HC Deb 10 February 1834 vol 21 cc168-202

The Speaker called upon Mr. O'Connell, but

Mr. Sheil

rose and said, be trusted that before his learned friend proceeded with the Motion of which he had given notice, the House would indulge him for a few seconds. He asked for this indulgence with the more confidence, because it was not his intention to interfere in the approaching discussion, lest he should be betrayed into expressions which might be offensive to others, or not becoming the assembly he was addressing. He asked for a trial. He asked it with all the respect due to the House, and with the simple strenuousness of one who was conscious of innocence. He had said, that it was not his intention to take part in the approaching discussion: with the facts that had come before the House every Member was, of course, fully acquainted, and it was not necessary for him to repeat them. He repeated that he only, asked for a full, fair, and complete investigation; and as to the form of that investigation, he left it to the House, in full confidence that on all sides the spirit of partisanship would be entirely excluded—that nothing of the acrimonious description which had occurred a few days ago would in future have to be lamented. He asked for inquiry with the more strenuousness, in consequence of the intimation given on Friday by the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies—an intimation which he was sure (and he spoke it most unaffectedly) was not intended to give pain, but which at the same time, instead of deterring him from requiring a trial, made it most imperative that he should demand an investigation in the most earnest manner. Of the form of proceeding the House was the best judge: he asked no favour, but he threw himself upon British justice.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

begged leave in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, to interpose between the hon. and learned member for Dublin and the House with a few sentences. It had been his wish (and the hon. and learned Member had done him no more than justice on the former day when he admitted it), to avoid saying anything that might in the remotest degree give pain; but he had felt it his duty to call the attention of the House to the state in which it would be left, should the discussion proceed and end in a certain result. It had been his wish to allude to the possibility of that result in the tenderest terms; but as the hon. member for Tipperary had said that it was not his intention to take any part in the debate, but to leave the investigation entirely in the hands of the House, relying upon its sense of justice, it was the more necessary distinctly to understand and know the precise nature and extent of the inquiry. The hon. and learned member for Dublin intimated that he was prepared to make an exposition of his views. [Mr. O'Connell: I am]. The hon. and learned Member, (continued Mr. Secretary Stanley,) must pardon me for saying that I conceive the position in which the House is now placed; and its decision depends not so much on grounds he may state as upon the view that may be taken, and the answer that may be given by the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Tipperary. Because the question, I understand, is this with reference to the hon. and learned Gentleman, there is this statement made, and this statement only: that out of the House, on the subject of the Coercion Bill, he has held language at variance with the language he held within the House upon the same subject. I wish, therefore, before the House is called upon to come to any decision, to know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman so understands the extent of the statement, and whether, upon that statement, that he has held out of the House, in conversation, language different from that which he held in the House with reference to the Coercion Bill, he rests his denial, and asks the House, for the sake of his vindication, to enter upon the inquiry? I am sure that the hon. and learned Member will give a plain and an explicit answer to this question, because it is one on which, in my mind, and as I think I shall be able to show to the House, depends the course we are to pursue.

