begged leave to present a Petition on the subject of the Bill. It was from Dungarvan, and complained, that by the operation of the Reform Bill, the electors of Dungarvan would be reduced from 860 to 200. He moved that the petition be referred to the Committee.
§ Mr. Leader
supported the prayer of the petition, and, in reference to the Amendments to be proposed by his hon. friend, the member for Kerry, he must take that opportunity of complaining, that the population returns for 1831, so far as they related to Ireland, though often promised, and long before ordered, had not been communicated to the House. Would it be credited, too, that the boundary maps were not yet laid on the Table? Without them how could the Bill be discussed? It was necessary to know how the constituencies of towns were to be formed; that was, how many voters were to be abstracted from the county constituency, before they could go into the question of the counties. He did not know how the franchise was to be de- 563 termined in the towns, and though he by no means wished for delay, he had made up his mind not to vote for any one portion of the enfranchising part of the Bill till the whole information was before them. The Table had been loaded with documents relative to Scotland and England, before the Reform Bills for those parts of the empire were brought forward; but for Ireland there was no information. He asked particularly to see what number of electors were to be given to boroughs, and what limits had been struck out for them by the officers who had had the task. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had not treated the House well by not supplying those documents, and he would not find his account in such proceedings. It was impossible that he, or any other Irish Member, should be prepared to go into a Committee till the Report of the Commissioners, with all the maps and boundaries laid down, was in the possession of Members.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the hon. Gentleman would have an Opportunity of discussing all these points when the Boundaries Bill was before them, and he saw in the circumstances alluded to by the hon. Gentleman no reason for delay. The documents referred to by the hon. Gentleman would have no influence over the Bill.
was surprised to hear the noble Lord say, that the documents would have no influence over the Bill. Would they not specify what number of voters was to be taken from the counties to constitute the boroughs? And how could he know what would be the constituency of the counties, unless he knew what was to be abstracted for the boroughs? To say that documents would have no influence over the Bill was quite unworthy of the talents of the noble Lord. That was not his opinion; but it was what he expected. It was perfectly in unison with the conduct of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, who sat there sneering and laughing at him.
Well, then, the right hon. Gentleman was laughing at something else when the Irish Bill was under discussion. That was just what he expected. For that he was prepared, and he was not surprised at the interruption he received. For England and Scotland documents had been laid profusely on the Table; for Ireland there were none. The population of every part of these two countries was minutely detailed, 564 but the House had got no means of making a comparative estimate of the population of the towns and the counties in Ireland. The boundaries of the borough was an essential element in calculating the constituencies of counties. If the proportion of the freemen to be given to a town were not known, how could they be prepared to go into a discussion on the constituency of the counties? He meant to claim additional Members for several counties, and a part of his case would depend on the population they contained, independent of the boroughs. The population Returns were not printed; there was no information before them; and the only document which gave a comparative estimate of the population of cities and boroughs, had been placed in his hands that day, at twelve o'clock. Under these circumstances, he was bound to enter his protest against proceeding then. He would not trouble the House to divide, as he should call upon Gentlemen several times to divide hereafter, but he was bound to protest against going on without the documents. Look at the case of Dungarvan. If the boundary line proposed were to be adopted, Dungarvan would be as close a borough in the hands of the Duke of Devonshire as ever Old Sarum was. At Youghall, too, the Liberties of the town were shut out, contrary to the rules laid down by the framers of the Bill. They said, speaking of Mallow, that being situated in a large county, a vote for the town would be much more valuable than a vote for the county, and they would not exclude the Liberties of Mallow. But they had excluded the liberties of Youghall, by which it, too, would be made a close and nomination borough in the hands of the Duke of Devonshire. The same was the case with Bandon Bridge, where the Duke and Lord Bandon had divided the interest between them, and that was still to be a nomination borough. He should be content to go on to-morrow, and he did not want to delay the Bill. He did not want to remain in the capital, nor keep other Gentlemen here one moment longer than was necessary, and he should be content to sit from day to day, but be must protest against proceeding with the Bill till he had read the documents.
said, that it was his desire that hon. Members should have had the information sooner. He had, in the first place, hoped to put the book containing the boundaries and the maps in the hands of all the Members of that House three or four days ago; but every body knew that some 565 time was necessarily occupied in colouring maps, even after they were engraved. He had not been able to get the engravings, before yesterday, on account of the time required to complete them, which was the sole cause of the delay. He had wished to expedite them as much as possible; and as he understood that only fifty or sixty copies could possibly be in readiness for distribution to-day, he thought that he was only doing his duty in giving directions that they should be distributed amongst the Irish Members, and that one copy, especially, should be forwarded to the hon. member for Kerry, as he had complained of their non-production. As to the population which made the constituency in the different counties and boroughs in Ireland, there was no more information, at least as to its numerical amount, furnished in this volume than was to be found in those papers which constituted an abstract of this volume, and which had been laid on the Table of the House one month ago. This volume was expressly devoted to the fixing of the boundaries; but it was made a matter of complaint, that they had not been furnished with the same mass of comparative information in this instance that had been laid before them with regard to the English boroughs, towns, &c. Now, it should be recollected, that such information was absolutely necessary in the instance of the English Bill, as they had to disfranchise a number of boroughs in England, and it was, therefore, necessary to ascertain with precision the relative merits of the various existing boroughs in this country. But, as there were no boroughs to be disfranchised or enfranchised in Ireland, it was not necessary to determine the comparative claims between existing boroughs there, and therefore the information required as to England was not required as to Ireland. All they had to do with regard to the boroughs in Ireland was, to see that their boundaries were fairly and properly settled, and when they came to the discussion of the Boundary Bill, he was quite sure that he should be able to show the House that such had been the case. With regard to Mallow and Dungarvan, he must be allowed to say, that they had been treated exactly in the same way that boroughs under similar circumstances had been treated in England. In the case of those two boroughs, the freemen resident within the limits of the borough possessed at present, from the same premises, a double right of voting, for the town and for the county. Now, both cases were dealt with precisely 566 on the same principle that had been applied to similar cases in England; namely, that no person should derive a double vote from one and the same property, at the same time that the right of voting, as it at present existed, was preserved to the resident freemen for the term of their own lives. In fact, as he had said already, the case had been dealt with exactly in accordance with the principles of the English Reform Bill. He begged to apologize to the House for entering into those questions, for the discussion of which this was not the fit or proper opportunity.
§ Sir Richard Musgrave
contended, that the narrowing of the limits of boroughs was contrary to the instructions of the Commissioners. In proof of this, he would refer to a statement of one of the Commissioners, in which he stated, that he was to enlarge, and not contract, the limits of boroughs. The number of voters at present in Dungarvan amounted to 860, and the boundary proposed by the present plan would reduce the number of 10l. voters to 106, the greater number of whom were resident on the estate of the Duke of Devonshire; so that the Representation of that town would be thrown into the hands of the noble Duke. The object of the English Bill was, to establish a respectable constituency in towns. The House must see, that the Bill proposed for Ireland would have a contrary effect. Ireland was a poor country, and it was gross injustice to raise the franchise. Youghall, Bandon Bridge, and Mallow, were circumstanced like Dungarvan, and would be close boroughs under the present Bill. If Ministers persevered in opposing the amendments suggested by the Irish Members, he had no hesitation in saying, that it would be a direct infraction of the pledge they had given to the Reformers of the empire. He considered this part and parcel of the general measure; and he thought that the interests of the English people would be affected, as well as those of the Irish, if that measure were not substantial and effectual.
Mr. Gally Knight
wished to know whether, under the present arrangement, a small borough which he saw at the corner of the map was to bear the same name. The name of the place at present was Snug-borough.
Petition read, and ordered to lie on the Table.
, in moving that the petition should be printed, said, that he had taken the earliest possible opportunity to lay it before the House, as it had not reached him 567 till last Saturday. He did not think that was exactly the fittest period to enter on a discussion of the point to which the petition referred. The petitioners prayed that the right of voting should be preserved to the 5l. householders in this borough, and, for his part, he did not see any reason why, in the various boroughs throughout Ireland, where those 5l. householders already possessed the right of voting, they should be disfranchised. He would do all he could to support the rights of those voters.
said, that they had dealt with the 5l. householders in Ireland, precisely as they had dealt with the same class of householders in England; namely, the right of voting, where it existed, was retained to them for life, and they were disfranchised prospectively. He would just refer to Youghall to show what would be the effect there of the present Bill. The constituency of Youghall at present amounted to 263, of which 176 were non-resident, and eighty-seven resident. Now, of those eighty-seven resident voters, seventy-four would be retained by this Bill as 10l. householders, and an addition of nearly 300 more made to the constituency there.
asked did any Member in the House entertain the slightest doubt but Youghall would be a close borough Let him not be told, that this was a Reform Bill, when the Duke of Devonshire was to have the nomination to the borough. What was the professed object of this Bill? To amend the Representation of the people; to throw open the close boroughs. If this was not the object, what was the value of the Reform Bill? It was a poor answer to tell him, that there was no 5l. franchise in England, and that therefore this species of franchise could not be introduced into Ireland. But it ought to be recollected that Ireland was a poor country, and that a 5l. qualification there was nearly equal to a 10l. franchise in this country. It was his opinion that those 5l. franchises which existed in forty boroughs in Ireland, previous to the Union, should be allowed to continue there in the existing boroughs. Now, with respect to the answer of the right hon. Secretary, who said, that the population returns had nothing to do with this question, and that the papers which had been lying on the Table of this House for a month past could furnish us with all necessary information. Now, he (Mr. O'Connell) would be glad to know, how he could learn from these documents what portion of the towns had been cut off and added to the 568 constituency of the counties, and how many farms, belonging to counties, had been cut off and added to the towns. These documents did not state that two thirds of Dungarvan were cut off; nor that the Liberties of Youghall had been struck off by the Boundary Commissioners; and yet this was what the right hon. Secretary called giving him an answer; but it was what he (Mr. O'Connell) called a miserable quibble, a contemptuous, insulting excuse for hurrying the House into this Committee, without the means of arriving at any satisfactory results. Were Ministers to dictate a Reform Bill for Ireland? If the dictates of the right hon. Gentleman were not meant to carry this Bill, what was the meaning of this indecent attempt to force them into Committee? But he would take him upon his own book, and show that he had given him no answer. For instance, might not Londonderry, Carrick-on-Suir, Kilkenny, or any other large towns, say, that they had as good a right to two Representatives as Belfast? or if, instead of giving two Members to the College of Dublin, they were to select some town better entitled to an additional Member, how could they decide in either of these cases without a comparative estimate of the population. This was his object in calling for the population returns, and yet the right hon. Secretary had told them, in what he called his answer, that these documents were wholly unnecessary. He also wanted the population returns in order to prove that Ireland was entitled to claim a greater number of Representatives than this Bill gave her; and in order to demonstrate that there was in this instance, as there was in every other, a shrinking from giving Ireland her just and proper share in the Constitution—a feeling which existed from the earliest period of her connexion with England, and which, in his conscience, he believed still continued to exist in the breast of the right hon. Secretary, with as lively a force as it had ever existed in this country for the last 700 years.
