§ Lord Althorp
moved the Order of the Day for the consideration of the Report of this Bill.
After some conversation, it was agreed that the Bill should be re-committed in order 1149 that certain amendments proposed on the Bill by Government should be considered.
§ The Bill ordered to be re-committed,
§ House in Committee, Amendments on the first, second, and third Clauses were then agreed to.
§ On coming to Clause 4
§ Mr. Shaw
moved the omission, at the end of the clause, of the following proviso, which had been introduced in the progress of the Bill:—"Provided always that it shall not be lawful for the Lord-lieutenant to apply the provisions of this Act to any county or district merely because tithes shall have not been paid in such county or district." He could not believe that Government seriously meant to retain these words after their own admission, that these words were both inefficient and foolish. Their tendency was to weaken the clause, as well as to draw an invidious distinction between the property of the clergy and all other property. He trusted the words would be expunged without a discussion.
would support the exclusion of those words. He thought he had done wrong by supporting it on the former occasion and the best amends he could then make was by speaking and voting for the exclusion. Surely the Lord-lieutenant would not proclaim every district because tithes were not paid. And yet unless that were supposed the proviso was directed to what could not happen. He must say that he thought that the right hon. Secretary's declaration about the "extinction of tithes," had militated more against the clergy of the Established Church than any other cause.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that there was one other reason for the exclusion of the words—although what the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell) had said was very convincing. The present was the first effort in legislation of a Reformed Parliament. The Lords had sent down a Bill and the present was the first amendment in it—and certainly it would be a curiosity, as the first piece of legislation of the Reformed Parliament. He was satisfied from the declarations of Ministers, that they did not mean to apply this Bill to the collection of tithes, and, therefore, the proviso was useless.
said, he must confess that the argument of the hon. and learned member for Dublin was the most extraordinary he could ever have expected to 1150 hear from him. The hon. and learned member now said that the words were unnecessary, because he thought it impossible that the Lord-lieutenant would use the powers of the Bill to assist in the collecting of tithes. Why that was precisely what he (Mr. Stanley) had before said, but the hon. and learned Member had refused to invest the Lord-lieutenant with any discretionary powers, and, therefore, voted for the amendment, declaring that he would not look to the intentions of Ministers or to the Lord-lieutenant, but to the Act of Parliament. A large portion of the House had been induced to think that it would be necessary to satisfy even unnecessary scruples, and voted for the amendment. Why did not the hon. and learned Member then think the words unnecessary? He then voted for them, and said that they were necessary. But of all persons the hon. and learned Member was the last person he should have expected to declare that the present system was dangerous to the clergy of the Established Church. He (Mr. Stanley) had often said the Lord-lieutenant would never use the Bill in enforcing the payment of tithes, and his Majesty's Ministers, believing that the Lord-lieutenant would never attempt to use the powers of the Bill in that way (which they had frequently declared) consented to the amendment. Having been inserted, and not in any way affecting the Bill, he did not see that circumstances had since occurred to require them to expunge today what they inserted yesterday. Although he did not think it was a piece of legislation that would do the House much credit—[Sir Robert Peel: I said the first piece of legislation of the Reformed Parliament.]—Whether first or not it was of no consequence, but he thought it was not necessary to expunge the words now that they had been inserted. If the hon. member for Wexford whose amendment it was, supported it, he would vote for it. Mr. O'Connell certainly had supported the proviso, but when he did there were words attached to it which made it less equivocal. At present it was useless; or if it did anything, it strengthened the powers given to the Lord-lieutenant. He was therefore perfectly consistent in opposing it. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland had taunted him too with changing his opinions on the subject of the Established Church of Ireland. Now, 1151 while he always supported the necessity of reducing the Church Establishment of that country to the wants of the Protestants there, he had always advocated the doctrine consistently with a due regard to the existing rights of the present incumbents. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, was wholly mistaken, when he stated that he (Mr. O'Connell) had ever held any other opinions; and he defied him to point out any expressions of his that would justify him in his present taunt.
