HC Deb 15 March 1832 vol 11 cc251-85
Mr. Hunt

said, he had to present Petitions from Paisley, Huddersfield, Halifax, Hull, and other places, praying for an inquiry into the circumstances connected with the massacre of persons peaceably assembled at Manchester to petition Parliament, in August 1819. These petitions were connected with the question of which he had given notice, and was now about to submit to the House, and he trusted to receive the attention of Members to the facts and statements which he proposed to bring under their consideration. Certainly the grossest misrepresentations had been made in Parliament respecting the occurrences at Manchester, in 1819; and he felt that it was a matter deeply to be regretted, that there was not in the House of Commons, at the time, some person who had witnessed the transaction, and who could then have put the House in possession of the real facts. There was a hope, however, that the present Government would grant the inquiry for which he was about to apply, in conformity with the prayer of the petitions which he had just pre- sented, and with the desire of his constituents. Should an inquiry be granted, he pledged himself to substantiate the allegations they contained. He lamented that, in this matter, he should feel it necessary to trouble the House with much that related personally to himself. It must be recollected, that in the years 1817, 1818, and 1819, much distress prevailed, that riots had taken place, and a good deal of machinery had been destroyed, by persons calling themselves Luddites. In the metropolis, there was considerable excitement, and meetings took place, at one of which, held in Spa-fields, he had presided. It was there submitted to the people, that the best means of obtaining relief was, to petition for a Reform in the Commons House of Parliament. A petition to that effect was accordingly drawn up, and an address was also agreed upon, to be presented to the Prince Regent, representing to him the distress which prevailed in Spital-fields. No political result was the consequence of the petition, but the Regent transmitted 4,000l. in aid of the funds collected for the relief of the silk weavers. Other meetings were afterwards held in various parts of the country, and Resolutions were passed, declaring that a radical Reform of Parliament was necessary, and that the Corn-laws ought to be repealed. One of these meetings held at Birmingham, had elected Sir Charles Wolseley Legislatorial Attorney, and had directed him to come down to that House and claim his seat on their behalf. On account of this meeting, Sir Charles Wolseley was prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned; all these occurrences took place previous to the meeting advertised to be held at Manchester on the 9th of August, 1819. The advertisement by which the meeting was summoned stated, that its objects were to petition for a Reform of Parliament, and to elect a Legislatorial Attorney. He (Mr. Hunt) was invited to attend, and accepted the invitation, but with the proviso, that he would take no part in electing a Legislatorial Attorney. As soon, however, as the advertisement became public, the Magistrates of Manchester issued hand-bills warning the people not to attend the meeting, for that its objects were illegal. That meeting in consequence fell to the ground; a requisition was then drawn up, calling upon the authorities to convene a meeting to consider the propriety of petitioning for a Reform of Parliament and the repeal of the Corn Laws, which they declined to do, and the requisitionists therefore determined to call one themselves. Out of this meeting grew the consequences which it was the object of his Motion to have investigated. In compliance with his former promise, he was induced to agree to attend this meeting, although with great reluctance on his part, as he apprehended that some pretence would be sought for on the part of the Magistrates to create disturbances, and in this he was correct, for the delay of a week which intervened between the two meetings, allowed spies to be sent through the country, by whose agency the people's passions were excited. He had received some intimation of the proceedings of those persons employed as spies, the most notorious of whom was well-known by the name of Oliver, and he determined, in consequence, to be very wary and prudent in all he said and did, that no imputations should lie against him, particularly as he had heard that those spies were recommending the people to go armed to the meeting. In pursuance of the line of conduct he bad chalked out for himself, he addressed a public letter to the people, cautioning them to give no ground for complaint on that head, particularly as the meeting was expected to be a large one, but to take every opportunity of showing they had no unlawful intentions. This letter, he was happy to say, had the desired effect; but, a day or two before the meeting, he had received information that it was the intention of the Magistrates to arrest the chairman of the meeting. As he was the person named for that office, he immediately, on receiving this intelligence, proceeded to the meeting of Magistrates, and offered to give himself up if there was charge against him, but he was assured there was none, nor was there any intention to interfere with the meeting. He had detailed, then, circumstances to show the exact manner in which the meeting was assembled on the 16th of August, in St. Petersfield, an area of about five acres. The meeting was undoubtedly a large one, probably there were upwards of 100,000 persons collected, all of whom he could affirm were peaceably disposed. It was a fine sight—there were many flags and banners, and a great many females were present—the people were allowed to assemble without interruption, no warning was given that they were about to act illegally; the proceedings, however, haul but just commenced, when, without the least previous notice, the Manchester Yeo- manry were let loose upon the assembled multitude; with sabres newly-sharpened for the occasion, they galloped over the people, cutting down all within their reach. No resistance was offered or intended. They made their way to the hustings, where their Captain, Mr. Birley, claimed him (Mr. Hunt) as his prisoner. He objected to being arrested by a military officer, when the Constable of Manchester came forward, to whom he immediately yielded, still the Yeomanry continued their execution upon the unresisting people, hundreds of whom were wounded, thrown down, trampled upon, or otherwise injured. The groans of the wounded, the horrid shrieks of the women, and the despair of the maddened wretches thus ferociously assaulted, formed the most dreadful scene that could be imagined. He did understand, however, that, when the people found they could not escape, they resisted, in some few instances, by throwing stones. To give the House one instance of the conduct of the Yeomanry, he must state, that a portion of the crowd, consisting of about thirty or forty persons, men, women, and children, having fled for refuge into a court, from which there was but one egress, two Yeomen stationed themselves at that point, and compelled the poor people to come out, the one holding in his hand a pistol, with which he threatened to blow their brains out if they did not obey, and the other with his drawn sword, cutting at every one of them as they passed out. There were fourteen persons killed on that day, and 424 wounded, of whom 108 were females. It was true, that it might be said, that some of these did not suffer from the sabres of the Yeomanry, but a very large proportion, he would take on himself to say, were wounded in that manner; and, at all events, it was quite certain that no accident whatever would have occurred, but for the outrageous attack that had been made on the peaceable multitude. In the mean-time he was carried off by two constables, one of whom left home suddenly, and the other was also about to depart, when he (Mr. Hunt) observed two Yeomen making a charge upon him. He had little doubt that this was a concerted scheme, that it was intended that the constables were to leave him to the mercy of the Yeomanry, but, seeing their intention, he seized bold of the constable that was left, and used him for a shield to defend himself from the hands of the furious soldiers. He did not escape, however, without some slight wounds; even in passing to the Magistrate's room, he narrowly escaped being very severely wounded by a bludgeon. Having suffered so much personally, and having witnessed the dreadful injuries others sustained, he allowed he had very strong feelings on the subject. He was satisfied, and believed that he could prove, in opposition to the assertions of interested parties, that the Yeomanry had predetermined on slaughtering the people. It had been stated, that the swords of the Yeomanry were not sharpened for the occasion, but the wounds they had inflicted on defenceless men and women, proved that the statement was not true. One man—an inhabitant of Stockport—had a piece of his skull cut away by a sabre, and here, (added the hon. Member, displaying on the palm of his hand a fragment of bone about the size of half-a-crown), here was the piece itself to satisfy hon. Members of the fact. Many had been killed, many wounded, and yet what had been the result; No legal inquiry had been instituted against the offenders, but an inquiry had been instituted against himself, who had experienced ill-usage, in common with others, among the peaceable assembly. Neither names nor witnesses were wanting to make out a case. It could be proved, that the Yeomanry had assailed and wounded helpless females. It could be proved, that one female had been overturned, and her face being down a hill, part of her person was exposed. Some persons looking from a window called to a Yeoman to render her that assistance which any one, with a sense of decency, would naturally hasten to render on an occasion of the kind. Now, what did this gallant Yeoman do? Would the House believe it? Would Englishmen credit it? This brave, this loyal, soldier, rode up to the prostrate woman and cut her across the thighs with his sabre! He would venture to say, that neither in foreign nor domestic wars, had English soldiers committed acts so disgraceful as those which were perpetrated by the Yeomanry at Peterloo. He would ask any man of humanity in that House, whether such disgraceful acts ought to be passed by unnoticed and unpunished, merely because it could be said, that twelve years had elapsed since the transaction had taken place? But another excuse that, perhaps, might be made was, that the meeting was an illegal one. In answer to that, how- ever, he would take on himself to say, that in his opinion, and in the opinion of those who constituted the meeting, they were as legally, aye, and as meritoriously assembled, as that House was assembled; and for as useful a purpose. No one was insulted—no tumult took place—no symptoms