§ Lord Althorp
moved the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee on the Suppression of Disturbances (Ireland) Bill.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
suggested, in order to facilitate the discussion of the subject, that the first Clause of the Bill should be divided, and the parts relating to public meetings and to Courts-martial, considered separately.
§ Lord Althorp
had no objection, as he thought the course would be convenient.
Order of the Day read.
§ Lord Althorp
, in moving, that the Speaker leave the Chair, wished to state, that, in consequence of the Representations to Ministers, by those who were generally disposed to support the Bill, it had been determined to make two alterations. The first related to Courts-martial. Ministers were ready to provide that no person should be permitted to sit upon a Court-martial under the rank of captain in the army. They were also prepared to concede that, when the number of members of a Court-martial should not exceed five, the verdict must be unanimous; when the number should not exceed seven, at least five must concur in the decision; and where it exceeded seven, seven Members must agree before punishment could be inflicted. The second alteration related to domiciliary visits, regarding which 590 Ministers were ready to make a change in the Bill, and to provide that it should be sufficient if, when the names of the residents were called over, they answered, and showed themselves; when this was done, the visiting party should not have the power to enter the House. He had stated these points, in order to save time.
§ Lord Althorp
replied in the negative; adding, that the smaller the number of Judges, the greater was the necessity for unanimity.
§ Mr. Warburton
asked, whether, as in the case of ordinary Courts-martial, the commanding officer would have the power of sending back a sentence for revision?
§ On the Question that the Speaker do leave the Chair,
, in rising to move an amendment to the Motion that the Speaker do leave the Chair, wished to call the attention of the House to that great principle of the Bill which involved the right of petitioning. He was not inclined to abandon any part of his own opinion for the convenience of any Gentleman who was opposed to the principle of the Bill. It was his intention not to yield his own judgment, maturely made up, upon points even of that description. The question before the House, he said, was one of vital importance: it was this—how much of the British Constitution was to be allowed hereafter to exist in Ireland? How far the Legislative Union was to be more than a mere name, or, rather, more than an absurd mockery. He was determined to take the opinion of the House, in the most explicit manner, upon every principle involved in what he might still call, as it was not passed, this atrocious Bill. He should propose the following amendment:—"That it be an instruction to the Committee to preserve inviolate and effectual the undoubted rights of the King's subjects in Ireland, peaceably to propose, prepare, and present petitions, for redress of grievance, to his Majesty, and to both houses of Parliament." He wished for no tumultuous proceedings—nothing that could be considered a breach of the peace, either actually, constructively, or which tended to it. Next, he asked for no right to be preserved but the right of petitioning for redress of grievances—nothing but 591 what bona fide might be included within that description. That applied to the first clause of the Bill, which gave power to the Lord Lieutenant to disperse or suppress any meeting for whatever purpose it had been held. It required no sanction—no oath—no evidence. It conferred upon the Lord-lieutenant political infallibility. As to the assertions of the noble Lord they were (and he said it with no disrespect) perfectly ludicrous, about giving the power of a Judge to a person merely because he had obtained the dignity of a captain, Really he thought that it could not be seriously intended. As to the concessions of the noble Lord, they were of a most trivial nature, such as might satisfy those who wished to be satisfied, but they would not make the Bill one bit more acceptable to the Irish. He begged to remind the House respectfully but firmly of the impression this Bill would produce in Ireland: the whole course it ran would show the people there how little attention was paid to their interests, and how indifferent Parliament was to their rights. If this ought to be done, let it be done; but he entreated the House to pause before the people of Ireland wore taught to despair of having their rights protected, or their properties defended, by the laws of the land. He would not prophesy what would be the effect of the Bill in Ireland, because merely to prophesy would be considered directing; but recollecting that Great Britain had never done justice to Ireland—that Ireland had never derived any advantage from the union—he re-asserted that Ireland had never derived the slightest benefit from the Union—and he was ready to meet any man foot to foot upon the question. He challenged any man to maintain the contrary: he (Mr. O'Connell) could appeal to history, which showed that Ireland had been treated with the most cruel oppression and with the basest treachery [Interruption]. He was ready to wait until Gentlemen were ready to listen, for by interrupting him they only inconvenienced themselves. The value of the right of petitioning he apprehended it was not necessary for him at this time to establish. The right of petitioning was valuable in England; but was it not peculiarly valuable in Ireland, when such a lamentable degree of ignorance was displayed in Parliament on the affairs of that country? Was not the exercise of the right more than ever necessary, 592 when the Habeas Corpus Act was about to be suspended, and the rules of evidence at an end? Was it not necessary, he asked, that the people should have the right of complaining, if the terrific powers given to the Government by this Bill were abused? Let Gentlemen recollect the nature of the tribunal by which the law was hereafter to be administered in Ireland. A Gentleman once told him that he was member of a Court-martial, before which three men were tried for an offence to which the punishment of death was attached. The only evidence that could be adduced against them was extremely slight. The Judge Advocate, there-fore, remarked that it would be necessary to exercise caution in dealing with them. When they were brought before the Court-martial, the Judge Advocate told them that if they admitted their guilt, they would be pardoned. The men were induced to admit their guilt, and they were then ordered to withdraw, when three members of the Court-martial voted for, and two against, a verdict of "guilty." The men were then sentenced to be shot; but this sentence was afterwards commuted to transportation. The Gentleman who informed him of this was one of the five officers on the Court-martial; and he stated that he was perfectly willing to prove this case before any tribunal. If the horrible scenes which occurred in Ireland when the people of that country were before subject to Courts-martial, should again be re-enacted, were they not to be allowed to state their sufferings and grievances in petition to that House? Could any man who read the provisions of that Bill, and considered the powers with which it invested the Government and its officers, say that the subject should be deprived of the right of petitioning? The Magistrates, constables, and police were authorised to search houses for arms, and also to search for strangers. Was not this a power which might be abused? It gave the officers the right of ascertaining the sex of the inmates of any house; and he had heard of an instance in which officers—militia officers, however, he was bound to say-who had been intrusted with a similar power actually paraded six women naked before them, under pretence of proving that there were no men in the house. That was a fact he could prove if it was thought necessary. Under this Bill there was a perfect indemnity for the persons composing 593 Courts-martial. The whole kingdom, at the discretion of the Lord-lieutenant, was to be subject to that tribunal, and, considering all those circumstances, he put it again to the House whether there had ever been such a case for opening wide the doors of Parliament to the petitions of the people? It might be said, that the present Bill did not take away the right of petitioning. No, the people might petition, with the consent of the Lord-lieutenant. That was the mode in which the sacred right of petitioning was to be preserved to the people of Ireland. The Bill certainly allowed one person to petition. An individual might sign a petition and carry it round to the houses of others for signature; but if two persons met for the purpose it would be an illegal meeting to petition, and might be suppressed. He had often seen the disrespect with which petitions were treated in that House, when they came under the expressive denomination of a hole-and-corner petition. Such petitions alone could henceforth be sent from Ireland, and the right of petitioning would be completely suppressed. What man could with safety attend any public meeting for any purpose? The Bill gave encouragement to spies and informers, and a person of that description had only to swear that any man was at a meeting to petition to subject him to the tender mercies of a Court-martial. He addressed himself on this subject more especially to English Members. The denial of the right of petitioning was one of the ingredients of that revolution to which every Englishman looked back with pride. Without this right flagrant crimes might be committed by public men with the most perfect impunity in ordinary times; but when the Magistracy, the constabulary, the army, the Government, had such frightful powers vested in them, was it just, was it expedient, to deprive the King's Irish subjects of the power of complaining? He had heard many Members say, that they supported this measure because they had confidence in his Majesty's Ministers, who were responsible to a Reformed Parliament for the manner in which they exercised the powers intrusted to them. Now, be begged to ask those hon. Members respectfully what the responsibility of Ministers amounted to if the people were not suffered to petition? Without that right there was no responsibility; and, without responsibility, what 594 was the confidence reposed in Ministers? He begged it to be distinctly remembered that he was now only contending for the quiet, orderly, and peaceable right of petitioning. He was not contending for the abuse of the right, nor was he now arguing for the existence of any political association. He said nothing at present of any political club or union. The Political Unions were in great disfavour this year, though they had abundant protection and praise bestowed on them last year. "They were made use of whilst their assistance was deemed necessary; but, being no longer wanted, they were flung overboard. He, however, was not at present contending for the existence of those political bodies—he confined himself to fairly-assembled meetings, to petition for a redress of their grievances. AH he required was, that when grievances were felt by persons, they should have the countenance of their more influential neighbours in coming together, discussing their grievances, and petitioning the Legislature. This was all he was contending for—it was a miserable remnant, a rag, of the British Constitution. It might be said, that his motion ought to be opposed on account of the smallness of his demand; but he would take it, because if that right existed, despotism would not be complete. It had been said if a free Press had been established in Constantinople, an end would be put to the tyranny that reigned there; so, if the right of petition was still continued, the constitution of Constantinople would not be diffused into Ireland, and the steel of his Majesty's Ministers would be blunted. Pandora's red box had been opened; let the right of petitioning be preserved, and hope would yet remain at the bottom. Whatever opinions might be entertained on other parts of the measure, no man could contend that Ministers had made out any case against petitioning. The outrages on which they relied had nothing to do with the right of petitioning. The Whitefeet would not be affected by depriving the people of Ireland of that right. In what instance was it alleged that the right had been abused? The only prosecutions arising out of public meetings had sprung from anti-tithe meetings. And was it to prevent the people from petitioning against tithes that the right was to be taken from them? If facts made the impression in that House that he thought they ought to make, he could state many. 595 The proceedings at the Assizes now going on proved that the province of Minister was in a state of peace and tranquillity. He happened to know that the county of Clare was in a state of perfect tranquillity; and, at the recent Assizes, the number of criminals tried was very small. Among those tried, was a man for the administration of illegal oaths; and respecting this man, he had received a letter from a most respectable Catholic clergyman—the reverend Mr. Fahy—in which it was stated that the prisoner, on being sentenced, said—"My Lord, I am sorry to say, I am not guilty." Again, it appeared from the last address of the Judge in the county of Kerry, that there were hardly any offences to be tried at the assizes there—that, out of a population of upwards of 300,000, there were only seventeen prisoners for trial in the calendar. Again, the counties of Limerick and Cork were in a similar tranquil state. But all these parts of Ireland, where the utmost tranquillity prevailed, were to be exposed to the operation of this cruel and tyrannical Bill. The Lord-lieutenant, by his "order," had the power of placing any part of the kingdom under the provisions of the Bill, and innocent persons might render themselves liable to punishment for offences committed under it, before they could be aware that the part of the country in which they resided was subject to its provisions. In fact, the measure had all the worst crimes and qualities attributed to the odious and execrable Inquisition. He thanked the hon. member for Leeds for mentioning Algiers, and he, unhesitatingly, pronounced this measure worse than any ever known at Algiers. It was not the Lord-lieutenant's proclamation, but his "order" that was required to make any meeting illegal, and bring it under the operation of the Act. Every one knew what a proclamation was—it must appear in the Gazette, but who could define what constituted a Lord-lieutenant's order. He supposed it might be either verbal or written. There was nothing stated in the Bill to show the contrary. But what had been done at public meetings to render it necessary to suppress them? There had been no breach of the peace at any public meetings; and the only complaint he had heard was, that at some of those meetings inflammatory language had been used. Inflammatory language could do little mischief unless it was published, for its influence must necessarily be confined 596 to the meeting at which it was delivered; and if it was published, was not there the most severe libel law in the world to meet it? There was a law to prevent libel—a law to prevent sedition—a law to prevent breaches of the peace—a law sufficient, as he contended, to prevent any abuse of the right of petitioning; and as, no doubt, there were many independent Members in that House, he would put it to those Members whether the people of Ireland should be deprived of that sacred right without any cause shown or any necessity proved? To put that question to issue, he should propose the resolution which he had already stated, by way of instruction to the Committee. The hon. and learned Member concluded by reading his Motion.