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman challenged him to give an instance in which he had advocated a proceeding injurious to the present interests of the clergy. He would ask, when he applauded the resistance to the payment of tithes, whether he regarded that as a resistance to the rights of the present incumbents, or to the duties merely of the collectors?
said, that he was against the present incumbents—yet this opinion was perfectly consistent with his proposition. With the spiritual arrangements of the church he had nothing to do—with its temporalities he had.
§ Mr. Montague Chapman
in the absence of the hon. member for Wexford, supported the proviso, in order to secure that this Bill should not be applied to enforce the payment of tithes.
§ Mr. Rigby Wason
was opposed to the proviso, which was as useless as it was ridiculous. Had the proviso stated, in express terms, that where the payment of tithes was resisted this Act should not be applied to enforce such payment, it might have been of some avail.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
supported the proviso, because he deemed it to be of great importance that the people of Ireland should not have reason to believe that this Act would be brought into operation against them on account of their resistance to the payment of tithes.
§ Mr. Barron
thought the Legislature ought to lay it down as a principle that this Bill was not intended for the collection of tithes; and he would therefore support the clause as it stood. Not that he expected to be able to reconcile the people of Ireland to the measure by inserting this proviso; for he looked upon the Bill altogether as the most mischievous and atrocious measure that was ever introduced into that House.
stood there to protect the 1152 rights of property in every instance, and most sincerely would he uphold the rights of the clergy of the Church of England. Now, this Bill stated that there existed in Ireland certain dangerous conspiracies against the rights of property; and he wished to see the same protection afforded to the clergy and their vested rights as to other men, and he conceived that the Bill should apply in all cases. But it was impossible, if the proviso was allowed to remain in the clause, that the people of Ireland should not consider, that the Legislature intended to place tithes on a weaker footing than any other description of property. He, therefore, hoped his Majesty's Government would consent to the omission of the proviso.
§ Lord John Russell
said, that former acts provided for the extra protection of tithes, and they were therefore recognised as in a better situation than rents. It was therefore the less necessary to increase the protection to tithes by this Bill. In fact it did what the right hon. Gentleman wished—namely, placed property of every description on the same footing.
§ Mr. Shaw
stated, in reply, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland said very truly that no new argument had been adduced against the proviso since the last vote of the Committee on the subject, for every argument had been used against it, as well by those who voted against it, as by the members of the Government who had voted for it. He then saw in their places both his Majesty's Attorney and Solicitor General, and if either of them would say—not that the proviso was an improvement—but even that it was not prejudicial to the Bill, he would withdraw his amendment
§ Sir Edward Knatchbull
called upon the law officers of the Crown to come forward and state their construction of the legal effect of this proviso. He begged hon. Members to bear in mind that the proviso was not a part of the Bill which had been proposed by the Government, or to which the members of the Government ascribed any weight. The right hon. Gentleman opposite considered it a matter of indifference whether the proviso was inserted or not; and he hoped, therefore, that if the question came to a division, every Gentleman would exercise his own judgment on the matter.
§ Mr. Lambert
felt it necessary briefly to 1153 address the House, because he had been grossly misrepresented and calumniated. He admitted, that he had said that it was necessary to grant extraordinary powers to the Government, on account of the disturbed state of his unfortunate country, and on account of the dangerous and inflammatory agitation which existed there. Was not that opinion fairly and honestly uttered in that House? He had, however, been denounced, in a manner most unjustifiable, for having expressed his sentiments. His opinion with respect to tithes was well known. He believed that every coercive measure which had been for years applied to Ireland had its origin in a desire to get rid oft he deep-rooted, the inextinguishable hatred of the people to the tithe-system. He had been considered an opponent to the Established Church. It was not a just charge. He wished the establishment to be properly supported, but not by the unjust, the iniquitous tithe-system. He had proposed an alteration in this Bill, and, in doing so, he had used the very words of the noble Lord himself when he introduced the measure. That alteration having been made, he gave the Bill his support. This Bill, he was convinced, was necessary, and ought to be passed with the least possible delay. For, even while he spoke, individuals with their dying breaths might be calling on the House to interfere speedily. Members were most shamefully abused for having the boldness to deliver their sincere opinions in that House. He certainly would not call on the House to give him, individually, protection, but he would ask whether it was not necessary to give protection to freedom of debate, and to the full and fair expression of opinion in that House? Was it right that inflammatory harangues should be addressed to those who were ready to obey the decrees of individuals who were pleased to point out their victims in that House? And for what reason? Merely because they openly declared their opinions. He was well pleased to treat the matter with the contempt which it deserved. He had made up his mind, when he entered Parliament, to speak his honest opinions. He had pursued a path which to some seemed inconsistent; but if Gentlemen would examine the course he had adopted, they would find that his conduct had been fair, honourable, and consistent. The hon. Member then read an abusive attack which 1154 had been made in the Dublin Morning Register on Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Serjeant Perrin, and himself, for their conduct in Parliament; and demanded whether such strictures upon the conduct of Members of that House who were merely doing their duty, were to be tolerated? He asked whether Members were to be held up to public odium on account of their honest votes on this measure? Were they to be held up to the people of Ireland as enemies of their country, and marked out as the next victims of assassination? He called on the House to assert its independence, and not allow a frantic rabble out of doors to dictate to its Members. As to the clause tinder consideration, let the principle of his proviso be satisfactorily established, and he cared not in what form, so long as it was rendered impossible to proclaim a district for non-payment of tithes.
