§ On the motion of Mr. O'Loghlen, the House proceeded with the further consideration of the Lords' amendments in this Bill.
§ Several of the amendments having been agreed to,
§ On the motion to omit the word "appointed" in the 49th Clause, and to insert the word elected, and to insert the name Carrickfergus in the schedule,
§ Mr. Freshfield
* said, Sir, the motion now made by the right hon. Gentleman, will enable me to address to the House the observations I wish to offer upon the measure we have so long had under our consideration; but more especially upon the proposal of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to confer municipal corporate powers upon twelve towns, and only twelve towns, in Ireland, in opposition to the amendment sent down to us by the House of Lords; and, Sir, no person can be more unwilling than I am to open a discussion which hon. Members may wish to consider closed by the division of Friday last, but it will be in your recollection, Sir, how frequently I endeavoured to obtain a hearing on that night, especially after the hon. Members for the city of London, for North Derbyshire, and for Meath, but it appeared that arrangements had been made with a view to close the debate on that evening, and I felt it my duty not to interfere with that object, but to reserve myself for the present stage. Sir, in commenting upon the statement of the hon. Member for the city of London, I would premise that I have not been led to do so by any view taken of the subject subsequent to that debate, but the remarks I shall make are those which occurred to me at the moment the hon. Member was speaking, and the substance of which I communicated to him, when I apprised him that it was my intention to endeavour to controvert his positions.
Sir, the hon. Member stated, "that if the other House chose, upon all subjects of legislation, to decide upon different grounds from those upon which the Commons proceeded, it was high time and perfectly right that this should be proclaimed out-of-doors to the people;" and the hon. Member proceeded to infer that out of this state of things a necessity arose for some change which he did not very distinctly describe. I venture to deny the* From a corrected report.513 fact of the hon. Gentleman and his conclusion. I discover no authority for the statement that the House of Lords proceed upon different grounds from those upon which the Commons proceed; and, on the contrary, it is obvious that, between a very considerable number of the Members of this House and the great majority of the House of Peers, there has been no difference of opinion. Indeed, the actual state of things, as opposed to the hon. Gentleman's statement, forcibly brought to my recollection an anecdote of the great Frederick of Prussia, who, in consequence of a certain supposed position of the enemy, submitted a military measure to a council of war, at which several officers delivered their opinions, until one of the members, instead of giving to the King a military opinion, said, "May it please your Majesty, I doubt the fact." The King admitted the reasonableness of ascertaining the fact prior to agreeing upon the military measure; and it was soon discovered that there was no foundation for the position assumed. Sir, I believe that to be the precise case of the hon. Member: he assumes this House to have acted with unanimity, upon definite grounds, directly opposed to those adopted by the House of Lords; and if there had been no difference of opinion— if the general opinion had been that to be collected from the Bill sent from this House, then, undoubtedly, he would have been justified in stating that, as to this particular measure, the two Houses did proceed upon different grounds. But what is the fact?—So far from unanimity having prevailed in this House, a motion was made for an instruction to the Committee to frame the Bill upon the precise principle adopted by the great majority of the House of Peers; that motion was supported by a minority in this House so large as to make it questionable what was the opinion of the House. It is true that, for the purpose of the proceeding, there being a majority, the Government were entitled to claim the benefit of a decision in their favour, and so they would, had the majority consisted of a single vote only; but when the hon. Gentleman thinks proper to represent this case as of an extraordinary description—as requiring to be" proclaimed out-of-doors to the people," then he must not stand upon a mere majority, but upon a clear, fixed, almost unanimously-agreed principle, within these walls, brought into doubt, only, and for the first time, by the House of Peers. But what pretence is there for such a statement? We find a minority, consisting of 514 between 200 and 300 Members, affirming, in this House, the very principle adopted by the other House of Parliament—we find in this House a number in favour of the ministerial plan, not equal to the aggregate number composed of the majority of the Peers, and the minority of the Commons. So that in opposition to the Government plan you have actually a majority of those possessing the right to legislate, and yet we are to be told of some remarkable, even culpable, difference, between the two Houses.
But I would invite the attention of the House to another view of the question raised by the hon. Member. It must be well known to every hon. Member that the House of Lords is a Court of final appeal from other Courts of Justice. Suppose, for a moment, that in its judicial character, it had reversed three or four decisions of some inferior Court, would it be a fair ground of complaint against the House of Lords, or would not the inference be that the fault lay with the Judges of the inferior Court—that their law was unsound; or if the learned persons were not deficient in their law, would it not be suspected that they had been subject to some pressure without—that their erroneous judgments following each other in quick succession were to be ascribed to some unhappy leaning to one party, rather than a rigid adherence to sound and impartial justice? I do not stop to apply the supposed case; I will not ask whether the senatorial qualifications of the representative legislators are unquestionable, or whether, admitting their general fitness, yet that individuals have been obliged to yield to those influences to which they owe their elections, and upon which they depend for further returns. I have a right to contend, and I do so with confidence, that the decision of the majority of the House of Lords is as likely to be consonant to justice and the principles of sound legislation, as the judgment formed by the majority in this House. What, then, are we to proclaim to the people? That each House has exercised its judgment as to the best mode of promoting the general good; that the House of Lords, in the case of this Irish Municipal Corporations Bill, has followed the course adopted upon every other Bill, namely, examined the principle and the details, and decided thereon as appeared to them just; that you do not question their right or their discretion in general cases, but are mightily displeased in this particular instance; and is this a ground 515 upon which we can expect to stand well in our proclamation "out-of-doors,"—in our appeal" to the people?" Always remembering that we are complaining, not of any usurped power on the part of the House of Lords—not of any new and extraordinary proceeding, but merely and simply that we having exercised our jurisdiction, they have discharged their duty according to their own sense of right, we therefore complain not of the House of Lords, but of the Constitution; and until it can be shown that the House of Commons ought to be invested with the sole right of legislation—until the Constitution of England is overturned— we can have no right to complain that an independent branch of the Legislature has not been unfaithful to its trust by failing to afford protection to the people.
