§ Lord John Russell
moved the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee on this Bill.
§ Lord Francis Egerton
in proceeding to discharge the duty imposed upon me by the notice I have given, I feel more sensibly than usual the anxiety of a position, in which without anxiety I never find myself. If there be any thing calculated to revive that feeling, it is to be found by me in the circumstance that I rise to revive, I might also say to continue, a discussion, which to my humble judgment, and with reference to all sides of the House, has hitherto displayed more of argument and less of acrimony than is usual on questions in which conflicting parties put forth their strength, and more especially when the battle ground is that great field, Ireland, so often the theatre of Parliamentary conflict—would that it were confined to Parliamentary conflict alone. Little as I may be able to contribute any addition to the argument, I do trust I may be able to succeed in avoiding to originate any infusion of that second ingredient I have named, which by its absence has distinguished the debate which 1309 the first adorned. There was no speech delivered on that occasion more stamped with that character which I have ventured to attribute to the debate than that which I heard delivered, at least the principal part, by the Attorney-General for Ireland. I was indeed too fate for its commencement. I regret my loss the less, because the early portion of the right hon. Gentleman's observations were directed to a portion of the subject on which I am unable to dispute his facts, stated as these facts were, with no more of asperity than the duty he had undertaken of devising their remedy demanded, and because, moreover, with regard to the present necessity of that remedy, I no less agree. I agree to ratify with my vote, the sentence he has passed upon institutions which cannot, in my judgment, longer withstand the evidence of their failure for any good social purpose, whether of original intention or casual adoption; and whatever may be my abstract reverence for prescription or antiquity, I am prepared to relieve them from the burthen of a weak and painful existence, without reference to the particular quarter from which their fall may be cheered, or to what parties, on the other hand, may follow them with lamentation to the grave. As far, therefore, as the fact of the right hon. Gentleman's argument extended, I find myself in that state of concurrence which I wish I could always find myself in with that Gentleman. Here, however, as the motion I have submitted to the House indicates—here I am afraid we diverge. I join the right hon. Gentleman in removing these abuses of alleged exclusion or abuse, and it is only when he sits down to build among the ruins that I pause to question the necessity, or to examine the probable results, of the reconstructing provisions of his Bill, by which he proposes to repair the ravages of his preamble, and first clause. The right hon. Gentleman has asked, will the House, having passed a measure of municipal Reform for Scotland and England, will it refuse one to Ireland on similar principles? My answer, if I could answer for the House, would be governed by a definition of the expression of similar principles. If you mean the taking every human security for the application of equal justice to all classes and all persuasions in the administration of the law—if you mean by it, the placing of local expenditure for municipal purposes under vigilant popular con- 1310 trol—I answer, "Yes." If you mean an elective administration of the functions of justice, and the powers of the armed police, I answer that I look to the end and not the means; and when you have shown me that those ends are to be attained by that popular election in Ireland as well as England, I will answer "Yes," also, to that proposition. Bearing this observation as to the definition of similar principles in view, I deny, that in substituting abolition for the restoration of the right hon. Gentleman, I do withhold from Ireland the benefits which, to use the words of the hon. Gentleman, Parliament has not hesitated to extend to the other parts of the empire. This, Sir, is the cause and substance of an argument well calculated to dazzle by its specious lustre, to attract one's attention by it's seductive generality, and to blind us to those consequences which, however matters of detail, hon. Gentlemen will pardon me for saying require, as I think, no microscope to detect. He, or any other Gentleman, who boasts an equal pride in his country, or equal love for the land which reared him, may listen with impatience to anything I have to say on the subject of its affairs; but I am indeed unfortunate in the choice of my expressions and observations, if even they should discern in them any disposition to indulge, either as an Englishman or a Protestant, in any offensive assumption of superiority; but I should wander into another extreme of base, and servile, and insincere flattery, if I told them that there was nothing in the situation of that country, in the state of its society, which distinguished it from England and other nations, and which may in special cases make it an unfit recipient for institutions which are not in themselves essential to good government, and which are only valuable as the machinery for that purpose. If this be insult to Ireland, I can only say, believing it to be the truth, that I should conceive I was insulting the good sense of Irishmen if I suppressed my conviction. When I find numbers arrayed against property, a minority powerful in wealth and intelligence, opposed to a majority destitute of these materials—when I see the national guardians of the temporal and spiritual interest of its lower orders in conflict—I do say, that there is a sad distinction between England and Ireland, which bears directly on the question now at issue; the mode by which we shall re- 1311 gulate the administration of the law, and the protection of the property and peace of those who are to live under it in the case, not indeed of society at large, but of certain most important aggregations of individuals—I say that into that country it is not desirable to introduce a system by which he who has to administer the law to all may be indebted for his tenure of that high function to a few. I say that if, unfortunately, the state of feeling be such that that party must be represented by him who makes the Jaw—that if it be such that mere profession of opinion, apart from the proof of any one qualification upon earth be a passport to Parliamentary representation—I say that which is always desirable becomes doubly necessary—that he who administers it should feel no obligation for his appointment—that his installation should not become an election chairing—that he should not be borne into the hall where municipal justice holds her seat on the shoulders of a mob, any more than he should sneak into it through tire private avenue of a faction. My right hon. Friend (Sir Robert Peel) spoke of the appointment of Sheriffs, and he asked a question which has not been answered yet—what security the popular appointments of those officers afforded for the purity of Juries, and the impartial execution of that most important function? The Chancellor of the Exchequer wisely forbore to reply, and confined the force of his answer to the circumstance of there being but eight cities which, under the Bill, are to be favoured with an elective officer of that denomination—only eight cities, Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford, and three others. What would Louis Philippe say to his new ministers if they told him, "We have an institution to which we all have objection, but really the application is so partial that we are convinced his Majesty will not object We propose to apply it to Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, Bourdeaux, Nantes, and two or three other towns?" Is Ireland the country I have described, or is it not? It is idle to be delicate—ceremony is misplaced in dealing with such a subject; and if I am called upon to demonstrate my own theory, I find the difficulty which greater reasoners than myself have found in proving an axiom, or in confuting that sceptical system which denies the testimony of our senses and the evidence if habitual perceptions. If Ireland be not 1312 that country—if I, as an Englishman, misconceive its situation, or speak of evils which do not there exist—then I say to the gentlemen of that island, who hear me, your countrymen misrepresent you; tribunals and professional opinions are unfaithful guides; your own daily press is not the mirror of things that are; the mass of evidence before Irish, or Orange, or Intimidation Committees is a tissue of mere delusion; those who gave it were falsifiers, and those who listened to it were dupes. If Ireland be not that country, the speeches which we heard the other night, when this House rung with applause of the sentiments and language of the noble Lord, was thrown away; the oil of conciliation he then poured out was wasted on a waveless surface. What was it which wrung from all parties in the House that applause from those who seldom unite to praise or to condemn? We all felt that there were passions to appease, parties to reconcile, and strife to terminate; and it was for this we gave the noble Lord the honours of a victory, claimed without the insolence of triumph. I am told however that these are arguments which would have applied to the Reform Bill. I do not think so. In the case of the Reform Bill some may have thought that there were reasons which forbad its extension to Ireland; but none could have failed to perceive that to deny that extension must there have been felt—even if necessary, as an insult and an injury, and hardly any reason could have been alleged against it which would not have gone all the lengths of despotism—you had no choice in that case between the perpetuation of all the a buses so called which you had agreed to sweep into schedule A in England, and a similar measure of reconstruction; for you could not have proposed to leave Ireland without a representation? Does that necessity exist here? Is separate jurisdiction any part of the essence of our constitution? Does our elective Magistracy rank with trial by Jury, or the free and fair representation of the people in Parliament? If it be essential in theory or in practice, how has Manchester, how has Birmingham, pursued, with their crowded populations, the arts of industry? How has Belfast flourished under the shadow of a Corporation, and why do 9,000 of her inhabitants petition against its substance? Why should election be confined to those: I communities where it more immediately 1313 rouses the elements of local strife, and is adverse to the social charities? Why is it not extended to the rural districts? These considerations bring me to the subject of the Irish Constabulary Bill. What are the provisions of that Bill, and their object? They deal with one of the most important objects connected with the peace of Ireland—the appointment as well as the regulation of an armed police of nearly 5,000 men. That appointment now resides with the gentlemen of the country, the body of Magistracy—a body whose interest in the peace of that society is great, and who are, undoubtedly, appointed by the King's commission, controlled by the Chancellor. Do the ministers leave this power of appointing the police in the hands of that body? or do they remove it to a magistracy elected on any popular principle, however restricted? No; they transfer that power to the Lord-Lieutenant. In ray opinion they do wisely, and that opinion with me is not new. I thought so in 1830, and I think so still. In 1830, I thought that it would be advisable to transfer to the responsible representative of the King in Ireland, as placed above the atmosphere of local partialities and influences, these appointments. It is not for me to show that circumstances have arisen since that period, not to justify my views, but to convert their opponents; but in the case of those who then opposed my views and those of my right hon. Friend, I am bound to presume that such circumstances have arisen, for I do not attribute to my right hon. Friends opposite any low or paltry or mere party motives in this matter. I do not believe that they consider that the Duke of Northumberland was an improper depository of the trust they are ready to give to Lord Mulgrave, and if I look on the opposite benches, and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in particular, for the then champions of the Magistracy, or if I turn to the