The Committee then divided on the question, that the proviso proposed to be left out should stand part of the clause: Ayes 123; Noes 44—Majority for the clause as it stood 79.
§ On coming to Clause 20,
§ Mr. Shaw
moved, that the clause should be restored to the Bill which gave to two justices of the peace the power to suppress an unlawful assembly, by the summary conviction of those who did not disperse within fifteen minutes after the notice was read. He declared that to have been the great object of the 10th of George 4th. cap. 1, from which the portion of the Bill then under discussion was taken; and that its omission would be fatal to the efficiency of the measure, so far as regarded political agitation. As the clause stood (with the omission) it was made a misdemeanor to be present at a prohibited meeting at all, even for a moment—and, then, still but a misdemeanor to remain there for the fifteen minutes after the notice to disperse had been read. This almost involved an absurdity; but, besides, it deprived the Magistrates of the salutary powers to put down such meeting by the force of summary punishment on their own responsibility, if necessary. Besides after they should have bound over a party to take his trial by indictment for a misdemeanor, that same party might return to, and continue at the same meeting. He considered that the most important provisions of the Bill had been frittered away I and that the Government acted most un- 1155 warrantably in first urging, both in that House and elsewhere, the absolute necessity of such provisions, and then weakly abandoning them. It must also be recollected that they had altered the Bill in withdrawing the trial of political offences from the cognizance of Courts-martial; and he sincerely believed that they had rendered the whole measure valueless for the purpose of restraining political agitation.
§ Amendment negatived.
wished to propose three additional clauses to the Bill. The first would make an alteration to which he did not anticipate that there would be any objection. He wished that the powers granted by this Bill to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland should be suspended, in the event of a dissolution of Parliament, until the meeting of a new Parliament; and that these powers should also be taken away in the cases of all boroughs for which new writs shall be issued. He did not extend his clause to the proclaimed districts but only to those which had not been proclaimed. The principle of the clause was so perfectly fair, that there could be no reasonable objection to it. As the Bill stood, the Lord-lieutenant, at his will and pleasure would have the power to declare any assembly illegal. The Judge and Jury would have nothing to do with the character of the meeting; it would be sufficient to produce proof of attendance at a prohibited meeting, to render it imperative on a Jury to convict. Ought such a state of things to exist at the time of a contested election? The Lord-lieutenant would have the power of prohibiting the meeting of the friends of those candidates who might be disagreeable to himself; and, in point of fact, would be able to exercise complete control over all the elections in Ireland. It was not sufficient that a candidate should have the power of making his opinions known to the electors by means of advertisements it was necessary that he should be able to make his sentiments known to them at public meetings, where they could question him. If the Amendment were not assented to, it would be said, that the supporter of the Government would be allowed to hold his meetings, but that the candidate in the adverse interest would be prevented doing so. He had no wish to make this clause applicable to districts where there were agrarian disturbances. The hon. 1156 and learned Member moved the introduction of a clause to the effect he had described, which was brought up and read a first time.