Sir, the station in and out of this House of the hon. Member for the City of London—his reputation for talent, and the importance of the question, demanded that I should offer these remarks; and with the exception of one passing observation upon another attack upon the House of Lords made by the Member for North Derby-shire, I shall leave the measure of their Lordships to furnish its own justification. That hon. Member thought he could not more strongly express his dissent from the course taken by the House of Lords, than by imagining a fit preamble to be inserted in the Bill as amended by the Peers, and accordingly he proposed that it should read thus — '. Whereas it is expedient to abolish all Municipal Corporations in Ireland; and whereas three-fourths of the people of that country are unfit to enjoy municipal institutions, because they are Papists." Now, Sir, I am always happy when I can agree with the hon. Member for North Derbyshire, and I perceive that we approximate, at least, to an agreement in the present case,, and that if he will add to his preamble, that by means of the great disproportion in numbers, the Roman Catholics would obtain the exclusive government of all municipal corporations in Ireland, I should be disposed to adopt his conclusion, that they are indeed unfit, and, for their own sakes, ought not to possess municipal institutions. But I am sure the hon. Gentleman is too liberal to claim a monopoly in legislation; and as he has proposed a preamble for the Bill as it came down from the House of Lords, he will Dermit me to suggest a title for that Bill which His Majesty's Government contemplate sending up from this House, and, with your leave, I will re- 516 commend that it shall be intituled, "An Act to facilitate agitation in Ireland, and more effectively to deliver over to the Papist agitators the persons professing the principles of the Reformation, and especially the members of the Church by law established."
Sir, there were other speeches delivered in the course of the general debate, upon which I should have been glad to offer some remarks, especially upon the endeavour of the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary to prove that no contract had been made between the incongruous parties on the other side, but merely ''a close alliance"—"a junction upon terms most honourable"—"an alliance so compact that he considered it indissoluble;" but I feel discouraged by the disadvantages under which I have to discuss the question, with the knowledge that the Bill is now in the hands of the Government to be moulded, so far as this House is concerned, into any shape they may think proper, and that no further division will take place upon the changes they may make. Still I am bound to record, not merely my opinion, but some facts which ought to be, and in justice must be, in the possession of my fellow-subjects in Ireland, and in England; and I shall proceed to that part of the subject as rapidly as possible.
The Bill, as it went up to the House of Lords, was calculated greatly to increase the means of agitation in Ireland; and while it possessed that injurious faculty, it was not necessary to the good government of the towns in Ireland. In short, to me it appeared that nothing could be worse than the Bill carried through by a majority in this House; but I was mistaken in that conclusion—the House of Lords sent down the Bill, providing for all the useful purposes of municipal institutions, but deprived of the injurious character which it carried in its original transit, and the Government have the merit of proposing an altered plan to conciliate the Lords, by which the evils of the former measure are aggravated an hundred-fold. According to the improvement to be proposed, twelve Corporations are to be retained, of which Carrickfergus stands number one; or, as the Member for Waterford happily, but for his own argument, indiscreetly, described them to be— little Parliaments: — Parliaments, you will recollect, in which all the power is made to pass over from the Protestants to Catholics; and while, by the original Bill, the mischief of such bodies would lose much of 517 its power from its dispersion over the country, and its interest would be weakened by its having an ordinary possession, in this new proposition, of twelve Irish Roman Catholic Parliaments, the power would be increased by its concentrated form—by the elastic character and operation which might be given to it—by the interest which it would be enabled to create—by the systematic working which it might command. A more effectual instrument for the increased agitation of Ireland could not be conceived by human ingenuity. But is it for the interest of Ireland that she should be subject to increased agitation? I will answer the question by a fact.
Sir, in and prior to 1823, the landed proprietors of England were greatly inconvenienced from their inability to collect their rents, on the one hand, or, on the other, to raise money upon mortgage during the temporary pressure; and it is notorious that persons, with the ample security of unencumbered estates, were obliged to obtain money at annuity interest. In 1823, the difficulty was removed by the resolution of a great public body to lend money on mortgage, at 4 per cent, interest. The example was immediately followed by other capitalists, and loans on mortgage were readily obtained at a still lower rate than 4 per cent. In short, a greatly improved state of things, as it affected both landlords and tenants, immediately followed upon the adoption of this important measure; and it occurred to those who took an interest in the welfare of Ireland, that the benefit experienced in England furnished conclusive proof of the most effectual means of promoting the prosperity of Ireland. It was known that money was more scarce in Ireland—that the means of employing it were more ample, and the necessities of the population more urgent; and although I am not an Irishman, my acquaintance and connexion with Irish interests have led me to feel deeply for Ireland, and to spare no pains to confer substantial advantages upon my fellow-subjects in that part of the United Empire: and I assert most solemnly, (with ample means in my possession to prove the fact), that from the year 1824, and founded upon the experience enjoyed by English landowners, I exerted all the means in my power to introduce capital into Ireland. I did so when capitalists possessed such a redundance of money as to be incapable of find- 518 ing employment for it;—I did so through the year preceding the panic—I did so upon every occasion which presented a favourable prospect of attaining the object; but, Sir, I did so with very limited success; my recommendations to capitalists, as well individuals as public bodies, were met with this single objection—" While agitation is permitted to exist in Ireland, there can be no security for property, and the promise of a high rate of interest will be no equivalent for the loss of the principal." I frequently pressed the distinction between the north and south of Ireland, and stated the regularity with which rents were paid in the former—the mitigated state of the tithe question in the north— nay, the absence of that question, in particular instances of landlords having the tithes of the whole parish in their hands; but the argument had very little effect. I was often told, that the comparative quiet of the north was a false peace not to be relied upon; that it would be wiser to lend, if at all, upon property in the south, because it was in its state of trial; and if rents could in that state be collected, it would prove something upon the question of security; but as to those parts not yet subject to the influence of agitation, their turn must come, and there was no probability of their being at rest; in short, at the very moment at which a security in England could not be obtained, even as a matter of favour, for money ready to be lent at less than 4 per cent.; at that same moment money could not be obtained upon the best Irish security at the high rate of 6 per cent. Sir, I could state many facts to establish and illustrate this position, but I am persuaded that it is unnecessary. I would only add, that the statement is made, not from hearsay or report, but from my own personal knowledge; and but for this agitation which has prevailed in Ireland, I am confident that this difficulty of finding investments in England, would have caused capital to flow freely into Ireland, and Irish works and Irish labour would have been largely paid for with British money. It is my solemn conviction that agitation is the moral pestilence of Ireland, and is working the destruction of the political and social happiness of the country. It is a war against property, life, and religion; — it is a cowardly system, inviting the many to persecute the few —it inflicts upon the people of Ireland the misery of a contagion 519 which, while it is preying upon them keeps at a distance those who would afford them help, and the very poverty which it produces increases their readiness to become the dupes and instruments of demagogues.