Mr. O'Connell

I object to my hon. and learned friend being induced (to use no other word) to give any reply to what I think the insidious attempt of the right hon. Gentleman to lead the House from the real question before it. I do not give the right hon. Gentleman any credit for the motives which induced him to step forward. It seems to me, though I may be mistaken, that the course suggested is very different from that which justice requires us to pursue. I rise to bring the case before the House—certainly after some deliberation, and with more distinctness of purpose at least, than influenced me when it was last mentioned. The delay has had two advantages; it has enabled me, for one, to make up my mind upon the course which I am convinced justice demands, and also it has made me perceive, what I did not before discover, that there is an infinite difference between the statement which the noble Lord has made and the statement, whatever it be, which the hon. and learned member for Hull has declared himself ready to support by evidence. I now perceive that no two things can be more distinct and different. I confess, in the hurry of the first occasion, I perhaps naturally, and certainly undesignedly, confounded both to a great extent. I mixed that which is a real and a serious crime with that regarding which, I think, it would be difficult to show it would be becoming in the House to institute an inquiry, if it had not proceeded from the lips of one of his Majesty's Ministers, using the term responsibility when he volunteered an answer to a question I did not put. I shall show presently that he did volunteer it, and that it was not led to by what fell from me. The strongest proof that such was my impression is, that I really thought he adopted and sanctioned and justified the hon. member for Hull. I will not retract what I said under that impression. I wish the present discussion to take place in the absence of all personal feeling. I wish to avoid all passion and hostility, and that no influence may reign but the love of justice. I want to bring the House to what I think to be the real breach of faith; and that I think I find in the publication of the speech of the hon. and learned member for Hull. I mean to bring it before the House distinctly as a breach of privilege, on which I shall move that a Committee be appointed, and that power be given to it to investigate all the facts—not only in form, but in substance—not only as to the terms, but as to the spirit and meaning of the hon. and learned Member. And here I challenge the noble Lord (Althorp), so to extend the powers of the Committee that the belief of which he spoke, may be justified by the creation of a similar belief in the minds of others, or that he will retract the assertion of his belief, and admit that he finds the whole without a shadow of foundation. These are the purposes with which I address the House—first, to bring before it what I conceive to be a distinct breach of privilege—next, to have a Committee appointed; and then, thirdly, that the value of character may be appreciated and ascertained: so that we shall know whether there is any foundation for what the noble Lord says he believes; or whether, on the other hand, it is a miserable and a designed slander against Members who have been assailed wholesale, and upon system. The noble Lord, be it remembered, has thrown them into a group—the hon. member for Hull alluded to only one; but the noble Lord has extended it to many ["Some"]. Certainly more than one. I may think, indeed, that one is too many; but certainly the noble Lord accused more than one. What skill Gentlemen who interrupted me may have in distinguishing between "some" and "many," I know not, but the distinction is not of importance to my feeble understanding; but we will take it as "some." I was fortunate enough to be excluded from the number. I caught the noble Lord's negative before the House interfered, and two or three other Irish Gentlemen did the same; but the situation of others who were not so fortunate, must be exceedingly painful. That the charge was volunteered by the noble Lord, is quite obvious, and it is incumbent upon him to justify himself by naming the others, and above all, by giving us the name of his informant—his witness. But we have not arrived at that part of the case. The first part relates to the hon. member for Hull, who has, under circumstances, avowed the publication. Words he has negatived, but substance he has admitted. He has declared his readiness to come to the proof; he has, himself, suggested a Committee, pledging himself to establish what he advanced, by evidence. I trust the House will not refuse us the opportunity of showing that what he asserts to be fact, is an impossibility. What fell from the hon. member for Hull, appeared in two or three newspapers—one of these was The Hull Packet, and, if I am not mistaken, he is supported by the managers of that newspaper. Perhaps I am misinformed, as I speak merely by hearsay. At all events, the speech in that newspaper has the appearance of authenticity.[A Member The newspaper was not The Hull Packet, but The Hull Rockingham]. In The Hull Rockingham the speech was given in the first person—that might be done to give it more interest with the public; but if it were communicated by the hon. Member, that was most likely the form it would assume; if anything turned on the manner in which it got forth to the public, this might be worth notice, but it is of no importance. I content myself, therefore, with bringing the paragraph before the House, and then we shall know from the hon. Member how far he admits its correctness. He will not only have to show why he varies from the report, but when he substitutes a different version, why, when the words as printed were placed before him by a Member who called upon him for a denial of them, he did not soften or explain the expressions attributed to him. I was not in possession of this fact on the former day, but I shall on this occasion bring it distinctly before the House. The publication is in The Examiner newspaper, purporting to be the speech of the hon. member for Hull, and runs in these words:—' It is impossible for those not actually in the House, to know all the secret machinery by which votes are obtained. I happen to know this (and I could appeal, if necessary, to a person well known and much respected by yourselves), that an Irish Member, who spoke with great violence against every part of that Bill, and voted against every clause of it, went to the Ministers and said, "Dont bate one single atom of that Bill, or it will be impossible for any man to live in Ireland." "What!" said they, "this from you who speak and vote against the Bill" "Yes," he replied, that is necessary; because if I dont come into Parliament for Ireland, I must be out altogether, and that I dont choose." [cries of "Name!" and "No."]. Consider for a moment! Can I do it? ["No" "Yes!"] That is a point for my consideration. I have a great respect for every one here; but if every one in the room was to hold up his hand for it, I would not do it. The secret is not my own. If he had told it to me, I would have said, "Mark, I'll keep no such secret as this—I'll publish it to the world." But if I name the Member, I put it into the power of the individual who made that declaration to know the Gentleman who told me.' That is the statement, put forward in the Hull Paper, and I have read it from The Examiner. Since that date another publication of the same newspaper has occurred, with a distinct assertion that the first publication had come under the notice of the hon. member for Hull immediately after its first appearance, and that then he did not think fit to make any alteration in it. I cannot vouch for the truth of this, but it is so stated. I have also a communication from one of the inhabitants of Hull, with whom I am not acquainted, which has been printed in the newspapers, and is, as I have ascertained, a genuine letter. It is from a person of the name of Jackson. He says he was present, and his report of what the member for Hull said, as an ear and an eye-witness, is as follows: "It is remarkable that some of the Irish Members who spoke with the greatest violence against the measure, were privately, the zealous supporters of it. One of them waited on the Ministers, and said that he was obliged to speak and vote against it, to preserve his popularity; and that otherwise he should forfeit his seat in Parliament." That is the report of Mr. George Jackson, whose communication was dated November 13, 1833, of what was said at Hull by the hon. Member He goes on to say, that the same Irish Member advised Ministers "to stick to the Bill, if they wished Ireland to be a country fit to be lived in;" and that the hon. member for Hull added, that he had his information from a gentleman pretty well known to those whom he was addressing. In that description of the informant all the newspapers concur. The next document is a letter from an Irish Member who thought it necessary to apply to the hon. member for Hull for a certificate of his innocence.[The hon. and learned Gentleman read the letter of Sir Richard Nagle, in which, repeating the words of the hon. member for Hull, he asked if he was the person meant?] What I am now about to read, is the answer of the hon. member for Hull; and it will be remarked, that the imputed words are given to him distinctly, and that he completely adopts the statement. [The hon. and learned Gentleman here read Mr. Hill's answer, in which he said, he made no allusion to Sir Richard Nagle]. Now it seems to me, (continued Mr. O'Connell,) that the hon. Member, by replying to Sir Richard Nagle, and not disputing the words he quoted, distinctly adopts them; and, perhaps, in arguing in this way, I am doing what is superfluous, as the hon. Member may intend to adopt the words today. But I wish to put before the House the distinct nature of the charge—a charge under which all Irish Members have laboured to this hour—a charge in its nature as grievous as can be made against any body of men. I entreat the House to reflect upon the nature of it; it is asserted to be a loose conversation—not the talk of Brookes's, or gossip in the street; but a distinct communication to Ministers, urging them privately to do that which the individual had contended against in this House with all his energies. That is the extent of the duplicity, the testimony which his own words and conduct supply—the falsehood of the action which it becomes most important for this House and the Government to ascertain. That is the substance of the charge. One of the papers talks of a Cabinet Minister, and that was included in the question I put to the noble Lord; other papers only speak generally of a Minister, and I give the hon. member for Hull the fullest latitude he can desire; he may extend it to every body in office—nay more, to every regular Ministerial supporter—to every body belonging to the Ministerial party, or phalanx, for I wish to use as unobjectionable a word as I can. The charge of the hon. Member is distinct, and it is distinctly made, but the noble Lord, by the mode in which he met it, has given it tenfold importance. The public will not distinguish between one Irish Member and another; I did not myself—until the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies spoke. I did not look into the shadowing of the distinction, but what he said, to my eyes, made it so clear, that I cannot fail to see the distinction. I stand upon this case as one plainly entitling my hon. friend, myself, and every Irish Member, to a full, and complete inquiry. I have not asked a character from the hon. member for Hull, nor shall I. My acquittal shall be from the House; and without meaning any taunt or disrespect, I defy him to say, that it was I. The hon. Member has gone further; not content with avowing it here, he has pledged himself to prove it. I dare and defy him to the proof. I trust, that this House never will allow any one of its Members to say, that he has the proof, and then throwing a shield over that Member, make the very shield a weapon of offence against men who seek only a full and complete inquiry. The more I reflect on the conduct of the noble Lord, the more I am astonished at his course of proceeding; it is impossible, I think, for any rational man to defend that course. I put a question, and speaking from the newspaper, I applied my question to a Cabinet Minister, and I was answered with the insignificant negative of a Cabinet Minister. I then put the question as applicable to any Minister, and I was met by an allegation, that something had been said out of the House by more than one Irish Member, inconsistent with what he had said in the House. That is very hard to be dealt with. Heaven knows, if there be a man who ought to be exceedingly punctilious about what is imputed to have been said by him; it is the noble Lord. He had been frequently mistaken; deputations have waited upon him, because he has been supposed to have given answers that he did not give. How many speeches has the noble Lord delivered here, that have been misunderstood and misreported. I do not, and I cannot believe that such was the distinct intention of the noble Lord; but what he said was calculated to make a most injurious impression on the minds of the public. He went further, and declared his belief of what he had been told; he persevered in that belief, and protected the author by his own responsibility. I only trust that the House will not protect the noble Lord by limiting the inquiry. What was this conversation? Where did it happen? By whom was it reported? Was it intended to be communicated to the public? Moreover, who heard it? Was it one of those persiflages, sometimes current in society, which are never relied upon, never mentioned, and turn out in the end to be nothing? On the other hand, was it in its nature and essence derogatory to the man who used the expression? Was it such a conversation as, among Gentlemen, is within the sacred guard of silence. Was it necessary to caution the hearer with "Do not say this;" or was it such a matter as no man would think of repeating? Was it repeated by a man who, if he were to swear it, would not be believed, because the moral tarnish of retailing it would lead to the inevitable suspicion that he who could repeat would not scruple to invent? Is there not a tribunal of honour in the breast of every man opposed to such practices? Is it not shown, in the late sentence of a Court-martial, where complaint was made of a practice that had found its way into the 15th Hussars. I will show that the practice complained of in the 15th Hussars was honour itself compared with the contemptible tittle-tattle on which this conversation is founded. I am not surprised at the kind of interruption I meet with; it is because you feel the effect of what I am advancing, that I am interrupted with these indecent exclamations. The sentence says, "Another practice has been introduced into the 15th Hussars.

The Speaker

put it to the feelings of the hon. and learned Member himself—first, whether it was necessary thus to substantiate his general position by reference to a particular case; and next, whether he would do so in a matter which was not before the House, and which was inconsistent with its feelings?