§ Lord Althorp
was not quite sure whether, according to the ordinary practice of the House, the hon. and learned Gentleman was quite justified in moving an instruction to the Committee of the nature proposed. He had always heard it laid down as a rule of that House, that instructions to a Committee, not giving that Committee power beyond what it possessed before, could not be moved. The Committee already possessed the power of altering the clause to which the hon. and learned Member had referred, and, therefore, his instruction, to say the least, was unnecessary. It appeared to him, that the moving of such an instruction could only be intended for the purpose of delay. The hon. and learned Gentleman had told the House, that he wished to take its opinion upon three great constitutional questions—first, upon the impropriety of abolishing the right of petition; next, upon the impropriety of abolishing the Trial by Jury; and, thirdly, upon the impolicy of suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, Taking these questions as abstract questions, it would, no doubt, be favourable to the hon. and learned Gentleman's object to ask the House, whether it was favourably disposed or not to the right of petition; for there could be no question that every Member would agree that the right of petition was one of the most valuable rights enjoyed by British subjects. But the question now was, whether the circumstances of the times were such as to make it expedient and necessary to suspend to a certain degree, but not entirely, certain rights which were connected with the right of petitioning, but 597 which were not the right of petitioning itself. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that by the first clause of this Bill the right of petitioning was done away with altogether. Now, nothing could be a greater exaggeration than such a statement; for the first clause of the Bill merely said, that the Lord-lieutenant might, by order, prohibit or suppress the meeting of any assembly deemed by him to be dangerous to the public peace, or inconvenient to the due administration of the law. From these words he thought it evident that the Lord-lieutenant, who was a responsible officer, and whose responsibility, in the feeling of Parliament, was not diminished but increased by the present Bill, had no power to prohibit or suppress any meeting which was not deemed by him dangerous to the public peace, &c. He admitted that there were other clauses of the Bill by which no meeting for petitioning Parliament could be held in a proclaimed district, without the previous consent of the Lord-lieutenant; but the hon. and learned Gentleman was decidedly in error when he contended that no meeting could be held for that purpose in any part of Ireland, without the previous consent of that officer. He must, on the contrary, contend, that so far from the right of petitioning being done away with altogether in Ireland, it was not done away with even in the proclaimed districts, for, unquestionably, petitions might be circulated from man to man, and as many signatures as possible obtained in that manner. "But," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "Petitions signed in this way have not the same effect as petitions agreed to at public meetings," He contended that petitions obtained in this private manner could only be considered as expressing the sentiments of those who subscribed them; and that petitions voted at public meetings might fairly be taken to express the sentiments of the majority of the inhabitants of the districts in which such meetings were held. In the present state of Ireland, however, he was inclined to believe, that the opinion of a public meeting was not so much the opinion of the majority of the inhabitants of the town or district in which it was held as it generally was, and as, constitutionally speaking, it ought to be considered. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in arguing the propriety of his instruction, had travelled out of that question, and had treated the 598 House with an invective against other clauses of the Bill which were not at all connected with his proposition. The proper season for discussing the clauses to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had objected would be in the Committee. As to the clause making any place where a party was detained under this Act a lawful gaol for his detention, it was not, in his opinion, a point of much importance to those who supported the Bill. The objections taken to it were strong, and he was therefore not inclined to insist upon it. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also argued, as if, after the statement which he (Lord Althorp) had made to the House in moving the Order of the Day, the right of search by night was continued by this Bill. He was prepared to insist, that after the alteration which he had just mentioned, there could be no search by night, either for persons or for arms, under the present Bill. The right of searching for arms by night existed under a law at present in force, and therefore there was no occasion for the present Bill either to give or to continue it. As to the right of meeting to petition in a district proclaimed as disturbed, he really saw nothing more mischievous, nothing more likely to continue the disturbances which all sides wished to check, than the assembling of large meetings, at which discussions were to take place similar to those which had recently taken place in Dublin. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said, that if inflammatory language were used at such meetings, it was open to prosecution. Now, he was of opinion that the hon. and learned Gentleman knew well enough how inflammatory language might be used without coming under the lash of the law. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the case of a man who had been prosecuted for seditious language in the county of Clare. An hon. Member, but he forgot what hon. Member, had said, in the course of the debate, that the man thus prosecuted was a Government spy. If he were, how did it happen that the Crown had been his prosecutor? He was afraid that in arguing the impropriety of this instruction, he had gone further into the question than he ought to have gone; but in a case like the present, where it was not proposed to give to the Committee any power which it had not at present, if it thought proper to exercise it, the 599 only effect of yielding to this proposition would be, to discuss the same question over again, and thus to delay the immediate passing of the Bill. He had explained the grounds on which he thought that the question ought not to be brought forward now, as to the abstract right of the subject to petition, and upon those very grounds he must state his conviction to be, that his instruction was not called for.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, that those Irish Members who opposed the present Bill, did not merit the accusation of having opposed it merely for the sake of thwarting the measures of his Majesty's Ministers. For his own part, he would say that, whenever their measures were beneficial to the nation, he would not oppose them; but as he considered this Bill in a very different light, he felt it not only his bounden duty, but also the duty of every Irish Member, to oppose it in all its stages. The object of the Bill was two-fold—to suppress predial and political agitation. No one could object to that part of it which had for its design the suppression of the former species of agitation which led continually to outrage; but everybody must disagree with that portion of it which related to political agitation. A course within the limits of the Constitution might be pursued which would effect the suppression of the latter sort of agitation. It was well known that an Act had existed fully sufficient for this latter case, and that if the right hon. Secretary for Ireland advised the adoption of it—for be seemed in the present instance to be chief adviser of Government—he would have the whole of the House in his favour. The Act he alluded to was the 10th George 4th, chapter the first. He would tell the right hon. Secretary why he had not made use of that Act. If he had, the English Members of that House would have taken it up, and asked, why break in upon the Constitution, when he had already the power of suppressing agitation by suppressing the hon. and learned member for Dublin? That would have been done some time ago, had not the Act expired just at the moment of the dissolution of Parliament. When such an Act could now be revived and put in force, he was surprised that the right hon. Secretary should come forward and ask 600 the House to arm the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland with monstrously unconstitutional powers. He called upon Ministers to withdraw the present Bill, and to put in force the Insurrection Act, and the 10th George 4th, which would be found fully sufficient for all their purposes. If they did so, however painful it might be to him, he would give them his support. All sensible and reflecting men must feel that Ministers were acting unwisely and inconsistently on the present occasion, and that the measures they were now endeavouring to pass would, when the excitement of the moment was cooled down, be a blot upon their escutcheon that they could not easily wipe away. Besides, he further complained, that the present measures would be found inadequate to the purpose they were intended for. Would they put a stop to noon-day murder and midnight assassination? He maintained that they would do no such thing. The evidence given before the Irish Committee, showed, that the acts of violence complained of were the result of vexation, and that scarcely one case of outrage had lately occurred in Ireland which was not caused by some unnecessary aggression. The present measures were evidently brought forward to please one party, but the result would be, that they would please none. With respect to the first clause, he agreed with the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that it did away with the right of petitioning. He also contended, that within the last three years crime, instead of having increased in Ireland, had diminished, whilst in England the proportion was doubled, as might be seen by the number of committals during that period. He would ask the right hon. Secretary opposite, whether he meant to persevere in this measure, and whether he meant to apply it to the collection of tithes? If such should be the case, he felt it his bounden duty to oppose it in every stage of the proceedings. All that the present Bill could do, would be to suppress disturbance for awhile—for a short day—when it would appear again with tenfold violence.
