§ Sir Edward Knatchbull
appeared at the Bar with the Report on the Address.
On the question, that it be brought up,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it would be most convenient, as well as most respectful to the House, that he should at once explain the course which he intended to pursue. If he had not last night answered the question put to him by a noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), it was from no disrespect either to him or to the House, or from an unwillingness to afford the House any information in his power, or from any desire to take any unfair advantage; but he had wished, in a matter of such great importance, to have a little time for making up his mind as to what course to pursue, and to avoid the inconvenience and possible danger of acting under the momentary influence of temper and disappointment. He bore in mind the disagreeable consequences which not unfrequently resulted from hasty declarations of a determination to abide by a resolution which subsequent causes force one to abandon. He had before him the vision of the division on the Malt-tax last Session. There was another reason why he had not answered the noble Lord's question, the debate had continued for three nights, and it appeared likely that it might continue a night or two more; for there were a number of Gentlemen who had evinced a desire to speak on the Question who had not yet addressed the House, and many who, from accidental and other causes, had not had an opportunity of voting. Under these circumstances he had, in the first moment, doubted whether the opinion of the House had been fairly taken; but from the inquiry he had since made, he was satisfied that the decision of the previous night, conveyed the sense of the majority of the House, and he had, therefore, made up his mind not to endeavour to subvert that decision by another division, though such a course was perfectly open to him. If the resolution he had thus come to should have the effect of preventing further delay, he should be doubly satisfied.
The Report was brought up, and read. On the question, that it be read a second time,
§ Mr. Hume
said, it had been his intention to have addressed the House on the bringing up of the Report; but the an- 426 nouncement he had just heard had induced him to alter the course he had contemplated pursuing. Hon. Members on the other side of the House described the Opposition party as divided among themselves. They might be so in some particulars, but on one point they were unanimous; and that point was, to turn Ministers out as soon as possible. They would find that the Reform party was not that rope of sand which their enemies designated them, but they were united as one man in this great object. He would state the nature of his intended Amendment, which seemed to him a much simpler method of taking the sense of the House, and he should have merely added it to the original Address. It ran thus:— "We cannot but express our deep regret that your Majesty should have been advised to call to your Councils men in whom the people and their Representatives have no confidence, under the belief that they will not carry into effect those improvements which would flow from the Reform Act, to which your Majesty's present Ministers were tenaciously opposed in all its stages." There were, however, many modes of arriving at the same point; and from the speech and interpretation of the learned Sergeant, the Member for Leicester, (Mr. Goulburn), it was quite clear that the vote of last night was tantamount to the Amendment he meant to have submitted. The hon. and learned Member had said, that he did not like the Amendment, because it was an un-English mode of proceeding, to take a roundabout. way, instead of a direct one, to reach the point at which you wished to arrive; for, said he, "It is generally understood that the real object of the Amendment is the expulsion of Ministers from their places." He admitted that his object was accomplished in obtaining the assent of the House to the Amendment of the noble Lord, and he should therefore be guilty of an indiscretion were he to avail himself of that opportunity to create a discussion upon an Amendment which be meant to support. He had, however, one or two observations to make upon points which it appeared to him had not been properly noticed in the course of the debate, and to those points he would strictly confine himself in the observations which he was about to offer to their notice. He considered that the debate which had taken place was a debate on party; and as he 427 was no party man himself—[laughter prevented the Hon. Member from concluding his sentence]. He repeated the assertion, that he was no party man. He had opposed both the Tories and the Whigs again and again; and he could bring cases to the recollection of the right hon. Baronet in which he and others had kept him in office more than once by not joining in the factious opposition of mere party. He was anxious to show, that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Cumberland, who had last night heaped so much abuse on the hon. Gentleman who sat on the Opposition side of the House, had more than once, in the course of his Parliamentary career, directed a factious Opposition against Government. One instance he was sure that the House would recollect; it was on the point, whether the words "distress," or "general distress," should be inserted in the answer to the Address from the Throne. The right hon. Member for Cumberland had called them a band of factious men, leagued together for the destruction of Government—a rope of sand—a Babel Opposition. If they were a Babel Opposition, they were rendered a little less of a Babel Opposition by being relieved from the encumbrance of the alliance of men who had scarcely any principle at all to boast of. Of this he saw sure, that the right hon. Baronet and his friends around him were completely mistaken as to the object of the present Opposition. The object, to the attainment of which he had constantly looked during the last twenty years of his political life, was the reduction of the burthens of the people, and a reformation of abuses; and, on that account, he thought that the observations made by the hon. and learned Member for Yarmouth and the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln were, at any rate, not applicable to him. It had been thrown out by those hon. Members—indeed it had been the burthen of their song the other night—that the Opposition was anxious to turn the Tories out of office in order to get into office themselves ["Hear, hear"]. Hon. Gentlemen cried out "hear, hear," but let them show a single case, if they could, in which he had ever exhibited any such anxiety. His friends well knew that such a thing had never entered his mind, and the assertion was entirely void of truth, and was only hazarded because nothing else in the shape of an argument could be brought 428 against his side of the House. Why did he oppose the Tories? Because, during the long reign which they had had, he could track their progress by the confusion and misery which they had created, and because the experience which he had thus gleaned of their disposition convinced him that they were incapable of change. It now turned out, that the promises of the right hon. Baronet—the pioneers as it were of the measures to be introduced by his Government—were to be entirely set aside. The right hon. Baronet, with a manliness for which he gave him all due credit, had told the House and the country that he was unchanged, and therefore the country had a right to expect that he would adopt the same line of public duty which he and his colleagues had followed before they were turned out of office, in 1830. They had been told by the hon. and gallant Member for Inverness that that declaration of the right hon. Baronet formed the bond of union of the Ministerial party, and having observed the evils which had always followed the domination of such a high Church party as was now in power, he thought that that declaration was most ominous to the country. The right hon. Baronet had evidently come forward to support a dominant ultra-Church party, and to maintain all the property of the Church for Ecclesiastical purposes, instead of acceding to such a rational distribution of it as the people demanded. He had been sorry—no, he could scarcely say that he had been sorry—to see the conduct which had been pursued by the noble Member for Lancashire, and the section which he commanded. They had heard something about "the tail" on the Opposition side of the House, but it now turned out that the noble Lord, like his great political antagonist in Ireland, had got a tail too. But be it tail or no, this he would say, that a more unnatural junction, a more unhallowed coalition of parties, had never taken place since he had been in Parliament, than that which had taken place last night. The noble Lord and his friends had acted for years in opposition to the right hon. Baronet, and in concurrence with the hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, who had so long acted with him and his friends near him, had declared, not many weeks ago to his constituents in Cumberland, that he 429 differed on all points from the members of the present Administration. Moreover, the right hon. Baronet had said last night that he had no confidence whatever in them; and yet, with a strange inconsistency, which he left the right hon. Baronet and his constituents to settle, he had joined the thick-and-thin supporters of that Administration, and had given his vote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For his own part, he was delighted at that event. He would go further, and say, that he wished the right hon. Member for Cumberland had taken office under the right hon. Member for Tamworth. Indeed, nothing would give him greater pleasure than to see the right hon. Member for Cumberland and the noble Member for Lancashire, and all their party, join the present Administration. Nothing else was wanting to satisfy the people of England as to who were and who were not true Reformers—to discover to them who were the wolves in sheep's clothing, who were prowling about till they could find a fold in which they could enjoy the good things of office. It was the declarations of these men that had induced the House, after it had agreed to the 147th Clause of the Church Temporalities Bill, to revoke its decision, and to repeal that Clause by a majority of 380 which it had carried originally almost without a division. He had been anxious to find out who constituted this party, this tail. He had looked at the newspapers, and he fancied that he had there found out their names. The right hon. Baronet, when he was asked for their names last night, had refused to give them, but had said "You will see their names in the papers of to-morrow; you may then judge of their strength, and may satisfy yourself whether they have not always been steady supporters of the old Whig system." Now, he had looked at the newspapers, and as the right hon. Baronet had told him to look in the newspapers for the list of his newly-formed allies, he supposed that the right hon. Baronet must have sent the list to them himself. It was stated, that at the meeting of the Stanley section, which took place yesterday at the King's Arms, Palace-yard, "Lord George Bentinck was there arm-in-arm with Mr. Hughes Hughes, to whom he was explaining that theirs was to be a party especially of gentlemen, while Sir Andrew Agnew's holy countenance lit up with joy on learning from Lord George and Lord Arthur 430 Lennox that it was to be a congregation of pious Christians. Mr. Lechmere Charlton, Mr. Tennent, and Mr. Richards, rejoiced to hear that they were wonderfully clever men, whose former lives and professions were not to be inquired into. In the midst of these useful explanations, the ex-Radical Member for Cumberland and ex-First Lord of the Admiralty appeared on the stage." The article then proceeded to describe their deliberations, and concluded by announcing that the party headed by Mr. Hughes Hughes, Sir J. Graham, and Mr. Richards, proceeded in an omnibus, three cabs, and a hackney-coach, to Lord Stanley's house." He wished the right hon. Member for Cumberland joy of his party; but he must deny that any of them were distinguished as steady Reformers.