§ Mr. Wyse
said, that the influence of the Duke of Devonshire would be preserved by this Bill in Dungarvan, while the influence of the other dominant family there—that of the Marquess of Waterford—would be, in consequence of the new boundary, almost totally destroyed. Now, though he was not friendly to the politics of the Marquess of Waterford, he thought the influence of one family should not be destroyed in that town, in order to give full 569 scope to the domination of another, and he was quite sure, that by the existence of the influence of the Waterford family in Dungarvan, the politics of the Duke of Devonshire would be improved. He must insist on the propriety of having the population returns laid upon the Table, before they proceeded with this Bill.
would ask the House, if the policy of the English Reform Bill was not to have a constituency of at least 300 in each borough? Why, in the name of justice and common sense, should not the same principle be extended to Ireland? Dungarvan would have a constituency of 160. Now, really this was too bad. Upon what ground, he was at a loss to conjecture, could such a system be defended? In England, the boroughs were to be thrown open—in Ireland, hot beds of corruption were to be preserved. If the object of the Government were to increase the county constituency, he could point out a mode by which this might be effected without entrenching on the constituency of the towns. Let them restore the franchise to the 40s. freeholders in fee. There was no just reason for depriving this class of voters of their rights; they were an independent and industrious body of men, and every way entitled to the privileges for which he contended. He most earnestly entreated his Majesty's Ministers not to press them to go into Committee this evening. It was but reasonable that they should yield upon this point to the remonstrances addressed to them by so many Representatives for Ireland. Again he implored the House to listen to the complaints of the Irish people, in whose hearts it would be very easy to plant a thorn, but it would not be so easy to pluck it out.
said, that as allusion had been made to the proposed boundaries of the borough he represented, he felt himself called upon to say, that he had, two or three days ago, sent to his constituents the map describing those boundaries, and he should wait their instructions before he made any observation upon the proposition.
§ Mr. Maurice O'Connell
was much surprised to hear what had been stated by the hon. member for Mallow, which was somewhat at variance with what had fallen from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. The hon. Gentleman, the member for Mallow, had said, that he had sent off the maps to his constituents some days back, whilst the right hon. Secretary had stated, that of the books containing those maps, only 570 fifty or sixty were ready, and had been delivered within the last two days.
§ Petition to be printed.
moved that the House do go into Committee on the Reform of Parliament (Ireland) Bill, upon which
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, he rose to take the sense of the House upon the Motion which he then felt it his duty to make. He wanted to re-establish the 40s. franchise in fee, and he intended to move, that such individuals residing in counties possessed of a fee simple estate of the value of 40s., should be entitled to vote. The Reformers of England would have to decide this important question; the Reformers of Scotland would have to decide upon it, and a few hours would determine whether or not they were sincere in their professions. He claimed this for Ireland as a matter of right and justice. He could not see what possible motive could induce them to refuse unless, indeed, they were determined to treat the Irish with contemptuous indifference; or to exhibit a hostile disposition to the just demands of his country, instead of meeting them with a fair and conciliatory spirit. The people of England had retained this franchise, and why, he would ask, had not the people of Ireland the same right to it? Would the Ministers dare to treat England in this way?—and if the English people would not permit them to do so, did they suppose that the people of Ireland would suffer such treatment with impunity? The Bill which was proposed to reform the Representation of Ireland, was founded upon a wrong basis, and had certainly been framed with no very friendly feeling towards that portion of the British empire. What he understood by Reform was, the removal of abuses, whether existing under a base oligarchical system, or arising from any other cause in the representative system. Such, at least, would be the principle of the English Bill. But far different would be the effect of that measure in Ireland (he was referring solely to the county constituency); they proceeded on the foundation of the franchise as it was, without taking the trouble to inquire whether that franchise was a proper one or not. He demanded a Reform Bill for Ireland upon the same basis as the constituency existed in 1829. He merely required the restoration of that franchise of which the 40s. freeholders in fee had been unjustly deprived in 1829. He knew no possible pretence that could justify this act of spoliation, still less could he discover any 571 reasonable ground upon which his demand could be refused; for it ought to be recollected, that the Administration of the Duke of Wellington (no Reformer) merely voted for that bill to make another measure palatable, but which they did not hesitate to call a bad bill. Thus, in order to carry the question of Emancipation, the English Reformers voted for this measure. Instead of increasing the freedom of election, the Reform Bill for Ireland would have a directly contrary effect. If the object of its framers (he did not mean to say that it was so), but if their object was, to throw the Representation of Ireland into the hands of absentee proprietors, this Bill could not have been framed in any way better calculated to effect that purpose. His Majesty's Government refused to give the Irish, except in one solitary instance, and just where it could be of no possible use—a chattel franchise of 10l., and this concession was made, not from any conviction of its utility upon the mind of the right hon. Secretary, but upon the recommendation of a noble Lord, the Representative of a northern county. He could not be charged with impeding his Majesty's Government, for he had refrained from pressing the grievances of Ireland upon them until the English Reform Bill had become the law of the land, and even then, he did not complain until he went, as the delegate from a most respectable body of gentlemen, to the noble Lords opposite, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the noble member for Devonshire, and also the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland. If he went alone, he felt that he might not be entitled to more than ordinary courtesy, but he was accompanied on that occasion 'by the venerable and estimable Gentleman, Sir John Newport, whose opinion, at least, ought to have some weight. He did wait upon these personages, not, indeed, with "bated breath and suppliant knee," but with the upright and bold port of men demanding justice—for the purpose of remonstrating with them, and pointing out the injustice of this measure. He thought he made an impression on two of the noble personages. If he knew anything of human nature, he was quite sure he produced an impression upon the mind of one of them. But there was one right hon. Gentleman upon whom his reasoning had, he knew, little influence—a Gentleman who, from the very outset of his career, had, in all his acts, distinguished himself as the enemy of the liberties of Ireland. He now solemnly warned that right hon. Gentleman to adopt some 572 far different course with regard to Ireland. His contemptuous conduct would no longer be tamely borne; if he persevered in such a course, he would produce strife and bloodshed in the country, which must end in separation. He called upon the right hon. Gentleman to review his conduct since he became officially connected with Ireland. His first act was, the celebrated circular letter to the Magistracy of Ireland. He next re-organized a body which were nearly defunct when he came into office—a measure which brought out Captain Graham and his Yeomanry to butcher the people, and he afterwards dismissed this very same Captain Graham for so doing. "Let the right hon. Gentleman go on in this course," said Mr. O'Connell, "and I tell him, that the insurrection against tithes in Ireland will be swelled into a formidable and bloody rebellion which he may not find it so easy to put down." He (Mr. O'Connell) was convinced of the value of the connexion between the two countries, and so long as he lived, he should use all his influence to preserve it. He could not, however, say how long it might be in his power to do so. Indeed, it required all the influence of persons in whom the Irish people placed confidence to prevent its being severed at this moment. He could, however, tell the right hon. Gentleman, that the concession he now recommended was the only method left to England of preserving her connexion with Ireland. It had been invariably stated that the number of 10l. freeholders in Ireland was 20,000. It was little more than 19,000—there would not be 28,000 voters. He was quite sure that there would not be 30,000 for a population of 7,500,000. This fact he would prove at some future stage of this Bill. He was prepared to do so then, and to go fully into the details, satisfied with this point alone, to try the feelings of English Reformers towards his country, and he would ask, even amidst the declamation of granting equal justice—was there equal justice between the two countries? It was known that until the reign of Henry 6th, everybody had a right to vote. From that time to the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill, the 40s. franchise had existed, of which Ireland had been deprived at that time. He could not but contrast the conduct of the noble and distinguished individuals, constituting his Majesty's Government at present, with what it was when the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders of Ireland was discussed. The late lamented 573 member for Liverpool (Mr. Huskisson) was followed in his opposition to the measure, by the noble Lord (not now in his place) the Secretary for. Foreign Affairs. The right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Control, delivered a most admirable speech in favour of their rights, though he afterwards certainly voted for their disfranchisement; and, in short, the 40s. freeholders were then supported, even in the abuses which were asserted to arise from their franchise, by every influential man in the present Government, including the illustrious individual, the present Lord High Chancellor of England. In 1829, it was alleged, as a ground for the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders, that they had left and abandoned the legitimate influence of their landlords, and yielded themselves to the influence of their priests. He denied the insinuation, and hesitated not to say, that the priests were then, as now, under the control of the popular opinions and sentiments of the great majority of the population of the country. In proof of this, he would mention the case of a Catholic clergyman, at his election for the county of Clare. The reverend Mr. Coffey marched at the head of a body of freeholders into the town of Ennis, which he was bringing up, for the purpose of voting for Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald a most estimable gentleman, whom the 40s. freeholders turned out of Clare for joining the Administration of the Duke of Wellington. The moment the freeholders arrived in the town, they took off their hats, gave a hearty cheer, bowed to the reverend Mr. Coffey, and walked off, leaving the reverend gentleman standing alone. The alleged influence of the priests was made one ground of a petition against