§ The House divided on the Amendment: Ayes 60; Noes 125—Majority 65.
§ Another division took place, on the question "that the Speaker do now leave the Chair," when the numbers were: Ayes 151; Noes 34—Majority 117.
|List of the AYES on the first division.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Barry, G. S.|
|Beauclerk, Major||Butler, Colonel|
|Bowes, John||Daunt, W. O. N.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||Finn, William F.|
|Cobbett, William||Fitzsimon, N.|
|Collier, J.||Fitzsimon, C.|
|Cornish James||Galway, J. M.|
|Ellis, Wynn||Lalor, Patrick|
|Faithfull, George||Lynch, A. H.|
|Fielden, John||Maclaughlin, L.|
|Guise, Sir W. B.||Martin, John|
|Gully, John||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Hall, Benjamin||O'Brien, Colonel|
|Handley, Benjamin||O'Connell, Daniel|
|Hawkins, John||O'Connell, John|
|Hume, Joseph||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Hutt, William||O'Connell, Charles|
|James, William||O'Connor, Fergus|
|Lister, Ellis||O'Connor, Don|
|Parrott, Jasper||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Poller, Richard||O'Ferrall, Moore|
|Rippon, C.||Roche, William|
|Tayleure, W.||Roche, David|
|Torrens, Colonel||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Warburton, Henry||Ruthven, Edward|
|Wilks, John||Sheil, R. L.|
|Wood, Alderman||Sullivan, Richard|
|SCOTLAND.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Oswald, R. A.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Wallace, Robert||Grattan, Henry|
|Tynte, C. K.||Wigney, Isaac|
§ House in Committee.
§ On the Question being put, "That the preamble be postponed,"
rose and said, that the preamble contained a recital to which he entirely objected. It set forth—"And whereas divers meetings and assemblies, inconsistent with the public peace and safety, and with the exercise of regular Government, have for some time past been held ill Ireland; and whereas the laws now in force in that part of the United Kingdom have been found inadequate to the prompt and effectual suppression of the said mischiefs, and the interposition of Parliament is necessary for the purpose of checking the further progress of the same." Now, he denied the truth of that assertion. He would say, with great respect, that there never was a more false assertion introduced into an Act of Parliament. Anything so utterly devoid of truth never had been before declared in a public Assembly, as that the laws in that part of the united Kingdom were found inefficient for the 602 suppression of disturbance and the preservation of property. Mark! It was known by the experience of England, and by the experience of Ireland, that disturbance was always suppressed by the effectual execution of the law. Wherever they had carried the law strictly into effect they put an end to disturbance. This was a matter of fact, borne out by the experience of every man—borne out by the Report on their Table—borne out by the declaration of the Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland. That recital which he had read, was falsifying the statements made by the Judges of the land. They were stigmatized by the declaration, which stated, in opposition to their opinion, that the laws were found inadequate to the suppression of disturbance. If they wished to place the Chief Justice of the King's Bench in an unpleasant predicament, they could not have adopted a better course. In Ireland, they all knew that a Special Commission had been found sufficient to repress disturbance; and yet, with complete knowledge of that fact, they stated the very reverse in this preamble. The fact was declared by the Report of the Committee—it was also stated by the Chief Justice of the King's Bench, and yet, in the face of such evidence as this, precisely the contrary was set forth in the preamble. He defied any one to show him an instance where the Special Commission had not produced the effect which he had stated. He therefore should say, that part of the preamble was totally untrue, and it ought not to be postponed unaccompanied with a declaration of its incorrectness. He should therefore move, that after the words "that the preamble be postponed," there be added these words:" the same containing an untrue recital."
§ Mr. Cobbett
said, the preamble of every Bill ought to be strictly true. He recollected a Bill with which he was connected having been brought before the Lords. The first thing their Lordships did, was to inquire whether the preamble of the Bill was true. He proved that it was not true, or rather he threw it on the opposite party to show that it was true. This could not be done, and their Lordships proceeded no further in the business. He had examined the preamble of this Bill, and in his opinion, every word contained in it was false. There was no evidence to prove the allegation, or to justify them in taking away the protection 603 of the Constitution from Ireland, and leaving the people of that country without Judges or Juries. Would a Reformed Parliament, as it was called (and sometimes, he believed in jest), proceed to take away the liberties of Ireland—to dispense with the functions of Judges and Juries in that country, without any proof of the necessity of such a measure? He trusted that they would not do so. If they did, he knew what must be the opinion of the people with regard to that House—he knew what must be the opinion of all mankind with respect to such a transaction, he should heartily second the Amendment, and he hoped that the hon. and learned Gentleman would divide the House on the question, and carry his point.
§ Mr. Montague Chapman
opposed the Amendment. He had sufficient confidence in his Majesty's Ministers to indulge in the hope that they would not pass the Bill without some qualifications.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
condemned the preamble as untrue. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland had endeavoured to prove its correctness by adducing evidence on which a man could not be convicted even of petty larceny. The preamble declared that there was in Ireland "a dangerous conspiracy against the rights of property." Had they any evidence of such a conspiracy? Did the numerous landed proprietors in that House bear out the allegation? He denied, that such a conspiracy existed against the landed property of Ireland. He repudiated the assertion as a gross untruth. He appealed to all who were acquainted with Ireland, to say, whether a conspiracy against the rights of property prevailed there? They would, he was confident, declare that rents were never better paid than at present. Had tithes been spoken of, the case would have been different. He admitted, that there was in Ireland a fixed, settled, determined resolution, (which he heartily applauded) not to pay tithes. There was another part of that preamble to which he objected. It spoke of "meetings and assemblies inconsistent with the public peace and safety." Now, he would aver, that the meetings here alluded to as being held in Ireland were not contrary to the public peace and tranquillity. The effect of this Bill would be to put down in Ireland that system which had saved the country from a sanguinary Revolution—he meant the right to petition 604 for a redress of grievances. What was the chief beauty of the Constitution of England? It was to be found in the freedom of the people to meet and to petition. He came into that House by the force of strong popular feelings, and he would resist to the last so atrocious and tyrannical a measure. It was his determination to support his hon. and learned friend, and to divide the House with him.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
said, the opposition to the preamble would be extremely reasonable at the proper time, but the postponement of it was only a matter of form. It must be considered hereafter. It was said, that the existing laws were sufficient for the suppression of disturbance in Ireland, while at the very same time it was admitted that some new laws were necessary for the pacification of that country. If new laws were considered necessary, then it was clear that the present laws were insufficient. He should vote against the Amendment. There was, however, one part of the Bill to which he was opposed. He did not approve of giving over any portion of his Majesty's subjects to a military tribunal.
said, the preamble set forth that "the laws now in force in Ireland are inadequate to the prompt and effectual suppression of disturbance." But if the report to which he had referred were true, if the statement of the Chief Justice were correct, then there was no ground for the preamble nor for the Bill. He had not been contradicted in his statement, and he defied any man to contradict him. Where had the law, when properly administered, been found ineffectual? On the first or second reading of a bill they argued on the general principle; but in the Committee he wanted to come at particulars. He wanted proof of what was asserted in the preamble; he called for that proof; and if it were not given, then it would be impossible for the House to carry this measure with any show of justice.
§ Mr. Fergus O'Connor
said, he would support the Amendment on the ground taken by the hon. and learned member for Dublin—namely, that there was no foundation for the recital. The laws which came under his own knowledge in his practice, showed there was no want of Jurors to try, or evidence to give testimony at the late Special Commissions. When last July Lord Roden made a statement 605 in the other House of the supposed inefficiency of the law to put down lawless associations, and instanced the frequency of midnight meetings, of fire-signals, blowing of horns, &c. throughout the country, as a reason for putting those districts under the Insurrection Act, Lord Melbourne said the evil was not of to-day, it was but too frequent for the last seventy years; and the application for greater powers being refused, the Magistrates and Gentlemen, to put down the outrages, made a collection of several hundred pounds, and bestirred themselves in their duty. The consequences immediately were, that peace and order were restored. He should give his support to the Amendment of the hon. and learned member for Dublin.
