§ Lord Althorp
—I take the opportunity of moving a new writ, for the purpose of stating to the House, that Lord Melbourne having been commissioned by his Majesty to lay before him the plan of an Administration, has completed his arrangements, and has reconstructed the Cabinet. The addition made to the Ministry is, that Lord Duncannon having accepted the office of Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sir John Cam Hobhouse has been appointed to the Woods and Forests, instead of Lord Duncannon, with a seat in the Cabinet. Therefore, as far as relates to any addition, the alteration in the Cabinet will not be very great; but, undoubtedly, the alteration in the Cabinet is great—very great indeed, in the loss of the services of Lord Grey; and it is impossible for me to disguise from myself, it would be hypocrisy in me were I to state to the House, that I thought the Cabinet, deprived of Lord Grey, as presiding over its Councils, could have as strong a claim upon the confidence of the country as before his retirement. On public grounds, it is impossible for me to express my regret more strongly than I feel it; and on personal grounds, it impresses me still more deeply. During the whole of my political life, I have looked up to Lord Grey as my tutor and leader. Such he has continued to me from the earliest moment that I had a seat in Parliament; and I certainly never would have accepted office, unless to assist Lord Grey in the establishment of a Government. At that time we had the prospect before us of being able to accomplish the great object of Parliamentary Reform. In addition, I may say, that even with this prospect I never would have consented to accept 59 office, had not Lord Grey been placed at the head of the Ministry. Since that period, the intimacy of my political connexion has greatly increased my personal attachment. In every respect, in which an amiable disposition can produce, in those connected with it, regard and affection, there is no man who possesses that quality more highly than Lord Grey. So much I may say of his temper and character; but my admiration of the abilities of Lord Grey is higher than for the abilities of any other man. My esteem for his upright and straightforward policy is equally great; and, with these feelings, I consider the loss of Lord Grey from the Cabinet as nearly irreparable as possible. His Majesty has now been pleased to place Lord Melbourne at the head of the Government, and I am perfectly ready to state it as my sincere conviction, that his Majesty would not have made so wise a choice, had he gone to any other quarter. Lord Melbourne possesses great abilities, natural and acquired, great judgment and great decision. These, the House will be aware, are qualities very necessary in the first Minister of this country; and, as far as my own opinions are concerned, I may mention that I have had the satisfaction of concurring with Lord Melbourne in most of the subjects brought under the discussion of the Cabinet. Under these circumstances, his Majesty has been graciously pleased to require the continuance of my services. It is at no time agreeable for a man to speak of himself—it is neither pleasant to him nor to his hearers; but I am, in a manner, bound on this occasion, to say a few words respecting my own conduct. I have always had, as I believe is pretty generally known, a great disinclination to be in office. I will not say, that the experience I have had of it has at all diminished that disinclination; but, besides this constant private feeling, I felt that there were circumstances in the present state of affairs which increased my desire to relinquish office. This desire I stated to Lord Grey, aware at the time that my resignation would be likely to cause also the retirement of his Lordship. Hence my disinclination to quit my post, but I should certainly have left it, had I thought that Lord Grey would have continued to retain his situation. It was Lord Grey's strong and earnest advice to me to remain where I was; but these are all private matters, 60 with which, in fact, the House has little or nothing to do. I am obliged to say, that if I looked to public duty, I saw every reason for continuing my services, such as they were: I could not, in fact, find one ground of a public nature justifying my relinquishment; and such being the case, I felt it my imperative duty to act as I have done. I do not know, that on the formation of the Ministry, it is necessary for me to say more. I only wish to add in a very few words—and a very few words will suffice—something of the principles on which we mean to act. The principle on which I conceive the Administration of Great Britain is bound to proceed is, that while it preserves the institutions of the country, it will carry forward such reasonable and effectual reforms as the people have a right to expect would be the consequence of the Reform in Parliament. While it feels it its bounden duty not to propose anything which can produce danger to the institutions of the country, it should take care that the remedies are neither more than adequate nor less than adequate to the evil intended to be remedied. All should be arranged and settled according to the existing circumstances of the country. This, I will say, was the principle on which the Government of Lord Grey proceeded: it has met with obstructions and difficulties; but such was its principle, and such ought to be the principle of every Administration. Upon that principle we are now prepared to act: we, too, may meet with obstruction and difficulties, but if we do, we will endeavour to overcome them. I beg to move, that the Speaker issue his warrant for a new writ for the election of a burgess for the borough of Nottingham, in the room of Viscount Duncannon, who has accepted the office of one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State.