§ On the Motion that it be read a Second Time,
said, he felt it his duty to oppose the clause. Undoubtedly it was not likely, at least he hoped not, that the Bill would be of sufficient duration to comprehend a dissolution of Parliament; but if such an event were to occur as a dissolution, it was well known that there was no occasion on which agitation would have such full scope for operation. He readily allowed that it was dangerous to admit of unconstitutional interference in elections, yet he was apprehensive that if, in the present slate of Ireland, the Lord-lieutenant were not armed with the powers of which the clause proposed by the hon. and learned member for Dublin went to deprive him, greater evils might ensue. Balancing between the undue intimidation at elections which, in the present state of Ireland, the despotism of political agitation would certainly occasion, and the possibility, not the probability, that the power which the Bill as it stood vested in the Lord-lieutenant might be abused, and adding to this the consideration that the case to which the operation of the Bill would apply was not likely to occur, he was of opinion that it would not be advisable to adopt the clause proposed by the hon. and learned Member.
observed, that if it could be proved that at any election the undue intimidation alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman had been used, that election would necessarily become void. To apply the provisions of the Bill to meetings for the purpose of election, was to trample under foot the first principles of a Representative Legislation. There was only one case in the late elections—that of the county of Carlow—in which such an allegation had been made. That case had not yet been tried, but he had heard it reported to-day that the sitting Members did not think it expedient to defend their seats. He protested against the cant and slang which was constantly poured forth by the other side of the House on the subject of political agitation in Ireland. Having at present the strongest laws against any undue influence in elections, the question for the Committee now to determine was, whether they would allow 1157 the Ministry to determine who should be the Representatives of the Irish people, which this Bill, if permitted to pass without the clause which he now proposed, would undoubtedly allow Ministers to determine.
§ Mr. Lambert
remarked, that if his Majesty's Government in Ireland were guilty of any abuse of the power vested in them by the Bill, that abuse might be brought under the consideration of the House, who would redress it. To him it appeared, that, whoever might be at the head of agitation in Ireland, and who must therefore feel himself responsible for the effect of that agitation, which, nevertheless, he could not control, would be relieved by the operation of the Bill, and would receive a sort of congé d'elire.
observed, that the opposition of the hon. Member to the clause, although inconsistent in one respect, was consistent in another: for the hon. Member might not think it prudent to go again before his constituents without a gagging Bill. By the Bill as it now stood, and without the clause which he (Mr. O'Connell) proposed, it would be in the power of the Magistracy to trample on the elective franchise of the people [no, no!]. He said yes, yes! By the existing law, any meeting at which violence was recommended, or in which propositions were made, tending to bring his Majesty's Government into contempt, was rendered illegal. Were not these controls enough? Yes, for all who were not afraid to meet their constituents openly; and all who had no such fear would vote for his clause.
§ Mr. Lambert
was not afraid to meet his constituents. Let his constituents be freed from any undue influence, and he could assure the hon. and learned member for Dublin that he had no apprehension whatever of submitting his conduct to their opinion. He could tell the hon. and learned Gentleman, that if he (Mr. Lambert) had thought it an object to be so, he could have been applauded, followed, and admired, by all those bad parties by whom he was now so bitterly attacked, and might have had all the pure votes of all the blood-stained agitators of his country. As it was, he was perfectly satisfied to bear all the odium of the vote which he was about to give. In the course which he had pursued, he had sought nothing but the ultimate welfare and happiness of 1158 Ireland, although he was perfectly aware that, for the moment, the measure which he supported was an infringement of the Constitution.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
said, that the clause proposed by his hon. and learned friend might be opposed by those who had confidence in his Majesty's Government, but that it could not be expected that he, who had no confidence in his Majesty's Government should do otherwise than support it. In illustration of the inexpediency of imposing such restrictions at elections as his hon. and learned friend's clause went to remove, he instanced the case of America, in which no limit was put upon the license of people at elections, a liberty which had been found very beneficial. It might be maintained by some that the authority against the undue exercise of which the clause proposed by his hon. and learned friend was directed, would, in all probability, not be abused by the present Government; but let it be recollected, that the present Government might have successors who would not be so chary in the use of their power.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