—He would take the hon. Member for Newcastle, who was one of them—a joint, he must call him, of this English tail. The right hon. Member for Cumberland, who for many years had assisted him in making out the lists on divisions, had described that hon. Baronet as always uncertain and unsteady, as a person whose vote could never be ascertained until after the division. At that time they (he and Sir J. Graham) had two lists—one of out-and-out Tories, and the other of out-and-out Whigs. They had also a third for loose fish, who made Whig-speeches and gave Tory-votes, and of those who figured on this third list, the hon. Member for Newcastle was one. This, then, was one of the "steady Reformers." Another of these steady Reformers was the hon. Member for Shoreham. That hon. Member had opposed the Reform Bill; and, therefore, it he were a Reformer, he was only a Reformer on the new system. Then, there was the noble Member for Lynn, the Member for South Shields, and the Member for Wigtonshire, all Re formers of the same milk-and-water character. All these hon. Members were now rallying under the banner, not of their old friend, but of their old antagonist, the right hon. Member for Tamworth, who would find his new allies but half-and-half friends, who were always waiting to see in what direction the wind would blow. It was a great advantage to all parties that these hon. Members had acted as they had done, as the country would now see that the House was divided into two great parties—Reformers and no-Reformers. He 431 thought that the right hon. Member for Cumberland had been most peculiarly unfortunate in defending his recent change of opinion. If ever any man was entitled to be considered a Member of a factious Opposition, that right hon. Baronet was the man, for he joined in every division against Government which took place during the first fifteen years he was in the House. Yet be now talked of factious opposition, called his opponents a rope of sand, and denounced them as anxious to subvert the institutions of the country. He threw dirt on men who were at least as wise and good as himself, and vilified those whom he praised up to the moment of deserting them. Hasty converts were generally the most zealous agents, and it appeared as if the right hon. Baronet was determined to be one of those who proved his zeal in favour of his new opinions by the rancour with which he attacked his old. The right hon. Member for Cumberland and the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire might cover, if they could, their inconsistency in the step which they had taken last night; he would say nothing more on it at present, but would leave the right hon. Baronet and his tail to their own reflections; he congratulated the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) on the friends which he had thus acquired; he congratulated the Reformers still more on the gain which they had acquired in losing such supporters, for he would at any time rather meet an open enemy than a pretended friend, who only smiled upon him to betray him. The Reformers had had the satisfaction of beating the Tories and all the Stanley party. Their triumph was thus a double victory, for it was a triumph over those who acted upon some principle, and, also over those who acted upon none at all. He was sorry that the hon. and learned Member for Leicester was not in his place, for he had been anxious to say a word or two to that hon. and learned Gentleman. His hon. friend the Member for Derbyshire, in the able and eloquent speech which he had made last night, had said that whatever acquisitions they might have made in the talents of other new Members, there was evidently no want of modesty in that Member, who, in his maiden speech, spared nobody, but abused everybody who differed from him in opinion. He had been too long accustomed to such idle abuse to care for it himself, and he would therefore pass it by without farther 432 notice. There was, however, one observation in the hon. and learned Member's speech which had great weight in inducing him to withhold his own Amendment.—The hon. and learned Gentleman had said, that "the Amendment evidently raised this question, shall we or shall we not reject the present Ministry? and that it was a vote "withholding all confidence from the Ministry." He took the Amendment on that ground, and he hoped that they would carry to the foot of the Throne an Address, stating, that the Commons of England had no confidence in the present Administration. The lion. and learned Member for Leicester had also asked, "Will any man compare Lord Chancellor Brougham with Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst, and take the Great Seal from the latter to place it in possession of the former? He was quite ready to take the whole public life of Lord Brougham and compare it to that of Lord Lyndhurst; he was quite ready, also, to compare the merits of their private characters, and he said that the character of Lord Lyndhurst sunk when placed in the balance against that of Lord Brougham. What! would any man of common fairness compare Lord Lyndhurst to Lord Brougham as the friend of liberty, the advocate of universal freedom, the promoter of liberal education, the extender of human knowledge, and the benefactor of the human race? What was Lord Lyndhurst? He was an apostate—a notorious apostate from the principles of his early youth. There were many hon. Members in the House who could prove it. They remembered the time when he was brought from America, where he had been educated in republican principles, and where he had imbibed doctrines, which he afterwards openly professed, far more radical than any which he had ever avowed. In public life there was no comparison between Lord Brougham and the noble Lord now on the Woolsack, and in private life Lord Brougham was as much superior to Lord Lyndhurst as one man could be to another. He was prepared to prove that assertion. What! were they to sit still and to be brow-beaten when they were challenged to make comparisons between the noble Lord who now held the Great Seal and his predecessor? If the right hon. Baronet thought it consistent with his duty to stop the reply he should also have thought it consistent with his duty to stop 433 the challenge. He repeated, that Lord Brougham was in every respect, public and private, a superior man to Lord Lyndhurst. Lord Brougham might have been led into some errors by his wish to identify himself with the people, and to share their feelings. That he had been led astray by that wish was all that could be urged against Lord Brougham, and, therefore, he would never allow such scandals, such unmerited obloquy as had been unsparingly cast upon that noble Lord, to pass unreproved in his presence. One word also upon the comparison which the hon. and learned Member for Leicester had drawn between the Duke of Wellington and Lord Palmerston, as Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs. He admitted, that on points of military knowledge, the Duke of Wellington was infinitely the superior of the noble Lord, but in matters of politics, as the friend of civil and religious liberty, Lord Palmerston was as much above the Duke of Wellington as the Duke of Wellington was above Lord Palmerston in point of military talent. Lord Palmerston was no warrior, but he was better qualified to hold the Foreign Department than the noble Duke who had succeeded him. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also instituted a comparison between Sir R. Peel and Lord Melbourne. Now, it was difficult to make this comparison, for he was ready to give the right hon. Baronet great credit for the independent course which be had followed on many occasions. He must, however, look at them as Reformers; and as Reformers he thought Lord Melbourne far the best of the two. He could have wished that the hon. and learned Member for Leicester had carried his comparison still further between the Members of the late and the present Administration, for he would then have undertaken to prove that the principles and characters of the Members of the late Administration were far preferable and much more conducive to the progress of Reform, and the welfare and happiness of the people, than those of the present Ministry. From the tone in which the hon. and learned Member had addressed the House, one would have supposed that he had been returned to it by one of the purest constituencies in the country. Now, after the character which had been given by a high legal functionary to the Corporation of Leicester, and after the unblushing corrup- 434 tion and bribery which it had practised from time immemorial in the election of Members of Parliament for that town, it was too bad for the hon. and learned Gentleman, who was returned under its influence and patronage to taunt the hon. Gentlemen who sat on the Opposition Benches with not representing, the opinions of the people of England, who returned them. The hon. and learned Gentleman represented one of the most corrupt and rotten Corporations in England, and yet he presumed to talk to the Representatives of free and independent constituencies of the want of purity visible in the mode of their election! The hon. and learned Gentleman had also told the House that "the country wanted a firm and good Government." He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman that this was what the country wanted, but would he get a good Government from the Tories? All their deeds—all their efforts had for years past been directed to prevent the people from obtaining a good Government, and to secure a bad Government in power. The right hon. Baronet had spoken as if he (Mr. Hume) was desirous to bring back to office all the Members of the late Administration. If the right hon. Baronet really thought so, he was very much mistaken. He would bring back all of them that were good for anything, and, let him add to them whom he might, they could not be worse than the occupants of office who were then sitting on the other side of the House. [Laughter.] The hon. and learned Member for Yarmouth cheered what he was saying. That reminded him, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had called the Opposition a set of dangerous men, a factious band, a knot of anarchists and revolutionists, without character and without property. Now, was the hon. and learned Gentleman warranted by fact in using this language, or anything like this language? Had the Gentlemen near whom he