of riot were evinced; and yet was it for a moment to be said, that in such a country as this, where there was a continual boast of the omnipotence of justice, such things were to be passed over without notice and without censure? He could assure the House, that, if this inquiry was not granted, there would be thousands of hearts rankling, dissatisfied, and discontented, and which could never be set at ease till justice was awarded. The petitioners, in whose name he was speaking, had read the able manner in which the noble Lord and many of his colleagues had, at the time, commented on the atrocity of the transaction, and demanded that an inquiry should take place. And how was that inquiry then resisted? First, by the production of Official Documents, emanating from the guilty party themselves; and next, by allusion to the trial at York; and the cry, that the Courts of Justice were open to those who had any complaint to make. But the Courts of Justice were not open; for the relations of those that were killed had gone to those Courts of Justice, and even there all retribution had been denied them in the most cruel and indifferent manner. Nor was this all. All sorts of calumnious statements were made in the House of Commons as to the conduct of the mob; it was asserted, that they had marched into Manchester armed with sticks and clubs; and one gentleman, of the name of Hulton, who, very lately, had again shown a disposition to make himself conspicuous on this very question, was called upon to prove this by being placed in the witness-box, where he underwent a seven hours' examination, three in chief, and four in cross-examination. Mr. Hulton, on that occasion, had thought proper to swear that the people carried sticks as big as muskets—he (Mr. Hunt) believed that he did not go the length of swearing that the people fired them off like muskets. This was a part of the evidence adduced before the Jury at York—a Jury, in the first instance packed by the Crown, and subsequently patronized by the Whig Club. He saw that the hon. member for York shook his head when he mentioned the Whigs, but he begged leave to say, that he had always considered that Jury as a Whig Jury, because he certainly did think that it emanated from the Whig Club at York; for which reason he had always been of opinion, that his conviction was a Whig conviction. The general presumption was, that it was the intention of the Manchester meeting, had it not been interrupted, to pass Resolutions similar to those passed at Smithfield, declaratory that without a Reform in Parliament, taxes ought not to be paid; and he believed, that that presumption was the main reason why he had been found guilty. But now, what an alteration had taken place! It was only the other day, that 150,000 persons had met at Birmingham, and actually made a declaration to the same effect; and yet they were not cut down—the Yeomanry had not been called out to act against them. No; the Government had properly treated the exuberance of feeling that had produced such a declaration with contempt; and nothing further had come of it. The hon. Member confirmed his own statements by reading some extracts from publications of the day, and then repeated his declaration, that the meeting was a most innocent one, called for a most useful purpose. His motion, he continued, for a Select Committee of Inquiry had, in a manner, become absolutely necessary; for, when he had moved for the correspondence that had taken place between Lord Sidmouth (then the Secretary of State) and the Lord Lieutenant of the county, that correspondence had been refused, and, therefore, he had no other course to pursue than to ask for a Committee for a general inquiry into the whole question. Some part of Lord Sidmouth's correspondence, however, was before the public; for he had in his hand that letter of his Lordship's in which he, in the name of the Prince Regent, thanked the magistracy for the way in which they had acted—yes, actually thanked them for having directed the execution of these cold-blooded murders—by which name he must call those deeds, and by which name they would be for ever designated in that part of the country where they had been committed. The consequence of this letter was, that the parties, so far from shrinking abashed as they ought, actually gloried in the share they had taken in the transaction; and, in particular, he might mention that an Irishman of the name of Meagher, who was the trumpeter on that occasion, had boasted, when he returned to Ireland, that he had in one day spilled more Saxon blood than had ever been spilled by any one of his countrymen before. Why was such a ruffian, after such a boast, suffered to roam at large unpunished? The blood which he and his valiant confederates spilled on that occasion like water, was the blood of peaceable and unarmed men; for where was the proof that any of the multitude present on the 16th of August was either guilty of violence, or armed with any offensive weapon. The real truth of the matter was, in spite of the false colouring that interested parties had endeavoured to put on it, that the meeting at Manchester was neither more nor less than a Reform meeting—that everything was going on peaceably—that not even so much as a pane of glass was broken, and though the Government took the trouble to send Messrs. Oliver and Castles among the people to corrupt them, they were not able to succeed in their virtuous endeavours. He maintained that there was no proof that the people had come armed to the meeting. All the evidence which the Magistrates had to offer upon that point had been gone into at York, and had failed so signally, that even the Judge upon the Bench said, that no doubt could exist respecting the peaceable demeanour of the people. He had now no personal feelings to indulge upon this question—twelve years had elapsed since these atrocities were committed, and in twelve years events had occurred, which, though they did not prevent him from still demanding justice, had completely eradicated the desire for revenge. Revenge on the authors and abettors of the outrages of that day he had already had enough. He had lived to see the noble Paymaster of the Forces bring a Bill into Parliament, which, though it might not give to the people the relief which he wished them to obtain, still admitted that all the allegations which he had at that time made were correct, namely, that the House of Commons did not represent the people, but only a corrupt portion of placeholders and boroughmongers. He repeated that, if he had been vindictive, he had already witnessed enough of the discomfiture of his adversaries to sate even the keenest appetite of revenge. Who was the Prime Minister of that day?—Lord Liverpool. Where was he? Who were the two Secretaries of State?—Mr. Canning and Lord Castlereagh. Where were they? Mr. Canning had fallen a victim to the factious attacks of the very party which at that time he supported with all the power of his versatile talents; and, on the morning of the anniversary of the 16th of August, two years afterwards, the first thing that greeted his eyes in his cell at Ilchester on reading the papers, was the intelligence that Lord Castlereagh had committed suicide. King George the 4th—he who had thanked the Magistrates with such breathless haste—where now was he? Where, too, were the yeomanry? Two of them had committed suicide on the anniversary of the day on which they had been guilty of these cold-blooded murders. Thus, though the House of Commons had refused to do justice between the people and their oppressors on this melancholy occasion, the hand of Providence had already inflicted justice, where justice was due. Old as he was, he yet trusted to live to see the day in which that titled personage would be brought to justice, who had sent a Castles, an Edwards, and an Oliver, into the country to instigate the people to acts of violence, in order to throw discredit upon Reform. He had lived to see the Members of that Government, which had gone to war with France to stifle the call for Reform, compelled to sit night after night in weak and ineffectual struggles against the progress of a measure which in itself was nothing but the commencement of Reform. He might even now say, "the Lord's will be done: I have lived long enough, for I have lived to see the borough mongers brought upon their knees before the people whom they have so long insulted;"—but he trusted to live still longer, and if he did live a few years more, he should live to see justice inflicted on all who committed and abetted the massacre at Manchester. In vain had that arrogant and insolent party sent Reformer after Reformer to prison—in vain had they gagged the Press by acts as alien to the practice as they were novel to the theory of the British Constitution—in vain had they passed Bills to prevent public meetings, and to put down the right of petitioning; for, in spite of the menaces of the law, and the terrors of the dungeon, the cause of Reform had proved a giant too powerful for them to cope with. Traces of their defeat were visible in all parts of the country. If the people did not now display that mad feeling for Reform which they had displayed some months ago, it must not he supposed that they were, on that account, indifferent either to its progress or its success. They were now silent and sullen, and suffering; but if they had not a Reform—aye, and a better Reform than that which the noble Lord was now offering to them, England would ere long be one of the worst places for any lover of peace and comfort to live in. He must now express his hopes that Ministers would not oppose this inquiry. He hoped that they would grant the prayer of the petition which he had that night presented. If they refused it, he should feel it to be his duty, if he had a seat in the reformed Parliament, to bring this question annually before it, until he obtained the Committee of Inquiry for which he was now going to move. His motion was, "that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the military execution inflicted on a peaceable and unarmed multitude assembled at Manchester on the 16th of August, 1819, to petition for Parliamentary Reform." On this question he stood by himself; he had not communicated his resolution to any Member, and he did not know whether any Member would second it. He, therefore called upon the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to second his motion. That noble Lord had distinguished himself at the time by the zeal with which he demanded inquiry. If inquiry were necessary in 1819, it was not less necessary now: for if he understood any thing of the laws of England, no lapse of years could extinguish the crime of murder. He charged the parties in this case with the commission of deliberate and cold-blooded murder. It was nothing less, and he would not employ a milder term to convey his opinion of the crime which was then committed. The hon. Member concluded by formally moving his Resolution.