the returns of no less than five counties in Ireland—namely, Westmeath, Dublin, Galway, Waterford, and Clare—in the last against his (Mr. O'Connell's) return. But in three cases the counsel for the petitioners had abandoned that branch of their case; and in two instances evidence in support of the allegation was gone into; and when it was proposed, on behalf of the parties petitioned against, to proceed to rebut that evidence, in both cases the Committee unanimously stopped the counsel, stating that they were satisfied that the allegation was untenable. Thus he showed, when opportunities were afforded of proving that the priests possessed that influence which was alleged (and then believed to exist), the charge was either abandoned, or totally 574 failed in proof. The Committee, however, decided, by the fact of their going into evidence upon the point, that the interference of priests was a ground upon which an election might be invalidated. After these facts, it would be a work of supererogation on his part to use any further arguments to show the absurdity of this objection. He only mentioned these things to show how little the real state of Ireland was understood in that House. He was, however, willing to admit that the people were under the influence of agitators, as they were called. He himself, as everybody knew, had the honour to belong to this class; but these agitators were but the mouth-pieces of the people; and they only possessed influence so long as they expressed their wishes and their feelings. To return, however, to the Disfranchisement Bill of 1829, he must remark, that in 1825, he was himself examined before a Committee of the House, with reference to the class of voters subsequently disfranchised, and it was then considered and understood (at least it was so by him), that time 40s. freeholders in fee were to remain untouched in their rights and privileges, and yet in 1829, with a reckless negligence and forgetfulness of every principle, they were included in the measure, and disfranchised, though against them there did not exist the least pretence for such a course. He, in addition to what he had already objected, must also appeal against the franchise introduced in the measure, nominally a 10l. franchise, but one which, under that Bill, was stated by the right hon. Baronet near him, to be really a 20l. franchise, because it was provided, that there should be 10l. over and above all charges, costs, and expenses. The franchise had not been diminished, but extended, in England; why should it not be rendered more extensive in Ireland? Why not restore their rights to the 40s. freeholders, and thus give to the peasantry a sense of importance and independence, while we afforded them a stimulus to industry? Either the English Parliament thought Ireland unfit to receive this boon (boon did he call it?)—nay, this act of justice—or they considered the privilege which was enjoyed in England too good for. Irishmen, and grudgingly resolved to keep it to themselves. Grosser injustice was never displayed than that which the Irish 'Reform Bill exhibited. Who would dare to tell him that Irishmen were not as well entitled to this franchise as Englishmen? After this they might talk to him 575 of equal rights and equal privileges, but he would laugh at their empty vauntings. What, he would ask, was one of the pleas for refusing it? Why, that they could not disturb the Members of the House. That was General Gascoyne's plea—a man of whom he would say, without hesitation, that he was one of the worst used gentlemen in England. General Gascoyne had moved and carried an instruction to the Committee, that the number of Members for England and Wales should remain 513. The House was dissolved. The General went back to his constituents; and, under the influence of the Government, was almost hooted out of Liverpool; yet that same Government actually adopted the principle of the Motion they had thus so violently condemned. All the people of Ireland had to contend with was, in fact, a mere prejudice that the number of the House should remain 658. But, even with a knowledge of that prejudice, the Government had taken care to draw so liberally on their bank for the people of England and Wales, that there remained nothing for Ireland. The numbers of the House were now to be scrupulously preserved—England would have thirty Members more than originally contemplated, but Ireland was excluded from deriving any advantage; in consequence of the departure from the principles of the first Reform Bill, her Members would not be augmented. Did Ireland deserve such treatment, after the assistance her Representatives had rendered Ministers on the English Reform Bill? But this was always the way where Ireland was concerned; her aid was invoked in the battle, but when a division of the spoil came, she was forgotten. The Irish were ready to forgive—they demanded only equal justice—but it was the injured who forgive—those who do the wrong never forgive. He appealed to the Ministers, as Reformers, to remember the situation in which they were now placed. Let them remember that their votes would go forth to the world; that they had to decide upon the claims to equal justice of a large portion of the empire. Would they remind the people of Ireland of that sentiment which had been so often repeated to them?—Hereditary bondsmen, know ye notThat he who would be free, himself must strike the blow?He would not go into a lengthened view of this subject; but the conduct of the present Government was of a piece with that which had been pursued by every Admi- 576 nistration in Ireland since the time of Henry 2nd. The people of Ireland had only put in a claim for an equal participation in those rights enjoyed by the other subjects of the empire. That was done even in the reign of Henry 3rd; but the just demands of the people were then refused, and their interests were sacrificed to the Conservative party, as they had now been by the right hon. Gentleman. He might carry his proposition; but let him recollect, that he would not satisfy the claims of the Irish people, and the Conservative party, to whom he sacrificed them was not now dominant; he would not conciliate them now. But let him consider well the consequences of his conduct. It had been said, that if Henry 8th had conceded as much to the people of Ireland, as he did to the people of England, the Reformation would have been successful in that country. He did not think that; but it had been so stated by more than one historian. When there was the first appearance of concession, in the reign of James 1st, he, by the advice of Sir John Davis, introduced the rotten borough system there, and by that means destroyed the good he otherwise might have done. James made forty boroughs in one day, with a view to give the dominant party control in the Legislature. This was in character with the whole system, to prevent the voice of the people being heard. It was little more than 200 years since it was no crime to murder an Irishman; and it had only been at periods of danger and of difficulty that Ireland had ever been able to obtain anything from England. England endeavoured to enslave the people—it destroyed their Churches—it threw down their altars, and stripped their clergy of their property—but it did not succeed in the attempt to destroy the spirit of the people. The present Parliament had restored to the people of England those rights which had been usurped by an oligarchy. It had rendered useful service to this country, and why not do equal justice to Ireland? In the present instance insult had been added to injury—the English Reform Bill was brought forward by an English Gentleman; the Scottish Bill by a Scottish legal luminary; was there no Irishman to whom Ministers could intrust the Irish Reform Bill?—was it necessary that it should be introduced by one who could conciliate nobody—a person in whom no party could confide? Yes, the right hon. Gentleman opposite had been fully intrusted with a measure which was calculated to 577 destroy the independence of Ireland. Wise and political Statesmen as were the present members of his Majesty's Government, they wished to put an end to excitement and agitation in Ireland, and how did they set about it?—by perpetrating an act of injustice which must perpetuate excitement, and leave no room for tranquillity but the tranquillity of slavery, and that, he pledged himself, they should not have. He told the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) he might defeat him (Mr. O'Connell) in that House, but the Irish people would beat the right hon. Gentleman elsewhere. They would vanquish him; and in doing so, they would violate no law, so long as Algerine Acts, such as the Registration of Arms, and Unlawful Processions' Bills did not exist. No; so long as the right hon. Gentleman left the Irish people one rag of the Constitution, they would take their stand upon that and beat him. In conclusion, he should move, by way of Amendment, that it be an instruction to the Committee to restore the elective franchise to persons seised in fee, and occupying freeholds of the clear yearly value of 40s.
expressed his surprise at the tone and temper of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. If he (Mr. Stanley) were the person, as the hon. Gentleman intimated, who stood between the claims of Ireland and their just consideration and accomplishment—if on his voice alone depended the extent of the measure of Reform to be dealt out to that country, and if he were indeed that hard task-master which the learned Gentleman would represent him to the people of England, who, he hoped knew him better, and to the people of Ireland, whom the learned Gentleman wished to delude, certainly the hon. member for Kerry had not taken the best mode to conciliate him, assuming that he acted on personal grounds and motives. But the learned Gentleman well knew, that he (Mr. Stanley) was not acting from any such motives. He would not recriminate on the learned Gentleman, although there were charges which be could make, and not without foundation, but, he repeated, he would not. As he had abstained from answering the pointed calumnies, he should not take any more notice of the personal parts of the hon. Member's speech. One thing, however, he would say—the learned Gentleman must have been internally laughing at his audience in that House, as he often did elsewhere, when he made it a ground of accusation against the Govern- 578 ment, that an Irishman was not the organ to bring the Irish Reform Bill forward. The learned Gentleman knew well that it was his (Mr. Stanley's) duty as Irish Secretary to introduce the Bill, but the hon. Member added, that he could conciliate no friend, that no party relied on him, and chiefly for this reason, that he repudiated all assistance, and would admit of no alteration in the measure. Now he (Mr. Stanley) asked, whether he had not only exhibited a willingness to listen to suggestions, but actually adopted them wherever they appeared beneficial? If the learned Gentleman were sincerely desirous of amending the Bill, and forwarding its progress through the Committee, the first clause which he objected altogether to discuss that evening, would have afforded him an opportunity of proposing the very instruction which he now moved, as an amendment, on the Speaker leaving the Chair. But the learned Gentleman threatened the House with instruction after instruction, with a view to obstruct the Bill. Was that the conduct of a sincere advocate of Reformat? Was that the way to keep up the good understanding between England and Ireland, of which the learned Gentleman talked so much, but which his conduct was directly calculated to impair, if it could be lessened by the acts of an individual? With regard to the proposed instruction, he was glad to find the learned Gentleman now abandoning all but the 40s. in fee voters, that he gave up those who had an interest on lives.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, he meant to make the other 40s. freeholders the subject of another instruction.