I may be told it is not enough to deprecate agitation—that we should remove the causes of discontent. Sir, I attach no value to that argument; it has been urged too often to deserve respect, it has been urged by the same persons, too, who, no doubt, believed the promise upon which others acted; they were confident that particular concessions would produce corresponding content, but experience has shown, that concession has operated only as an encouragement to make new demands, and I cannot feel that the advice of those who have been themselves deceived, and have deceived others, ought now to be followed. But it will reasonably be expected of me, that as I resist the course of concession as a mere instrument to endeavour to obtain peace for Ireland, I should point out what measure I would suggest; and, Sir, I do not hesitate to press upon noble Lords, and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite—I even implore of them, to change their present course. Let the rights of property be respected—let protection for life be afforded—let the supremacy of the law be vindicated—let the disturber of the public peace be restrained and punished, whether high or low—whether he be the nightly assassin or the pampered preacher of sedition, whose harangues are incentives to treason, whose every speech is a punishable misdemeanor. This would be justice to Ireland and justice to England, and secure general safety—and it would secure the Gentlemen opposite the possession of their places, because it would obtain for them the support of all who acted upon Conservative principles. They would have nothing to fear from party struggles; it is no question with the Conservative who shall rule: irrespective of the principles on which they govern, he will not oppose one party in measures proposed and maintained upon Conservative principles, nor will he support his friends in measures of destruction. But if Gentlemen opposite will cling to their close alliance, and rely upon their junction formed upon honourable terms, they may boast of the indissoluble character of their alliance; but they will find it dissolved, as many un- 520 happy alliances are, by the power of Parliament, and they will find, when it is too late, that in conferring professorships upon their supporters, and granting them licences to agitate, they will destroy their own party, and they will withhold from, Ireland and from the United Kingdom, that justice which they have now the power to confer.
Under other circumstances, I should have entered more fully into the subject, but I am aware of the indisposition of the House to entertain a renewed debate, after a division; and nothing but a conviction that the people of Ireland and the people of England ought to know how much mischief has been produced by agitation, and how much the measure now before the House is calculated to augment that agitation, could have induced me to do so much violence to my own inclinations, or to incur the risk of trespassing upon the indulgence of the House.
§ Mr. Sharman Crawford
rose to bring forward a motion for the restoration of the towns to the present Bill, which were in schedule C. of the original Bill. He said that, according to the proposition of the noble Lord, twelve towns were to have mayors and town councils. The seven first towns were in the original Bill in schedule A, the others were to be found in schedule B, to which Carrickfergus and Derry were added. The effect of the noble Lord's proposition would be, to exclude four towns with a population of 10,000, and four others with a population of 9,000. Why they were to be excluded, while Derry, with only 10,000, and Carrickfergus, with only 8,000, were included, he could not understand, unless it was on the principle of a concession to the other House. The proposition he had to make was, that the towns which were placed in the old Bill in schedule C, should be restored to the honourable position of corporate towns. The towns to which he alluded were as follow: Bandon, with l2,6l7 inhabitants; Athlone, with 11,362; Wexford, with 10,673; Dimdalk, with 10,078; Youghal, with 6,608; Armagh, with 9,189; Carlow, with 9,111; Tralee, with 9,562; Ennis, 7,711; Cashel, with 6,971; Kinsale, with 7,312; Portarlington, with 3,091; New Ross, 5,011; Enniskillen, with 5,270; Colerain, 5,752; and Dungannon, 3,515. He objected to any such compromise as that of abandoning these towns. The Bill, as it had come from the other House, was an insult to the people of Ireland; and a 521 British Government should refuse to be a party to it. But if this insult was received, he did not blame his Majesty's Government —he did not blame the British representatives of the British people. If their country was degraded, the blame would rest upon the shoulders of the Irish representatives alone. What was the use of talking about the repeal of the Union, and the reform of the House of Lords? What was the use of such vain boasts, if, on the very first moment when these professions were brought 'to the ordeal of practice, their valour oozed out at their finger ends, and they proclaimed themselves to be the humble servants of Britain, ready to accept any pittance which she in her pride condescended to offer for their acceptance? Were they now to learn that such vain boasting was not the way to maintain Irish character and Irish rights? For himself, he never held language of menace without the full intention of execution. Ireland could demand the repeal of the Union, and could enforce that demand, if justice were refused; but that could only be effected by the steady, determined, and unflinching stand of her representatives against every compromise of her rights or honour. He particularly regretted that the great leader of the Irish people was not present to support him. He should be sorry to be acting in opposition to the feelings of that hon. and learned Member; but while he entertained every respect for him, his own honour would not allow him to compromise his own opinions for the sake of following the opinions of any individual. He had reason to apprehend that he now stood in the breach of a forlorn hope; but at all events he ought to have one supporter—he called upon the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. H. Grattan), who had in a late speech nobly repudiated the insult offered to his country with all the fervour of his departed and illustrious predecessor. He called on him to remember the sentiment of the great Grattan, when he said," the honour of a country, like the honour of a woman, when once sacrificed can never be redeemed." He did not exactly know how he could best frame his motion so as to accomplish his object; but he was disposed in that respect to attend to any suggestion that might be made to him. If he moved that the towns be included in schedule A they would have the 101. franchise; perhaps they had better be included in a clause by themselves, giving them the 51. franchise. The hon. Member concluded by moving that the 522 town of Bandon, which was the first in the list of the sixteen towns he intended to propose (being the largest in population), should be included in the number of towns which were to have a mayor and council. If he succeeded in this he would then proceed to move the others seriatim, accompanied by a clause restoring the 5l. franchise, and the qualification for mayor and councils, as in the original Bill for the smaller boroughs.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
said he could not sit and hear it proposed that the town which he had the honour to represent should he included amongst the towns which were to have corporate honours and privileges extended to them without rising to second the motion. If there were to be any additional towns included he should certainly respectfully put in his claim for the very respectable town of Bandon. When the hon. Gentleman opposite declared that he would not compromise his opinions, he certainly did cheer the hon. Member, because whether in this House or out of it, in his humble judgment, a more honourable man was not to be found. He begged to add a word on another subject. The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny had on a former occasion referred to an inscription which he said he had seen on entering the town of Bandon. Now he had received letters that morning, stating that there had been neither a gate nor any walls at the entrance of the town of Bandon within the last century. The letters informed him that there was not even the vestige of a wall or gate, nor was there any tradition to warrant the supposition that there ever had been a wall or gate. He seconded the present motion, because he felt that if there were to be towns added to the list, there could not be found a more loyal or more respectable town than that he had the honour to represent.
