HC Deb 27 September 1831 vol 7 cc666-74
Mr. O'Connell

rose to move that his Motion, for the Call of the House, be postponed till Monday. He should have contented himself with simply making that Motion, but he understood his Motion was to be opposed. In- dividuals complained; but was he not right to take measures to ensure a full House, when the Irish Reform Bill was to be postponed till October 8th? It was not to be read a second time till after the Scotch Bill was completed. Gentlemen complained of being kept in town by his motion—but for what were they kept in town? To do their duty. The subject was of vital importance to Ireland. The subject was the amendment of the Representation; all other matters were mere details which might be attended to or neglected without any very serious consequences; but correcting the Representation was a vital matter. Even those Gentlemen who were opposed to Reform must desire that the question should now be settled, and that the plan should not again require altering. He, therefore, felt it his duty to use all the constitutional means in his power to secure a full and complete attendance of the House. He did not mean to keep the Order inconveniently suspended over the heads of the Members of the House, and he therefore now gave notice of his intention to postpone the Call until Monday, the 10th of October. At that time he should either enforce the Order, or move that it be discharged, as he might see fit from the nature of the attendance. The uniform neglect with which all business respecting Ireland was treated in that House required such a step on his part on the present occasion; and the more so, as the Irish Members had attended so regularly to secure the success of the English Reform Bill. He moved therefore, that the present Order be now discharged, and that a fresh Order for a Call of the House be issued for next Monday week, the 10th of October.

Sir Richard Vyvyan

said, if he wanted a reason for opposing this, it was to be found in the speech of the member for Kerry. Whenever the name of Ireland was mentioned, that Member took an opportunity of speaking to his countrymen, through that House, and complaining that their interests were neglected. He appealed to the House if this was fair and just. No part of the empire received so much of the attention of that House as Ireland. No man in the House spoke so often as the hon. member for Kerry; but he seemed to think that every vestry squabble in that country was a fit subject for the interference of the Imperial Legislature. If the hon. Member's wishes were to be consulted, 365 days of sitting would not be sufficient for the affairs of Ireland itself. He believed that Ireland had more than a fair proportion of the attention of the House; and feeling that there was great inconvenience in this unnecessary suspension of a Call over the heads of the Members, he moved, as an Amendment, that the Order be discharged absolutely. The hon. Member might renew it at some other time if he thought proper.

Sir John Newport

said, that the cause of the great pressure of Irish business was the long mismanagement which had unhappily been allowed to prevail there, which rendered many legislative changes indispensably necessary to its present quiet and future welfare. Yet, at the moment when a question of paramount importance with respect to that country was coming on, the member for Oakhampton (Sir R. Vyvyan) wished the hon. Member to discharge the Order for a Call, that the Members of the House might be at liberty to go and amuse themselves, and take their pleasure in the country. He hoped the member for Kerry (Mr. O'Connell) would persevere, and not abandon the Order.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

would support the motion of the hon. member for Kerry, who was not in fault as to the postponement of this Call, because he could not know that the second reading of the Irish Reform Bill would be postponed, and it was necessary to give full notice, in order to have a full attendance. The hon. Member was, however, most unjust in saying that Irish affairs were not attended to, for every proper attention was given to them. As to the objection that the Scotch Bill came before the Irish Bill, he, as a Scotchman, would have no objection to give the precedence to the Irish Bill.

Mr. Hunt

said, half the time of the House was occupied with Irish affairs. What was the object of the member for Kerry making such imputations as he did, or why not have a Call for Scotland as well as Ireland? He repelled with indignation the attack of the member for Kerry on the Members of that House. That hon. Member seemed to think that no voices should have any weight in that House unless they sat for counties. As to the attack on the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Vyvyan) it came badly from the hon. member for Kerry, who was never yet returned twice for any place—neither was he present at the division on the Scotch Reform Bill the other night. He hoped and trusted the House would not be dragooned by the hon. Member, and concluded by asking, was the British House of Commons to bow to the hon. Member, once for Clare, once for Waterford, and now for Kerry?