Mr. Hume

, in rising to second the Motion of the hon. member for Preston, begged leave to say, that, although he could have wished that the question had been brought forward at a time when the House was less occupied with other important business, he never should be unwilling to second a motion which was neither more nor less than a demand for justice on behalf of the people. The hon. member for Preston had stated at considerable length the details of that horrid day; and he (Mr. Hume) could well recollect the feelings that those same circumstances bad at the time excited in the house of Commons, as well as the part which the noble Lord and several of his friends had taken on that occasion. In remembering that, he felt quite sure that the present opinion of his noble friend could not be different from what it then was; and, therefore, the only question with the Government could be, how far prudence and policy would allow the fresh agitation of that distressing question. He, however, had always been accustomed to consider that time could never outrun crime, and that no lapse of years could render the murderer not liable to trial, and (if found guilty) to punishment. Indeed, he, in his own time, had witnessed cases of individuals who, after the expiration of many years, had had their crimes detected, and who for those crimes had been tried and executed. This being the case, he knew no reason why the deeds of a day like that of the 16th of August, 1819, should be passed over unnoticed. The lapse that had already taken place had always been looked on by him as a blot in the history of the country, and, therefore, he felt anxious that further time should not be allowed to pass by without steps being taken that should, as far as possible, erase that stain. He was convinced that every man of common sense would laugh to scorn the empty pretence that the lapse of time rendered it inexpedient to inquire into the circumstances which led to the violent and sanguinary dispersion of a meeting of Englishmen assembled to exercise their inherent and indisputable right—the right to petition; for he had yet to learn, that in England there was a statute of limitations, which, after a certain number of years, released a culprit from the penalties attached to any crime which he might have committed, and especially from the penalties attached to the crime of murder. He did not pretend to say, that all the long detail of atrocities into which the hon. member for Preston had entered was correct; but this he would say, that if one-tenth part of it only were true, there were sufficient grounds, and far more than sufficient grounds, stated for inquiry. If the parties against whom the hon. member for Preston had launched his accusations were authorized in acting as they had done, let that circumstance be proved to the satisfaction of the country, and let the execution of its justice be vindicated to posterity. The hon. member for Preston had been put upon his trial, and had been punished for his share in these transactions; but did it follow that, because the hon. member for Preston had acted illegally in calling the Manchester meeting together, the Magistrates had acted legally in dispersing it with the edge of the sword? The hon. member for Preston and his party had been upon their trial. Why should not the Magistrates, the yeomanry, and all who abetted their proceedings, also be put upon theirs? He knew, that the Government of that day had sent spies into the country, who incited the people to acts of insubordination. He had himself been one of those who had seen Oliver inciting the people to acts of disturbance, and had actually assisted in carrying him in custody to the Home-office; but what became of the charge which they preferred against this individual? Nothing: the country heard no more of Mr. Oliver till they found him acting as a pensioned officer of the Government in a foreign colony. When such things were notorious, it was absolutely necessary to inquire into the circumstances under which this meeting was dispersed. He, therefore, implored the House to concede the Committee of Inquiry for which the hon. member for Preston had just moved. He had never heard but one expression, and that was an expression of regret, respecting the conduct of Government in refusing to inquire into the transactions of that memorable day. Every man who recollected the Oldham inquest, and the repeated efforts which were made by influential persons to arrest its progress, and which were at last unfortunately successful, must be aware that, on that occasion at least, justice was violated. He must, therefore, once more implore the House to allow the inquiry to be resumed which was then interrupted. Such a resumption would read a useful lesson to men in authority, from the Minister in the Cabinet down even to the Magistrates on the Bench. It would remind the Minister of State, in language which he would not soon forget, that if, in the exercise of his high functions, he were guilty of tyranny, the day would come when he might be stripped of his authority, and placed at the Bar of that House to give an account of the mode in which he had exercised it. Without, therefore, saying a word in aggravation of the atrocities of that day, which at the time excited general horror and indignation, he would content himself with declaring it to be his opinion, that it was no less the duty of the present Government than that of the House to agree to this inquiry, with a view of satisfying the thousands and tens of thousands of men in the north of England, who, at least, were complaining that hitherto justice had not been done. If justice was not shown to the people on this occasion, he trusted that, in a reformed Parliament, the attempt to obtain it would be renewed over and over again until it was successful, He called upon the Members of the present Cabinet to consider the situation in which they were placed before the country upon this occasion. The zeal which they displayed, whilst Members of the Opposition, in calling, for inquiry, obtained for them the admiration of their country: let them, therefore, now that they were in office, shew that it was their determination not to screen iniquity and oppression, no matter what the quarter from which that iniquity and that oppression might proceed.

Mr. Lamb

said, the concluding part of the speech of the hon. member for Preston sufficiently proved the inexpediency of bringing forward the present Motion. If so many of those distinguished personages, who, at the time of this transaction, took a leading part in applauding and abetting the actors in it, were now gone beyond the reach of earthly justice, was it not possible that the same fate had befallen those who had taken a minor part in it? Would it not, therefore, have been a wiser and a better course to have preached to the people the Christian doctrine of forgiveness of injuries, instead of exciting them to renew their call for vengeance and for blood? He agreed with his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex; that the day for bringing crime to its account was in this country never past. The Courts of Justice were open now, as they were at the time, to all who felt themselves aggrieved by the events of the 16th of August; and he was of opinion that any investigation into those events would be conducted more satisfactorily in those Courts than it would be before a Select Committee of that House. In rising, therefore, to resist this Motion—which he felt to be his duty now, though, at the time of this melancholy transaction, he had contributed his humble exertions to get a fair and full inquiry into it—he did not feel that he was guilty of inconsistency when he rested his opposition to it on the ground that such inquiry was now inexpedient. He did not mean to enter at all into the details of the melancholy events of the 16th of August; but he must express his regret that the hon. member for Preston had spoken of them as deliberate and cold-blooded murders. Surely those were not the terms which ought to be employed by a man who sought for a just and impartial inquiry. He put it to the House, whether, if it were inclined to grant an inquiry, it could grant an inquiry in the terms of this Motion—"That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the military execution inflicted on an unarmed and peaceable meeting, assembled on the 16th of August, 1819, at Manchester." Did not the terms of this Resolution prejudge the whole question into which the investigation was to be instituted? If the House agreed to such a Motion, what would it have to inquire into? If military execution were inflicted on an unarmed and peaceable meeting, all that they would have to do would be to summon the guilty parties to their Bar, and to pronounce sentence upon them forthwith. But the hon. member for Preston was not content with affirming the whole matter into which he wished them to inquire—he must also contradict the verdicts of two Juries upon this transaction—one at York, which affirmed the unlawfulness of the assembly; and the other at Lancaster, which affirmed its tumultuous and offensive character. In the case of "Redford v. Birley," which was tried before Mr. Justice Holroyd at Lancaster, all the evidence respecting the conduct of the yeomanry, which was inadmissible at York, was admitted and gone into, and the result was, an unanimous verdict in favour of the yeomanry. He had never ceased to regret that a full and fair inquiry was not made by Parliament into this transaction at the time, and he regretted it the more now, because, if such an inquiry had been made, it would have taken away from the hon. member for Preston the necessity of bringing forward an annual motion respecting it, which could have no other tendency than to rip up old grievances, and to revive animosities, which he had trusted would ere now be put to sleep by the soothing hand of time. He admitted that the hon. member for Preston had done nothing more than what he considered his duty in bringing this Motion forward, but still he must regret the time which he had selected for proposing it. He must, therefore, resist the Motion, because in terms it prejudged the case—because it contradicted the verdicts of two different juries—because it was inexpedient at the present moment—because the Courts were still opened to the aggrieved, and because the Grand Juries of the present day would not be liable to the feelings which, perhaps, influenced the Grand Juries of those days. Under these circumstances, as the relations of the parties injured had so many sources of redress still open to them, he thought that the House of Commons ought not to be called upon to waste time which might be better employed on such an inquiry as was called for by this Motion. He should, therefore, move, as an amendment, the previous question.