said, that he wished to make one or two observations. He hoped that the Government now formed would, by proceeding more consonantly with the feelings of the people, acquire strength from possessing their confidence; but the noble Lord had said, that the principle would be the same as that of Lord Grey's Administration: if so, it would not fulfil the just expectations of the people by carrying forward the improvements consequent upon the Reform of Parliament. He had chiefly risen to advert to a cir- 61 cumstance that had occurred within a very few days: he alluded to an address presented to the noble Lord (Lord Althorp), which he, among others, had been invited to sign. He had refused, and it was due to his constituents and to himself to state shortly why he had declined it. Few hon. Members were circumstanced like himself, and he thought it incumbent upon him to state his reasons. He was quite aware, that the great majority of those who heard him had subscribed the address; and notwithstanding the ejaculations by which he was met, as he had good reasons for refusing, be hoped he might be allowed to mention them. Every individual, however humble, had a character to defend; and he knew, that some few of his friends had adopted the same course as himself. He had not refused to add his name from any factious feeling, but merely because he thought the practice of addressing members of the Government was growing into a system, and to that system he objected. When the Government was in a state of disorganization, the hon. member for Middlesex had moved, as was both usual and proper, the temporary adjournment of the House. If, then, Parliament suspended its functions in order that the Sovereign might exercise his free choice, surely it was not too much to expect that Members would suspend also their individual operations. If this custom were allowed to proceed, what would be the consequence? It would, in some degree, prevent the Sovereign from exercising a free choice, since he could not but receive some bias from what he knew was going on out of doors. Did it not also, in some degree, transfer the functions of Parliament to clubs and cabals? He had no doubt, that the parties who got up the address to the noble Lord had no such intention; but if it became a regular practice, such must be the result. Clubs and cabals would settle the Ministry, while the Sovereign was coerced. He ventured also to say, that he was at a loss to understand how many of his friends who had frequently opposed the measures of Government, could bring themselves to sign such an address, for there was not one expression in it which indicated the slightest disapprobation or the past conduct of Ministers: hence it amounted to a virtual approbation of the whole conduct of Government. He hoped something from the tone of the speech of the 62 noble Lord, and agreed, that the Government and the country had sustained a severe loss in the resignation of Lord Grey. The present Cabinet would, however, be better able to carry forward the principles of Reform, as the last Government had been better able to comply with the wishes of the people than the Administration which preceded it.
concurred in what had been said by his hon. and gallant friend on the subject of addresses, and on the manner in which they controlled in a degree the prerogative of the King. The noble Lord had declared, that the principle of the present Government would be to carry forward reasonable reforms, while it maintained the just rights of the Crown and supported the ancient institutions of the country; and he (Mr. Tennyson) deemed it his duty to give confidence, in the first instance, to any Ministry his Majesty might think fit to appoint. On this occasion, he was satisfied, that the noble Lord would not have consented to appear in the place he occupied, had he not felt assured that he was associated with men who would act upon the principles he had avowed. He trusted, therefore, that such hon. Members as had signed the address, would be prepared to support the noble Lord and his colleagues, until they saw a clear departure from the plan upon which they said they were resolved to proceed. Nothing could be more satisfactory to the nation than the general co-operation of all liberal men to accomplish the general good; and whenever a great principle was admitted, he hoped that people would not be too critical in scanning the particular mode in which it was carried into execution. Let every Member be actuated by a strong desire to do his duty to his constituents, and by an earnest wish to obtain those benefits which the Reform Bill was calculated to produce. He especially exhorted his hon. and gallant friend (Colonel Evans) to concur with him in the course he was determined to pursue—namely, to place confidence in the present Administration, because, by the noble Lord, that confidence was chiefly deserved.
§ Mr. Matthias Attwood
said, he heard with satisfaction that part of the noble Lord's statement, in which he, who so recently announced the dissolution of an Administration, now informed the House that a Ministry was re-established, and 63 that the House was to proceed with its suspended business and duties. The observation of the gallant member for Westminster deserved the serious consideration of the House, in the altered circumstances in which they were now placed. For nearly a fortnight the proceedings of Parliament had been interrupted, at a period of the Session advanced, indeed, in point of time, but not advanced in the public business; when the business of the House yet remained, though the Members would be absent; and, he asked, under what circumstances? No Administration had been driven from office by political opponents, with the forfeited confidence of the House of Commons, to give place to a new Ministry with new measures. No political opponents attacked the late Administration, desirous of, or even willing to accept their seats. They possessed the confidence of the House of Commons and of the King, and, in fact, of every branch of the Legislature, in as great a degree at the moment they abandoned power, as at any period since their accession to office. The Administration had fallen to pieces by its own weakness; with no opponents but amongst themselves—censuring and condemning the measures, each one of the other—had the Administration abandoned their places and taken them up again; and the whole business of Parliament been suspended, to enable the Ministry to reconcile their personal dissensions, or to agree on their political principles. But then the dissensions had grown to such a height, as to deprive the House of the presence of Ministers responsible for the acts of the Crown. The House was, however, placed in circumstances different from those by which the conduct of former Parliaments was governed on similar occasions. Recent experience had shown the growing uncertainty of the presence, in that House, of the Ministers of the Crown. The King might appoint to public office those whom the people would refuse to elect to seats in Parliament. They had been without the assistance, during a great part of this Session, of the principal law adviser of the Crown. Very nearly was the House deprived of the assistance of his right hon. friend, the Secretary for the Colonies. The noble Lord had told them he had resigned the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. If that were so, and he again accepted it, the House would, in all probability, lose the advantage of the presence 64 of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. [The noble Lord intimated his dissent.] Why, probably the noble Lord would contrive, by some device of office, to accept an office from the favour of the Crown, and still retain his seat in Parliament, in despite of the distrust of his constituency in Northamptonshire. The