§ Mr. Grote
presented a Petition from the Borough of Marylebone against the Irish Coercive Bill. The petition was signed by 2,951 persons. The petitioners stated, that they had heard with horror and alarm, that a hill had passed the other House of Parliament to suspend the Constitution of Ireland, and to establish in that unhappy country Martial-law. The petitioners stated their belief that the only means of putting an end to the disturbances that 573 were taking place in Ireland was, to give full justice to the people of that country, thereby enabling them to enjoy the fruits of their own labour, and also by destroying the iniquitous oligarchical faction that existed in that country. The petitioners concluded by praying that the House would not adopt the measures then under consideration in that House, but would resort to the introduction of measures calculated to insure the affections of the Irish people. He gave his cordial support to the prayer of the petition, which, he hoped, might be favourably heard.
§ Mr. Robinson
would take that opportunity of stating, that in consequence of what had on a former evening been said by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was unwilling to oppose any suggestions which had been made to promote public business, and he should withdraw his opposition to the Irish petitions taking precedence this day; but, in doing so, he could not but express a hope, that in consequence of the understanding which had taken place, hon. Members would be induced not to enter into long and desultory discussions on the presentation of such petitions. He trusted that such a course would not be adopted this day, and that it would be the last on which hon. Members would feel it necessary to ask the House for the favour of being alone heard. If, however, hon. Members were to enter into long discussions on the presentation of these petitions, it would be utterly useless to attempt to proceed with the business of the House. The hon. member for Oldham had taken no less than an hour in the presentation of petitions the other day
§ Mr. Cobbett
, as he had been personally alluded to, begged to observe, that he had never been a party to an understanding of the description referred to by the hon. Member. The proposition that he had put forward to the House was, that the petitions should be read aloud, and that the whole of them should be printed at full length, and that, upon such course being adopted, he would abstain from saying a word on any petition he had to present. With respect to the time which he had occupied in the presentation of petitions the other day, the hon. Member had made a little mistake, as he did not entertain the House more than thirty-five minutes. He hailed with great pleasure the presentation of a petition of this sort 574 from such a constituency as that of the borough of Marylebone, and begged to give the petition his most hearty support.
§ Mr. Brocklehurst
presented a similar Petition from Macclesfield, signed by 2,400 people. He must, however, take the opportunity of saying that, though an ardent supporter of constitutional liberty, still he could not support the prayer of this petition, after hearing the case made out by the Ministers, to arm the Government with the power, great though it was, which was proposed to be given them by that Bill. The petitioners stated, that they had heard with delight of the measures of conciliation which were stated to be in preparation; but they were of opinion that, even if they were all passed, they would not relieve that country from a tithe of its burthens, and grievances, and prayed the House not to pass that Bill before trying the effect which measures of conciliation would have.
§ Mr. John Fielden
said, as the hon. Member could not support the prayer of the petition which he had presented, he (Mr. Fielden) would take that office upon himself. He begged to say, that he most cordially agreed with all the statements contained in it. When it was admitted by the hon. Member, as it had been, that the weavers of Macclesfield were in a state of great distress, they could not look with a favourable eye on their Representatives who supported a measure which must enhance the expenses of the country, and at least, prevent those burthens being diminished under which they laboured.
§ Mr. Finn
presented three Petitions from parishes in Kilkenny, to the same effect. Upon only one of them would he detain the House. He considered it to be of very great importance, as it contradicted one of the facts which had been so often relied on to justify this coercive measure. The petitioners denied that the Jurors upon the Carrickshaugh trials, who had voted for conviction, had been obliged to fly the country, and stated, that five of them were still living in their own houses unmolested—that one had removed, on account of pecuniary embarrassments, and one for causes not known. He took that opportunity of saying, that he was happy to observe, that upon this question, the people of England differed from their Representatives, for they had not sent up any petitions but what were against the Bill. Their conduct, at least, had 575 been such as to draw closer the ties that united the two kingdoms.