§ Sir Eardley Wilmot
said, that although he had opposed the Bill in its first shape, he had cheerfully supported the proposition of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home department, for introducing the 12 towns which he had named, because he thought it would make a Bill, originally bad, worthy of the support of the House. He was decidedly opposed to the principle of adding other towns to the list; and if the hon. Member for Dundalk was allowed to get up and add three or four other towns, his example might be followed until all the small towns, as originally proposed, 523 would be replaced in the Schedules, and the measure would be again reduced to that impracticable, and as he thought, improper state, which it was in before. He thought, as the measure stood at present, it would not only pass this House, but the other House also. Although an Englishman, he had as much regard for the welfare of Ireland as if he were a native of that country, and he was anxious to see ample justice done to Ireland; but the question was, what was justice to Ireland? He considered it to be the same as that which was considered to be justice to England. With respect to the House of Lords, he had never heard it contradicted in that House, that the House of Lords had not a right to revise the proceedings of the Commons; but he doubted whether on the present occasion they ought to press their right to the extreme. He believed the House of Lords would best consult the peace of the empire by allowing the Bill to pass in its present shape; and therefore he should support the noble Lord in opposition to the hon. Member for Dundalk.
said, the motive which some Gentlemen had assigned for voting in favour of establishing new Corporations in Ireland was, that they considered it as likely to effect the pacification of that country; now, his reason for voting against the measure was, the very strong conviction, founded on observation and experience, that it would do no such thing, but that the rejection of the measure was more likely to produce the desired effect. Neither did he concur with those who maintained that the rejection of the new Corporations for Ireland was a rejection of the Irish people from the enjoyment of those rights which were possessed by the people of England; because, beyond doubt, previously to the enjoyment of any right, it ought to be shown that those to whom it was imparted should be in a condition to exercise it for the general benefit. He thought it had been clearly proved, first, that those who had already possessed these corporate rights in Ireland, had not exercised them for the general benefit, but only for the advantage of their own party, and therefore that they ought not to be conferred upon them; and next, he thought it had been proved with equal clearness, that those whom it was now proposed to endow with these corporate rights, would not enjoy them for the general benefit, but for the good of their party, and that therefore they ought not to be conferred, but that both sides should alike 524 be deprived of them: the rights themselves should be suffered to fall into disuse, and another mode of corporate government established. The old Corporations had undoubtedly been made, in Ireland particularly, an instrument of abuse which one party had used for the oppression of the other. But now what did they propose to do by this measure? They preserved this instrument of abuse, simply placing it in other hands, that is, in the hands of that party which had suffered by it, and who had therefore motives of resentment to instigate them, as well as the ordinary disposition of the human mind to abuse power. By this observation he intended no disrespect to Catholics or Irishmen, but argued only on general principles applicable to mankind, whether on this or on the other side of the Channel. England and Scotland had been adduced as examples why the same rights should be conferred on Ireland; but he would beg leave to ask whether we had yet had any experience of the content afforded by these new-modelled systems? The chief and just complaint against the old bodies had been the abuse of self-election; and that abuse having been removed, he doubted whether in other respects the new system would long continue to give universal satisfaction. But the peace of Ireland, it was said, was to be effected by this and by another concurrent measure—the appropriation measure. He had no more confidence in one measure than in the other. What could be more conciliatory than the course proposed the other night by the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, for the adoption of a measure based on a commutation and ultimately a redemption of tithes, and such a disposition of Church property as would satisfy the Protestants, by whom, in fact, four-fifths of the tithes were really paid; and to the Catholics he would grant funds for education equal to those of which it was proposed to deprive the Established Church? He thought with that noble Lord, that as the grant for education would be a mere trifle, unfelt by the country, if taken from the Consolidated Fund, the Catholics ought not to be supported in endeavouring to wring it from one particular class of men, whose property it was, and by whom the loss would be severely felt. We said to the Catholics, "fill your bucket, if you please, from this vast river,''—namely the Consolidated fund; and their answer was, "No, we will take it from this poor man's well, (the property of the Church of 525 Ireland,) though the owner had scarcely-sufficient water for his own personal and domestic wants." But, after all, would either, or both, of these measures, now under the consideration of Parliament, have the effect of tranquillizing Ireland? Did the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home-department, expect such a result? Was it not declared by those about him that these were only preparatory measures to future changes—one or two steps more in the path of incessant change? It was said, that the Roman Catholics insisted upon more now, because they had not previously had so much as they ought. But was a nation, or were the rulers of a nation, to be governed by such a maxim as this—that more should be granted at one time, because enough had not been granted at another? He said, that such a course as this was the mere exercise of vindictive feelings in others; and that justice, and no more than strict justice, ought to be done at all times. Such a course might do very well between individuals, but ought not to be pursued by a powerful Government towards dissatisfied subjects. They had now had six years' experience of the introduction of reform measures into Ireland, and they were likely to go on six years longer in the same way—change after change, but no peace, no tranquillity, nor any tendency to either. He should not detain the House longer than to recall to its recollection the various promises which were held out by the leading Catholics before the great measure of emancipation was passed. He would just as soon expect that peace would be restored by these new measures as he had seen it had been effected by conceding Catholic emancipation. The predictions were as confident on this occasion as they were then, and he believed the issue would be just the same. The noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department had spoken of the mischiefs that would result from taking away local government from the people in various districts, and transferring it by centralization to the Administration of the State. He thought that this was a singular opinion in one who had destroyed the local administration of the Poor-laws throughout the kingdom. He regarded both the questions as mere delusions. If Gentlemen were really interested in the welfare of Ireland, he thought they would act with more patriotism if they would first turn their thoughts to provide for the 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 of their countrymen who were acknowledged to be 526 in a state of destitution and wretchedness; rather than endeavour to agitate the country upon measures from which he believed not one in ten thousand could derive the slightest benefit.