Lord Milton

thought it was unnecessary for his hon. friend (Mr. Lamb) to vindicate himself from the charge of inconsistency. The length of time which had elapsed fully exonerated him from such a charge. There might be a change of opinion, but there was no inconsistency. He regretted that the Motion was now made, and if the parties who had intrusted their petition to the care of the hon. member for Preston had consulted him respecting the propriety of presenting it, the advice which he should have given them would be, not to press it on the notice of the House at this time. He could wish the whole of this melancholy transaction, if possible, to be forgotten; for if there was any feeling more than another which contributed to the happiness of mankind, it was the forgiveness of injuries. Considering the lapse of time since this transaction, he could not help lamenting that this Motion had been made. Still, as it had been made by the hon. member for Preston, under circumstances which almost rendered it impossible for him to avoid it, he felt it to be his duty, as a Member of Parliament, to give his vote in support of it.

Sir John Byng

said, that he was not actually present when the affray which formed the subject of the Motion took place, but he was on the spot within two hours after its occurrence. He being then in command of his Majesty's troops stationed in that district, he, of course, had deemed it his duty to inquire into their conduct on the occasion, and, as he was not what could be considered an interested person, he trusted the House would give at least as much credence to his testimony as to that of the hon. member for Middlesex, whose information could only have been derived from, in all probability, interested persons. That hon. Member had been pleased to charge the military employed by the Magistrates on that occasion with the crime of murder. To say the least of it, that was a harsh term to apply to the conduct of individuals who were compelled to perform a most unpleasant duty. But he had no hesitation in saying its application, in that instance, by the hon. Member, was Frost ungenerous and most unjust. If the inquiry which was proposed was to be confined to the conduct of his Majesty's troops at Manchester on the 16th of August, 1819, so far from opposing it, he would be one of its most anxious supporters. But, as the Motion took a more extended compass, as it would have the effect of raking up circumstances which, for the peace of the country, ought for ever to be buried in oblivion, he could not find it consistent with his duty to support it. He had ever desired that a full inquiry should take place in all cases where his Majesty's troops were engaged, more particularly if such occurrences were attended with loss of life; but it was to be recollected that the present case had formed the subject of three separate judicial inquiries—the proper arena for its consideration—the result of which had been a complete acquittal of the King's troops from all charge of misconduct or unnecessary violence. He thought, from the reasons he had already given, that he should only be doing his duty in supporting the Motion of the Under Secretary of State for the previous question.

Mr. Strickland

could not remain silent on a subject which had drawn him from the retirement in which be had lived up to that time, and which had caused great excitement in the county he had the honour to represent. He must say, that he believed that the refusal of the Parliament to inquire into the events of that day was one of the causes of the great disrepute into which the Parliament had fallen in the northern part of the Kingdom. He could not but advert to the great meeting which had been held in the county of York soon after the transaction to which the Motion before the House referred, and at which a noble Earl, the father of the noble Lord who had just sat down, presided; and he must say, that the meeting had tended more to tranquillize the excitement then prevailing in the country than the refusal of the then Government of the country to take the transaction at Manchester into their consideration. While he deprecated the Motion being now brought forward, inasmuch as many of the witnesses whose testimony would have gone far to elucidate the inquiry had gone to their long account, yet he felt himself called upon to support the Motion of the hon. member for Preston, as tending to an inquiry which was called for.

Lord Althorp

said, that the hon. Gentleman (the member for Preston) had called upon him to second the Motion; but it had been urged by the hon. Gentleman and his (Lord Althorp's) hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, that no lapse of time could possibly blot out the crime pointed out as having been committed by the hon. Gentleman. In that he agreed, and therefore it was, that he now said, if there was proof of any man having been guilty of the crime of murder, as stated by the hon. Gentleman, the laws of the country gave him the full means of investigating such a charge or imputation without appealing to the House. The House never interfered in cases of private crime, but merely for political offences, and then with a view to bring those so charged to the Bar of Justice. In the present instance it, however, appeared, that such a transaction as that stated by the hon. Gentleman had taken place, and that the authors of the calamity had received the thanks of the then Ministry, who, from that circumstance, must be presumed to acquiesce; and he thought that inquiry before the House was not so much Deeded for the purpose of bringing to justice those who committed, as those who had made themselves participators in the crime.

Sir H. Hardinge

does the noble Lord mean to accuse the then Ministers of being participators in any crime.

Lord Althorp

was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the opportunity of correcting himself, as he must admit that he ought not to have used so strong a word as that with which he had just concluded, but he felt that the Ministry of that day were responsible for giving protection to those who were supposed to be guilty of political offences. In this view he had thought, and still thought, that inquiry ought to have been instituted, not with a view of bringing individuals to punishment, who might have been punished by the law of the land, but for the punishment of those who had come under the protection of the Government. This might have been done by the law as it stood, without calling upon the House to assist in it. For these reasons he could not concur in the Motion. To institute inquiry by the House at the present moment would lead to no good result. If any individual could be charged, he might be so without the interference of the House, and, therefore, he felt that no inquiry before a Committee was necessary for those persons who were alleged to have been injured in property, by the loss of relatives, or otherwise, and who had ample means of investigating the transaction, without such interference, and in a manner much better, and more satisfactory, than could be done by a Committee of the House.

Sir Henry Hardinge

said, that, after the candid manner in which the noble Lord, who had just sat down had explained the expression he had made use of, that the Ministry of that day were participators in the crime of murder, as alleged by the hon. member for Preston, he should not say one word upon that subject. But mention had been made of the names of the noble Lords Liverpool, Castlereagh, and others, as mixed and connected with this transaction. He had the honour and satisfaction of calling the noble Lord Castlereagh his friend, and as he had gone to his long account, he (Sir H. Hardinge) would, as that noble Lord's friend, beg that inquiry might take place, rather than he should be supposed to have been a participator in the crime as alleged. Under all circumstances, he, however, could not but think that it would not now be well to enter into a review of the subject; but he would reiterate his sentiment, that if the inquiry was to be stopped merely because Lord Castlereagh had gone to his last account, he for one should support the Motion of the hon. member for Preston.

Mr. Lamb

, in explanation, stated, that he had not put the question as stated by the right hon. and gallant Member, for the Minister in whose time the occurrence in question had taken place was still living.

Sir Henry Hardinge

said, that he had so frequently heard illiberal attacks made on the late Lord Castlereagh, that he could not remain silent, and he should always be ready to meet them.