right hon. Gentleman beside him had already given such an example,—had taken the office of President of the Board of Trade, and avoided, by an ingenious device, the necessity of presenting himself again to his constituents at Manchester. It was impossible to regard these proceedings without recalling the speeches of the noble Lord more than three short years back, when difficulties such as the present were pointed out to him as the consequence of his meditated measures. He did not then point out the course he now adopts. The noble Lord said, that if the Ministers of the Crown could not secure their credit with their constituents, they ought neither to be returned to, nor to sit in, Parliament. The noble Lord's recent conduct was a singular illustration of his recorded principles. But it was not for the House to guide its conduct by the success or failure of shifts such as the noble Lord had resorted to; but, by reference to the situation they were placed in, they ought to consider in time the necessity of adapting their proceedings to their altered circumstances. They would derive some light as to their situation in this respect, by reference more closely to recent proceedings. They heard the noble Lord tell them that himself, and sundry of his colleagues, had resigned, and that the Administration was dissolved; but, in the same hour, another noble Lord contradicted in another place this assertion, and affirmed, that the noble Lord's colleagues had not resigned, and that the Administration was not dissolved. Whence that contradiction? The noble Lord opposite was cognisant of the fact of which he spoke, and was removed from all suspicion of desiring to misinform the House. The other noble Lord was equally cognisant of the fact, and equally incapable of desiring to mislead the House of Lords. Both were right: the Ministers had resigned in one sense, and not in another. They had resigned their offices into the hands of the King, but with an eye to keeping their seats in Parliament, without the aid of their constituents, in case his Majesty should call them back to office. 65 They had confidence in the King—they intrusted his Majesty with their offices; but had no confidence in the people, and feared to trust them with their seats. Thus they proceeded holding their seats in defiance of all their principles, as well as of all their constituents. They broke to pieces with no political party opposed to them, censuring and condemning the measures each of the other. The noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, describing as abortive the whole Irish policy of the late right hon. Secretary for Ireland—condemning, in still stronger terms, the policy of the present Secretary for Ireland; the late Irish Secretary condemning the measures of the noble Lord—describing the policy of the Administration as full of juggling chicanery; Lord Grey condemning the House of Commons—ascribing the embarrassments of his Ministry to the nature of the motions, and of the business, which occupied the labours of the House. These were matters of grave consideration, when the same men, with few changes, were soon about to take again the reins of power. But the most important feature in these proceedings was, an Administration possessing the confidence of the House, which had lost the confidence of the country. What course of policy, or system of measures, of duties neglected or discharged, had severed that House from the people? If they turned from the ignominious close of the power of Lord Grey to its commencement, they would see whence this had sprung. Lord Grey, when he first entered office, declared the general policy on which his Ministry should proceed. The lessons to be derived from the fate of his predecessors in office were then recent. He said, before he was three hours installed in office, in words which were fit to be now called to the recollection of the House, that the people were not to be satisfied with a measure of Reform, when so many evils were pressing on them to which no remedy had been applied. On the contrary, he said,—'The state of the country shall be 'made the object of our immediate, our 'diligent and unceasing, of our first and 'most anxious, attention.'—'To relieve,' the noble Earl added, 'the distress which 'now so unhappily exists in different parts 'of the country, will be the first and most 'anxious object of our deliberation.'* It* Hansard (third series), i. p. 60866 was in an evil hour for his power and the country, that Lord Grey abandoned that resolution, and betrayed the duty he prescribed. His Administration had inquired into no distress, nor redressed any of the real grievances, of the people. They disregarded the circumstances in which the people were placed, and directed their exclusive attention to effect innovations in the institutions under which they lived, and the laws and systems by which they were governed. How had the House itself been occupied?—night after night, Session after Session, they were engaged in ameliorating, as they called it, every institution, changing every law, improving every system. In this they proceeded, as they imagined, in accordance with the spirit of the present times—satisfying the desires, and complying with the demands, of the people. But, complying as they imagined with the demands, they had lost the confidence, of the people. No body of men assembled within those walls were less trusted by the country than themselves. Again, they heard those who boasted the loudest, at one time, of proceeding with the spirit of the age, complain at other times of what they called the pressure from without, and imploring even their opponents in humiliating terms to protect them from that pressure, and the country from dangers thus threatened. Did not these things point out that they mistook the character of the real spirit of the times, and of the real wants and demands of the people? The people valued, in fact, their institutions and laws by the benefits they dispensed, and the advantages they conferred. If wealth were diffused amongst the people, industry rendered prosperous, employment given to the labourer, and the great body of the productive classes satisfied with plenty, the people would be contented with institutions which philosophers might consider less than perfect, and support them with a loyalty and devotion, without which, on the part of the people, no institutions would be stable. But, if embarrassment and difficulty pervaded productive industry—if the increasing poverty of the productive classes were only brought into stronger contrast by the increasing luxury of the unproductive—if luxury and pauperism were now increasing together—if the resources of industry and prudence were fruitless—labour without adequate employment or reward—the people would regard institutions the 67 most perfect, and those by whom they were administered, with suspicion and distrust; and, if unfortunately they had been taught to look for improvement in their circumstances to political innovations, then, with each successive disappointment, they would demand further experiments; and the foundation would thus be laid for the pressure of which they, the Ministers, complained,—and from which they could have no relief, except by applying themselves to remove its causes, by directing the labour of Parliament to redress the grievance, and alleviate the distress, of the country. These were the lessons which, it seemed to him, the past taught them. The Administration now formed, if it neglected those lessons, would encounter as many difficulties, and end in as much disgrace, as the last; but there was yet time to regain, by a different policy, the lost confidence of the country, and place the security of their institutions on the only sure foundations they could rest on—the prosperity and attachment of the people.