must say, that the interference of the police in Ireland, not only at elections, but on all other occasions had been the cause, as all those knew who lived in Ireland, of much mischief. As to elections they had not been productive in Ireland of violence. The county of Mayo had been represented as in such a state of disturbance, as to require the operation of the Act, yet no outrage had taken place at any popular election in that county. What was the main cause of the present disturbed state of Ireland? Why the gentry were taking one part, and the people another. The gentry of Ireland had lost much by the conduct which they had pursued; they had made a great mistake when they dethroned themselves in the affections of the people, and having lost the power which they formerly possessed, sought to recover it by undue means. They made enemies of the people and were now anxious to guard themselves against those who were formerly their friends. Fifteen members of the Grand Jury of the county of Meath and fifty-two Magistrates of the county of Westmeath had presented a memorial to the Lord-lieutenant for the extension of the provisions of the Insurrection Act to those counties; but his hon. colleague and himself had succeeded in preventing 1159 the application. He would not presume to give the right hon. Gentleman advice, but he would give him this wholesome admonition—that he had never committed a greater error than when he passed from one party to another; than when he at one period took up the part of the people and at another period took up the part of the gentry of Ireland. He (Mr. Grattan) believed that the people of Ireland had committed errors, but the greatest error ever committed in Ireland was, the error of the higher orders in separating themselves from the lower orders—an error, the consequences of which would, he feared, be extremely disastrous. He must say that he objected strongly to the Government having a power to interfere at elections, as well as the gentry. The hon. member for Mayo was anxious to put down the 40s. freeholders of Galway last year, because they were not favourable to him. The hon. recorder of Dublin too, could speak as to the influence which Government used at elections particularly at Trinity College. He regretted that both the Government and the gentry had made themselves very unpopular by their interference at elections.
§ Mr. Dominick Browne
said, that he had never made any unfounded charges against the voters in Galway on the occasion alluded to by the hon. member for Meath, and appealed to the present hon. member for Galway whether he had not signed the petition on the subject? But he was not surprised at the sympathy which the hon. member for Meath appeared to feel for fictitious voters; as, if he (Mr. D. Browne) were not mistaken, the hon. member himself had had something to do with fictitious voters in Dublin.
§ Mr. Shaw
must say, in answer to the appeal to him from the hon. member for Meath, that the hon. Member was rather unfortunate in his selection of him as a witness to prove the benefit of Government influence at elections; for, independently of Trinity College, he had had three contested elections where Government were opposed to him, and on one of those occasions he had succeeded against the hon. Member himself notwithstanding—but he did not wonder at that hon. Member advocating agitation at elections, for he believed that since the time he alluded to, that hon. Member had found it very convenient in his own case, and successful in displacing (in the hon. Member's 1160 own words) "the gentry of the country from that position in it which they ought to hold."
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
appealed to the House, whether the attack which had been made upon him was honest, just, fair, or generous? He might retaliate if he chose, but he disdained to do so. He knew that of former Irish Governments of which an honest Englishman would be ashamed to hear. He well knew that Calcutta of Ireland, the Castle of Dublin ["Question"]. That cry came with a bad grace from those who had listened for hours yesterday evening to an explanation of a speech made four or five years ago by an Ex-secretary of State. He repeated, that he might retaliate, but he would not do so. He never did, nor ever would, trust himself to the support of an Irish Government: it was on the honest support of the Irish people on which he threw himself.
§ Lord Althorp
begged to recall the attention of the Committee to the question before it. One of the clauses of the Bill vested in the Lord-lieutenant the power of prohibiting public meetings in disturbed districts. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had observed, that at popular elections it was absolutely necessary that the candidates should be present at public meetings, in order to state the opinions upon which they founded their claims to the votes of the electors. The question was, whether the spirit of the Act applied to such meetings? It would be in the discretion of the Lord-lieutenant to put the Act in force, and he Would be responsible for his manner of doing it. No Lord-lieutenant would dare to make an undue use of the power thus intrusted to him, or interfere with the freedom of election. Were he to do so, he would subject himself not merely to censure, but almost to impeachment. There might be meetings during the progress of elections as dangerous to the public peace and safety, as at other periods, and, therefore, he could not do otherwise than look at the power given to the Lord-lieutenant to suppress such meetings as necessary to the efficiency of the measure.
