would be completely destroyed in that country by the alteration in the corporations and boroughs, for which latter, Roman Catholic Members would be almost generally returned. He had sacrificed as much as any man to do justice to his Catholic fellow-subjects; but it was now time to do justice to the Protestants of Ireland also. If the Reform measure were passed, there could be no reasonable hope of maintaining the Protestant establishment, or the connexion between the two countries.

Sir J. Newport

expressed his conscientious belief, that the best way to prevent a separation of the Legislatures of the two countries would be by passing the Reform, Bills. He had lived for more than half a century in Ireland, and was convinced that the passing of the measure would be the best means of tranquillizing that country.

Mr. O'Connell

said, this petition, instead of being an argument against Reform, to any rational mind was an argument in its favour. It was a petition from the Common Council of Dublin, consisting of about eighty persons, who held in their hands dominion over the Representation of that city. With two or three exceptions these persons were of obscure situations in life, and no less than forty-one of the number had been discharged as insolvents, or had become bankrupts. And these were the men who were to engross the control over the Representation of the first city in Ireland; and the House was told that it would be revolutionary to alter such a state of things. If we did, we destroyed Protestantism, forsooth! They were told that the Established Church would be endangered by the Reform measure. He denied this. The Established Church would not be endangered, though its temporalities might; and justly, because they involved an evil which ought to be remedied. With respect to the Union, that had hitherto been a connexion of monopoly; try its effects after the passing of the Reform Bills, and observe how it would work when placed upon a fair footing.

Mr. North

said, it was his firm conviction, that the effect of the passing of this measure would be to lay the Protestant Church in ruins at the feet of Catholic ascendancy.

Mr. Grattan

was of opinion that the Reform measure would do more than any other that could be devised to allay the anti-Union feeling wherever it existed in Ireland. He denied that there was any apprehnsion of a great influx of Catholic Members into a reformed House of Commons, or that Catholic influence would preponderate in Ireland in consequence of it.

Mr. Owen O'Connor

said, the Protestant Gentlemen might dismiss their fears, for the Bill would have no such effect as they attributed to it. As to giving the Catholics power, had they not emancipated them for that purpose, and could they prevent them from having power?

Mr. Chapman

stated, that in the North of Ireland with which he was best acquainted, and of which almost all the inhabitants were Protestants, the Reform measure was popular with Protestants as well as with Catholics, and declared his intention of supporting it.

Mr. Sheil

said, that the boroughs of Ireland were Protestant, and under Protestant influence, and the Irish Reform Bill would not cause them to become Catholic; while, with reference to the counties, it would have very little effect indeed.

Mr. G. Moore,

in moving that this petition be printed was anxious to make one or two observations, in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. member for Waterford, who had cast certain reflections on the individuals with whom this petition emanated. Now, he would undertake to say, that the names attached to the petition were as respectable as those of any other body of men in Dublin. The freemen of the city of Dublin comprised 4,000 persons, and the constituency was not confined to the freemen; for Dublin, being a county in itself, was represented in the same manner as the property of every county in the kingdom was represented— by its freeholders. He could understand why it was deemed advisable to get rid of rotten boroughs, but he could not conceive why the privileges of so large and efficient a constituency as that of Dublin should be interfered with. In his opinion, the proposed measure would destroy the Protestant interest in Ireland.

Petition to be printed.

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