was sitting no stake in the country? Had they no property to preserve? Had they no families, to whom they might wish to bequeath it? The fact was, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had forgotten where he was speaking, and had spoken as the voice of a corrupt Corporation yet unreformed. The hon. and learned Gentleman ought to have recollected, that however well such language might suit the assembly in which he formerly had a seat, it was very ill-suited to an assembly 435 in which all were Reformers. Some of them, indeed, were modern Reformers, some of them were moderate Reformers, and others of whom he was one, were Radical Reformers. [A laugh.] They might laugh; but he hoped to live to see the day when the right hon. Baronet would press forward to enrol himself as a Radical. He had seen more extraordinary things than that. He had seen the right hon. Baronet and many of his friends, who had all their lives opposed every, the most moderate system of Reform, claim the confidence of Parliament as Reformers. He recollected well the time when the very profession of Reform was certain to draw down upon the head of him who made it the persecution of Government, and yet now the Government, from the highest to the lowest Member, were all sincere practical Reformers. There was not so small a stride in stepping from a Tory to a Reformer as there was in stepping from a Reformer to a Radical. The right hon. Baronet had made the first step, and that was always considered the most difficult step. He recollected, that it was stated in a certain publication, and extraordinary pains were taken to procure credit for the statement, that so fond had the right hon. Baronet since his conversion to its doctrines become of Reform, that he intended to outstrip the Whigs in his haste to procure it. How had that statement been verified by the event? With all the recruits which the right hon. Baronet had procured from the Stanley section, the right hon. Baronet would not, in his opinion, be able to weather the storm. If he did succeed in weathering it, it would be by sincerely adopting the principles which he professed, and on which he hoped that he would have the good sense steadily to act. The day was gone by in which the right hon. Baronet could carry on the Government in opposition to the wants and wishes of the people. With reference to the King's Speech, he must say, that it ought always to contain a development of the state of the country. Now, what did the present Speech from the Throne hold out in that respect? What did it say, with respect to the Reform of the Church in Ireland? He took that opportunity of repeating an observation which he had already made more than fifty times—" that you never would have peace in Ireland—nay, that you never ought to have peace in Ireland, until the overgrown Church Establishment 436 of that country was pared down to a proper size, when compared with the number of the Protestants who belonged to it, and that till that was done all your attempts to soothe the ills of Ireland by an adjustment of the tithe question would be futile and unavailing." The House ought, therefore, to have received a declaration from the Throne, stating that his Majesty would soothe the ills of Ireland by reducing the Church Establishment to a scale commensurate with the Protestant population, for whose spiritual wants and instruction it was originally endowed. If the Church Establishment in Ireland were reduced to such a scale, you might withdraw 15,000 men from Ireland, and reduce taxation by a sum of 1,000,000l. or 1,200,000l. They had heard in the Speech a good deal about the continuance of peace abroad, but there was not one word in the Speech about the maintenance of peace in Ireland. Indeed, the great want in the Speech was the want of a specific announcement of some measure leading to the promotion of the domestic tranquillity of Ireland, and to the consequent reduction of taxation on the people of England. The people of England were not aware how much they were interested in settling the Church question of Ireland. If that question were once properly settled, it would lead to a reduction of establishments which would enable the Government to repeal the Malt-tax—a tax, of which the repeal would never be obtained except by a strong pressure upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Such a measure of Reform in the Church Establishment of Ireland would be founded on a true, wise, and sound policy, but nothing of that kind was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. Therefore it was, that he wished the people of England to understand that the right hon. Baronet was only amusing—he would not say deluding them, when he spoke so largely about the discipline of the clergy. What cared he about the discipline of the clergy? The country wanted immediate relief, by a reduction of taxation, and a removal of those pressing burthens which it had so long borne. An alteration was demanded in the system of the Church Establishment, but from all which had as yet transpired, it would seem that it was in the contemplation of the present Government to direct to its present purposes all the Church-property, be it large, or be it small. He also held the 437 present Government to be the enemies of a reduction in the taxation of the country. inasmuch as they were anxious to keep up the military as well as the Church Establishment of the country, for upon the former topic there was a deficiency in the Speech from the Throne, which he conceived justified his opinion in that respect. In short, the Speech contained no promise of the least relief either to the people of England, of Scotland, or of Ireland. It was true, that the Legislature had been told the distresses of the agriculturists would be considered, but did or did not the right hon. Baronet mean to keep up the monopoly of the landlords? He could tell the right hon. Baronet that neither the House nor the country would agree to a continuance of that and other monopolies. He took it that it was intended, instead of relief, to make a call for public money in order to build additional Churches in England and Scotland—a proceeding which of all others was most calculated to increase the unpopularity of the Establishment. Upwards of 1,500,000l. had already been expended in the erection of new Churches, and if the House should (yielding to the plans of the right hon. Baronet) consent to make further advances for the same object, it would proceed in violation of the feelings of at least nine-tenths of the population. He objected to the Address, and the Speech to which it was the response, on these two points—namely, the omission of any pledge for a reduction of taxation, and the threatened increased expense of the Church Establishment. With respect to taxation, it was necessary that the whole existing system should be remodelled, and the propriety of doing that should have been recommended in the Speech from the Throne. He had but little hope of lessening the expenditure while the Tories held sway, or until the House of Lords limited themselves to their own affairs, instead of dictating to the nation who should be its Ministers. He condemned as a most unconstitutional and dangerous precedent the assumption of so many important offices of the State by the Duke of Wellington; as well might one of those offices have been conferred upon Lord William Bentinck, who was a year's journey from this country, and he hoped that whenever the time arrived for discussing this subject, his Majesty would be informed that this House held such a proceeding as an 438 invasion of the Constitution, and therefore in future to be avoided. He trusted, that the House would carry up to the Throne a condemnation of these proceedings, and at the same time tell his Majesty that the country must have full and efficient Reforms carried out. He felt that in this respect his object was answered by the success of the Amendment, and therefore he should not press the Amendment which otherwise it was his intention to have submitted to the consideration of the House.
§ Sir Eardley Wilmot
hoped, that after the very personal attack which the hon. Member for Middlesex had thought proper to make upon him and other hon. Members who had the other day attended at the house of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, the House would indulge him for a very few moments. He begged, in the first place, and in the strongest terms that the forms of Parliament would permit, to repel with indignation the language which the hon. Member had applied to him and to others, when he designated them as "wolves in sheep's clothing." The accusation was most unfair and most unjust towards him, as the hon. Member must admit, if he would recollect the voted he had given during the last two Sessions of Parliament. Without one single exception, he had voted with the most liberal side of the House.
§ Sir Eardley Wilmot
having been one of those Gentlemen who attended the meeting in question, the observation most certainly applied to him. He again repeated, in answer to the accusation, that his votes, if referred to, would be found to have ever been on the most liberal side. It was perfectly astonishing to him that there should have been anything more of party in his attending the meeting at the House of the noble Lord near him (Lord Stanley) than if he had attended any meeting which might have been held in Cleveland-row. He, in common with the other Gentlemen who were then present, felt that the country was in a most critical position, and he and they attended as independent men, and he would undertake to say, that they left the house of the noble Lord as independent as they went in. When he appeared be- 439 fore his constituents upon the hustings, he had told them that he had no public grounds of confidence in the right hon. Baronet (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), as a Reformer; but he told them also that he saw no grounds for a systematic or factious opposition, that he would hear what measures the right hon. Baronet had to propose; and if those measures should come up to his views of Reform, he would lend the Government his humble support; if otherwise, he should endeavour to remove them from office, and should regard that day as the brightest in the history of the country when that object should be effected. As to his vote of last night, he confessed that he never suffered more than in opposing the Amendment of the noble Lord, the Member for Yorkshire; for, in common with other Gentlemen who had attended the meeting in question, he was dissatisfied with the Speech from the Throne, for not going far enough; but when he saw before him that unholy alliance, as he would call it, which had. taken place on the other side of the House; he did think, that if the present Ministry were instantly turned out of office, the country would be placed in that situation of alarm and difficulty as to make it impossible to form an Administration useful or beneficial to the country. With these feelings, he had voted in favour of the original Address. If the right hon. Baronet should bring forward such measures of Reform as the country expected and required, he would give the right hon. Baronet his support; if the Government should fail in answering the expectations of the people, he should be one of the first to stand up against them, and endeavour to eject them from power.