§ Sir Robert Peel
As regards the expression of a little impatience by the House, of some parts of the speech of one so much entitled to attention as is my hon. friend, [The House had betrayed some impatience when Mr. Attwood was speaking.] I infer not a disposition on the part of the House to interrupt my hon. friend in the delivery of his opinions, nor that the House deem unworthy their consideration anything that might fall from him, but rather a feeling in which I must confess I participate—that it may be better to postpone the consideration of the effects the late changes in his Majesty's Government are likely to produce, till there shall be brought under the consideration of the House, and emanating from his Majesty's Government, some more distinct measure than the mere moving of a new writ. Being persuaded that such is the general feeling of the House, I will so far conform to it, that I will abstain on the present occasion from making any observations on the probable policy, or what may be the consequences of the policy, of the present Government. The noble Lord opposite having, however, stated, in very general terms, what are the principles on which the Government has been formed, he will, perhaps, not object, more particularly as we have now arrived at the 17th of July, and the Session must be drawing to a close—I say, perhaps, the 68 noble Lord opposite will not, under these circumstances, think it an unreasonable request, if I ask him to explain further with reference to those measures now before Parliament, what is the application of the general principles on which the Government professes to be founded. On looking into the Order-book, I find that there are three measures which properly bear the name of Government measures; and they are perhaps the only measures in that book that are entitled to such a designation. I wish to ask the noble Lord, then, whether it is his intention to persevere, in the first instance, with the measure respecting Church-rates, and with the substitution proposed, of some other charges, for those rates. The second question I would ask is, what course his Majesty's Government intend to pursue with respect to the Irish Tithe Bill? The third question I have to ask is, whether his Majesty's Government propose to persevere with the Irish Coercion Bill, in the form in which it was brought in by the late Government, or whether they will substitute any other, and if so, what are the modifications that are contemplated? It seems to me probable, that the noble Lord will not be unwilling to make an explicit declaration as to these matters; I trust that, at all events, he will not think my request by any means improper.
§ Lord Althorp
In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to state, that as regards the Irish Tithe Bill, it is the intention of his Majesty's Government to persevere with that measure. With respect to the last question of the right hon. Gentleman, I have to inform him, that I shall give notice of my intention to move, tomorrow, for leave to bring in a Bill to renew the Coercion Act, with certain modifications, the nature of which, when I make the Motion, I shall state to the House. With respect to the other question, I am not quite prepared to state whether his Majesty's Government will have time to carry the measure to which he referred through Parliament this Session; therefore, if he will allow me, to that question I will not give him an answer.