General Palmer

rose to support the Motion, and had also a personal reason for it. Having hitherto failed in his endeavours to be heard upon the question of Reform, he was still anxious to do it whilst the attendance of Members justified the attempt, and encouraged him to make it; inasmuch as the view he had taken of the question was different from all who had risen in the Debate. He confidently hoped (notwithstanding the speeches of the right hon. Baronet upon the Bill which had passed the House) to show the necessity for it, in a light to satisfy the minds of all who were open to conviction on the subject. And as, in what he had to say, if allowed the opportunity, he should spare the House the repetition of any argument already urged in the debate, he hoped it would be considered a claim to its indulgence, and an earnest that he would trespass as shortly on its time as the deep importance of the question would allow him.

Colonel Sibthorp

said, he hoped his hon. friend (Sir R. Vyvyan) would persevere, as the hon. member for Kerry had followed his usual course of throwing imputations upon other hon. Gentlemen. He felt, however, that he did not come under his lash, as he had been constant in his attendance, and intended to continue so, and would be as ready to oppose the Irish, as he had been the English Reform Bill. He did not think there was any occasion for the Call, for he was sure Members would be constant in their attendance, without any other obligation than their duty to their country.

Lord Althorp

thought, that the hon. member for Kerry, in anticipating opposition to his Motion, had gone rather too far. The experience of many years enabled him to give a decided contradiction to the assertion, that the affairs of Ireland were not attended to in that House. The Catholic Question had been brought forward by Mr. Fox and Sir Francis Burdett, and, on all other occasions, English Members were ever ready to advocate the cause of Ireland. The hon. and learned member for Kerry had not pursued the course most likely to ensure a large attendance by his speech to-night. As to the question before the House, the postponement of the Call was no more than what constantly occurred in the case of election ballots, which hung over from day to day, and the hon. member for Kerry was not to be blamed for the course he had adopted. It was most essential that there should be a full attendance of Members on the question of the Irish Reform Bill, and he should feel most reluctant to oppose any motion with such an object. It was the duty of Members to attend on all occasions; but that did not always occur, and the season of the year might, perhaps, render a Call more necessary. If, however, there was a full attendance, probably the hon. Member might not persevere in his Call.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that the most painful thing in any discussion that arose was, that whenever Ireland was mentioned, it led to angry altercation. He wished that the time had arrived when all subjects of the State would feel they had but one country. If there were any part of the empire in which injuries were especially felt by England, Ireland was that part. As to postponing the Irish to the Scotch Bill, where was the offence to Ireland? None, no more than it was an offence to Scotland not to have a Call on the Bill for that country. The hon. Member was not to blame for the postponement of the Call, but five or six postponements made it highly inconvenient. He should vote for the Amendment if it were pressed to a division; at the same time, if it were to be considered an offence to the feelings of the people of Ireland, he should regret such an occurrence.

Mr. Sheil

contended, that the postponements of the Order for the Call of the House were not at all attributable to the hon. and learned member for Kerry, but to the measures of Government. The Irish Members had hitherto given a persevering and undivided attention, and they had a right to expect the same from others when the affairs of that country were under consideration.

Mr. Henry Grattan

said, the Irish Members had been instructed by their constituents to press upon the Imperial Parliament the condition of their country, and the necessity for an additional number of Representatives for that part of the empire. He therefore hoped, whether there was to be a Call of the House or not, the English Members would make a point of attending when the Irish Reform Bill was before the House, that they might fulfil their obligations, and that they would all consider themselves as Members for one common country.

Sir Charles Forbes

said, he should support the motion of the hon. member for Kerry, for he at all times desired to see a full attendance of Members; but, with regard to the precedence of the Scotch Reform Bill, he should insist upon the right of Scotland to stand next to England, and would not allow any thing that the hon. and learned Member could say, to convince him that Ireland ought to be thrust in between two countries that stood in such direct juxta-position. The Irish, therefore, had no reason to be dissatisfied.

Mr. O'Connell,

in answer to the member for Preston, stated, that he had choice of three counties at the last election, and decided for his native county of Kerry. This was entirely owing to the opinion which his countrymen entertained of him, for they knew his honesty, they were sensible of his candour, and they were aware that double-dealing was not amongst his habits. He had never, like the member for Preston, spoken on one side and voted on another; for the Ultra-Tories had got the benefit of his speeches, though they lost his votes, and he wished them joy of their bargain. He did not mean to contend, that the postponement of the Irish Bill was a slight to Ireland, but there could be no doubt that it was an injury to her interests, which he considered a still more serious ground of complaint. But when he was told that Englishmen had brought forward the Catholic Question—it was easy to say that Mr. Fox had brought that question forward, but it was convenient to forget other circumstances of Mr. Fox's conduct with respect to it. It was convenient to forget, that two years after his having brought it forward, Mr. Fox entered into office under an agreement with George 3rd, that he was not to bring forward that question while in office. Talk to him of English justice, when he had the fact now before him, that a Motion for a Call of the House, which was never resisted on any former occasion, was now opposed by the hon. Member (Sir R. Vyvyan), when he saw those crowded benches ready to support that opposition, because the question was only an Irish question. Was that justice or fairness? Whatever might be the fate of his Motion, he should feel that he had performed his duty. The country should know how that duty had been performed, and how it was met in that House.