I object, Sir, to the introduction of such questions as the Church Bill and the Poor-laws upon this occasion. On the Poor-laws we have already read enough in The Times newspaper. We had discussion after discussion upon them. The Times is the mighty thunderer upon the Poor laws, and the hon. Gentleman, I believe, really thinks that he is writing a paragraph instead of making a speech. And then, as 10 the Church question—as to what he calls the robbery of the poor man; why, the first time that question was stirred in this House, it was by the hon. Member for Tipperary; there were then only twenty-seven Members who voted for that spoliation, and one of the most prominent of them was the hon. Member for Berkshire. I have read his name in the list—the list published in The Times, so that he cannot renege from that. I wish to Heaven the hon. Member would take himself from this side of the House. I scented him in the past Session, as "the last rose of summer," and yet he still remains amongst us. I wish he would go to the side upon which he votes, and not remain where he ought not to be [Colonel Peel—"Order!"]. I leave it to the hon. and gallant Colonel, whether he could think it right himself to act in this way? I leave it to him, as a man and a gentleman, whether he would condescend to pretend to be one thing, and yet be another? We have then his dissertation upon the Church question. Why does he not in this conform to the columns of the paper I have referred to? Has that paper observed the slightest decency towards me, and as an earnest of the wages of its iniquity, has it not done this, and shall not I now be permitted to retort upon—
§ Mr. Kearsley
rose to order. Sir, said he, if his Majesty's servants, for they are Ministers no longer—I say, Sir, if his Majesty's servants can submit—if they are so humiliated as to submit—to the bullying conduct of the hon. Gentleman, I shall not submit to it. I wish to know, Sir, is this proper conduct in this House? I'll divide the House upon it.
I wish the hon. Member for Berkshire joy of his ally. There 527 could not be two more completely suited to each other. I may, perhaps, indeed be permitted to express my astonishment at this; what an excellent constituency it must be that is represented by the hon. Member for Wigan! But to return; I have here the division of the 8th July, 1833, which is exactly as I have said. If it is wished by hon. Gentlemen opposite, I will read the contents of it. On the 8th July, 1833, exactly as I have stated, the hon. Member for Berkshire voted for the spoliation clause. I have now done with that part of his speech which referred to Poor-laws, and also that referring to the spoliation of Church property; we then come to the question before us. The hon. Member says, that the prophecy was wrong which declared that emancipation would procure the pacification of Ireland. Why so it would, if it had been honestly followed up. I did not say that emancipation would be a final measure. On the contrary, I always said, that it must lead to others; that it was only the means, and not the end itself. It was to be one of the means working to this end—the amalgamation of all parts of the British Empire into one consolidated body, enjoying equal rights and equal privileges. When emancipation passed, that did not follow; why? Because the Emancipation Bill itself was stingily, and I may even say, with individual exceptions granted. What then followed? The people of Ireland, as they had every right to do, looked to their own resources; they called for the Repeal of the Union, and they would have the right still to insist upon it, if there had not been given to them a distinct pledge that they should have equal rights and privileges with the people of England. Does any man say, that if this measure be granted it will pacify Ireland? No, but it will be one step taken by the British Government to confer upon them those rights—it will be advancing, and they have advanced to that end. The hon. Member for Berkshire, however, says, you are still to continue to make an exception as regards Ireland— that having nominally emancipated the Catholics, they are still to be actually un-emancipated, as they must be, until they enjoy equal rights and privileges with other British subjects. He states, that abuses have already existed. Is that the reason that they are to continue? He says that the corporation was essentially a government of Protestants for Protestants, 528 Why the Protestants of Ireland are in number 850,000; there are 80,000 Dissenters. Now of the whole number of Protestants, there are only 13,000 who are members of the corporation; and of the entire 13,000, but 1,100 belongs to the governing body. That is the representation of the Protestants of Ireland; it is no more a representation of them than of the Roman Catholics. Thus, then, we perceive there are no more than 1,100 of the governing body Protestants. I wonder that the hon. Gentleman does not read sometimes as well as write. I submit to him that a writer ought, or is at least expected, to read a little. If he read at all, he ought to know that of all the Protestants there are but 1,100 of them who do not govern for others, but who make a monopoly for themselves; and it is because that paltry monopoly has misgoverned the country, that the people of Ireland are to have privileges taken from them. Because power is taken from a miserable party, the people themselves are to be treated as a party. Those who assert this are utterly ignorant of the Constitution. The people are not a party—as individual interests universally predominate when these individual interests accumulate in the majority, so is it necessary that the interests of the great majority never can be that of a party. The speech, however, upon which I am remarking, was not pronounced for this place—it was composed to be published for the miserable purposes of a party, and that it may appear amongst those things with which honest men are so much disgusted. Yes, disgusted, justly disgusted with a tergiversation of principle the most astonishing that ever occurred. The most disgraceful, too, that ever yet occurred.
