HC Deb 11 August 1832 vol 14 cc1334-5
Lord Althorp

moved, that the House at its rising do adjourn to Wednesday next.

Sir John Byng

wished to take that opportunity of setting himself right with the House, with respect to an allusion made to him in The Times of that day. In an article in that paper, he had been alluded to respecting some remarks which he had made on the previous evening, on the disturbances at Clithero, and it was put, in ferentially, that though he might object to a massacre of the people by the troops in a narrow space, he would not have the same objection in a more extended sphere. To the House, and to those who knew him, he trusted it was unnecessary to say, that such an imputation was wholly unfounded. He did not charge the paper in question with any intention of maligning him, for he believed that it was made under a total misapprehension of what he did say. What he said was, that he regretted extremely the calling in of the troops until all means had been resorted to which could render their presence unnecessary. He meant to cast no blame upon the Magistrates in this case, but to express his regret generally, that military aid should be called in until every other means of quelling the disturbance had been found ineffectual, And his regret was the greater in this instance, because from his knowledge of the place, he was aware, that being narrow and confined, the cavalry, when called in, must almost necessarily be brought into collision with the people, a collision which might be avoided if they had a more enlarged sphere to act in. But he never meant, and never said, that it would be desirable to call in the military into any place where their presence could possibly be dispensed with. He knew that when the military were called in to act in confined and narrow spaces, in which, as he had said, they must be brought at the first moment into almost personal contact with the parties, upon whose proceedings they were intended to be a check, they ran the risk of hearing irritating language, and sometimes of being assailed by missiles, which might, for the moment, disturb that good temper and good feeling with which British soldiers were in the habit of performing their duty. But from all this they would be removed if they could be drawn up in such open space, where their presence would have all the effect of intimidation without any of the danger of immediate contact. He stated this as a general remark, and as what he meant to convey in what he had said on the occasion in question; but he supposed that the misapprehension arose from his imperfect mode of expressing himself, rather than from any wish to misstate anything that had fallen from him. It would, however, be in the recollection of any hon. Members who had attended to him, that he had distinctly expressed his regret, that the military should have been called in until every other means had been tried to preserve tranquillity by the civil power. He had admitted that Magistrates were placed in a difficult situation, but that did not alter his general remark, that the military ought to be called in only in the last resource, and that even then, if possible, they should be so placed as to display their power without using it. He was sure that the imputation cast upon him arose from a misapprehension of what he did say, but still, as it had been made, he felt it necessary to set himself right on the subject.

Motion agreed to.