Debates of 1830, it is not for the purpose of a momentary cheer, or to throw any difficulties in his present course. I give full credit to my right hon. Friend for something more statesmanlike than any such paltry, party reference to the individuals in power and out of it; but I have to infer from his change of opinion that he does not conceive that the situation of Ireland yet has undergone a change for the better since the period when I was officially connected with its affairs, or that its condition has 1314 been assimilated to that of England in. those better features of order and tranquillity; and when my right hon. Friend joins the generalizing cry for identity of institutions in all particulars I might have a right to ask, are yon prepared, while you receive, what you establish or enjoy here, to part on your side with institutions which, in themselves, and by the mode yon amend and modify them, prove and illustrate the strong practical distinction which exists between the two countries? The Constabulary Bill of my noble Friend, supported by my right hen. Friend, is, I say, an answer to that question, which prevents me from giving him the trouble of any other reply. I say the Constabulary Bill of this year is in itself an answer to the clamour which is raised for identity of institutions. I ask again, will you join that cry—come forward to assimilate the institutions? I don't ask, will you bear the same burthens—will you, on the part of Ireland, make the same contributions to the Exchequer—but I ask, will you abandon the Assistant Barristers jurisdiction? Is there anything like the summary jurisdiction of the Assistant Barristers in England? Is there a dissentient voice as to its value and its merit in Ireland? That Court is one of those instances which prove each by itself the impossibility of applying identical institutions to the two countries. The law of England it administers, but there is nothing in practice more differing in the cases of England and Scotland than there is in this between England and Ireland, and what are you about with the law? Are you moulding it to the practice of England? Are you gradually confining its operation? Are you compelling the Assistant Barrister to empanel a Jury where you now only give him a power to do it which he rarely if ever exercises? If you are so employed I believe you will create great dissatisfaction in Ireland. I believe you will have an insurrection of suitors, who prefer for the settlement of their civil causes the fiat of a lawyer appointed by the Crown to the verdict of their neighbours. But I am happy to think you are not. At this very moment the hon. and learned Member is reviving a Bill of last session to extend the operations of the system, to make the administration of civil justice in Ireland less like England; and with this Bill or that for the Irish constituency staring me in the face, you tell me that the two 1315 countries must have not only equal justice but the same institutions. The right hon. Gentleman tells us of Commissioners under the 5th Geo. 4th, and Protestant Members of Parliament. I derive the greatest satisfaction I have felt since I was returned to Parliament from the information the right hon. Gentleman has given me; but will the right hon. Gentleman seriously say, that he anticipates from this, that purity will govern the elections of the Magistrates and councillors, which will come under the operation of a Bill which is ushered in like the present by all the acclamation of party, and announced with so much of the pomp and dignity of reform. And I must say again, I shall rejoice if politics have absented themselves from these elections of Commissioners; more particularly as my proposition tonight embraces the very extensive application of the provisions of that very Act; but, if they did not, it goes for nothing in telling me that there were Protestant as well as Catholic Commissioners, for my objection is to partizans, not to Catholics. As to Protestant Members of Parliament, if these Members inculcate opinions which I think dangerous, it is no satisfaction to me, quite the contrary, that anyone should be able to say I am as good a Protestant as yourself. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to tell me that these Protestant Members were returned to Parliament by Catholic constituencies on the mere ground of their character—for their honour, their wisdom, and their judgment, all of which qualities I dare say the majority of them possessed—without any distinct and uncompromising profession of political faith. I have now, Sir, stated, perhaps at more than sufficient length, the reasons which have induced me not only to concur in the views of my right hon. Friend, but to undertake the task of submitting to the House a proposition which embodies the views of himself and those with whom he acts. Those Gentlemen who are opposed to these views can have no reason to complain of that which their opponents may regret,—that the task of mooting the question was not placed in other hands. It now only remains for me briefly to touch upon that branch of the subject into the details of which this, perhaps, is not the time to enter; but when. I lay before the House a proposition which; if it succeed, would render nugatory the propositions of the Government, it would hardly be re- 1316 spectful to them or to the House to omit all statement of the mode in which those with whom. I act would be disposed to supply the deficiencies we should then create. I confess I see none of the difficulties connected with this branch of the subject which so frequently attend legislative changes of extensive application. The classification of the various objects which have either been sought or attained by the institution of corporate government, is a simple and obvious one. I exclude on this occasion the consideration of the political and party purposes contemplated by those who gave the Corporations their powers, or to which they have been since diverted. The conflicting theories on these subjects I do not propose, to alter; it is sufficient for me, without either proving the existence of those purposes, or entering into their justification or condemnation, to feel that those purposes are no longer to be attained in favour of one party, and ought not to be sought in favour of another. 'The real and natural objects of corporate government appear to me to be these:—the administration of justice; the control and direction of that police force, what-ever it may be, to which the protection of the person and the property is confided; the administration of corporate property, and the regulation of those other not unimportant matters which concern the health, the comfort, and the convenience of the community—the lighting, the paving, the draining, &c.—for the due regulation of these it appears to me that the extinction of corporate authority will not create the smallest difficulty. To the attainment of some of them in Ireland that extinction will afford a favourable opportunity and direct assistance. I propose, too, that those towns and cities now town counties should remain counties of towns and cities; that they should, as now, have their Sheriff, but that that Sheriff should be appointed by the Crown, as the County Sheriff is at present. By that officer, so deriving his functions, the Grand and Petit Juries will continue to be summoned. The other cities and towns will be subject to the jurisdiction of Magistrates appointed by the Crown, and will be under the county Sheriff and the ordinary parochial authorities. As to corporate property, it appears to my right hon. Friend and myself that for the present it would be expedient to vest it in a Commission to be appointed by the Crown, to be considered as a tem- 1317 porary arrangement, and with a view of appropriating, under the sanction of Parliament, the corporate funds of each town possessing corporate property to its municipal purposes. The mention of this branch of the subject brings under consideration one item of that property which, I think, Well deserves a separate consideration and special provisions. I allude to corporate tolls. I am not aware that the attention of the Reformed Parliament has been specifically called to that great subject, the features of which it is unnecessary for the information of Irish Members to particularize; but I would implore those gentlemen from England who have no experience of that system to give their attention to the Report of a Committee of Inquiry which did not, I believe, take evidence, and to the evidence which was taken by another, and I think they will agree with me, that no greater substantial benefit could be conferred on any community in Ireland than the destruction of this exaction from its industry, than the stifling of this perennial source of personal violence, perjury, and violation of the law. In proportion as that protects the person, it secures the right of property. I believe that this wretched mode of exaction, which if conducted with decency must be inconvenient in application, and opposed to the facile interchange of the articles of daily subsistence, has proved the principal source of the revenue which does accrue to corporate towns, and of which I am not aware it is proposed to deprive them under the present Bill. I believe that resistance to these corporate tolls in every possible shape of violence and evasion has become habitual, and that party spirit has, as usual in Ireland, lent its adventitious aid in their case to the natural impatience of a confined, anomalous, and I may say, impracticable system of pecunlary imposition. I have not looked upon this subject as some for whom I have much respect have frequently looked upon it, in that separate point of view which confines itself to considerations of religious difference. That danger to Protestant institutions should be anticipated from any measure which opens new fields to political agitation I for one cannot anticipate or apprehend, but I know that religious zeal may be prone to aggravate those dangers. It is not essential to the castigation of every evil which I dread as contingent upon this measure that party difference should either 1318 universally or generally take a sectarian turn. It is sufficient for my argument, if the inquisition into political, and not into religious creeds, should invariably attend the candidate for municipal office, and Protestant tests on the other. I have said nothing to arouse the excited fears, or exaggerate the apprehensions of Irish Protestants; but if these fears are excited, and if they can be soothed without a sacrifice, I am satisfied that his Majesty's Government will not, at least, think that a reason for persevering in the measure which excites, or against adopting a course which may remove them. There may be those, not in these walls, I trust, who would see these fears with satisfaction, who would chafe on being checked in their progress to what they conceive a triumph. Such I would implore to call up more generous feelings to their aid, to consider the condition of their country, to reach beyond the gratification of the moment, to reject the barren laurels of petty election triumphs, and seek for the better reward which attends the sacrifice of long-cherished feelings of hatred and displeasure. To you who legislate, I would say, secure the peace of your country, the stability of your empire; beware how you unnecessarily irritate the Protestant mind of Ireland. You have interspersed the resolutions of your Parliament with the paternal advice of your sovereign to exhort—tocaution—to restrain. That call has been answered as it deserved, and you had a right to expect; beware how you do that which may mar the best results of your efforts—beware, lest indirectly by your present measures, by substituting a new exclusion for that you destroy, by giving a legal sanction to change, or an averted triumph to party, you make martyrs of those from whose hands you have struck, the usurpers of exclusion, and convert what you allege to have been an intolerant faction into a proscribed or persecuted sect. The noble Lord concluded by than king the House for the patient attention with which they had listened to the observations he had felt it his duty to urge on the present occasion, and by moving, "That the Committee on the Bill for the regulation of Municipal Corporations in Ireland be empowered to make provisions for the abolition of such Corporations, and for such arrangements as may be necessary on their abolition, for securing; the efficient and 1319 impartial administration, and the peace and good government, of cities and towns in Ireland."