§ Mr. Fitzgerald
presented several Petitions from Louth and King's County, against the measure of coercion for Ireland now before the House. The petitions contained a large number of signatures. They clearly proved, that as regarded the county of Louth, the measure brought forward by his Majesty's Ministers was perfectly unnecessary. The right hon. Secretary of State for Ireland had given the House a statement upon anonymous authority of the intimidation of a Juror in the county of Louth. Now, he could state, from his own knowledge of that county, and from experience gathered by constant attendance at the Assizes, that no such case of intimidation had occurred; he repeated, therefore, the statement of the petitioners, that there was no necessity whatever, as regarded the county of Louth, for the enactment of this tyrannical and oppressive measure. The statements made with regard to the backwardness of the gentry of that county to do their duty, he denied in toto. In 1817, when the country was in such a state of disturbance, that the Judges were obliged to ride with a military escort, the yeomanry of the county, who might do honour to any English county, fearlessly and independently came forward to discharge their duty. The people looked upon this Bill with feelings of disappointment and indignation—of disappointment, because they had placed confidence in his Majesty's Ministers, and had done all they could to support them. He begged to add, that unless his Majesty's Ministers made up their mind to remove the odious impost of tithes, they could never hope to see tranquillity restored in that country. He said this because it was the conviction of his mind, and not because he had the slightest wish to put one penny of the tithes in his own pocket as a landlord. What he wanted was, that the tithes should be applied to benevolent purposes. He was surprised the other night to hear the right hon. member for Tamworth so strenuously maintain the right of the clergy to the whole of these tithes. He contended, that the poor had at least a co-equal and co-extensive right with the clergy.
The petitions having been brought up,
§ Mr. Harvey
said, he had listened with attention to the petitions which had been presented, and which contained statements 576 in direct contradiction to those which had been urged in support of the measure. Now, it happened there was not any one member of the Government now present to hear those statements, though it had been clearly understood, when the new arrangement was made, that at least one Minister of the Crown should be present to hear the representations and complaints of the people. As the petitions would go to the Petition Committee, and only such parts be printed as they thought fit, it was surely not too much for the people to expect that, at least, one officer of the Crown should be present on these occasions.
§ Mr. Fitzgerald
concurred in the observations of the hon. member for Colchester. He did not complain of the want of attention to himself individually; but he certainly had been anxious that some one of his Majesty's Ministers should be present to listen to the statement he had to make, particularly as he had not been able to obtain a hearing on a former occasion. If he had been allowed a hearing on that occasion, he should have stated that he had received a letter from one of the Deputy-lieutenants, informing him that Sir Patrick Bellew had written to him, the Deputy-lieutenant, to say that his part of the country had become perfectly tranquil. He mentioned this, as the right hon. Secretary had laid great stress upon a letter of Sir Patrick Bellew's. But what would the House think when he stated that that letter had been written five weeks previously to that written by the Deputy-lieutenant, and was for the specific purpose of being allowed to put the Peace Preservation Act in force, permission to do which had been granted and acted upon, with the best possible effect?
§ Mr. Nicholas Fitzsimon
said, that five of these petitions having been presented from the county he represented, he begged leave to support the prayer of them. They were numerously and respectably signed. They asserted that their county was in a state of tranquillity, notwithstanding it had been stated in that House that it was in a state of disturbance. He would appeal to his noble colleague opposite, whether, from what had been done on numerous trials, the law was not sufficient, as had been demonstrated, to put down those disturbances, if it were to be put vigorously into execution. One of the 577 letters which he had received, asked, whether it was not distressing that able-bodied young men, some of whom had aged parents, and others young families depending upon them for their support, were going about the country unemployed, notwithstanding they were willing cheerfully to give their labour for sixpence a-day? He thought some of his Majesty's Ministers ought to have been in their place to have heard these statements, and to have listened to petitions which were so numerously presented against this Coercive Bill
§ Lord Oxmantown
rose merely in consequence of the direct allusion which had been made to him by his hon. colleague. His hon. colleague had not contradicted one single fact which he (Lord Oxmantown) had stated the other night. He was much surprised that his hon. colleague should have stated, that his county was in a state of peace, notwithstanding within the last month, and almost at the hon. Member's own door, thirteen stand of arms had been taken, and one man most barbarously murdered.