Dr. Lushington

regretted that, in the present case, he should differ from his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as there was no man's approbation of which he was more proud, but he thought no lapse of time should be a bar to the investigation of such a transaction, and, on the principles and practice of our ancestors, who had instituted inquiries after a longer period had passed away, he was prepared to support the Motion. His principal object, however, in calling for inquiry was, that he wished it to be ascertained for present information, and to be recorded to all future generations, whether or not spies were employed on this occasion; he wished to know, from a special investigation before that House, if that statement were true and he wished, if it were proved in evidence before a Committee of that House that such was the conduct of the Ministers, that it should be distinctly stated that that House could not assent to the doctrine that the employment of spies was the authorised practice of the English Government. Whenever it took place—whenever spies were employed, whatever praise they might deserve for the honest execution of their duties towards their employers, by which they might obtain their rewards, they too generally stimulated men to commit the actions they denounced. He must lift up his voice, on every occasion, against this un-English practice. It would become that Parliament well, if one of its last Acts before a Reformed Parliament met, was, to denounce the employment of spies; but if this Motion was now defeated, it would come again, on another day, when the people were properly represented, and then the House would have to enter into the investigation with further and greater difficulties in ascertaining the truth. It was not to punish A B or C D that hon. Members should go into this Committee. They should go into the Committee to see whether spies were employed, and whether the military or yeomanry had conducted themselves with due foresight or not; and what were the reasons he had heard urged against the inquiry? It had been said, that investigations had taken place, and trials had been had; but he insisted that it remained for a Committee of the House to inquire whether any acts of insubordination had been committed—whether spies had been employed—and if employed, were they so with a view to incite to acts of insubordination? He did not wish to prejudge the question, but he would say, that if such facts were proved, it would be the duty of the Committee to report that these practices could not be pursued without exciting the indignation of Parliament and of the country at large. Whether there might have been fifteen persons killed and 300 wounded or not, it was the duty of the House to investigate the matter, whether occurring at Manchester, Bristol, or elsewhere; and if the constituted authorities were entitled to praise, let it not be withheld; but, at the same time, if their authority had been exceeded, let punishment be awarded to them. In an occurrence of such an extent as the one at present before the House, he would say it was the bounden duty of the House to ascertain the truth.

Sir Robert Peel

said, if there ever was a period when every man was bound to speak his opinions openly and firmly, however obnoxious to popular prejudice those opinions might be, this was the time. For his part he would never shrink from the expression of any opinion he might entertain, however unpopular it might be, if he thought it essential to the well-being of society, and the maintenance of the law. It was in accordance with that principle that he would proceed to state his sentiments upon the important question before the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down expressed an opinion that at all times it was the duty of the House of Commons, in any case of political excitement or disturbance attended with loss of life, to institute an inquiry into the circumstances in which it originated. Now he (Sir R. Peel) confessed this declaration struck him with surprise, when he recollected that, since the period when that hon. and learned Gentleman took his scat on that side of the House where he now sat, two cases of political excitement and disturbance, attended with grievous loss of life, had occurred, and yet they were suffered to pass over without any motion for investigation on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman. If he entertained such an opinion, why did he not call for an investigation into time occurrences at Merthyr Tydvil and at Knocktopher? Were not those unfortunate collisions arising from circumstances of a political nature, and yet the learned Gentleman had maintained profound silence with respect to them? But he begged to ask the hon. and learned Member, was he prepared, as a Judge of the land, to say, that it would tend to assert the dignity of the laws were the judicial tribunals of the country to be superseded by the House of Commons? He had alluded to the events of Merthyr Tydvil and Knocktopher, because they had taken place during the administration of the Government with which he (Sir R. Peel) had no connexion, but of which the hon. and learned Gentleman was a strenuous supporter. He had alluded to them, not for the purpose of provoking a parliamentary inquiry into them, but for the purpose of showing that the learned Gentleman did not practically act upon the doctrine which he now maintained, though that doctrine was quite as applicable to those recent events, as to the loss of life at Manchester, some twelve years since. He (Sir R. Peel) would venture to say that, if any Member of the House had, on either of the occasions to which he alluded, brought forward a motion with a view of transferring the inquiry into their origin from the proper legal tribunals of the country to the House of Commons, the hon. and learned Gentleman would have opposed such a motion with all the eloquence he possessed. He might have done so on the firm ground that the legal tribunals of the country were more likely to give a satisfactory decision than a Committee of the House of Commons, in which there almost necessarily must be an infusion of party feelings. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that he supported the proposed inquiry chiefly from the desire to hold up to public execration the practice of employing spies; whom he charged with not limiting themselves to the watching of the actions of suspected individuals, but with inciting the people to deeds of violence and illegality. He (Sir R. Peel) had no hesitation in saying, that if any man, in any situation in life, employed spies for the purpose of exciting sedition or inducing the commission of crime, in order that the dupes of his wickedness might be afterwards singled out for vengeance, there was no punishment in the power of Parliament or the law, too severe to be inflicted on such base conduct. But if the hon. and learned Member meant that the Government was never to receive and use the information supplied by spies, he must dissent from that doctrine. To put a case but too familiar to every one—would the hon. and learned Gentleman, at the time of the conspiracy of Thistlewood, have rejected the evidence which some of his associates tendered to the Government, showing that there was a detestable plot, having for its object the murder of the Ministers of the Crown. Would that Secretary of State be deemed worthy of his office who should turn the informer from his doors, and spurn his information, or place him in prison, as a reward for the confession of his participation in the plot? Yet such would be the course pursued by the hon. and learned Gentleman—such was the wise system of vigilance and precaution which he advocated. Parliament itself had, for years, by its annual votes, sanctioned the practice of employing secret agents. He (Sir R. Peel), in defending the principle of those votes, could not fairly be taunted with too liberal a use of the means they supplied, for he would venture to say, that there never were less sums of money voted by Parliament, or applied, under the head of secret service, than during the time of his holding the situation of Secretary to the Home Department. He would now advert to another part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's address. He (Dr. Lushington) told the House, as an argument in favour of Reform, that one of the very first acts of a Reformed Parliament would be to open their ears to the calls of the people, and make the inquiry which the people now desired. He (Sir R. Peel) had never been in want of arguments to confirm him in his opposition to the measure of Reform; but, if he did require a fatal, a convincing, objection to it, it would be supplied by the declaration, on the part of the learned Gentleman, that one of the first acts of a Reformed Parliament would be to take from the hands of the legal tribunals of the country that authority with which, from time immemorial, they were endowed, to inquire into and punish the commission of crime. He desired to be understood as having no interest, no bias of partiality or favour, in defending the Manchester Magistrates; for, at the time of the affray in 1819, he was not in office, and consequently not responsible for any of the events of the period. He understood that, on that occasion, agents, or spies, if they were to be so called, were employed; but he felt it due towards the individuals who preceded him in office—Lord Sidmouth and Mr. Hobhouse—to declare his conviction that, in the employment of those spies, no instruction whatever was given which might not be published to the whole world. They were employed, not as was falsely said, to tempt others to the commission of crime, but to enable the Government by timely notice, to protect society from the wicked plots against its peace that were then maturing. As to the Motion before them, he was determined to give it his opposition; but he would avow at once that his objection to it did not arise from the lapse of time which had occurred. Had the transaction taken place but two months since he would have equally opposed it, on the principle that, until the ordinary authority of the law was found inefficient, Parliament ought not to interfere. If any circumstances had impeded an inquiry by the legal tribunals, then the proposal for a parliamentary investigation would have met with his support. But had there been any such impediment? Did the conduct of the parties engaged in the affray escape the notice of judicial tribunals? Was there no decision by a Court of Justice?

Mr. Hunt

There was an unfair one.