Mr. O'Connell

I do not bring it forward for the purpose of disparaging any parties; but this is a case which has received the sanction of his Majesty, which has been promulgated in General Orders, and is the common topic of all the newspapers. I refer to it as containing the opinion of a highly honourable and intelligent Court; and there I find a strong censure of the practice of taking notes of the conversation of officers, which the Court say could not be considered otherwise than revolting to every gentlemanly feeling. What I want to know is, whether conversations not taken down, but reported, are not liable to the farther stigma and reproach that there may be a variance, if only from mis-recollection? Yet this is the charge of the noble Lord—a charge which the Government must shrink from bringing forward. They have powerful champions to cover the noble Lord's retreat; and they may, if they think fit, prevent the disclosure and appearance of the worthy person whom the noble Lord believes, and whom I utterly disbelieve. We have neither his name nor his Address, and the consequence may be, that many and many an honourable man, utterly incapable of the turpitude of revealing private conversation, will have an unmerited stigma fixed upon him, and will be regarded as a talebearer so long as the real name is kept secret. Irresponsibility is to be the protection of the man who has lent himself to this unworthy practice. I have heard many people named as the authors—at least several: some I do not believe—others I doubt. But I have heard names, and respectable names—names of persons utterly incapable of such baseness—and yet they must be content to bear the suspicion, and must go through the country with it sticking to them. If this inquiry be stifled, the innocent will suffer to an extent really frightful, and the really guilty will escape all censure. For these reasons, and in perfect good temper, I bring the case before the House as between the Members for Ireland and the hon. member for Hull; and first I want to know to what extent he means to make his charge—within what limits it is to be confined—and whether he is still ready, as he professed to be the other day, to make it good. I mean to move for a Committee—that the paragraph I have read be referred to it; and that, thirdly, the inquiry shall be as extensive as possible. As to the noble Lord's belief of the tale he has been told, I know not how to deal with it. I do not know how to deal with his responsibility, and I would not be a party to that species of discussion. The noble Lord has introduced his version of the story on his own responsibility; he has inflicted a wound, and it is his duty to stand forward to make good his charge, by producing his informer, or to abandon it, and thereby acquit noble, upright, and irreproachable men from an unjust imputation. The names I have selected for the Committee are men certainly beyond reproach—not one of them is connected with the Irish party to which I have the high honour to belong—not one of them is connected with my hon. and learned friend. Oh, how vain are the efforts of calumny with us How harmless is its breath We are, indeed, separated from you by the Channel, but you let your Press loose upon us, when you do not venture to assail us yourselves. I scorn to notice it; but I will say, that I have struggled for five-and-twenty years with my hon. and learned friend. We struggled first with small means, in defence of the great principle—freedom of conscience; and no man is adorned with more eloquence, or illustrated by purer or more sterling patriotism, than my hon. and learned friend. If he could have been intimidated or purchased, long and long since he might have been in a situation well deserving the curses, while he received the full pay of his country. Nothing that can occur shall divert us from the course we are now determined to pursue; and, as regards the particular case before the House, we demand an inquiry—a full, complete, and entire inquiry. Shall that inquiry be limited within the responsibility of the noble Lord? The hon. member for Hull manfully said, on a former night, he was ready with his proofs. We claim that he shall have an opportunity of adducing them. I therefore put in The Examiner newspaper, that the paragraph may be read.

The Clerk accordingly read the paragraph.

Mr. O'Connell

then moved, that the paragraph be referred to a Committee consisting of the following Gentlemen:—Lord G. Somerset, Sir E. Knatchbull, Sir F. Burdett, Mr. Romilly, Mr. K. Tynte, jun., Mr. Strutt, Colonel Maberly, Sir H. Hardinge, Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Parrott, Mr. Shaw, Mr. Hume, Mr. Gillon, Major Fan-court, Mr. Lefevre, Colonel Verner, Mr. Warburton, Mr. Grote, Mr. Abercromby, and Sir R. Peel.

