§ His Majesty's Speech having been again read (for which see the Lords, ante p. 1), Mr. Charles Shaw Lefevre rose for the purpose of proposing that an humble Address should be presented to his Majesty in answer to the Speech which they had just heard read from the Chair. He was confident that the House might assure his Majesty, that it had not resumed its labours without being fully determined to discharge its duty to the public; and he believed, that the 34 Reformed Parliament, which, in the opinion of many, would only lead, it was supposed, to the downfall of monarchy, the destruction of the institutions of the country, and to become the mere organ of revolutionary principles, would, on a comparison being drawn between it and former Parliaments, be found to have been as zealous in its exertions for the public service, and to have accomplished the correction of abuses with as much respect for private property, with as great loyalty, and as anxious a desire to uphold the institutions of the country unimpaired, as any preceding Parliament. In proof of this he could not adduce a better test than the first of the subjects to which his Majesty in his most gracious Speech had alluded—namely, the great measure which was carried during the last Session for the abolition of slavery in the West-Indies. Notwithstanding all the demands for economy, all the plausible arguments which had been used within and without the walls of that House to prove the doubtful legality and vicious origin of slave property, Parliament, in the achievement of the glorious object of the abolition of slavery, had regarded the rights of property equally with those of humanity, and had made sacrifices unparalleled in the history of this or any other country. He congratulated the House and the country on the happy prospect that their labours would meet with their due reward; the slaves had shewn their gratitude by their tranquillity, and the proprietors of West-India property were exerting themselves diligently to carry the law into full effect with as much security as possible; wherefore he was not without a hope that this measure would prove the blessed means of abolishing negro slavery in all parts of the world. If the people of England, bowed down as they were with debt and taxation, could consent to make such an immense sacrifice to emancipate the slaves in the British dependencies, he hoped the people of the United States of America, who now exulted in the flourishing state of their finances, would follow the bright example which had been set by this country, and no longer Suffer their country (he might almost say their homes) to be disgraced by a continuance of slavery. His Majesty in his Speech had directed their attention to the advantages likely to result from the Commissions which had been appointed 35 to inquire into ecclesiastical revenues, into the state of the municipal corporations, and into the Poor-laws; and he trusted that at no distant period these important subjects would again be brought under the consideration of the House. He trusted that the same principle which had been so successfully applied to the Reform of Parliament, and which had given the people a just share in the administration of public affairs, would be followed up with regard to local Governments administered by municipal corporations. With regard to the ecclesiastical inquiry, he believed, that the information thus obtained would go far to remove those exaggerated notions of the Church Revenue which had caused much of that obloquy which was at present cast upon the Church. Parliament would then be better able to decide whether the interests of true religion, and of the Church Establishment, might not be promoted by the abolition of pluralities and sinecures, and by a fairer distribution of the revenue of the Church. But whatever benefits were likely to flow from the two other Commissions, that upon the state of the Poor-laws was likely, he believed, to do incalculable good. No one could now doubt that the injury did not arise from the laws themselves, but from their mal-administration—while they occasioned an expenditure exceeding that of some of the smaller states of the continent, and amounting to more than half the sum necessary (independent of the National Debt) for carrying on the machinery of Government. In this country, notwithstanding that expenditure, the labouring classes were in a frightful state of poverty and disorganization. In the south of England the pressure had been felt with peculiar severity, and though the agricultural labourer was better off than formerly in regard to his physical condition, he had lost all that spirit of independence that used to characterise the peasantry of England; they now demanded that relief as a right, which their ancestors had refused with indignation. They had been driven by a vicious system to contract improvident marriages, and they threw their children upon the parish for support without shame or remorse to inherit their own wretched pauperism. They were deprived of the advantages of education, or at least those advantages were very sparingly afforded; and they were thus left in ignorance of every social 36 principle, and of the knowledge that their condition depended upon their industry. Envy of their superiors was thus generated, and they taught themselves to believe, that they had a right to at least a part of the earnings of those who were more regular and laborious, and were ready to join in such lawless outrages as disgraced the winter of 1830; or in the more silent but not less destructive operation of the incendiary fires which, up to this moment, were blazing, he regretted to say, in several parts of the kingdom. Such was, he believed, a true statement of the effects of the mal-administration of the Poor-laws in England. He hoped that Parliament would apply a speedy remedy to these alarming evils; and he was satisfied, that if in the present Session it accomplished no other abject than amend the Poor-laws, it would merit and receive the thanks of the country. With regard to foreign policy, it was satisfactory to find that the integrity of the Turkish empire would still be preserved. A dawn of a better order of things was visible in Spain; and hopes might now be indulged that, ere long, she would take her place among the constitutional Governments of Europe. But that part of our foreign policy which was calculated to give the greatest satisfaction was the friendly intercourse now subsisting between this country and France; and he earnestly hoped, that the ancient spirit of rivalry, and those absurd prejudices which taught the people of both nations that they were natural enemies, would soon be exploded, and that the utmost would be done by the Governments of both countries still more closely to rivet the alliance, because he felt that it was only from the close union of England and France that they might hope effectually to support the progress of free institutions, and to resist the encroachments of despotic power. The favourable state of the revenue must have been noticed by his Majesty with peculiar gratification; and he wished there was no exception to the general prosperity. He wished that his own experience and the evidence on the Table did not compel him to admit that the agricultural, the most important interest of the empire, was labouring under the most severe depression. With the present low prices of grain it was impossible for the grower to make fair profit on his capital; and had it not been for the comparatively high price of wool and of some species of stock, 37 many an occupier would have been upon the verge of bankruptcy. Let it not be supposed that he was the advocate of high prices, for he believed, that the interests both of the public and of the farmer, were best promoted by moderate and steady prices. The complaint which he made was, that the agriculturists were not only made to bear the burthens of the State, but had a much larger share of taxation thrown upon them than any other class of persons whatsoever. If the House would bear with him for a few moments, he would bring before it a short statement of the effects of local taxation on a few agricultural districts. He would take the counties of Berks, Bucks, Dorset, Hants, Sussex, and Wilts, comprising an area of about 4,460,000 acres, the population of which was 1,277,009 souls. The poor-rate alone amounted to 1,074,000l., and the county rate and other local imposts made the sum which was paid within the circle he had described as much as 1,286,000l., or more than 1l. per head. The sum of 1l, per head was exclusive also of Land-tax and statute labour. There was another burthen to which the land was subject, which deserved serious and early consideration—tithes. Some commutation of this odious impost would be most gratefully received by the people. He understood it was the intention of the Government to introduce a plan or the commutation of tithes. But although he was the advocate for the reduction of tithes, he never would sanction, much less support, that proposition which had obtained, he was sorry to say, such extensive support among a large body of agriculturists in the west of England, and which went to say that, instead of one-tenth, the tithe-owner should only receive one-thirtieth of the produce of the land. He was no tithe-owner; but, nevertheless, he deprecated every attempt to deprive those who were tithe-owners of their just rights. Many deductions were to be made from the expense of collecting tithes; and he trusted that the tithe-owner would himself come forward liberally, to contribute to the extinction of a burthen so onerous and so prejudicial. He did not consider the case of the landed interest by any means hopeless, because it was in the power of Government to afford a remedy. If the profitable outlay of capital were not checked by tithes, and by the injurious operation of the Poor-laws—if the distrust between the labourer and his employer were removed by the moral elevation 38 of the peasant—the English farmer need not despair of receiving an adequate return for his capital and his industry, and of again living in comparative comfort and security. There was only one other topic to which it was necessary for him to allude. His Majesty had expressed, in the strongest terms, his determination to preserve inviolate the Legislative Union between England and Ireland; and he had no doubt, that this determination would receive the cordial support of both Houses of Parliament. He said this from no want of sympathy with the sufferings of the people of Ireland—from no desire to conceal the evils of misgovernment there; but, after the best consideration of the subject—for the sake of Ireland, and for the sake of Ireland alone—he thought it would be an absolute act of madness to repeal the Union. But were there no other persons to be consulted—no other parties to the contract? Were the Representatives of Scotland to have no voice in the matter, when the security of the whole empire was threatened by the dismemberment? He apprehended that within these walls, and before the united Parliament only, could the great question, if mooted at all, be properly decided. He called upon the Irish Members who advocated, or felt disposed to advocate, the Repeal of the Union, as they valued the peace and prosperity of their country, to lose not a moment in bringing the question to issue. But let them not suppose that, by reckless agitation, they could intimidate the Commons of Great Britain. They might weary her patience, or weaken her affection, but they could not prevent her from being strictly and impartially just. To the Coercion Bill of last Session, he and others had given a reluctant support; and the result had shown how worthy Ministers were of the confidence thus reposed in them. Since that period the Irish Church had been reformed, the Vestry Cess had been abolished, and the Grand Jury Laws had been amended. Whatever other measures were necessary would, he was sure, have the best consideration of that. House; and he trusted that that Union, once so earnestly desired by the Roman Catholics themselves, which had secured to them the blessings of Emancipation and of a Reformed Parliament, would be sacredly and inviolably preserved; and by consolidating and identifying the interests of both, it would secure to the people of 39 Ireland the perfect enjoyment of religious and political freedom. The hon. Member concluded by moving that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, which was as usual an echo of the Speech from the Throne.
§ Mr. Morrison
said, that in rising to second the Address which had been moved by his hon. friend, he felt that it would be unnecessary for him to occupy much of the time of the House in going over the same ground, or in touching at all upon many of the topics which it embraced, and to which his hon. friend had addressed himself so well and in a manner so satisfactory to the House. He should, therefore, restrict himself to certain parts of the Speech with which his own practical information rendered him, best acquainted. He concurred entirely in all that his hon. friend had said, especially on the subject of West-India Slavery, and he was sure that the country would observe with delight the prospect held forth by the speech, that that long-disputed subject was likely to be arranged so happily. It was most gratifying also to him to know from the same source that all the complicated questions, some of which had undoubtedly presented very great difficulties, connected with our foreign relations, were in a progressive state of adjustment, and that his Majesty's Government, notwithstanding the difficulties of the subject, had been enabled to preserve to this country the inestimable blessings of peace. That gratification, too, was much increased in his mind by knowing that this state of things had been brought about under the cordial co-operation of his Majesty's Government with the government of France. He trusted it would not be considered out of place if he here ventured upon an expression of his cordial hope that the political union of the two countries might soon be followed by a more liberal and extensive commercial intercourse, which must tend so greatly to the benefit of the people of each. With respect to the inquiries directed under his Majesty's Commission, and especially that relating to Municipal Corporations, he believed that that inquiry, and the manner in which it had been conducted, had given the greatest satisfaction, and afforded proof that his Majesty's Government had no intention to protect abuse wherever it might be found to exist, but to give to the public a proper control over their own property and funds, and a security 40 that the trusts under which all such property was held should be duly executed. He hoped, from what he had seen of the inquiry, that it would lead to measures necessarily following up the Reform Bill, and which would be in perfect harmony with that great measure. His hon. friend who had preceded him, being the Representative of an agricultural district, was, of course, more accurately informed than he was of the condition of agriculture and its wants; but he, also, was too much connected with the agriculturists not to know that great suffering had been felt by that class. At the same time he believed that the adjustment of rents to prices had become much more common than was generally imagined. Even, however, with such opinions he certainly could not hope to see the whole subject satisfactorily arranged until other questions—the Poor-laws, for instance—and especially one question which was of paramount importance, as between that and the other interests of the country, and which then occupied much attention in the country, should have been brought to a final settlement. He believed that all who were practically informed upon the subject would concur most entirely in his Majesty's congratulations upon the state of trade. He believed that, taking every branch into consideration, the whole year had been one of more than usual prosperity, as was so far evident, indeed, from the evidence taken before the Committee which sat last Session. If any doubts were entertained of the correctness of that proposition, he was confident they would be removed by a few facts which, with the permission of the House, he would proceed to lay before them. He should do so in the briefest manner, because he was anxious that the facts should speak for themselves, knowing that they would do so with more effect than they could derive from any colouring in his power to give them. He would first proceed to place before the House a statement of the comparative condition of the cotton manufacture and trade in the present and former years. In the year 1832, the quantity of raw cotton entered for home consumption was 262,221,780 lbs.; in 1833, the quantity was 296,076,640 lbs.; being an increase of 13 per cent on the year. He should also state, as a fact worthy the attention of the House, that the imports of cotton for home consumption last year were the largest ever known 41 Even in 1825, when so much speculation was afloat, the quantity imported was only 202,546,869lbs.; showing an increase upon last year, over that of 1825, of thirty per cent. The declared value of our exports of manufactured cotton, yarn included, in 1832, was 17,398,378l.; in 1833, the value was 19,659,672l., being an increase of thirteen per cent. These facts were sufficient to show that the cotton trade was in a most satisfactory condition; but there were some other striking points of view in which the recent improvement was manifested. He would ask the House to look at the quantities of cotton entered for home consumption during the last twenty years, dividing that period into two, and comparing the two periods with each other. The annual average imports of the ten years beginning 1814, and ending 1823, gave 120,623,721 lbs.; the average of the ten years from 1824 to 1833 was 227,052,851 lbs.; showing an increase of eighty-eight per cent. He next came to our woollen manufactures, so important, not only to the manufacturing interest, but also to the agriculturist who produced the raw material; and, from the imports which had recently been made from New South Wales, we might hereafter look to it with every confidence as an article of high importance to our colonial interests. In 1832, the quantity of wool entered for home consumption was 27,748,912lbs.; in 1833, it was 39,618,503lbs.; being an increase of upwards of forty per cent. The exports of manufactured woollen goods in 1832, in declared value, was 5,479,866l.; in 1833, it was 6,511,780l.; being the largest export since 1819, and showing an increase upon last year of upwards of eighteen per cent. If they looked to the comparative state of prices, they would find a still more remarkable increase. Since last year English wools had advanced in price from 14d. or 15d. to 2s. per lb.; being an increase of upwards of