Sir Richard Vyvyan

said, that the hon. Member should not have the satisfaction, which he seemed to desire, of making a complaint that his Call was put off. He should have the Call on the day which he had named for it, for he (Sir Richard Vyvyan) would withdraw his opposition to it. The hon. and learned Member, who wished to bear down that House, would find that Englishmen, and Scotchmen, and Irishmen, would not allow themselves to be borne down by him, or be driven from their purpose by any course which that hon. and learned Member might please to take. The hon. and learned Member stated that in which he was not borne out by the fact, when he asserted that Englishmen were negligent of matters which related to Ireland. On all matters of importance, affecting the interest of that country, Englishmen attended with as much desire to benefit that country as the hon. and learned Member, or any others who joined in opinion with him. These kind of charges, therefore, about want of justice on the part of Englishmen, were without foundation.

Mr. Hume

said, that the charge of the hon. Baronet, the member for Oakhampton, that his hon. friend, the member for Kerry, wished to bear down the House, was most unjust and unfounded [cries of "No, no."] He repeated that it was. The course taken by his hon. and learned friend was perfectly justifiable. He postponed his Call, because the second reading of the Bill to which it applied, was also postponed. What other course could he have adopted? The conduct of the hon. Baronet, and those who supported him on this occasion, was such as he had seldom witnessed—and such as, in his opinion, was unbecoming English gentlemen ["No, no," and "Order."] He would assert that it was—it was at least unbecoming English legislators. He had seen such opposition to his hon. and learned friend as he thought wholly unbecoming hon. Members, sitting as a legislative body. Was it not natural that his hon. friend should resent such con- duct, and speak of it in the manner it deserved? If hon. Members wished to be treated as English gentlemen, let them behave as English gentlemen ["Order."]

The Speaker

It must be obvious to the hon. Member himself, that such an imputation as his language conveyed was quite out of order.

Mr. Hume

repeated, that the conduct of several hon. Members to his hon. and learned friend (the member for Kerry) was altogether indecent and unbecoming them as legislators. Such opposition was most unfair, and his hon. friend was justified in complaining of it as he had done.

Sir Richard Vyvyan

wished to ask the hon. member for Middlesex, whether he accused him of acting in a manner unbecoming an English gentleman.

Mr. Hume

spoke of the hon. Baronet's conduct as a legislator ["No, no."] He believed he had used the words "English gentleman," but he did not mean it as personally offensive, for he had no wish to hurt the feelings of any man, but he had good reason to complain of the conduct of several hon. Members to his hon. and learned friend, who was perfectly right in the course he had adopted. He had a right to defer his motion for a Call of the House, as the business to which it referred was also postponed. He was perfectly right to take the opportunity of speaking out the wishes of his countrymen. It was what they expected of him. He (Mr. Hume) should be extremely sorry to find that Irishmen should have reason to complain, that a different measure of justice was dealt out to them from that which had been dealt out to other parts of the United Kingdom. If any such impression existed in the mind of his hon. and learned friend, he was right to seek the opportunity of stating what were his opinions, and those of his countrymen, as to parts of the Bill, in as large an assembly of the Members of the House as possible; and, therefore, he did right to move the Call of the House, in which he hoped he would persevere.

Lord Althorp

wished to correct a mistake into which the hon. and learned member for Kerry had fallen with respect to Mr. Fox. The hon. and learned Member stated, that Mr. Fox had taken office under a pledge or agreement with George 3rd that he would not bring on the Catholic Question during his Administration. Now this was not the fact. On the con- trary, it was well known that Mr. Fox and his friends went out of office in 1807, because they found they could not carry the Catholic Question.

Question put, and ordered, that the House be called over on the 10th of October.