§ Mr. Perrin
said, that with the exception that this Bill went to take away Trial by Jury, he felt compelled to give it his concurrence. He lamented the state of the country had created the necessity of bringing in such a Bill; but, however reluctantly he did it, he should feel bound, in the course of the further discussion it might undergo, to give it his support.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, that he held in his hands a number of petitions, which had come to him from eighteen or twenty different places—principally from parishes ill the counties of Meath, Clare, and Mayo—all against the Bill, and praying that it might not pass into a law. One of the petitions, in particular, deserved the attention of the House. The petitioners deplored the occurrence of several murders, but at the same time, stated that there were great exciting causes for all the outrages which had been committed, amongst which stood most prominently the levying of tithes and the Grand Jury Cess. On Monday last five individuals had been found guilty of White boy offences, and sentenced to punishment; so that it was preposterous for the noble Lord to suppose, that the law, as it at present stood, was not capable of reaching those or any other offences committed in Ireland, provided it was put into active execution. It was then to be 578 hoped that the noble Lord would this night abandon that part of the Bill, which went to the formation of Courts-martial, and to destroy the Trial by Jury. He could not help asking what had been done for the people of Ireland? Upon inquiries that had already taken place respecting the state of Ireland, the Lord Lieutenant himself stated, that it was absolutely necessary to give employment to the people. That employment had not been given. Instead of giving it, they proposed to lock up the Irish people for twelve or fourteen hours out of the twenty-four. Would it not be much more reasonable, if the law was violated, to call in the Sheriff? The Sheriff would do more good with his powers properly exercised, than the right hon. Secretary would do in scattering his army throughout Ireland for the purpose of collecting pigs and geese, and driving them to the different markets, to be sold for tithes. The intention was, to pass this Bill, for the purpose of arming the Executive with anti-constitutional powers—powers which would be extremely dangerous, and would go far beyond any authority which any set of individuals ought to have. For his own part, he could not understand what benefit Ireland was to have from being united to England, if Ireland was to be put without the pale of English laws. He should feel himself bound to take an opportunity of expressing his sentiments on this subject this night; and while he was willing to give every facility to the operation of laws to protect life and property, he should be equally pertinacious in opposing any law which went to the destruction of the constitutional rights of a vast number of his Majesty's subjects.
§ Sir Eardley Wilmot
presented a petition from the Magistrates of the county of Warwick, acting in the Birmingham division; and from the bankers, merchants, and numerous tradespeople and shopkeepers, all rate-payers of Birmingham, regretting, and expressing their heartfelt sorrow that some measures were necessary for the purpose of putting an end to the disturbances that existed in Ireland, and stating their reliance upon the House to adopt such measures as would really redress the grievances under which that country laboured, and by which they would secure to every class of his Majesty's subjects, good government, and by which they would have securities for their persons, and protection for their properly. He had 579 great satisfaction in supporting the prayer of the petition; and he trusted that no Gentleman in that House would think that he did so because he was unwilling to redress the grievances of the people. If they did think so, they were much mistaken, for he had passed the greatest portion of not a short life in endeavouring to promote that object. He should take the present opportunity of answering an appeal which had been made by the Irish Gentlemen on the other side of the House to the English country Gentlemen sitting on the side (the Ministerial) where he sat. They had more than once asked if the English Gentlemen would support his Majesty's Ministers in passing an Algerine law for Ireland—whether they would forge fetters for her, and whether they would forget the great debt of gratitude which was due to the people of Ireland for the great support they had rendered to this country in passing the Reform Bill? To that appeal he answered in his own name, and he had no doubt in the name of the majority of the country Gentlemen of England, that he would not support Ministers in the passing of an Algerine Act for Ireland, or in forging fetters for her, nor should he be prone to forget any debt of gratitude, real or imaginary, which might be due to Ireland. But he should support Ministers in abolishing slavery in Ireland—in taking off the fetters from the minds of the people—fetters imposed upon them by the leading agitators of that unhappy country. He would pay any debt of gratitude which might be owing to the Irish people, by doing an act of kindness to them, in preventing them from injuring themselves, by arresting their own hands lifted up for their own destruction. It was upon these grounds that he should support the Bill introduced by his Majesty's Ministers. He should support its principles, for he conscientiously believed, that if the principles of that Bill were not agreed to by that House there was but one power on earth which could allay the distresses under which Ireland laboured—wipe away her tears—or staunch her blood—nothing else could effect such a happy change, except the adoption of a thoroughly different course by the hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, If they would only exert themselves half as much to allay civil commotion and civil disturbances, as they had exerted themselves, he did not say intentionally, 580 but in effect, to create them, they would do more for the happiness of Ireland in a week, than 100 such Bills, backed by 100,000 soldiers. They would by that means render themselves true liberators, for they would free their own country from crime; they would be true pacificators, because they would have given to their own country the blessings of peace; and they would be true conquerors, because they would have conquered themselves.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
said, the hon. Baronet had expressed the greatest anxiety and wish to relieve Ireland from what he called the state of slavery under which she was at present sunk; yet at the same moment he signified his determination to vote for a bill which in that country would suppress public discussion, take away from the people the Trial by Jury, and throw them into the power of the military—that he would vote for a bill which would give an indemnity for every atrocity that might be committed. With all the good wishes expressed by the right hon. Baronet, he must say, that he took a most left-handed way of expressing them, and putting them in force, towards that unfortunate country.