would read one sentence from the preamble of the Bill, and a short passage from the report of the Committee on the state of Ireland, and having done so, he should leave it to the House to determine how far the assertion of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that the preamble was negatived by the report, could be considered to be borne out by the facts of the case. The preamble stated that "Whereas the laws now in force in Ireland have been found inadequate to the prompt and effectual suppression of the said mischiefs. "This allegation was said to contain a statement which was at variance with fact, and the report of the Committee; and it was asserted that the laws were adequate to the "prompt and effectual suppression of the mischiefs," including not only "outrages against person and property," but "dangerous associations," which, be it remembered, never formed part of the inquiry undertaken by the Committee; therefore their report could not negative that portion of the preamble, even though it should be found to be at variance with the rest—a thing he utterly denied. The Committee state in their Report "that although it is quite true, as has been stated by the Chief Justice of the King's Bench in his charge to the Grand Jury of the Queen's County, that the ordinary and regular laws had been found sufficient to put down the various White boy associations which have from time to time existed, it is equally true that in every instance every association has made itself complete masters of the county where it has been formed, and committed all kinds of crimes and enormities 606 with impunity for a considerable period before the enforcement of the powers of the law has produced a remedy." Could it be said, after this, that the Report negatived the allegation "that the laws now in force had been found inadequate to the prompt and effectual suppression of the mischiefs?" But the Report proceeded—"In point of fact, although the law has, in general, proved sufficiently strong and effectual for the ultimate suppression of Whiteboy associations, it has not been effectual In affording protection to the public against being exposed to the crimes and atrocities of those conspiracies for a considerable period previous to their being completely repressed." Would any man tell him, after this, that the Report negatived the preamble in its statement, that "the existing laws were not adequate to the prompt and effectual" (those were the two emphatic words), "prompt and effectual suppression of the mischiefs?" No: it could not be pretended that they were. If the Committee thought the existing law adequate for the suppression of the mischief, why did they recommend the Legislature to strengthen the law? If it was then necessary to arm the Government with additional strength, it was now still more necessary to do so. Thus, instead of the preamble being contradicted, it was fully borne out and strengthened by the authority referred to by the hon. and learned member for Dublin.
§ Mr. Hume
was greatly surprised that any person could for a moment consider the preamble substantiated by the Report. As to what had been said about these outrages being carried on with impunity for a long time before the laws could have their due effect in suppressing them, whose fault was this—who were to blame for this long impunity for crime? Why, the Magistracy and the Government themselves. Indeed, he himself considered the Report conveyed a censure on the Magistrates and Government, for their indolence and inactivity. He denied that the Report proposed anything like the monstrously atrocious Bill now brought forward. The utmost it recommended was Special Commissions. With respect to the proposed Amendment, he fully concurred with the hon. and learned member for Dublin in protesting against the preamble. The usage of the House, however, was to postpone the agreement to the preamble of any Bill till the various provisions or 607 clauses of that Bill were discussed; then the preamble might be made correspondent to the clauses as agreed to. A preamble could hardly be agreed to, before it were known what the provisions were. He should therefore suggest to that hon. and learned Gentleman to let the preamble be for the present postponed, and for the House to proceed forthwith to the consideration of the different clauses. These being disposed of, the objections to the preamble might be brought forward, and there was no one more inclined to protest against it than he was.
reiterated his former assertion that the Report negatived the preamble, but was willing, in conformity with the recommendation of his hon. friend the member for Middlesex, to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, that the six Judges, in their charges to Grand Juries, had completely contradicted the allegations in the preamble; that such "alarm and intimidation" had been created "as materially to impede the due course of public justice, and to frustrate the ordinary modes of criminal prosecution." On the contrary, it appeared, that, in all eases, the fullest evidence had been procured. The individual, for instance, who had murdered the Maddoxes, was hanged at the present Assizes. Was the ordinary mode of criminal prosecution frustrated here? In short, it was a bill got up for the purpose of collecting tithe; and he put the question, with all due respect, to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, whether such was not really and truly the case?
, in reply to the hon. member for Meath, had only to repeat what he had distinctly stated on a former occasion,—namely, that it was not the intention of Government to make this Act in any way available for the enforcement of any civil process, whether for the recovery of rent or tithes. He had also stated, that the mere opposition to the payment of tithes would not alone afford a reason for the introduction of this Act into any particular district, but that in cases where it had been introduced, the property of the clergy had as much right to be protected by it as the property of any other individuals, and that protection would be afforded by this Act.
§ Mr. James Grattan
had no doubt, after this explanation, that the Act was to be applied to the collection of tithes. He 608 maintained that there was no "conspiracy against the rights of property," with the exception of tithe property; and asked the right hon. Secretary to state what he considered to be the other rights of property that were invaded in Ireland? What did the right hon. Gentleman mean by rights of property? Against tithes, he repeated, there did exist a conspiracy, and if the right hon. Secretary would introduce the word "tithes" into the preamble, he (Mr. James Grattan) should support that part of it, but he never could be brought to affirm, that "property" generally was attacked. Let the House understand the preamble as being (exclusive of its application to public meetings,) solely directed against conspiracies in opposition to tithes, and against nothing else.
The hon. Gentleman asked him, "what he considered to be rights of property?" He was perfectly prepared to answer the hon. Gentleman. He considered it to be a right of property that a man should be allowed to let his own land to whom he pleased. He considered it to be a right of property, that a man should be permitted to take his land from whom he pleased. It was a right of property to cultivate land as a man pleased. It was a right of property that a man should be maintained in the safe and secure enjoyment of his dwelling and his land, without being exposed to the incursions of nightly marauders and murderers, terrifying the peaceable inhabitants, burning their houses over their heads, dragging them from their beds, murdering them at their doors, and parading the roads and highways by night and by day, in the commission of every atrocity. Rights of property! Had the hon. Gentleman read the accounts recently received of a murder committed within these few days? A Roman Catholic gentleman had been brutally massacred in the noon-day in the county of Kilkenny, on the borders of Waterford, near the residence of the member for the city of Waterford—that hon. Member who denied the existence of disturbance in his part of the country. This unfortunate gentleman, who was described to be a most inoffensive man, was met on the high road by a party of ruffians, between twelve and one o'clock in the day, in the county mentioned. [A Member said, that the murder took place near New Ross, in the county of Waterford.] It mattered not as 609 to the precise spot; he believed the transaction happened at a place on the borders of Kilkenny, Waterford, and Tipperary; but, he repeated, the circumstance was not material. Suffice it to say, the murder was committed on the high road, in the noon-day, on an inoffensive, liberal, and indulgent landlord, without information or assistance being rendered by any. This gentleman was brutally massacred, and after death his head was so beaten with stones, that his features could not be distinguished; and the gig in which he travelled was left standing by the side of the road, as a sign and intimation of the scene of blood to all who passed by. What was this gentleman's offence? He had ventured to eject a tenant two years ago, and was about to put in a distraint for rent on the following day; but, on all hands, it seemed to be admitted that he was a harmless and inoffensive man, and a good landlord. Was this an interference with the rights of property? Let it be observed, that the act for which this unfortunate gentleman had been brutally murdered was a simple enforcement of the payment of rent due, without any features of oppression or harshness; it was no case of tithes. The Act protected the right of every man to the peaceable possession of the highway. "Here," said the right hon. Gentleman," is a murder openly committed in mid-day, with no cause of provocation except the enforcement of a legal right. Tell me, after this, that with the exception of tithes, there exists no conspiracy against the rights of property, and that murders and outrages such as this may be put down by the ordinary powers of the law."
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that he and those by whom he was surrounded fully concurred in the sentiments, feelings, and opinions, manifested by the right hon. Gentleman upon this subject. There was no Gentleman on his side of the House, who did not feel every sentiment of horror and reprobation of such a crime. In this case there had certainly been an invasion of the rights of property, if the facts were really such as had been represented. But the blood of this man was yet fresh. Did this fact, which happened four days ago, justify the allegations in the preamble, which was framed long before? Why was this stratagem made use of—this fact brought forward, just as the House were entering on the threshold of the Bill? Was it not an 610 attempt to excite the feelings of the House, thus in the outset, by an account of some horrible murder? The question was not whether an isolated crime had been committed or not, but whether the allegations sot forth in the preamble of this Bill were true or false? He contended that they were false. He was glad to bear the right hon. Secretary repeat that this was not a tithe bill, though he himself (Mr. Sheil) thought it was. He now, therefore, called upon the noble Lord to introduce the clause he had promised when bringing the Bill in, that this Bill should not be applied to the collection of tithe. Referring to the Queen's County Report, the hon. Member said, that the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had only quoted such parts of it as suited his own purposes; that there were others which might have produced quite a different impression. He asked that right hon. Secretary, with every feeling of respect, whether, as far as a judgment could be formed from the Assizes now taking place, he did or did not think, that justice had been fairly, fearlessly, and efficiently administered?
§ Lord Althorp
said, that a good deal of confusion had been produced by the different subjects and questions introduced to the notice of the House on this occasion. With respect to the answers of his right hon. friend to the member for Wicklow, his right hon. friend did not mean to apply the case quoted to the particular part of the preamble referred to by the learned member for Tipperary. The hon. member for Wicklow had asked his right hon. friend for some proof of a conspiracy or attack against rights of property, other than those involved in a resistance to tithes; and, in reply to the demand, his right hon. friend stated a case of murder which had no connexion with tithes, but which did involve an attack on another description of property. Doubtless, the preamble was not founded on this case, which had happened since the framing of the Act; but Ministers did found the preamble on the general state of the country—minder being referred to among other crimes—and this recent instance of murder showed that the slate of the country remained the same as it was when the Bill was framed; consequently, that the provisions then called for were still necessary. He had stated before, and he now stated again, that it was not the intention of Ministers to use the Bill for the collection 611 of tithes; but if Gentlemen supposed him to have said (what he never did say) that this Bill was not to be used to prevent outrages and crimes committed or produced by resistance to tithes, as well as to repress crime and outrage in general, they were very much mistaken. The Bill was for the protection of the peaceable, and the suppression of crime; and if crime were produced by resistance to tithes, that, as well as every other species of crime, must be put down. With respect to the Assizes now in progress, if he were not misinformed, though there might have been some convictions for offences described in the Bill at the Assizes, the outrages were still continued, and it could not be affirmed that the Assizes had been successful in the repression of crime.
said, there appeared to be two questions in discussion; one of which was whether this was or not a tithe bill. He most decidedly considered it such himself; it certainly embraced some other objects; but these were but mere marginal notes. The real text and body of the Bill constituted it essentially a tithe bill; it was altogether directed "against tumultuous meetings, or assemblies of evil-disposed persons," whose evil dispositions were wholly directed against tithe payment of tithe. He declared positively, that no case could be found in which a Special Commission had failed to restore order when such a case was alleged, he would undertake to demonstrate its incorrectness.