said, in looking at the course his Majesty's Government was likely to pursue, he could not help expressing his apprehension, that the security the country possessed, that his Majesty's Ministers would not go to extremes, 69 was lost with the noble Lord who had left the Administration. He had always entertained the greatest respect for the noble Earl, as one of the chiefs of a party he had followed for a great many years, till he saw the necessity of ahandoning the noble Earl when, as Prime Minister, lie brought forward measures endangering, as he thought the best institutions of the country. Still he placed great reliance on what he knew to be the honourable and upright intentions of the noble Lord; he felt confident that the noble Lord would see the necessity of stopping somewhere—that he would not go on urging them headlong in a course of what the noble Lord opposite and his colleagues might call Reform and improvement, but which the country would describe in very different terms. He repeated, that the noble Earl was a security to the country that the Government, of which he was the head, would not adopt extreme measures. But the whole circumstances of the change which had now taken place—the manner in which it was made—the manner even in which that support had been given, to which there had been an allusion, and which had been so irregularly promoted through the clubs of St. James's, by way of advice to his Majesty's Ministers. ["No no!"] If not to his Majesty's Ministers, to his Majesty, in the exercise of his prerogative. Looking to the quarter from which this measure proceeded, and to the eager support which the noble Lord opposite received from those who, no doubt, believed they were discharging their duty conscientiously, but who were generally to be found arraying themselves in favour of measures which, in his opinion, would involve the monarchy, and, with the monarchy, the liberties of the country. Taking into his consideration all these circumstances, he could not help thinking, that the formation of the present Government justified extreme anxiety and apprehension. While some thought improvement, which was their name for revolutionary changes, could not march too precipitately, the great mass, comprehending the property and intelligence of the country, entertained a very different opinion. The former could not fail to have their satisfaction particularly increased by the changes that had occurred. He alluded more particularly to the appointment of the noble Lord (Lord Duncannon) to the office of Home Secretary. He en- 70 tertained, to the greatest possible degree, personal respect for the noble Lord; and he had enjoyed the advantage of that noble Lord's private friendship. He should be believed, then, when he said, that it was with deep regret he felt himself called on to declare his conviction, that if the opinions of the noble Lord were allowed to prevail in the Government, the consequence would be nothing short of ruin to the whole of Ireland; in fact, the institutions of that country would be placed at the feet of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Dublin. What were the objects of the policy of the hon. and learned Gentleman in Ireland he need not stay to inquire, because that hon. and learned Gentleman had over and over again announced them. Bearing those objects in mind, then, he repeated his apprehensions that the Protestant institutions and interests in Ireland would be completely placed at the feet of the hon. and learned Gentleman. With respect to the landed interest of the country, he would say nothing further than that the majority of the former Cabinet was adverse to it, or to those measures which the landed interest considered essential to its protection. Considerable reliance, however, was placed in the noble Lord who had retired, and who was its chief support. He could not therefore now avoid entertaining considerable apprehension for that interest, which was the one with which he was more immediately connected. He would not allude to what might be the personal feeling of the noble Lord on again accepting office—of the propriety of that act he, the noble Lord, was himself the best judge; but he would speak of the public considerations arising out of the change; and having no great confidence in the Government as it existed before, he should look to the measures of the present Government with additional jealousy and apprehension. He entertained these feelings more particularly with reference to the maintenance of the Protestant Church of Ireland, and the Protestant interests of Ireland. He apprehended, that in the same manner in which the Church of Ireland was to be violently dealt with, would there be an attempt hereafter to deal with the Church of England. Seeing, from the whole colour and drift of the changes that had taken place, that they were likely to affect those institutions of the country 71 which, in his conscience, he believed essential to the maintenance of its liberties and civilization, he could not look at the changes without feeling considerable embarrassment. The best thing that could now happen to them was, that the noble Lord opposite should have the power to get rid of the business of the Session, and that the Parliament should be prorogued. Hon. Gentlemen now suffered great inconvenience in the present state of the atmosphere of the town, and their presence was most essential in the country; more particularly if the changes contemplated in the Poor-laws were to be carried into effect. That alteration would render their presence in the country of the utmost importance. He, therefore, sincerely hoped that the noble Lord would put forward the business of the country, and in the mean time explain to them what its present state was. He wished to hear from the noble Lord some statement with reference to the budget. Great changes had taken place in both our receipt and expenditure, yet no notice had hitherto been given as to when the financial statement would be brought forward. They had notices of other measures; and the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, had lately made a statement, something in the nature of a budget, remitting taxation to the amount of 200,000l., or 300,000l. What had been done by the right hon. Gentleman had usually been done by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a somewhat more regular way. They now had the forces marching together without any apparent object in common. In the management of public affairs, the settlement of the finances of the country used to be considered the most important; but they had been sitting month after month, doing nothing except listening to vague discussions on subjects in which the country took little interest. Before the noble Lord brought on his budget, he should move for the production of a paper which would show the entire failure of the noble Lord's plan for the reduction of the four per cents.