§ Sir Eardley Wilmot
had only said, that he agreed to the principle of the Bill—not to its details. If he thought that by sup porting Ministers he was imposing chains upon others, he should be the last in the world to vote along with them; but the idea of liberty which he entertained differed widely from that entertained by the right hon. Member opposite. He did not call that liberty, where a man claimed freedom of action for himself, but denied it to every other person. He considered true liberty to be the right of every man to do what he felt to be agreeable or advantageous to himself, without infringing on the happiness or advantage of others.
§ Mr. Finn
said, that nothing could prove so much the ignorance with which the legislative measures connected with Ireland were passed in that House, as the sentiments expressed by the hon. Baronet, when he said, that he and the Members that acted with him, were the people that had raised the storm, and that it was in their power at once to allay it. The people of Ireland would entertain their opinions and remain in their present excited state, so long as they were oppressed as at present; they would do so, though he, and all that acted with him, changed their opinions to-morrow. If they were to 581 change their conduct, they might lose their influence with the people of Ireland, but the opinions of that people would remain unchanged. It had been made the subject of a complaint in that House, that a portion of the people of England were unable to earn 2s. a-day; then how could it be expected that people were to be quiet who were not for more than one-half the year in the receipt of more than 6d. a day? That House had paid no attention to the real interests of Ireland, and now to allay these dissensions which were the natural result of misgovernment for seven centuries, they were going to pass one of the most atrocious Bills that ever had been brought into the British House of Commons. He could assure the hon. Baronet that it was not in the power of fourteen or fifteen individual agitators, as they were called in that House, to allay that spirit which was now abroad among the people.
§ Mr. Dugdale
had been requested to support the prayer of the petition, presented to the House by his colleague, which he did with pleasure. When the House found a petition of that kind come from a town like Birmingham, signed by all the Magistrates, the high and low bailiffs, and 1,400 of the most respectable inhabitants, it surely might be received as an answer to the often-repeated assertion, that the people of England were wholly against this Bill.
§ Mr. Thomas Attwood
would only observe, that the petition did not support the Bill now before the House, but merely prayed that a bill might be passed which would put down the disturbances prevalent in Ireland. If he had supposed that the Bill would have that effect, it should have had his most hearty support; but so far from that being his opinion, he conceived that where one life was now sacrificed a hundred would be after the passing of that measure. The petition also prayed for redress of the grievances of Ireland; but he saw no such intention in the Bill, nor did he give his Majesty's Ministers any credit for what they had proposed. What was the paltry Church-cess which they proposed to abolish, compared to the great grievances under which the country laboured? He saw, by the papers of that morning, that a most respectable Roman Catholic gentleman had been most cruelly and barbarously murdered, not from any political cause, but merely because he distrained 582 for rent. Grievously oppressed indeed must the people be before they brought their minds to murder a gentleman for merely taking possession of his own property, when his rent was not paid. He did not mean to say a word against the respectability of the names attached to the petition, but would only observe, that the Magistrates whose names were to it were county Magistrates—that there had been no public meeting—that he had looked over the petition, and had only seen the names of two merchants and five bankers. As respectability was now estimated, as he was sorry to say it was, by wealth, he would undertake to produce a petition on the other side of the question, that would contain five names for one which this petition contained, and which names would be quite as respectable, according to the common acceptation of the term as the names attached to the present petition.