seventy per cent. The Australian wool that was 1s. 11d. had advanced to 2s. 9d., being an increase of upwards of forty per cent.; and foreign wools (German and Spanish) excepting the very fine wools, had increased, on an average, by forty per cent. The Australian imports in 1832 were 10,483 bags (of about 200lbs.); in 1833, they amounted to 14,948 bags; being an increase of upwards of forty per cent. Looking to the fact of the rapid increase of sheep under the favourable 42 influence of that climate and soil, he could not help viewing that colony as being hereafter destined to aid in securing to us a continuation of that superiority in our woollen manufactures which the country had hitherto possessed throughout the world. And here he must do justice to the former government of the country for having originated that course of commercial policy which, in every case, had been productive of so much advantage to our manufactures wherever it had been applied. This was no more than justice; while at the same time to his Majesty's present Ministers the same acknowledgment was due, for they had supported the principles of that policy when out of office, and carried them still further into effect since they had been in power. In 1826, Mr. Huskisson proposed the reduction of the duty of 6d. per lb. upon the import of German wool, and removed the prohibition on the export of the growth of this country. At the time it was said, that this would be most injurious to both our agriculture and our manufactures. Yet what was the result after eight years of trial? He was confident that no impartial or unprejudiced man could assert that the manufacturer would have been in the state he was now in, or that the farmer would have been obtaining the present price for his wool, if that measure had never been adopted. He then came to the silk manufacture. The quantity of raw silk entered for home consumption in 1832 was 4,392,073lbs.; in 1833, it was 4,758,453 lbs.; being an increase of something more than eight per cent. Upon the prices there had been an average advance on all the sorts of the article, ranging from twenty to fifty, and averaging thirty per cent. But the fact which must be the most gratifying to the House to know, connected with this branch of trade, was the great increase in the exports of our silk manufactured goods. The declared value of the exports for 1832 was 529,990l.; while, in 1833, they had advanced to 740,294l., being an increase of nearly forty per cent. Another most satisfactory view of the condition of our silk manufactures would be found in looking at the same comparison he had made with respect to cotton, upon the average of the two last periods of ten years each. The quantity of silk stated as entered for home consumption (excluding thrown), in the ten years from 1814 to 1823, gave an average of 1,580,016 lbs. 43 per annum. The same average taken upon a similar period of years, ending in 1833, gave an amount of 3,651,810 lbs.; being an increase of 130 per cent. Of the last ten years, too, let it be remembered, that during eight of them there was a free trade in this article of our manufacture. He should next speak of the linen manufacture. This article, it was well known, had suffered greatly from the competition arising from the improvements in machinery, and the consequent great fall in prices in the cotton manufacture; whilst there had been no corresponding improvement, or reduction in the linen trade. Lately there had been a change in this state of things; and he hoped the our linen manufactures would benefit by the improvement equally with the cotton-wool markets, though not at the expense of the latter, but from that general rise in which both would participate. The quantity of flax entered for home consumption in 1832 was 995,512 cwts.; in 1833, the quantity entered was 1,127,736 cwts.; the largest previous year having been 1825, in which the quantity was 1,018,837 cwts.: thus showing an advance of more than thirteen per cent. The declared value of the exports of manufactured linens in 1832 was 1,783,432l.; in 1833, 2,199,441l.; being an increase of considerably more than twenty per cent. The comparative import of flax for home consumption he was not enabled to take upon a larger period than the last fourteen years, dividing it into periods of seven years each. In the seven years from 1820 to 1826 inclusive, the quantity of flax entered for home consumption was 4,484,867 cwts.; in the seven years ending with 1833, it was 6,586,130 cwts.; being an increase of upwards of forty-five per cent. He was not disposed to detain the House further on this branch of trade; but that in the case of the linen manufactures at Dundee, there had been so astonishing an increase that he could not refrain from stating some facts which had been communicated to him. The import of flax at Dundee in 1814 was 3,000 tons; during the year ending 31st May 1831, there were imported into Dundee 15,010 tons of flax, and 3,082 tons of hemp; in the year ending 31st of May, 1833, the imports were 18,777 tons of flax, and 3,380 tons of hemp. At the same time the exports had increased to an equally astonishing degree. In the year ending 31st May, 44 1831, it had been calculated that there were shipped off from the port of Dundee 50,000,000 yards of linen, 3,500,000 yards of sail-cloth, 4,000,000 yards of bagging; in all 57,500,000 yards of manufactured goods. The imports of the raw material, flax and hemp, in the year ending 31st May, 1833, were estimated in value at 700,000l.; and as the exports of manufactured articles in the same year amounted in value to 1,600,000l., the difference, 900,000l., remained to be divided between the wages of the labourer, and the profits of the capitalists. As this manufacture was rapidly increasing, it promised to come into successful competition, at least in Scotland, with the cotton trade. In the iron trade a similar improvement was observable. The price of bar iron in Wales in 1832 had been 4l. 15s.; in April last it was 6l.; and it had increased to 7l.; thus showing an increase of fifty per cent. The declared value of the exports of iron manufactures for 1832 was 1,190,748l.; for 1833, it was 1,425,723l.; being an increase of nearly twenty per cent. This improvement would, in all probability, continue, among other causes, from the increased demand for the article in the formation of rail-roads. He understood that large orders had already been given for such undertakings, especially from America. There was, in his opinion, no doubt that other countries, seeing what had been done by the towns of Liverpool, and Manchester, would profit by their example, and obtain those facilities for carriage and communication, in which iron was so important a material. He believed it very probable that large orders would continue to come from America, though such were at present checked by the state of the question between the Bank and the Government. And might be not also venture to hope that another country nearer home would adopt the same course? He thought the iron trade of this country would be justified in counting upon France hereafter as one of its most valuable customers. It certainly did seem remarkable, that a country so enlightened as to its own interests as France, should endeavour to force the production of the article of iron at home, while we could supply it to her at so much cheaper a rate. He had now touched upon many of the leading branches of our industry, and although he might have added others in corroboration of his views, and in support of the information 45 contained in his Majesty's Speech, be felt that he had no right to trespass upon the House at too much length. There were other cases, in which the most astonishing-progress in manufactures had taken place, and some where manufactures, formerly of small importance, were now flourishing in full vigour and activity. Perhaps this desirable state of things was partly owing to the long continuance of peace. Undoubtedly that blessing was most to be desired by all countries, but especially in a country like this, whose people were so extensively employed in manufacturing labour. Though he was unwilling to detain the House, the statement he had made as to the trade and manufactures of the country would be incomplete if he were not to add that the; condition of the labouring population had partaken in the general improvement. This he thought could not be denied in I the face of the evidence given before the Committee to which he had already alluded, where, it would be remembered, that almost every witness bore testimony to the improvement in the condition of the industrious classes. With regard to the latter, indeed, there was then one exception, and that was the case of the hand-loom weaver, though it was a remarkable fact connected with the general improvement in the condition of the labourer that wages had uniformly improved most where the greatest improvements in machinery had been effected, and that they were as uniformly low where machinery had not been introduced. How great a proof was this, that no one was so much interested in the application of machinery to our manufactures, as the labourer whose wages were in fact raised, while his labour was diminished, and his situation in every respect improved. That the situation of the hand-loom weaver was improved since the last session, he found confirmed by a letter from a competent person at Glasgow, who, after describing the past distress, goes on to say,—'This, however, is now over, and the cotton, as well as every other branch of manufacture here, may be reported to be in what is called a most healthful state, and I think there is every prospect of their continuing so. The printing trade has been particularly prosperous, and is rapidly increasing. The silk manufacture is also progressive. As some evidence of the present situation of our general manufactures here, there has, within the last ten days, been an advance upon the wages 46 of nearly all the descriptions of handloom weavers, of from 10 to 12 per cent. This unlooked-for occurrence seems to have been brought about by the following circumstances:—The continued miserable and apparently hopeless condition of the hand-loom weaver had imperceptibly, for some time, been working its own cure. New hands, when formerly required in the business, used to be more than supplied by the parent weaver putting all his children upon the loom the instant they could be set to work. The wretched wages, however, which this trade has now for a long time afforded, has gradually led the parents to look elsewhere for employment for their children, and the addition to the stock of hands has been every year diminishing. Along with this, all the weavers who were able, in any degree, to improve their condition by betaking themselves to other employments, have left the trade. But not only has the stock of workers been thus far reduced, but an unlooked-for demand for hand weavers, to be employed on what is termed harness-work, in fabricating fancy-coloured goods for the American and Persian markets, has lately sprung up; and as these articles afford better wages than plain goods, a great number of hands have been taken away from the weaving of plain fabrics. The weavers of plain goods, thinking this a favourable moment for effecting an improvement of their situation, have demanded an advance of wages, and this has been conceded to them by their employers about ten days ago.' Now, it would be remembered, that last year a petition was presented from that body, complaining of severe distress, and praying for the fixing a minimum of wages. The change which had taken place confirmed the principle, that these things always worked their own cure when the Legislature left them to themselves. Having noticed the manufactures of England and Scotland, he would now, with the permission of the House, detain them while he alluded very briefly to the manufactures of Ireland. He was enabled to state, from personal inquiries made in the north of Ireland, that the improvement in the manufactures of that district during the last year, had been quite equal to the progress which had been made in the sister countries. This probably arose from many causes, but mainly, he believed, 47 from the extensive introduction of mill-spun yarn, the increased use of which had rendered the article of manufacture much better, and consequently extended its consumption. The increase of flax-mills for this purpose, was an evidence of this improvement. In the neighbourhood of Belfast, eight or nine of these had been established, where, five years ago, not a single mill existed. He might also remark, that there had been a considerable increase in the export of yarn—a proof that other nations, in this, as in all other cases, were always ready to profit by our discovery and use of improvements in machinery. In evidence of the improvement in Ireland, he went on to make a further extract from the Glasgow letter already quoted:—'A consequence of this reduction of the supply of hand-weavers here, for the plain fabrics, has been an extension of the employment of the hand-weavers of the north of Ireland. Two of our principal houses engaged in the manufacture of fine plain muslins have for a long time had weaving establishments at Belfast, where a foreman gives out their yarn to be woven, and sends them back the cloth daily as he gets it from the weaver. The steam communication renders this as little expensive as employing weavers within a certain range of country round Glasgow. The weavers wages in the north of Ireland, have always been a shade below those paid here, and the goods have been well executed. These establishments at Belfast for giving out weaving are now on the increase. Several new ones having been formed lately, I should think very beneficial future results to Ireland may be expected to spring from this commencement of the employment of British capital in combination with Irish labour.' When he saw this progressive improvement in the manufactures of the north of Ireland, and reflected upon the still greater facilities possessed by the south in the cheapness of labour and living; when he considered the advantages enjoyed by Ireland in her free command of the ports of England and her markets, he owned he was surprised, that manufactures had not established themselves very extensively in such a country. He must be permitted to state, with all respect for those who entertained a different opinion, that one of the principal causes of this anomaly was to be found in the fact that manufactures could not be established 48 where agitation and outrage prevailed. It seemed to be the fate of that country constantly to repel the advantage she so much wanted—namely, domestic employment for her population. At the present time labour was cheaper in Ireland than in any other country he knew of, in which manufactures were established. It must, indeed, be admitted, that there were in Ireland evils and wrongs which ought to be removed and remedied; but the true remedy for those evils would, in his opinion, be more effectually supplied by a united Parliament than by an Irish Parliament. He would not enter into the argument concerning the Repeal of the Union; but he feared, that the people of Ireland had not considered well how their real interests would be affected by the remedy they sought. It was said, that to the union with this country Ireland owed the destruction of her manufactures. But he did think it unfair that the Union should be charged with that change, which had in fact arisen from the free trade between the two countries from which Ireland had derived such immense advantages. But, even allowing what had been said, had Ireland suffered alone by such changes? If in Dublin an important branch of the silk trade had fallen into decay, so in Norwich, still more recently, a similar branch had been almost extinguished. The former change could not therefore proceed from the Act of Union, but in a great degree from those capricious changes of fashion over which the Legislature had no control. The Irish woollen manufactures, like some which formerly existed in the south of England, had been compelled to yield to the superior enterprise and the superior advantages of the people of Yorkshire. But these changes, great as they were, and injurious to particular places, or districts, carried also great advantages with them to the empire at large; nor was Ireland shut out from participating largely in some of those advantages. These changes enabled the Irish to dispose of increasing quantities of their agricultural produce, for which they had always found the best market in England. These changes also enabled Irishmen to find an increasing demand for their labour in this country. The House would bear in mind the great expenses incurred in the north of England by the increase of manufactures; and that, whilst the poor-rates there and in the south of England had considerably in 49 creased, and principally by the influx of Irish labour, the landlords in Ireland were totally exempt from any such charge. If then some branches of the manufactures of Ireland were transferred to the north of England, so were also very many of her people, who, to a vast extent, became chargeable upon the poor-rates of this country. He would undertake to say, that a greater number of Irishmen found employment and support in England than had, by any decay of trade, been thrown out of employment in Ireland by the causes to which he had alluded. Having said thus much with regard to the transfer of manufactures from one country to the other, he would next touch upon another important point in the Speech, that of the revenue, which he was glad to hear had improved so much, by which means he trusted that his Majesty's Ministers would be enabled to make further reductions in taxation. This circumstance was the more gratifying as considerable reductions had already been made, notwithstanding certain incidental expenses to which the country had necessarily been subjected. He could not help congratulating the House upon having such hopes held out to the country; and, though he himself occasionally opposed the Ministers, he felt bound on this occasion, as an independent Member, to come forward and give them his support. In conclusion, he felt called upon to say, that, though always ready to oppose Ministers when he thought them wrong, he was then glad of the opportunity to support men who had shown so much wisdom and firmness in carrying the great measure of Reform; a measure which he sincerely believed would contribute to the future welfare and prosperity of the country. He also felt satisfied, that the present Ministry would make still further beneficial changes, and, in his honour and conscience, he firmly believed that there was no set of men who possessed equally the power and the disposition of rendering services to the country. He had great pleasure in seconding the Address which had been moved by his hon. friend.