§ Mr. Richards
called the hon. Member for Kilkenny to order. An attack was made upon the hon. Member for Berkshire as if he were connected with The Times newspaper, when he (Mr. Richards) contended that the hon. Member for Kilkenny had not shown any connexion between the hon. Member for Berkshire and that paper. The hon. Member for Kilkenny could not be permitted thus to browbeat and ruffianise, if he might use the expression; it was not consistent with the order of the debate. He appealed to the Speaker to say whether such language as that used by the hon. and learned Gentleman, was consistent with the order, decorum, and dignity of that House.
§ Mr. Walter
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman; I only ask the favour of being permitted to reply.
§ The Speaker
considered it would be most desirable if hon. Members would only refer to what occurred in the course of the debate.
Certainly; and therefore I only wish to congratulate the hon. Member for Berkshire upon his second defender. I think nothing can be more flattering to him than the first—except the second; one, too, so especially remarkable for his exceeding delicacy and extreme polish, which make him shrink from any thing that belongs to the kennel.
§ Mr. Richards
I rise to order, Sir. It is not right to bring into this House the manners of a blackguard, instead of those of a gentleman [" Order! "]
§ The Speaker
was sure that the House must agree with him in thinking, that expressions had been used on both sides which were not proper to be used in that House. He would conjure the Members, for the sake of that House, not to indulge in language inconsistent with propriety.
I care not for his expressions. As to mine, I only talked of hopping over the kennel, and I think it was not inapplicable to the occasion.
§ Mr. N. Fitzsimon
I think that the debate cannot continue. The hon. Member for Knaresborough has used most offensive expressions. He has made use of a word which I am almost afraid to repeat, but which you, Sir, I am sure, must have heard, as every hon. Member near me has heard it. I must, then, request of the hon. Member for Knaresborough to withdraw, before this House, his exceedingly offensive expression.
§ The Speaker
observed, that words had undoubtedly fallen from the hon. Member for Knaresborough which ought not to have been used. The inference was, that if they were not directly applicable to the hon. Member for Kilkenny, they were intended to apply to him.
§ Mr. Richards
I hope that upon all occasions I shall bow to the Speaker. I understood the hon. Member for Kilkenny to say, that the words used by me were brought from the kennel. Understanding 530 it so, if he did not use the word kennel, I withdraw the expression.
§ The Speaker
stated, that he understood the hon. Gentleman to have said that the words savoured of the kennel.
§ Dr. Baldwin
remarked, that in the first instance the hon. Member for Knaresborough had used the word" ruffianise. He left it to the House to say whether that was a proper expression to be used.
§ Mr. Richards
If the word was not applied to me, in the manner I understood it, I withdraw the expression.
§ Mr. N. Fitzsimon
I think that the hon. Member for Knaresborough has no right to enter into a compromise upon this subject. I think he should be called upon at once to withdraw the offensive expression as indefensible.
I do not do so, feeling the compliment that has been paid to me by the hon. Member for Knaresborough.
§ Dr. Baldwin
But the other Irish Members do feel it. I call upon the hon. Member to explain the expression ruffianise.
The hon. Member, I am sure, will withdraw the expression; but I appeal to the hon. Gentleman opposite, whether the tone in which he has conducted this debate is not calculated to call forth angry expressions.
§ Mr. Richards
As it appears to me, I must have been under a mistake, in the application of the word kennel, I am at once ready to withdraw the expressions objected to.
I was arguing upon three points introduced into his speech by the hon. Member for Berkshire; one on the Poor-laws, the other the Church, upon which he has voted against his colleagues; the third is the real question before the House, and I was proceeding to comment upon it, when I was called to order by the Hon. Member for Wigan, who was very disorderly in doing so, and who sat down extremely quietly, as he usually does when he is in the wrong. I was then next called to order by the hon. Member for Knaresborough, who got into that species of language which is so familiar, that until it was proved to him, he did not know it was improper [" Order.'"].
§ Mr. Scarlett
said, the manner in which this debate was conducted, was a strong argument in favour of a repeal of the Union. He would put it to the Chair whether the debates of that House could 531 be properly conducted if such language as that which had just been used was allowed. He would ask whether, after an hon. Member had retracted certain expressions which had been reprobated by the Chair, it was parliamentary to say, that the hon. Member who used them was so familiar with them that he did not know when he uttered them. He thought that an insulting observation, and if such expressions were to be tolerated, he submitted that it would be quite impossible to conduct the debates of that House with anything like decency, and therefore he hoped that the Chair would have the goodness, on all occasions, to interfere on the first moment anything of the kind occurred, in order to maintain the dignity of the House, and to relieve it from the difficulty in which it was now placed. It was a question of Order on which he was speaking. The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny had imputed to the hon. Member for Knaresborough the use of improper expressions, which he said were so familiar to him, that he was unconscious when he used them. He would repeat his question to the Chair, was that Parliamentary?
Behold! a third advocate. Another cause for congratulation to the hon. Member for Berkshire I do not believe a fourth could really be found in this House. The hon. Member for Knaresborough makes use of offensive expressions: I do not require any apology for them, whereupon the hon. Member for Norwich—
It is not for the purpose of making a commentary that I now rise to order; but I submit to you, Sir, whether, if this species of discussion is continued, it is calculated to insure respect to this House?
I have done with the subject. I thought, indeed, that a fourth could not be found. I forgot the right hon. Gentleman; I forgot that in this House a fourth could be found. If any Gentleman calls me to order, I shall immediately sit down—to find a fifth is impossible. And now, Sir, I hope I may be allowed to go on.
Jackson rose amidst shouts of laughter and cheers. He was understood to say, that if hon. Members persevered in this mode of conducting the proceedings of the House, he should move that the House do adjourn.
§ Lord John Russell
I must agree in what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, that any personal expression is, in itself, irregular, and ought not to be persevered in. No interruption of the kind ought to be permitted, but the debate should be allowed to proceed. Now I cannot help remarking, that the last time the hon. Member for Kilkenny met with an interruption, it appeared to me that he was about to proceed with what is the proper subject for discussion.
