HC Deb 02 August 1833 vol 20 cc283-5

Mr. Littleton moved, that the House resolve into Committee on the Grand Juries (Ireland) Bill.

On the Question, that the Speaker leave the Chair,

Mr. Lefroy

said, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not, at the present advanced period of the Session, press the measure upon the House. In the last division upon the Bill almost all the Irish Members voted in opposition to it. When it was considered, that for the efficient working of the Bill it was necessary to have the concurrence of the Irish gentry, it could not be amiss to remind the right hon. Gentleman, that the opposition which the measure experienced was the result of a meeting of the great body of the Grand Jurors of Ireland, at which Resolutions were adopted disapproving of the Bill. The present measure had not met with the concurrence of ally one party in Ireland—on the contrary, the opposition to it was general— and persons concurred in opposing it who agreed in nothing else. He trusted that the right hon. Secretary, after collecting information in Ireland from those competent to impart it, might be enabled, in the course of next Session, to introduce a measure calculated to remedy the abuses that existed in the Grand Jury system. But, under all the circumstances of the case, he trusted and hoped, that at this late period of the Session, the right hon. Gentleman would not persevere in thrusting the measure down the throats of the people of Ireland. If a similar measure were introduced for England, and that it was opposed by the great majority of English Members, would his Majesty's Government venture to force it upon the House? He hoped, therefore, that English Members would not suffer themselves to be made tools in the hands of the Government to enforce a measure like the present upon the country—a measure which was opposed by the Representatives of all parties in that House.

Mr. Littleton

observed, that this Bill had been before Parliament during two Sessions, and therefore he thought it had received ample consideration. He confessed that he had paid the most anxious attention to it, and the result was, he acknowledged, that he was wedded to its leading principles. If he were to postpone it, in order to visit Ireland in the interim, he apprehended that he must still approve of the leading principles and provisions of the measure now before the House. As to the absence of the Irish Members, he considered that it was occasioned by their not having any further or material objections to the Bill. He certainly could not, therefore, consent to any postponement of the measure.

Mr. Shaw

said, that all parties in Ireland, whatever might be their political opinions, were against this Bill in its present shape. He admitted that there were some defects in the Grand Jury system; but to such a Bill as the present there were most decided objections. The Bill was not at present in a fit state to be carried into effect. He had communicated with many practical men upon the subject, and the objections urged by those were acceded to by men of all parties. It was not right that this measure should be thus hurried forward at the latter end of the Session, and when so many Irish Members were absent, he believed from the impression, that the Bill would not be pressed this Session. He put it to the noble Lord (Lord Duncannon), whether it was not the unanimous opinion of the Committee up-stairs not to press the Bill forward during the present Session? No inconvenience would arise from postponing the measure until next Session.

Lord Duncannon

said, that there would be considerable advantages in passing the Bill this Session, while he thought there was much objection to postponement. He was free to admit, that when this Bill was last before the Committee alluded to, it was in an imperfect stale, but it had since received very considerable alterations, and might now be considered a much more complete measure. The effect of passing it during the present Session, would be to give the Grand Jurors and all persons concerned in the operation of the Bill a better acquaintance with the manner in which the business would have to be done, as it would not come into operation until the next summer Assizes.

The House went into Committee. The Bill was read as far as the 29th Clause, and agreed to with verbal Amendments.

House resumed.

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