§ Mr. Richards
was understood to say, that the characters of the Gentlemen whom the hon. Member for Middlesex had thought proper to attack were, to say the least, as pure, as unsullied, and as patriotic as those of the hon. Member and his associates; and he would add, that when the hon. Member charged those Gentlemen with dishonourable conduct, he stated that which was absolutely false.
§ Mr. Hughes Hughes
said, that as the hon. Member for Middlesex had alluded to him, he begged to state to the House that he never was under the roof of the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire in his life, neither had he ever had communication, oral or written, with 440 that noble Lord on this subject or any other. He understood, that the hon Member for Middlesex had inquired who he (Mr. Hughes) was. He would answer the hon. Member: he was one of the hon. Member's constituents, who most strongly objected to the factious line of conduct which the hon. Member was now pursuing.
§ Sir John Campbell
rose to make one observation. The latter part of the Address expressed, as the opinion of the House, that Municipal Corporations ought without delay to be placed under a vigilant popular control. He understood that when the Report of the Commissioners of Corporation inquiry was laid upon the Table his Majesty's present Government would propose a measure to the Legislature to carry into effect that portion of the Address. Unless that were done, he would, with the concurrence of those with whom he had the honour to act, prepare and submit to the House a Bill for that purpose.
§ Mr. Emerson Tennent,
though unwilling to obtrude himself in the debate, yet, having been so pointedly and personally attacked by the hon. Member for Middlesex, he was still anxious to avail himself of an opportunity of stating to the House those motives and principles by which he was actuated in supporting the original Address, and in adopting generally the course which he had made up his mind to pursue towards his Majesty's present Ministers. In doing so, he should not intrude upon the House any strictures of his own upon the individual merits of the topics embodied in the Address, and proposed in the Amendment of the noble Lord (Lord Morpeth,) with only one exception, and that solely because he was by his position interested and connected with that question—he referred to the subject of Municipal Corporations. He felt that he could safely omit the others for two reasons; first, because on the majority of them, his sentiments were perfectly in accordance with those expressed on a previous night by the noble Lord beside him (Lord Stanley); and, secondly, because it must be sufficiently evident to the House, that neither their merits nor their defects entered in the slightest degree into the calculations of the Opposition, whose sole and only object but too evidently was, to defeat that Address and its movers, let its merits and its contents 441 be what they might. Whether such a line of conduct was consistent with the dignity and creditable to the character of the House, it was not for him to say; but from the precedents of former periods of their history, and after the late declaration of Sir Robert Peel, he (Mr. Emerson Tennent) was very much inclined to believe that the grounds for the opinion of the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) as to the brief tenure of office by the present Ministry, would prove erroneous, and that this factious opposition, even if carried to the utmost extent—even if attended with apparent success—would still fail of its expected result, and that his Majesty's Ministers, however they might be disposed to yield to the deliberate and reasonable decisions of the Representatives of the people, however they might be disposed to be guided in their continuance in, or abandonment of, office, by a fair and impartial decision on the merits of their policy and their measures, would not be disposed to give way before the capricious and arbitrary assaults of a faction. Now, with regard to the subject to which he had alluded, the reform of the Municipal Corporation system, he must say that he was neither satisfied with the meagre allusion contained in his Majesty's Speech, nor with the almost equally indefinite explanation of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. The right hon. Baronet in his speech on this Address, and in justification of his own conduct, had quoted to the House the Speech from the Throne during the Administration of Earl Grey, at the opening of the Session of 1834; he had referred to the individual passage in which this subject had been alluded to; and expressed his willingness, had he conceived that it would have given satisfaction, to have adopted the very words of Earl Grey. But had that right hon. Baronet so soon forgotten that in the debate on that very Speech, he had himself condemned for its vagueness and obscurity the very passage which he now expressed his readiness to adopt, and the vagueness of which he had, in fact, rather increased than diminished, in the allusions which he had himself made to the same subject? In the debate to which he had referred, on the 4th of February, 1834, the right hon. Baronet made use of the following words:—" So far as the Address avoids pledging of Gentlemen to any particular opinion, I concur in it; but I must say that, experienced as I have 442 been in the framing of King's Speeches, I cannot but admire the great ability which has been shown upon this occasion in contriving that the Speech should say so very little. Not only does it pledge hon. Members to no details of any measure, but it is with difficulty you can gather from it any idea of what the intentions of the Government are on any of the great questions upon which it touches. *** Nothing is said with respect to Church Reform in England, with respect to Reform of Municipal Corporations, or with respect to the Poor Laws, beyond the bare announcement that the report of certain Commissioners will be laid before us, from which we may derive much useful information. It has been the uniform course when topics of interest like these have been alluded to in the Speech from the Throne, for his Majesty's Ministers to intimate, without going into detail, whether they intend to bring forward any measures respecting them; and I cannot carry my admiration of the practice of avoiding any subject of debate, so far as to approve of the omissions we may here notice." Now, he (Mr. Emerson Tennent) must avow that, however vague and unsatisfactory might be the assurances of Lord Grey, that "the report, when produced, would afford much useful information to the House." He (Mr. Emerson Tennent) could not, for his part, perceive anything much more satisfactory or consoling in the assurance contained in the present Speech, that the vast labours of the Commission would not be quashed, and that what he (Mr. Emerson Tennent) believed to be the custom from time immemorial in such cases would not now be abandoned, that the Report, in the process of time, would be laid upon the Table of the House. But whether the right hon. Baronet had fallen into this error of his predecessors from inadvertence or design—whether his intentions were left accidentally or premeditatedly vague—the circumstance of the omission was at least suspicious, when coupled with the imperfect explanation of the right hon. Baronet, and the previously avowed hostility of some of his present colleagues to that specific measure of Reform; and would make those who, like him, (Mr. Emerson Tennent) were anxious for the completion of that most indispensable Reform, watch with more jealousy and caution the provisions of any measure which might be introduced, and he hoped that such a mea- 443 sure shortly would be, for the remedy of the evils complained of. Now, with regard to the Address, and the course which Gentlemen on the opposite side had taken upon the question. The noble Lord who had with so much eloquence and genuine talent moved the Amendment to the Address, and several Gentlemen who followed on the same side, had in the late debate made an allusion to a period of our history, from which they professed to draw a precedent to justify the present proceedings of their party, but to which in his (Mr. Emerson Tennent's) mind they would have exhibited more prudence and discretion, had they forborne to direct the attention of the House—he meant the period of Mr. Pitt's accession to office at the close of the year 1783, whether we regarded the circumstances of the empire, the position of parties, the policy of Ministers, or the strength and tactics of their opponents, it was impossible to avoid being struck with the peat similarity between the events of that period and the present moment. At the head of the Administration of 1783, was a Statesman pledged to Parliamentary Reform, pledged to the shortening of the duration of Parliaments, pledged to measures for the diminution of the expenses and the prevention of the bribery attendant upon elections. And whom had we now? A Ministry pledged to every real and necessary Reform in every existing institution, pledged by their manifestos to the country, pledged by their declarations to their constituents, and, above all, pledged by that Speech from the Throne, which they had advised, and by the declarations of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) on the floor of that House. As to the Opposition of that period and that of the present time, there was but this distinction between them—that, whilst Mr. Fox and the Whigs of 1783 allied themselves with the one extreme in the person of Lord North, and the supporters of the aristocracy, the noble Lord opposite, and the Whigs of the present House, had chosen the other extreme, and formed their coalition with the friends of democracy, and the advocates of Repeal. The colleague and confederate of Mr. Fox was the very man whom he and Mr. Burke had repeatedly declared to be "the object of future impeachment," and whom he had unceasingly denounced as the "great criminal of the State, whose blood must 444 expiate the calamities he had brought upon his country, and whom an indignant nation would one day compel to make some atonement for his offences on the scaffold." Was this, he would ask, a more unnatural alliance, than that of the noble Lord opposite, with the man whom he had himself scarcely twelve months ago counselled his Majesty to denounce from the Throne, almost by name, as "the object of the just indignation of his Sovereign," the promoter of a pernicious agitation, entailing ruin and misery on its deluded instruments? Was it a more unnatural alliance than that of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, with those whom, in his own fervid and indignant eloquence, he had so often execrated as "the bloody, the brutal, and tyrannical Whigs?" Yet such were the strange bedfellows with whom, like poverty, ambition, and the lust of power, brought them acquainted. The noble Lord (Lord