rose to second the motion. He would not go into all the objections that might be urged against the measure. He would confine himself to those which were most obvious, and then allude to the plan proposed to be substituted by his noble Friend who spoke last. The measure proposed by his Majesty's Government was, in point of fact, exposed to every objection that had ever been urged against the old corporation system in Ireland, with the exception of that of self-election aggravated by placing the power in the hands of an ignorant instead of an enlightened faction. It was calculated to produce still greater evils than the system which it was proposed to supersede, and those evils without any alloy of good. He was most anxious to discover what the real principle of this measure was, but he looked for it in vain in the speech of the Attorney-General for Ireland, or in any speech he had hitherto heard upon the subject. He could discover no possible clue by which the conflicting principles of the Bill could be reconciled. Upon what ground was it that several places were introduced into this Bill, while others with equal, or much stronger, claims to municipal government were totally omitted? Not less than 117 places had been visited, and inquiry made into their various circumstances by the Commissioners, or rather, he should call it, the inquisition appointed by his Majesty's Government. Of these 117 places sixty-seven were selected by the Bill of last session for the purpose of being incorporated upon the new plan. Many of those 117 places had Corporations before. For what reason was it that there were in the Bill of last Session sixty-seven places selected for incorporation, and that in the present Bill the sixty-seven were reduced to fifty-four. Hitherto they had got no information at all upon this point, no reason whatever given for it. They were left entirely to conjecture. With respect even to the present number of fifty-four, was the principle uniform? The first eleven of these were in schedule A, and in schedule B something like a principle was announced. In seven of the places in schedule A the principle put forward was, that they contained a population of 20,000 and upwards, and in schedule B, that the population was under 1320 20,000, and above 15,000. One would think that a similar principle, that of population, ought to be observed in schedule C. Now, what was the fact? There were forty-three places in schedule C, and there were not less than eight places in Ireland entirely excluded from the measure, which had double the population of some of the places in schedule C The population of Newry was 13,000; that of Dungarvon 10,000. He did not mean to insinuate anything of an invidious nature. The Attorney-General would perhaps hereafter tell them why it was, that these places were included in the measure of last session and excluded in the present Bill, while, at the same time, there were in this Bill not less than eighteen places having an average population under 3,190. Why did the Attorney-General exclude Lisburn, Mallow, and Downpatrick? They were represented as being of the very worst class of Corporations. Why, then, were they excluded? With respect to the whole number of Corporations in schedule C, the average population of the whole was 5,667. Here, therefore, were eighteen places, thirteen of which had Corporations, and the average population of these was 6,488. Why were they excluded, while places with a population of only 2,026 were included? in these eighteen places the least amount of population was 6,000, while the highest was 13,000. Where he saw such disparity—such total want of principle—he must naturally be led to suppose that the third schedule, whatever the case might be with respect to the first and second, had been framed upon no principle whatever. It was done, he had no doubt, deliberately and designedly, though he did not mean to charge his Majesty's Government with having done it. If a Corporation be given to a place with a population of only 2,026, and refused to one with a population of 6,000, upon what principle of justice and fairness could it be explained? Deducting the women and children, the widows and orphans which were stated to be so numerous in Ireland, the place with a population of 2,026 would not, in fact, have a male population of 1,000 in each of the places in schedule C. Deducting besides this, the paupers, the number would be still further reduced. Was it not the most arrant absurdity which could enter the mind of man, to propose the incorporation of places 1321 under such circumstances as these? He must come to the conclusion that Government had not given to the measure the consideration it deserved, and left it to the management of those who were not quite so anxious for the peace and the interests of Ireland as he believed his Majesty's Ministers to be. If the measure was absurd and unjust as related to the principle of population, it was still more absurd in reference to the amount of corporate property which was to come under the management and control of the corporate bodies. The average amount of the corporate property in all the Corporations in schedule C was only 120l. a year. There were seventeen of them that had no property at all. Three had an income of 121. or 151. a year, and of the remaining thirty-eight, the average income was 531. a year. Now, it was proposed to incorporate the very smallest and most insignificant of these. They were to be encumbered with municipal officers and a regular corporate establishment, mayor, town-council, aldermen, besides officers to attend to the watching, paving, and lighting. There would also be compensation to officers, and all this expense was to be defrayed out of the scanty funds of these corporations. Now, was it conceivable that Government could have well considered such a plan as this? How much money could it be rationally hoped would be laid out in such places for the convenience of the public, for paving, watching, and lighting? The measure could not bear the test of examination in its principles; and, when they came to look into the details and the probable results after it had come into operation, it would appear, undoubtedly, to be utterly untenable. The facts and the data he took from the report, and he admitted that they were correct. When these were brought under the consideration of the Government, how could they possibly say, that this was a measure of justice to Ireland? Such were his opinions with respect to the principle, or rather the total want of principle of this Bill. He would, with the permission of the House, touch upon one or two other topics which were naturally suggested by the measure. So far as regarded these topics, he thought he should be able to show, to the satisfaction of the House, that the Government were not more successful in their plans to benefit Ireland than they were in selecting the 1322 towns to enjoy the benefits of a Corporation under the new system. He had no reason to doubt the sincerity of their views, but they were most unsuccessful in the means they took to carry-them into execution. The truth was that the whole of the objections to the old system, with the solitary exception of self-nomination, were as strong, if not much stronger, against the new as against the old system. It was true the old system was exclusive. He admitted this. But was it likely that the new would be less exclusive than the old? If this, however, was a valid objection against the old system—and he could not deny that, under the present circumstances, it was—would it be less valid against that now proposed? Exclusiveness formed, in fact, the very constitution of Irish boroughs under the old principle. It was their very nature. It was the principle on which they were originally founded. It was not in consequence of any breach of the charter that they were exclusives. They never were otherwise. They were originally framed with a view to the support of English interest and of the Protestant religion. This was evident from the very wording of the charters in every case of this kind where a charter or a grant of land had been given these were the grounds upon which the gift was made. This necessarily, and as a matter of course, led to the exclusive system. This ought not to form a ground for their total abolition. They never in any instance attempted to swerve from the objects of their original institution. They never attempted to sever the connexion between the two countries. They were faithful to the last. He was quite ready at the same time to admit, that they could be no longer maintained under the present exclusive principle. His objection to the proposed new system was, that it must necessarily, though in a different way, and with reference to a different class, become as exclusive as the old. What reason was there why they should be abolished now on the ground that they were exclusive, when nothing could be more clear than this, that the system now proposed must become equally exclusive? The old Corporations were gradually decaying, their vigour was in a great measure gone; but by this Bill there would be brought into existence no less than fifty-four new Corporations, in which the principles of exclusiveness must be 1323 immediately put into vigorous operation, The 51. rent-payers must form the great majority in all these Corporations, and this great majority roust necessarily, from the circumstances of the population, be of one religion. Was it to be expected, with all the feelings of soreness, arising from their late exclusion, still rankling in their minds—with all their recollections of recent contests and differences, both as regarded religion and politics—was it to be ex-pected—was it in the nature of things, that they would not act upon exclusive principles? If one great object of this measure was to apply a remedy to those feelings of soreness which must be engendered by exclusion was it likely to attain the end desired? Would not the evil be the same, though transferred from one class of his Majesty's subjects to another? No doubt, under this Bill, Protestants would be eligible to corporate offices but would they be elected? and were they more likely to be satisfied with mere eligibility than the Roman Catholics were? Considering the great majority on the other side, what grounds could the Protestants have for hoping that they would be returned? Consider, besides, how the dangers to the domestic peace of Ireland must be increased by these new boroughs. They would have, in every one of the fifty-four, a population recognised by law, as having the right to assemble whenever they pleased, and to enter upon the consideration of any subject they might please. There would be no end or limit to their discussions. The whole country would be studded over with 54 schools of agitation in which edicts and manifestoes might be framed and sent forth to work up the public mind upon any and every subject—-upon every question, no matter how great the danger of excitement. In this way the peace of all would be for ever at an end, and not of Ireland alone, but of the empire. What must necessarily follow? Why this, the representation of Ireland will be placed in such a state, that it will be utterly impossible for any Administration in this country to carry on the Government without becoming the slaves or tools to a majority of the Irish Members in the House of Commons, a majority now under the complete control of one great leader. In speaking thus he meant nothing personal, he wished to give offence to no individual. He only mentioned a fact which no person could deny. It was 1324 admitted by the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, the Member for Dublin, He acknowledged that be possessed great influence in Ireland, greater than it was advisable any one should have. Now, whence did this influence arise? He had no hesitation in saying, that it was of a religious kind. Would it not be increased by this measure? Could there be a doubt of it? So far must it be increased that no Administration could go on with the Government without reducing themselves to a state of degrading slavery to that one individual and to his majority. The people of England would not submit to this. They were too proud, too high, too independent, too jealous of their liberties. They would sooner cry out for the repeal of the Union, and the Union once repealed was equivalent to a ruinous dismemberment. See what facilities these fifty-four new boroughs would give for discussing that most important question, the repeal of the union, whenever it might suit the caprice or the interest of an agitator to revive the question. These new boroughs would then pour their petitions into the House, insisting that they spoke the sense of a majority of the population of Ireland, and that their demands ought, therefore, to be irresistible. The same reasoning upon, this subject of Corporations could not apply to England and Ireland. The circumstances in each country differed materially. In England the Corporations had only national interests to attach themselves to. For these they laboured—it was to these only their efforts were directed. It was not so in Ireland. It was notorious that there existed there anti-English feelings. The repeal of the Union, when proposed, was opposed as anti-imperial; but, if it should be tried again, under the auspices of the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Member for Dublin), it would be taken up and supported as earnestly as ever by these new Corporations. The corporate spirit in Ireland led to concentration, and not, as in England, to diffusion. He, therefore, earnestly importuned the Government to weigh well the measure they were now urging for-ward.