did not venture to anticipate any definite or satisfactory declaration in the Speech which had been graciously delivered from the Throne. It was from time immemorial the character of such Addresses that they were vague, undefined, and incomprehensible, even as to the doctrines which they purported 50 to propound; and he was bound to acknowledge that the document before them rivalled all its predecessors in those qualities. It did not seem clear as to the topics which it touched, nor in its indications of what the future labours of the House might be directed to. It appeared to him, upon the slight consideration which he was able to give to that Address, that it contained two or three points which had excited some difficulty, and which had forced themselves particularly upon the minds of its framers. The business of the last Session had been referred to, and there were other points which had been the subject of particular and pointed allusion. Among them, allusion had been made to the distress under which the agricultural classes were said to be suffering. Now, for his own part, he must say-that he did not see the necessity for the introduction into the Speech of any such topic, and he was bound to say, as he felt, that there was no necessity for it. He would add, that until he heard the Speech form the Throne, he was not aware that the agricultural classes laboured under any particular distress. When he had made use of that expression, he was perfectly aware that he was liable to the correction of those Gentlemen who on that subject had better means of personal observation than he had, and who, if he were in error, would set him right. He might have been incorrect; but he would repeat his assertion, that until that evening he was not aware of the existence of agricultural distress to the extent described in the Speech. He regretted that this uncalled-for notice of the peculiar pressure of agricultural distress should have been introduced into the King's Speech, and his regret arose from this consideration, that he believed the allusion to be tantamount to an intimation, that Ministers would resist certain salutary reforms which the country loudly and justly called for, and which the people had a right to expect from the Government. He referred more particularly to that monopoly which the Corn-laws was intended to keep up, and which, in the opinion of the great body of the people, was injurious to their interests. The hon. Member who moved the Address had dwelt feelingly upon the distresses of the class he himself immediately belonged to; but the gloomy picture drawn by the hon. Mover was greatly relieved by the statements of the hon. 51 Member who seconded the Address. If, as stated by the hon. Mover, the agricultural classes were labouring under great distress, and entertained gloomy anticipations, there was this relief to the dark picture, that in the hon. Seconder's view, the prospects of the manufacturing classes were all brightness and serenity. This latter statement might be gratifying to some persons, but he was sorry to say, that he partook more of the gloomy lamentations of the hon. Mover, than of the cheering anticipations of the hon. Seconder of the Motion. However this might be, he was extremely sorry at the introduction of these topics, because that too plainly intimated to his mind, that there was to be no revision of the Corn-laws, and that the people must not now expect that immediate diminution of taxes which they had long looked for, and which they had a right to think would take place in the present Session of Parliament. He alluded particularly to the House and "Window taxes, against which there was a very strong feeling, not only in the metropolis, but throughout the country. There certainly was in the Royal Speech an especial recommendation to exercise the strictest economy in every department of the public service; but this was a recommendation in which he could place no great confidence, as it was merely a repetition of what had been invariably said in Royal Speeches during the last forty years; and it was a notorious fact, that in years of the most lavish expenditure, the King's Speeches uniformly recommended the strictest economy. On this occasion he should endeavour to give a partial effect to that recommendation, and should for that purpose give notice of a motion for a repeal of the House and Window-taxes. He selected these because he understood from certain intimations which were given out, that the Government still intended to retain the Window-tax, and to confine their remedial measures to a repeal of the House-duty. He did not mean, in giving the notice to confine himself to any particular time, but he would undoubtedly persevere in bringing forward a motion on this subject, unless he received an intimation from the noble Chancellor of the Exchequer that it was the intention of Government to repeal both those duties. As no intimation had been held out to him by the noble Lord, he was afraid it was too true that there was no intention on the part of 52 Government to repeal the Window-taxi and feeling, as he did, the oppressiveness of this tax, particularly to the inhabitants of this great metropolis, he hoped the House would excuse him whilst he made a remark or two on the injustice and partiality of the House and Window-taxes. The people of London were the chief sufferers from the pressure of those taxes; they were levied and collected irregularly and unfairly; and in no part of the kingdom was the unfairness of the tax so perceptible as in London. In short, the people of the metropolis suffered more from those taxes than did all the rest of the kingdom. It was an important fact, that owing to the irregularity and partiality with which they were collected, the people of Westminster had to pay more under this head than was paid by the whole of Scotland, with all her great cities and manufacturing towns. Even independently of the great unfairness of these taxes, there were other grounds upon which they ought to be repealed. Whatever excited the attention, and concerned the interests of this great metropolis, must always be entitled to the best consideration of Parliament. But the House must also recollect that these were war taxes, and as such, that the repeal of them was due to the people. They were long ago denounced by hon. Members who now sat on the Treasury bench. The repeal of the Window-tax had first been agitated by an hon. Member now in the Government, on the ground of its being a war tax, and as such had become unnecessary; and also upon the ground of its inequality and injustice to people in business. The inhabitants of the metropolis had warmly and eagerly sought for a repeal of both those taxes, not only on the ground of their oppressive injustice, but also upon the ground that their means of paying them had rapidly declined. These taxes were also obnoxious from their being partial and favourable to the aristocracy. How, then, could the Government think of resisting a Reform which was so loudly and justly demanded by the people? How could they resist the repeal of taxes which were unequal, and unjust in their pressure, irregular in their collection, and which pressed most heavily upon the most industrious and least opulent classes in society? What could be more unjust than that tradesmen should be made to pay more for lights necessary for their 53 business, than were paid by men of fortune for lights that were only luxuries? It was impossible to make the collection of the Assessed-taxes, however well intended, either equal or just; they were a positive grievance, and no mode of administering the law under which they were collected could make them palatable. A tradesman who wanted to open a garret-window in the most obscure street in the metropolis would have to pay eight or nine shillings, or for a few inches in addition to his shop-window; whilst a noble Lord, or hon. Member, who wished to add a large window to his mansion, situated in the most fashionable part of the metropolis, would not have to pay more than eighteen-pence These were grievances which loudly called for remedy; and he saw no means of remedying them but a total repeal of these oppressive taxes. In fact, he believed that they could not be continued and that their injustice, together with their unpopularity, would enforce their repeal Much had been said of the great extent of agricultural distress, but whatever distress might exist among the agriculturists it was not so great in proportion to that of the manufacturers as had been stated. The heavy pressure of Poor-rate in a few agricultural counties afforded no just criterion of the true condition of the country, because such a pressure might be the result of an abuse of the labour-rate. If he were actuated by any factious hostility to the Ministers, which he distinctly disclaimed, he should wish them to continue in their present impolitic and unpopular course. If he were actuated by such motives, he should encourage them to support the Assessed-taxes, which pressed so heavily upon the people of London, already borne down with the weight of taxation. Having no such feelings towards the present Administration, he would implore of them to reconsider this subject, and repeal those obnoxious taxes. Let them but consider the amount of taxation levied on the metropolis, 3,000,000l. being paid in local and direct taxes, independently altogether of Excise and Custom duties. They should also bear in mind, that notwithstanding this vast revenue derived from London, the resources of its inhabitants had not proportionately increased. London had latterly lost some of the peculiar advantages which it had for a long time enjoyed. The large monopolies which it had possessed were 54 now abolished, and several branches of its trade had been transferred to the out-ports and other parts of the empire. The India trade, amongst others, was now falling away from London; and there was a variety of circumstances which afforded the strongest reasons for lightening the burthens of the people of the metropolis. Independently of these reasons, the Returns before the House afforded a conelusive argument for repealing the Assessed-taxes. One-third of the war taxes which yet remained, was paid in London, though in fairness its proportion should not be more than one-eighth, or one-ninth. Here, then, he repeated, was a conclusive reason for the immediate discontinuance of this tax; and when he declared that, in arguing for its repeal, he spoke upon good authority, he begged to observe that the abolition of the Window-tax was first agitated by many Gentlemen opposite as far back as the year 1824, when a Resolution was brought before that House to the effect, that it was the opinion of that House that the repeal of this tax should be carried into effect; the tax being-one which was unjust, injurious in its operation, and most oppressive to the least opulent of the community. Now, amongst the supporters of this Motion, he found the names of the noble Lord, the present Lord Chancellor, together with several others of the present Administration, and lastly (though not least), amongst those names he found that of the noble Lord opposite, who was now the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That noble Lord then contended for the repeal of this tax; but, notwithstanding this, he had allowed two years to elapse, and had hitherto done nothing to forward this great object. Now, if there were upon these occasions to be a total oblivion of past votes and professions—if, indeed, this were to be allowed to pass unnoticed, and were to be sanctioned by that House—that Reformed House of Commons—he (Colonel Evans) knew not what the public would have to rely upon; because neither political consistency, nor political morality, could exist. This, however, was all he would venture to say on this point; but there were other topics upon which he would beg to address the House. Now, what he complained of more particularly, was, the odium which naturally attached to the House and Window-taxes, from the very fact of their involving the disqualification 55 qualification of electors to vote, in the event of these taxes not being paid up to a particular day. For his own part, he would observe, that he was not a willing opponent to the present Administration; but he felt that the continuance of these taxes had a tendency to cast a doubt or suspicion upon the minds of the public as to the sincerity of those very men who had introduced the Reform Bill with the avowed intention of extending the elective suffrage, but who continued to retain two taxes which restricted the operation of the elective franchise. If he were disposed to be a factious opponent of the Government, he should wish, and would advise them, to continue these oppressive burthens; but, on the contrary, he would venture to entreat them to reconsider that point. He was well acquainted with the distress which prevailed among various classes in the metropolis; he believed, that it existed to a great extent, and that it might in a great measure be traced to the continuance of the House and Window-tax. On that ground he would call for the repeal of those taxes at the hands of the Government as an act of public justice; and upon that ground he repeated his hope, that the Ministry would reconsider the point. He would observe, that he concurred in certain parts of his Majesty's Speech; but he had heard that part of the Speech with sorrow which contained some unnecessary and uncalled-for allusions to the state of Ireland. He could not believe that the course which had been pursued in speaking of that country was politic, and every one must be aware, that the language adopted was foreign to the known noble sentiments of his gracious Majesty. Without, however, entering into the question of the state of Ireland, he would say, that he thought that it would be the duty of some one of the Members for Ireland to move an Amendment to the Address, with a view to relieve his Majesty's Government from the unpleasant task of echoing still more unpleasant sentiments. In reference to the affairs of Portugal, he must observe, that he had sojourned some weeks in that country since the termination of the last Session of Parliament, and he, therefore, hoped he might be allowed to say a few words upon the conduct and character of the ruler of that country. With that part of the Speech from the Throne which related to Portugal he fully concurred. To the meritorious conduct of the regent 56 of Portugal he could bear witness; and he mentioned this fact, as he knew that in some of the newspapers of the metropolis some articles had appeared of a different tendency, he presumed, with a view to lead the country to suppose that the removal of the regent from Portugal was a probable event. He hoped, however, that any such impression would be destroyed by the Government. It was, however, with infinite satisfaction to himself, and he thought it must be equally so to the House, that he was able to state, that no Prince was ever more likely to contribute to the happiness of Portugal than the present regent of that country, whom he believed to be actuated by the best feelings, and whose political conduct had been such as to reflect the highest credit upon him. There was, another subject in reference to the regent of Portugal, which, as it had been alluded to before and might be so again, he begged to recur to. It had been observed, that the Constitution which he had professed to give to that country had not come yet into operation;—but, seeing that the kingdom was in a state of civil war, it was hardly to be thought that the proposed Constitution could come fairly into operation for the present, and therefore any observations from that House would be ill-timed. He believed, that since the regent of Portugal had been in power, not one individual had suffered capital punishment for any political offence. During the period in which he had been in Lisbon he met Don Pedro in the streets, accompanied by a single attendant only; and he knew for a fact, that the whole police force of Lisbon did not amount to more than 200; and he wished, that the numbers of the police in this country were regulated by a proportionate standard. He had thought it right to say thus much; and he would merely add, that he hoped and believed there was no truth in the report that this country was going to take an active part in the affairs of Portugal. There was no necessity, he was glad to say, for any such interference, as the present triumphant position of the Constitutional cause rendered it unnecessary to afford it any assistance. There was another point to which he wished to direct the attention of the Foreign Secretary, and upon which he hoped the noble Lord would be able to give a satisfactory explanation; he meant the late treaty between 57 Russia and the Ottoman Porte. He had seen, in common with many other persons, the correspondence on this subject between the French Minister and Count Nesselrode, in which the former had couched his opinions in the most submissive terms: and he hoped that, when the correspondence of the Minister of England with that of Russia became known, it would not be found to be couched in the same tone of subserviency as that of France. He could not help observing, that the communications between the French Minister and Count Nesselrode were marked by the most submissive tone on the part of the former, whilst the reply of the Representative of Russia was as contemptuous as the politeness of diplomatic usage would allow. He could not help adverting also to the great discrepancy which existed between the several statements made on this subject by the French Ministers in the Chamber of Deputies. He had in vain endeavoured to reconcile these conflicting statements; and he was quite unacquainted with any circumstance which could allay the great anxiety naturally created by the late treaty between Russia and Turkey. He was afraid, that the present Ministry were in danger of running into the same error with the Duke of Wellington, when in power, and allowing the great Northern Power to obtain too fast a footing in that country. Rather than no other means should be taken to obstruct the progress of that power, he should think, that it would be advisable for this country to form an alliance with Mehemet Ali, the Pacha of Egypt, and thereby establish a barrier between Russia and our Indian possessions, to the south of the Hellespont. He thought, at all events, that a treaty of offensive and defensive alliance should be formed with the Pacha of Egypt. He wished to say a few words regarding the state of Poland. He hoped that, as it was now admitted that a violation of the Treaty of Vienna had been committed by Russia, in regard to that unhappy country, his Majesty's Government would not object to give every information regarding the interference in its behalf by this country, and would lay the documents in their possession on the subject, on the Table of the House. With regard to what was said by the mover and seconder of the Address, of the distress among the landed interest, he would observe, that some distress was to be expected 58 as consequent on the excitement produced by the Reform Bill; but it was time now that it should be in some measure allayed. That, however, seemed not to be the case, and a large portion of the people engaged in agriculture were still sunk in misery and distress. He observed, that the mover and seconder were in some measure at variance as to the extent of the distress; the one affirming, the other denying it. He (Colonel Evans) was sorry to say, that as far as his experience went, the hon. Mover was borne out in his statement. There was great distress felt among agriculturists, and he had attributed it to two causes—first, the monopoly in the article of corn; and, secondly, the pressure of taxation on the productive industry of the people. He was borne out in his ideas of the evil effects of such taxes as pressed on productive industry by the opinion of the right hon. the Vice-president of the Board of Trade, in one of the best speeches that that right hon. Gentleman had ever made in the House, when the noble Lord, the Chancellor, and he, were on the Opposition side of the House. Those taxes remained as injurious at the present time as they were then; and he could not but regret that the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten his own stated opinions, or could not now convince his noble friend of the justice of those arguments which he then so forcibly stated, or get his noble friend to act on his opinions. With regard to the taxation which was supposed to fall exclusively on the landed interest, he found, that the right hon. Baronet, the member for Dundee, was at variance with the mover of the Address. That right hon. Baronet, after giving a long list of those articles which those who had the power of making the laws had taxed, in order to give the produce of their own lands advantage and protection, and stating that the list showed with what great zeal those who were invested by the Constitution with the power of making laws had used that power, with the view of promoting the interests of landed property, and that the object of each of the duties was, to raise the rents by preventing the fall of agricultural produce, which had the effect of injuring the labouring classes in exact proportion to the extent to which it accomplished the desired object—goes on to state—"Besides, it is to be observed, that the makers of the laws have contrived to throw the great burthen of taxation,— 59 first, by the selection of the taxes imposed; and, secondly, by the selection of the taxes repealed,—from off their shoulders upon the industrious classes, so that out of the 50,000,000l. of annual Revenue, not more than 6,000,000l. falls upon the property of landlords." These were not the doctrines of a visionary—they were the doctrines promulgated by one of the Aristocracy—by one, who, besides, was a man of experience and talent. The statement, therefore, made by the hon. Mover of the Address, was not borne out by all persons even of his own class. Then, with regard to the two or three millions saved by the present Ministry, he would say, that though he did not undervalue such savings, and the exertions of those who made them, still he was satisfied, that larger savings must be made and those taxes which press on productive industry be repealed, or it would be impossible for the nation to proceed; and he was convinced, that the removal of such taxes would be of more consequence to the prosperity of the nation, than even the direct reduction of taxation. He had observed, that, in the course of the many speeches made by friends of Government during the recess of Parliament, and also in some pamphlets published, occasion was taken to charge persons with a wish to increase the public wish for Reform, and even with a desire to accelerate Reform to a dangerous degree. He was not liable to that charge. He looked to the different members of the Administration with respect, and he knew them to be possessed of talent and vigilance; but now he had to look to them, not in their individual capacities, but collectively as a Cabinet; and he could not but say, that in that capacity, both the Reformed Ministry and the Reformed Parliament had disappointed the country; and he was not by any means disposed to accelerate the Ministry in the progress of such measures as they had brought forward. When he recollected, that the present Ministers obtained their popularity with the nation by their liberal opinions—when he recollected that many of them had declared themselves favourable to short Parliaments, though now they had decided in favour of septennial Parliaments—when he recollected that some members of the Cabinet eloquently declaimed against a large standing army during a time of peace, and yet retained a still larger army than their unpopular predecessors, 60 and kept 33,000 men in the Colonies, which no power on earth could venture to attack—when he recollected the acts of the much-calumniated Tories towards Ireland, and then looked to the conduct of the present Administration to that country, where the army was now larger, and the Government harsher than ever—and when recollected that by that Clause of the Reform Bill, which required the payment of King's and parochial taxes, before a voter could be registered, the number of the constituents throughout the kingdom, which was to have been increased to 1,000,000, was, by that restrictive clause, which was introduced contrary to the wishes of a large proportion of that House, reduced to scarcely 500,000,—when he recollected their one great pledge of strict economy, and yet found that by their acts they had added twenty-five millions to the public debt, in consequence of their extraordinary measure of last Session,—he could have no reasonable expectations of better measures from them; and he could not, therefore, but regret the part he took during the excitement on the subject of the Reform Bill,—the part to keep up that excitement, and keep them in possession of power. He had other reasons to be dissatisfied with the Ministers; he saw seated in that House no less than 100 placemen, pensioners, and sinecurists,—he saw a very inadequate reduction in the Pension-list,—(he saw, but he would not pursue the ungrateful topics), except to add, that the conduct of the Ministers had much disappointed the just expectations of the people.