said, unlike the hon. member for Essex, who had lugged in head and shoulders, matters on which to found complaints against the present Government, he rose to express the heartfelt gratification he derived from hearing the noble Lord opposite announce that he was to introduce the Bill which he called a 72 Coercion Bill. He would implore the noble Lord to take up only the peace preservation portions of the Act—those portions which gave the power to proclaim disturbed districts, and to increase the number of the police in a disturbed district, If the noble Lord resorted only to this, the measure would be properly described, not as the noble Lord had called it, but by its technical title of "The Peace Preservation Bill for Ireland." If the Bill went no further than this, he did believe it would have the support of every member for Ireland who sat in that House. At all events it would have all the support which could be afforded to it by the humble individual who was then addressing the House. No one was more anxious than he was, to give efficacy to a measure practically to ensure peace and the protection of property, and thus to enable well-disposed persons to remain in their houses, instead of being forced to quit them by the disturbers of public peace, and the violators of the rights of property. He could not but think that the course which the noble Lord had pursued was a complete vindication of those independent men in that House who had expressed the strongest anxiety with respect to this measure, and nothing was more proper than that the noble Lord who had retired from the Administration on account of his opposition to the Coercion Bill, should, on the principle that it was to be greatly modified, return to office. As to the Tithe Bill, it deserved the deepest consideration, and he hoped he should be able to show, that in the arrangements of that Bill, however well-intentioned it might have been—and he believed it to have been so—yet, instead of mitigating the evils, it most unfortunately would tend to aggravate them. If he could establish this, he did not despair of some other course being adopted by his Majesty's Government. He would recommend the postponement of this measure for the present, and they could then bring forward a measure more matured at the commencement of another Session. That he hoped the present Government would consent to do, and having said so much, he would have resumed his seat but for some observations in which the hon. member for Essex had indulged, in which he had alluded particularly to him (Mr. O'Connell) and to a noble Lord, who, if permitted to do so, he would call, in the 73 language of the House, his noble friend. As to himself, the hon. member for Essex said that his objects were perfectly well known. He was much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for so saying. He wished to act with perfect courtesy to that hon. Member, but he could not return the compliment. He had been long enough a Member of the House to have heard the hon. Gentleman advocate, with equal ability, the principles of one side at one time, and of the opposite side at another time, so that it was far from easy to say what were the objects of the hon. Gentleman. Nay, in one and the same speech, he had heard the hon. Gentleman, if he mistook not, advocate both sides. However sensitive the hon. Gentleman might be as regarded the Protestant establishment in Ireland, and however anxious he might be to preserve it for the sake of the purity of the Protestant faith, the hon. Member must surely allow, that the late member for Nottingham was quite as good a Protestant as the hon. Member himself. When the hon. Gentleman said, that Ireland would suffer from that noble Lord having joined the Administration, he would ask the hon. Gentleman in what respect he could compare with that noble Lord? He would ask what connection with Ireland had the hon. Gentleman who ventured that assertion? While, on the other hand, was not the noble Lord intimately connected with the interests of the country—had he not the strong ties of property and of hereditary honours? Did the hon. Gentleman know that in Ireland there lived no family whose name was so honourably connected with the brightest periods of her history, or that was better known as the advocate of popular measures, and at the same time the most decided enemy of every faction and measure injurious to the stability of the Throne, or threatening to the liberties of the country? The accession of the noble Lord to office would be a source of great delight to the Irish people. They would see in it a pledge to them that it was the intention of the Government to act for the benefit of their country—that there would be no more measures for the mere support of a faction—that the instruments of faction would be laid aside, and that Ireland would at last have the advantage of a liberal and enlightened Government. That noble Lord knew Ireland perfectly, and loved her well, and Ins appointment 74 to office was a pledge that his Majesty's Government seriously, honestly, and manfully, intended to look into the grievous abuses existing, with a view to their removal. He hailed it as a symptom of a most pleasing nature that the noble Lord was invested with power. It would be in vain to say, that lie (Mr. O'Connell) had any personal object in eulogising the noble Lord; it was sufficiently well known that no one had more firmness of purpose—that there was not an individual who was less likely to be influenced in his judgment by any such appeal. The noble Lord was one whose judgment was formed by acts, and who was incapable of being swayed by anything which he (Mr. O'Connell) might say in his praise; indeed it could not be worth his while to accept from him this humble tribute to his worth. Talking of the noble Lord's name tarnishing the present Administration, he hailed it as the harbinger of peace to Ireland, and of honour and dignity to the Government.
§ Mr. Gisborne
was one of those who was anxious that the present Cabinet should be able to maintain their position in the country, and he trusted they would do so by working out the principles upon which they had been supported. The Administration had suffered successive reductions and alterations, and had at last assumed the character of a pure old Whig party.
§ Sir Robert Peel
interrupted the hon. Member to observe, that the present Government could not be said to consist of nothing but pure old Whigs, if it was part of the character of pure old Whigs to support pure old Whig principles. There was More than one individual on the Ministerial bench who could not lay claim to the denomination of a pure old Whig.
Mr. Gisborne continued.
—The real question as to the present Government was whether they were prepared resolutely to carry the measures which the country required, and which the people loudly called for, or whether they intended to continue the same course of half measures and quarter measures which the late Administration had pursued?
§ Viscount Palmerston
complained that the right hon. Baronet opposite had thought proper to make personal allusion to himself and his right hon. friend (Mr. C. Grant), by pointing to them, and observing that there were at least two Tories in the present Administration.
§ Sir Robert Peel
My remark was made in consequence of what fell from the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken (Mr. Gisborne). That hon. Gentleman said that the Tory members of the late Government had been gradually wheeled out, and that the present Government was a compound of "pure old Whigs." I observed that this was a mistake—that they were not "pure old Whigs," whereupon the hon. Gentleman concluded that I meant to say that they were Radicals. This I deny. What I meant to say was—that the present Government does not consist of "pure old Whigs." I did not say that they are Tory—but that they do not come under the ordinary denomination of "pure old Whigs." I recollect the noble Lord belonged to the Government of Mr. Perceval, to the Government of Lord Liverpool, to the Government of Mr. Canning, to the Government of Lord Goderich, and I thought, that inasmuch as he was a person who had funned one of each of these Governments, he could not come under the denomination of a "pure old Whig."