Sir R. Peel

supposed the hon. Member alluded to his own case, and he could assure him that it was not his intention to say any thing which could hurt his feelings. The hon. Member said, that the decision of the Jury against him was an unfair one, but the hon. Gentleman was not a very disinterested and impartial judge on that point. The fact could not be denied, that the verdict of the Jury was against him, and that he was, by Mr. Justice Bayley, sentenced to imprisonment. Now, this was one solemn decision of a legal tribunal on the conduct of the parties engaged in the affray, and that decision was in favour of the part acted by the yeomanry. But was this all? Was this the only trial that took place. It appeared not; for, shortly after the event, an individual of the name of Redford brought an action against an officer in command of the yeomanry cavalry, to recover damages for alleged injuries. This action came on to be tried at the Lancashire Assizes. The trial lasted four or five days, and in its progress every portion of the occurrences at Manchester on the 16th of August was detailed in evidence. Well, what was the decision of the Jury? Notwithstanding the immense mass of evidence that was brought before them, they took but a few minutes to deliberate, and unanimously returned a verdict for the defendant. Thus was the case twice decided after a solemn investigation. But it underwent a third, and, if possible, a more solemn, inquiry: for in the Term immediately following the trial, a motion was made, on behalf of Redford, for a new trial. This motion, after a solemn argument, which lasted two days, and after Mr. Justice Holroyd had read his notes of the trial, was refused, and the four Judges of the Court of King's Bench, being Lord Chief Justice Abbott, and Justices Best, Bayley, and Holroyd, in delivering their judgments, which they did seriatim, unanimously expressed their conviction that no blame whatever was attributable to either the Magistrates, yeomanry, or military engaged in the affray; so far from it, they stated their opinion that the conduct of those individuals entitled them to the thanks, not only of the people of Manchester, but of the country. He would read the opinion of those Judges to the House. Lord Chief Justice Abbott said, It appears to me that the Magistrates acted legally, justifiably, and with a promptitude and spirit that entitled them to the gratitude of the neighbourhood, and the thanks of their country. If, instead of putting an end to the meeting, they had suffered it to go on—if they had suffered them to act as they pleased, after such speeches as we have an account of the beginning of, no man can say that the town of Manchester would have been safe for that night. There is no one who can venture to say that, in the course of a very few weeks, that town and its neighbourhood would not have been in such a state of insubordination and insurrection as must have led to the most fatal consequences. Many of us are old enough to remember what mischiefs were created in the metropolis, while the hands of justice were paralysed: lest I should be misunderstood, I wish to say, that I am alluding to the riots in the year 1780. I have no hesitation in saying, that, if an hundredth part of that which was done on the sixth or seventh days of those riots had been done in the first instance, nothing of the kind would have occurred, which was afterwards so much to be deplored. It was, therefore, most important for the Magistrates to prevent those acts which would reasonably lead to such fatal results; and which, we are informed by the evidence in this case, many of the persons who attended this meeting did certainly meditate. The address of the learned Counsel concluded with a suggestion, that we ought to be able to see that there was a preconcerted design, on the part of the Magistrates, to send in the military, in order to take away the lives of unoffending people, and prevent the recurrence of similar meetings. I own I am surprised at such an observation. The evidence warrants no such conclusion, but quite the reverse. I am of opinion that all that was done by the Magistrates was done with temperance and forbearance. ["Hear, hear."] It was not his own opinion he was propounding; he was reading the solemn judgment of the Lord Chief Justice of England judicially delivered. To assent to this Motion would be to reverse the judgment of the Lord Chief Justice of England, and the other Judges, and to supersede the authority of the Court in which they presided? The Lord Chief Justice concluded thus, I am of opinion that all that was done by the Magistrates was done with temperance and forbearance, and that, for this conduct, instead of the reprehension which, by this motion, is attempted to be cast upon them, they are entitled to the thanks of their country. Mr. Justice Bayley, who had had the advantage of hearing the previous trial of the hon. Member delivered this opinion:— I personally have bad an opportunity of bearing some evidence upon this subject, and of forming some judgment as to the legal points of the case; but I have no hesitation at all in saying this, which the recollection of the Court will bear me out in, that the evidence in this case goes to points, to which in no former case it had gone; and that all the difficulty, and, in a great degree, all the doubt, which could have existed in any former case, was entirely, by the evidence, removed in this. There is abundance of evidence in this case,—and I say, in this case, for the first time—that without the aid of the military the warrant could not have been executed. The observations I have made have a tendency to show that, in my mind, the verdict is in no respect against the evidence; but that, on the contrary, it is, from beginning to end, consistent with the evidence in the case. And I repeat, that the evidence, as to many points, is entirely new, and extremely strong; so as to remove, and I hope it will effectually remove, from many minds which previously did doubt, those doubts which those minds had entertained. Mr. Justice Best said,— It appears to me impossible any man can read this evidence, with an intention of understanding it, and not say that further mischief (on some future day) was the object. If that was the object, it was, indeed, a tremendous meeting. Every movement of that meeting was calculated to produce the terror that it did produce; and I think I am called upon to say, in consequence of what was said by Counsel, that not only the county of Lancaster, but the surrounding counties, are indebted, for the peace they enjoyed afterwards, to the courage and activity with which the Magistrates dispersed this meeting. I would not have made these observations, if we had not been told that the conduct of these Magistrates was scandalous; that it was all trick, and that they might have dispersed the meeting without the military. That is an assertion contradicted by all the evidence, and by common sense. It appears to me that there is no foundation for saying that all this was a mere pretence to let loose the military authority, and draw back the civil power. Mr. Justice Holroyd, who tried the cause, said,— I think it is not only a proper verdict, but the contrary verdict would not, by any means, have been warranted by the evidence. And I think it right, likewise, to state, that I concur with the rest of the Court in thinking (and it appears, I think, roost abundantly by the evidence) that there was great anxiety on the part of the Magistrates, from time to time, and during the whole course of the proceeding, to do that which was right, and, as it appears to me, to prevent mischief. And the evidence appears extremely strong as to the necessity of calling in the military, in order to execute the warrant. I say their evidence (in that of the officers and privates of the regiment of Hussars) goes strongly to show, not only that military force was necessary to execute the warrant, but that, if the yeomanry had been left to themselves, and further military bad not arrived, the aid of the yeomanry would not have been sufficient for the purpose; Such was the decision pronounced upon this transaction by the Judges, after the fullest inquiry, upon evidence given on oath, and while the events in question were fresh in the memory of all the parties concerned. Who could say with truth that this subject had not been inquired into, had not been disposed of finally by the tribunals best qualified to dispose of it justly. For his part, after the opinions of the Judges expressed on the conduct of the parties accused, he would not, for the sake of any popular feeling, be guilty of so shabby and disgraceful an act as to abandon those whose conduct had been pronounced, not only free from blame, but entitled to high commendation; and he should, therefore, at once join in meeting the Motion with a direct negative, on the plain merits of the question. If they were to revive those transactions, which ought to have been long since buried in oblivion, and subject the individuals accused and honorably acquitted to further examination, they would be doing that which was utterly inconsistent with the first principles of justice. The hand of death had now removed most of the parties who had acted a prominent part on the occasion in questions; the long interval of twelve years had put much important testimony out of the reach of any human tribunal; full inquiry had been made at the time, and that inquiry had established the innocence of those who were accused. If no time, no acquittal, could protect public officers from new trials, on imperfect evidence, what prudent man would undertake a thankless public duty that exposed him to suds persecution?