At least, the hon. and learned Gentleman did not proceed further in his present motion. The learned Gentleman spoke of the injustice of refusing the franchise in one country to a class of freeholders who were permitted to exercise it in another; but let it be observed, that there was some difference between continuing a right of voting now in existence, and conferring, in opposition to a positive law, a right of voting that had been discontinued. He did not mean to say, that if the case of the Irish 40s. freeholders in fee had been pressed in 1829, he might not have made an exception in their favour; but now, unless it could be clearly established that those freeholders constituted a large and respectable body, he thought the existing regulation ought not to be relaxed in their favour. At that time, he should not, in theory, have been opposed to con- 579 cession; but now, he should not be prepared to yield, unless a strong case could be made out. The hon. and learned Gentleman had charged him, in the course of his speech: with having refused to yield all extension of the suffrage, except in one instance, and that was, because it was urged by a noble friend of his, the Member for an Orange county. The hon. and learned Member laid peculiar emphasis on the expressions, northern and Orange county, and he added, that this was another support for that party. He was sure every one who heard that hon. and learned Gentleman must think, that the greater portion of the persons on whom the franchise would be bestowed, by this alteration, were Protestants. Now, what were the facts of the case? His noble friend informed him that there were a great number of Catholics in the northern counties, who, in consequence of formerly not being able to obtain freeholds, held land on lease, for a term of not less than sixty years, and renewable for ever, and this was regarded of the nature of freeholds. So far, therefore, from the object of the amendment being to add to the number of Protestant voters, it was to admit a large number of Catholics into the constituency of the northern counties. But, to return to the 40s. freeholders: the learned Gentleman said, "How unjust to disfranchise the Irish 40s. freeholder in fee, while you allow the English 40s. freeholder in fee to exercise the franchise. "But Parliament was bound to look and ascertain whether 40s. freeholds were held by the same class of persons in Ireland as in England. He had already spoken of the necessity of numbers, in order to make out a case; it would be absurd to legislate for a few individuals, and he believed he was justified in declaring, that in a vast number of the Irish counties there was not such a thing known as a 40s. freeholder in fee, and further, that in the great majority of counties where 40s. freeholders in fee existed, they were the lowest, most corrupt, and venal, that could well be imagined. Take the county of Wexford, in which there was a considerable number of them, and on examination, what sort of persons would the freeholders be found to be—they were persons who, to use an American phrase, having literally "squatted" on the side of a mountain, or a bog, had, by long possession, acquired the right to their holdings. In one instance of a contested election for the county, the candidates, of whom there were four, came to an under- 580 standing that they would not purchase the votes of any of those 800 freeholders so situated, it being well known that they were all venal. He believed the great majority of the 40s. freeholders was precisely of this description, and unless he heard a satisfactory answer to his objections, from some Irish Member who could prove that the 40s. freeholders in fee constituted a large body of respectable and independent men, not under the control of landlords, priests, or agitators, he must say, that a case had not been made out to restore to that class in Ireland a privilege which was continued in England, but under widely different circumstances. On the grounds now shortly stated, he opposed the learned Gentleman's motion for an instruction to the Committee.
§ Mr. Leader
said, there existed throughout Ireland a strong feeling of aversion to the Bill, which narrowed the constituency, and did not give an adequate number of Representatives to that country. At the time of the passing of the bill for disfranchising the Irish 40s. freeholders, the number of voters of that class was 190,000, making, with 100l., 50l., and 20l. freeholders, a county constituency of 216,000. The constituency of 10l. freeholders, substituted for the 190,000 disfranchised voters, amounted to only 19,264. Was this to be endured? Taking all voters for counties from 100l. to 10l. the twelve counties of Leinster contained but 14,000 constituents; Munster, 14,000; Ulster, 15,000; Connaught, 7,000. But, considering the defective state of county registration in Ireland, and looking at the numbers polled at former elections, it might be safely stated, that the entire county constituency would not exceed 26,000, and that, he contended, was no constituency at all. He would read some returns, in order to show, that the Bill would not extend the franchise in Ireland, and would merely effect a change in the character of the voters. The first return he would read described the county constituency of Ireland, as it stood before the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill. The number of freeholders was then, dividing them into classes, as follows:
|Of £100||303||Of £20||6,806|
|Of 50||18,066||Of 40s.||191,666|
§ By the first measure of justice granted to Ireland—equal civil and religious rights—the franchise of 191,666 40s. freeholders was destroyed:—
§ The constituency substituted in its stead were the 10l. freeholders who, in the following year, in each of the provinces, stood as follow:—
§ Thus the constituency of Ireland was reduced by what was a great boon, nearly 180,000. The next return he would read was a statement showing the numbers registered in each province, up to the 1st of May, 1831:—
|Of £.50.||Of £.20.||Of £.10.||Total.|
§ Of the county constituency in this table, not more than one-half was entitled to vote, as would appear. Of eighteen counties in which there were contested elections in 1830, the gross number of votes that polled was 15,211; calculating the other counties in the same ratio, not more than 26,000 would appear to be the present number, which was more than probable, from the defective state of the several county registries. The clerk of the peace of the county of Cork, for example, said, "the number given is all that appears on the books, many of those are dead, many lost their freeholds by the diminution of the value of lands, and the expiration of titles, partilarly among the 50l. class." The clerk of the peace of the county of Kilkenny stated, that it included all those "taken up from the commencement of the registry." In like manner, the clerk of the peace of the county of Londonderry stated that the return contained "all the 50l. freeholders since the year 1796." Of the 50l. freeholders that stood on the registries in 1830, the number that voted was about one-third of the number that appeared entitled to vote. So much for the county constituency. He would next show the House, the present and probable constituency of the cities, towns, and boroughs. [The hon. Member read the table which we have inserted in the next page, of which the following is a synopsis, exhibiting the present state of the constituency, with that to be permanently preserved or acquired by the Reform Bill.]582
|PLACES.||Votes at present.||Votes to be permanently preserved or acquired.|
|7 Counties of Cities and Towns||12,011||10,890|
|7 Open Boroughs||4,127||2,738|
|9 Close Nomination Boroughs||121||2,629|
|8 other Nomination Boroughs||648||2,641|
|The only places getting any thing like an English constituency by the proposed Bill are—|
|1.—Counties of Cities and Towns, open Places.||The present Constituency.||Votes preserved or to be acquired by the Bill.||Votes reserved for Life.||Total.|
|3.—Close or Nomination Boroughs.|
|1. Armagh by the Primate||13||450||2||452|
|2. Bandon by the Duke of Devonshire and Earl of Bandon||13||240||—||240|
|3. Carlow by Earl Charleville||13||350||3||353|
|4. Dungannon by Lord Northland||12||161||2||163|
|5. Ennis by Sir E. O'Brien and Lord Vesey||15||250||—||250|
|6. Enniskillen by the Earl of||14||283||3||286|
|7. Portarlington by the Earl of||15||185||1||186|
|8. Sligo by Owen Wynne, Esq.||13||456||464|
|9. Tralee by Sir E. Denny||13||254||—||254|
|10. Belfast by Marquis of Donegal||13||2,300||1||2,301|
|4.—Nomination Boroughs by Usurpation.|
|1. Athlone by Lord Castlemaine and St. George family||90||220||8||238|
|2. Cashel by Colonel Pennefather||26||200||—||200|
|3. Clonmell by Colonel Bagwell||94||652||8||660|
|4. Coleraine by London Company||2||188||26||214|
|5. Dundalk by Earl Roden||32||600||606|
|6. Kinsale by Lord De Clifford||175||260||6||354|
|7. Lisburn by Lord Hertford||141||275||—||275|
|8. New Ross by the Marquis of Ely||38||246||8||254|
§ Bill would operate to reduce the present constituency to half its existing number. In no place, he believed, would it increase the constituency. How, then, could such a measure be satisfactory—how could it be permanent? Under these circumstances he called upon Ministers to reconsider the amount of the qualification which they 585 proposed for the voters of Ireland. He called upon them to consider of the expediency and the justice of reducing that qualification to 5l. A 5l. qualification in Ireland would not, in point of fact, be lower than the 10l. qualification in England. It would enfranchise an honest and independent class of men who would have too high a sense of the advantages of the right conferred upon them ever to exercise it improperly. In conclusion, the hon. Member implored the House to adopt the amendment of the hon. and learned member for Kerry. That the power of the hon. member for Kerry was great, no man could deny; but if the Government and the Legislature wished to take away that power, let them destroy abuses. Let that be done; let Ireland be well governed and fairly represented, and there would be an end of the extravagant and unprecedented power which the hon. member for Kerry now possessed.
Sir John Bourke
gave the Ministers full credit for a sincere desire to benefit Ireland; but still he did not think the Bill satisfactory as it at present stood. He was favourable to the extension of the county franchise to the 40s. freeholders in fee, but further he would not go. He thought that, in justice and fairness, Ireland was entitled to more than 105 Members, by whom she was to be represented after the passing of this Bill. If Ministers, however, were determined to persist in that particular number, he should then maintain, that they ought to be differently allotted; and in Committee he should move that the Representatives of the six smallest towns, and the additional Member which it was proposed to confer upon the University of Dublin, should be given to the seven largest counties. In four of the small boroughs it had been found almost impracticable to form a constituency. It was said, let the measure be complete and final. That was his wish, but for it to be so it must be just. The Irish were an acute and discerning people, and would soon detect the bad qualities of the Bill. He was not prepared to support the hon. and learned member for Kerry in all his amendments, but he should certainly support the motion for giving the franchise to 40s. freeholders in fee.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
deprecated the original disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders, and maintained that no measure of Reform could be permanent which did not extend the franchise to a similar class of persons. The people of Ireland demanded 586 nothing more than the people of this country had obtained—they would be satisfied with nothing less. He should join with his hon. friend, the member for Kerry, in taking the sense of the House upon the question.
§ Sir John Newport
could not understand upon what ground the 40s. freeholders in fee in Ireland were to be excluded from the elective franchise, while the 40s. freeholders in fee in England were allowed to exercise it. When the 40s. freeholders in Ireland were deprived of the franchise, it was on the ground that they were subject to improper dictation; but that objection could not be said longer to exist. There were other parts of the Bill to which he objected. The registration was bad. Why was not the plan pursued in Great Britain adopted? Then, why had the Irish freeholder to be subject to a greater fine than the English? Ireland was the poorer country, and, if there was any difference, that difference ought to be in favour of Ireland. If his memory served him rightly, the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), at the time of the discussion of the 40s. freeholders, objected to the retention of the 40s. freeholders in fee, on the ground that it might be considered as giving an unfair advantage to Protestants.