§ Mr. Shaw
must say a few words in answer to the hon. and learned member for Tipperary (Mr. Shell), both in respect of the barbarous murder alluded to by the right hon. Secretary being a part of the system of outrage and combination against the laws then prevalent in Ireland, and as to the cessation of disturbance which the hon. and learned Gentleman described as having taken place in some parts of that country. He (Mr. Shaw) had that morning received a letter from a most respectable gentleman, a particular friend of his own, written from almost the spot where the murder of Mr. Leonard occurred. The letter stated—"I have since been present at the inquest, and it appears that he was murdered by three persons, a blunderbuss having been fired at him; but it is manifest that be received no gun-shot wound. It appears that he was walking up the hill beside his pony, which drew his gig, when 612 he was assailed—they laid his head, it appears, upon the stones, on top of a low wall just by, and literally beat his head as a smith strikes on his anvil, until they battered in his skull; they also broke his right arm, and with a sharp instrument cut off his left ear. The deliberation with which they proceeded made it manifest that they knew no evidence dared to appear against them. The place where he was murdered was on the bounds of his own property, situated about two miles and a half from New Ross, in a hollow or valley surrounded by thickly-inhabited hills, with the public road leading down to, and in view of, the point where he was murdered. The people were all at work, and it is impossible but that almost every one in the neighbour hood must have been aware of it. It was perpetrated at two o'clock yesterday on the Waterford road." Now, did that case prove no system of intimidation? Was that a state of things which could be permitted to endure? The hon. and learned member for Dublin talked to them of putting down the law, but the fact was, that in the disturbed districts of Ireland, the law was already put down. It had been prostrated by turbulence and outrage—it cried to parliament to stretch forth a more than ordinary strength and power to raise it to its due authority; and if that was not within their constitutional functions, then law and Constitution, peace and prosperity, were at an end in that unhappy portion of his Majesty's dominions. Then it was said, that tranquility had been restored in many parts of Ireland. The truth was, there was an object in having that impression made, and the edict had issued for peace—but it was the hollow and uncertain sound of peace, where really there was no peace. This was well de scribed lately in the charge of a learned Judge, who had been spoken of in recent debates with much unmerited disrespect—he meant Baron Smith—a Judge whom the Gentlemen that now censured him used to laud as one who, when a politician, was remarkable for his liberality—and as a Judge, for the extreme lenity and kindness of his judgments. That distinguished man was as much above his praise as he was above the abuse of those who had maligned him. His allusion to the deceitful calm of agitation was the following:—'Accordingly, when the factious enjoin tranquillity, I understand the drift, and do not doubt the sincerity 613 of the injunction. Duly interpreted it is this: "Do not, by premature explosion, suffer the formidable extent and mischief of your revolutionary objects to transpire. In doing so you will defeat them, detect the ambuscade, and frustrate half the plans of us, your whole-length leaders. If your intentions be thus noised, the constituted authorities will no longer slumber—they will encounter your daring projects, and perhaps may not be quite too late to check your pride." Why must this be a true interpretation of their injunctions? Because the House must otherwise suppose them intent on extinguishing a conflagration, which their every act, and every breath, was contributing to promote. They had a specimen of Irish peace-making in Mr. Steele the pacificator. He enjoined peace to the people he addressed, as they loved Mr. O'Connell; but at the same time he told them, that if Mr. O'Connell desired it, he was ready to lead them on to rebellion and to help them to cut down pike handles for the purpose. The Pilot newspaper extolled "the powerful and enthusiastic exertions" of this same Mr. Steele—and stated, that "he went to see some prisoners in Kilkenny gaol, who promised to use all their influence with their fellow-prisoners and friends to have the object of Mr. O'Connell achieved in the perfect pacification of their county." That really was insulting the understanding—at the same time that it afforded no security for property or life. Was it to be tolerated that these were to be hold at the mercy of a seditious maniac, and the felons and culprits of a gaol? Towards the hon. and learned Gentleman the member for Dublin, he entertained no personal ill will; and if he thought that the hon and learned Gentleman was, as he said, really to be oppressed, he would defend him as sincerely as his warmest admirer; but he would tell that hon. and learned Gentleman, that while he had life, and the spirit of independence, he never would consent that his peace and security should depend upon the capricious or interested mandates of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who surely, was at least as powerful for evil as for good; and if his breath could create peace, it could as easily disturb it. With respect to the Special Commissions which the hon. Member spoke of, the simple answer to him on that subject was, that a Special Commission for Kilkenny must have been 614 absurd, when the ordinary Assizes failed in their functions. Trial by Jury was very truly described by the hon. and learned Member as the bulwark of our liberties; but that was in its use, and not in its abuse. Talk to him of Trial by Jury—when a Juror must consider the verdict he had to give under terror for his property and life. Why in Kilkenny, the names of three of the Jurors known to be favourable to conviction were placarded under the title of "blood" before they had left the Jury-box, and were afterwards driven from the country. Let them not then be mocked with the mere names of "law and liberty," where in reality no law existed; and without it there could be no real and rational liberty.
doubted whether it were becoming in a Judge of the land to express the sentiments just delivered by the learned Recorder. He had called a man who was under trial, a seditious maniac. The question of sedition was for the Jury to decide, and it was premature in a Judge to deliver such an opinion. With respect to the Juries of Kilkenny being intimidated, the learned Recorder had alluded to the Carrickshaugh trial; but the day after that acquittal, four Whitefeet were convicted of murder, and three were executed. The hon. and learned Member entered into an explanation of all the circumstances of the Carrickshaugh trial, showing that the men were acquitted because their identity could not be proved, and because the police, who were the witnesses against them, contradicted themselves. He added, that one of the men so tried was a most humane man, having-assisted the wounded and carried some of those who were unable to walk. The learned Recorder spoke of a system which led to outrage in Ireland. Yes, there was a system, the offspring of that remnant of a party which had been defeated in Ireland. They nourished a most embittered spirit, and took care there should be no peace. They were men with souls of lead, hearts of stone, and fangs of iron. Their domination in the country, which they had maintained by unjust laws, would not allow the country to have peace. With respect to Baron Smith's charge, that was a political dissertation, and it was not decent in a Judge to deliver a political dissertation on subjects not to come before the Grand Jury. A political Judge was a bad Judge. In the county of Armagh, 615 where that charge was delivered, there was not one offence in the calendar of the kind alluded to by the learned Judge. There were some offences which had been traversed from the last Assizes. Baron Smith, it had been said, who was elevated to the Hindi, as a young man, obtained that place by his father's political conduct at the Union. He hoped it was not true, lie did not believe it—that another arrangement was going on, by which the Baron was to be succeeded by his son. He hoped that was not true; but if it were, they were likely to have many more political dissertations. What would be thought in England of a Judge, when there was no person accused of a particular crime, but some who had traversed from the last Old Bailey Sessions, who should direct his charge wholly to the Petty Jury? Why, such a Judge m England would not be left an hour upon the Bench. The learned Recorder had referred to a murder; it was an atrocious act—an atrocious murder—but it was not connected with tithes. But were there no crimes committed except in Wexford? Were there no crimes elsewhere? Was it in Wexford where a poor child was seduced from its parents' door for a purpose too infamous to be named? Was it amongst the barbarians of that county that such a boy's brains were beat out, and he was drowned in a canal? And was there no justice ill the country where this happened, because the crime and the witness were buried in the same grave? Why, then, did they not pass a Bill establishing Courts-martial in the country where this was perpetrated.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
said, that he agreed with the hon. member for Middlesex, that this was not the time to discuss the preamble, and he recommended that the discussion be postponed. The recommendation of the Committee, of which so much had been said, had not been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman; if it had, there would now, he believed, have been peace in Ireland, He did not deny, that as those measures had not been adopted, other measures were now necessary; and he for one should be ready to agree to such measures as would strengthen the hands of the Government to put an end to the present atrocious system of outrage and murder. Let the Government, however, satisfy the House that those atrocities could not be put down without such 616 a violent breach of the Constitution. He wished that demonstrated before he gave his assent to the measure.