§ The Speaker
thought he could not have a more suitable occasion than the present for recommending to Members to be guarded as possible in the words used by them. Upon a great many occasions, when subjects were brought under consideration in which hon. Members felt deeply interested, expressions were used in the heat of debate, not perhaps intended to be personally offensive; and it was exceedingly difficult for one placed in his situation to catch at those expressions, and to give them a meaning with which they were not intended to be applied, and were not probably so understood. The predicament in which he was placed upon such occasions was exceedingly painful. He was at all times unwilling to lay hold of particular expressions; what he had always endeavoured to do, and often, he was sorry to say, not very successfully, was to promote as far as in his humble powers lay, that these debates should be maintained with discretion, order, and conduct, and in such a manner as would be consistent with the dignity, character, and honour of that House.
The speech of the hon. Member for Berkshire, to which I was adverting when interrupted, contains three subjects. The last was the Poor-laws, the last but one the Church question. Upon that I have shown his utter inconsistency. Whatever that person's inconsistency may be, it is not my fault. I have nothing to do with it—it is no act of mine if a man becomes a renegado to the one side or the other—but when a man does so, it is natural that he should have, at least, the sympathy of those who are also renegadoes, and have abandoned principles they formerly professed. It is matter so completely personal that it is not to be accounted for. The inconsistency of the hon. Gentleman is, however a matter of 533 very little importance in itself; it certainly has very little to do with the public interests. He has attacked all the Protestants—he has done so in identifying them with the wretched Corporations. Why he has done this in utter ignorance of the fact, that the number of Protestants in those corporations was so miserably small. And, beside this, there is the evidence before this House that those Protestants who from their intelligence and education belonged to the class of politicians, were as decidedly and as strictly excluded from the Corporations as the Roman Catholics themselves. So totally ignorant is the hon. Member for Berkshire upon this subject, that even this fact, so notorious to most others, he is not in the least degree aware of it. He is, too, doubly ignorant, when he founds an argument upon the assumption that the corporators have been the representatives of the great body of Protestants. Now, in connexion with the hon. Member for Berkshire, I have made observations upon The Times newspaper. The hon. Member for Knaresborough, for the first time in his life, is perfectly correct. Well, then, he was not perfectly right; but in principle he was right, and if there is a denial in this House, that the individual is not connected with that paper, the moment I have heard that denial, I shall never again say a word on the subject. But he is right. Let there be, as there ought to be, in this House, a disclaimer of any connection with an instrument of falsehood, foulness, and calumny—of one that affords an instance of the most abandoned, and certainly the greatest degradation of talent—of one that has lowered literature, and debased the character of public writers—that has shown them up as marketable commodities—that has only done this, that the higher they rise in public estimation, the more ready are they to be bought, and the greater must be the price paid for them. If there be any human being, out of this House—recollect I speak of a man not in this House—who continues to earn the wages of public prostitution; if there be such a man as I describe, then I say he is too despicable for further notice. I leave him to pocket a portion of the wages of his pensioned writers. Those who poison the waters that even an enemy in a hostile country drinks of, are accounted guilty of a crime most abhorrent to civilised life; but what are we to say of those who poison the first sources of litera- 534 ture, who stigmatise the character of a nation, and debauch the instruments of learning—theirs is the worst mode of earning the wages of villainy, for theirs is the most abominable of all prostitutions. They are those who argue for a question, and turn against it; who hope for one thing to-day, and hate it to-morrow. Does this touch the hon. Member for Berkshire? I hope not. I really hope that he has no connexion with an instrument of that kind. It has been suggested by the hon. Member for Knaresborough that he has not. I adopt the suggestion. I believe at once that the fact is as the hon. Member has stated, and then every word I have said is merely in reply to that base instrument which has attacked me so long. But if my words do apply, I mention no name, I say qui capit ille fecit. Let him who chooses take them up—if any man wishes to find them, and in the vulgar phrase "the cap fits him," I cannot help it. The people of Ireland are not so degraded as the hon. Member for Berkshire has suggested, that they are incapable of managing their own affairs. What is the ground, what is the pretext for saying so? Is it because they are Catholics? That is not a topic which suits this House, though it might read well elsewhere. It is as British subjects they claim their rights. Does any man contend that this measure alone will pacify Ireland? I shall not do so. Refuse it, and you create agitation, because you afford additional materials to the grievances which the people already endure: grant it, and you advance another step, for I admit you have already commenced, in giving to the people of Ireland equal rights with every other part of the empire. Why should not a measure like this be adopted towards Ireland, and which tends so much to the pacification and tranquillity of all. It is for these reasons I have risen to repudiate the speech of the hon. Member for Berkshire, and to call again for justice to Ireland.
hoped he might be allowed to say a few words in answer to the personal charges brought against him by the learned Member for Kilkenny. In the first place he might observe, that he had not intended to take any part in the discussion of that evening, but the hon. Member for Warwickshire having risen to defend his vote, he felt it right to say a few words in defence of the course which he had taken, on the BUI. With respect to the press, he had on a for- 535 mer occasion said all that he thought it necessary to say, and all that he should say, upon that subject. With regard to abuse, the most malignant nature could not prompt the most voluble tongue to heap more abuse upon the learned Gentleman than he himself had poured out upon those who were his present friends. In answer to the accusation of inconsistency upon the appropriation question, that inconsistency, he said, merely resolved itself into the inconsistency of others. The most extravagant estimates had been made by some hon. Gentlemen of the amount of the Irish Church revenues—one hon. Member had at one time estimated them at 3,000,000l. Now, he would ask, was there no difference between voting for the application of an asserted surplus, and when it was found that no such surplus existed, voting against the further diminution of a moderate Church revenue in order to create a surplus? cries of ["Spoke, spoke," and "Order"]
§ The Speaker
said, that the House would hear the hon. Member in explanation of any parts of his speech on which other hon. Members might have commented; but having already delivered his sentiments on the question before it, it could not allow him to reply.