Mr. Hill

said, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin had expressed his wish that this question should be discussed with good temper. On his own part he hoped it would be discussed with even temper, at the least; and, as far as he could, he would follow the precept, while he took warning by the example, of the hon. and learned Gentleman. It would be in the recollection of the House, that after the declaration of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the former evening, when the noble Lord replied, in answer to a question put to him by the hon. member for Tipperary, that he was one of those Members of whom it had been reported that he had spoken differently out of the House on the subject of the Coercion Bill to the opinions he had expressed in the House; it would, he said, be in the recollection of the House, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin then got up, and, before he (Mr. Hill) spoke a word, or gave the slightest explanation, the hon. and learned Member stated, in terms which he had thought sincere, complete, and satisfactory, that the hon. and learned Member considered him perfectly justified in every thing which he had said. The hon. Member had now stated in words that he did not withdraw the retractation which he then made. Did the hon. Member mean to tell him that he did not withdraw it in fact? What was he to make of the hon. and learned Member's speech? If it was not a withdrawal of his retractation, was it not an attempt to explain it away? Did he now, in the opinion of the hon. Member, stand perfectly justified in what the newspapers had represented him to have said at Hull? Was he to have the hon. Member's retractation or not? Did the hon. Member withdraw that retractation or did he not? He would have either one thing or the other; he would not accept half a retractation. Let it be full, or let it be nothing. The House would not mistake him. He did not affect to suppose that when the hon. Member stated on Wednesday, that he was perfectly justified in what he had said, that therefore the hon. Member meant to admit that his statement was well founded: he merely understood the hon. Member to mean, that whether right or wrong, whether accurate or mistaken, he had sincerely believed what he had said at Hull, and believing 'the story, merely repeated it. Could he understand the hon. Member to assent to this construction, and abide by it? Was that the meaning of the hon. Member's words, or had they any other meaning? He would thank the hon. Member for something to which he could fix him. Was he called upon to defend his veracity or his want of caution? Was the question whether an Irish Member had done what he had charged him with, or whether he (Mr. Hill) had done what the hon. member for Dublin had charged him with in two letters to his constituents, when he let loose the Irish press against him—namely, invented and fabricated the story? He wished to know how the question stood—whether it was with respect to the charge of his having fabricated the story, or with respect to the truth or error of the story itself? As he obtained no reply, he would proceed with his case as regarded himself personally. The hon. and learned Member in his letter said, "This man fabricated this statement." Now, he would like to know how the hon. and learned Member had found out that the statement was a fabrication of his? Where was his evidence of the fabrication? He would further ask the hon. and learned Member, accomplished as he was in casuistry, to point out the difference between him who asserts that which he cannot know to be true, and him who asserts that which he knows to be false. How could the hon. Member know that he fabricated it? There were but two individuals in the world of whom the one could safely predicate of the other, what the hon. Member had so positively averred of him, and those were the Siamese twins. But, thank God the hon. Member and he did not stand in their relation to each other. The hon. Member did not know his goings forth or his comings in, and he could not, therefore, know that he had fabricated the statement, though he might know the contrary. He appealed to the House, with the recollection they had of the reports in circulation during the progress of the Coercion Bill, in the month of October, whether his statements remained to be fabricated, and whether (be it true or be it false) it was not known to hundreds within those walls, and to thousands without? But further than that, he would prove that the hon. and learned Member himself knew that such a report had existed months before the speech at Hull, at the very time he was charging its fabrication on him (Mr. Hill). He held in his hand a letter addressed to himself, and published in a paper called The Cork Evening Herald, which its length alone prevented him from reading to the House. It was signed "Feargus O'Connor," and was dated the 17th of November, 1833. The letter was, no doubt, a severe censure upon his statement; but it was so frank and straight-forward, that he had never for a moment felt the slightest ill-will towards the gentleman who wrote it. In that letter Mr. O'Connor copied, almost sentence by sentence, the report of his statement at Hull, which had been read at the Table, and therefore it was evident he had the charge before him, and knew what it was. Mr. O'Connor then mentioned a gentleman's name, which he had never mention- ed, for this reason, that he had never been asked for it, as that of "the man stated to have made the declaration to Ministers;" and added, "I heard the slander, and from a Member in the House; and, if I now recollected his name, I most solemnly declare I should not have the slightest hesitation in mentioning it." It was right to add, that Mr. O'Connor then went on to state his disbelief of the charge at the time he heard it. The purpose for which he mentioned the circumstance was not to show that the statement was true, but that it had been made. It was clear that the statement, true or false, had been made to Mr. O'Connor months before he repeated it at Hull. On the 28th of November, long after the publication of Mr. O'Connor's letter, the hon. and learned member for Dublin attended a dinner at a place called Clondalkin, in the neighbourhood of Dublin, on which occasion he thought proper to take notice of the letter published by the hon. member for the county of Cork (Mr. O'Connor), by stating that "an unwise friend of his had published one of the most foolish letters he had ever read, in which he named his hon. and learned friend as the person pointed at in the speech at Hull, but that it was little short of an act of insanity to connect his hon. and learned friend with such a transaction." He (Mr. Hill) was not saying that it was not unwise—he was delivering no opinion of that sort; he merely referred to the letter to show that, on the 28th of November, the hon. and learned member for Dublin knew that, some months before that period, the hon. member for the county of Cork was acquainted with the charge which he repeated at Hull. Would the House, then, believe, that on the 8th of December, the hon. member for Dublin, after having had time to consider the matter, wrote a second letter to his constituents at Hull, in which he used these words:—"My accusation of Hill before you is, that he invented this story,—that it is an entire fabrication of his own." Thus, then, he thought he had proved, that when the hon. member for Dublin reiterated the charge of fabrication, he knew, that a gentleman, whose veracity he could not controvert, had said in writing, that he had heard the statement in the House of Commons many months before. The charge of fabrication had, then, been answered by the hon. member for Cork, whose folly consisted in letting out a truth in favour of him (Mr. Hill). If, however, that vindication of himself had not appeared, he would have waited with great patience until the meeting of Parliament afforded him an opportunity of addressing the House, because he hoped to gain credit there—at least to this extent—that he was incapable of stating any thing which he did not believe to be true. He felt, that he should be believed by every person who knew him, which, to be sure, was a very small class. But he knew, further, that he should be believed by every man who knew the hon. member for Dublin, and that was a large class. The hon. member for Dublin complained, that he had not entered into a newspaper controversy with him. He was not in the habit of entering into such controversies with any one, and, certainly, the hon. Member was the last person with respect to whom he should be induced to break the rule which he had prescribed to himself upon this point. He had not the presumption to consider himself equal to the hon. Member in the display of skill, with which he favoured the public. The hon. Member's talent for invective and vituperation was unparalleled, and he did not choose to enter into a contest in which he knew beforehand, that he should be worsted. Besides, why should he do so? The fictions which the hon. member for Dublin, for a moment deceived himself into believing were too monstrous to require refutation. They generally answered themselves. A few days and they were gone. Such pure invention was not calculated for permanence some slight alloy of truth might have made it wear better. Who was bound to notice either his charges, prostrated as they were by his retractations, or his retractations nibbled away to make room again for his charges? The hon. Member now said, that when he made the retracttation, he was taken by surprise—that he really thought, when the noble Lord on the Treasury Bench made his statement, that it was in substance the same as his (Mr. Hill's), and that, therefore, acting on the impulse of the moment, he made an ample apology, and offered to repeat it out of the House. It seemed, that he was undeceived by the speech which had fallen from the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies; but as that speech was delivered on Thursday, why did not the hon. Member then withdraw his retractation? The conduct of the hon. Member was calculated to excite feelings difficult to repress in his mind. But he would not be betrayed into any warmth of expression. There was one reason why he should be cautious in this respect—the House, in the exercise of its discretion had bound his hands; and whenever that took place, either by his own actor the act of others, he thought it was but just that he should put his tongue and his pen under equal restraint. The hon. Member had done him no more than justice in saying that he desired inquiry. It was his wish that a complete investigation might take place. He had felt it due to the House and to himself, to state at the earliest possible moment what, as far as his recollection went, was the substance of what he said at Hull. He said, that the speech he delivered upon that occasion was unpremeditated, and spoken under adverse circumstances. It was delivered on the 22nd of October; and his attention was not drawn to its importance until the publication in the Examiner on the 10th of November. The hon. member for Dublin said, that the matter was then brought under his attention; so it was, and as soon as he was aware of the excitement it had created, and the pain it had caused to gentlemen on the other side of the channel, he adopted what appeared under the circumstances to be the best course he could pursue—namely, be publicly announced that be would state who was the individual alluded to, if that individual would apply to him. That being the case, he could not understand why the hon. member for Dublin should taunt and defy him. What had he done in the matter, that he should be made the subject of taunt and defiance? Now that he was placed in a situation where his motives could not be misconstrued, he did not hesitate to say, that he deeply regretted the statement, whether well or ill founded. He bad never until now had an opportunity of making that declaration—he had never been met in a spirit of candour and justice. The first notice which was taken of his statement was in terms of abuse, insult, and defiance. Under these circumstances, it was impossible that he could make the slightest concession. He regretted, that he had made the statement—he had reason to regret it from the pain and distress it had thrown into his own family. He regretted, also, the trouble it had caused to others to whom the charge did not apply. A considerable period had elapsed before his attention was first directed to his speech at Hull, and another interval had since intervened. Speaking only from recollection, he believed that he did not utter the passage contained in the Report relative to "secret machinery;" and his opinion on that point derived confirmation from the fact, that the passage had no connexion with what followed. He never meant to make any charge against Ministers, and therefore it was unlikely he should have made use of the language imputed to him. He was quite ready, if the House required him to do so, to repeat every particular of what he had stated on a former evening. The hon. member for Dublin called upon him to bring forward a charge. He had stated, to the best of his recollection, the substance of what he said at Hull; and he was not aware, that he could be expected to do more, unless he was called upon to become the public prosecutor, and to draw up an indictment; and then he would wish to know whether it was to be upon paper or parchment? He asked whether, in the judgment of the House, there had been any want of explicitness on his part? If the House thought, that he ought to retire, and draw out a statement in writing, to be laid upon the Table, he would comply with their wishes, but otherwise he would not do more than he had done on Wednesday—namely, state the substance of what he had said at Hull. He rose for the purpose of seconding the Motion for the appointment of a committee to inquire into all the circumstances of the case. It was his most anxious wish, that a Committee should be appointed. That it would report in one way he entertained a very strong opinion; that the Member, to whom he had alluded, and who had never yet himself called upon him (Mr. Hill) for his name, was entitled to inquiry if he chose to ask for it, there could be no doubt; and he was sure that no person in the House would be better pleased than himself, if the inquiry should terminate in the full acquittal of that hon. person, and in the conviction, that he (Mr. Hill) had been misinformed, in common with the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that the whole proceeded on a misconception.