§ Mr. Shaw
If I was a Judge of the land (and I am not) I apprehend my testimony in reference to a transaction with which I am personally unconnected, would be as little liable to suspicion as that of the feed advocate of the prisoners—but I omitted to mention this additional circumstance as to the Carrickshaugh trials—that a gentleman whom I saw yesterday reminded me, that a fortnight before those trials, he (who was then resident in that neighbourhood) wrote me word that no conviction could take place, as intimidation was so universal as to prevent any respectable Jurors from attending, and two Jurors told the Judge in Court, that they dared not serve and give honest verdicts. The result was, that the prisoners had to be enlarged, and the country has been since in a state of insubordination. Bonfires, previously prepared, carried the intelligence of the acquittal along a line of nearly twenty miles. A Magistrate of the county has sent me a statement of twenty-three Jurors having been attacked within the last few months [call of Name]. I can only say, that I am personally acquainted with the Magistrate and his character, and that I place the fullest reliance on his assertion; but I will not name him—for the hon. member for Kilkenny well knows, that if I did his life would not be safe [No, no]. It is easy for hon. Members to cry "No, no." They objected to the evidence of Judges, of Magistrates, of Lord-lieu tenants, of police, as all being interested and prejudiced; but is there no prejudice or interest on the other side? when, if agitation had not existed, and society been disturbed in their own counties, these hon. Members would not be here to deny it—and, forsooth, those who represent the sentiments and enjoy the confidence of the gentry, who have been displaced from their natural position in their own counties, are not even to be permitted to communicate the feelings of that gentry to the House. It came ill from the hon. and learned member for Dublin to make accusations of parties and of violence. I have never even belonged to a political association or society in my life, while the hon. and learned Member has spent his in factious agitation, and I verily believe would rather die than live without it
, in explanation, said, he had been accustomed to have his motives calumniated, and his life maligned. He had been an agitator—a successful agitator—hinc illœ lachrymœ—successful against that faction with which the hon. and learned Gentleman was connected, though he declaimed against it. What raised him to the judgment seat in the second year [no!], the third [no, no], the fourth [no, no!], the fifth year—he certainly had not reached the sixth year of his apprenticeship to the Bar, before his merits were discovered? He admitted that when the hon. and learned Gentleman's merits were discovered, they deserved the high distinction; but before they were known, what was it that left the rest of the Bar no chance of competing with the hon. and learned Gentleman? What, indeed, but the interest of that faction? He blamed the hon. and learned Gentleman, because he had called his clients at Kilkeuny murderers, after their acquittal. The hon. and learned Gentleman came forward with a red box of his own, and disinterred his anonymous in formation as a guide to the Legislature. He told the House of this Magistrate, and that Gentleman; but why did he not give his information to the Government? If the hon. and learned Gentleman declined to state the names of his informants to the House, why did he ask the House to legislate on anonymous information? Why did he not give dates and names? He repeated the stories, but threw the shield of his protection over the writers. Who asked him for these details? Was the House to legislate on the information of a volunteer Attorney General? Was the hon. Member, an unpaid prosecutor, to usurp the functions of Government? The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to Members who had been sent to the House by agitation; but Kerry, Meath, and Cork, were all peaceable and tranquil. The Representatives of those counties would never find their way to the Treasury; and they dreaded no other calumny but that of recording their votes against their country.
§ Mr. Morgan O'Connell
rose only to make one observation. The hon. and learned Member had called Mr. Steele a seditious maniac. He gave that assertion a most direct and unqualified contradiction.
§ Mr. Lambert
said, that if he was meant by the hon. Member as one of the persons who had got into Parliament by agitation, he threw back the calumny with contempt. He was anxious to withdraw any term violating the rules of the House; but within those rules there was no language too strong to express the contempt with which he regarded the assertion of the hon. Member. He (Mr. Lambert) had obtained his scat by no undue influence; he had not been borne into the House, like others, upon the wings of faction; nor did he owe his scat, as that very hon. Member did, to factious agitation, more unwarrantable than that employed in any other county of Ireland. The hon. member for Wicklow had argued that this Bill was intended to facilitate the collection of tithes, and his argument was so forcible and direct, that nothing but a plain negative could overturn it. Ministers had declined negativing the assertion; they had, indeed, entered into explanations, and evaded a direct answer in such a manner, that there was no gentleman who must not be convinced that the collection of tithes was the real object. The hon. Secretary for Ireland acknowledged that he put decrees for the recovery of tithes into the hands of the police. Now this Bill authorised them to break open any house—and was it to be imagined that the decree would not then be executed? If, by such proceedings, it was hoped to check agitation, Ministers were utterly mistaken. A course so odious would defeat itself; for, though public agitation might be prevented, private could not; and individuals would meet to discuss their wrongs.
§ Mr. Thomas Attwood
said, that the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Shaw) had detailed a case of murder with great pathos. Now, he wished that some hon. Gentleman on the opposite side, would show what greater security against murder the Bill provided than existed at present.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ The Chairman of the Committee then put the question, "That the preamble be postponed;" upon which
§ Mr. Buckingham
rose, but was received with such coughing and cries of "question!" 619 that be was compelled to resume his seat,
§ Mr. Hume
asked, was that to be the conduct of Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench—that the reception of a Member who wished to express his opinions? He was as anxious to get rid of the Bill as any other individual, but he protested against such indecorous behaviour. The cry of Order came with a bad grace from persons who refused an hon. Member a patient hearing. The mode of that Gentleman's reception was very improper; and should it be persisted in, he (Mr. Hume) would propose that the Chairman do quit the Chair, and ask leave to report progress.
§ Mr. Buckingham
objected to a postponement of the preamble, because it formed the foundation of the Bill; and the truth or falsehood of it formed a most important question, inasmuch as all the consequences of the Bill depended on that.
§ The Preamble postponed.
§ Upon the first Clause being read,
§ Mr. O'Connell
proposed, that after the word "order," in the fourth line, there should be introduced these words, "with the consent and authority (delivered in writing) of the Judges of the King's Bench in Ireland, or any two of them." His object was, to take from the Lord Lieutenant the power of suppressing any meeting whatever, without the sanction of at least judicial men, acquainted with the law, and responsible to Parliament. As the Bill stood, the Lord-lieutenant could suppress any meeting, civil, corporate, political, or religious, without oath, suggestion, or insinuation, from any person, of an evil intention entertained by the meeting. The law of Ireland was the Lord-lieutenant's declaration; Sic volo, sic jubeo; stat pro ratione voluntas. Nay, even that was not necessary. As tyranny was no less ludicrous in some of its expressions than it was openly cruel in others, he should not be surprised if the most ordinary meetings of pleasure—even hunting meetings, should be suppressed. This clause, which passed the other House in such breathless haste, which received the approbation of the Whigs, the hereditary defenders of liberty had, in fact, no limit whatever.
had heard the hon. and learned Member with extreme surprise, whether he considered his character as a lawyer, or his recent declamations against 620 political Judges. The frequent protests entered by the hon. and learned Member against such persons—the anxious wishes expressed by him that Judges should avow no political predilections, and that the purity of the legal Bench should remain unsullied in the eyes of the people, contrasted most strangely with this Amendment. He did not, however, wonder at the hon. Member's hostility to the clause. The Bill had been drawn up in conformity with the suggestions of experience, and exactly resembled that for which the hon. member for Meath said, he would have willingly voted. It conferred strong powers on the Executive—of that there could be no doubt—but the powers were necessary, and in conferring them, the greatest care was taken to guard against the slightest confusion of the Judicial and Executive Powers. The Union of these Powers in one hand was most dangerous and unconstitutional, and it should be the first care of Parliament to keep them strictly separate. How injurious would it not be to convert the Judges from legal into political characters? How gross and unjust that they should (for the case might happen) try persons who had attended the very meetings they had previously declared to be illegal? It might occur that the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, after running a round of evasions, and shifts, and devices—of the same public meetings, convened several times successively under the pretext of adjournment—of coffee breakfasts—of convivial meetings—and even charity dinners—should he have, as he had before, an indictment at length framed against him from which he could not escape, he would no doubt declaim loudly even against the amended clause, but sober, rational persons would rejoice that the career of agitation should be stopped. The Lord-lieutenant was not irresponsible—he was amenable to Parliament. In conclusion, he (Mr. Stanley) repeated, that the mixture of the Executive and Judicial Powers was one hundred fold more dangerous than that conferred on the Lord-lieutenant.
§ Mr. O'Connell
was quite delighted at hearing the observations of the right hon. Gentleman. He had asserted, that the Bill was a copy of the former one—it was no such thing; it contained an additional grievance and an additional deprivation of right, for the disobeying a Lord-lieutenant's proclamation was made by it a misdemeanour. 621 The hon. Gentleman had not framed an indictment from which he (Mr. O'Connell) could not escape; for he was charged with disobeying a Proclamation. Upon that charge he mot the Government. The Irish Lord Chancellor acknowledged that the indictment could not be sustained; and the fact was further proved by the right hon. Secretary's having introduced into this Bill the clause already mentioned. The next assertion made by the right hon. Gentleman, that charity dinners had been converted into political meetings, he distinctly denied. It was his wish—considering tile sacred nature of the subject—to contradict the calumny in the most emphatic manner. Charity dinners had not been turned to those purposes; they were established for far other objects; and the amount of good rendered by them was immense. Thousands of orphan children were supported by this sort of voluntary subscription; they depended on the receipts of the dinners, and had no other species of fund whatever, Were those the institutions denounced by the right hon. Gentleman? Was this his pacification of Ireland? Did he call it peace and order, when he had succeeded in starving the orphans? lie would ask, did not the right hon. Secretary destroy those dinners by anticipation, and cut off the resources upon which so many thousands of orphans depended? The right hon. Gentleman had dwelt much on the danger of mixing the Judicial and Executive functions; but did he not mix altogether the Legislative and Executive? Which did he deem more dangerous? He who spoke of the Judges in strains of eulogy, and was eager to guard them from any degradation, or he who turned the Judge off the Bench, and thrust him aside for a set of beardless boys? Why did the right hon. Gentleman venture to talk of the Constitution? Would he have done so, had he not been sure of a majority to cheer any assertion he might make? If he trampled upon the Constitution, and trod it into the earth, was it necessary to insult the House, by talking of the Constitution? With what front did they dare to talk of the Constitution who had strangled it? Would not the Bill of that night be flung into their teeth on every future occasion, and be made a perpetual taunt against the Whigs? Their general declarations would avail nothing, or be regarded only as the artifices employed by 622 the assassin until he could whet the knife for his victim. The right hon. Secretary had mistaken him—he objected only to Judges interfering extra-judicially incases not legally before them. But what could be more ludicrous than his objection—that the Judges who had pronounced the illegality of a meeting might afterwards have to try the prisoners? Could not those Judges be set aside? Two were required, and their names would be known.