§ Viscount Palmerston
All I rose to say was, that if the right hon. Baronet meant to imply that myself and my right hon. friend were Tories, then certainly he has inspired me with some hope of a speedy improvement in the present condition of the country. I and my right hon. friend took an active part in forwarding the measure of Parliamentary Reform; we are also prepared to act on those principles which my noble friend (Lord Althorp) has stated to the House this evening—honestly and boldly to examine all the institutions of the country, with a view not to destroy but to strengthen them, by remedying their abuses and defects; and if, such being our principles and our views, we fall under the denomination of Tories, I am happy to hear the right hon. Baronet say so, because, as a natural consequence, I conclude that we are likely to have his support, and the support of his friends, in our efforts to carry those measures of improvement which we may feel it to be our duty to bring before the House. I must add, that I do not think the right hon. Baronet was well treated by the hon. member for Essex. The right hon. Baronet with his usual good taste and judgment, stated, that he should not, on the present occasion, go into any detailed criticism of the measures of the late or the present 76 Administrations. The hon. member for Essex, however, had begun by telling us that he had been devoted through life, in personal feeling and public respect, to the noble Lord who has retired from the Administration.
interrupting the noble Lord: Really the noble Lord is quoting what never said. I did not state that I had been devoted through life to the noble Lord. What I said was, that I was an humble follower of the noble Lord in party politics, up to the period of the change when the Reform Bills were introduced. I did not say that I was devoted through life to the noble Lord; because, for several years past, the measures of the noble Lord have been such as I could not approve.
§ Viscount Palmerston
Really I had not mistaken the meaning of the hon. Gentleman; the correction is not very material. The hon. Gentleman told us, then, that he had been the follower of the noble Lord, during the greater part of his life, because he respected his private and personal conduct, and approved of his public principles. But it happened that, precisely at the moment when the noble Lord was in a situation in which he could carry his political principles into effect,—that, I say, was the moment in which the hon. Member thought fit to change his colours, and to enter into an active opposition to those measures which he formerly supported. That is the course which this hon. Member has pursued towards his leader; let us now see what his course is to another. The hon. member fights now under the banners of—I do not say he is bound absolutely thereby, but he is acting, apparently, in concert with the right hon. Baronet. Instead, however, of following the good example of the right hon. Gentleman upon this occasion, he did precisely the reverse of that which his leader had done. It is not necessary for me to go into a reply to what has fallen from the hon. Gentleman, respecting the noble Lord who now fills the office of Home Secretary; I agree entirely with what has fallen on that subject front the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Dublin. I trust that the present Government will obtain the support, confidence, and approbation of this House and the country, and I have a perfect conviction, from my long acquaintance with the noble Lord, that his measures will redound to the advantage and happiness of the empire.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, he should not have said a word upon the present occasion, had it not been for the unmeasured attack which had been directed against his hon. friend (Mr. Baring) by the noble Lord. His hon. friend was accused of having deserted the party of Earl Grey. Yet, in his (Sir Henry Hardinge's) opinion, the circumstances under which his hon. friend had seceded from the party of the late Administration redounded highly to his honour. As soon as he was induced to consider that the policy of the noble Earl's Administration threatened danger to the State, he withdrew his support from them, and that was at the very time when the party he had hitherto been connected with had come into the possession of power. The conduct of the noble Lord had been very different. The noble Lord had been in the Administration of Lord Liverpool, Mr. Canning, Earl Ripon, and the Duke of Wellington; he had been with every Tory Administration up to the formation of the present Ministry; and, under these circumstances, his hon. friend need not fear any parallel with the noble Lord. After the noble Lord had been twenty years a Tory, and had approved of Tory principles, he ought not to be angry when he was reminded that he had not always belonged to the Whig party. Perhaps the term of "pure old Whig" might not exactly suit him either. He might, therefore, be called "a juvenile Whig, a pure juvenile Whig." With respect to the formation of the present Government, the only alteration he could find in it was, that they had got rid of Earl Grey, the leader of the Whig party, who was made the sole victim, and went out without a single follower from amongst all his recent associates and supporters. The noble Earl went out of office because he could not command the co-operation of his colleagues in office to pass a Bill which the noble Earl (Grey) considered necessary for the tranquillity of Ireland; and the Noble Lord (Althorp), who had himself resigned office, now consented to return to it. It was not the proper time to discuss the principle of that measure; but when the Coercion Bill was brought in, he should he prepared to do so.
§ Viscount Palmerston
I beg to remind the House, since this matter has assumed a personal complexion, that I left the Administration of the Duke of Wellington, at a time when, in all human probability, 78 the reign in office of ins Administration was likely to be of very considerable duration. I differed with the members of that Government, and I left them on a question, not of first-rate importance certainly, but it was a question of reform.