Mr. Philip Howard

, as the Representative of a populous town, felt bound succinctly to state the motives which impelled him to oppose the Motion of the hon. member for Preston. It was certainly not expedient that the solemn decisions of the Courts of Justice should be submitted to Committees of that House for revision; but, even admitting the abstract right of interference on the part of that House, in cases of extraordinary emergency, he conceived that the evidence which could be brought forward, after such a lapse of time, would be extremely imperfect. He was inclined, also, to place great reliance on the opinion which was expressed with respect to the conduct of the Magistrates, by two of the most upright and impartial Judges that ever sat on the Bench in this country. To the late Mr. Justice Holroyd, whom he had known on the northern circuit, and who had the reputation, not only of invariably administering the strictest justice, but of paying the most scrupulous attention even to trifling and comparatively unimportant questions, he more particularly alluded. That honest Judge, like the greater part of those who had acted on that trying occasion, had paid the debt of nature; but securely and without presumption might he have exclaimed Meâ virtute me involvo. Recent calamitous occurrences at Bristol had shown the extreme danger of large and tumultuous assemblages—they had shown the necessity of acting on the old proverb of "obsta principiis;" the sad fate of Bristol showed, that the Magistrates of Manchester, by prevention, had adopted the safer, if not the more popular course. The smoking ruins of Bristol pleaded in their justification. The effects of the collision between the Yeomanry and people at Manchester were before the House; but would any one venture to say what might have been the consequence of a different course? He imputed no improper motives to the member for Preston, yet he must say, this inquiry would enkindle, in a peaceful population, the flame of party spirit, and serve anything but the ends of justice.

Mr. Gillon

was of opinion, that justice, however tardy, ought to be done in this case. The death of some of the individuals concerned in these transactions was no reason why inquiry should not he gone into. He should vote for the Motion, because he thought that an inquiry should be instituted with respect to the conduct of the Yeomanry, which was, he contended, the most unconstitutional force in the country. They were the ready instruments of every Tory Administration, and ought not to have been employed on such an occasion. If the inquiry were not now agreed to, it would ultimately be granted by a reformed House of Commons, who would attend to the feelings and wishes of the people.

Colonel Sibthorp

denied that it was unconstitutional to call in the aid of the Yeomanry force on such an occasion as that alluded to. He had at that time a com- mand at Huddersfield, and, from personal observation, could vouch for the discreet conduct of the Yeomanry; he could testify, that hundreds of persons assembled at Huddersfield, not only with bludgeons, but with pistols in their pockets, and that much mischief was prevented by the presence of the Yeomanry.

Mr. Petre

was one of those who thought that every possible inquiry should have been made at the period at which the occurrences alluded to took place; but the lapse of twelve years made a most material difference, and he certainly was of opinion that any further inquiry now could not be made with advantage.

Mr. Moreton

observed, that, by the law of this country, no lapse of time could lessen the crime of murder; and he should always speak of the persons who were killed on the 16th of August as having been murdered. In his opinion, the Committee ought to be granted. He regretted to see some hon. Members upon this occasion seeking for an excuse to oppose it.

Mr. Heywood

was convinced that no good could result from further inquiry at this time, and consequently should vote with Ministers against the hon. Member's Motion.

Mr. Maurice O'Connell

could not concur with any of those who thought that the blood which was spilled at Manchester did not, even after the lapse of twelve years, demand that further inquiry should be made. The question now was, not whether certain judicial inquiries had been made, but whether the people were satisfied with those inquiries, and whether they did not think that further inquiry was necessary. If those who were resident upon the spot, who had witnessed the transaction, and who had suffered by it, were not satisfied with the investigation which had been made; if they thought that full justice had not been done, surely, their demand for further inquiry ought not now to be rejected. At all events, he (Mr. M. O'Connell) should support the Motion of the hon, member for Preston, whose sentence, upon the occasion, alluded to, he regarded as one of the foulest that had ever disgraced the annals of British jurisprudence.

Mr. Stanley

rose principally to notice the doctrine of the hon. and learned member for Clare, that that House ought to revive subjects that had been decided by legal tribunals; and the statement of the hon. mem- ber for Gloucestershire, that hon. Members were seeking for an excuse for the vote which it was their intention to give. He must protest against such doctrine been promulgated. He had no doubt that the hon. Members alluded to would vote as he purposed to do, upon the constitutional grounds laid down by his noble friend, Lord Althorp. He would give no opinion on the Manchester case, being satisfied with the verdicts of Juries and the decisions of Courts of Justice. His noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had properly said, that it was not the business of Parliament to institute judicial inquiries, but to decide whether the Government of the day ought to be subjected to parliamentary censure. The doctrines of the hon. members for Gloucestershire and Clare had caused him no little surprise; but he had too high an opinion of the immaculate justice and purity of our Courts, to imagine that it was now necessary to call for a parliamentary opinion upon an event thirteen years after it had taken place, and more especially after it had been the subject of four successive appeals to Courts of Law. It was most unfortunate for the cause of Reform that all those who supported this Motion and that cause should say, they did riot hope for justice now, and would, therefore, rather wait for a reformed Parliament. This was a most unhappy argument in favour of Reform, and if he thought that a reformed Parliament would usurp the powers of the legal tribunals of the land, he would be as strong an opponent of Reform as he now was an ardent supporter of that measure. Fortunately, however, an answer had been furnished to this statement in the course of the debate, for he would ask, was there any Member more freely returned, and by a more independent and manufacturing constituency, than the hon. member for Lancashire? That hon. Gentleman might be taken as a fair representative of what was to be expected from a manufacturing constituency, and his opinion might be taken as the voice of the great manufacturing and commercial interests of the county of Lancaster. That opinion was, that it would be better now not to interfere with this subject, and not to hazard ill consequences by reviving the recollection of events which had much better be forgotten. The present, too, was an impartial Parliament, and had a better opportunity for deciding this question fairly, now that the parties accused no longer formed part of the Go- vernment of the country; and it would be better to let the matter rest, as, he believed, the hon. member for Preston, even if he succeeded, did not mean to go the length of an impeachment against the Ministers of that period. ["Yes, but I do though"—from Mr. Hunt.] If the hon. Member did, he could not go along with him, and should certainly oppose a motion of that kind whenever it was brought forward.

Mr. James

could not agree with any one who could say that justice had been done in this case, and he should certainly vote for the Motion of the hon. member for Preston, thinking that inquiry ought to take place. He also differed from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, as he regretted that the subject had not been deferred until there was a reformed Parliament.

Mr. Ewart

said, that he should follow only the dictates of his cooler reason, not those of feeling or of passion, on this occasion. It appeared to him that the arguments of the right hon. member for Tamworth were quite irresistible, if the House adopted only the legal view of this question. He, at all times, strongly deprecated the interference of the Legislature with the executive, and that of the House of Commons with the recorded decision of the Judges. But there were political considerations involved in this question, as well as legal ones. Where undue political interference had been exerted, it was the duty, and it was consistent with the principles, of the House of Commons to interpose. On that principle they acted in cases of impeachment. He thought, also, that this would be, not only the more constitutional, but the safest course to follow. If they met the question openly and at once, the agitation of it would be at an end; they would conduct it, as it were, silently away, instead of permitting it, at some future period to explode, when its explosion might occasion danger and detriment to the country. For these reasons he should vote in favour of the Motion.