Colonel Evans

said, that after what he had just heard, considered in conjunction with what passed a few days ago, it appeared to him that nothing more miserable and contemptible had ever come under the notice of the House. He was not connected with the party of the hon. member for Dublin, and, therefore might be considered an impartial observer; and he must say, that he had seen with some indignation the attempt which appeared to have been made to run down a man's character by secret insinuations, founded on reports of private conversation. Looking at all the circumstances of the case, as it was brought against the hon. and learned Member, he must own that he could not view it but with great indignation. It generally happened that, whenever the Ministerial side of the House was in any difficulty, it seemed to rely on the right hon. the Secretary for the Colonies, to get them out of it, and, accordingly, they found that the great abilities of the right hon. Gentleman were called into action on Thursday night. He alluded to the right hon. Gentleman, because, as it appeared to him, there was something unfair in the course pursued on that occasion. He recollected that the great northern review, in speaking of the Parliamentary labours of the right hon. Gentleman, described him as possessing an intuitive knowledge of parliamentary tactics, and the passage was brought to his recollection by the course which the right hon. Gentleman had pursued the other evening. The right hon. Gentleman had hinted, in terms which could not be misunderstood, at the possible consequences which might ensue if the solemn asseveration made by the hon. and learned member for Tipper-any should not be fully sustained on his part; and he threw out a solemn warning of the course which the House might, in that case, be called upon to adopt, as if the plain inference to be drawn was, that expulsion from the House might be the result; but the right hon. Gentleman had not glanced at what might be the consequence to others, if their statements could not be sustained by proof. Now, it appeared to him, that if expulsion could be contemplated as the result of this absurd affair, on one hand, it might with equal justice be anticipated on the other, with respect to the hon. and learned member for Hull, should he not be able to prove his statement. Besides, were no consequences to follow for others? And he should like to know what were to be the consequences to the noble Lord (Lord Al-thorp), who had, as it appeared to him, so indiscreetly volunteered a remark which he was not called upon to make. Should the noble Lord not be able to give proof of that which had been communicated to him, and which the noble Lord believed, was he to be free from all blame and responsibility? He (Colonel Evans) did not anticipate that any of these results would occur, but as a contingency had been mentioned in the one case, he did not see why it should not be mentioned in the others. He had risen chiefly to mention one fact. He was last year a member of a Committee which had under, consideration a charge of public espionage. Facts were stated before that Committee of which many Members had at first expressed their disbelief, and he owned that he did not think them worthy of credit; but it was proved, that fifty successive written reports had been made by spies, sent as such by officers (of the police), and this was in only one district, where the whole of the police force did not exceed 200—a very small number in comparison with the whole police force of the metropolis. The Committee had, however, come to the conclusion that the whole was an innocent transaction, and that the heads of the department were ignorant of the matter, but that care should be taken that nothing similar occurred again. He, however, was of a different opinion, for he did not think that if business were properly attended to, fifty successive reports could have been made by spies without their coming to the knowledge of the heads of the department. There was something similar in the present case; and he did hope, that under the circumstances, his Majesty's Ministers would come forward and say, that it had arisen in mistake, and that no further notice should be taken of it. On one point he differed from the hon. and learned member for Dublin. He did not think, as that hon. Member and the hon. and learned member for Hull seemed to think, that it was a sort of contest of dialectics between them. In his opinion it was wholly unnecessary for the hon. and learned member for Tipperary to have taken any step in it. He should have left the matter between the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) and the hon. and learned member for Hull. It was a very pretty quarrel between them as it stood, for, according to the account given by the noble Lord, the statement made by the hon. and learned member for Hull was not true. They should be allowed to settle the matter between them.

Mr. Henry Grattan

assured the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) (who had risen at the same time, and the House, that he had not risen from a motive of vanity, nor did he then presume to address the House from any expectation that he could do that justice to the subject which it was sure to have met at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, in as far as ability was concerned. He could not consent, however, that such a question should be dismissed without further remark. It was not a private or an insignificant question, as some hon. Members would appear to consider it; but it was one of much public importance. It was a charge by one public officer against another—by one representative of the people against another—involving a gross dereliction of principle in the discharge of a public duty. The English and Irish public were interested in a full inquiry. To' Ireland the matter was most important, for it might either make it appear, on the one hand, that votes had been obtained against the liberties of that country by the tergiversation of one of its Representatives, or, on the other hand, that such votes had been obtained by a foul calumny. The hon. and learned member for Hull had said, that he could explain; but he had done no such thing. The hon. and learned Member had made an answer to the Speech of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, but he had not explained one word of his own speech, which speech, and not the speech of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, was the one requiring comment and explanation. Nor had the hon. and learned member for Hull adverted to the contradiction given to his statement by the noble Lord (Lord Althorp). But if the hon. and learned Member did not explain or support his speech, he now, and for the first time, denied it. That was certainly strange, for there were three reports of the hon. and learned Member's speech, and it was hardly to be supposed that they were all wrong. The hon. and learned Member had said, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin was warm, and that he would oppose his coolness to that warmth. Be it so. The House would judge which was the most commendable or natural feeling upon the occasion. The coolness of the hon. Member, he would only observe, was that sort of coolness alluded to in the words—"Tu pulsas, ego vapulo tantum." But the real question was, whether or not a system of espionage existed; if so, whether it were to be tolerated; and whether or not the hon. and learned member for Tipperary was guilty of the crime imputed to him. If his hon. and learned friend was indeed guilty, then he fully agreed with the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Evans), that they might look to expulsion; for a greater offence, as a public man, it was hardly possible for him to have committed. If his hon. and learned friend was indeed guilty, he must be the most finished hypocrite in existence; for he had had repeated conversations with his hon. and learned friend respecting the whole of the Irish Coercion Bill and all its parts, and he had never heard him express but one sentiment upon the subject, which was that of utter objection. He, therefore, could not at all conceive how his hon. and learned friend could have been guilty of the conduct imputed to him; or how any Government runner (spy he would not call him) should have produced the tale. But he held that the Government was bound to do his hon. and learned friend justice. It was important and essential to his hon. and learned friend that the whole matter should be explained thoroughly; and he trusted that no regulations of the House, however properly conceived, would be allowed to prevent such a proceeding. The hon. and learned member for Hull was bound to make good his charge—bound to prove that the hon. and learned member for Tipperary had gone to a Minister—not a Cabinet Minister—and deliberately, not accidentally, or in an unguarded moment, represented to that Minister the necessity of urging the Coercion Bill into a law, although his hon. and learned friend had himself spoken violently and voted against that Bill. Such was the case, and none other, that the hon. and learned member for Hull was bound to prove; and if he did prove it, then, indeed, ought the hon. and learned member for Tipperary to suffer expulsion. For his hon. and learned friend there would be no manner of excuse; but if the hon. and learned member for Hull made good his case, for him there would be some, as it might be readily conceived that his mind had been influenced to oppose the Bill through the conduct of the hon. and learned member for Tipperary. But if he were to go further, and speak of the matter in reference to a far more important subject than the character of an individual Member of that House, he should say it required investigation as likely to prove a part of a system adopted to ruin Irish Members in the eyes of the Irish people. The constituents of his hon. and learned friend, were too well convinced of the value of his great services, and of his honest and independent principles, to be led away by such an absurd charge as this; but, absurd as it was, it involved consequences too important to be allowed to rest where it was. The House would remember that the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) had not only answered the questions put to him, but he had also volunteered a declaration of his belief in the statement which he made, and also volunteered to take all the responsibility on himself. And, further, the noble Lord had implicated more than one Irish Member. Now, he (Mr. Grattan) had never thought proper to notice, out of the House, the charge made by the hon. and learned member for Hull, until his name had been used, and then he had certainly written a letter, in which he said he considered the language of the hon. and learned Member as a breach of privilege, and as such he should notice it. In that opinion he persevered; and he was sorry that any of the present proceedings had been taken. He said that, because the imputation was not merely thrown upon his hon. and learned friend, but was injurious to the Irish Members who voted against the Coercion Bill generally. Hon. Members would bear in mind, that the Irish Members had no titles or high connexions, or anything but their characters, to sustain them. They were sent to that House by the people as their Representatives because they believed them to be honest, sincere, and labouring for the public good; and he would say, that a more honest or independent body of Members never sat in that House than the Members for Ireland. When such imputations, therefore, as those sent forth by the hon. and learned member for Hull were levelled against them, they ought not to be silent: they ought to have them investigated to the bottom; and he for one would never rest till they were. Whatever might be the result, that was his determination. But it was also his duty to say, that in his conscience and his judgment, he was positive that the charge would prove a most false, foul, and contemptible aspersion.