Morpeth,) who had moved the Amendment, had declared in the course of his speech, that in the principles of the Address, which he opposed, he and his party most cordially concurred; and he would, therefore, now ask, from which of the propositions contained in the Speech from the Throne, the Gentlemen on the opposite side dissented upon principle? if he were told in reply, that the professions of intention on the part of his Majesty's Government were amply satisfactory, but that the House had no confidence in them as men, and, consequently, no confidence in the extent and details of their measures—then was his reply simple and obvious, that the House possessed within itself the constitutional power, on the regular introduction of these measures, to accept or to reject them, to curtail or to extend their provisions, as to them might seem fit. Let them, therefore, await the legitimate period for their consideration; let them not rush into the wild absurdity of smothering the principles of their measures, from some vague apprehensions of their probable details. Should the House, however, proceed to such an extremity—should they, in the violence of their hostility, stifle in embryo, or strangle in the birth, every measure of the present Ministry, which more temperate and dispassionate minds might consider safe, or salutary, or expedient—the country and their constituencies would not fail at once to judge of the soundness of the measures, 445 and the policy and prudence of their rejection. Gentlemen on the opposite side might likewise find in the case to which the noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) had alluded, an ample illustration of the principle that whatever constitutional submission the Ministers of the Crown might owe to the just and rational decisions of that House, there was no power of a party, of whatsoever materials it might be composed, proceeding upon factious grounds alone, and even when commanding large majorities in that House, which was sufficient to drive from office an Administration chosen by the Monarch, supported by the Peers, and although not yet, enjoying the confidence of the people, at least encouraged by every constitutional manifestation of their sentiments to persevere, and to merit it by their measures. On the very first day of Mr. Pitt's appearance in the House of Commons after his acceptance of office, he had to encounter no less than five hostile motions carried by his opponents, and two divisions, in which he was left in minorities of forty-nine and fifty-four. If the House had not in remembrance the sentiments of his Majesty George 3rd upon that trying occasion, he would beg leave to call it to their recoltion:—"Mr. Pitt cannot but suppose, said his Majesty, in a letter to the Premier, that I received his communication of the two divisions in the long debate which ended this morning, with much uneasiness, as it shows the House of Commons much more willing to take into consideration intemperate resolutions of desperate men, than I could have imagined. As to myself I am perfectly com posed, as I have the self-satisfaction of feeling I have done my duty. I am ready to take any step that may be proposed to oppose this faction, and to struggle to the last period of my life, but I can never submit to throw myself into its power. If they in the end succeed, my line is a clear one, and to which have fortitude to submit." Strong in the confidence of a Monarch such as this, and satisfied that his resignation of office under such compulsion, could only have the tendency of mortifying the private feelings and weakening the prerogative of the King, by forcing back into his Cabinet those from whom he had so lately withdrawn his countenance, Mr. Pitt set, on that occasion an example of firmness and perseverance which constituted one of the most 446 singular episodes in the history of that House. Outvoted by a factious majority on motion after motion—his measures rejected—his personal character assailed—his Administration denounced, defeated, on no less than twenty-four occasions during eight weeks, on ten of which he dared not even attempt to divide the House, and exposed to the indignity of four successive addresses to his Majesty, praying for his removal from office, threatened with a rejection of the Mutiny Bill, and threatened, as they now were by the hon. Member for Marylebone, with the suspension of the Supplies—Mr. Pitt still persevered in obeying the commands of his Sovereign, and, conscious of the approbation of the people, he maintained his post till the factious majorities of his opponents dwindled from fifty to one, and till Mr. Fox and his colleagues retired from the contest in despair. He was prepared to be told that the parallel, striking as it might be in some particulars, would not hold good throughout, that Mr. Pitt might with impunity persist in such an opposition to an unreformed House of Commons, with whom the people had in reality little or no feelings in common, and whose opinions and sentiments they did not represent; but that no Minister of the present day dared attempt such a resistance to the declared resolution of a Parliament chosen by the people, and really representing and expressing the sentiments of the nation, Could he be convinced that such was really the character of that House at the present moment he should at once admit the force of the argument, and grant that the Ministry should bow to the decisions of the majority. But when he recollected the admission of Mr. O'Connell last night, that, notwithstanding the provisions of the Reform Bill, there never was in this country an election at which venality and corruption had been carried to so great a height as the last—when he looked to the means by which a vast number of individuals composing that majority had been returned to that House, notwithstanding the provisions of the Reform Bill—he could not for his part concur that its decisions spoke the sense and the wishes of the people. He left out of the question the representatives of England and the North; he confined himself solely to those elections of which he was more immediately cognizant, those of the Members for Ireland, 447 for whom the right hon. Member for Dublin claimed, and justly claimed, the merit of crowning that majority—and he (Mr. Tennent) could not for a moment suppose that Members returned to that House by the dint of intimidation and perjury, and corruption, could be considered as the authorised organs of the sentiments of those whom they were said to represent. He could not conceive it other than a mockery of representation to call those the representatives of the people whose return had been wrung from their constituents by the exertion of every earthly coercion and every spiritual terror, by the prospective terror of threatened torments in another world, and the certainty of existing persecution in this. He (Mr. Tennent) could not for a moment suppose that forty individuals returned to that House, not by the unbiassed suffrages of free electors, but by the irresistible nomination of one individual, that they could be said to represent the feelings and sentiments of the people, and not the sentiments and wishes of the man by whom they were sent there for his own specific purposes. Submission to the decision of majorities secured by means such as these, so far from bespeaking that deferential submission to the opinions of that House, which was due by the Ministers of the Crown to the Representatives of the people, would, in his mind, be little more than a lame surrender of their delegated authority to the caprice and clamours of a faction. Nothing could be further from his intention than in any sentiments which he had expressed, to detract in the slightest degree from the powers of that prerogative of advising and remonstrating, if needs be, with his Majesty on the appointment of his Ministers, which, under the provisions of the Constitution, belonged indisputably to that House; but whilst he felt it to be his duty, not only as a Member of that House, but as one of the people, to protect and defend that prerogative, it was equally essential to the balance of the Constitution to ascertain and to respect its limits. And if that House, by the exertions of any factious influence which it might be empowered to wield, even where it could not justify or defend its exercise; if it were enabled to control the privilege of the Monarch and the prerogative of the Crown by negativing the nomination of its Ministers without waiting for one impartial exposition of their measures,—then he did contend that 448 by that one effort of authority they transferred the executive powers from the Crown to the Commons. They rendered the prerogative of the Monarch at best but a sonorous nullity—and reduced the King to the condition described by Mr. Fox on another occasion, of a mere captive on his Throne, and the first slave in his own dominions. He thought it necessary to be thus explicit in stating the principles on which he acted, in order to explain and to justify the course which he intended upon this, and upon similar occasions, should they present themselves, to adopt towards his Majesty's Ministers. Satisfied that any Factious opposition, tending to embarrass or to eject them from office, without an impartial consideration of their measures, would be as unjust as it was unconstitutional, he should willingly lend himself to no such proceedings. Independently of every other motive by which he might be actuated in adopting this Resolution, one consideration alone, even did none other present itself, would be sufficient to influence his decision. He should consider it an act of gross and culpable indiscretion to contribute to the overthrow of this, or any other Administration till he had ample grounds for assurance, that an abler or better one was prepared to replace them. And, he confessed that, for he could not discover in the Cabinet which had been announced by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, composed of two-thirds of Radicals, and the hon. Member himself, or perhaps the hon. Member for Derbyshire, the elements of such a Government as he should prefer to that which his Majesty had lately called to his assistance. Whilst such were his sentiments in abstaining from opposition he should be influenced by other and equally powerful ones in any support which he might see it his duty to render to his Majesty's Ministers. As a Reformer he never could, and he never would, give his undivided support to any Government which did not enter upon office on the principle, and with the determination to remedy and remove, so far as it was practicable, every existing abuse. A Ministry entering upon office with any other views and intentions than this, neither would nor ought to be permanent, or to receive the confidence and support of the people's Representatives. When he regarded the declarations made by the present Ministers out of doors, and most 449 especially when he looked to the contents of the Speech which had been delivered from the Throne, and the intentions avowed in the speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) on this Address, he should be refusing to the right hon. Baronet and his colleagues, as Ministers, that courtesy to which they were entitled as private Gentlemen, did he not admit that he believed them to be sincere in their present professions of Reform. Should their measures be carried out in the same spirit in which they were at present announced, he should, on the introduction of them, give to each a conscientious and cordial support; but should they in their general policy, or their individual actions, exhibit an hostility to that principle, which was the sole ground of any confidence he could extend to them, there was no Member of that House who would give them a more strenuous and determined opposition than he should. He had to thank the House for the patience with which they had heard him, and had only to state in conclusion, that those were his reasons for voting for the original Motion; not so much because he dissented from the sentiments expressed in the Amendment, though he did not concur in them all, as because he disapproved of its ultimate object, and was willing to give his Majesty's Ministers all they now came to solicit a fair and impartial trial.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