said, it was very well for the noble Lord to state that the Lord-lieutenant would put the Act in force on his own responsibility. Responsibility, indeed! Why such observations were perfectly ludicrous. Supposing he proclaimed a county, and the Act was after- 1161 wards questioned in that House, the Ministers would immediately jump up and say it was necessary—the county was in a state of insurrection—murders, and maraudings, and intimidation prevailed through out; and, perhaps, in support of their assertions, a red box would be produced, and bits of newspapers, extracts of letters, and other unauthenticated and ex-parte statements read. Hon. Members had talked about personalities, especially the hon. member for Wexford, whose tone of tragic dignity and bombast he should not soon forget, but the present Lord-lieutenant was personal, even in his proclamations. Were they to intrust these tremendous powers to a man, whose first proclamation might be termed a personal one—a proclamation against the Trades' Union—were they to intrust these tremendous powers to the man who had complained in Cork that the people did not touch their hats to him? Were they to give the authority to proclaim a district during an election to an individual who had notoriously mixed himself up, on a late occasion, with electioneering squabbles and party feelings? Had not the Lord-lieutenant taken part in the late contest in the city of Dublin? He asserted that he had, and whatever contradiction might be given to that assertion, he could prove what he said. Alderman Darley, coming direct from Sir William Gossett, had promised to Mr. Boyton and Mr. West, that the entire influence of the Government should be given to that latter gentleman and Sir George Rich, the Conservative candidates. On the first day of election, the police, who were immediately and completely under the control of Alderman Darley, voted against him (Mr. O'Connell); but on the third day, when the Conservative cause became desperate, a proclamation appeared, stating, that the Government had never opposed him. Were they, he again asked, to give such extraordinary powers to a man who would wield the influence of Government in this way?—who, in Cork, exposed himself to universal ridicule, by his puerile complaints about the loss of popularity—by his empty talk about four gun-brigs, and the like? They had made out no case; and if they had, the Irish Government did not deserve the confidence of the people.
said, the hon. and learned member for Dublin had forced him up, by coming forward with a charge, not against 1162 the Government of Ireland, but against the head of that Government, founded on the statements of certain newspapers, and not contradicted. It was ludicrous, that every time the Government was assailed by two conflicting parties, each bitterly opposed to it, its silence, if it thought proper not to notice everything which they published, should be held as an admission, that whatever was uttered by the malice, absurdity, or ignorance of the one or the other was founded in truth. The hon. and learned member admitted, that the Lord-lieutenant had taken the trouble, by a memorandum in the newspapers, which the hon. and learned member called a proclamation, distinctly to deny the slightest interference by Government in the Dublin election; and the honourable and learned Member had yet to show on what authority he ventured to impeach the word and honour of a man, whose assertions, under ordinary circumstances, he dared not doubt. The hon. and learned Member, well knew, that he stood in a position in which he could not be called upon to retract or explain anything he might choose to utter. He stated, most positively, that the Government were perfectly indifferent as to the success of candidates who were equally opposed to them. Those who held official situations were perfectly at liberty to vote for whom they pleased, and had received from the Government no directions or suggestions whatever. He believed the majority of those individuals did vote against the hon. and learned member for Dublin; and if, in doing so, they considered they were voting for the more respectable and more competent candidates, they were but acting on their own acknowledged rights in doing so.