Sir Francis Burdett

expressed his deep regret that this case had been already suffered to occupy the House to such an extent; and he could not see any other effect which it could produce on the public mind but that of involving its own degradation. He did not see how it was to go further with it, or in what way the question of privilege could arise, or how this Committee which was moved for was to act, or in what way its authority was to be exercised, or how it was to proceed. As far as the hon. and learned member for Tipperary was concerned, he did not see that there was anything in the case to touch him, for he should be ashamed of himself if he did not solemnly declare his entire belief in that hon. and learned Gentleman's asseveration of his innocence. He would repeat, that he did not know in what way the Committee were to proceed in the matter. The charge had now dwindled away, it had shrunk like a phantom, and eluded the grasp. For his own part, he did not see how the Committee were to collect the information that might be desired. Suppose, for instance, he were called upon to repeat what had transpired in private conversation; he would say that he had a peculiar defect in his memory, I so that he could not recollect what any man said to him in his private conversation; and if private conversation was not to be detailed, on what was it that they were to proceed? Might it not happen to any public man to give a strong opinion in private, on a particular measure, and afterwards, on more mature consideration, to vote differently from what he had said? For his own part, he could say, that it had often happened to him, to give his vote in that House differently from the impressions made on him at first by it, and which impressions he had expressed in private, as they first arose in his mind; but he did not think that in so doing, he had been guilty of any dereliction of honourable principle, or of any political inconsistency. In the present case the Report was a calumny, or it was a story repeated from private conversation; but he did not think that matters taken from private conversation ought to be made the ground of a public charge amongst gentlemen. What took place in the discus- sions on the Reform question, particularly in former Parliaments, when the majorities against that measure were very great, and when the Anti-reformers were making great exertions, and a firm stand against the progress of the question? Why, it was a common thing to taunt hon. Members who supported the measure, and say, "That is not your own private opinion; you speak from intimidation, and are afraid to avow what you think;" but he had never understood, that by any such language, a charge was meant to be conveyed, that the party so alluded to was guilty of any dereliction of public principle. He himself had often voted for measures, which, but for their being connected with some other important object, he would never have sanctioned; measures for which, if taken in the abstract, no consideration could induce him to vote; and he did not conceive that in so doing, he violated any honest or independent principle. It was, he admitted, a most painful thing for any man to have an imputation cast upon him, however unfounded it might turn out to be. It was well known how a charge of any kind, when once made, was inflated; and that a suspicion was considered to attach, when a man was called on to answer any charge, no matter how unfounded; but in, the present case, he thought that the charge made was already fully answered. There was, in fact, no accuser, and there was nothing which, in his opinion, a Committee of Inquiry could go upon. For himself, he would repeat, that he was perfectly satisfied with the asseveration of the hon. and learned member for Tipperary. He hoped that the House was equally satisfied, and that it would see the paramount necessity of going on with the public business. With these feelings he would move as an amendment, that the House do proceed to the order of the day."

Mr. Sinclair

seconded the Amendment. He observed, that he had understood the hon. and learned member for Hull, to deny that he had said in his speech, that an Irish Member, who had voted and spoken warmly against the Coercion Bill, had gone to a Minister to urge that measure forward.

Mr. Hill

had said, on a former evening, and would now repeat, that an Irish Member had made a communication to Government, to the effect, that the Coercion Bill, against which he had often spoken and voted, was necessary for the safety of Ireland. He had never departed from that statement.

Mr. Sinclair

Then why say, that the Reports of the hon. and learned Member's speech, as given in the newspapers, was incorrect?

Mr. Hill

I did not say so, except as far as this—that, speaking from memory, I had no recollection of having used the words, that votes were obtained by such machinery."

On the Amendment being put from the Chair

Sir Henry Willoughby

said, the charges made by the hon. and learned member for Hull, and by the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) were so much at variance with each other, that in his opinion, any defence from the hon. and learned member for Tipperary was unnecessary. He thought, that the appointment of a Committee would be a dangerous precedent; and he entirely concurred in all that had fallen from the hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster. If once that House took upon itself to inquire into the transactions of private life, the most mischievous consequences might ensue. If, therefore, the Amendment was pressed to a division it should have his vote, although he found the opinion of the majority was opposed to it.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

said, that no question which had come before the House within his memory presented so much difficulty as to the course which it would be safest and best for them to pursue, because if, on the one hand, they should decide against any inquiry, many hon. Members might complain that injustice was done to them, and because it would be difficult to make the public understand the grounds of objection to the Motion for the Committee; while, on the other hand, they could not shut their eyes to the dangers and difficulties which such an inquiry would involve, and with which it must be attended, and to the still greater difficulty of bringing it to a practical conclusion. The hon. and learned member for Dublin seemed to think that he (Mr. Stanley) had raised a difficulty as to the possible results of the inquiry, and, indeed, had imputed motives to him in the course which he took. He had no motive nor any object, beyond that of a desire to recommend that course which might be found most convenient to the House and satisfactory to the public. Now what was the case before it? The hon. and learned member for Hull had in the last autumn made a speech to his constituents at Hull, in which he said that some Irish Member, whom he did not name, had gone to, or made, a communication to, Ministers, to the effect that he was favourable to the Irish Coercion Bill, but that he felt bound to speak and vote against it, and that he had so done. This was in substance the statement made. He did not know whether it was made after dinner or not, but it was not made as a charge against any individual, for no one was named. A statement different in some important features had been made by his noble friend (Lord Althorp), in answer to questions from the hon. and learned member for Dublin. Now, he agreed in the analogy drawn between this part of the case and the questions that sometimes arose on the Reform Bill. It was undoubtedly a fact that Members who differed from some parts of that measure, and expressed that difference in private, had, nevertheless, given their votes in favour of the Bill as a whole, because, as a whole, they thought it would be a general benefit to the country that it should pass; but would it not have been exceedingly absurd to come down to the House, and accuse such individuals of speaking in private against parts of a bill which, as a whole, they supported? There could not be a broader distinction than that which existed between the declaration made by the hon. and learned Gentleman and the statement which proceeded from his noble friend, who being interrogated made a statement respecting certain Members of that House, whereupon the hon. and learned Gentleman rose in his place and called upon his noble friend to state if he were one of the number. His noble friend replied, that the hon. and learned Member was one, upon which that Gentleman entered a distinct denial, and there the matter stood—there was now here to be found an accuser. The House was bound to believe the denial of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and at that moment there was nothing which even approximated to a charge against him; and it only remained for him to abandon his demand for an inquiry, and there the matter might end, without any imputation resting upon him. Turning his attention to what was passing at the other side of the House, he might, he trusted, be permitted, without offence, to draw an inference from the gestures and looks of hon. Gentlemen, who very frequently took upon themselves the task of interpreting the peculiar expression of his countenance, and he would tell the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, that those who urged him to persevere in the demand for an inquiry, were giving him advice the adoption of which was by no means necessary to his vindication. Beyond all question the advice proceeded from one whose sincere and friendly feelings the hon. and learned Gentleman could not have the slightest reason to doubt. Be the charge heavy, or be it light, the whole extent of it had been stated, and nothing beyond that had even been insinuated against the hon. and learned Member—greater or smaller, heavier or lighter, no one had gone beyond the charge which he had just stated, and it was now for the hon. and learned Gentleman to say whether or not he would demand an inquiry. Be it remembered, too, that the hon. and learned member for Hull had not pointed at any individual whatever, and it became thereupon a very serious question for the House to determine whether, under such circumstances, they would sanction such a precedent as the proposed inquiry went to establish. For his own part, he saw in such a proceeding a most fertile source of inconvenience and embarrassment. Why should that House be made the instrument for obtaining evidence respecting a speech published in the newspapers, but not delivered within the walls of Parliament, the more especially when that inquiry could scarcely be prosecuted without a breach of private confidence? But let the inquiry come, and he could have no feeling of uncertainty as to the result. His hon. and learned friend (the member for Hull) was not the man to shrink from the avowal of any word or deed for which he ought to stand responsible—he was not the man to let his publisher suffer. No, the sentiments of gentlemanly feeling and high honour, for which all men gave him credit, forbade the possibility of a surmise so eminently discreditable. Now, what would ensue if that inquiry were agreed to? The hon. member for Hull would be brought before that House. Would it be wise to call upon that hon. and learned Gentleman to single out the individual with regard to whom he had made the state men in question? To any proceeding of that kind he must declare himself decidedly opposed. The hon. and learned member for Tipperary had given the most positive denial to the statement, and, looking at the circumstances out of which the discussion arose, he could not but consider that the inquiry must be attended with the most inconvenient and even distressing consequences; but if the hon. and learned Gentleman persevered in demanding a full inquiry, he was not the person who would vote against that investigation, but he should enter upon it with a full sense of the inconvenience and the danger of the precedent which would be established. He should proceed to the investigation with a full persuasion of the injury it would inflict upon private confidence and social intercourse. [Cheers.] He thanked hon. Gentlemen opposite for those cheers, and he begged them and the rest of the House to go along with him, not only in expressing a full sense of that danger, but in a deliberate declaration of its nature and extent, and of the mischievous precedent which it would create. He sincerely lamented that his noble friend had answered the first, question put to him; but he would not say that, having gone so far, the House should now stop short and proceed no further. To him he confessed it did appear most extraordinary that any hon. Member in that House could bring himself to say that the hon. and learned member for Tipperary had been made the object of a system of espionage: there was not the shadow of a shade of accusation against that hon. and learned Gentleman. His noble friend did not stand in the capacity of an accuser; he stated what he knew, and when closely questioned, he stated that the conversation had related to the hon. Gentleman. Up to the present moment there had been no breach of confidence; there never had appeared on the part of his noble friend the remotest intention of becoming an accuser. Was there anything in that which necessarily implied that the information had resulted from espionage? The surprise and the repetition of the real or supposed occurrence were both perfectly natural; but once more he begged to express the deep sense of the danger, the inconvenience, and the embarrassment to which such a proceeding must lead; but if the hon. and learned Gentleman persisted in the demand—if compelled by such a demand, he should, however reluctantly, yield that which he felt he could not deny without grievous injustice—he acknowledged that, whichever course the House took, it would be one fraught with difficulty and danger, but if the hon. Member who was chiefly interested, did not afford them the opportunity of stopping short where they were, he (Mr. Stanley) could not refuse to adopt the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite.