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it was not his intention to follow the example of the mover of the Address in the course he had pursued in addressing the House. He considered, that the duty which they had that night to perform was, to look at those measures which they could gather it to be his Majesty's Ministers' intention to bring forward in the course of the Session. They were to look to the Speech delivered by his Majesty that day from the Throne, and from it to judge what were the intentions of Ministers. If the Ministers had, with the Reformed Parliament, carried into execution a proposition which they themselves made while they were in opposition—that of printing the Speech, and circulating it among the Members twenty-four hours before it came to be discussed,—then the Members would be able to do themselves 61 and the country justice. But it was impossible for any man, however good his memory and ready his capacity, to deliberate at once on all the important topics introduced into that Speech, and to return an answer upon them. We boasted of the superiority of our Constitution to that of France, and that they copied their institutions from ours. But did they follow our bad example in this? No. After the king of the French had delivered his speech, the deputies met to discuss every part of the speech point by point. He remembered when the hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster, moved as an amendment, that the discussion on the Address should be postponed until the Members had time to deliberate, and he very much doubted if all present did not concur in the propriety of that course. In the unreformed Parliament, that Amendment was not agreed to, but he hoped that it would be different in the Reformed Parliament. The people expected and looked for such a change; and he hoped, therefore, that they should not be placed in such a situation as to be obliged to agree to an Address without considering whether the measures it recommended were right or wrong. He was glad to see the hon. Baronet to whom he alluded (Sir F. Burdett) in his place, because he felt confident of having his assistance if he were to propose an Amendment with a view to get the House to follow the course he proposed. It was owing to this want of deliberation that the country could not know what the opinion of the House might be on the different measures recommended in the Speech. If he had an Amendment to move to any part of the Address, he might be asked why he did not consult with other Members before he brought it forward; but the plain answer was, that he had not time to consult with any one. He, therefore, did hope that he should not appeal in vain to the Government, when he asked that the House might not in future be compelled to agree to an Address, which was a mere echo of his Majesty's Speech, until they had had more time to consider it. He felt bound, however, in candour, to say, that the speeches of the mover and seconder were most satisfactory. There was not one word in either of them, with the exception perhaps of what was said by one regarding the Corn-laws, that called for animadversion. On the contrary, 62 while they pointed out and brought into strong relief those parts of the Speech which were to be approved of, they carefully avoided saying anything of those which were of a doubtful nature, some of which he believed they would if noticed, not have approved. But much was omitted in the Speech of which he, and he believed the House had expected to hear. For instance, the hon. member for Hampshire had stated that education had made little progress among the people, and that it was necessary to show them their true interests. But unfortunately there was not the slightest notice taken of the subject of national education in his Majesty's Speech, nor, indeed, had there been any notice taken of the subject at all by the present Government, excepting to vote the pitiful sum of 20,000l. towards that object, and that without notice, at the very end of last Session. Was it to be expected that there should not be one word on the subject of national education in the Speech, and that a Speech issuing from a Ministry, one Member at least of which had national education as his theme on every occasion, day and night, and was thought by many, to be indebted for much of his power to his zeal in that good cause. It would be well if the liberal Government of England would take example of despotic Prussia, and imitate what that Government had done to improve the condition and knowledge of its subjects. He objected, however, to the money for the purpose being taken out of the pockets of the people, when there were millions in the country applicable to that object misapplied. It would be well to take example by Belgium and France, which made provision for applying all the money left for the purposes of education to its proper object. But here it was difficult—the relations of great families swallowed up the funds intended for education. He was assured by the hon. member for Colchester, that there were two millions of money in this country applicable to the purposes of education, and he must say, that the Government had done wrong in losing this opportunity of bringing the subject forward. But not a word on this subject appeared in the Speech from the Throne, and yet in these liberal times, too, when we were endeavouring to put an end to slavery in the colonies, we permitted a state of slavery of the worst description—we 63 allowed mental slavery. He must say that the Government had much surprised him by its silence on this subject. Another point which the hon. Mover alluded to, was the reduction of taxation; and he took the allusion as a hint to the Ministry, that the subject ought to have been mentioned, and for that he thanked the hon. Mover; for there was not one word said in the Speech of the reduction of taxation. There was not one word said of any intended relief to the people. There was, to be sure, much said of our relations with Portugal—of the affairs of Spain, and our young ally, the queen of Spain; but not one word of amelioration or relief to tax-eaten England. Surely the country had a right to expect some advantage from the long continued peace which it had enjoyed; but what was the use of peace, if war establishments were to be kept up? His hon. friend had expressed his hope that slavery would speedily be abolished. But he would ask whether the Colonial Assemblies had, by any act of theirs given a sufficient proof of their anxiety to mature the plan of his Majesty's Government? Whether that measure was, or was not, a beneficial one, was not now the question, but he for one must protest against the hasty and inconsiderate manner in which it was carried into effect. As far as matters had hitherto gone, he feared that those who were most sanguine in their expectations had not been borne out in their anticipations on the subject. When they were told in his Majesty's Speech that the state of the revenue would be found favourable, it surely was not too much to expect, on behalf of the people, that they were to be relieved from a portion, at least, of those burthens by which they had been so long and so grievously pressed down. The noble Lord opposite was pledged as a man of honour to make a reduction, particularly with reference to the taxes on houses and windows. Surely, when the revenue was described to be in a flourishing state, it was not too much that some alleviation of the weight of taxation under which the country laboured should take place. But no, such was not to be the case. Ministers, on the contrary, came forward, and all but told the people of England that no such reduction was to take place; that they were determined not to yield to the wants or wishes of the nation, unless compelled to do so. But he did not blame the noble Lord (the 64 Chancellor of the Exchequer) for this, so much as he blamed the Members of that House, who as Representatives of the people, the moment they received the instructions of their constituents, were bound to enforce such reduction upon his Majesty's Ministers, and thus compel them to fulfil the promises held out to the public. He felt much pleasure at hearing that the manufacturing interests were in a prosperous state, and the manner in which that announcement was made by his hon. friend went to show that every portion of our national industry and resources must thrive in proportion to the extent to which the shackles which clogged them were removed. If, then, there was any branch of our commerce more shackled than another, it was the corn-trade, which was, in fact, a direct monopoly—a monopoly, too, most injurious to those whose interests it was meant to protect. For sure he was, that that, like any other branch of industry, would thrive in proportion to the extent to which the difficulties by which it was surrounded were removed. The other branches of our industry rose superior to the obstructions which were still imposed upon them; and if the corn-trade had but a fair chance, it would be found that the interests of the growers and landowners would be better promoted than they were at present. He entreated the attention of all who heard him to the observations of the seconder of the Address, who said, with great truth, that the monopoly of corn was a great injury to every class of society in the State, without being of advantage to those for whose benefit it was kept up—namely, the landholders. He would not enter into the question of the several local burthens which had been alluded to by the mover of the Address; nor to the sum of 1,280,000l., which he spoke of as an exclusive burthen upon the landed interest. He would be ready to show, at the proper time, that the landholders were not subjected to any exclusive burthens but such as were laid upon them by laws made by themselves, and for their own benefit; but if it could be made to appear, that the landed interest was unfairly subjected to any tax, he would willingly lend his aid to rid them of it, and to place them on the same footing with every other class of his Majesty's subjects. He thought, then, that he had a right to expect that the landholders would join him in obtaining relief to the country of the taxes which pressed 65 so heavily on the commercial and manufacturing interests. He felt convinced, that partial Acts for the protection of individual interests did not benefit the classes intended to be benefited, while they injured the country generally; and he was sure that if anything tended to keep down the value of agricultural property, it was the uncertainty belonging to that species of property; for every one felt that it was impossible that things could remain as they were at present. He bad wished then, and hoped that the Government should have met the question of the Corn-laws fairly and boldly. To show how inexpedient monopolies were, he would only mention the case of the bounties given to the linen-trade of Ireland. He was one of only twenty-eight who opposed that measure in Parliament, yet those engaged in the trade came forward some time afterwards and petitioned for its repeal. He had no idea that the depreciation of agricultural property, in case of the Repeal of the Corn-laws, would be by any means great. Certainly not one-half what was expected. A free trade in corn would place us on a footing with those countries with which we came into mercantile competition, and, in consequence, it would open a field of prosperity both to this country itself and to Ireland; which would raise and improve not only the manufacturing interests, but the agricultural interests of the whole kingdom. The time would, however, come soon, when the subject must be taken into serious consideration, and when something definite would necessarily be determined on. There was another omission in the King's Speech, of which they had cause to complain. It was not stated whether there was any intention on the part of the Government to improve the working of the Reform Bill. He thought it was now time to make the requisite improvements. The Government was bound to complete that measure on the principles laid down by themselves. It was evident, and indeed acknowledged, that it did not work as it was originally proposed; and he thought, therefore, that they were bound to make it work according to the principles on which it was proposed and supported by the people, or, at least; according to their own understandings of how it should work. He thought the subject of Reform an omission of great importance in the Speech, as well as that of National 66 Education and Church Reform. The noble Lord opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, and other hon. and right hon. Members near them had, both in and out of office, been most lavish of their promises and their exertions upon these points; but, once in office, they gave the promises, but nothing more. The House would bear in mind his Majesty's Speech upon opening the Parliament of 1833; and that, too, be it remembered, the first sitting of the first Reformed Parliament. Upon that occasion his Majesty was made to say, "Your attention will also be directed to the state of the Church, more particularly as regards its temporalities and the maintenance of the clergy. The complaints which have arisen from the collection of tithes, appear to require a change of system, which, without diminishing the means of maintaining the Established Clergy in respectability and usefulness, may prevent the collision of interests, and the consequent disagreements and dissatisfaction which have too frequently prevailed between the ministers of the Church and their parishioners. It may also be necessary for you to consider what remedies may be applied for the correction of acknowledged abuses, and whether the revenues of the Church may not admit of a more equitable and judicious distribution." Now, would the House recollect what was done by the Government upon this recommendation by his Majesty? They introduced the Tithe Commutation Bill, but the Session ended, and not an Act was passed regarding tithes; and in the Speech made from the Throne at the end of the Session, not one word was said on the subject; so that all they had was this abortion of a Reform in the Church. The people were absolutely laughing at this attempt to humbug the country—if he might be permitted so to express himself. But was this a state of things which could be expected to last? Were they thus to stand quietly looking on, and that, too, when the storm was approaching, and no one could tell how suddenly it might burst over their heads. Let his Majesty's Ministers profit by what was passing around, and remedy those crying abuses while it was yet time. He was willing to give the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) credit for his assertions upon the 67 subject of Church Reform, but how far could they be depended upon, when it was found that while pluralities were openly denounced in that House on the one hand, the noble Lord at the head of the Treasury was dealing them out with no very sparing hand on the other. Here they had promises on the one side, and the most gratuitous violation of them on the other. Let the noble Lord but place on the Table an account of the number of pluralities granted since the King's Speech last year, and the House would be able to come to a pretty accurate conclusion as to the value of the promises and expectations so freely held out to the public. The Session went on without any attempt to put this system down, and now they were at the opening of a new Session, with this difference, certainly, that, in the present instance they had no promise—of course no hope of performance. Little did the noble Lords who composed his Majesty's Ministry know what was passing in the public mind upon this vital and all-important question; little were they acquainted with what was matter of every-day experience with him at public meetings upon the necessity of Church Reform. But he would caution Ministers to look about them. He would advise them to attend to the warning voice from Nottingham, and "set their House in order," before they drove the people of England to rise as one man, and demand that which had hitherto been promised to them, but promised in vain. Let this sad extremity be avoided—let Ministers consent to do, with respect to the Church of England, that which they have proposed with respect to the Church of Ireland. It had been boasted that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were relieved from paying the Church-rate. He objected not to this—he thought it only just and reasonable—but why, he would ask, was not the Protestant Dissenter in this country entitled to be placed in the same situation? It had been urged by the noble Lord that these impositions in Ireland were exceedingly unpopular, and that their unpopularity formed a good ground for their repeal. But would the noble Lord venture to assert, that the Church-rate was popular in this country? There was again the all-absorbing question of tithes, which was not even touched upon in the King's Speech—he meant with reference to this country. He thought, 68 that Ministers were in duty bound to have afforded his Majesty the opportunity of stating to Parliament and to his people that the Dissenters were to be relieved from the vexatious exaction of the Church-rate, and that capital might be applied to land altogether free and unshackled, so that improvements in agriculture might have their full scope and operation. Let them look abroad, and they would find that other countries, which were called barbarous, compared to this "free and happy land," had one and all established a Reform upon this all-important subject; and all that was held out to that House was, that Reports would be laid before them, in order that the House might "be enabled to judge of the nature and extent of any existing defects and abuses, and in what manner the necessary corrections may in due season, be safely and beneficially applied." Now, would the noble Lord be so good as to explain to him what was meant by "due season?" With some persons it might be a month, with others a year, while with others again it might extend over a period of many years. In a word any interpretation whatever might be given to these words or any other words so indefinitely put. Witness the interpretation put by Prussia and Austria upon the Treaty of Vienna. It was to prevent this that he would, before he sat down, read to the House an Amendment which he considered it the duty of the House to adopt, if it were only in compliance with the opening Speech of his Majesty to the first Reformed Parliament—a Parliament which carried the Irish Coercion Bill, a measure of more severity than any which an unreformed Parliament had ventured to propose—a measure by which the people might be flogged and dragooned at the mercy of the Government or its minions. And, after this, Ministers came down to the House with a Speech which literally meant nothing, except, indeed, they looked to the denunciation of a single individual all but by name. He thought, that Ministers ought to have held then heads higher, and not thus have elevated him into a notoriety which he could not otherwise attain. ButLittle things are great to little men;and so he supposed that Daniel O'Connell was to be created a sort of King of Ireland, and pointed out as the chief agitator of that country. If his Majesty's 69 Ministers wished to pacify Ireland they must remove the manifold evils under which she laboured. Great as was the generosity of the people, much as their forbearance was to be admired, was it to be expected, that such a state of thing as the present could be allowed to go on? Could it be permitted that Ministers should be thus allowed to violate the fair promises so long held out to the people, and so shamefully abandoned? He would contend, from the manner in which these matters had been left out of the present Speech, and that, too, after the expectations held out in the Speech of last year, he was justified in coming to the conclusion, that Ministers had not the courage to look the dangers with which they were surrounded in the face. On this ground it was, that he felt called upon to add a few sentences to the Address, in order to pledge the House to a specific line of conduct, and he called upon every hon. Member who supported the question of Reform to stand by him upon this occasion, as his object was, in effect, to strengthen the hands of Ministers, and enable them to redeem the pledges which they had given to the country. After it had been acknowledged on all hands that there had been dissensions and difficulties in the Cabinet, after Bills had been made and unmade, he (Mr. Hume) would call on the House to strengthen the hands of Ministers against any improper influence that might exist behind the Throne. Before he sat down he would propose, as an Amendment to the Address to his Majesty in answer to his Speech from the Throne, after the words "Ecclesiastical Revenues"—"That this House will take into its immediate and serious consideration the state of the Church, as regards its temporalities and the maintenance of the Clergy, in order to remove the complaints which have arisen from the collection of tithes and Church-rates, with a view to such a change of system as shall give effectual relief, not only to the members of the Established Church itself, but especially to persons who conscientiously dissent there from, so as to carry into full effect the spirit of his Majesty's most gracious recommendation at the opening of the first Session of the present Parliament." The conduct of his Majesty's Ministers, as well as of the Members of that House, after the Speech from the Throne last 70 year, was, in fact, an insult to his Majesty, whose most gracious recommendation as to an inquiry, with a view to the introduction of Church Reform, it was their duty to have carried into execution. Ministers had grossly deserted their duty on that occasion. Had he been guilty of similar inconsistency, he wondered when he should have heard the last of it. His hon. friend had stated, that Ministers had the power, and he doubted not they had the wish, to enact such measures as they deemed essential to the public interests. It certainly was true, that they had the power: no set of men had commanded larger majorities while in office, more particularly upon the great question of Parliamentary Reform, and now, after having achieved that great victory, were they to disappoint the hopes and wishes of the people upon those all-important questions, with repect to which their hopes had been raised to the highest? If hon. Members were only determined to do their duty, Ministers would be obliged to do theirs, instead of coming down to Parliament with this namby-pamby Speech, which meant nothing at all. If Ministers were to continue such a line of conduct as this, who, then, he would ask, ought to be looked upon as the agitators not merely of Ireland, but of this country, by refusing to realise the pledges they had so often held out? They were told, that the industry of the country was in a thriving state; but let a course of policy, such as that he had been condemning, be established, and they would soon have the converse of the principle; industry would diminish, want would increase, and discontent and disaffection would go hand in hand. They were told, that we were in a time of peace, and had every prospect of its continuance. He rejoiced at it, but surely at such a period they had a right to expect the practical benefits arising out of such a state of things. If, as had been stated, the amount of the revenue, as compared with the expenditure, would be found satisfactory, it certainly was not too much on the part of the people to expect, not only a reduction of our establishment, but a reduction of that weight of taxation by which they had been so long and so severely pressed down. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment to the fourth paragraph of the Address.