§ Mr. Shaw
If the right hon. Gentleman was sorry that the hon. and learned member for Dublin had forced him up, I have also to express my regret that the right hon. Gentleman has forced me to rise. I have no desire to be the partizan of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, or to cast the slightest imputation on the high personal honour of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; but I feel it due to the House to correct the right hon. Gentleman in a fact with respect to which I am sure he has been misinformed, but of which I am in possession; and when I hear a statement made which involves the truth and honour of personal friends of my own, I am bound to vindicate them The right hon. 1163 Gentleman speaks of the transaction as if it depended upon mere newspaper paragraphs; but to the documents in question Mr. West and Mr. Boyton publicly signed their names, and pledged their characters; and I affirm, without the fear of contradiction, that these gentlemen are utterly incapable of deviating from the strictest truth, and that their personal integrity and uprightness cannot be denied by their warmest political opponents. I would undertake, then, to say, from their statement alone (but I can add from my own knowledge of the evidence upon which that statement was founded), that Mr. West and Sir George Rich did receive a distinct and unequivocal assurance of the support of the Irish Government at the late Dublin election. I do not say that the Lord-lieutenant personally gave that assurance. [Cheers, from the Ministerial side.] I do not understand that cheer from hon. Gentlemen opposite—surely they do not suppose that I could say, or believe the Lord-lieutenant was capable of deliberately stating that which he knew to be untrue. But let these hon. Members recollect, that as a Peer of Parliament, the noble Marquess could not personally have interfered; and, further, let them bear in mind, that in the paper to which the noble Marquess put his name, and then sent to the various public offices in Dublin, the statement was not that the noble Marquess himself had not personally interfered, but that "the Government had taken no part in the election;" and the documents which I perused in the hands of Mr. West, stated exactly the reverse, namely, that the Government did support Mr. West and Sir George Rich. I do not wish further to give names or particulars in this House; but having said so much, I feel it will be my duty to furnish them to the right hon. Gentleman out of the House, should he wish it; and, in fact, for the first two days of the election, Mr. West and Sir George Rich received the support they had been promised. I do not know how to account for the change—I acquit the Lord-lieutenant of all wilful duplicity. I am sorry to have been obliged, in the defence of my friends, when facts were called in question, to take any part in this explanation; but I cannot help saying, that I verily believe it was, as stated in one of the documents referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that, before the election, Sir William Gossett 1164 spoke the sentiments of the Lord-lieutenant, and that after it had gone on for two days, the Lord-lieutenant spoke the sentiments of the Lord Chancellor. Certainly the official persons connected with the Lord-lieutenant should have more expressly learned his wishes before they committed themselves—and I must add, the noble Marquess should have more accurately acquainted himself with their acts before he denied them.
§ Mr. Aglionby
was not surprised at the scene which had just taken place, as nothing but assertions, contradicting assertions, had been brought forward throughout the whole discussion of this Bill; but he much regretted it. There was one point to which he was anxious to call the attention of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, which was, that if his Amendment was carried, there would be no power under this Bill from the period of the conclusion of the ejection till the time of the next meeting of Parliament. He would suggest that his Amendment should have effect only during the interval between the dissolution of Parliament and the conclusion of the election. He would not say the power would be exercised by the Lord-lieutenant, but if the Act allowed him to do it, then ought the House to agree to the Amendment.
said, that he was perfectly willing to agree to the proposition of the hon. and learned member, if it could possibly be carried into effect. He should now take the opportunity of making one or two observations upon the subject of the interference of the Government with the Dublin election. It had been denied that the Government had interfered; he had documents to prove that interference. The contrary assertion rested chiefly upon the note of the Lord-lieutenant, which was in these words:—"I desire it to be distinctly understood that the Government will not take any part in the Dublin election.—Anglesey." What was the document on the other side? It was a letter, relating to what had passed between the writer and Alderman Darley, and between Alderman Darley and Sir William Gossett. The Alderman and another gentleman had called at the office of Sir William Gossett, and Alderman Darley left the room and went up-stairs to ask what were the intentions of the Government; and shortly after wardsreturned, and said, that Sir William Gossett had 1165 authorised him lo say, that the Government would give all their support to the two Conservative candidates. Alderman Darley then sent for Farrel, the Chief Constable of the Dublin police, and told him that Mr. West and Sir George Rich were to be supported, and that Farrel was to take means of effectually supporting them. That was the Government to which were to be intrusted the provisions of this Act. He called on the House to remember that. There was no case made out for confidence; and if there were, certainly no principle could justify that House in placing such powers in any man's hands. Confidence, indeed! Why Lord Anglesey himself had said, before he was Lord-lieutenant, that he would never issue proclamations of this kind; yet he had not been Lord-lieutenant three days before he issued one. No confidence ought to be placed in any man. Then where was the reason for this Bill? Necessity—that was the tyrant's plea. There was no necessity for it at all; but, at all events, there was none to intrust men with those powers during elections—powers that would enable them to exercise control over those elections, and which it was impossible they should exercise for any good purpose. He should, therefore, take the sense of the House on the subject.