—It was perfectly clear that they were utterly unconscious of the dangers of it. The effect of the measure would be precisely to do that which James 2nd attempted to accomplish soon after his accession to the throne. There was a passage which stated the proceedings 1325 taken by that monarch with respect to the Irish Corporations, that was so full of instruction, that he must take the liberty of reading it to the House. It states the proceedings taken by King James 2nd, during the Lord-Lieutenancy of Lord Tyrconnell, and speaks of the admission of Roman Catholics in to several of the Corporations—" Tyrconnell recommended the city of Dublin to resign its charter to the King, but they refused to do so. They were proceeded against by quo warranto and dissolved. So also several others were dealt with in the same way, while some were induced by flattery and others by intimidation to resign their charters," In the new Corporations, it became the general rule in all cities where English interest had been predominant, to constitute the Corporations two-thirds of Roman Catholics and one-third of Protestants. Such was the object of James 2nd, and if there was no other evidence of the purposes which the Irish Corporations had served than that monarch's endeavour to divest them of their charters; yet that alone was sufficient to prove how essential they were for the maintenance of the Protestant religion. On behalf of the Protestants of Ireland, he (Mr. Lefroy) deprecated this measure—a measure which would have the effect of giving into the hands of those whom. James 2nd desired to be put in authority, the power of modelling the representation of Ireland for all future Parliaments—he deprecated it on behalf of those who have hitherto held the powers of those who composed the intelligence and wealth of Ireland. A measure might well be introduced from which would accrue all the benefits of a proper administration of justice, of local courts, and of paving, watching, and lighting corporate towns. All these benefits might be achieved for both Roman Catholics and Protestants in a manner that would not give offence to either party, nor invest the one with dominion or power over the other. Another objection which had been urged against the Irish Corporations, as at present existing, was the abuse of their corporate property. Now, these Corporations had been examined into in this respect, and the investigation had been extended from the year 1310, in the reign of Edward 2nd, down to the present moment, comprising about five centuries, during which time all the abuses had been raked together; and yet, in 1326 the midst of all the allegations of abuse, be could only find two instances which really could be considered as breaches of trust. He admitted that many Corporations had disposed of their property most indiscreetly, but they had done so in the exercise of their full legal rights, and if they had squandered it, they did that only which many private individuals had done. The Report, however, contained only two instances, and those were Limerick and Galway, where the corporate property was clothed with a trust for local purposes. This was admitted by the late Attorney-General for Ireland last year; and yet, though the property had been disposed of, nay, squandered, still there had been no breach of trust; but as reference had been made to the abases of Protestant Corporations, he would just remind the House of an example afforded by the Report of a liberal Corporation. He alluded to the corporation of Tuam, of which the sovereign and burgesses were all, with one exception, Roman Catholics. It appeared that the property of that Corporation consisted of tolls, which previous to 1827 were let annually by auction. In that year, however; the tolls producing, as was admitted by the sovereign to the Commissioners, 400l. per annum, were let for five years, not by auction, but by private contract, at 250l. per annum, to the committee for building a Roman Catholic chapel. In 1832 the term expired, but the committee were stilt allowed to remain in possession without an account being taken. Of the 250l. rental, the Corporation applied 200l. a year to the payment of certain corporate affairs, and the balance of 501. was presented as a donation to the committee for building the chapel. Now could it for a moment be contended, that this was a purpose for which the property was given, to this Corporation, when the fact was remembered that it was founded by James 1st, confessedly for Protestant purposes? There then was -the liberal Corporation applying its property directly in breach of the trusts made to them by their Charter, and in violation of the objects for which it was invested with, them. With this instance before the House, what right had they to expect that Corporations modelled on similar principles to this—modelled without reference to religious prejudices, would use their property more conscientiously than this had done? The Question now before the House, 1327 however, was not narrowed to the use or abuse of corporate property, for there was the alarming and indefinite power invested in the new councils. He begged to call the attention of the House to the alarming power conferred by the 88th section of this Bill. It gave an indefinite power of taxation to raise funds for all the purposes of the Act. The abuse of such a power as this might be carried much further than could possibly have occurred under the old system. It would come home to the house of every man. From the taxes thus to be levied—to any extent the council might please—the Mayor, Aldermen, and all the corporate officers were to be paid—the expenses of cleansing, lighting, and paving to be defrayed—the constables, collectors, and the whole body of the men employed in these various operations to be paid. All the houses were to be rated according to valuation; the 5l. voters would, no doubt, be rated like the rest. But who were to vote the taxes? The council. And who elected the council? The 5l. voters, of course, for they would form the great majority in the Corporations. In effect, the principal, the far greater part of the rate, for all corporate purposes, must be paid by the best class of houses, and those were occupied by Protestants. Must not this operate most unjustly? He asked on what principle it was that the power of taxation was to be confided to a body who must necessarily, from their peculiar constitution, be exclusive, and disposed to lean more to the one side than to the other? Here would be a new abuse, if the power of taxation was given to those the great bulk of whose constituents must be those in whom the Protestants (who would in fact, pay the bulk of the taxes) could not confide. And he might remark in this place, although. Some what out of the order of his observations, that it was a singular fact, that out of the thirteen boroughs omitted from the operation of the Bill, eight were those in which the preponderance would have been of Protestants. He had now adverted to the main topics on which he had considered it necessary to address the House, and which had not been gone into in detail by the noble Lord; and he thought it must "be quite obvious that, with the exception of the principle of self-election, all the objections which were said to apply to the old system would be found equally to apply to that which would be created 1328 under the Bill—those of the exclusive administration of justice, the placing political power in the hands of persons of an opposite religion from those by whom it was to be exercised, and the evil effects of the abuse of property. On the other hand he thought it must be equally obvious that there were none of those better portions of the present measure for which the Bill introduced last year by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, would not have provided for, whether as regarded the regulation of the police establishment, the administration of justice, the appointment of local officers, or the administration of the local and internal affairs of the several Corporations. The danger in revising and remodelling these Corporations according to the plan proposed by this Bill, if not certain, was, at all events, more than probable—it was imminent. No one desiring the peace and welfare of Ireland could say, that he felt perfectly at his case on the subject of such an experiment. Why, then, if no advantage was to be got by this measure which could not equally have been got from that of the right hon. Baronet, should risk be encountered? Why should Statesmen give up the convictions of their own judgment at suggestions coming from a quarter all suggestions coming from which he (Mr. Lefroy) hoped would be received at least with caution? Under these views of the subject he did hope and trust that the Government would be induced to forego that part of the measure which went to reconstruct these Corporations, and to adopt that wise, safe, prudent, and unobjectionable course proposed on his side of the House, and which would give to Ireland all that which her best friends could desire.
§ Viscount Morpeth
said, that one thing had been very clearly made out by this discussion, namely, that his noble and right hon. predecessors in the office which he had then the honour of filling, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and the noble Members for North and South Lancashire, must have gained from their official residences in Ireland, such an insight into the whole constitution of these Irish Corporations, that they rushed with eagerness, beyond all others, to the work of destroying those Corporations, and were anxious that the Legislature should obliterate every record and trace of them from the land which they had so long encumbered and disgraced. In rising to offer a 1329 few observations on the proposition before the House, he hoped that he should be able to imitate the calm and moderate tone adopted by his noble Friend when he moved the amendment, than which, indeed, no less was expected from his high and generous disposition. Previously, however, to offering the remarks which he intended to do to the amendment proposed, he wished to observe that there was not apparently a very great difference between the two plans the House was called upon to consider. With reference to the observations made, he would say, that the Bill had been more sharply attacked than attentively considered. The Bill, however, before the House, as well as the amendment, possessed this common excellence—namely, that both proposed to sweep away that mass of mischief which existed in the Irish Corporations, and which, for so long a period, had produced such discord and unseemly results in that country. True, these plans proposed to go to work by different modes, but in both it was proposed that there should be a rigorous use of the pruning-hook for what was bad; but the Government, in their plan, considered what was Conservative, and proposed to introduce a more healthful graft in the place of the limbs they cut off—a plan which was free From that imputation which gentlemen opposite were most anxious to disclaim, but which they had themselves neglected, for they proposed to lay the axe to both root and branch, and cut away the whole of the Corporations in right good earnest. This was the distinct and narrow ground of difference between the Government and their opponents. The difference which gave rise to the amendment seemed to spring from the mode of appointing Sheriffs for counties of cities and towns. This, he admitted, was a very fair subject for consideration. It had been the object of those who framed the Bill, by the 54th clause, to subject the appointment of Sheriffs to the control of the Crown, and when the proper time arrived the provisions of the clause would be open to examination, as to whether they had made it sufficiently clear and direct to effect the end in view. Another point on which the supporters and opponents of the Bill differed was, whether the chief functionaries of these Corporations, who were elected by the town-councils, which councils were themselves chosen by the entire constituency of the town, were to be allowed to act as Magistrates in 1330 their corporate towns. Another difference arose as to the management of the public property of these Corporations, of which the Government proposed, that the town-councils should have the control and management. His noble Friend proposed that it should be intrusted to Commissioners appointed by the Crown. He confessed that he heard this novel proposal to grant confidence to his Majesty's Government with some satisfaction; for although the noble Lord merely proposed that the Commissioners appointed by the Treasury should have the temporal control of these funds, he (Lord Morpeth) saw that the