§ Mr. Walter
submitted, that by the courtesy of the House he was entitled to reply to the personal and unfounded charges made against him by the learned Member for Kilkenny. One of the most extraordinary of those charges was that of sitting on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. When he (Mr. Walter) looked round and saw the numbers of Members who were now on that (the Ministerial) side, who two years ago had sat on the opposite side, he thought that the Member for Kilkenny, in blaming him, had cast an imputation on many of his own friends. The Ministry, it was said, was the same; but no parties had abused each other more than those who now appeared to have cast their lots together. He retained his original seat, because his opinions were unchanged; but though his opinions, on things were unchanged, those on persons were, of course, affected by the closer observation he was able to make of their public conduct; and if, on such nearer observation he appeared to himself to have discovered some individuals better qualified to conduct the business of the country, than others of whose talents he had for a time entertained an undue opinion, he was of course open to conviction, and preferred the abler statesmen. He would only fur- 536 ther assure the learned Gentleman, that he would pursue his own course in that House; having neither obtained his seat in it in the manner the learned Gentleman had formerly represented, nor receiving hire and pay from the most distressed and destitute class of his countrymen, kept in a state of excitement only to be rendered more easily the dupes of false pretences and the victims of plunder.
§ The Speaker, said it would perhaps now be convenient to the House if he stated the question which was before it. The question was, whether Bandon should be included in schedule C or not?
§ After a few words from Mr. F. Shaw, which were inaudible to us,
§ Sir John Hobhouse
said, there had been no wish or intention on the part of himself and the friends of the Government to disturb the House by a debate upon the question now before it, which was, whether Bandon should be included in the schedule or not? and if the hon. and learned Member for Bandon had not volunteered his services in that way, he felt convinced that his hon. Friend behind him would not have found a seconder to his proposition; He regretted to see that there seemed to be a determination on the part of Members on the opposite side of the House, that whatever business might be doing, on any Irish question, nothing should be done peaceably, amicably, and according to the usual parliamentary course. There were many Gentlemen on the ministerial side of the House who thought that Ministers had not made a sufficiently determined stand upon this question. He could only assure the House, however, that whatever had been done by them, had been resolved upon after the best consideration, and with the firm and honest conviction that they were doing the best which, under circumstances, could be done for Ireland. He thought that the thanks of the country were due to the Government for having adopted a course which was likely to lead to an honourable compromise, and afford an opportunity of bringing this great question to a settlement. He regretted extremely that anything of a personal nature had occurred in the course of the debate. He would express a hope, also, that his hon. Friend behind him would see the importance of not continuing the discussion further. He trusted his hon. Friend would see the great advantage which would result from this Bill being sent up to the other House in its altered form, without any division upon 537 it whatever. He begged his hon. Friend to consider this, and not permit himself to "listen to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely."
§ Colonel Butler
merely rose to say, that it was his intention to have seconded the motion of the hon. Member for Dundalk, when he was anticipated by the hon. and learned Member for Bandon in so doing.
§ Mr. George F. Young, in reference to the argument of the hon. Member for Berks, that the proposed measure of municipal reform would throw all the political power of the Corporations into the hands of one party, and that the most numerous one in the place, begged to make one observation—namely, that the political power in the new system was to be distributed, not simply according to population, but upon the basis of a property qualification. Now it happened that the property of Ireland was divided amongst the Protestants and Catholics, nearly in the inverse ratio of their numerical force, and there were at least two millions unfortunately in a state of beggary, and who, of course could take no part in the political powers created by the new measure. He had only one other observation to make upon this question. He would be one of the last men to dispute the powers and the perfect independence of the other branch of the Legislature, but at the same time he begged the House to consider the position in which this question stood. The original question mooted by the House was whether Ireland should have Corporations or not. The House of Commons declared its opinion that she ought, but the House of Lords had since said that she ought not to have these institutions. What had since been done was this. The House of Commons, which originally set down the number of the proposed Corporations at fifty, now consented to reduce them to twelve, and so showed that it had every disposition to effect an amicable compromise on the subject with the other House. If the Lords after this should persist in rejecting the Bill when sent back to them, they would show that they were not disposed to listen to any terms of compromise with the Lower House, and the country would behold them (the Lords) asserting the principle that the House of Commons had nothing to do but to yield entire and unconditional submission to their superior authority. He hoped, however, that this would not prove to be the case; he hoped and trusted that when this Bill went back 538 to the House of Lords it would be received by them in the spirit of fair and amicable compromise with which it had been treated in this House; so would this great question eventually be settled without throwing this great, happy, and now prosperous country into political convulsions, which under different circumstances would threaten it.
§ Mr. Scarlett
did not deny that Irishmen were fit to enjoy political liberty and political institutions; but he thought that these must be given them by different means to those adopted in England, on account of the difference in the social characteristics of the two nations. He did not mean to say, that Irishmen were inferior to Englishmen; on the contrary, he thought that, in many particulars, they were their superiors, as in their great vivacity and quickness of apprehension.
felt strongly the insult which was offered to the Irish people by the House of Lords; but still he hoped that his hon. Friend, for whom he entertained great respect, would withdraw his motion.
§ Dr. Baldwin
said, that it was not to be supposed that he did not feel strongly the insult which was offered to his country by the House of Lords; but he trusted his hon. Friend would not bring division into the camp of the reformers by pressing a motion which was calculated to embarrass that Administration which seemed to him determined to do justice to his country. He would not argue the question; all argument upon it was exhausted; but he rose merely for the purpose of asking his hon. Friend not to persevere in his proposition.
§ Mr. S. Crawford
said, he would consent to withdraw it, if he heard any just reason urged for his doing so; but in the absence of all argument in favour of the course which he was pressed to adopt, he must persevere.
§ The House divided on Mr. Crawford's amendment:—Ayes 8; Noes 148:—Majority 140.
§ On the motion of Lord J. Russell, a Committee was appointed to draw up reasons to be offered to the Lords at a conference for disagreeing with the amendments made by the Lords.