Blame appears to have been imputed to Me, because I could not concur with those extraordinary measures of change which were brought forward by the noble Earl. Now, I wish to state, that I never at any one period of my life voted for any general measures of Reform. —(laughter.)—I don't know what is meant by that laugh. It is a fact, that during the thirty years I have sat in Parliament, I never voted for any general measures of Reform, though I have voted for such measures as the extension of the franchise to Manchester, Birmingham, and other great manufacturing towns, and for increasing the representation of Scotland. Nor had I ever any reason to suppose, that the party I acted with meditated Reform of that description which was at last carried. I believe that Reform would not have been effected to so great an extent, had it not been for the change which occurred in the Administration. The measure which about that period was to have been brought forward by the noble and learned Lord (who was then Mr. Brougham) was of a very different character; and, in support of that, in all probability, I should have given my vote.
§ Mr. William Peter
defended Ministers from the attacks which had been made upon them. In spite of the sneers and taunts of the hon. Gentleman opposite, he would maintain that a purer, a more enlightened Administration had never swayed the destinies of tins great Empire—an Administration which had done so much to diminish the burthens, and to extend the liberties of the country. They had been true to their principles, and faithful to their professions. What had been their pledges on taking office? Their pledges were Peace, Economy, and Reform; and honestly and nobly had they been redeeming them. Notwithstanding the clouds which lowered in the political horizon, notwithstanding the convulsed state of Europe from one extremity to the other—notwithstanding the prophecies of the hon. member for Essex (Mr. A. Baring) who had pronounced it impossible to preserve peace for three months—yet peace (thanks to the generous and en- 79 lightened policy of the Government) peace had been preserved for three years! With respect to their next pledge, that of economy, it was well known to the House, that beginning with their own salaries, Ministers had reduced the expenses of every department in the State. They had abolished nearly 2,000 offices, and out of an expenditure of fifteen millions, all over which they had any control, (the remaining income of the country being swallowed up by the dead weight and the interest of the national debt), they had saved nearly four millions. So much for economy. As for liberty and Reform, it was enough to say, that they had abolished monopoly in the East, and extinguished slavery in the West; that they had broken down the fences of corruption and tyranny at home, and re-established popular freedom on the sure and lasting basis of popular Representation. These were deeds which would long live in the memory of their country and of mankind. But amidst the sneers and taunts and vituperations with which Gentlemen had assailed the present Ministers, he (Mr. Peter) was gratified to hear an hon. Member (Mr. A. Baring) do justice to the noble Earl so lately at the head of his Majesty's Councils. However tardy, the acknowledgment was still welcome; wrung as it had been from one who had so violently and invariably opposed all his measures. Now, that Lord Grey was gone, the hon. Member felt his loss, and was reluctantly obliged to confess his worth. But thus it often happened———Virtulem incolumem odimus,Sublatam ex oculis quærimus invidi.He (Mr. Peter) was no flatterer of the noble Earl, or of any other Minister; but this much he would say, that if ever there was a Minister who, above all others, deserved well of his country, that Minister was Earl Grey. Yes, in spite of every sneer and attack, he would repeat, that if ever there was a Minister—if ever there was a man whose long course of public and private virtue—whose unshrinking devotion to the best interests of his country—whose tried and unwearied consistency in the great cause of liberty and Reform, entitled him above others to the gratitude of a just and enlightened people, that man was Earl Grey. When the feuds of party should have passed away—when the clamours of faction should be hushed in the oblivious silence of the grave—when the characters of departed 80 statesmen should be only honoured for their virtues, or only reprobated for their crimes—the name of Grey—of the author of the great, the beneficent, the enlightened measure of Reform, would be found in that proud list which consecrated a Somers, a Chatham, and a Fox, to the eternal gratitude of their admiring country.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
felt, that the new Ministry, as far as the measures contemplated towards Ireland were regarded, instead of throwing that country into the hands of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, would, by acting as they proposed, rather take Ireland out of the hands of that hon. and learned Gentleman. He denied the statement made by a noble Duke in the other House, that more blood was shed under the late Administration than that of any which preceded it, and contended that more blood had been shed in Ireland at the period when the noble Duke himself had been Secretary for that country. He would caution the Government not to take the advice of their false friends, the Tories, who would support convulsion. He was hostile to convulsion and separation, and the next best thing he would do was, to oppose the Tories. Not long ago parties of armed men paraded within a few yards of the houses of two Magistrates, and fired shots in perfect security, as they were Kerrymen. To such a system he would not wish to return. He hoped the Government would, if possible, carry the Tithe Bill this Session, or, if not, that they would adopt the suggestion of Mr. O'Connell, and bring in a short Bill. Something was necessary to secure the peace of the country, and, for his part, he would sacrifice a portion of his property to attain that object. He gave the hon. Gentlemen opposite credit for what they had done, and though he did not think it proper to sign a certain paper, he still might concur in some degree in its sentiments. He now felt satisfied that he had clone better in not signing the paper, as the support which he hoped their measures would enable him to give them would come with a better grace.
§ The Writ ordered.