proposition did not betray, on the part of gentlemen opposite, that want of confidence in the Government which some of their supporters would have it believed existed. These seemed to him to be the sum and substance of the difference in the two measures. It would be recollected that all the purposes of paving, lighting, watching, and cleansing the corporate towns were provided for by an existing Act, and the noble Lord proposed to leave to an elected body, chosen by a class of persons possessed of the lowest qualifications stated in the Bill, the control of the funds raised for those purposes. When his noble Friend talked of the evils of allowing a town-council to appoint an armed police, he seemed to have indulged in some exaggerations, and not to have attended to what was proposed in the Bill. The police force in these towns, to be appointed by the town-councils, was only similar to the nomination of watchmen and constables in the English Corporations. The noble Lord was pleased to call this an armed police in Ireland, and to look with some degree of alarm at their appointment: but he (Lord Morpeth) begged to inform the noble Lord, that the town-councils would have nothing to do with the armed police. This was never intended by the Government; for he had laid a Bill on the Table, giving the Lord-Lieutenant a greater control than he ever had over that force, and enabling him to issue regulations for the government of that force in counties, or counties of cities, and towns. He also perceived another difference in the two schemes, which had been passed over by the noble Lord, namely, the mode of dealing with the freemen. In conformity with the shape in which the English Municipal Bill stood, and in conformity with the expressed wishes of gentlemen 1331 opposite on former occasions, it was proposed that the said freemen of the corporate towns in Ireland should stand on the same footing as the freemen of the English Corporations. What his noble Friend might intend to do with the freemen, he knew not, but the Government proposed that the present freemen should be continued in the possession of the right they now enjoyed. His noble Friend did not state how the present freemen were to be dealt with, nor did he say how he and those with whom he acted proposed to deal with the inchoate privileges and rights of freemen yet unborn, about which they had heard so much last Session when the English Bill was before the House. He should be glad to hear some explanation from the noble Lord on this part of the subject. Before he proceeded further he wished to observe on this point that he was glad to see the right hon. and learned Recorder of the city of Dublin in the House, because it had been stated on a former occasion that his Majesty's Ministers, knowing that they should be safe from the terror of the talents of that right hon. Gentleman, had contrived to postpone the second reading of that Bill till the right hon. Gentleman was absent from Parliament attending his duties in Dublin. He was glad, therefore, the right hon. and learned Gentleman was present, for no doubt he had consulted the freemen of the city of Dublin as to the preservation of their rights. In reference to this subject, the learned Gentleman, on presenting the Lord Mayor of Dublin elect last autumn, addressed the following observations to the Lord-Lieutenant:—"Neither, my Lord, am I so unreasonable as to contend, that where any great organic alteration has been made in the constitution, there should not be a gradual and harmonious adaptation of all its parts and members to the existing condition of that country. I do, however, earnestly deprecate intrusion under the guise of reformation, upon the part of the Corporation, while I am of opinion that they should allow, and cheerfully submit to any change in their form and constitution which was reasonable, and calculated to give general satisfaction, provided always that it preserves the substance and the essential influence of their ancient charter. I do at the same time feel aware, in approaching the defects of such a body, that a reverence is due to their great antiquity, their deeds, their 1332 courage, and faithful services, which have shed a lustre round the memory of their predecessors." The same freemen, then, who were so highly eulogized by the right hon. Gentleman, were as strongly condemned by his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley), who was ever their persevering foe, and who proposed to disfranchise them in the Irish Reform Bill, as he now recommended that they should be deprived of their corporate freedom. When the Irish Reform Bill was before Parliament, the right hon. Recorder for Dublin then said—"In the city of Dublin there are no less than 4,000 or 5,000 freemen whose rights must merge in the constituency of 10,000, which it is proposed to establish. Of that increase I do not complain. What I complain of is, that in England the rights of the freemen have been preserved in perpetuity—in Ireland they are to cease with the existence of those persons who now possess them. This injury will offer a direct insult to the people of Ireland, It is an insult not merely to the freemen of Dublin, but in ail parts of Ireland." The right hon. and learned Gentleman, in a subsequent part of his speech, stated that the proposition was a stigma cast on the party of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that it would lead to their supporting the repeal of the Union. He said—"That party has constantly opposed the repeal of the Union, but I now tell the right hon. Gentleman that all his measures tend to forward a serious change of opinion which is taking place upon that subject. I verily believe that before long almost the whole of the Protestant population will call out for a repeal of the Union." He was of opinion, notwithstanding the assertion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that neither Catholic nor Protestant would be anxious for the attainment of repeal, if they were sure of equal civil rights and privileges, without regard to religious distinctions,—In remarking on the two schemes before the House, he wished to guard hon. Gentlemen against being misled by any distorted views of the Bill, which, with great skill and ingenuity, had been conjured up by the right hon. Member for Tarn worth. He was sure that the right hon. Baronet would not wilfully mislead the House, but the right hon. Baronet had mixed up different clauses of the Bill, and had suffered one part to glide into another in a manner calculated to lead to erroneous views, as 1333 had been clearly shown by his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a few days since. He would not go back to former details, but he wished to remind the House that the towns and cities of Ireland, to which it was proposed in the Bill to give a separate commission of the peace, and which were to be filled by Judges appointed by the Crown, were only eleven in number; the counties of cities and boroughs, in which Sheriffs were authorised to summon Jurors were only eight in number; and with respect to the appointment of Sheriffs in these places, he left that open to future discussion. The towns in which the town-clerks were to summon juries were only three in number. With reference to this subject, he admitted, with the, noble Lord, that if injustice was done in consequence of this proposed arrangement, it was quite immaterial, however small the number of towns in which it was perpetrated, but a stop should be put to it. He admitted that it might be quite regular then to propose some alterations in the provisions of the Bill, but he contended that it was not within the scope and extent of the rules which should govern them in going into Committee, to call for the application of an entire new principle, or to demand a new machinery in that stage of the proceedings. The hon. and learned Gentle-man (Mr. Lefroy) had complained that more boroughs and towns were not included in the schedules. He stated that 117 corporate cities and towns had been visited by the Commissioners, and the number of places mentioned in the schedules to the Bill did not exceed fifty-four. The hon. and learned Gentleman, before he had passed the censure which he did, should have read in the Report the reasons which had governed the Commissioners and the framers of the Bill in not introducing more places. They were told that, out of the 117 corporate towns inquired into by the Commissioners, there were twenty-two places which had no Municipal Corporation, and there were twenty-four other places in which the Commissioners were unable to discover any remains of Corporations which existed in 1800, and eleven were in a state of doubtful existence. The Bill of last year contained a list of sixty-seven places, and it rested on the essential principles of the English Bill. The noble Lord did not seem to be aware of the difference between 1334 the Bill of last year and the present one; indeed, from the language he had used it would appear that he had not diligently studied the Irish Bill, nor had the hon. and learned Gentleman consulted the provisions of the English Bill. They did not propose in this Bill to incorporate any towns not now in possession of charters. Allusion oh this ground had been made, to Antrim, but he would ask, was the right hon. Baronet prepared to prove that Antrim was not in possession of a Corporation? If this could be shown, he would not object to exclude that city from the schedule. They had been told that such towns as Middleton and Belturbet should not have been included in the Bill, while others of more importance were left out; but he would ask whether it was the object of the party opposite to incorporate any of these places? He would, however, observe on this point, that they had left these two boroughs in the Bill, because they found them in actual possession of corporate rights, and of corporate property. If they had not found these towns in actual possession of corporate property he admitted that they would have been fair cases for exclusion. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had complained of the exclusion of Newry and Dungarvon; but he was sure that his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Sergeant O'Loghlen, Member for Dungarvon) would not have consented to their exclusion, if there had not been good reason. He need not say that his right hon. and learned Friend, standing In the relation which he did to the letter of these places, would have been extremely glad to have done anything which he consistently could, and which would be agreeable to the inhabitants of the place. He repeated, that for some good reasons they were not included in the schedules of the Bill, and those reasons were similar to the reasons on which neither Manchester nor Birmingham was inserted in the English Bill. With reference to the mode that was suggested for the appropriation of the corporate funds, he would only observe that hon. Gentlemen opposite attempted in their present proposition to surpass the Ministerial side of the House in the science of appropriation. With respect, however, to incorporation, he would beg to observe that there was a clause at the end of the Bill to enable the King to grant charters of in corporation to towns. They had not 1335 proposed to place the names of a number of large towns in Ireland in the schedules, because they had not inserted the names of towns in the schedules of the English Bill, which were not then in the actual possession of charters. This plan had been adopted, after mature consideration, as the best that could be acted upon. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last complained of the burdens that this Bill would inflict on Irish corporate towns, and that the property of these places on the average: did not exceed 120l. a year. He (Lord Morpeth) thought, that by due and prudent management, it would be found to amount to much more than that sum. With respect also to the compulsory payments in the towns for corporate offices, the hon. and learned Gentleman should recollect that, from the nature of the offices, the salaries would be small in the lesser boroughs. The hon. and learned Gentleman also complained that the power of taxation would be left in the possession of the 5l. householders. But did he forget that that class of persons at present had the power of electing Commissioners for levying compulsory rates for paying, watching, and lighting towns? If the hon. and learned Gentleman supposed that it was likely that this class of persons would conspire to lay a heavier rate on their richer neighbours than they themselves paid, he would only say, in reply, that he did not think that it was possible that the class of persons who composed the holders of the 5l. franchise would for one moment lend themselves to such a project. Indeed, they could not refer to a single instance of such an attempt, and they had superabundant evidence on the other side. The hon. and learned Member made some allusions to the Corporation of Tuam, which was composed of Catholics, with the exception of one member, and that this Corporation had mortgaged its property to the trustees of a Catholic chapel in that town. He did not wish to defend the Corporation of Tuam; on the contrary, he objected to it as a close body. The Corporation accounts were open to none of the inhabitants and there was no efficient control over the expenditure. When, however, the hon. and learned Gentleman brought forward this case of the conduct of a Catholic Corporation, be (Lord Morpeth) would, as a set-off, refer to the conduct of the Corporation of 1336 Londonderry. The Commissioners in their report state, "that a new set of bells was purchased and set up by the Corporation for the cathedral of Derry in 1812, at a cost of 1,591l. 18s., and that the Corporation contributed, in 1823, towards the repair of Derry cathedral the sum of 1,600l." This, then, was an instance of appropriation for purposes which were not for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the town, but for the advantage of a particular class. This was a case in which there was the same misappropriation of the funds as in Tuam, and equally required a remedy; for he contended, in these cases, what was good for Peter was good for Paul. All that he required was, that the inhabitants of a town should have the administration of their own affairs, and that those who contributed to the local taxation should have control over its distribution; by doing this he thought they would have an efficient check against its misappropriation. He trusted that the House would adhere to the plan originally proposed by his Majesty's Government, and not suffer itself to be carried away by the more revolutionary gale which blew from the other side of the House, or be influenced by the spirit of the noble Lord, which was so full of allusions to ravages and deluges. He felt satisfied that the election of the local officers, the constantly recurring discussions in the town-councils, the repeated consideration of local affairs and all matters connected with local self-government, would not be without benefit to such a state of society as existed in Ireland. The noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, said, the other evening, that he thought it was to little purpose to inquire into the object of forming the present system of local government in Ireland, but he (Lord Morpeth) thought it would be still more useless to inquire into the object in forming many of the regulations in the early Irish Corporations. But from all the information that he could glean respecting those early times—and he was aware that the subject was one of great obscurity—the power of choosing the municipal officers who exercised control over local affairs was vested in the inhabitants at large of those places. Certainly the policy that was then followed was rude and imperfect, and in those barbarous times these Corporations stood as the outworks of civilization. But whatever was the then object was immaterial; 1337 but the wish of the Government in bringing forward this subject was to restore, and form anew, and in an effective manner, Irish Municipal Corporations, which would serve for the effective administration of local affairs, and afford the inhabitants a control over the expenditure of local funds. They had been told by the noble Lord, that in Ireland, in making their arrangements for local government, they should recollect how much party spirit and party animosity existed there, but he was quite sure that this measure, if carried into effect, would not make those feelings go further; on the contrary, it would tend essentially to mitigate and allay them, by giving the people something else to discuss than differences arising from religious grounds. By pursuing this course interests were created, which would be constantly discussed, and which, in consequence of their nature, would be more moderately treated. He was satisfied of this, because the subjects likely to be discussed had a settled tendency to allay soreness, and instead of matters of excitement, they would be sitting down to the every day business of life, in which it would be very difficult for men to exhibit the violent party feelings which now prevailed. He thought that there were also other grounds that made out a system of local government, as was then proposed, more necessary in Ireland than in England and Scotland. Dublin was not so disproportioned in size and wealth to London as the towns in the provinces of Ireland were to those in England. In Dublin there was something analogous to London, but in Ireland there were no such towns as Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, or Glasgow, nor such a multitude of market towns as in England, which were a source of riches to the surrounding agricultural districts. He admitted that there was much in Ireland which made it desirable to centralise certain businesses in Dublin or London. On this ground he had proposed the Bill to effect certain changes in the constitution of the constabulary force—a Bill which was regarded as a bugbear last year, but which, seemingly, was regarded by gentlemen opposite this year as a godsend. In this Bill he had endeavoured to adopt the principle of centralisation as much as he could. In the constitution of this armed force of police, he though); that a different principle should be acted upon than that 1338 proposed in this Bill. In the counties in Ireland, therefore, they proposed that the nomination and control of the police force, instead of being intrusted to irresponsible Grand Juries, should be left to those who would be accountable for their conduct. They proposed that the control of the unarmed police in towns should be left, not to irresponsible and self-elected persons, but to responsible authorities, chosen by those who were most interested in their good conduct, and who must suffer by any maladministration. He did not propose to abandon the principle of centralisation in Ireland, when it could be carried into effect advantageously; but at the same time, when he found that it was more beneficial, he proposed that the in-habitants of towns should have control over their own concerns. In his opinion the scheme of reform proposed by the Government, on their responsibility, was a real and palpable advantage over the scheme of annihilation first shadowed out by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and that evening grown into a substantive form, in the shape of the amendment proposed by the noble Lord opposite. The chief reason for refusing to adopt the amendment was, that it asserted as a principle the incapacity, on the part of the people of Ireland, to exercise the rights, and privileges, and duties now so advantageously performed by their more favoured fellow-subjects in England and Scotland. Therefore, it was placing the people of Ireland necessarily in a situation of inequality and inferiority, as regarded civil rights and privileges, and consequently inflicting on them what they could not but feel as an injustice, and which they might be roused to resent as an insult. In such case it would be easy to throw blame on the exciters of these measures; but in his opinion it would be a much wiser part to give them an equality of civil rights, and not to leave wrongs unredressed. The noble Lord (Francis Egerton) refrained from alleging any religious grounds as reasons for exclusion; but his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley), on a former night, certainly did allege religious grounds as the basis for a political difference. No one more respected the conscientious feelings of his noble Friend than he, or was less insensible to the purity of the motives of his noble Friend; but he could not value them very 1339 highly in matters of purely a temporal nature; and he owned, while he admitted the conscientious feelings of his noble Friend, he could not help doubting the soundness of his political views. Perhaps, in less enlightened days they might resort to this species of argument, but it was hardly to be expected that in the present day, in the nineteenth century, after the Catholic Relief Bill had been passed, and after the Reform Bill had passed, that it could be seriously admitted that the Protestant religion could be endangered by any species of monopoly which could be enacted under this Bill. Such a reason to disqualify the large mass of the people of Ireland from equal liberty, he must wholly repudiate. He was surprised, indeed, that the religions grounds should have been urged with reference to the Irish boroughs, and that danger to the Protestant religion should be anticipated from the destruction of bodies, which, however intended, had certainly not hitherto added to its security or its strength. When it was remembered that the Protestant religion had been exposed to the opposition of emperors and general councils—that it had defied the edicts of Farnese—the thunders of the Vatican, and the arms of Alva, it Was too much to suppose that the carrying the Irish Corporation Bill would expose it to danger. His right hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General for Ireland, when he made his statement on introducing the Bill, brought forward some cogent reasons for passing it, which he had taken from a speech of his noble Friend on introducing the Irish Reform Bill. His noble Friend had then clearly shown that they were then legislating for political and not for religious purposes, as was also the case in the present measure. He did hot doubt, from what Gentlemen opposite said, that there would be a large influx of Tories info these town-councils unless, indeed, those who had hitherto borne that title should have at once given it up, and have even repudiated the name of bit by bit Reformer, in order to become Destructives. He had only further to state, what Was indeed admitted on all sides, that the system which prevailed under the self-elected, irresponsible Corporations, which he was loth to call Protestant, must be got rid of; but he trusted that they would hesitate before they had recourse to such a violent remedy as was proposed on the other side. Let them 1340 rather exert themselves to introduce such a system of good government in towns and cities as would be consistent with justice, and which would be beneficial to the inhabitants of not only the boroughs, but the country at large. If, on trial, they were found to have exercised the trusts reposed in them unfairly, partially, or corruptly, then, and not till then, let the Legislature resume from them the powers which they would have abused, and the privileges which they would have forfeited.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
said, that the supporters of this Bill claimed for the towns of Ireland Municipal Reform similar to that which had been granted to the towns of England; but, before he proceeded to that question, he wished to make a few observations on another part of the case. It was said, that this measure and the English Bill proceeded on the same principles; but he begged to call the attention of the House to many points in which they differed most essentially. In the first place, he wished the House to look at the fourth section of the Bill now under discussion, and to compare it with the sixth, the corresponding section of the English Bill. This section of the Irish Bill, it would be found, contained a great variety of matter which was not inserted in the English Bill, but still not one word had he heard from the hon. Gentlemen opposite which explained, or any way accounted for, the obvious departures in this respect of the Irish Bill from the provisions of the English Bill. The Bill now under consideration provided, after stating that the new Corporations were "to be styled mayor, aldermen, and b urgesses—that they shall be capable in law, by the council hereinafter named of such borough, to do and suffer all acts which such bodies corporate lawfully may do and suffer, and shall be entitled to, invested with, and possessed of, all the lawful rights, trusts, properties, and estates now or lately legally invested in, or belonging, or which of right ought to belong, to such boroughs or bodies corporate respectively, save only and except those vested in the charitable trustees of such boroughs, pursuant to the provisions hereinafter contained; and the mayor of each of the said boroughs shall be capable in law to do and suffer all acts which the chief officer of such borough might or may lawfully do or suffer, so far as such powers, rights, trusts, and privileges respectively are not altered or annulled by the provisions of this Act." The latter 1341 part of this section was altogether omitted in the English Bill, and he should therefore like to know for what reason the remarkable word "trust" had been inserted in the Irish Bill, when it was not to be found in the corresponding provision of the English Bill? There was sortie mention made of "trusts" in the Report of the Commissioners, but then there was a saving in this clause with regard to trusts of a charitable nature. To show how delusive this saving was, he would take the city of Cork, a town with which he was well acquainted. In that city the Corporation were invested with trusts which, though not exactly bearing the character, were devoted to charitable purposes, and yet what would the effect of this Bill be in all such cases? Why, that by its operation, the whole of such trusts would be transferred to the