§ Mr. Methuen
said, he was convinced that some legislative enactment was necessary for the tranquillization of Ireland. If his mind had not been made up before, he should have been convinced by the speech of the hon. Member on the floor (Mr. Finn). He hoped that Ministers intended to act by Ireland in the same spirit as they did for England, otherwise he would not give them his support towards passing that Bill into a law. However, he conceived that the law must be made paramount, and protection afforded both for life and property
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
would take the hon. Member at his word. The Ministers were not only taking away the protection from life and property, but were actually robbing the people of their liberty, by this Bill, which, he again asserted, was to facilitate the collection of tithes. Within the last fortnight his Majesty's Attorney-General for Ireland had actually put up to sale the chattel interest of a tenant for tithes. After that, could they wonder at excitement—was not that adding fuel to flame? He would state one case of oppression with regard to the collection of tithes that had come to his own knowledge. In the county of Waterford, a sum of 4l. 13s. 4d. tithe money, was sought to be recovered by process. The costs of the recovery amounted to the sum of 105l. Was this acting in the same spirit towards Ireland as they did towards England? But would the House believe, that after all, the tenant actually produced the receipt for the 583 4l. 13s. 4d? He wished to ask the hon. member for Dungarvan, whom he saw in his place, whether he knew anything of the proceeding of the Attorney-General in the case referred to?
§ Mr. Baldwin
said, the hon. Member on the opposite side had blamed a few Members on that side of the House as being the cause of the disturbances which now reigned; and, if he recollected right, he also stated they were led by one man. He protected, for himself, as he believed he might for his friends, against being supposed to be blindly led by any individual. They were not the instruments of any man's ambition, nor the tools of any leading agitator, but honestly, independently, and according to their own conviction, they sought to re-establish the tranquillity of Ireland, by obtaining the full enjoyment of its rights and liberties.
§ Mr. Lamb
said, that having been alluded to by the hon. Member opposite, both as a member of the present Government, and as member for Dungarvan, be did not know in which character the question was put to him, He begged to say, however, that he had received no intelligence from Waterford of the result of the proceedings instituted for the recovery of tithes, or he should have been happy to have answered the question. He had, however, this day received tidings of a very different nature from that quarter—namely, tidings of the commission of a most horrible murder. If the hon. Gentleman opposite and his friends were exerting themselves to allay the disturbances of Ireland, he regretted that their exertions had not been more successful than the accounts which daily arrived from that country showed them to be.
§ Major Keppel
presented a petition from Diss, in the county of Norfolk, against the Irish Coercive Bill, and expressed his regret that it was not in his power to support it.
§ Mr. Baldwin
said, in answer to the observation of the right hon. member for Dungarvan, that it was not much to be wondered at if the friends of Ireland wore not successful in restoring peace to that country, when, as fast as they extinguished the flames, his Majesty's Ministers raised them again, by applying the brand to materials they knew to be so combustible. The disorder of the country arose from the measures of the Government, in enforcing the payment of tithes.
§ Mr. Harvey
presented a Petition from the Members of the Union of the Working Classes at Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk, against the Coercive Bill. He quite concurred in the suggestion which had been made by more than one hon. Member in the course of the day—namely, that if, instead of making petitions texts for long orations, they were simply to read them, they should be bettor complying with the objects of those who addressed them, and perhaps hear matter of more weight than they now occasionally did. At any rate, he did not think the petition in his hand an exception to this rule. The petition expressed the disappointment and regret of the petitioners that the first measure of a reformed Parliament should be one of such outrageous violation of the best principles of the Constitution, that it could not be tolerated in any country where the semblance of liberty existed. They particularly regretted the proposed suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, by which, in times not long past, the Government had been able to wreak its vengeance on persons obnoxious to it, without assigning the semblance of a reason. Believing that all violation of the Constitution brought punishment upon the innocent instead of the guilty, they prayed the House not to pass the Bill. He begged to say, that to these sentiments so well expressed, though coming from a lowly class of persons, he gave his cordial support.