rested the vote which he had given upon the question of the Address upon the principles upon which he had always acted, and which had been so well explained by his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell). The able manner in which his noble Friend in his speech of the other evening had vindicated the line of conduct which he and those who acted with him thought it their duty to pursue, more than justified the confidence that he had always been disposed to place in his noble Friend. He begged to state, that his noble Friend was not self-elected to the position which he occupied upon that (the Opposition) side of the House. He had been placed there by the approving voice of the whole Whig party. After the pointed and impressive manner in which his noble Friend had contradicted the assertion that had been made, that a difference of opinion existed between him and his noble Friend, and a noble Lord in another place, he should not have felt it necessary to obtrude for a single moment 450 upon. the attention of the House, except that rumour had again given currency to a report that, notwithstanding his noble Friend's direct contradiction, a difference of opinion did exist where, in point of fact, difference of opinion there was none. He begged again emphatically to declare, that amongst the Members of the Melbourne Cabinet there was no such difference of opinion as had been stated. And farther, not to deal with general expressions, but with a particular Question, he begged to state, that on the Question of the Irish Church the plan laid down and explained in general terms by his noble Friend met with his entire and perfect approval, as well as that of his noble Friend in the other House. Not only did it meet with his approbation, but he took the liberty of saying, and if the noble Lord the Member for Lancashire were then in his place, he would ask the noble Lord whether the noble Lord did not know that long before he had the honour of being a Member of the late Government, he had expressed his approbation of the very plan explained by the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, last night. Nay, more, the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, was aware that he was ready to act upon such a plan. Therefore, not only was it false to state that general differences had existed in the Melbourne Cabinet; but it was specially and particularly false in the Question of Irish Church Reform, for on that there was the most perfect and entire concord. He would not detain the House further. He merely wished to avail himself of the first favourable opportunity to give a direct contradiction to the statements which had been put into circulation. Whenever the subject was brought forward in a specific shape, he should be prepared to state in detail what his views and opinions were. He was glad that the right hon. Baronet, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had conic to the determination of not opposing the Report upon the Address. The line of conduct that the right hon. Baronet had determined to adopt upon that subject was exactly what he had expected from him. He thought it did the right hon. Baronet infinite credit, and must be satisfactory to the House. Having discharged what he conceived to be a duty to himself and to his two noble Friends, by setting the House and the public right as to the alledged differences of opinion that had 451 existed between them, he should not trespass further upon the House. After the course that the right hon. Baronet had determined to take, it would be bad taste on the part of the House to prolong the discussion.
Sir Matthew White Ridley
perfectly agreed with the concluding observation of his right hon. Friend who had just sat down. He should think it very bad taste on his part if, after the long discussion that had taken place, he should enter afresh upon the stage, and attempt to detain the House at any length upon the subject of the Address or the Amendment. But the personal imputation that had been cast upon him by the hon. Member for Middlesex, induced him to claim the indulgence of the House for a few moments, and a few moments only. In the position which he occupied as a public man, he must look to his public character; and he was not afraid to put the consistency of that, or the merits of his private character, in competition with either the public or private character of the hon. Member for Middlesex, who, in his peculiar manner, had thought proper to attack him personally. The hon. Member quoted from some newspaper an account of a meeting which was stated to have taken place at the house of the noble Lord the Member for Lancashire. The very first part of that account, which described Lord Arthur Lennox as being present at the meeting, was false and unfounded, for Lord Arthur Lennox was at that moment in Scotland. As far as it related to himself, he was ready to state, that he did attend the meeting held at the house of his noble Friend, the Member for Lancashire; and he was proud to say further, that he fully acquiesced in the opinions his noble Friend entertained upon all general subjects of Reform; and he would tell the hon. Member for Middlesex, although he (Sir M.W. Ridley), and his noble Friend, and those who thought with him, were not prepared to vote that black was white—although they were not prepared to say one thing one day, and to vote another the next—although they did not attempt to gain a temporary popularity by truckling to popular passion, they were prepared to go on as honestly and as conscientiously in the Reform, not only of alleged abuses, but of everything that was found to operate prejudicially to the institutions of the country, as the hon. Member himself. He 452 should not be afraid of sinking in the scale of popular opinion by contrasting the line of conduct which he and his friends should pursue with the line of conduct that might be adopted by the hon. Member for Middlesex. The hon. Member stated, that, many years ago, when his right hon. Friend, the Member for Cumberland, acted with the hon. Member, in preparing lists of the House of Commons he always thought that he was not a stanch Whig; and that, at the present moment, he did not know what to call him. He would relieve the hon. Member from his difficulty—he would tell him what he was. From the first moment that he had been introduced to public life, he had continued to be a sincere and constitutional Whig, and as sincere a Reformer as the hon. Member for Middlesex, or any other Member of the House. But he was not one of those who would blindly follow the hon. Member for Middlesex when he saw that hon. Member lending himself to everything that was unbecoming the character of an independent Representative. He had not become one of the tail of the hon. Member for Middlesex. Although the hon. Member might seek popularity by calling down the animadversions of the House against those whom he had been pleased to denominate the tail of the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, he, for one, should look upon such conduct (he did not wish to use the word offensively) with the contempt it deserved. He felt satisfied that no other Member of the House, in discussing a great constitutional question, would have descended to such petty and unworthy personalities as had figured in the speech of the hon. Member for Middlesex. As to the general Question of the Address, he would simply observe that his object in the course he had pursued, was not to give a vote which might tend immediately to turn out the right hon. Baronet and his colleagues from the Government. That being the case, he thought it more consistent with his duty, and more consistent with his principles, to give a direct and decided vote upon the question than to seek to shelter himself under the pretext, that although the right hon. Baronet might be left in a minority, he would not retire from the situation that he held; in pursuing that course he had consulted no personal feeling, no personal interest; he had adopted it simply because he thought it the most straight forward and 453 the most manly; and having adopted it, I he was not afraid to leave his constituents or the people of England generally, to form their own conclusions as to his conduct, or the motives which had influenced him. He understood, that another report had been circulated that he (Sir M. W. Ridley) had somewhere or other communicated to some one, that the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not intend to take the sense of the House upon the present occasion; and farther, that he had communicated to the Government, that in case of a division he should not oppose them, because he thought the opposition was factious. In answer to that report, he begged to state, in reference to the last part of it, that he had had no communication whatever with the Government; and in reference to the first part of it, he could only say, that all the intercourse he had had with any one upon the subject was with a friend whom he met in the street that day, and who asked him what turn he supposed the debate would take. In reply to that question, he stated that he did not know, but that as far as he was concerned, if the right hon. Baronet should think fit to take the sense of the House, he thought he would be acting a very unwise and unworthy part, for that the opinion of the House having been fairly expressed the night before, he considered it the duty of the right hon. Baronet to yield to that vote; and if the right hon. Baronet took a different course, he should certainly vote against him.