Sir Robert Peel

said, he would not follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman who had just concluded, and enter upon the observations he had to offer, by promising to speak to the question under discussion with coolness, lest, like the right hon. Gentleman, he might, of course through inadvertence, expose himself to the charge, not of speaking without the walls of the House differently from what he did within them, but, and in his opinion to a graver charge, of speaking towards the conclusion of his address in a spirit, if not diametrically, very nearly the opposite of that to which, on setting out, he had pledged himself. No one, he begged to observe, could feel more deeply than he did the extreme difficulty of the situation in which the House found itself placed on the present occasion. He felt deeply that difficulty for many reasons, but for none more than that arising from a fear—a well-grounded fear he had reason to think it was—that they would gain no credit from the public for the time which had been occupied in the present discussion. He feared that the public, neither having watched, or, if they had, not being capable of comprehending the progressive steps by which the House became involved in their present difficulty, they would be disposed to think their representatives were trifling their time away in such discussions, while questions of the deepest importance were awaiting their consideration. For some time past the public mind had been impatiently directed to the meeting of Parliament, for the purpose of ascertaining what measures of relief, what plans of further reform, would be proposed by the Government, with a view to the removal of those burthens of which the country complained; and when it appeared that the House of Commons, as well as the Government, instead of applying themselves to the important business for the transaction of which Parliament had been assembled, were occupied solely in the settlement of matters of a merely personal nature, in no wise interesting either to them or the country; and when, moreover, they discovered that those matters of a merely personal nature procured a much larger attendance, and excited far more interest, than the discussion of matters of the highest public importance, it was but too reasonable to apprehend that great discontent and dissatisfaction would be manifested. If the question at issue upon the present occasion were merely whether an inquiry should be instituted to ascertain if a Member of the House of Commons had expressed himself out of the House at variance with his conduct in the House, he would never give his consent to such a proceeding; being firmly convinced many occasions might arise when a Member of Parliament might so act, without being influenced by motives in the slightest degree discreditable either to his character as a Legislator or a Gentleman. He could himself cite many cases in which it would be perfectly consistent with honour, if not with a wise determination, for an individual placed in the situation of a Legislator not merely to conceal his own private feeling, but, without laying himself open to the charge of hypocrisy, to give his support to measures diametrically at variance with such feelings. What was the basis of all party connexions? Could a party subsist even for a day if it was necessary, for the purpose of laying claim to the character of an honourable man, each component part of it should express in public the precise sentiments he entertained in private? Supposing a person at a dinner table to express his private opinion of a measure originating with a party with whom he was united in public life, was he, in the event of his giving up that private opinion, out of deference to his party, to be exposed to a charge almost amounting to dishonesty? The idea was absurd.—What was the every-day conduct of Government itself? Was there any one in that House so ignorant as to suppose that on many questions Cabinet Ministers, yielding to the decision of their colleagues, did not speak and act in their places in Parliament in strict conformity with the opinions they had expressed in the Cabinet? If Ministers were to be taunted on every occasion that they held opinions in the Cabinet different from what they did in that House, and if Parliament were to be made the scene of those taunts, he believed he should not be going too far in saying the House would have time for little else. It was the uniform practice with all governments, and he should be sorry to think the practice carried any stain with it, for a Member of the Administration who chanced to entertain opinions differing from those of the majority of his colleagues, rather than separate himself from them, to submit to be overruled, and even though they did not fully concur in their policy, to give their support to the measures which, as an Administration, they promulgated. He would give the House an instance of this fact. It was very generally reported, on a late occasion, that upon the question of sending troops to Portugal, a strong difference of opinion took place in the Cabinet.—Now would it, he asked, be either just or fair to call on those who, in the discussion of the Cabinet, had spoken in favour of sending out troops to aid the cause of Donna Maria, to come down, and in Parliament advocate that measure in opposition to the decision of their colleagues. No one would think of doing so. Again, he would suppose the case of a Member representing a large constituency, who entertained, upon an important question, an opinion at variance with that of the body whom he represented. Would it not be monstrous to charge that man with acting the part of a hypocrite, if, after explaining to his constituents what were his private opinions, he were to say to them, "Such and such are my opinions; but, as they do not happen to coincide with your's, I shall feel it my duty to yield them up, and act in conformity with the views you entertain upon the subject?"—He would not go the length of saying, that such ought to be the conduct of a Representative who found his private opinions at variance with the wishes of his constituents, but he contended, that the charge of dishonest or dishonourable conduct would not lie against a man for so acting. If, therefore, the mere question at issue was, whether a Member was liable to have his conduct arraigned for speaking out of the House differently from his conduct in the House, he would not, for the reasons he had stated, give his consent to the inquiry which it was now proposed should take place. Upon abstract grounds, moreover, would he vote against such an inquiry, namely, the es- tablishing of the fatal, the dangerous, precedent of making the House of Commons the medium of inquiry into private communications, into confidential conversations. Regarding the proposition in that point of view, it did, he confessed, strike him with the greatest alarm. While upon this part of the subject, he wished to observe that he most deeply lamented (giving the noble Lord, at the same time, every credit for the spirit and manliness he had throughout manifested) the course which the noble Lord had taken. That that course was dictated by spirit and manliness, no one could deny; but while the admission was made, it was deeply, deeply to be lamented, that, except spirit and manliness, nothing was to be found in it. In reply to the question of the hon. and learned member for the city of Dublin, it was open to the noble Lord to have answered, that no such communication as that alleged to have been made to him had been made; and had the noble Lord so answered, as it was perfectly competent for him to have done, the House would not have been placed in that situation of difficulty it now found itself in, and the public time would not be sacrificed as it already had been, and as there was reasonable ground to fear it yet would be, in the adjustment of the matter. The question then for consideration, however, was, seeing all the difficulty of the case, how that difficulty was to be got rid of. For his part, impressed as he was with the inconvenience of the course proposed—fearful though he was, that in granting the desired inquiry the House would be establishing a precedent which hereafter it might be as difficult as it would be desirable to get rid of—he would submit to that inconvenience, and incur the utmost evils of the precedent, rather than be a party to an act of positive, of flagrant, injustice to the hon. and learned member for Tipperary. Dangerous as was the precedent which the proposed inquiry might hereafter establish, that precedent, by which a positive undeniable act of injustice would be done to the hon. and learned Gentleman, if he were refused those means of self-exculpation he so earnestly demanded, was equally, if not more dangerous; and the more certainly it was avoided, the more creditable it would be, as well to the dignity, as to the manliness of their Assembly. If, therefore, the hon. and learned member for Tipperary should persevere in his de- mand for an inquiry,—if, not content with the belief which his solemn declaration had produced—a declaration to which he gave every credit, and upon hearing which he did, as he was bound to do, believe the hon. and learned member entirely innocent of the charge brought against him, the hon. and learned Gentleman claimed to have not only the statement of the noble Lord, but that originally made by the hon. and learned member for Hull, fully investigated,—if, unwilling to let the matter drop at its present stage (which, he contended, he was at perfect liberty to do, without in the smallest degree laying himself open to the charge of shrinking from the inquiry he had so earnestly demanded) the hon. and learned Gentleman stood up in his place and said, "I consider I still labour under an unjust imputation; give me the means of clearing myself,"—should no other Member go out with him, in the event of a division, he (Sir Robert Peel) most certainly would. The hon. and learned Member had been placed in an extremely embarrassing situation by the interference of the House; and it would, he thought, be an act of gross injustice not to carry that interference further, and, as far as lay in their power, give him then the means of extricating himself from the difficulty with which he was now surrounded. The charge originally made was made against Irish Members generally. It was a most serious one,—involving, in point of fact, an act so discreditable in every sense of the word, that, unless satisfactorily explained, it would be sufficient to condemn the party implicated, not only in the eyes of every man possessed of the feelings of a gentleman, but in the eyes of the constituency whom he represented. That charge had been denied, solemnly denied, by the hon. and learned Gentleman; and, as in itself it bore no internal evidence of truth as applicable to that hon. and learned Gentleman, the matter would there have terminated, had it not occurred that,—in a reply to a question put to him touching the truth of an allegation, part of such original charge,—the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, very unfortunately for himself and for the House, propounded a charge of a somewhat similar tendency against the hon. and learned Gentleman individually, which, he alleged, had been reported by a third party to him. This gave a force to the original charge which, abstractedly, it had not; and the hon. and learned Gentleman against whom it was aimed having, with a view of exculpating himself, claimed an investigation, the House had no alternative but to grant it. They had already once interfered for the purpose of preventing the hon. and learned Gentleman from procuring that redress there was too much reason to suppose he meant seeking elsewhere, and having done so they could not, consistently with justice, shrink from the only means left by which that redress could be obtained. For these reasons, it was his intention, in the event of a division, to give his vote in opposition to the amendment of the hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster.