§ Mr. George Evans
presented a similar petition from Swords and Malahide. The petition was worded in strong language; but from the state of excitement into which Ireland was thrown by the attempt to bring in such a measure as this, that was not to be wondered at. The petitioners stated, that they regarded with horror the introduction of such a Bill as this—they also stated their conviction, from the late speech made by Mr. Stanley, that he was totally unfit for the office he now held of Secretary for Ireland, and prayed the House to address his Majesty for his removal. The hon. Member begged leave to state, that though he had voted for the Bill going into Committee, there were many parts of it so objectionable as to make it his bounden duty to try and amend them in the Committee. The suspension, for instance, of the Habeas Corpus—Martial Law—fire and smoke law—which to him was very unintelligible, 585 and which, if carried into effect, would lead to many other disturbances, he should decidedly oppose. He must take that opportunity of saying, that he deprecated the mode of opposition which lie had been informed had been resorted to out of doors—he alluded to the run for gold on the banks in the southern part of Ireland. He deprecated it, for he thought that it would produce great injury to the people themselves, more so than to the bankers, because, he believed, that the Government were prepared for such a run. He understood the traders had refused to traffic with the agriculturists in the South of Ireland, fearing the run on the banks. He thought this state of circumstances would lead to great inconveniences, and that it was not a proper mode of opposing this measure.
§ Mr. Christopher Fitzsimon
cordially agreed with the petitioners in their prayer. The petition, he could attest, was signed most respectably. Not hitherto having had an opportunity of giving his opinion on this measure, he now begged leave to state, as one of the members for the Irish Metropolitan County, that he entirely objected to this Bill.
§ Mr. Finn
said, there was one observation, that respecting the run now occurring for gold in Ireland, on which he wished to say a word. When reform was wanted in this country, he would not say whether it was wisely done or not, but the fact was, that placards were stuck up in the City, saying: "If you want to slop the Duke, go for gold." People in Ireland had taken the hint, and thought that if they wanted to stop the Ministers they must go for gold. This might be unwise, and might be the effect of mere desperation; but it showed the feelings which had been already introduced in the country by this Bill. Self-interest and advantage were forgotten, and in their desperation men ruined themselves in order to check the fatal course of his Majesty's Ministers. This was only a foretaste of the dreadful results of this measure, which his Majesty's Ministers could not, he was sure, have calculated upon when they brought it in. Whilst speaking upon this subject, he would remind the House of a difference which existed between this country and England. In England no notes were allowed to circulate under five pounds in value, and the same law ought to be established in Ireland; for as long as they 586 had one-pound notes in circulation, their currency would be upon an unsound footing.
§ Mr. Montague Chapman
said, that the effect of a run for gold in Ireland would be most injurious to the poorer classes, and it was to be regretted, that the leading men among those who opposed the Bill now before the House did not rise in that House, and conjure the people of Ireland not to be deluded by the cry of running for gold. Such a cry could not produce any good, but would be most of all injurious to the poor men who had put by money in the Savings' Banks, who would draw it out and must spend a part of it—perhaps a part they could hardly ever replace—before their confidence was restored.
Mr. Nicolas Filzsimon
said, that he had received letters from several merchants in Ireland, requesting him to raise his voice in this House against the run for gold, which, as stated by the hon. member for Kilkenny, he considered a most desperate measure. It had been attributed to the people of Ireland, but the origin of the run was to be found in certain insinuations made in the Irish papers, which, come from what quarter they might, he had no hesitation in saying, were most injurious to the people of Ireland; for it was the poor people who depended upon their labour that would suffer most, though, undoubtedly, landlords would suffer also.
§ Mr. Fergus O'Connor
felt satisfied that the run for gold would be most injurious to the agricultural population. The landed proprietors of the county of Cork had been in the habit of obtaining loans of money upon the credit of their crops, from the banks in the town, which had enabled them to employ the poor. He had received letters, however, informing him that all confidence was at an end, and that traders would no longer traffic with the agriculturists. The effect of a run for gold would be to add, not to excitement, but to poverty and misery, and therefore he deprecated it.