Mr. Feargus O' Connor
agreed with the recommendation already given, that it would be better to refrain from any observations on the Address or Amendment, since those questions had been already so fully discussed. He begged to congratulate the right hon. Baronet, (Sir Robert Peel) on the support he had received from the noble Member for Lancashire, and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland. He, and several other Irish Members, had been accused of giving themselves up and binding themselves to the opinions of the hon, and learned Member for Dublin. There was nothing to justify such an assertion—there was nothing in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin to show so strong an ambition in him as there was in that of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) who declared himself the head of the Army of Observation on the other side of the House. 454 He begged to assure the hon. Member for Belfast, that he completely mistook the nature and motives of the opposition formed against the Administration, and if the hon. Member doubted of his independence, he would remind him, that he represented one twenty-fourth part of the population of the United Empire; that he solicited no proposer, no seconder, no voter; that his election did not cost him one farthing, and that even if the Reform Bill had not passed he should have a majority of 2,000. He remembered the time when the hon. Member for Belfast considered the American Republic as the model of good Governments. The hon. Member, therefore, ought to be the last person to accuse the Irish Members of political inconsistency. The hon. Baronet (the Member for Cumberland) had accused the Irish Members of factious opposition, but the right hon. Baronet was not guilty of that, for he said he had some confidence in the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, but none in the Gentlemen by whom he was surrounded. That was a poor compliment, for the right hon. Baronet was responsible for every person that held office under him. The Opposition on that side of the House was called factious and anomalous, but was it a bit more anomalous than the coalition formed on the opposite side? He considered that the assistance given by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) to the present Administration was ruinous to the Ministry. The noble Lord spoke against it out of doors, and gave it a doubtful support within. For his own part, give him a manly and avowed foe rattier than a disguised friend.Of all the plagues offended Heaven can send, Save me, oh save me, from a wily friend.He had often said in his place in Parliament, that. he wished the Government of Earl Grey removed, and he still adhered to that opinion, for he expected after what happened to that Cabinet, that something more in accordance with the feelings of the age would be infused into the Administration that would succeed. He had hoped that when the late Government was broken up, they should have one which, taking notice of the faults of the preceding Administration, would at last consent to satisfy the wants of the people. What sort of Government had they now? One that uniformly displayed their hostility against the Reform Bill, and considered 455 any triumph they might gain as a party, and not a national one. What was the first act of this new Administration? To compliment the perpetrators, and by doing so to sanction the perpetration, of a sort of judicial murder of their Irish fellow-countrymen. With respect to the dissolution of the late Parliament, on the head of the right hon. Baronet who advised it must rest all the responsibility. Though the Irish Members had been so much vilified, he hoped they talked in that House with as little party feeling as English Members, and that they would not allow any excitement to lead them away on the present or any other discussion. The Session had commenced with abuse hurled against the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and repeated charges were brought against him. The noble Lord who moved the Address, recommended him and the other Irish Members to reserve their speeches for taverns and beer-shops. But suppose he should be asked, why he supported the Whigs, what would his answer be? Why, that he supported them because he regarded them as the right sort of Conservatives. The Whigs acted upon something like fair principles, and that was the reason he had given the Amendment of the noble Lord, the Member for Yorkshire, his humble, but zealous support. Now, with respect to the Question relative to the Irish Church, he should maintain the same principles on which he had always acted, and from which he had never swerved. The right hon. Baronet opposite might, notwithstanding what had passed, labour under the delusion that he could maintain his ground; but he would tell the right hon. Gentleman, that it would be utterly impossible for him, or any other man, to hold the situation which he filled without redressing the wrongs of Ireland, and doing justice to that neglected country. The people of Ireland were fully bent upon compelling the Government to remove the grievances under which they laboured; and in this determination they would persevere in spite of the efforts that were made by the Tories to drive them to the commission of some act of disturbance, which would furnish a pretext for denying them that which was their right. These efforts, however, were as foolish as they were futile. He was glad to see that there was a growing disposition on the part of both the people of England and Scotland to do Ire- 456 land justice—but he was fully convinced, that if the present men remained in office, the good feeling to which he alluded would speedily be defeated. The Whigs, he was bound to admit had done much for Ireland; and if they had remained in power, no doubt his country would have had to thank them for still further advantages. Honourable Gentlemen on the other side of the House had designated him, and other of the Irish Members, as the mere slaves of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Dublin. He most indignantly repelled that charge, and asserted, that he never acted otherwise than as an independent Member of that House. He certainly entertained a very high respect and esteem for his hon. and learned friend, but to be a slave to him, or any other man he would never submit. Slave, indeed! Why, had he not differed from his hon. and learned friend upon no less than five important subjects? He opposed him with respect to time on the Question of the Repeal of the Union, and he voted against him on the Corn-laws, the Coercion Bill, the Tithe Bill, and on the subject of Poor-laws. He must complain of the conduct of the right hon. Baronet opposite in having refused to give any information to a noble Lord on his side of the House respecting the course he meant to pursue on the bringing up of the Report; but it now appeared that the right hon. Baronet had not been quite so uncommunicative when questioned on the subject by other persons, for it was evident that he had stated the line of conduct he meant to pursue that evening to the hon. Baronet who spoke last. [The Chancellor of the Exchequer: No, no, you are mistaken.] He rejoiced to hear it, because it went to show that the right hon. Baronet had persevered in being consistent. He begged, however, to tell the right hon. Baronet, that it was just as impossible for him to suppose that he could govern England and Ireland upon his avowed principles, as that he could turn the sun from its course. The present was a war of industry and intelligence against deception and ignorance; but if the right hon. Baronet would take his advice he would relinquish the helm while it was yet in his power to exclaim with the old Roman, "The gods look down on me with pleasure, because I have retired from office with my integrity preserved."
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
had attended the 457 House for the last four nights for the purpose of answering any attack that might be made against the Government of Ireland, but the hon. Member for the county of Cork was the first person who had offered him an opportunity of addressing the House. That hon. Member had alluded to the unfortunate and melancholy attack by the military upon the peasantry at Rathcormac, and lie insinuated that the present Government of Ireland were the authors of that much-to-be deplored and most disastrous proceeding; but he could assure the House that the hon. Member's charge was destitute of foundation, the present Irish Government having had nothing whatever to do with the transaction. On the 4th of November application was made to the late Government of Ireland for military aid to assist in enforcing the collection of certain tithes, payment of which had been refused to the owners, and it was not till the fourth he believed of the following month of December that the Government completed their arrangements for empowering the military to act in levying of those tithes. Every circumstance, therefore, connected with the employment of the military in the affair at Rathcormac, was to be attributed not to the present but to the late Government of Ireland; but although he had felt it his duty to say this, he begged, at the same time, that it might be perfectly understood that he had no intention whatever of throwing blame on the late Government for the course they had taken to maintain and enforce the law, to obtain for the tithe owner that which was indisputably his right and due. When, however, the hon. Member for the county of Cork accused the present Irish Government as the parties who were responsible for this distressing transaction, he conceived that it was only fair on his part to state to the House how the matter stood, and that the whole of the arrangements were made, not by the present Irish Government, but by their predecessors. The hon. Member had said, that neither his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dublin nor himself were liable to be charged with inconsistency for the support which they gave to the Whigs. Now he (Sir Henry Hardinge) had not the least objection that the hon. Member and his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dublin should coalesce with the Whigs, whom they had so recently abused, and designated as the 458 "worst enemies Ireland ever had," but, for his part, he thought such conduct altogether irreconcileable. What happened only a few weeks before the hon. and learned Member for Dublin left Ireland? Why, in a speech he made in Dublin he declared that his hostility against the Whigs had ceased. They were, he said, then poor, and he should not revile them; on the contrary it was his intention to give them his best support, but still he did not mean to depart from his intention of carrying the question of the Repeal of the Union; aye, even though he took office with the Whigs, he would not be content until he saw a Parliament sitting in College Green. As long as he lived, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin added, he would advocate a Repeal of the Union, and this, he said, even though he was then ready to take office with the Whigs; but, in taking office, however, he would not leave himself open to be charged with vanity or ambition, for the motive which alone could induce him to accept place was his wish by such means to further the object which he had and ever should keep in view, namely the Repeal of the Union. Under such circumstances, how was it possible that the right hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Spring Rice), sitting in the same Cabinet with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin could consent to discuss with him the question of a Repeal of the Union—when the one declared that Repeal was the only panacea for the evils of Ireland, and the other asserted that the effect of a Repeal would he to dismember the empire? He asked how it was possible for two men so pledged, but without, of course, knowing anything of the co-partnership that might be established between them, afterwards to coalesce? The right hon. Member for Cambridge was as steadfast an opponent of-Repeal as the hon. and learned Member for Dublin was a firm advocate for it, and yet the hon. and learned Member for Dublin was willing to take office under a Whig Government. He stated, that his friends added to the Whig party, the Radicals being of course included in the calculation, formed about two-thirds of that House, and that, with such strength and under such circumstances, if the Whigs came again into power they would be able to carry any measure they pleased, even the Repeal of the Union, the effecting of which he avowed to be the great object 459 of his life. He should not have risen if it had not been to contradict the statement of the hon. Member for the county of Cork; but before he sat down, he begged to say that as far as the Government with which he was connected was concerned he was at any moment prepared to show that the employment of troops had not only been justifiable on all occasions, but that so far from interfering with the freedom of election the presence of the military had in many instances been the means of preventing the sacrifice of human life. Nay, more, he would defy either the hon. Member for the county of Cork, or any other Irish Member to point out a single instance in which the troops, when called out to assist the local authorities, had misconducted themselves.