management and control of the councillors of the Corporation. Here, then, was a clear departure from the English Bill, but no reason whatever had been given for it. If such words had no meaning, were intended to have none, why employ them? But if they had, if they were intended to produce a certain effect, why not say so at once, and manfully account for their introduction into the Irish Bill? The declared object of the framers of that Bill was to apply to Ireland the same principles of reform which had been proceeded on in the English Bill; but he should like to know from those Gentlemen a single instance in which a defunct Corporation in England had been again raised into existence? In Ireland several departed Corporations were, it seemed, to be called hack to life, and yet they were told that there was no departure in this measure from the English Bill. Newry, which contained a population of of 13,065, and the limits of which extended from a mile and a half to two miles—a town occupying 2,500 acres, and returning a Member to Parliament, was altogether omitted in the present Bill, although it was included in the Bill of the last Session. Newry, then, according to the present measure, was to have no Municipal Corporation, although other places less entitled to a charter were; and the same might be said of Downpatrick. The Assize town of the county of Downpatrick was also included in the Bill of last Session, although omitted in the present measure. But was it not curious that a small town like Bangor was to be deemed fit for the advantages of a Corporation, while extensive towns, such as Newry and Downpatrick, were to 1342 he left without the power of self-government? The population of Bangor was 2,741; its limits, though not stated in the Report, were but small; and the Members of the Corporation amounted to no more than twelve, all of whom were either of the Ward family, or the friends and relations of that family. Why this should be, he certainly was at a loss to conceive. In Bangor there was a place of confinement called the "Black hole," but only one person was ever known to have been confined in it, and although the whole of the corporate property at the disposal of the Corporation did not amount to 50l. a year, yet Bangor was to be honoured with a Corporation, while towns which returned Representatives to that House were to be precluded. Perhaps it might be assigned as a reason for passing over Newry and Downpatrick, that the Corporations of these places had fallen into decay. That, however, was not the principle on which the Government proceeded, because, they had proposed to give a charter to the miserable town of Middleton, the population of which did not exceed 2,044. It was not easy to discover why a place so insignificant should have been called into existence as a Corporation, when Mallow, with double, he might say treble, the amount of population, and entitled to send a Member to Parliament, was excluded. No satisfactory explanations had up to that hour been afforded oh these points; but as he did not wish to trouble the House by enumerating the various other instances in which the Bill departed from the English Bill, he would proceed to show that the framers of the measure under consideration had not teen guided by the principle for which they claimed credit, viz. that of giving to Ireland a Municipal Reform similar to that which had been granted to England. He could not, however, omit calling the attention of the House to another extraordinary instance of departure from the English Bill which the Irish Bill exhibited. This would be found by a comparison of the 5th section of the Irish Bill with the 9th, the corresponding section, of the English Bill. In the English Act, occupation for two, he might say three, years was made an indispensable requisite in the qualification of a burgess; but in the Irish Bill, all that was necessary to entitle a party to have his name placed on the burgess roll was an occupation of little more than six months. No reason had been given for this departure, although he should have thought that 1343 the House were entitled to some explanation on the subject. As his hon. and learned Friend had addressed himself chiefly to the administration of justice and malversation, he (Mr. Jackson) had felt it necessary to advert to those points. There was another difference in this same section and the corresponding section of the English Bill, which likewise called for explanation. In describing the nature of the qualification in respect of which persons might claim to have their names placed on the burgess roll, another remarkable word was employed. It was said, that persons should be entitled to act as burgesses of any borough who "shall hold and occupy within such borough any house, warehouse, counting-house, office, or shop, which shall be truly and really of the full yearly value of five pounds." He begged to call the attention of the House to the word "office" in this enumeration. No such word appeared in the English Act, and why it had been inserted in the Irish Bill he had no small curiosity to know, If an "office" were to confer the right of voting in the affairs of Corporations, might not every room in every house in a borough be converted into an office for the purpose of making votes in favour of one party or another? This would clearly amount to something very much resembling universal suffrage; and if it were not intended to establish the principle of universal suffrage, such a qualification should be expunged from this Bill. It was only by close examination and collation that the essential difference between the two measures could be discovered, and it did strike him as somewhat singular that no such word as "office" was to be found in the Irish Corporation Bill of last Session. He thought the House should be told fairly and candidly why that word had been introduced into the present measure. There were also other circumstances besides those to which he had adverted connected with this Bill, to which he wished to call the attention of the House. In England, the qualification was made with reference to the payment of poor rates. There were no poor rates in Ireland, and therefore it was necessary to substitute for that some other test of qualification. What was the test of qualification which was proposed for the Irish boroughs? Why, the occupation in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and other towns of the first class, of a house and premises of of the value of 10l., and in places of less consideration, of 5l. Now with respect to Cork, which had a population of 100,000 1344 he would venture to say that the effect of such a provision would be to enable every labourer within seven miles of that city, who occupied a mere shed and a few roods of land, to participate in all the privileges of the Bill, no matter how small the value of his holding might be. Persons of the description he had named, would be entitled to become town-councillors under this Bill, and if he were not, greatly misinformed, he might state that the hon. Member for Cork, whom he saw in his place, and who would correct him if he were in error, had been sent to that House by no fewer than 600 voters, who could not even write their own names. The same persons would, if this Bill were passed, have the election of the municipal officers of the Irish Corporation towns thrown into their hands, and that was a state of things which resembled nothing that existed in England. There was another most important matter, to which he wished to call the attention of the House. In England, the lists of voters were prepared by the overseers of the poor, whose duty it was annually to collect and furnish the names of the persons entitled to act as burgesses in municipal elections, but what was the arrangement in this respect for Ireland, where there were no overseers? Why, this duty was to devolve ultimately upon the town-clerics. The first year after the passing of this Bill, the burgess lists were to be prepared by the churchwardens, but afterwards that duty, with others, enough to incapacitate them, would fall upon the shoulders of the town-clerks, who were not only to have charge of the records of the Corporation, to advise the town-council, to act as clerks of the Crown, to perform the onerous functions of registrars of the Courts of Conscience, but to revise annually the burgess lists. He was convinced that burthening those officers with such a multiplicity of duties could only lead to confusion and abuse. He now begged to call the attention of the House to a matter much more important than anything to which he had hitherto referred. The noble Lord had said that the new Corporations would only have control over the watch of their own boroughs, and that the whole of the armed police force would be under the exclusive direction of the Lord-Lieutenant. This Bill made a most extraordinary alteration in this respect, for not only were the watchmen to be absolutely an armed police of the municipality, but "as soon as constables shall have been appointed by the watch-com- 1345 mittee for any borough, a notice, signed by the mayor of such borough, specifying the day on which such constables shall begin to act, shall be fixed on the doors of the town-hall and every place of public worship within such borough; and on the day so specified in such notice, so much of all Acts named in conjunction with such borough in the schedule E to this Act annexed, and of all Acts made before the passing of this Act, as relates to the appointments, regulations, powers, and duties, or to the assessment or collection of any rate, to provide for the expenses of any watchmen, constables, patrol, or police, for any place or places situated within such borough, shall cease and determine, and all watch-houses and watch-boxes in such place or places, and all arms, accoutrements, and other necessaries provided at the public expense for any watchmen, constables, patrol, or police therein, shall be given up to such persons as shall be named by the said mayor in such notice, for the use and accommodation of the constables to be appointed under this Act, and all the property so to be given up shall be deemed to belong to the body corporate of such borough," Now it would be observed that immediately after the publication of this notice, all the Acts enumerated in schedule E, would cease and determine, and that from that moment there would also be an end of all the Acts by which rates are levied in certain districts for the pay of the police. The watchmen, if so they could be called, were to be armed exactly like the police; but was it not perfectly plain that repealing these Acts, which enabled half the expense of the police force to be raised by presentment, would, in effect, take the whole control of the constabulary of those boroughs out of the hands of the Lord-Lieutenant, and place it in those of the town-council? This was, he submitted, a formidable power to place in the hands of such persons, and he therefore trusted that what he had said would draw the attention of hon. Members to this extraordinary provision of this Bill. He could adduce a great number of other instances of departure from the English Act; but he would only trespass on the House to recapitulate some of those to which he had already called the attention of the House. There was a difference as regarded trusts—the revival of decayed Corporations—the qualification of burgesses, and the insertion of the word "office," from which a system little short of universal suffrage must arise. 