was not prepared at this moment to answer the observations of the hon. and learned member for Dublin with respect to the conversations with Sir William Gossett; but he should like to ask whether there had not been any subsequent documents that explained the account given of the conversation by Alderman Darley, and which showed that the effect of that conversation with Sir William Gossett had been misrepresented by Alderman Darley? He did not mean to cast any imputation on Alderman Darley, than whom there could not be a more honourable mail; but he believed that there was evidence to show that the Alderman had been mistaken. Whatever might have been the statement thus erroneously made, he knew perfectly well what were the feelings of the Government on the occasion in question. The Government had no predilection whatever with respect to the candidates. Nothing was more likely, or more probable than that Alderman Darley should have gone on the part of Mr. West, who was most unexpectedly a candidate, and should have asked what was 1166 meant to be done; and then, if that were so, the hon. and learned member for Dublin well knew that the persons who were employed under the Government in Dublin would almost to a man prefer to vote of their own accord for Mr. West and Sir George Rich, rather than for the hon. and learned Member. That might have been stated to Alderman Darley, who might easily have mistaken that statement of the probability o f their votes being given to these two candidates for a promise that Government would use their influence to that effect. He thought that Sir William Gossett had so explained this matter afterwards. So that if Alderman Darley was told that the Government would not interfere, he might, in all probability, have said, "You may go on safely, for you are sure to have all the Government votes."
§ Mr. Shaw
said, in explanation, that Sir William Gossett had not published any denial of the statement of Mr. West and Mr. Boyton; and that the right hon. Gentleman's observations about Sir William Gossett and Alderman Darley could not explain away the evidence to which he (Mr. Shaw) had principally alluded—for it was in addition to, and independent of, what they had said and done altogether.
§ The House divided—Ayes 72; Noes 214: Majority 142.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Tynte, K.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Warburton, H.|
|Briggs, R.||Wason, R.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Wilks, J.|
|Bulwer, E. L.||SCOTLAND.|
|Clay, W.||Dunlop, Capt. J.|
|Cornish, J.||Oswald, R. A.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Oswald, J.|
|Ellis, W.||Wallace, R.|
|Fancourt, Major||Baldwin, Dr.|
|Fort, J.||Barron, W.|
|Fryer, R.||Barry, G. S.|
|Guest, J.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Gully, J.||Butler, Hon. P.|
|Handley, B.||Finn, W. F.|
|Hawkins, J.||Fitzgerald, T.|
|Hume, J.||Fitzsimon, C.|
|Langton, Col. G.||Fitzsimon, N.|
|Parrott, J.||Grattan, H.|
|Potter, R.||Lalor, P.|
|Romilly, J.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Romilly, E.||Maclaughlin, L.|
|Sholefield, J.||Macnamara, Maj. W.|
|Strutt, E.||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Tennyson, Rt. Hn. C.||O'Brien, C.|
|Torrens, Col.||O'Callaghan, C.|
|O'Connell, D.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|O'Connell, C.||Ruthven, E.|
|O'Connell, J.||Sheil, R. L.|
|O'Connell, M.||Sullivan, R.|
|O'Connor, Don||Talbot, J.|
|O'Connor, F.||Vigors, N. A.|
|O'Dwyer, A. C.||Walker, C. A.|
|Perrin, L.||White, L.|
|Roche, D.||O'Connell, M.|
said, that he should propose another clause in the same spirit, but move limited in its extent than the last. His Amendment was, that in every case of a new writ issuing for the election of a Member during the continuance of this Parliament, from the issuing of that writ until its return, the powers of this Act should be suspended in the place where such election was to be had.
§ Clause negatived; as was another Clause proposed by Mr. O'Connell, to the effect, that no meetings of any chartered body should be deemed unlawful within this Act.
§ House resumed. Bill ordered to be read a third time.