Mr. O'Connell

was glad that they had at length arrived at what might be considered the conclusion of this protracted discussion. The hon. member for Hull had seconded his Motion, but he did not believe him very sincere in his advocacy of it. Those hon. Members who had attended to the debate must have perceived that the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) had thrown the hon. and learned member for Hull (Mr. Hill) overboard, and had made a distinct and separate charge. The right hon. Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Stanley) had, in the course of his address, made some observations upon the conduct of the hon. and learned member for Hull, in the course of which the allusion to him (Mr. O'Connell) could not be mistaken. He had not provoked that allusion, but it appeared that the right hon. Gentleman could not help it. The hon. and learned member for Hull was on his way to the Bench, he was certainly looking up to it, he was in a fair way for it, and, perhaps, very properly so. The right hon. Secretary of State had told them that in the event of any proceeding with reference to this matter, the hon. Member could not, as a man of honour, have left his publisher to take the responsibility of what he had said or written. But if the hon. and learned Gentleman were to attain the object of his ambition (he would be my Lord then,) and if his Lordship should find that a Jury impanneled before him were notoriously packed—if he found that every honest and liberal-minded man was excluded from that Jury for party and political purposes, then, perhaps, he would not be so ready to stand in the shoes of his publisher. This, however, was not a subject upon which he intended to say a word; he would not have touched upon it had it not been introduced by the right hon. the Secretary for the Colonies. Now, then, they were to have their inquiry, and the hon. and learned member for Hull was to bring his witness before the Committee. He was glad that there was to be an inquiry, because he felt convinced, at least he had some hope, that they should be able to arrive at the truth.

Sir Robert Inglis

regretted being obliged on the present occasion to differ in toto from the opinion expressed by the right hon. Baronet (the member for Tamworth). He could not think that the cases his right hon. friend had put to the House in support of the view he took in any degree met the case under discussion. His opposition to the proposed investigation arose from the conviction that the jurisdiction of the House was utterly incompetent to meet it. How, he asked, would it be possible to compel any hon. Member to state in a Committee of that House what he refused to state in the House itself? They had all heard the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) say, he would not state the name of his informant to the House. Would he do so to the Committee? He thought the same reason which prevented the disclosure in the House, would prevent it in the Committee, and the result in consequence would be the establishing of a dangerous precedent, without arriving at any practical conclusion.

The House divided upon the Amendment of Sir Francis Burdett, "That the other Orders of the Day be now read."—Ayes 54; Noes 192: Majority 138.

The original Motion was agreed to, and the Committee appointed.

List of the AYES.
Benett, J. Leete, B. L.
Bethell, R. Lloyd H. J.
Blackburne,— Lushinton, Dr.
Blackstone, W. Marshall, J.
Buxton, F. T. Marsland, T.
Cavendish, Lord Mildmay, P. S. J.
Crawford, W. Morrison, J.
Curteis, E. B. Moseley, Sir O.
Curteis, H. North, F.
Divett, E. Ord, W. H.
Dundas, Capt. Peters, W.
Evans, Col. Philpotts, J.
Evans. Pryme, G.
Foley, H. J. Richards, J.
Fort, J. Rider, T.
Goring, H. Rolfe, R. M.
Guest, J. J. Romilly, E.
Hawkins, J. Rotch, B.
Inglis, Sir R. Russell, W. C.
Irton, S. Ryle, J.
Sanford, E. A. Tullamore, Lord
Scrope, P. Watson, Hon. R.
Shawe, R. N. Walter, J.
Sinclair, G. Wilbraham, E.
Stanley, E. J. Willoughby, Sir H.
Strickland, G. TELLERS.
Strutt, E. Buller, C.
Tollemache, A. G. Burdett, Sir F.
Tooke, W.
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