§ Lord Althorp
regretted greatly being obliged to differ from his right hon. friend who had sat down, but upon the present occasion he felt it to be his duty to support the Bill as it stood. Under the present law the 40s. freeholders in Ireland did not enjoy the franchise, and it was for those who supported the instruction of the hon. and learned member for Kerry to show that some great practical evils resulted from that being the fact. Throughout the question of Reform, the Government had aimed at the removal of practical grievances and abuses, and not at mere points of theory. He had been induced to accede to the abolition of the franchise of the 40s. freeholders of Ireland, in order to obtain the Emancipation Bill, which he had deemed a by far more essential measure, but he must still be allowed to observe that they were a very different class of persons from the 40s. freeholders of England. He could only assure the House that if the new mode of registering votes were found to work well in England, he should then be of opinion that it would be proper to apply the system to Ireland, but as the system already established in Ireland was found practically to answer all its purposes, he 587 must confess that he could not see that it was either necessary or prudent, at present, to alter it. He esteemed it safer to keep the system already in existence than to make a doubtful experiment.
§ Mr. Maurice O'Connell
must remind the noble Lord, that the present system had existed in Ireland only three years, and the Irish were now only asking what they had possessed as a right previous to that time, when what was termed the Algerine Act was imposed upon that country. He recollected when the Assistant Barrister of Clare had been sent, in 1829, in order to register the votes, and, having been employed as counsel he was personally aware of the gross injuctice inflicted in many cases under the system. Persons were thrown out of their franchise on a calculation of small fractions, and these were not "squatters," as they had been termed, but industrious men, who by their exertions had acquired their property. The objects of a poor man's ambition were taken away by the system in Ireland, and when the noble Lord said, that he would first try the new system in England, and then apply it to Ireland, he could only reply, that he wished that the Government had always tried their Irish measures in the first instance in this country.
§ Lord Althorp
explained. He had applied what he had said to the system of registration, and not to the right of voting.
§ Mr. Wyse
was in favour of the Amendment, and said, that to deprive the bona fide 40s. freeholders in fee of a franchise, was to do that which could not but promote a spirit of discontent. If his Majesty's Ministers were again to enfranchise the 40s. freeholders in Ireland, they would not only be doing an act of essential justice to the Irish, but they would be consulting the best interests of the people of England. He could never bring himself to agree with the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, that no persons ought to be enfranchised but those who were not in a situation to be acted upon by agitators. Whilst wrongs existed, he should despise the country that did not possess agitators. As long as the people of Ireland were deprived of their privileges, he trusted that they would be agitated. The Bill could be final only if it were passed in a manner satisfactory to the people, and the Ministers ought to look to the affections of the people as the best of all securities to the institutions of both kingdoms. He was persuaded that the Bill would leave behind another question to be 588 settled—another appeal from Ireland; for the Irish never would be satisfied until they obtained their full and equal privileges as a part of the united empire. Let the Irish have their equality in that House, or they would set up a House of Commons for themselves.
§ Mr. Hunt
was sorry to see, that the noble Lord was disposed to resist the wishes of the people of Ireland, though he must observe, that not one Irish Member had stood by him when he had supported the rights of the people of England; and yet they expected support in the present instance from the English Members. When he had opposed the English Reform Bill, he had been accused of throwing impediments in the way of Reform, and even of selling himself to the Tories, but now he found that the Irish Members were following his example, in opposing the Bill for Ireland. They now wanted for Ireland what he wanted for England, and he would now say to the Irish Members what they had said to him, "Pray take what you can get; take the key, and all the rest will follow." The House would find, that all the Tories would join the Whigs now that the object was to contract the franchise of the people of Ireland. He could not tell on what principle the 40s. franchise was withheld from Ireland and continued in England. The people of Ireland had been most shamefully robbed of their franchise by the English House of Commons; and now the noble Lord argued, that the 40s. franchise was not the law of Ireland. This appeared to him very much like knocking a man down, and then abusing him for not standing upright on his legs. The noble Lord's word had become a decree in that House, and he knew the Bill would pass as a matter of course, since its object was to contract the liberty of the people. He revered the rights of the people of Ireland; for when he was in Ireland he had been treated as a brother. With respect to the English Reform Bill he must say, that throughout the country, wherever he had been, he had not met with one single agriculturist who did not anticipate that there would ensue from the Bill a repeal of the malt duty and an abolition of tithes. Among the manufacturers the opinion was, that the Reform Bill ought to be denounced altogether if it did not lead to a repeal of the Corn-laws. One man expected to get tea at half price, and tobacco for nothing; servants expected new clothes from it, and to be made mistresses. It was to repeal 589 the malt duties, and knock off the assessed taxes. He knew that these were false and exaggerated expectations, but nevertheless, they were entertained. As he was always ready to promote the extension of the suffrage, he should cheerfully vote for the Motion.
§ Mr. James Grattan
said, that with respect to the observation of the hon. member for Preston, as to the conduct of the Irish Members towards that hon. Member, on the question of the Reform Bill, he begged to say, that there had been a certain degree of coquetry between the hon. Member and certain Gentlemen of avowedly opposite principles, which had induced the Irish Members, who did not quite understand what it meant, rather to attach themselves to those who had introduced the measure of Reform, and whose conduct they could comprehend, than to any hon. Member whose conduct they might think at least somewhat suspicious. With regard to this particular question he should certainly support the Motion of the hon. member for Kerry; because, under all circumstances, he had been opposed to depriving the 40s. freeholders in Ireland of their votes, and he must consistently adhere to that opinion. He took that opportunity of thanking the noble Lord for having stated that he should be willing, at another time, to listen to suggestions for the improvement of the registration system in Ireland.
had never been a party to the compromise on the subject of the disfranchisement, and he thought that in a Reformed House of Commons the same proceedings ought not to be adopted. The noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had given his assent to the disfranchisement with the greatest reluctance, and he could not now pretend to say, that the compact had been entered into with any understanding that no subsequent change was to be effected. He felt convinced that the constituencies of England and Ireland ought to be assimilated. The change, if it did nothing else, would assert an abstract principle which ought to be sustained. The present Lord Chancellor of England had voted against the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders of Ireland, and he would appeal to the House, whether Ministers had not now a fair and eligible opportunity to restore them. The constituency of England would be extremely numerous, compared to that of Ireland; and all he argued 590 for was approximation, seeing that he could not get identity. It had been said that the Irish Members had been consulted by Government in the construction of the Bill; but they had obtained nothing by it, for their suggestions had not been attended to. He would press Ministers to consider the whole case, with a view to the permanent interests of the country. The Bill would occasion everlasting complaints, and he wished it to be so framed that it might be final. He would say to the English Members, for God's sake yield to us in matters where no injury can occur, and where by yielding you go so great a way towards conciliating the people of Ireland.
Lord John Russell
said, as a reference had been made to what had passed during the discussion of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, when a compact was entered into to abolish the 40s. freeholders in Ireland, he wished to say, that he, though averse from the disfranchisement, voted for it, in order that the boon of emancipation, so long withheld, might at length be granted. Without the abolition of the 40s. freeholders, that measure would neither have met with the sanction of the Legislature nor the assent of the Crown. Knowing that he had given his assent to it, though with great reluctance, if it were now to do, he certainly would not consent to it, but, having been done it was not now fit to restore what had then been withdrawn. The question of close boroughs in Ireland stood upon entirely different grounds, as during the debates on the Relief Bill no engagement regarding them had been entered into, nor were they ever mentioned in the discussion. It was said, that the views of the Irish Members as to this Bill had been wholly disregarded, but the wishes and remonstrances of the Irish Members, before the Bill was framed, had been attended to; and he would particularly instance the point regarding leases. He regretted that the hon. and learned member for Kerry appeared to make a charge of a disposition on the part of his Majesty's Government to withhold from the people of Ireland the same boon which they were ready to grant to England. That hon. Member advised the House not to refuse concessions, by doing which they would irritate the public mind in Ireland. He (Lord John Russell), on his part, would advise the hon. Member, in common with others, not to raise the idea that every proposition in this measure was framed in enmity to Ireland.
declared, that he had often 591 regretted that he had voted for the 40s. disfranchisement bill; and the best atonement he thought, he could make was, to vote for the amendment of the member for Kerry.
§ The House divided on Mr. O'Connell's Motion:—Ayes 73; Noes 122—Majority 49.
§ Mr. O'Connell
then rose for the purpose of moving another Amendment, which, he said was of a similar character, and had for its object the restoration of those freeholders to their franchise whose freeholds were of the annual value of 4l. and upwards, the profit upon which was one-third of the rent, and the fine upon the fall of any of the lives not more than 2l. He stated that he had brought forward his propositions in the present stage, in order that he might register on the Journals that the rights of Irishmen had been claimed and refused. He must complain that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), instead of giving Ireland any real and substantial benefit, had dealt only in soft smooth words, which would by no means satisfy 7,500,000 people. While the noble Lord gave a liberal franchise to England, he gave only honeyed sentences to Ireland—he was a Reformer in England, and a continuator of abuses in Ireland. The English Catholics, too, were to be found voting against the people of Ireland on this occasion, forgetting who it was that had emancipated them, when they were afraid even of their own shadows, when they would have been glad to accept even the office of Justice of the Peace. When he saw the English Catholics going out of the House, in company with the Orange member for Sligo (Colonel Perceval), for whom as a private gentleman, he had the greatest respect, he could not help wishing to see them unemancipated again, for their gross ingratitude to those who had restored them to their liberties. The English Conservatives and Irish Orangemen were, on this occasion, supported also by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who, in 1829, reprobated the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders, and voted against that measure. If he (Mr. O'Connell) could remember the language in which the noble Lord formerly defended those freeholders, he should be able to make for them a better defence than he could make by any effort of his own composition. As a reason for refusing to restore the franchise to these freeholders, it had been asserted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite 592 that they had "squatted" on the Commons and that they held their tenures by right of conquest. But he would tell those right hon. Gentlemen, that men of more foresight than was possessed by the framers of the Reform Bill, had three times purposely driven the Irish people to ineffectual rebellion, by measures which, considering the spirit of the age, were not more irritating than the measures of the right hon. Gentleman. By such means the soil of Ireland had been three times conquered, and he believed that the family of the right hon. Gentleman had been made nothing the poorer by the process. It seemed, therefore, to be no very weighty argument against the rights of the 40s. freeholders that they had "squatted" upon the commons. However, the amendment which he had now to propose was not liable to such an objection, as the persons to whom it would give the franchise were not squatters or invaders, but they held their lands by compact with the proprietors. Neither could it be argued that to enfranchise them would be to extend the constituency too widely; and yet, if that were so, he should not admit that the argument, in this case, would be of any weight, because he thought that it was a wise policy to encourage the people as much as possible to acquire property of the kind to which his Amendment referred. He concluded by moving, "That it be an instruction to the Committee to insert a clause restoring the franchise to persons holding freeholds of the yearly value of 40s., provided that such freeholds be not liable to a greater fine than 40s. or to an annual rent exceeding 4l. sterling."