§ Lord Althorp
, after the speech of the 71 hon. member for Middlesex, felt himself called upon to address a few words to the House. After every part of the conduct of his Majesty's Government had been so fiercely assailed, he should ill discharge the duty he owed to the House and to his colleagues, did he not attempt a justification of that which to his mind appeared perfectly justifiable. He should, in the first place, apply himself to the accusation that they proposed nothing in the way of reduction of taxation, and the gratuitous assumption founded upon that circumstance; namely, that they intended to do nothing in the way of reduction. It was rather hard to condemn them without a shadow of cause. So far from the hon. member for Middlesex being justified in the charge he had brought, he could inform the House, that it was the intention of his Majesty's Government to propose a reduction of taxes; but it would have been unprecedented to have intimated such an intention in a Speech from the Throne. It was with great satisfaction he found himself enabled to state, that such was the condition of the revenue, that fiscal reductions might be made without detriment to the public service. It did afford him sincere satisfaction to be able to state, that notwithstanding the expense to which the country was put by carrying into operation the Slavery Abolition Bill, it would still be in the power of the Government to propose such reductions as would satisfy, not, perhaps, the hon. member for Middlesex; that he could not hope for; but, as he trusted would satisfy the great majority of the Members of that House, and the great majority of the people out of doors. He wished to learn upon what authority it was, that the hon. member for Middlesex affirmed, that they were to have no reduction because there had been no announcement on the subject in the Speech from the Throne? There was no instance, as far as he had been able to ascertain, in which a specific announcement was made from the Throne of the repeal of a tax; and as it would be a breach of privilege for the Crown to recommend the imposition of any tax, so it would be inconsistent with the rights of the Commons of England, were the Crown to dictate in what manner the House should deal with existing burthens. The hon. Gentleman opposite had complained, that the pledges of Ministers given at the opening of the last Session had not been 72 redeemed; he begged the House to remember how their time had been occupied throughout the whole of the last Session, and with how much difficulty Ministers had carried through even the measures which they could now refer to with some degree of honest pride. Having the example of that Session before their eyes, they were naturally not very sanguine as to what might be accomplished in the present, and were somewhat cautious as to what they might promise. Remembering the difficulties which the manner of doing business in that House last year had interposed to the accomplishment of all which his Majesty's Government desired, he felt that it behoved them to take care how they again placed themselves in a similar situation; but he had not the slightest hesitation in saying, that he did expect the question of tithes would this year be satisfactorily disposed of. Last year he certainly had brought under consideration a measure on that subject, but, in the course of its discussion, he had reason to think that it might be improved; he had, therefore, given it up for the present; but, in the interval of the vacation, he had applied himself to the subject, and he hoped, at an early period of the Session, to propose such a measure as would be acceptable to the House and beneficial to the country. The hon. member for Middlesex had complained, that nothing was proposed in his Majesty's Speech with respect to the Dissenters; but had the hon. Member so soon forgotten that he had, in the early part of the evening, informed the House, that his noble friend, the Paymaster of the Forces, intended to give notice of a bill to regulate marriages generally, and of course to include and to remedy those matters of which the Dissenters complained? Another point on which great stress had been laid, was the phrase "in due season." What did that mean, was the great question urged by the hon. member for Middlesex? It just meant this, that when information was before the House, that and none other would be the "due season" in which to legislate. As to the other topics which the Amendment embraced, he did not think it necessary to trouble the House at any length; and as to the reform in the municipal corporations, to which his Majesty's Speech referred, he thought it equally unnecessary to vindicate the conduct of the Administration. They had 73 promised the correction of Municipal abuses, of Ecclesiastical abuses, of an alteration in the Poor-laws; and what more could the hon. Member desire? He would desire, perhaps, more of the specific statement contained in his Majesty's Speech of last Session, but the experience of the past year had taught the Ministers the advantage of falling back upon the old usage of not being so specific in speeches from the Throne as some Members seemed to desire. The best proof how much the manner of doing business interfered with its despatch, was to be found in the fact, that 134 notices stood upon their books from last Session. He hoped, then, that the Amendment would not be pressed, or if it were, the House would not agree to adopt it, for it would have been, under present circumstances, not justifiable for the Government to have been more specific. Having said so much, he found it impossible to conclude, without bearing testimony to the manner in which the Address had been moved and seconded. He had never heard a motion of that nature brought forward with more ability, and he was sure the House would agree with him, that much useful information had been communicated to the House by the speech of the seconder. Before he concluded, he thought it right to advert to the observation of the member for Middlesex, that they ought to treat with contempt the disturbances in Ireland, and the state of political feeling in that country; to that opinion he could not bring himself to subscribe: the feeling with which they must regard the state of that part of the United Kingdom must be any thing but contempt. Upon all those grounds he should feel it his duty to oppose the Amendment; and he trusted that it was not such as the House would adopt, for the affirmation of any such propositions as were contained in the Amendment would imply such a censure upon the policy of the Government as he was sure would be at variance with the true feelings of the House.
§ Mr. Robinson
observed, that he had heard the statement of the hon. Seconder (the member for Ipswich) concerning the prosperity of the manufactures, commerce, and trade of the country, with considerable astonishment; and he hoped the House would bear with him for a very few minutes, while he ventured upon an explanation which appeared necessary by the 74 declarations of the hon. member for Ipswich. The hon. Mover had represented, as had the Speech from the Throne, the agricultural interest as in a depressed condition, and the hon. Member had supported his statement by a reference to the fact, that the capital employed in agriculture yielded little or no profit. Now, he asked the House to apply the same test to the capital employed in manufactures, commerce, and trade; and if that were done, all the figures adduced by the hon. Member would be valueless. Those calculations had been again and again brought before the House; and if they could have decided the fact of national prosperity, it would have been set at rest long ago. According to them the country was one of the most prosperous on the face of the earth. He had no wish to find fault with the conduct of Ministers; on the contrary, he had every disposition to repose confidence both in their intentions and in their conduct; but he regretted, that the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had so long delayed sanctioning the appointment of the Committees on agriculture, and on manufactures, commerce, trade, and shipping. He believed the bias of the Government was to show that agriculture was in a depressed and unsatisfactory condition, and to make it appear that manufactures, commerce, trade, and shipping were in a prosperous state. Such were, he considered, the wishes of Ministers; and, without meaning to say that the Committees were unfairly or partially chosen, he certainly thought that they were constituted so as to favour the views of the Government. But, although that course had been taken, the weight of evidence was not on that side; and he was surprised to hear the hon. member for Ipswich ask if any one would venture to say that his statement, as to the prosperity of manufactures, commerce, and trade, was not fully supported by the result of the inquiries made by the Committee. He had sat on that Committee day after day with the hon. Member, and surely the hon. Member would not attempt to say, that a great difference of opinion existed. He was sorry that this topic had been introduced. In as far as his experience went, it had always been the practice of the mover and seconder of the Address to advert, if possible, to nothing likely to provoke opposition; for it was extremely desirable that, on such an occasion, unanimity 75 should prevail, and that the Address to the Crown should be adopted without the least dissent. After the statement of the hon. member for Ipswich, however, some explanation became necessary, and having been one of the Committee, and entertaining different opinions from the hon. Member, he could not continue silent. When the state of the country was adverted to last Session, he had declared that there was much exaggeration, but he also stated his conviction, that there was considerable depression. That view was borne out by the result of the inquiries. They were not indeed complete, which he regretted; but the lateness of the period at which the Committee was appointed had precluded the possibility of completing them. He did not complain of the abrupt termination of the labours of the Committee; but when the hon. member for Ipswich said, that no difference of opinion existed as to manufactures, trade, and commerce being in a state of prosperity, he would remind the hon. Member of the Resolutions which had been brought forward by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade. He spoke in the presence of that right hon. Gentleman, and of other hon. Members well acquainted with all that occurred; and he appealed to them to set him right if he was mistaken. The Vice-President of the Board of Trade proposed a series of Resolutions embodying the view now taken by the hon. member for Ipswich; but many Members of the Committee dissented from those Resolutions; and when the right hon. Gentleman pressed them, it became evident that a majority would refuse to adopt them. He did not mean to say, that several of that majority did not dissent so much from the principles put forth in the Resolutions, as from the adoption of them before the inquiry was properly complete; but he did assert, that the Resolutions were rejected, that a great difference of opinion did exist, and that the majority of the Committee preferred reporting the evidence simply and without remark, to agreeing to the propositions proposed by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade and now in substance stated to the House by the hon. member for Ipswich. Having thus given the explanation which he deemed necessary with respect to the statements so positively put forth respecting the flourishing condition of manufactures, commerce, and trade, he would only detain the House while he 76 alluded to one other point; he meant the shipping interest. He was extremely sorry when the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) last Session showed so much reluctance to grant an inquiry into that subject; and he was still more sorry to see no mention of that great interest in his Majesty's Speech. Its vast importance entitled it to very different treatment. Judging from the language of the King's Speech, it would appear, that the shipping interest was deemed so insignificant as to be merged in the general phrase, the commerce of the country. There were times when far different views were entertained and cherished; when the shipping interest of this country was regarded with the deepest interest; not, perhaps, so much from the capital employed, as from the high interests, the honour, independence, and safety of the country, which were in so great a degree involved in the maintenance of its maritime power. He would ask the hon. member for Ipswich if there was any difference of opinion in the Committee upon the evidence adduced as to the state of the shipping interest? If his memory served him faithfully, there was but one witness who did not describe the state of the shipping interest as most distressed, and declare, that he saw no prospect of improvement. He had felt it right to make these explanations, and would not detain the House by going into any other topics. His wish was to see the Address adopted with unanimity. He entertained a sincere desire to support his Majesty's Ministers in all purposes of economy and retrenchment; but he owed it to them candidly to state, that if they shrunk from a full inquiry into the whole subject of the Corn-laws, the country would be grievously disappointed. From the observations of the noble Lord (Althorp) he had some apprehensions as to the course the Government intended to pursue, but he trusted they would consider the whole matter well. He would not give any opinion with respect to the Corn-laws, but the subject was one which the country required should undergo investigation. In supporting the Address, he did so with a perfect understanding that the proceeding was more a matter of form than anything else. He pledged himself to no ulterior proceedings whatever; but, on the contrary, he should feel himself at perfect liberty to consider every question which 77 might come before them, as freely as though no Address had been voted.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said: It is impossible to agree to the Address, not only on account of what it says, but what it omits to say. There is no relief promised—there is a very indistinct and unintelligible statement as to tithes—and there are portentous threats, angry language, and ominous expressions of renewed coercion. It might be supposed that the Act of last year, its violence in the outset—its failure in the operation—would have been sufficient to stop them. We told the House it would fail; we told the Ministers, that in order to put down a few disturbers of the peace in the Queen's County, and the adjacent ones, it was not necessary to suspend the Constitution. The measure had nothing on which to operate; the people became quiet from other causes. The repetition of a tithe law, and the Million Bill—these, and not the Coercion Bill, appeased the people. Still there is much disquiet, much agitation; and the Minister comes forward again, and, in another Speech, fulminates from the Throne denunciations against the people. I ask, what Minister dictated the words his Majesty has just used? Who was audacious enough to suggest them, and weak enough to advise their adoption? Who is the junior Minister, who, in the excess of his imprudence, superseding the senior and sober Members, invades the office of Prime Minister, and forces the introduction of the expressions that have fallen from the King? Are the Ministers aware of what is said when they make the King declare that his Irish subjects have drawn down upon themselves his "just indignation"—that our Royal master is indignant with his people, and that his anger is not only great but "just?" His faithful subjects in Ireland have now to dread the consequences that are attendant upon his just indignation; and this from the father of his people Sir, in all the Royal Speeches I have read, no such expressions as these occur—not at the period of 1782, not of 1792—not at the period of 1775. His Majesty then expressed his regret and concern at the conduct of the colonies; it was not until they resorted to force that he indulged the plenitude of his wrath. His Majesty speaks of disaffection to the State. Sir, I assert, that his Irish subjects are not disaffected; the King has been misinformed; there exists no disaffection 78 in Ireland. His Secretary for Ireland will not say it—the Lord-Lieutenant will not say it—both are well disposed to serve Ireland. His Excellency possesses national and liberal feelings, and the Secretary friendly dispositions; and neither of them will vouch for the calumny which is here cast upon Ireland. I repeat, that this statement is a foul calumny, and a gross libel upon the people of Ireland. There exists dissatisfaction, and there must exist dissatisfaction! How could it be otherwise, after all the irritation produced by the violent and the abortive bills of the late Secretary! His red box and his false information—the adoption by Government of anonymous evidence against the testimony of most respected persons (Sir P. Bellew, for instance, and others)—the adoption by this House of measures founded on that interested testimony, police reports, and magisterial negligence—the total failure of the tithe plans—the gross injustice of the compulsory tithe-commposition—the impotence of the Church Bill, and the abandonment of the best part of it—these, naturally dissatisfy and agitate the country. And, in proof of all these failures, they are confirmed by the recall of the Secretary for Ireland, on account of his manifest inability to direct, her affairs. These gross mistakes naturally dissatisfy—they ought, they must, and they will dissatisfy. But are there no other causes? When his Majesty is made to speak of his just indignation, may I ask, with due submission, whether the crying distress of his Irish subjects has excited his just indignation? Has the emigration of her principal nobility and gentry and increased absenteeism—has the abandonment of the relations and moral ties that ought to exist between the upper and lower classes—have these unfeeling refugees, termed, as they have been, by high authority, as the "base, betrayers and deserters of their native land"—have they excited his Majesty's just indignation?—or has the complaint of want of employment, want of trade, want of manufactures—(a state which an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer declared was that of beggared gentry and a ruined peasantry")—has this state of things excited the just indignation of his Majesty? Is the King never angry but when the Irish seek for liberty and for employment?—and is he satisfied or silent when they starve for want of I bread? And this, too, from the father of 79 his people! Far better would it have been if the Minister had allowed his Royal master to indulge in the feelings congenial to his heart, and have held forth offers of relief that were suited to the wants and wishes of his subjects. But the object of this is clear. The Coercion Bill last year was to put down repeal. It has failed. This Speech has the same object, and it will equally fail. You think that question depends on the working of one or two individuals—you are mistaken. If my hon. friend, the member for Dublin, were to fall, the question would survive him. It lives not in his efforts alone—neither does it depend on his efforts alone. It lives in the state of things in Ireland. It derives its birth from that unnatural, disjointed, and distressed frame of society, that finds no parallel in any age or any country, or is to be met with in the annals of modern or ancient story—of millions of people whose land is in the proprietorship of persons who abscond from their country, sweeping away their capital, and leaving the country without an aristocracy, and with a starving population; nay more, as if Providence meant to punish the rulers for their misgovernment, and make our state ludicrous as well as wretched, we find the poor man, who follows from his country the rich possessor in order to obtain in your land the labour he cannot find in his own, repulsed from your shores. The rich man is allowed to stay, but the poor, or, as the law terms him, the Irish vagrant, is driven from the rich man's gate, and sent back to his wilds and his mendicity. And yet there is something worse—the cry is not merely raised against him, but even against the produce of his country and his industry; for we find, not only in the late writings, but from the witnesses and the evidence of the reports of the Committee of Agriculture, that loud complaints are made now in England of the influx of Irish corn and Irish cattle, as lowering British prices, and rendering the farmer here unable to meet the demand for rent and other charges. I only will allude to your reports; and I forbear from indulging in the natural feeling that every honest mind must entertain at such a system and such injustice, with regard to the real causes of agitation. I will refer to the report of surgeon White and Dr. Stoker on the state of Dublin. Mr. White was secretary to a committee at the period of distress in Ireland; and he states, that in 80 consequence of the absence of the nobility and wealthy aristocracy, the expenditure that circulated among the middling and poorer classes in Dublin has been withdrawn, and that the metropolis is in the most deplorable state. In one parish, out of a population of 23,900, there were 17,000 paupers. In the report of the Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers' Society, similar distress appeared in another and higher rank, and those who formerly used to contribute to the relief of the poor, were reduced to solicit it for themselves. The committee state, that their fellow-creatures are reduced "to the lowest ebb of human suffering, and driven by misery to the very edge of despair"—that during the last year they had relieved about 10,500 families, amounting to 37,000 persons. This is not confined to Dublin alone. The resolutions of the meetings in various parts of Ireland speak the same. In the west of Ireland, at a meeting where the Bishop of Maronia presided, the resolutions were of the same import. The law does not allow me to call him bishop, but Dr. M'Hale does not want that title here, for whether he writes, or speaks, or acts, he displays a spirit of philanthropy, and piety, and charity, united to ancient lore and the lights of modern times, that at once captivate and embellish, and do honour alike to the individual and to his sacred calling; he, too, describes the deplorable state of the west of Ireland, and the destitution of the people. The resolutions say, that 80,000 persons in his diocese eat meat but twice a year, and have scarcely potatoes enough to subsist on. The evidence before the agricultural committee is to the same effect. Mr. Lindsay, Mr. Murray, and Mr. Clendening, say that the country is not so flourishing as formerly; that the circumstances of tenant and landlord have not improved; that you may travel a whole day, and not see five men at work; that agriculture is going back, and that there is a general dispirited feeling throughout the people in the west of Ireland. The people, therefore, very naturally and very justly complain, and wish for the restoration of their parliament, as a means to recall the gentry and nobility, and to afford them food and employment. They know, that in 1814, 1816, 1817, 1822, and 1832, distress and disease existed in their country; that Ireland was asking for support from Great Britain; they seek, therefore, for a resident and local legislature, to remedy their evils, of 81 too long continuance. The Speech says, they "demand" the Repeal. The Speech is mistaken. Their resolutions are mostly couched in proper and decorous terms.—They seek, by petition and statement, to bring the case before the House; and are they to be prevented? Do Ministers mean to declare it high treason to meet and speak upon the Repeal? The Prime Minister of the country stood by the Throne, holding in his hand the sword of state. The Speech almost tells us, that it is to be drawn from its scabbard. But, Sir, there is another statement in that Speech, of a most unconstitutional nature. His Majesty is made to say, that it is "his fixed and unalterable resolution to maintain inviolate the Act of Union!" What Minister advised this?"—or what Minister could advise a doctrine more unconstitutional?—and, coming from the gentlemen opposite, it is most surprising. They must know, that the Act of Union is but an Act of Parliament, and that it has been and can be altered. They equally know, that the King has no right or prerogative whereby he can, at the outset, declare his fixed determination for or against any measure. It is contrary to the first principles of the Constitution, and amounts to its complete infringement. If the King can thus invade our functions, the useful labours of this body are at an end. We are here only to pass such laws as he may, in the first instance, approve of; and, should his Majesty signify his displeasure, the representatives of the people must remain passive spectators, and merge their quality of legislators. They are not to propound the law, but to receive it from his Majesty. If so, we may at once go back to our constituents, and resign the trust committed to our care. I submit, this is quite unconstitutional, and foreign from the practice and the principle of our free Government. Notwithstanding all that has been thrown out, I shall not suffer myself to be enticed into argument by the lures of the mover and seconder of the Address. When the time for discussion arrives, we can enter on the subject more fully. The hon. member for Ipswich thinks, that the argument is on his side. I think that justice is on mine. He alludes to the state of Ireland as regarded manufactures, and says further, that a British Parliament would apply the remedies for the evils of that country better than an Irish one. As to the first, I must observe, that Ireland 82 has waited rather long for the promised introduction of manufactures, and they have not arrived; and, as to those which she had, she cannot forget how and by whom she lost them. With respect to laws of another character, I also assert, that the Irish Parliament did, in a shorter time, more good for Ireland than the British Parliament ever did, not only for Ireland, but for herself; and she obtained as great acquisitions for her country, and under most difficult circumstances, as the English Parliament did at the period of the Revolution. On the main question, nothing has occurred of late to make me, and most of my fellow-countrymen, change our opinions. They are attached to Great Britain, but they require equal law and equal liberty; and unless these rights are conceded, they know that Ireland must ever be a thorn in the side of Great Britain.—" Hæret lateri lethalis arundo." In my humble judgment, you will not be able to govern Ireland by constant suspensions of her liberties; the applications are too strong to be lasting, and the disease will return in a more formidable shape. The connection should last, but it ought not to be made dependent upon force—if so, the affection will be of short duration. It is not possible that the Irish can remain satisfied with their present abandoned condition, aggravated by the deprivation of the superior blessings of a free constitutution; they see you possessed of these, and under the protection of your own Parliament, and they feel themselves deprived of both these invaluable acquisitions. Therefore, it appears to me, that the old system of Irish government should not be again resorted to; it was condemned as bad both in principle and practice. It was too often heralded in by declarations and denunciations like the present—the one was futile—the others were mischievous; and ministers found themselves mistaken in thinking they would quiet the people by becoming angry. "Bellum ostendite, pacem habebitis," will, in this instance, be fatally and equally misapplied. The people of Ireland entertain no hostility towards this country, but they justly entertain an hostility to bad laws and a suspended constitution. By steadiness and perseverance they abolished the one—by steadiness and perseverance they may regain the other.