§ Mr. Cobbett
was very unhappy in being obliged to differ from opinions so well ex-pressed; but so far from conjuring the people of Ireland not to run for gold, he conjured them to run for gold. It was truly said, by a wise man, that paper money was strength in the beginning, but weakness in the end. Gentlemen might say what they pleased about this matter, but they 587 were destined to be brought under military tyranny, both in England and Ireland, and their only safety against the attempt which would be made for that purpose by the Government, would be from the weakness it inherited from this source. They all knew that his Majesty's Ministers would not have been in their places—that the Reform Bill would not have passed—that probably a convulsion would have taken place in the country, had it not been for the power which the people possessed of running to the Bank of England for gold. It was known that forty-eight hours more could not have elapsed during the crisis without a stoppage of the Bank. Therefore it was, that way was given—therefore it was, a relaxation took place—therefore it was. Lord Grey came back to power—and therefore it was, that the Reform Bill was passed, How, then, were the people of Ireland to be told that they could not get anything by going for gold? They were told, that it would bring upon them distress and misery; but how could they be worse off than they were now? What could they have worse than military officers to try them, instead of Judges and Juries? He believed, that the measure of coercion now before them for Ireland, was only the prelude to the introduction of a similar measure into England. He believed, that it was in contemplation to establish, in every village, and in every town of England, a system of military police. He was sorry that the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) was not in his place, or he would distinctly ask the question, whether it was not in contemplation to establish a police in England similar to the police of Ireland—a gensdarmerie similar to that of France. He did not believe, that the noble Lord would deny the fact. He should say, that they had no protection against an attempt of this kind, except in the weakness experienced by the Government from the existence of paper money. Paper money was a great curse—was a scourge in itself; but it came at last to cure the evil it had created. He repealed, that it was our only protection against a military Government, and the establishment of military tribunals; and he repeated, deliberately, that if the Bill before them was passed, his Majesty's Ministers would bring forward a measure to establish in this country a police like that in Ireland, and other measures to inflict upon us all 588 that is proposed to be inflicted upon Ireland by this Bill. He did not say this without having thought upon it, and, therefore, he earnestly conjured the people to run for gold. Sufferings, indeed, they would have; but let them remember that they could not have anything worse than this Bill, that they could not be in a worse situation than Ministers sought to place them in. His words to the people were, then, "run for gold, produce confusion, anything—["Order" and "Chair"]
§ The Speaker
said, an hon. Member might give what advice he pleased, but it was not allowed in the House to ascribe motives to any hon. Member; and had any hon. Member put that interpretation upon the speech of the hon. member for Oldham, which it appeared, he wished this House and the country to put upon it, it would have been most disorderly. When, therefore, the hon. Member himself makes running for gold synonymous with producing confusion, it is clear, uttering that in this House is most disorderly, and the hon. Member is lawyer enough to know, that what he has now uttered, if uttered out of the House, would have subjected him to the operation of the law.
§ Mr. Cobbett
would take care not to offend again. What he meant to say was, that in no state of things in which the Irish people could be placed, could they be worse off than they would be under the Bill. That was all he meant to say. Seeing the right hon. Under Secretary for the Home Department in his place, he begged to ask him whether he had not heard of certain societies or conspiracies on foot relative to paper money; he meant the Currency Clubs?
§ Mr. David Roche
was extremely sorry to hoar the hon. member for Oldham recommending the people of Ireland to run to the banks for gold. For his own part, he would take upon himself to declare, that no two banks could be placed upon a better footing, than those carrying on the money affairs of Ireland. He trusted the hon. Member would not place Ireland in a state of confusion by such recommendations. If runs did take place, the consequence would be the withdrawal of credit by the banks,
§ Mr. James Grattan
deprecated the introduction of such topics during the discussion of Irish petitions.
§ Mr. Lamb
would leave that part of the hon. Member's speech relating to the run 589 upon the Banks to answer for itself, for he had stated, if the people ran for gold they would increase their suffering, although they could scarcely be greater than they were at present. With respect to that part of the hon. Member's speech, in which he had stated that it was the intention of Government to introduce a military police and gensdarmes all over the country, he felt extremely sorry, that his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in the House, as a denial by him of that statement would be much better and more effectual than one coming from him (Mr. Lamb). He could, however, most distinctly assure the House, that further than the present system of police, no measures had ever been even for a moment contemplated by the Government. With regard to the Currency Clubs, to which the hon. Member alluded, he would leave him to the full enjoyment of his own joke.
Petition laid upon the Table.