Lord John Russell
, in reply to the allusion which had been made to him by the hon. and learned member for Kerry, would only say, that, in the course which he had taken on the occasion of the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders, he had been influenced by the conduct of the majority of the Irish Members who were at that time in Parliament, and amongst whom were Gentlemen as well acquainted with and as much attached to, the interests of Ireland as the hon. and learned Gentleman could possibly be. In that case, and in his conduct respecting the emancipation of the Catholics, he had acted in the way in which he thought that he could best promote the interests of Ireland, and so he had always acted, and always would act, upon every question relating to that country, whatever might be the opinions of the hon. and learned member for Kerry.
Mr. Philip Howard
had voted with his hon. friend the member for Kerry, upon his previous Motion, because he thought it most desirable to assimilate, as much as possible, the institutions of Ireland to those of Great Britain; and the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to him calculated to remove every shadow of a pretext for the measure which that Gentleman himself (Mr. O'Connell) had for some time past been calling for, and which to him (Mr. Howard) seemed to be most detrimental to the interest of the two countries, to which the statesman should address the words of the poet—Connubio jungam stabili propriamque dicabo.The precision of the test of qualification for ascertaining a 40s. freehold in fee, obviated the many valid objections which were recorded in the evidence taken before the House in 1825, against that species of fictitious freehold which had led to many abuses. He was certainly most anxious to repudiate the idea that those who, like himself, had in England participated in the benefits of the measure of 1829, were confederated with the opponents of Reform to crush the rising spirit of freedom which animated the people of Ireland.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the motives which had induced him to oppose the previous Motion of the hon. and learned member for Kerry, must compel him to vote also against the present Motion; and he did not think that anything which had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman made it necessary for him (Lord Althorp) to occupy the time of the House further.
did not think that the reasons which his Majesty's Ministers had given for their opposition to Mr. O'Connell's previous Motion, were such as could be satisfactory to their own minds, and he was sure that they would not be satisfactory to the people of Ireland. If he thought that the success of the present Amendment would lead to the success of the other in the Committee, he would certainly support it; because he thought that it would give the greatest satisfaction to the people both of England and Ireland; and he therefore hoped that Ministers would be yet induced to reconsider that Motion. But as the adoption of the present amendment would not lead to the adoption of the previous one, he would oppose it; because, if successful, and carried into operation by itself, it would lead to the manufacture of votes, and throw the Representation into the hands of the great landowners.
§ Mr. Ruthven
regretted the determination to which the House came upon the former Motion of the hon. and learned member for Kerry. To have acceded to it would have insured to them the gratitude of the people of Ireland, which they would have acquired at no cost to themselves. But it was impossible that the Reform Bill, without such an amendment, could be a final measure. The Bill would give so little satisfaction, that the Ministers and the House could expect no gratitude for it from the people of Ireland.
Lord George Bentinck
said, that it was his intention to support his Majesty's Ministers upon this occasion, although, in 1829, he had voted against the disfranchisement of the 40s. Irish freeholders. At that time it was a question whether the House should destroy a franchise which had been in the possession of the people for several centuries; at present it was a question whether the House should create a new franchise. Now, in England they had not created a new franchise so low as 40s., and it was not arguing consecutively to say, that because the House had left the old 40s. franchise to the English freeholder, it was therefore bound to give a new 40s. franchise to the Irish freeholder. He would take that opportunity of asking the hon. and learned member for Kerry, who now maintained the rights of the 40s. freeholders with so much pertinacity, whether he had not, in the year 1829, at a meeting of Irish Members, held at Sir Francis Burdett's, agreed to surrender the rights of these very freeholders? [Mr. O'Connell: No.] He was bound to consider the contradiction of the hon. and learned Gentleman correct, but he certainly had understood that the hon. and learned Gentleman had done so.
§ Mr. O'Connell
begged leave to set the noble Lord right as to a question of fact. At the time to which the noble Lord referred, he (Mr. O'Connell) had strenuously opposed the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders. There was a meeting of the Members friendly to Catholic Emancipation, at the house of Sir Francis Burdett, for the purpose of considering the expediency of supporting the disfranchisement bill, and two gentlemen were sent to that meeting by the deputation from the Catholic Association, to protest against the acceptance of emancipation upon the condition that the 40s. freeholders should be disfranchised.
Lord George Bentinck
might be wrong as 595 to the opinions entertained by the hon. and learned Gentleman on this subject in 1829, but of this he was certain, that in the year 1825, Mr. O'Connell, before the Committee appointed to inquire into the state of Ireland, agreed to give up the rights of the 40s. freeholders. He had at that time opposed their disfranchisement, because he considered it depriving the people of a right which they had long possessed. The hon. and learned Gentleman had accused the English Catholics of ingratitude towards the 40s. freeholders of Ireland, because they refused to support his present Motion. Now this charge of ingratitude came with a singularly ill grace from a man, who, though he had been returned to Parliament by their exertions, had, in the year 1825, agreed to disfranchise them one and all. The noble Lord concluded with a recapitulation of the reasons, which, as he had before stated, satisfied him of the propriety of now supporting his Majesty's Ministers.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, the noble Lord had tolerably well proved his consistency, by voting at one time one way, and at another time in an opposite way, upon the same question. If the noble Lord had heard him (Mr. O'Connell), when he, that evening, explained his views upon the present question, he would know that he (Mr. O'Connell) had not been inconsistent. The franchise which he was willing to give up in 1825, was a franchise derived from terminable freeholds, held for one, two, or three lives, and at rack rent. He then, as now, proposed to preserve the 40s. freeholds in fee, and in perpetuity.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, that if the noble Lord had read the Papers laid upon the Table, in connexion with the Irish Reform Bill, he would have found, that the amendment of the hon. and learned member for Kerry would not create a new class of voters, as there were no less than 4,711 of the present constituency 40s. freeholders in the towns. Yet, with this fact staring him in the face, the noble Lord came forward to say, that the question here was, whether we should create a new franchise. But here was a fragment of an old right in existence, and that fragment he was desirous of upholding. But when he saw the noble Lord opposing the English Reform Bill, he could not expect that he should support a measure of equal justice for Ireland.
Lord George Bentinck
, in reply, observed that the disfranchisement which he op- 596 posed in 1829, was the disfranchisement of 40s. freeholders in counties only—not their disfranchisement as 40s. freeholders in counties of cities
said, that the noble Lord's argument was applied only to the freeholders in the counties, as they alone were disfranchised in 1829. The effect of the hon. and learned Gentleman's (Mr. O'Connell's) Motion, if carried into effect, would be, to cause a subdivision of holdings which now gave an independent constituency, into a number of freeholds which would give a most dependent class of voters.
§ Mr. O'Connell
maintained, that the minute subdivision of votes, of Which the right hon. Secretary complained, now existed in England, and yet it had not been urged as a reason for disfranchising the 40s. freeholders of England.
§ Viscount Palmerston
wished merely to defend himself against the charge of inconsistency. In 1829 he opposed the disfranchisement of an existing body of electors; whereas, what he now opposed was, the creation of a new constituency.
§ Amendment negatived without a division.
§ Question put "that the Speaker do leave the Chair."
Sir Robert Heron
said, that the principle of the Irish Bill was not disfranchisement, but enfranchisement. Five additional Members were, it appeared, to be given to Ireland. Regarding the allocation of four out of these five Members, there was no dispute; but with regard to the fifth, which gave a second Member to the University of Dublin, great diversity of opinion existed. He therefore intended to move, that it be an instruction to the Committee, to provide that the University of Dublin continue to return one Member only. If he succeeded in that motion he should then propose another, to the effect, that the city of Kilkenny return two Members to future Parliaments. Though he was willing to eulogize the system of education pursued in the English Universities, yet he must observe, that learning and erudition were not the best recommendations for a candidate for the Representation of our Universities, nor were the University Members, save one or two brilliant exceptions, remarkable for either the splendor of their eloquence or the profundity of their scholarship. He would, therefore, consider first, what claim the University of Dublin had to a second Member, compared with the other Universities of the kingdom; and, next, what claim it had when con- 597 trasted with other places in Ireland. Now as to the first point—the University of Dublin consisted of a single college; it had now a constituency of seventy-two members, and under the new Bill, that constituency would be raised to a number not much exceeding 200. But the University of Cambridge had 2,200, and the University of Oxford had 2,500 voters. He should be glad to know on what ground of learning, morality, or virtue, the University of Dublin could claim the right of having a Representation ten times as great as the Representation of the two English Universities? Again, if they went further north, they would find four Scotch Universities without any Representatives. Why, then, if literature were to be represented, was the additional Member to be given to the University of Dublin, which had one Member already, and not to one of the Scotch Universities, all of which were without one? Considering this question, then, with reference to the other Universities, he thought that the University of Dublin had no claim to this additional Member. Looking at the question, however, as a purely Irish question, he would request the House to reflect, that they had on the one side a constituency of 200 persons, who were to return two Members, and, on the other, the county of Cork, with a population of 800,000 persons, and a territory containing one-seventh of the whole soil of Ireland, which was to return only the same number; they had also the city of Kilkenny, with a population of 20,000 persons, and its suburb of St. Canice, with a population of 10,000 more, which was only to return a single Member; was that right, or just, or politic? But it had been said, that if the right of returning a Member to Parliament were given to either of these constituencies, a Catholic Member would be returned, and, that Catholic influence in that House would be greatly increased. Now, he was not inclined to yield belief to that argument; but, if the House were really afraid of the increase of Catholic influence, let them take this right from the University and give it to the city of Dublin—let them give it to Londonderry, or any other, the most Protestant place in the north of Ireland. To such a transfer he for one would not object. He would not, however, enter into that subject at present, but would content himself with moving, that it be an instruction to the Committee to provide that the University of Dublin continue to 598 return but one Representative to Parliament.