§ The House divided on the Amendment; Ayes, 39; Noes, 191—Majority, 152.
|List of the AYES.|
|Attwood, T.||O'Connell, D.|
|Blake, J. M.||O'Connell, J.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||O'Connell, M.|
|Bulwer, E. L.||Oswald, J.|
|Butler, Hon. P. S.||Oswald, R. A.|
|Chapman, M. L.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Clay, W.||Richards, J.|
|Cobbett, W.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Evans, Colonel||Scholefield, J.|
|Evans, G.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Faithfull, G.||Torrens, Colonel|
|Fielden, J.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Finn, W. F.||Vincent, Sir F.|
|Fitzgerald, T.||Wallace, T.|
|Fitzsimon, C.||Walton, Robert.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||Wason, R.|
|Fleetwood, H.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Grattan, A.||Wood, Alderman.|
|Kennedy, J.||Hume, J.|
|Nagle, Sir R.||Warburton, H.|
§ Mr. Hume
then moved, after the words, in reply to that part of His Majesty's Speech in which he says, "It has been the constant aim of my policy to secure to my people the uninterrupted enjoyment of the blessings of peace," the following words be inserted:—"And this House pledges itself to cause such reductions to be made in all the civil, military, and naval expenditure of the country as shall bring home to all his Majesty's subjects, by immediate and large reductions of taxation, the practical advantages and blessings of that continued peace which, this House rejoices to learn, is not likely to be disturbed." The hon. Member stated it was not his intention to trouble the House with a second division, but merely to place his sentiments upon record.
§ The Amendment negatived without a division.
said, he rose to adopt a course different to any pursued by the hon. Members who had preceded him. He had a motion to present, in rising to make which he could not help congratulating the House on the unusual course displayed by the mover and seconder of the Address. They had had two exceedingly noble and temperate speeches, full of information, and replete with matter, which produced admiration for the talent of the speakers, and conviction of the truth of their various statements. The holiday speech, and the schoolboy declamation, that generally re-echoed the Speech from the Throne, he was glad to see was all at an end; there was but one improvement 84 more required, namely, the discontinuance of the tinsel dress worn by the mover and seconder. He believed that alteration would be quite satisfactory to both the hon. Members. The Speech it self was not calculated to excite any very strong feeling, at least he did not thin it could cause any thing like indignation, "just indignation"—no, it would be something of a smaller, and of a less respectable character. It was about as helpless a piece of drivelling as ever fell from human lips. There was little in it, except just at the last part, where something of an acrimonious spirit was displayed. It was in every sense little worthy of the first magistrate of the first empire of the world. He found it impossible to imagine upon what principles it was formed, until he heard the noble Lord, who told them that great inconvenience was felt last Session in consequence of too much having been said, therefore the good old practice of saying as little as possible had been reverted to. There was not an ancient gentlewoman of the land who could have been more discreet and more consistent. It began with some self-gratulation, and ended in downright Billingsgate. The first part consisted of a good deal of nothing, and ended in something like a rigmarole of abuse. This was not the way to treat the Reformed Parliament—this was not the way the people, the most powerful people in the world, should be treated, or any portion of them. Let them bring forth their coercion bills, if they chose, but let them not make the Throne a fountain of unjust scorn, to be poured upon an oppressed nation. The Speech began by calling the whole of the measures of last session constitutional. Why, the Coercion Bill had been announced as unconstitutional by many members of that House, and had been allowed to be unconstitutional by many whom he saw opposite; yet that was a measure of last Session. Many members justified themselves to their constituents for their voting on that Bill, by their confidence in Ministers, and their hope that they would afterwards bring in remedial measures, which would take the sting from that unconstitutional Bill. For that purpose the Irish Church Bill had been much relied upon; but what, he would ask, was it? It had reduced the burthens on the Irish people by 70,000l., in church rates; but that was all it had done. Had it done any further good to 85 the people of Ireland?—Had it in the slightest degree benefited the Irish Catholic? What, he would ask, did it benefit them, the knocking down of ten bishops—when the revenues which they formerly enjoyed were still taken from the people? It would have been better that they had been let alone, for they were Irish gentlemen who spent what they took from the people amongst the people. The people were still obliged to pay the same amount—the same tax was still levied upon them. But it was useless for him to say more—it was the old way in which Ireland had always been treated by the English Parliament. Then why, or rather how, could it excite "indignation," that the people of Ireland should demand a native legislature? This point of itself was too ridiculous to be pursued. To be sure, they had got the Jury Bill; he had not read it, ever since it had been upon the Statute Book; but he was not very sure that it had passed through the House of Lords in all its integrity. Let that be as it might, the law officers of Ireland had taken good care that it should only be a bill yet in futuro, for they had taken good care that the sessions at which it should have been adopted had not been held, so that the benefits, if any, could not be had till next year. Then the King's Speech said something about the integrity of Turkey—of upholding the integrity of Turkey; but how had that been done? Why, there was Mehemet Ali had cut off a large slice of it in the south, and Russia in the north, had Turkey in her power quite as much; and when the pleasure of Nicholas prompted him, he would make himself quite at home, and think he was taking nothing but his own. Had the Ministry wished to have made themselves the laughing-stock of Europe, they could not have used more appropriate words. Then they took credit to themselves for the recognition of the young Spanish queen. He should like to know what right they had to refuse it. Did they think the Spanish people were not worthy to have a choice of their own? Upon that head he could afford them no credit. Then came the two worthies who were contending for the Crown of Portugal. What they were, the world now well understood; they were only trying to get into power, in order to see which of them could render Portugal the most wretched country. For the sake of the Portuguese people themselves it was 86 almost to be wished that neither of them should succeed. The Ministers then talked much of municipal Corporations; but would they give them real Reform in the Corporations? The Speech did not say so; but, they were half-promised it by the hon. Member who had first addressed them: or, would they do justice to England on this occasion, and as they had served Ireland before, give only a half measure of Reform?—or, as was most likely to be the case, was that country again to be insulted by having a mere mockery of Reform in her Corporations, while England was to be blessed with, though not a full one, yet a much fuller one than the sister country? From that path he cautioned them, for if they did so, though they might not disgust one faction, they would disgust the great body of the people—they would make twenty Repealers where there was now only one. They then called upon Parliament to sanction a system of tithes which would be merely substituting something else for them, and the people would be called upon to pay them in all their integrity, but under a new name. Would it be possible, he would ask, to carry such a plan into effect? He would most emphatically say, no. Tithes were found to be, in Ireland, as great a grievance as the Church-rate was in England. They were felt to be so by the people, who had to pay a large sum of money for the support of a religion to which they could not conform. The Speech did not say so. But the House might be told that night (and he threw out the insinuation in order to give the hon. Gentlemen opposite—to dare them to say, that tithes were to continue in some other shape—that they were to be levied at a much increased expense) that the people were not only to pay what they now did, but were to pay also for the experiment that was about to be made. Such had been the conduct of one right hon. Gentleman opposite. First, he came down with a most pathetic statement of the condition of the poor Protestant clergyman of Ireland; so pathetic was he upon the occasion, that he drew from the House 60,000l. of the public money, in order to relieve them—in order to make an experiment; and in order that he might have the means of enforcing the repayment of that money, he got for himself the whole power, not only of the Civil, but the Ecclesiastical law; and how far did he succeed? Why, 87 out of the whole 60,000l., he recovered 12,000l., at the trifling cost of only 28,000l. That was the entire success with which the measure was crowned—it goaded the people almost to madness, and then down came his Majesty's Ministers with the Coercion Bill, which deprived the people of their most enviable rights. Then came another Tithe Bill—one which was at present just going into operation, under which the Irish Government had stopped all prosecutions for tithes, and recalled the military. In consequence of these measures the people were now quiet, because they still hoped that the Government would see the error they had committed, and grant the people relief. He, from his own experience, could say, that the persons who are now in the country, valuing the tithes, had raised them very considerably. In one parish alone, that of Grangegorman, he knew an instance wherein they had raised the tithes from 30l. to 72l. In fact, the new system was merely an aggravation of the whole evil. According to the statements put forward by hon. Gentlemen, the greatest distress prevailed among the established clergy, yet of the million which was voted for the relief of that clergy, not one-third was asked for. He (Mr. O'Connell) did not know the precise amount, but, at least, the whole was not sought for. No; notwithstanding the great distress that existed, still clergymen preferred to exact the whole tithes from a distressed people, rather than take the Treasury money. Such conduct was calculated to produce excitement in times of misery; and still there were those found to be sceptical about the cause of that excitement, as if there was some magic, some conjuring power used over the poor people of Ireland, which persuaded them that black was white—which made them think that distress existed when it did not. But, no; there was no magic—the entire magic was the oppression of the people, and the variegated system of injustice—theexhaustion of their resources, and the spending of an income out of a country where it was collected. There were some physical evils which it was impossible for his Majesty's Government to cure; but provoking language was a bad lenitive to a people's condition who were starving. The poor man's crop had failed last year. Rain had destroyed one-half of the potatoes, or, at least, one-third. Pestilence was raging through the land. The Cholera 88 was committing its destructive ravages from town to town, and farm to farm; within these last three weeks it had killed 500 persons in the city of Limerick. With this picture of misery before them—with the Constitution suspended, and its best benefits taken from them—they were visited with "the just indignation," an indignation, which he supposed was some effusion of proud spirit, or spleen;—this was the consolation offered to an insulted people. There was no reason of complaint on the part of the Irish against Mr. Littleton—at least, the newspapers vented no obloquy, or even murmured their disapprobation of him. Without doubt, Mr. Littleton could do much to mitigate the system that prevailed; but that right hon. Gentleman had too limited a power, and he was too much controlled by those whom he should control. The Government were more in his power, than he in theirs; certainly, though they might get one to succeed him, it would be hard to get one who could carry his re-election. But the other appointments in the Government of Ireland were not equally wise. He could not carry his praise of the Government one particle further. He thought the selection of the Marquess of Wellesley unwise. Had his counsels been followed, Catholic Emancipation would never have taken place, unless accompanied by other measures. He it was who suggested, in 1825, the suppression of the Catholic Association. That recommendation was followed, and Irish Emancipation was delayed. The people of Ireland had done nothing but what they had a right to do. Would the Government dare to treat the people of England as they had treated the people of Ireland? If the people of England desired a particular measure, and met from parish to parish to petition for it, would they receive such an answer as had been given to the people of Ireland for proceeding in a similar manner? There had been no tumultuous or riotous assemblages, no enormous meetings, such as to intimidate peaceable people, or threaten a breach of order; and yet the Irish people must be prevented by taunts from exercising their constitutional rights. Oh! if the Tories in their day of power had been sagacious—if they had had the disposition of the present Government—if they had been determined to hold power, no matter what became of the Constitution, or what was 89 called the Constitution—if they had come forward with a just indignation against the Levellers and Revolutionists of the day, who would subvert the ancient institutions of the country, destroy the value of property, and abolish the glorious privilege of nominating Members to serve in Parliament—if they had proclaimed their unalterable determination to resist all such innovations,—he knew what eloquent appeals there would have been from the Opposition benches; how the Gentlemen now on the Ministerial benches would have invoked the shades of the dead and the spirits of the living, to battle for the cause of freedom, and avert the degradation of Englishmen. Those same Gentlemen now proclaimed their unalterable determination to deny to the Irish people their just rights. But, Ireland threw their taunts in their teeth. Her people would not be worthy of the freedom they sought, if they did not treat with derision and scorn any attempt to control them in the exercise of their liberty. Let his Majesty's Government be assured, that the sentiment which he now uttered was not confined to a sect or party. If it were merely a party sentiment, it ought not to succeed. He did not hesitate to declare (and he would confirm it by an Oath, if it were not profane) that he would not accept the concession, if the object were a party one, and if it were not desired—as he was sure it was desirable—by all. The hon. member for Hampshire told the House, that the Union was a contract which was not to be violated. Did the hon. Member think it was a contract? Had he ever heard of the circumstances? He was probably born at the time of the event. It certainly was such a contract as that made by the highwayman on Hounslow-heath, who said to the traveller, "If you deliver your money, I will not shoot you." No doubt the highwayman would be guilty of a breach of contract if he shot the man. Just such a contract was the Union with Ireland. Surely we were not to have history turned to something worse than an old Almanac, by its being denied that the Legislative Union was carried by the most profligate and abominable corruption—by millions squandered in bribes; and even then it was impossible to accomplish it without throwing into the Irish House of Commons a majority of Scotch and English Officers as Representatives of the rotten boroughs. There certainly was no 90 class whom he should less like as Legislators than those who carried the Irish Union. Did not the hon. member for Hampshire know, that when the High Sheriff of Tipperary had called a meeting of the nobility, gentry, and freeholders of the county, a detachment of military and artillery was sent down, the meeting was dispersed, and the High Sheriff narrowly escaped with his life. By such means was the Union carried. But the hon. Gentleman said, that the Union was desired by the Catholics. He wondered where the hon. Gentleman found that. He knew indeed, that an idle pamphlet, published the other day, said so: but the truth was, that however some individuals might have desired it for their own selfish interest, the people protested in the most solemn manner against it; and 999 out of every 1,000 Catholics at that day were opposed to it. The hon. member for Hampshire said, that the question was one which should be decided in that House. Undoubtedly it should; but, how was it to be brought before that House for decision if the people of Ireland did not show a strong desire on the subject. If the whole 100 Members for Ireland were returned Repealers, in that case the noble Lord himself admitted, that it would be difficult to resist the demand. He could assure the noble Lord, that in the course of five years, it was his firm conviction, upwards of eighty, perhaps ninety Repealers would be returned to that House. And