§ Mr. Perrin
objected to confounding in this manner the Legislative and Executive powers; but he would not deny, that a strong case had been made out against the associations, some of which had been named. Perhaps, however, they might be suppressed by the common law. Dangerous they certainly were; but he would share the odium and responsibility of sup pressing them, if they should not be at present unlawful. In his opinion, it was more dangerous to grant the proposed powers to the Judges; and the course he should consequently recommend was, that the Lord-lieutenant should be empowered at once to disperse any meeting previously declared illegal.
§ Lord Althorp
opposed the Amendment. Instead of operating to mitigate the evils of Ireland, it was calculated to aggravate them, He admitted that it was a great evil to go beyond the Constitution, and trust such arbitrary powers in the hands of an individual. But what were they to do? If they were to attempt to define what should be an illegal meeting, they might use all the ingenuity possible, but there would still be counter ingenuity sufficient to enable the parties against whom it was directed to evade it. They were, indeed, but little aware of the difficulty of defining an illegal meeting so as to prevent evasion; and the only alternative which they had left was to give the Lord-lieutenant the power of deciding what meetings were illegal, and to prohibit them accordingly. The only experiment which had ever been made of this last course had succeeded, and the only question was, whether they should confer this power upon the Lord-lieutenant, or legislate at the risk of evasion and defeat?
§ Colonel Davies
looked to this clause with great alarm, because it vested an arbitrary power in the hands of the Lord-lieutenant.
§ Mr. Peter
said, that the Lord-lieutenant was responsible for the manner in which he 623 exercised his power. The real question to be decided by the House was this—whether the danger to be apprehended from the agitation and outrage now prevailing in Ireland, was or was not greater than any danger that could result to the country from intrusting these increased powers to the Lord-lieutenant for the purpose of suppressing the evil? No man was more opposed than he (Mr. Peter) was to the existence of all unnecessary power where ever vested, whether in the hand of one or many.
§ Mr. O'connell
said, it was melancholy to hear a legislator about to legislate for Ireland in such deplorable ignorance of the true state of the case. Why, this part of the Bill did not relate to outrages, but to the suppression of meetings and associations.
§ Mr. O'Connell
Hon. Members might cheer at such arguments; but they should remember, that it was a question of slavery or liberty with Ireland. Wherever outrages existed, the Lord Mayor could proclaim with the assistance of the Privy Council. But this clause did not at all relate to such situations. This clause applied to Clare, to Meath, to King's County, to Dublin—to various places where no outrages existed. He loved the horror of public meetings—the detestation of agitation—that had lately become fashionable in that House. He liked the maidenly modesty with which agitation was denounced by those very men who owed their seats to it. The very Ministers themselves, who joined in the cry—would they have been where they are but for the exertions of the Birmingham, London, and other Unions? It was objected that the effect of this Amendment was to unite the legislative with the Executive. But did the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman recollect who made Lord Ellenborough a Chief Justice and a Privy Councillor at the same time.
But you did not, say so. As to a Cabinet Minister, he could only say, if he had been a Minister at the time, 624 he should not have supported the appointment. What he rose for was, principally to ask whether it was to be endured that such language should be used as had been used by the hon. and learned member for Dublin towards the hon. Gentleman behind him? Was it to be endured, that an English county Member was to have a charge brought against him of manifesting deplorable ignorance; and that, too, by a Gentleman who confounded the functions of Privy Councillor and Cabinet Minister? Such language might be adapted to the Volunteers of Ireland—it might be adapted to those out of doors on whom the hon. and learned Member wasted so much of his time and his talents; but it was not consistent with parliamentary practice—it was not consistent with the decorum which ought to be preserved in that House. The question was very fairly stated by the hon. Member behind him. It was, whether they had better suspend the Constitution, and vest arbitrary and extraordinary powers in the hands of the Lord-lieutenant for the purpose of suppressing outrage and agitation, or whether this outrage and agitation should be permitted to continue till it had attained a power equally unconstitutional, but which would not be used for so beneficial a purpose?
§ Mr. Hume
expressed his surprise at the warmth of manner and language of the right hon. Gentleman. He had really hoped, that, whilst he was complaining of the conduct of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, the right hon. Gentleman would at least have exhibited a specimen of the manner in which Members should conduct themselves. His object in rising was to deprecate the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in making every subject of discussion a personal matter between himself and the hon. and learned member for Dublin. What right had the right hon. Gentleman to taunt his hon. and learned friend with the Volunteer association? What right had he to refer to speeches made out of that House? The right hon. Gentleman really suffered the influence of personal pique to appear too strongly. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would confine himself to what took place within the walls of that House, and not deviate from the rules by adverting to what took place elsewhere. Whilst on the one hand he was not prepared to defend the expressions of the hon. and 625 learned member for Dublin, so, on the other, be thought it highly unworthy on the part of any person who took upon himself the task of correction, more especially a Cabinet Minister, to exhibit such rancour towards any Member of that House.
An Hon. Member
behind the Treasury Benches condemned the conduct of the hon. and learned member for Dublin. He never heard more violent or personal language than was used by that Gentleman, which seemed to be, in some measure, echoed by the hon. member for Middlesex, who, however, still admitted that his friend was wrong. This reminded him of an apologue which he remembered to have read. It was this:—A philosopher had entered into an alliance with an animal; the philosopher laid down to sleep in a garden, but was tormented by gnats; the beast, wishing faithfully to fulfil his promise, struck the gnat off with his paw, but in doing so, broke the philosopher's head. He would not say what the animal was, but, for fear of misconstruction, he would observe, that the courteous demeanour of the hon. member for Middlesex as little warranted the comparison of his external appearance to a bear, as his internal feelings entitled him to be compared to the philosopher.
§ Viscount Palmerston
had never heard more uncalled-for observations than those made by the hon. member for Middlesex on his right hon. friend. So far from throwing out anything in anger, he had only come to the defence of an hon. Member from the uncalled-for attack of the hon. and learned Gentlemen. The hon. member for Middlesex thought it improper to advert to anything but what had taken place in that House, and that they should abstract their attention from anything which had occurred in Ireland. That might be a convenient doctrine for the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and for the hon. member for Middlesex; but the House, in discussing Irish subjects, would not be likely to comply with the recommendation of the hon. Member, He hoped the House would now direct its attention to the clause under consideration, and that there would be no other attempt made to add fuel to the fire.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, the right hon. Gentleman was right in saying, that he ought to have said "Cabinet Minister" when he said "Privy Councillor." The right hon. 626 Gentleman, however, who was so exceedingly particular, had not hesitated to elevate Bodmin into a county.
said, the noble Lord opposite (Palmerston) was such an admirable pacificator on all occasions, that he was not surprised at the position which he took. He hoped that his laudable endeavours would be crowned with success, by effecting a conciliation between the two belligerent powers. He could not give the right hon. Gentleman credit for sincerity in his defence of the hon. member for Bodmin. He looked upon it as a sort of official indignation, used for the purpose of leading the House astray from the main question. It was said, they ought not to combine the legislative with the Executive. Why, this was what the Act itself did. It combined these two powers; for it called on two Justices of the Peace to disperse any meeting objected to by the Lord-lieutenant, and afterwards enabled them to act in a summary manner towards all offenders. The House must not suppose, that offences under this clause were to be tried by the Court of King's-bench; one, at least, of these offences was to be tried before a Justice of the Peace. There was no exception either of charitable meetings. In the Act which passed in 1819, there was this exception. Hundreds of orphans might, in consequence, be deprived of bread, or the means of education. He hoped the House would, at least, provide against the enormous abuses to which the powers given by the Act were at present liable.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
said, they were about to deprive the people of Ireland of the protection of law, and transfer them to the power of unmitigated despotism, or at least to despotism mitigated only by the personal character of the man who, for the time being, was Lord-lieutenant. He would be the last man to say anything against the character or humanity of the noble Marquess who now held that situation; but what, he asked, might be the consequences of this Bill, when such a man as Lord Anglesey could make the statement which he had made to the hon. member for Cork? He gave as his definition of an illegal meeting—a meeting calculated to alarm the nerves of any man, and that such a meeting ought to be put down. The question, then, of the permission to hold these meetings depended not upon their tending to disturb the public 627 peace, but precisely upon the quality of the nerves or physique of the individual who, for the time, acted as Lord-lieutenant. He complained that Lord-Miltown had been deprived of the commission of the peace for joining the Volunteers of Ireland. But had Lord Wicklow or Lord Forbes been deprived of their official situations for joining Conservative societies? No; and this was a specimen of the impartiality which they were to expect in the administration of the laws.