Mr. Hunt

replied, he had no great hopes, from the feeling of the House, that a Committee would be granted. He regretted, however, that there were several Members now present, particularly the right hon. baronet, the member for Tamworth, who had not heard his statement. The conduct of persons now in office was contrary to their former principles, but that was inseparable from their station; for if not, where was the Secretary at War (Sir J. Hobhouse), whose speeches within and without doors he should have liked to compare. He was quite sure, however, that the time must come when an inquiry into the whole transaction would take place. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland, had protested against Parliament taking up such a question, and asserted, that if he could be convinced that a reformed Parliament would usurp the authority of the Judges, and decide in such a case, he would be the foremost to vote against such a reformed Parliament. He could not, however, concur in such an opinion, because he was fully convinced that the investigation of such a transaction was within the bounds of parliamentary interference. The right hon. Baronet had said, that there had been four verdicts; but what sort of verdicts were they, when the Judge declared, on one of the trials, that he could receive no evidence which tended to inculpate the soldiery or the Magistrates? So it was in his case; a verdict was given only on half of the twelve counts of the indictment, and so little confidence had Government in the law which then existed, that Lord Castlereagh got an ex post facto law passed, in order to make out the charge against him. There was one trial at Lancaster against the yeomanry, brought by Mr. Redford against Captain Birley, but he had no hesitation in saying that that was a sham trial; the evidence given by Redford fully showed that such was the case. And what had become of the spies that acted on these occasions? Oliver, he knew, was dead, but Castles and Edwards were still alive, and holding offices abroad under different names.—[A Member said, one of these, too, is dead.]—Well, if he were dead, another was receiving the pension in his name. The right hon. Baronet had referred to Thistle-wood's conspiracy, but that was, in fact, Edwards and Castles' conspiracy, who, for the sake of the blood-money, got it up, and brought innocent men to the scaffold. When spies were employed they were sure to go beyond the instructions they received. They incited people to enter into the conspiracy, for which they were predisposed by their distresses. One of these individuals tried, in fine clothes, to set upon him (Mr. Hunt), but he did not like him, and would have none of his company. Had that spy been cunning enough to entrap him, he would have been a Peer by this time. As to the people being armed at Manchester, he would merely ask, was there a dagger, or a bludgeon, or a sword, found on one of them; and if there had been any such weapons, would they not have been produced? If it could be proved that Lord Sidmouth had hired these spies, he would say, that, high as he was, there never was a more fit subject for impeachment. The right hon. Secretary seemed to think that his object in making the Motion was to punish the Yeomanry. He had no such intention. He aimed at higher game, and would be ashamed to prosecute such humble individuals if higher characters could be reached. He regretted the father of the right hon. Secretary (Mr. Stanley) was not in the House, as he was foreman of the Grand Jury when the bills were found against him. On that occasion, though two women came forward on the Friday to give evidence against the Yeomanry, not a witness was examined; yet, next day they proceeded to hear evidence against him, and thus passed over one entire day—a course of proceeding quite unprecedented. He might also state, all the counsel against him had been made Judges, with the exception of the hon. member for Cocker-mouth (Sir James Scarlett), who, he hoped, had not been neglected, because he (Mr. Hunt) had been rather an overmatch for him. Sergeant Cross, Sergeant Hullock, and Mr. Alderson, had all been made Judges; but how did it happen that Mr. Justice Bayley had never been raised higher? That Judge, he was informed, had declared that he would not subject him to one hour's imprisonment; but his opinion was controlled by the other Judges. The way in which the Judges had settled the period of punishment for him was done in the following way, as he had learned from one of the Judge's clerks, and he believed that was the usual mode of proceeding when they differed in opinion, they put down their opinions in writing; Mr. Justice Bayley was against any imprisonment, Mr. Justice Best was for five years, Mr. Justice Holroyd for three, and Mr. Chief Justice Abbot for two; so they added the number up, and divided the sum by four, which gave him two years and a-half imprisonment. He must, in conclusion, say, that he liked better the decided opposition to the measure made by one party, than the quibbling of the other side. He hoped the right hon. member for Tamworth would alter his opinion with respect to spies, as he had once before very honourably done on the Catholic question.

Sir Robert Peel

wished to say a few words in explanation. To those hon. Members who heard him address the House they would be unnecessary, but to others who had since entered the House, some of the remarks of the hon. member for Preston might seem to call for a few explanatory observations. What he said relative to the employment of spies was this—that the employment of spies for the purpose of fomenting and exciting disturbances, and then bringing the persons who participated in those disturbances to punishment, was an unwarrantable use of improper instruments which ought to subject the persons using them to the heaviest penalty which the Constitution provided for such an offence; but he added, that he could not, as an honest man, having some experience of Government, assent to the doctrine that Government were not justified under any circumstances in availing themselves of the assistance of spies. Though not strictly in explanation, the House would perhaps allow him to give a complete contradiction to a statement which had been made by the hon. Member. He had, stated that the action brought by Redford against Captain Birley was a mock action. Was it possible to say anything more unjust towards the counsel employed in the prosecution? Was it probable that the two honourable men who were employed by the plaintiff would have been parties to a mock action? The hon. Member said, that the evidence which Redford gave upon the trial was of a nature to confirm his suspicions that the action was a mock one. Now, it happened that Redford, being plaintiff, was not and could not be examined, and, therefore, the principal ground upon which the hon. Member rested his assertion was taken away. He begged to refer the House to the evidence given by a woman named Mary Dawson. She was asked, whether she saw stones thrown; her reply was "no" She was asked whether the people made any resistance. She replied, that they did not. She was asked, what the soldiery did. She replied, that they cut the people as soon as they came on the ground. She was asked, whether she saw any persons wounded, and she replied, that she did, and that she took fourteen wounded men into her house, and dressed their wounds. Was this, he would ask the House, the sort of evidence which would have been brought forward, if the object of the plaintiff had been to defeat the ends of justice?

The Attorney General

said, that the hon. persons who conducted the plaintiff's case were utterly incapable of being parties to a mock action. They were very zealous persons, and, feeling then as, they did now, that the transactions at Manchester required legal isvestigation, they took the utmost pains to bring forward the case in the best possible way. The hon. Member, in the observations which he made respecting the sentence which was passed upon him had shown himself to be completely misinformed, not only with respect to the general practice of the Judges, but with respect to their conduct in his particular case. It was remarkable that the hon. Member who objected so much to the employment of spies upon other occasions should have made use of knowledge avowedly obtained from a servant who had betrayed the secrets of his master.

An Hon. Member

denied that Lord Sid-mouth had sent spies to Manchester in order to excite the people to outrage. The noble Lord was incapable of such conduct. The hon. Member talked of impeachment; but he was sure that Lord Sidmouth would not shrink from any investigation of his conduct. Amongst the many virtues which his Lordship possessed was that of not shrinking from the defence of any act which he had done in the execution of his duty.

Mr. Hunt

said, it was unusual for Members to speak after the mover had replied.

The Speaker

said, that the hon. Member should consider whether the new matter which he had introduced into his reply should not give those persons who were affected by his observations the privilege of speaking in explanation.

Sir James Scarlett

said, that the hon. member for Preston had alluded to a triumph which he supposed he had gained over him on a former occasion. He was quite unconscious of the circumstance; but if the idea afforded the hon. Member any pleasure, he might continue to enjoy it. The hon. Member, however, was entirely mistaken in all the facts be had stated respecting the judgment of the Judges. He was astonished that a person of the hon. Gentleman's experience should suppose that the Judges would allow their clerks to know the result of their deliberations. He was sure, that if any Judge in England should be guilty of conduct so absurd and base, Mr. Justice Bayley would not be the man. He would unite with the hon. Member in praising the learning and integrity of that Judge. He conducted the hon. Member's trial in a most impartial manner. The result of the trial was well known. With respect to his share in the proceedings, he would not say a word, because he was always unwilling to allude in that House to transactions in which be had been engaged as counsel.

Mr. Hunt

said, that he had not employed the Judge's clerk to betray the confidence of his master. If he had done so, he should have been as guilty as the persons he had been denouncing.

The House divided on the previous question: Ayes 206; Noes 31—Majority 175.

List of the NOES.
Blackney, W. Macnamara, W. N.
Blake, Sir F. Milton, Lord
Bodkin, J. J. Moreton, H. F. G.
Bouverie, Hon. D. P. Musgrave, Sir R.
Doyle, Sir J. M. O'Connell, M.
Duncombe, T. S. Paget, T.
Dundas, T. Phillips, C. M.
Ellis, W. Strickland, G.
Ewart, W. Tomes, J.
Gillon, W. D. Vernon, G.
Harvey, D. W. Vincent, Sir F.
Hodges, T. L. Walker, C. A.
Hoskins, K. Warburton, H.
James, W. Wilks, J.
Johnston, J. Tellers.
Lambert, J. S. Hunt, H.
Lushington, Dr. Hume, J.