why, then, should the House not discuss the question? The hon. Member asked, why he did not give a notice for such a discussion. He had given a notice, and had named the day, and in the meantime came the King's Speech, or, rather the Ministers' Speech, and forbad all discussion by its threats. His hon. friend, the member for Ipswich, told them that that House could legislate for Ireland as well as a body of Irish Gentlemen could. But, although his hon. friend might persuade himself of that, did he think he could persuade the people of Ireland of it, when he was a party to the absurd and unconstitutional species of gagging adopted in the King's Speech? His hon. friend told the House, that Ireland was in a prosperous condition; and all that his great commercial information enabled him to advance in proof of that assertion was, that there were eight flax-mills in the neighbourhood of Belfast, and that the 91 hand-loom weavers were generally in employment. He admitted the eight flax-mills, and that the hand-loom weavers in the north were generally employed, but he denied that these were proofs of the benefit of the Union. When the hon. Gentleman talked of free trade in England, he attributed the prosperity of the country to that; but he referred the distress of Ireland to the same cause. There was a species of free trade which was useful to the millionaires, who, from their command of capital could be content with small profits. Such men might profit by free trade, while many small dealers would be annihilated by it. The reasoning of the hon. Gentleman showed that the question was one which deserved to be discussed, and that the discussion ought to take place at least without any indignation. The hon. Gentleman had talked of the Report of the Agricultural Committee. And here was an astounding anomaly. It was admitted, that the landed interest was in great distress, and that their distress was accompanied by a great degree of commercial prosperity. Could that be a wholesome state of things? or could the Ministers be reposing on a bed of roses, when it was admitted that what former Governments had considered the nerve and heart, and bone and sinew of society, was in a depressed state? This was not a time for indulging in experiments, and for making old-womanly speeches, because it had been an old woman's habit to make them before. It was also said, that the labourers were better off at present, but if Gentlemen would be at the trouble to examine, they would find that the labourers of Ireland were much worse off. That was the great grievance which most loudly called for a Repeal of the Union, and were that redressed, perhaps, a repeal of the Union might not be necessary, but which, if not redressed must end in what he should look upon with dismay and horror, a violent and bloody separation of the countries. The cause of that evil was the absenteeism and misgovernment which had prevailed for years before the noble Lord was born, and the unjust and mischievous policy which transferred the land to those who did not reside in the country. That evil had existed before the Union, but it had multiplied by centuples since, and was now daily and hourly accumulating and bringing countless mischiefs in its train. Nothing could 92 correct absenteeism except a resident Legislature, and it would, no doubt, be one of the first Acts of a domestic Parliament to remedy that abuse. He was not replying to the arguments against a Repeal of the Union, he was merely contending that the Government had no right to declare that they would not hear those who called for it, or to calumniate persons who had no motive, or ought to have no motive, but the advantage of their country. He had now done his duty; he had protested against the Speech, and shown, he hoped, that it was unbecoming in his Majesty's Ministers to put such a Speech into the King's mouth. It would have been better for them, instead of scolding the Irish people to have promised something to the people of England. Was their Reform Bill complete? Had he not seen a most respectable gentleman returned the other day for Huddersfield, where there was a population of 19,000, and the majority was only 250? Had the people not a right to expect that the Government should increase the franchise, shorten the duration of Parliament—as they had promised when they were at the Opposition side of the House—and give them the Vote by Ballot? They held out none of these things, nor the reduction of the debt to the English people, but they consoled them by an insolent taunt against the people of Ireland, for they were so misinformed as to believe that the people of England disliked the Irish people. He was convinced that the reverse was the fact. He knew, indeed, that the poverty of Ireland pressed upon the people of England, and that the hideous system of poor laws, which was now about to be exploded, overpowered them; but he did not believe, that there was any aversion or dislike between the people of the two countries. It was not in the vain hope of shaking a Ministerial majority upon a mere Irish question, but from a determination to do his duty, that he moved, that the three last paragraphs of the Address should be omitted.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that it appeared to him, that the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down had given proofs in his Speech, that he was imbued not a little with the spirit of that old woman to whom he had referred at the commencement of his harangue. He was not sufficiently 93 enamoured of the example to follow the hon. and learned Member's course, and he should confine himself to a few temperate and brief observations in reply to some of the remarks which the hon. and learned Member had made, and to stating the opinions which he honestly and sincerely entertained upon the subjects connected with Ireland. The hon. and learned Member, as well as the hon. member for Meath, had complimented him by saying that he was animated by the kindest disposition towards Ireland. In this they had done him no more than justice, but their praises of his disposition were qualified by the dispraises which they had levelled at the noble Lord at the head of the Irish Government. From his intimate connexion with that noble Lord he could state his complete conviction that there existed not in the kingdom a man whose heart was more thoroughly Irish, or whose principles with respect to the Government of Ireland were more entirely founded on liberality and justice. The hon. and learned Gentleman had denounced some of the expressions in the King's Speech as a calumny on the people of Ireland; but he should say, that in this respect the speech of the hon. and learned Member himself was characterized by inaccuracy and misrepresentation which he would not designate as wilful. The hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken in depreciation of the Irish Church Temporalities Act of the last Session; but if his memory did not deceive him, on the first day of the last Session, when the hon. and learned Member did not know the contents of the Bill to be brought forward, he had complained that the Vestry-cess was not to be abolished; and now that it was abolished by that Act, the hon. and learned Member still depreciated that measure. With reference to the inaccuracy of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he would allude to the subject of the adjustment of tithes, where he had stated, that in nine cases out of ten the amount of the compromise had been raised by the process. It might be true, that in one-third of the cases the nominal amount might be in some proportion raised, but it ought to be borne in mind, that the amount received by the tithe-owners and the clergy had been previously beaten down by a cruel combination against the proprietors. This might not have been an intentional misrepresentation on the part of the hon. and learned 94 Gentleman, for upon this subject the hon. and learned Gentleman evidently knew nothing. He had said, that of the million that had been granted in the last year not more than one-third had been demanded. He could only say, from what had passed before the Privy Council, that the amount of 900,000l. had been demanded. There were about 3,000 parishes in Ireland, and the schedules and memorials amounted to 2,489. Some parishes, however, had more than one claim, and therefore it was probable that not more than one-half of the parishes had sent in their claims. From the north there had been very few, and they had come in only from those places where, from experience, the owners had reason to anticipate a resistance to their claims. The schedules were in course of adjudication, and the payment of the money would probably begin in the ensuing week. The hon. and learned Member had adverted to what might be the final adjustment of tithes, but the House was aware, that he had already given notice, that on the 20th of the month he would call the attention of the House to the subject. It was not at present necessary for him to say more than that the question was surrounded by difficulties of the greatest magnitude; but the exigencies which urged an adjustment of the question were so pressing, that if some measure or other were not consummated in the present Session, he should consider that the condition of Ireland in the course of the ensuing winter would be desperate indeed. As the question would be brought forward so soon, he would implore all Gentlemen connected with Ireland, to whatever party, principles, or prejudices, they might be attached, to approach the consideration of it with moderation, temper, and firmness, and to be prepared to recommend to all to make some small sacrifices; for on this measure the future tranquillity of Ireland must mainly depend. He would now advert to the hon. and learned Member's observations upon the Speech in that part of it which alluded to the recent agitation which had been kept up in Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman would do well in affording that large portion of his countrymen who were misled on the subject of Repeal the reparation of an early discussion of the subject. There could not exist in that House any stronger prejudice against the Repeal of the Union than had existed at one time 95 against any concession to the Roman Catholics. If, therefore, by constitutional means, the hon. and learned Gentleman could gain his way in this question, let him have the credit which would be his due. If he could convince men of education, who, from their situation in society, from their correct estimates and general views, were able to form an opinion on the subject, that it was for the interests of Ireland that the Union should be repealed, he would congratulate the hon. and learned Gentleman on a triumph worthy of his extraordinary powers. But to promote the advancement of the question for the mere purposes of excitement was, in his opinion, a gross and most unpardonable abuse of the privileges of the Constitution. Such a reparation was the more due from the hon. and learned Gentleman; for, from whatever cause the feeling of Repeal had increased, it must be borne in mind that it was not a sentiment of natural growth; but originally conceived for the purposes of agitation. The spontaneous expression of political feeling, even if founded in delusion, was entitled to respect; but to propagate any political sentiment for the purpose of agitation was a most unpardonable abuse of popular confidence. When the hon. member for the county of Meath adverted to the forbearance of his Majesty's Government, he could not suppose that the hon. Member meant any thing else than that the Government had not exercised the power which it possessed of checking meetings which might tend to disturb the public peace. Certainly such meetings had disturbed the public mind, and prevented it from subsiding into repose so soon as it would otherwise have done. The constant denunciations against that and the other House of Parliament as a foreign legislature—the complaints of denial of justice—and the perpetual advertence to Ireland's physical strength; all topics calculated, although he would not say they were designed, to have the effect of inflaming a malignant spirit of discontent against the British Government, and hatred of British connection. But reckless and unscrupulous as was the manner in which these topics were urged, the system was carried on with a degree of prudence, and caution, and cunning, which rendered it difficult for the Government to check such proceedings by legal means. There was but one single means for them to adopt—namely, to watch the measures of 96 the parties, to see that no illegal act was done, believing that the excitement would be but momentary, and transitory; and that, as it had begun upon the arrival of certain gentlemen at Dublin, in November, so it would die a natural death on their departure for that House in February. One of the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken adverted to the Speech as attributing to the people of Ireland a demand for a Repeal of the Union. The words of the Speech were, "that the people of that country were excited to demand a Repeal of the Union." This he considered was prudent and constitutional language, and he was sure it would meet a general response from the intelligent people of Ireland, and a unanimous one in this country. The hon. Gentleman also, in quoting the words of the Speech declaring his Majesty's determination to maintain that bond of our national strength and safety inviolate, had left out the words "by all the means in my power," which divested the passage of all grounds of exception. He was not aware, that there was any other part of the observations which had been made to which it was necessary for him to advert, but he was desirous to express his entire approbation of the sentiments embodied in the Speech; because, while he hoped that no man who had ever filled the office which he had now the honour to enjoy, was more animated by feelings of kind attachment to the country with which he was thus connected, there was no man who could be less disposed to conciliate the good-will of any portion of the people of that country by a sacrifice of principle, particularly when that sacrifice would countenance the most violent and outrageous proceedings which had ever disgraced the country.
§ Mr. Cobbett
said, that he should feel it necessary to propose a distinct Amendment. He felt that the Address contained a great deal of what he could not call falsehood, because he supposed the term was not allowable, but certainly it alleged as true many things which were untrue. It stated, that they concurred with his Majesty in lamenting the continuance of distress amongst the proprietors and occupiers of land, and then went on to say, that they concurred with his Majesty that the state of the country, as regarded its internal tranquillity, and its commerce, and manufactures, afforded the most encouraging prospects of progressive improvement. 97 Now, either this was nonsense or it was not, and if it was not nonsense, it stated that which was not justified by facts. If his Majesty meant to tell his Parliament that the state of the country, in the agricultural districts was tranquil, there was not a Gentleman in that House who did not know that the statement was not true, and he was sure that there was no prospect of future and progressive improvement. If the words had any meaning at all, they certainly meant that. He should, therefore, at a future time, move an Amendment on that point. He had a word or two to say relative to what had been said on the other side of the House, about the agitation of the hon. and learned Gentleman near him. He remembered the time when the same charge was brought forward against other men. He remembered when great charges were made against designing men, as they were called, and when designing men were marked out in King's Speeches, and when it was said, that these were designing men who were agitating for Reform; and it was said, though they had Reform on their lips, they had something else at their hearts. The Ministry of that day hunted them down just as the Norwich gentlemen now wanted to hunt down the labourers with blood hounds. Could the hon. and learned Gentleman be more calumniated than these men were, one of whom for his own safety had felt himself compelled to cross the Atlantic. After all, they bad called for nothing but Reform, just as the hon. and learned Gentleman now called for the Repeal of the Union. Reform at last came, and those who were foremost amongst the persecutors, now boasted of making this Reform, or of supporting this Reform, or of supporting these Reform Ministers, as they were termed. And how was it carried, but by agitation, and by agitators? The hon. and learned Gentleman was no more an agitator than were those Reformers. They held their meetings, and wrote their letters just as the hon. and learned Gentleman held his meetings, and wrote his letters. Some thing had been said about these repealers in Ireland, that they were so very cunning, and they wrote their letters so very craftily, that no ordinary legal proceedings could be taken against them. Why, that was the very argument which was used by Lord Sidmouth against the Reformers of his day, when he brought in 98 the Gagging and Dungeon Bill. "These Reformers," said he, "are so cunning, and write with such art, that the Law Officers of the Crown cannot get hold of them;" and that Lord Sidmouth thought a sufficient reason for bringing in a Bill to shut them up in dungeons. Were not those, then, parallel cases? Why should not the Repeal Question be agitated as well as the Reform Question? Let not the hon. and learned Gentleman despair. He would yet live to see the Repeal of the. Union carried—ay, and to hear a Ministry boast of being Repealers, too.