§ The Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. H. Grattan
moved, as an Amendment to the first clause, "That it shall and may be lawful for the Lord-lieutenant, or other Chief Governor or Governors of Leland, at any time after the passing of this Act, and from time to time during the continuance thereof, as occasion may require, by his or their order, to prohibit or suppress the meeting of any association, assembly, or body of persons in Ireland, which he or they shall deem to be dangerous to the public peace or safety," &c. the insertion of the words, "by and with the advice of his Majesty's Privy Council for Ireland specially summoned for that purpose."
§ This Amendment was withdrawn
§ Colonel Davies
proposed the insertion of the words, "in any part of Ireland proclaimed according to the provisions of this Act."
objected to the Amendment, on the ground that its effect would be the tempting—in fact forcing—the Lord-lieutenant to proclaim a district which was not actually in a state of disturbance. The main object of the Bill was, the suppression of those agitation schemes which were the chief source of the disturbances in Ireland. Now, the grand focus of this mischievous agitation was the city of Dublin, which was wholly free from disturbance; so that, if the gallant Member's Amendment were adopted, the Lord-lieutenant would be forced to proclaim that city—that is, prevent its peaceable inhabitants from being out of their houses after sunset and before sunrise. Hon. Members should recollect, that the Lord-lieutenant would be invested with three powers, each distinct from the other—one for dispersing and prohibiting meetings tending to a breach of the peace, another for proclaiming a district, and a third for the establishing of Courts-martial. These three were not connected with each other, and 628 it by no means followed, that where a district was proclaimed, that Courts-martial should be also established there. Then, Ministers were prepared to make an alteration in the clause which would have the effect of removing all purely political offences, in even a proclaimed district, altogether from the cognizance of a military tribunal, leaving them to be dealt with by the ordinary civil jurisdiction.
§ Mr. O'Connell
begged the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind, that if, on the one hand, the Lord-lieutenant would be forced by the Amendment to proclaim an undisturbed district, the inhabitants of those undisturbed districts might be, on the other hand, forced by the clause as it stood to follow the course pursued in the disturbed ones, seeing that their peaceable conduct did not insure them an exemption from despotism. The admission of the right hon. Gentleman, that the focus of agitation was perfectly free from disturbance, was a pretty comment on the Bill, and the unfounded assertions of its framers and supporters, which identified agitation with disturbance.
would support the clause as it stood, because he conceived it necessary to putting down that Whitefoot agitation which was the curse of Ireland. It was not against the mere midnight predial marauders—the mere physical Whitefeet, that the energies of a Reformed Parliament should be directed, but against the White-feet agitators—the intellectual marauders—who were the sole cause of the unhappy state of that country. It would be unjust to the predial Whitefeet to confound them with the political Whitefeet.
§ Mr. O'Connell
felt, that the malignity of the hon. Gentleman's charge carried its antidote in its folly. Those whom the hon. Gentleman had presumed to call "marauders" were his equals in every conventional qualification—not to say any thing touching endowments, natural or acquired. The attack of the hon. Member was as uncalled for as it was absurd and unfounded.
§ Mr. Edward Butler
thought, that the Government was only taking wise and proper precautions. He would, therefore, support the Ministers and oppose the Amendment.
§ Mr. Lambert
although he by no means approved of the powers of the Bill, and, indeed, considered them highly unconstitutional, was nevertheless convinced, that 629 political agitation, with its many heads, had arrived at a height in Ireland utterly incompatible with the preservation of social order, and really did not see how the evil could be put an end to, without some measure of extraordinary severity. He had thus stated his reasons for voting in favour of the Bill, in order that he might not be subject to unjust imputations.
§ Mr. Christmas
would vote against the Amendment. Agitation in Ireland had, within the last two years, been kept up to an enormous height, and for no good purpose. In his opinion, it was necessary to suppress the agitation, whatever means might be employed.
§ Mr. O'Connell
wished to know where the hon. Member for the county of Wexford would have been but for political agitation? Not member for the county of Wexford, certainly. He did not allude to the lust, or the preceding election. What he meant was this. Was not the hon. member for Wexford of the same religion as he (Mr. O'Connell)? Could he have been a Member of Parliament, had it not been for the Emancipation, which was caused by political agitation? And now the hon. Gentleman, who had been so much benefited by political agitation, threw out his taunts against those to whom he was indebted for the advantage.
§ Mr. Lambert
denied, that he was returned to that House by agitation; and reminded the hon. and learned member for Dublin of the time vi/hen, thinking that he was devoting his splendid talents to the cause of his country, he (Mr. Lambert) had stood by that hon. and learned Gentleman when he was deserted by other friends. Was it because he approved of that wholesome agitation which had produced Catholic Emancipation, that he should not wish to put down a species and extent of agitation incompatible with good Government?
§ Mr. Montague Chapman
opposed the Amendment. It would be liable, he was afraid, to bring disturbance into counties previously peaceful, by restraining the Government from putting down dangerous associations. It would, therefore, be an evil, as it would compel the Government to have recourse to severer measures than the mere suppression of a dangerous association.
§ Mr. Dominick Browne
stated, that political intimidation was spreading throughout Ireland; and that if it were allowed 630 to go on, the consequences would be of the most serious description. In the county which he had the honour to represent (Mayo), although there had been no murders, political intimidation was making daily progress. No one, who had voted for himself or his hon. colleague at the late election, could go into any market in the county without being hooted out of it. For a short time after the election, that might have been pardonable, but it had lasted down to the present time. At a former election, a Catholic bishop, a man of great eminence. Dr. M'Hale, had fairly told him, that no man who was not the creature of the popular voice ought to represent the county; because, such a man they could easily turn out, but they could not turn out a man who was supported by the gentry. Such was the general spirit in Ireland. He felt it his duty to support the Bill.
§ Mr. O'Connell
declared, that he had been informed upon good authority, that of Sir William Brabazon, that the most virulent persecution in the county of Mayo was on the side of the hon. Member. There was not a more accomplished scholar or a more distinguished man than Dr. M' Hale; and he had never done an act more essential to the welfare of Ireland than in supporting the 40s. freeholders.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. O'Connell
observed, that it was half past twelve o'clock, and that they had been at it ever since five o'clock; nay, with very little intermission, since twelve o'clock at noon. Under such circumstances, the attention of the House could not be adequately bestowed on the important subject before them. He would, therefore, move, that the Chairman should report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Mr. O'Connell
put it to the House whether the Irish Members were to be allowed an opportunity of defending themselves? He had an Amendment to propose to the clause, but at that late hour he was unwilling to commence a fresh discussion.
§ Mr. Goring
thought it was too bad that the whole business of the House should be stopped, because the hon. and learned Member had exhausted himself by attending a political union that morning.
§ Mr. O'Connell
denied that he had shown 631 any symptoms of exhaustion, and said that he little expected such a species of attack to be made upon him by one who boasted that he was a Representative of the people. He did not believe, that the hon. Member represented the good feeling of the people of this country when he attempted to stifle the full discussion of a Bill, the purpose of which was to establish despotism in Ireland. He was quite ready to go on with the discussion himself, but he thought the hour had arrived when the Chairman should report progress. It was true he had attended a meeting at Lambeth that clay, and he might probably on a future occasion meet the hon. Member's constituents at Shore-ham. If he did, he would advise the hon. Member to face him there.
§ Lord Althorp
thought it unreasonable in the hon. and learned Member to ask the Chairman to report progress before the clause under consideration was disposed of.
§ Mr. Maurice O'Connell
accused the hon. member for Shoreham (Mr. Goring) with having been guilty of needless and uncalled-for personality towards the hon. and learned member for Dublin but he advised the hon. Member to look to himself, or he might subject himself to a similar personal attack.
§ Mr. Goring
said, that the hon. and learned member had himself admitted twenty times, in the course of that night, that he was exhausted. With respect to personal attacks, he put it to the House, whether the hon. and learned Member had not launched out into personalities against every Member who differed from him, and endeavoured to browbeat him for uttering his opinions. He had told those Irish Members whom he called liberal, that they would not sit in that House again unless they acted as he wished, and the hon. and learned Member now threatened him. But he could tell the hon. and learned Member that the people of this country felt that the meaning of his violence and threats was this—that he alone should be the person to bring forward remedial measures, and that, unless he was consulted, and his opinions adopted, he would subvert the empire by the aid of his deluded countrymen.
Mr. Bonham Carter
said, that he understood the object of the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) was to have the clause 632 read, in order to enable him to move the Amendment, which he had already described to the House, adopted pro formâ. The discussion on the clause so amended would take place on the next day of the Committee's sitting.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said he would not, upon that understanding, press the Motion for the Chairman to report progress.
moved an Amendment, the object of which was, to exempt persons who should violate the enactments of the first clause from the jurisdiction of the Courts-martial, and leave them to be tried and punished according to the ordinary course of the law.
§ Mr. Shaw
objected to the change proposed, as contrary to all the right hon. Gentleman's own principles, namely—taking away the power of Courts-martial to try the political agitator in the disturbed districts. He always considered it of much greater importance to punish the man who planned and encouraged crime, than him who was the real victim of such a man's devices. He thought the clause as it had stood very important for the purpose of putting down the political agitator as well as the poorer offender, by a summary process; but if the strength and efficiency of the Bill were thus to be frittered away, he could find no equivalent in passing it for the great violation of the law it involved, and which could alone be justified on the ground of paramount necessity.
§ The Amendment adopted.
§ The Chairman reported progress—to sit again.