§ Mr. Robert Ferguson
objected to this plan for allowing the University of Dublin to return two Members, on account of the electors for that University being, for the most part, clergymen. They had recently had a very striking instance at Oxford of the revengeful manner in which the clergy could exercise their electoral privileges. There they had rejected an old Representative, who was at once a scholar, an orator, and a statesman, because he had had the good sense to abandon their obsolete and antiquated prejudices.
§ Mr. Crampton
observed, that the question being between the University of Dublin and the city of Kilkenny, he should say nothing of the superior claims put forth for the English and Scotch Universities. He should confine himself entirely to the claim of the Irish University to a second Member. As the present question was merely a question of comparison, he would commence by correcting the errors of fact into which the hon. Baronet had been unintentionally betrayed. The present electors of the University of Dublin were not seventy-two, but ninety-six, and the electors under the new Bill would be, not 200, but 600; and in that number would be comprised men the most eminent for their attainments in law, physic, science, and divinity. The electors of the University of Dublin had at all times shown themselves a most independent body. They had returned Mr. (now Lord) Plunkett to Parliament, against the influence of the Government of that day, and on other occasions their choice had been equally independent. He would admit, that if any town were to receive a Member at the expense of the University of Dublin, the city of Kilkenny had as fair a claim as any; but he denied that the claims of that, or any other town, to an additional Member could be put in competition with those of that University. The hon. Member who last addressed the House, had grounded one objection to an additional Member for the University, on the conduct of the University of Oxford to the right hon. Baronet (Sir. R. Peel). He (Mr. Crampton) admitted that no man had higher claims on that body than the right hon. Baronet, but, though he could not concur in the grounds on which the right hon. Baronet had been rejected, he must still take it as a proof of the independence of that learned body. In considering the question before 599 them, the House should look to what had been the object of founding and supporting the University of Dublin. It was intended to support the Protestant interest in Ireland. Now it was said, that the present Bill gave too much to the Irish Catholics. He did not say so. He wished to see less distinction between the two parties, but as long as there were two religions in Ireland, it would not he presumed, he contended, that the political influence of both should not be fairly balanced. It would, however, be unfair to say, that the University of Dublin was exclusively Protestant. It was open to Catholics as well as to Protestants.
said, it is strange, that the Solicitor General for Ireland did not attempt to answer the argument drawn from the Scotch Universities. To Scotland eight additional Members are to be given; to Ireland five. Of the eight additional Members for Scotland, not one is awarded to her four unrepresented Universities; while it is proposed to allocate one-fifth of the new Representation of Ireland to her University, which is already represented. There are 2,000 students on the books of the University of Edinburgh; there are but 1,500 on those of Dublin College. The first is without a Member; is the second to have two? Do the interests of literature or of the country (for the question divides itself into these considerations) require that Dublin College should transmit to this House a second edition, or rather duplicate, of the learned Gentleman, by whom the feelings of his constituents are represented with so indisputable a fidelity—who compensates by his zeal for the singleness of his delegation, and of whom, in reference to the multiplicty of his accomplishments, it may be justly said, he is himself a host? The constituency of Dublin College is reduceable to three classes—the Fellows, the Scholars, and the Ex-scholars. Let us examine what benefit to science can be obtained by enabling any one of them to return two Members to Parliament. The Fellows are twenty-five; there are seven senior, and eighteen junior; the former have no pupils—their single duty is, to receive about 3,000l. a-year from the funds of the College; but it is to be presumed (although the University press does not corroborate the suggestion), that in return they are engaged in accumulating large masses of erudition, in enriching themselves with literary treasure, in opening new veins of intellectual wealth, in 600 their moral, mental, and physical investigation. Their fortunate repose, so auspicious to the noble and disinterested pursuits, ought not to be distracted by a multifarious canvass and it is not desirable that they should be molested by two Members of Parliament whispering bishopricks in their ears. The minor Fellows earn their livelihood by their pupils, and some of them earn their pupils by their politics. They do not excel in the Professor's chair more than in the rostrum of conservative agitation: they have thus obtained a spurious ascendancy—their influence is as great as it is illegitimate—they command the return at elections—they are as renowned for their creation of a Member of Parliament as they are for the formation of Bachelor of Arts. One is, however, at a loss to see how the cause of literature, and those pursuits to which a University ought to be extensively devoted, will be promoted by widening the field of their ambition, by opening a larger career for their political influence, and enabling them to inflict a brace of delegates on this House. We come to the Scholars; among the Scholars there are, no doubt, several high-minded and independent gentlemen: but many are in such narrow circumstances as to be led into temptation. But it may be said, that the imperfection of this constituency will be remedied by allowing the Ex-scholars to vote. We have seen the school of political morality in which they have been nurtured. But who, and where are they? They are scattered over the world. How many of them will be assembled for an election? And who will pretend that any literary advantage will accrue from the septennial, or, if you will, the triennial, gathering of these literary estrays in Trinity College? But look at the political question. To give, as a part of Reform, an additional Member to a constituency of 150 persons (for there will be no more), is repugnant to the principles on which Reform itself is founded. Dublin College has now but ninety-five voters; the addition of Ex-scholars, making allowance for deaths and necessary absence, cannot amount to fifty, for the Irish Solicitor General is in this particular quite inconrect. You have determined that in England every borough, even the boroughs in schedule B, shall comprise 300 voters; and you are prepared to give two Members to the worst of all constituencies, containing a number less than that of the meanest parliamentary hamlet in the empire. This objection is fatal, but there is one still 601 stronger; Roman Catholics are excluded from fellowships and scholarships. Is it not an offence to the feelings, and an injury to the rights of the Irish people, that you should, out of five Members, give one to an exclusive and sacerdotal corporation? Must one of the five—the miserable five, which you affect to give to Ireland—be thus prodigally and almost profligately thrown away? If you were to award us our due proportion, then the waste of one would be more excusable; but where your donation is so small (so small in comparison with our rights, and with your own dignity and honour)—where you have so little to give, give that little well—give it to the people, and do not degrade the entire endowment, by throwing part of it away upon a community of acrimonious religionists, with whom the people cannot sympathise, and who cannot sympathise with the people—who are characterized by monastic narrowness and the pride of priestcraft, and in whom all the virulence of faction, the virulence of domination, and the sacred rancours of polemics are combined. Whigs! why do you do this? What motive, what reason, what pretence can there be for this? Is it because Ireland has deserved so ill, and Dublin College has deserved so well, at your hands, that you are determined on offering a palpable affront to the one, by conferring this baneful favour on the other? One word more, and I have done. The Secretary for Ireland has not unfrequently vaunted of the division of the Irish Members, and in support of his measures (on tithes, for instance), he has appealed to the majority of Irishmen on his side. This test is not an unfair one; but let it not be monopolised, nor reserved for the hon. Gentleman's exclusive use. How do the Irish Members feel—how will they act on this Motion? Is there a man amongst them, who has ever voted for Reform, who will not strenuously remonstrate against this most unfortunate alteration? If I am wrong, pursue your course—adhere to your Cabinet decision; but if I am right (and am I not right?)—if to a man the Irish Members, who habitually support the Government, exclaim against this proceeding in the language of surprise, pain, resentment—then let me implore you, in a question exclusively ours, in which our feelings, our rights, our interests, are alone involved, to make Ireland some return for incalculable services and countless obligations, by yielding where there is every motive to yield to her entreaties, and to aban- 602 don the miserable policy of sacrificing your best friends to your worst antagonists, and to be true to us, in order that you may not be traitors to yourselves.