§ Mr. Hesketh Fleetwood
said, the terms of the Address were vague and unsatisfactory; they had already caused much desultory conversation in the House, and were, therefore, productive of loss of time to the public. With so many notices on the book as 134, and those accumulating every day, unless the time of the House were more economized the business of the nation must stand still. He only thus briefly alluded to those topics, as otherwise he should be guilty of the offence which he felt it his duty to denounce in others. He should confine himself to noticing the allusion that had been made to the present prosperity of trade, which it was said had improved to the extent of thirty per cent generally; but the hand-loom weavers, it would appear, were an exception to that rule, the advance with them extending only to ten per cent. Being returned for a place where hand-loom weavers were numerous, he thought himself entitled to observe, that assuming the fact to be as stated, it still evinced no great advance in the condition of manufacturers, at least so far as they were concerned; for ten per cent, though large on great capitals, was as nothing to the poor man—it did not amount to 1s. a-week.
lamented, that his Majesty's Speech should be made the channel for the conveyance of sentiments so repugnant to the feelings of a numerous body of the subjects of this realm. The desire for the Repeal of the Union was so deeply implanted in the breasts of the people of Ireland, that it could not now be easily repressed. The question of Repeal would come before a tribunal which had already prejudged it, and would, no doubt, be thrown out by the same noisy majority which carried the Coercion Bill. The conduct of the Parliament during the last Session had made more Repealers than 99 any thing that had been done by any former Government. Let but the Ministers proceed in the same manner, and they would soon have a unanimity of opinion upon the subject of Repeal in Ireland.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that with a few qualifications, he was happy to be enabled to concur in the Address which had been moved. These qualifications were not very important, bat, to avoid misconstruction, it was his duty to state them. With the greater part of the Address he found no fault; indeed, with the exception of that part of it which referred to the agitation and excitement prevailing in Ireland, by which it was attempted to promote the Repeal of the Union—with the exception of that part, he must be a fastidious man who could object to an Address which neither contained an opinion, nor gave a pledge. For himself, he fully concurred in the feelings of regret and indignation expressed at the agitation for the Repeal of the Union; and with that portion of the Address he most fully and cordially agreed. He rejoiced to hear that it was the intention of those who supported Repeal to submit that great question to a full and fair discussion. He rejoiced at this, because he believed, that if sound reason prevailed, nothing would be more easy than to show that ever since the union with Ireland, the disposition of England towards her sister country was, to deal out impartial justice; nothing also would be more easy than to show that the consequences of a Repeal would involve a separation of the two countries, either immediate or protracted only by a long, disastrous, and perhaps fatal conflict. He approved of the general policy of avoiding, in a King's Speech, the introduction of subjects which were likely to provoke any violent differences of opinion. He had always wished to see the Speech framed in such a manner as, without any violence to individual feelings, or sacrifice of political principles, should insure unanimity at least on the first day of the Session. As far, therefore, as the Speech avoided any provocation to the discussion of measures in detail, or calling for any distinct pledge as to the measures to be proposed, so far did he concur in the policy by which it had been dictated. Having had himself some experience in framing these documents, he he most confess his admiration of the dexterity which had contrived to put in the Speech so many words meaning nothing. 100True, no meaning puzzles more than wit.And it was in this sense that he was puzzled with the Speech before him, in endeavouring to conjecture, in any one particular, the intentions of his Majesty's Government. If they had any intentions—if they had made up their mind as to the introduction of any one measure, it would have been respectful to the House, not to call for pledges as to that measure, not to enter into details, but to announce the simple fact, that such a measure would be proposed on the authority of the King's Government. As the matter now stood, it was impossible to say, that his Majesty's Ministers intended to bring forward any measure whatever, except one for the final adjustment of tithes in Ireland. With regard to Church Reform, Municipal Corporations, and the Poor-laws, all the information the Ministers condescended to give the House was, that the Reports of certain Commissions would be laid before them, in which they would find much useful information, and by which they would be enabled to judge of the nature and extent of any existing defects and abuses, and in what manner the necessary correction might, in due season, be safely and beneficially applied. If his Majesty's Government had any measures to propose on their own responsibility—measures carrying with them their authority—it was due to both Houses of Parliament to intimate such intention. That certainly was the uniform course; and he could not carry his approbation of the principle of avoiding every disputable subject so far as to approve of keeping the Legislature wholly ignorant of the intentions of Government. One of the first sentences of the Speech spoke of the difficult and important measure of last Session—the Bill for abolishing Slavery. Since that Bill was passed, no man could attach more importance to its final success than he did—no man could more sincerely hope that the apprehensions which were formed respecting its operation and results might prove to be ill-founded. Its success was of the highest importance, not only to the commercial and colonial interests of this country, but to the best interests of humanity and civilization throughout the globe. Our success might induce other nations to venture on a similar experiment. The Address would, however, have been more satisfactory to him if its language had been less sanguine as to the future, and if it had, 101 at present, refrained from calling on them to say, that they already had just grounds for anticipating the happiest results. He hoped that such might be the case, and possibly his Majesty's Ministers might be in possession of information which afforded them such grounds. The expression, however, was in the superlative degree; and he thought the manner in which the Act had been received in the West-India Islands, could not, alone, justify the use of so strong an expression. Nothing had yet occurred in the colonies to enable them to predict with confidence, that the measure would be completely successful. Jamaica and other colonies had certainly shown a strong disposition to adopt it, for the purpose of obtaining the pecuniary compensation which it gave them. This, however, was but one step towards the success of a measure which would effect a total and complete change in all the relations of colonial society. As to the expressions in the Address which referred to the foreign policy of the country and the existing state of our relations with other Powers—he could only say with the Address, that he hoped for the best. He would add, however, that the view of our foreign policy was not satisfactory, and that, even on the showing of the Address, we had no right to congratulate ourselves on this subject. He most cordially approved of that part of the Address which spoke of the disposition of his Majesty's Government to secure to the people the uninterrupted enjoyment of the blessings of peace. It was impossible for any person to be so deeply impressed as he was with the importance of our commercial and manufacturing interests, with their importance not only to the prosperity of the nation, but to the moral and social interests of the people, and not be also deeply impressed with the conviction, that universal peace was absolutely essential to the protection and advancement of those great interests. He considered it of the highest importance that a good understanding should exist between France and this country. Such an understanding would pave the way to an improved commercial intercourse (an intercourse which was of double importance—first, to our commercial prosperity; and next, to the security of peace between the two countries), by affording an additional guarantee in the interests and feelings of the people for its preservation. 102 But he hoped it was possible to maintain amicable relations with France, and at the same time to conciliate the good will of other countries. Certainly his satisfaction at the good understanding prevailing with France would be greatly mitigated if he thought that understanding was of an exclusive nature, calculated to excite the suspicion and jealousy of other powers. The Address admitted, that with other countries with which we were nearly connected, our relations were not satisfactory. We were still far from a final adjustment of the differences between Holland and Belgium. Civil war continued in Portugal, and had now extended into Spain. If the tranquillity of the Peninsula, were (as admitted by the Speech) of the first importance to England, it was impossible to close their eyes to the melancholy fact, that almost the whole of the Peninsula was at this moment convulsed by civil war; and, without wishing then to provoke a discussion on foreign policy, he felt that he must, on this very ground, protest against the policy which his Majesty's Ministers had thought proper to adopt towards Portugal. He believed, that the civil war in Portugal existed solely in consequence of the interference of this Government. Ministers had, indeed, put on a specious neutrality; but how often was it practically broken? The permitted violation of the municipal laws of this country, and the abstinence of the Crown from taking measures which might have been justly taken, alone prevented the termination of this civil war some time since. He had never concealed his opinion of Don Miguel's acts, connected with his original accession to the Throne; but, after the lapse of two or three years had proved that the people of Portugal were not dissatisfied with his rule, however objectionable it might be to some eyes,—the time had come, notwithstanding his perfidy towards us, when we were bound, in conformity to our usual practice, to the usual practice of all civilized countries, to recognize him as king de facto. As to the integrity of Turkey, if that really were an object—if it were considered of first-rate importance that its independence should be preserved inviolate—he must say it was now too late to declare, that the attention of his Majesty's Government would be directed to prevent new changes after the vital change which had already taken place. To speak now of the maintenance and stability of that empire, 103 was long after date; and if there were no better guarantee for the prosperity of England and the preservation of peace in Europe, than the future stability of the Turkish empire, we had slight security indeed, either for prosperity or peace. The rest of the Address, and the language in which it was worded, were so much matter of course, so framed upon ancient models—so like the work of a Tory Government—that he could not help approving of them. The estimates, of course, were as low as possible. Attention to economy was a matter of course. The condition of the revenue was satisfactory—he was glad to hear it. As to the distress of the occupiers of the land, from all the experience he had, he could bear the fullest testimony to the truth of that assertion. If any thing could be done to remedy this, and remove those local burthens to which the land was exclusively or peculiarly subject, he should feel himself called upon most imperatively to support such a measure. It was, however, highly satisfactory to observe the increasing prosperity of commerce and manufactures, and much was to be hoped from their ultimate re-action on the landed interest in promoting the prosperity of the latter. It had always been a maxim, that the commercial and agricultural interests waxed and waned together; and therefore he hoped that the latter would ultimately derive the benefit that was to be expected from the increasing prosperity of the former. He felt, too, peculiar satisfaction that this improvement in commerce and manufactures had taken place without the necessity of resorting to any of those changes in the currency with which they had been threatened. The wisdom of adhering to a metallic standard was now, he hoped, established. It was now proved, that such a standard was by no means inconsistent with the most rapid and extraordinary extension of the commerce and manufactures of the country. When the details entered into by the seconder of the Address should be substantiated by official returns, they would do more towards settling this much disputed question than all the debates and divisions that had hitherto taken place upon it. It was not his intention to move any amendment. He gave his cordial concurrence to the Address in most of its particulars. Above all, he approved of the language held with regard to the determination of Government to 104 maintain the union between Great Britain and Ireland; a union which, in his unalterable opinion, was essential to the safety and power of the empire, and, above all, to the happiness and prosperity of Ireland herself.
§ Viscount Palmerston
said, that he should not have risen, but for the qualifications of the right hon. Baronet, which, particularly those relating to foreign policy, almost amounted to a dissent from the Address; and he could not pass over them in silence without, in some measure, appearing to sanction them. The right hon. Baronet expressed his surprise at the negociations respecting Belgium not being yet concluded. He could only say it was much to be regretted, but a convention had been signed in May last, which placed the two countries in such a relative situation towards each other, that the signatures of a definitive treaty became of very little consequence as far as the stability of the arrangement, and the peace of Europe were concerned. The right hon. Baronet's charge, that the civil war in Portugal had been fostered and protracted by this country, had already been repeatedly answered. Ministers, however, were now, it appeared, accused of thereby creating a civil war in Spain. But, every person who regarded the events of the Peninsula with an impartial eye, must perceive that the war in Spain, arose from causes within Spain herself, and by no means flowed out of that which prevailed in Portugal. But it was said, that a time had arrived at which it was the duty of his Majesty's Government to acknowledge Don Miguel. He should like to ask the right hon. Baronet, when this particular time had come to pass. The last Administration continued in office two years and a-half after Don Miguel had usurped the Crown. If, therefore, a lapse of time were alone sufficient to have rendered it imperative on the Government of the country to acknowledge Don Miguel, why did not the last Government acknowledge him? And why seek to throw on the present Administration the odium of acknowledging a usurper, whom the right hon. Baronet and his colleagues were ashamed to recognize. The right hon. Baronet appeared to attach very little importance to the maintenance of the Turkish Empire as it now stood. He differed much from the right hon. Baronet. It was, in his opinion, 105 of the utmost importance to the interests of this country, and to the preservation of the balance of power in Europe, that the Turkish Empire should be maintained in its integrity and independence; and he considered that his Majesty's Government would not have fulfilled their duty had they not pointed out this subject as deserving the most serious attention of Parliament. In the early part of the evening some reference had been made to the commercial union of Prussia and Austria. He would remind the House, that we had no right to object to treaties made between independent States, having for their object the regulation of their reciprocal commerce. In some respects, however, these would be no disadvantage to England. A great number of custom-houses in the interior would be abolished, and our manufactures would find their way through many parts of Germany with much less obstruction than heretofore. On the subject of the abolition of slavery, he thought the language of the Address was fully warranted. It certainly was not a little pleasing to those who had brought forward and supported that measure, to find their own anticipations so completely fulfilled, and the predictions of their opponents so completely falsified. The colonists had shown much good sense by their ready adoption of it; and now, instead of producing the disastrous results which some prophesied, it might be hailed as one of the most just, enlightened, and beneficent measures which had ever been carried into a law.
concurred with what had been stated on all sides as to the importance of keeping up a good understanding between this country and France. No one could value the advantages of such an understanding more highly than he did. At the same time it was his decided opinion, that the maintenance by this country of a good understanding with France was by no means inconsistent with the maintenance of a good understanding with the other countries of Europe. Was not the noble Lord, then, aware that all those other countries charged us not only with working against them ourselves, but of uniting with France, our ally, in working against them? There never existed in the history of the world a more complete feeling of disgust, jealousy, and aversion, than that which was in consequence entertained by those states against this 106 country. There was not a single foreigner, let him come from what part of Europe he might, who was not prepared to declare, that France and England had not only joined hostilely against the other states of Europe, but were actually endeavouring to undermine those states in every possible manner. The noble Lord might estimate the matter lightly, but, at least, it was attended with this inconvenience, that, if we set ourselves in hostile array against other powers, those powers would, of course, take some means of retaliation. The consequence of the course which had been adopted by this country was, that Prussian commercial confederacy, which the noble Lord treated so lightly, which some years ago it would have been impossible to accomplish, had been effected in a short time, much to the injury of our trade. He was surprised at the ignorance which had been manifested on the subject by the noble Lord, when he told the House that the destruction of the custom-houses in the interior of the states, comprehended in the Prussian confederacy, would be in no way injurious to English commerce, and that the establishment of one exterior line of custom-houses would be beneficial to that commerce. So far was that from being the case, that it was clear that eventually our commerce would be excluded from Germany. The commercial regulations of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, had been made the means of indulging political hostility to England. But for the course of policy which had been adopted by the noble Lord, we should never have heard of the adoption of such a course of policy by Prussia. If the noble Lord had maintained any thing like the good understanding with the different states of Germany which formerly existed, no such injurious course would ever have been adopted by them towards us. But such was the manner in which the noble Lord had chosen to follow up his little experiment of erecting a petty monarchy in Belgium, that even Holland, although in general most favourable to the principles of free trade, concurred with Prussia in her commercial arrangements. It was impossible that the foreign minister could be ignorant of this; and he could assure the noble Lord, that the commercial prosperity of this country would be sacrificed if he persevered in his present policy. With respect to Portugal, when the noble Lord spoke of the neutrality which had 107 been observed by this country, everybody in the House smiled except the noble Lord's friends immediately around him. He was apprehensive that the opinion of the world on that point was very different from the opinion of the noble Lord; and that it would be very difficult to make the world believe that, without the countenance which had been given by this country to one of the parties in Portugal, the contest between them could have been kept up. Would the noble Lord deny, that it was as much our interest to be at peace with Portugal as to be at peace with France? And why were we not so? Why had we abandoned, with reference to Portugal, the sound principle of acknowledging a government de facto? What business had we to inquire, either in Portugal or in Spain, who was the right heir to the crown? It ought to be enough for us that the Government which actually existed had the consent and support of the people, and was capable of maintaining its relations with us. On the subject of Turkey, the integrity of which the noble Lord appeared to admit to have been in jeopardy, he had no objection to that part of the Address. But, if ever the question came forward for discussion, it would require more information than had yet been produced, to show whose fault it was, that the integrity of the Turkish empire had been broken up. If it was true, as had been stated in the public papers, that the Russian Government had, month after month, and day after day, been knocking at the noble Lord's door, stating the dangers to which the Turkish empire was subject from the conduct pursued by France, our ally, and begging us to interfere, and to induce France to desist from that conduct, the conclusion was obvious. Instead of Turkey having anything to apprehend from Russia, Russia had prevented the Egyptian Pacha from overturning the Turkish empire unless the noble Lord could overturn that position, by proving the existence of insatiable ambitious designs on the part of Russia, he (Mr. Baring) would maintain, that the course which had been adopted by the Pacha of Egypt had been at the instigation of France, our ally. France, having taken possession of one of the dependencies of the Turkish empire, manifested no symptom of any disposition to give it up. If the noble Lord held that the integrity of the Turkish empire had not been put in jeopardy by 108 France, let him induce France, his own friend, to give up the possession of Algiers. With respect to the West Indies, it was impossible not to admit, that a great improvement had taken place in the aspect of affairs in our colonies. At the same time, he was decidedly of opinion, that those who thought the whole of our difficulties in that quarter had been got over were in an error. On the contrary, his apprehension was, not of bloodshed, for of that he had never entertained any fear, but his apprehension was, that if they depended on free black labour alone, the sugar colonies could not be retained in cultivation.
§ The House divided on Mr. O'Connell's Amendment.—Ayes 23; Noes 189: Majority 166.
§ The Address was agreed to.
|List of the AYES.|
|Attwood, T.||O'Connell, D.|
|Blake, M.||O'Connell, M.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||O'Connell, J.|
|Butler, hon. Colonel||Sheil, R. L.|
|Evans, Colonel.||Ruthven, S.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||Ruthven, E.|
|Fitzsimon, C.||Vigors, N.|
|Fitzgerald, T.||Warburlon, H.|
|Finn, W. F.||Wallace, T.|
|Fryer, R.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Nagle, Sir R.||Grattan, H.|
|O'Dwyer, A. C.||Lynch, A. H.|