§ Mr. Finn
was so averse from his Majesty's present Ministers that he should feel it his duty to give them his most strenuous opposition. In doing that he was not leagued with a faction, but with the whole people of Ireland who were determined not to be satisfied with the manner in which that country had been governed, or rather misgoverned for ages. They complained, and with great justice, of the hardship of persons being compelled to support a religion they did not profess, and neither the people of England nor of Scotland would endure having money taken out of their pockets, nolens volens, to support the Catholic religion? The thing was monstrous, but this was not the only hardship imposed on the people of Ireland; for, in addition to having their money wrung from them to support an overgrown Church Establishment, they were excluded almost from the rights of citizenship, being debarred from many civil privileges, in the advantages of which they were legally entitled to participate. He could not support a Government which held out no hope to the country of an efficient Church Reform, and if he now acted with tie Whigs he had very good reason for it, because the Whigs had done much for Ireland, the fruits of the misgovernment of which country England was now reaping.
Mr. William Williams
said, that there was one part of the King's Speech upon which he felt himself called upon to make some observations. The statement to which he alluded was that which referred to the satisfactory state of the trade and commerce of the country. He wished he 460 could bear testimony to the accuracy and truth of the assertion; but he was connected with a district where an extensive branch of manufactures was carried on. In Coventry, and its neighbourhood, a great number of his constituents were engaged in trade, and their business was far from being in a satisfactory state. On the contrary, they were at present, and had been for a considerable time past, suffering under very great depression and distress. He had had numerous opportunities of seeing the distress in Coventry, which was so vast, that he could not have believed such distress had existed had he not witnessed it with his own eyes. This pressure did not proceed from a want of demand for the manufacture, but from the system of what was called free trade; and the competition consequently arising from the introduction of foreign goods into this country. Amongst the manufacturers of Coventry, there was as much wealth, industry and ingenuity as amongst any class of his Majesty's subjects; one entire branch of the manufactures of this country was almost exclusively carried on there, and he considered that that branch ought to have a just degree of protection afforded it from the legislature. The right hon. Member had a memorial lately presented to him from the Corporation of Coventry, and he trusted that the Government would give it their most attentive consideration. He would not, on the present occasion, enter into further details, as a notice upon the subject had been already given by the hon. Member for Warwick county, and when that Motion should come before the House, he trusted it would receive the attention it deserved. He wished merely to say that he was totally unconnected with any party; that he was returned to that House by a very numerous constituency; and that if his Majesty's Ministers had made propositions which were in accordance with the wants and wishes of his constituents, he would have supported them; but they had proposed such measures as he, as a Reformer, could not call measures of Reform, they being far short of the expectations of the country. He supported the Amendment, because it promised more Reforms than the original Address.
§ Mr. G. F. Young
said he felt it necessary to make a few observations, as he was one of those Members who voted for the Address, and against whom so unjust an 461 attack had been made by the hon. Member fur Middlesex for the course they had felt it their duty to pursue. He was the more surprised at this attack, because he had on two occasions put the hon. Member for Middlesex in nomination at the hustings—but from all he had heard and seen since, he was prepared to say that he was more honoured by the hon. Member's censure than by any compliment he could receive at his hands. He rose indignantly to repel the inference which the hon. Member for Middlesex thought fit to d raw as to the motives which had actuated the vote which he had given; but he had seen quite enough of that hon. Gentleman to disregard anything he might say or do. He must, however, admit that, entertaining the political sentiments he did, he could not place confidence in the present Ministers of the Crown, neither did he consider the Address otherwise than as unsatisfactory, and had the matter been brought forward as a substantive question the probability was that he should have voted against the Address and in favour of the Amendment. Looking, however, at the result of the adoption of the Amendment, and not agreeing that it would be prudent prematurely and instantaneously to drive the present Administration out of power, he had no other course to pursue but that which he had taken, for he was not left to a mere hypothesis as to the result of carrying the Amendment; but he had from the hon. Member for Derby an avowal of what the composition of the succeeding Government was to be. That avowal had operated strongly to deter him from doing anything that could lead to the dismissal of the present Administration, for, however highly he respected the hon. Member for London and the hon. Member for Bridport as individuals, and however he might approve of their opinions, he still felt that they had no pretensions that could justify their receiving office, and, therefore, as an honest man, wishing only to act rightly, he was constrained to vote against the Amendment. Measures were advocated by some of those who opposed the present Government which, if carried into effect, would be destructive of our well-poised Constitution, and most injurious to the interests of the country. The agricultural interests would be destroyed by the abolition of the Corn-laws, the interests of trade and commerce would be injured by the specu- 462 lative theories of political economy, and funded property would be tampered with by what was called an equitable adjustment, which would give but little satisfaction to the holders of that property, however agreeable it might be to the hon. Member for Oldham. He could not concur in the course about to be pursued by the present Ministry. He could not say that the course was unconstitutional or unparliamentary, but it was improper, unfair, and unjustifiable. His voting for the Address would, he felt satisfied, expose him to much obloquy; but this he would endeavour with patience to endure, and would follow the example of a right hon. Gentleman upon whom much calumny had been heaped, and who had waited the proper time and place where he might justifiably vindicate himself, which he did fully and satisfactorily. So he also would wait until the proper time should arrive, trusting that his conduct in the interval would fully prove that he had never swerved from the principles which, from his earliest days, he had ever advocated, which he cherished as a man, and by which his future life should be ever regulated.
said, he had not given his vote from any motive of factious opposition, but supported the Amendment from a conscientious conviction of its necessity.
§ Mr. W. Roche
said, that the mischievous consequences of the Tithesystem in Ireland were now coming home to England, who was suffering in a number of particulars from her oppression of Ireland. Mr. O'Connell's offer to suspend the Repeal agitation provided the same measure of Reform as that enjoyed by England was extended to Ireland was a fair one. He voted for the Amendment because He did not think any confidence could be placed in men who upon all occasions, which hitherto had offered, proved themselves to be the inveterate enemies of Reform.
§ Mr. Herbert Curteis
considered the attacks made upon his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) as most unjustifiable. No Member of that House had done so much for the country as his hon. Friend. He would venture to say, that the country would never have had the benefit of any of those reductions of expenditure effected by the Tory Governments, had it not been for the unremitting assiduity of his hon. Friend in forcing upon the attention of 463 Parliament the abuses of our finance system. He wished to know from the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for Ireland, whether the public prints had correctly reported the fact that the thanks of the Government were conveyed to the officers and men engaged in the affair of Rathcormac.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
did not think the question of the hon. Gentleman quite fair, seeing that a notice of Motion stood upon the Order-book for the production of the letter referred to by the hon. Gentleman. If the hon. Gentleman had reflected, or had had more experience in that House, he would not, under the circumstances, have put such a question.
§ Mr. Herbert Curteis
was not so young in that House as to stand in need of the lessons of the right hon. Baronet. A vote of thanks to men who had sacrificed the lives of their fellow-men before the proper tribunal had pronounced upon the character of the act, was premature and improper. By such conduct the Government departed from that line of neutrality which they were bound to observe. If the men tired without the order of the civil power, they were guilty of murder. The dismissal of the late Government was, in his opinion, most uncourteous and improper. That dismissal would not advance the purpose of the right hon. Baronet. The House, however, had been told, that if they dared to do their duty, they would again he sent to their constituents. He had no hesitation in saying, that if the Ministers should take such a step under the present circumstances, they would merit the fate of the Polignac ministry, and that he would not drop one tear of pity for their sufferings. He placed no confidence in the Government, and he saw no reason if measures of Reform were to be brought forward, why the country should not receive them from the hands of those men to whom it was indebted for the Reform Bill.
§ Mr. Thomas Attwood
said, he had that day received a letter of remonstrance from his constituents against that part of the Speech from the Throne which represented trade as in a flourishing condition. This his constituents treated as a mockery of their sufferings. Excepting in Lancashire, and there not among the mass of the people, he knew of no part of England where capital produced a return, or the working classes were not in a state of great depression. When agriculture was 464 suffering, how could trade or commerce flourish? With a debt of 800,000,000l., and wheat at 4s. 6d. a bushel, the great interests of the country could not but be in a state of depression. He, therefore, begged to enter his humble protest against that part of the Royal Speech which falsely—he had almost said wickedly—represented the trade and commerce of the country to be in a satisfactory state. Neither could he concur in the opinion, coming from the same source, that there was much to boast of in the foreign relations of this country. Russia had been allowed to trample under foot the treaty of Vienna; and she had, also, trampld upon the interests of England with regard to Turkey. As a Representative of the people of England, he, for one, was not disposed to pocket such an insult upon the national honour. For his part, he did not think the honour of England was safe in the keeping of the present Ministers.
The Report of the Address, as amended, was agreed to.