§ Mr. Lefroy
said, if it were necessary for him to deal in tropes and figures, and in flights of rhetoric and fancy, he should, as member for the University of Dublin, be quite inadequate to the discharge of his duties, and unfit to come forward in support of its claims to additional Representation. He trusted, however, that he should be able to satisfy the House that these claims were well-founded. It was said, that some members of the college were devoted to conservative agitation. He was at a loss to know to what the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Sheil) owed his seat in that House unless to agitation. He begged to remind the House, that the College of Dublin was maintained and endowed for the propagation of the Protestant religion. By charter, only Protestants could become Fellows or Scholars, but Degrees were conferred on Roman Catholics. There was, therefore, no ground to charge it with a want of liberality. He trusted that English Members were not yet sufficiently weaned from the Protestant religion to forget the sovereign by whom this University had been founded, and the object of that foundation. The constituency under this Bill would not be of the restricted and exclusive nature which was represented. There would be at least 700 Graduates, who, by the regulation proposed to be adopted, would participate in the franchise, among which number were several Bishops, four Judges, then on the Bench, and other distinguished persons. If, however, to the Ex-scholars, Masters of Arts were added, at the very least 1,300 or 1,400 voters would be added. And he did not see why it should not be so; for by selecting the Ex-scholars there would be something like a premium for assiduity and talent, while the addition of Masters of Arts would join to the constituency a vast number of individuals, who, although possessed of first-rate talents and abilities, had either failed in obtaining, or perhaps had not sought after the honour of scholarship. As to the proposition for extending the franchise to the Graduates at large, he would only observe, that its effect would be to create a constituency much more extended than that of any town in Ireland, on which the second Member of which the University was proposed to be deprived could be bestowed. Having said so much in refer- 603 ence to the nature of the constituency which was about to be formed, he begged particularly to call the attention of the House to the injustice which would be committed in refusing to accede to the proposition of Government in regard to the Member which they proposed bestowing on Trinity College. The original ground on which Members to the University of Dublin were allotted, as it was laid down in the charter of King James, was in reference to the general good of the Church, and with a view to the protection of the rights of that body. At the time that the University was enfranchised, also with a view to the protection of the Church interests, the borough of Armagh, to which the Primate of Ireland had always hitherto exercised the right of returning Members to Parliament, obtained Representation. In this manner the Church was enabled to assert its just claim to consideration in the deliberations of the Commons' House of Parliament. At the time of the Union one Member was taken from both the University and the borough of Armagh, thus depriving the Church of Ireland of two protectors. It was now proposed to open the borough of Armagh; consequently taking the presentation out of the hands of the Primate, and rendering it no longer a borough, the Representative of which would enter the House of Commons charged with the interests and rights of the Church Establishment. When, therefore, it was considered that the second Representative of the rights of the Church was about to be withdrawn from Armagh, he thought it was but fair and equitable that it should be transferred to the University of Dublin. Again, there was another reason in favour of the claim of Trinity College. It was to be recollected that twenty-five of the Irish boroughs, seventeen of which, under the existing system were close boroughs, were to be opened by the Bill; or, in other words, they were to be taken out of the hands of the agricultural and landed proprietors of the country, and placed in the power of the petty shopkeeper who rented a 10l. house. Such being the case, he thought it was but fair to give a Representative to the University, which, beyond all possibility of contradiction, contained, among its members, more of the property, intelligence, and respectability of the country than the aggregate of the boroughs as they would be constituted under the Reform Bill. A charge of bigotry had been made against the members 604 of Trinity College, to which he felt anxious to reply. He denied, in the most emphatic terms that was consistent with parliamentary usage, the correctness of such a charge. There was no bigotry in the University of Dublin, unless, indeed, it were bigotry in a man to adhere consistently to the principles in which he was brought up, and to which, on reflection, aided by a matured judgment, he was conscientiously attached. On behalf of the body in general he, although an humble individual, repudiated the charge, and threw it back on its originator as utterly unfounded. He did not wish to detain the House at such a late hour, but the situation in which he stood towards the University rendered it incumbent on him to rise in his place, and undeceive the House in regard to what he could not but term the most unfounded and illiberal assertions he had ever heard uttered. He should, indeed, prove an unworthy Representative, and verify the allegations of an hon. Member that he was so, if he did not stand up in his place in defence of the character, the interests, and the just rights of the body who had done him the honour of sending him to that House. The hon. member for Louth stated, that the University was composed, for the most part, of individuals who had entered the world in a spirit of literary adventure. He did not know whether English Members would be disposed to consider it any stigma in an individual to have entered the world in such a spirit, but he knew that there never, in any country, or under any circumstances, breathed a more pure, generous, or noble spirit than that of which the hon. and learned Member thought proper to speak so lightly. There were several other topics to which he felt desirous of alluding, but as the hour was late, and the House extremely impatient, he would content himself with the few observations with which he had troubled them. He would sit down, expressing an earnest hope that nothing which had been heard in opposition to the proposal of Government for giving two Members to the University of Dublin, might operate on the decision of the House, and induce hon. Members at the present moment, when open and undisguised attacks were levelled at the Protestant Church, the interests of which, it was much to be feared, would be perilled by the Bill, to forsake that body, which every well-wisher of the Constitution of the country, and every supporter of those sacred laws which had been handed down as the guide of our moral conduct, should ever struggle to maintain.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, that as he had not an electioneering speech to make, he should not find it necessary to trouble the House at any length. In the first place he begged to say, he could not give the University of Dublin much credit for that spirit of liberality of which the hon. Member (Mr. Lefroy), in its behalf, so proudly boasted. The manner in which that spirit of liberality was proved to exist in the body was rather strange. The hon. Member (Mr. Lefroy) expatiated at some length on the condescension of the College, in permitting Roman Catholics to take a Degree, but in the same breath told the House, that that Degree to which they were so admitted, was universally known to be worth nothing. And so it was. With respect to the question which the House was at that moment engaged in discussing, he had only to say, that he sincerely hoped Ministers would support the granting of the second Representative to the College, for, unless they did so, they would not preserve their consistency, a commodity of which, if not in practice, at least in theory, he was a great lover. He was particularly anxious that the right hon. Secretary for Ireland should vote in favour of the second Member, and all to preserve his consistency. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman had, in his Tithe Bill, trampled in the most barefaced manner on the principles of the Catholic Relief Bill, and he hoped the right hon. Secretary would prosper in the line which he had drawn out, and in every possible degree increase the Representation of a perfectly and notoriously exclusive body. For his own part, his consistency was of such a nature, that if a proposal was made to give the Member proposed to be bestowed on Trinity College to Maynooth College, he would oppose it, for two reasons; first, because it would be in opposition to the principles of the Relief Bill; and secondly, because he was at all times adverse to giving a Member to a narrow literary body. In the annals of profligacy and corruption, greater profligacy and corruption could not be found than took place at the contested elections for the University, as was proved before the Irish House of Commons. He would also oppose a proposition to the effect, that the franchise in the University should be intrusted to the Graduates, for a constituency formed of that class would be the most extensive of any in Ireland, and, from the character and nature of the occupation of the individuals of which it was generally composed, would entail at every election enormous expense on the candidates. In 606 sober sadness he asked, what was the meaning, what the object, what the contemplated result, of that mockery and delusion of a Reform Bill, which, while it gave but an increase of five Members altogether, bestowed one on an exclusively Protestant body, with a constituency of about 150 individuals, while the remaining four were to be distributed among large and important towns, with 8,000,000 of constituency?
said, he could give the hon. and learned Gentleman an assurance which would, no doubt, afford him pleasure, namely, that his Majesty's Government would act with consistency on the present occasion, and intended to persevere in that which, when they brought in the Bill, they felt to be claimed by justice from them. He congratulated the hon. and learned Gentleman on the skill with which he verified his own prophecies, declaring that the Bill would be supported by the Tories, and then insuring to it that support, by proposing something which must be viewed as infinitely more dangerous than its provisions. He trusted that there would always be found, at either side of the House, reasonable persons to resist the dangerous extent to which the hon. and learned Gentleman would carry his measures. He did not hesitate to avow, that in considering this measure, his Majesty's Government had regard to the University of Dublin being a Protestant community. He should be sorry to see the Protestant Establishment without its just weight, and should always desire to see Cambridge and Oxford adequately represented, not only because they were literary, but also because they were Protestant Institutions. He wished that there were no distinctions between religious sects in Ireland; but his Majesty's Government were bound to look at things as they found them, and it could not he disguised,that a considerable addition was given by this Bill to Catholic influence. They did not feel, therefore, that they were doing any thing unreasonable in throwing into the scale of Protestant influence one additional Member. With regard to the degree to which the franchise ought to be extended, there had hitherto, and there did then exist, among several individuals well informed upon the subject, a great difference of opinion, and, as it then stood, he begged to say, that it was a question upon which Government did not feel themselves bound to adhere to the arrangement which they had originally proposed. Whether the better course would be, to give the franchise solely to the Ex- 607 scholars, or to unite them with the Masters of Arts, still remained open for discussion. It was to form the subject of a motion of his hon. friend, the member for Mallow, and he, therefore, regretted that the subject had been brought forward now as an instruction, instead of coming on in the regular course in the Committtee, when it could receive full consideration. He should support the proposition of an additional Member to the University, but should leave it to the House to decide whether they should give the constituency to the Ex-scholars alone, or should add the Masters of Arts. He thought he might, however, as well say, that as far as regarded the respectability and talent of the voters, and the vindication of the rights of the University and the Church, with which that body was closely identified and connected, one description of franchise would operate quite as well as the other.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
objected to giving an additional Member to the University, as tending to keep up that exclusive spirit which had already been so productive of evil. He affirmed that the whole of this arrangement was the result of a plot, and that the Duke of Cumberland was at the bottom of the plot. He would say that fearlessly, and whatever hon. Gentlemen might think of it. The Duke of Cumberland was Chancellor of the University, and that gave him great influence.
§ Lord Althorp
did not think that Government could fairly be accused of keeping up the exclusive system in Ireland, by conceding an additional Representative to the University of Dublin. He would fairly and candidly confess, that he thought that a Member should be given to the University, on the ground that it was an exclusively Protestant body, because, although it might be very well not to have an exclusively Protestant Representation for Ireland, it would be the height of injustice not to guard against the preponderance of an interest at variance with that of the Established Church. He hoped that hon. Members would give their support to Government in the event of a division, for he thought it very essential to the success of the Bill, that no alteration should be made in it which might have a tendency to injure the establishments of the country.
Mr. Yates Peel
was glad to find that it was the intention of Government to persevere in their proposal to increase the Representation of the University of Dublin, as he thought that, without such increase, the Irish Church Establishment, and the interests of the Pro- 608 testant religion in Ireland, would not be consulted.
§ Mr. Croker
thought it extremely unfair to accuse the right hon. Secretary of introducing a distinction between Protestant and Catholic, for the distinction had been first, in the broadest manner, drawn by the hon. member for Louth. He had stood three contested elections for the University of Dublin, and, from experience, could assure the hon. member for Meath, that the Duke of Cumberland, although its Chancellor, interfered in no degree whatever in its internal politics:
§ The House divided on the Amendment:—Ayes 97; Noes 147—Majority 50.
§ The House went into Committee pro forma—resumed, and Committee to sit again.