1346 These things, taken in connection with the other discrepancies, which he had pointed out, proved that this Bill was toto cœlo different from the Acts passed for the Reform of the Municipal Corporations in this country. His right hon. and learned Friend had assumed that those who could not agree with the principles of the Bill which he had introduced, must be actuated by some particular motive. Now he could see no other reason for objecting to it than the state of society in the two countries. No man could deny, that the state of society in England and Ireland differed on many essential points. In the first place, they had a body of men in Ireland, to whom there was in England no class either similar or analogous. The body of men to whom he alluded, influenced elections, political and municipal, to an extraordinary, an incredible, extent. They had in Ireland a large establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and clergy. [Cheers.] He did not believe that the hon. Member who cheered him meant to dissent from the fact which he had stated. He repeated, that they had in Ireland, Roman Catholic Archbishops, and Bishops and dignitaries of every degree, as well as a vast number of parochial clergy. The parochial clergy, alone, he believed, exceeded 3,000 and besides these there were a great many who belonged to different religious orders. The House would permit him to say, that this body, he meant the Roman Catholic clergy, made it their business to interfere in every election which occurred in Ireland. The influence which they exercised over the electors was the bane of that country; and all he could say was, that if the present corporate system were abolished, and this Bill passed into a law, every borough in that country would be reduced to a frightful condition. Throughout the whole year they would be disturbed by elections. The Sheriffs were to be elected triennially, and the election of mayor, aldermen, and town-councillors, would furnish fresh scenes of agitation. This was not all; for in the cases of death, bankruptcy, insolvency, or absence for a month, of a municipal officer, a new election was to take place within ten days, so that he might venture to say, that the whole of the corporate towns of Ireland would exhibit from one end of the year to the other nothing but scenes of election tumult and disorder, If to these evils were to be added anything like the bribery and intimidation which he had heard of 1347 while on the Intimidation Committee of last Session, all he could say was, that they could not give to Ireland a greater curse than that which was now represented as a boon to that country. He should presently call the attention of the House to some instances of the part which the Roman Catholic clergy took in the Irish elections, and the frightful state to which that country was reduced in consequence. This would show the difference of the state of society in England and Ireland; for in what part of this country—in what English county—he should like to know, would there be found thirty-six individuals awaiting their trial for no leas a crime than murder? It was a melancholy fact, but it was not the less true, that at the Assizes for the county of Tipperary there were no fewer than thirty-six cases of murder to be tried. In Ireland, from 1829, down to the present time, there had been as many as 700 homicides, and it was the system of tumult and agitation which had been allowed to go oil which bad brought that country into its present deplorable situation. It was his opinion, that these things would only be increased and perpetuated by the passing of this Bill. There had been several Protestant clergymen murdered in Ireland since 1830. He certainly did not mean to say, that all those murders of clergymen had taken place in the county of Tipperary alone, but several of them did occur in that county. One of these murders took place in the county of Cork. Another of them took place in the county of Tipperary, namely, the murder of the reverend Mr. Whitty. The lives of several other clergymen had been sacrificed in this way. One of the consequences of the agitation and intimidation that prevailed was, that when the guilty parties were arrested and brought to trial, their trials turned out to be a mere nullity. In a case where certain parties were arraigned for the murder of a clergyman, one of the principal witnesses for the prosecution being brought upon the table, refused to answer any questions put to him. However, on being pressed by the Court to reply to the questions put to him, he said—"Am I to be shot?" There was no possibility of getting over this feeling; and the witness was allowed to go off the table without having given his testimony. The hon. and learned Gentleman again adverted to the case of the reverend Mr. Whitty, and of the reverend Mr. Going The latter gentleman, though not abso- 1348 lutely murdered, was brought to his death by the treatment which he received. Such was the persecution that pursued him that he was hunted out of the country. He was lot able to return to his glebe, and the result was that he absolutely died from the effect of the persecution by which he was assailed. This was a state of society of which the House had no idea. These were the circumstances which Were occurring in Ireland, and for which no parallel was to be found in the circumstances of this country. These were the essential and characteristic differences which made it madness for that House to legislate for Ireland in all respects in the same manner as they legislated for this country. The effect of the measure before the House, when he considered the nature and character of the constituency they were about to create, would be to transfer the power and influence of these Corporations exclusively into the hands of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. The effect of the measure would not be, as his right hon. and learned Friend had described it, the transfer of this power and influence from an exclusive body into the hands of the people generally, but into the possession of a certain class and portion of the people. He alluded to the power that was exercised by the Catholic priesthood in Ireland—a power to which the Catholic population was completely Subservient. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin undoubtedly possessed great influence. He to a great extent influenced the Parliamentary elections in Ireland. His influence, no doubt, had great effect; but the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, able as he was, was but an instrument in the hands of that power which exercised a paramount influence, and to which influence the whole Catholic population of Ireland was subservient. The same persons would always continue to exercise that power. Let the House consider the character and circumstances of that body. They were a class of men who did not marry, who were not bound to the State by strong and peculiar ties, They were men who gave no hostages to the State; and it was such men that exercised this paramount and dangerous power. The power which he was describing did not centre in the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. If that hon. and learned Member died to-morrow, that power would survive him; and the same power and authority, exercised by the hands of those persons, would still continue to exist in Ireland. The right hon. Gentle- 1349 man who introduced the measure had stated, that there was no apprehension to be entertained of the exercise of any sinister influence in the new Corporations in Ireland. All the elections would be carried on in a peaceable and tranquil manner, and he instanced the case of Cork and those elections which had taken place in Ireland under the provisions of the 9th of Geo. 4th. He would read some information which he had received on this subject, and which he thought would show that religious feeling prevailed to a considerable extent. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, that religious feeling did not prevail in elections in Ireland—that there was no instance of religious feeling operating in elections in Ireland. Now he had lived for a number of years in Ireland, and had been much conversant with elections in that country, and he had never known an instance of an election in Ireland in which religious and political feeling had not strongly prevailed. Now, with respect to the Corporation of Youghal, let them see what chance there would be there of having the elections conducted without party or religious feeling. He had received some information respecting the state of that Borough, which he thought would throw some light upon the disadvantage of placing the qualification at too low a standard. The consequences likely to result from such a state as this measure would bring about would be to give a triumph to one distinctive portion of society. He was informed that the introduction of the Municipal Bill into Ireland, should the minimum standard of qualification be even 10l., with the exclusion of freemen, would be most fatal to the internal tranquillity of corporate towns, and would tend to keep alive that party feeling which had dismembered society, and struck at the base of national improvement. In proof of this, the writer of this communication referred to an election which took place in Youghal in 1830, under the provisions of 9th Geo. 4th. Previous to that, election, Commissioners, both Catholic and Protestant, had been elected without any intrusion of party feeling, and these Commissioners administered their duties to the general satisfaction of the inhabitants. This state of things was changed by the effect of the last general Parliamentary election, which had produced a great degree of party and political feeling. The document went on to state the intolerant feeling that had influenced the Catholic party in the town at the last election of Commissioners, 1350 and the interference with their flocks which the Catholic Priests had used on that occasion. The result of the statement was, to prove that the working of the 9th. of George 4th., referred to by the Attorney-General for Ireland was no criterion by which to judge of elections that might take place under this Bill, which would be sure to be influenced by the strongest party and political feeling. The right hon. Gentleman had referred also to the Borough of Dungarvan to show that in all cases the electors of Ireland had shown a disposition to return Protestants instead of Catholics. But what was the case of Dungarvan? They had heretofore returned Mr. Lamb, a Protestant Gentleman, who was a Reformer. They had since returned a Protestant Gentleman named Jacob, but they returned Mr. Jacob because he had pledged himself to them as a Repealer. He defied them to show an instance in which the Catholic constituencies of Ireland had returned a Protestant in preference to a Catholic, unless that Protestant had pledged himself as a Repealer. It was stated by some person at the other side of the House, that there were two, recent instances in which Protestants bad been returned in, preference to Catholics. He admitted there might be some rare cases, but he maintained that, with scarcely an exception, in Irish, elections, Protestants were preferred to Catholics only when they had come forward and pledged themselves as Repealers, and in the two instances which had been stated, if the two gentlemen alluded to had not pledged themselves as Repealers, he was sure that they had given every other pledge that their constituents had demanded of them on the subject of the Irish tithe question, and in support of every other measure which their constituents wished them to support. But, throwing these considerations entirely overboard, whenever constituencies in Ireland found Protestants equally suitable to their purposes, he was not in the least surprised that they should give Protestants the preference. He did not hesitate to say that a Protestant thus elected was a much more dangerous foe to the Protestant interests and to the security of the Church than a Catholic Member professing the same principles. Whatever statements injurious to the interests of the Church, or to Protestant interests generally, were made by a Roman Catholic Member, were likely from his peculiar circumstances and feelings to be received by the House with some allowance, 1351 but this would not be the case with a Protestant gentleman, for statements he made were too apt to be received implicitly by the House. Now with respect to Dungarvan, who had been returned there instead of a Catholic? Why, Mr. Jacob, who had succeeded, he believed, Mr. Galwey, [" No, no."] Well, it was immaterial; he thought it was Mr. Galwey, and he did not then precisely recollect the name of the Catholic gentleman in opposition to whom Mr. Jacob was returned; but this he was certain of, that Mr. Jacob had pledged himself to Repeal, and to the support of every measure which might be brought forward for the abolition of tithes, and of any other measure which the constituency of Dungarvan considered to be desirable. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that there was no reasonable cause to suppose that this measure would transfer power and influence from an exclusive and intolerant body, and place it in the hands of another body equally intolerant and exclusive. The right hon. Gentleman said, that if such were its effect, he would be as ready as any person to oppose it. He (Mr. Jackson) had said, that the effect of this measure would be to place the Boroughs in Ireland completely in the hands of the Roman Catholics. If they established a 10l. constituency in the larger, and a 5l. constituency in the smaller towns, no one would attempt to say, that the great majority of electors in these towns would not be the Roman Catholics. Now he would venture to say, that he would be able to state some facts that would show that the body to whom they were about to transfer this power were as intolerant as any body into whose hands this power could possibly be transferred. He had already alluded to the power which the hon. and learned Member for Dublin possessed in various parts of Ireland—a power which even that hon. Member himself had admitted was too great for any subject to possess. Let them then see in what spirit of toleration this power had been exerted with regard to the elections that had taken place in Ireland. Let them just see what were the addresses which had been promulgated to the constituency of Ireland by that hon. and learned Gentleman. He would read some passages from these addresses, and let the House mark the spirit which dictated them. "Electors of Limerick," said the hon. and learned Member for Dublin," I address you especially. Your tried, your faithful, your efficient representatives, the Messrs. 1352 Roche, are before you. I am a witness to their excellent conduct; on their behalf I claim your undivided support. Let every man exert himself. Organise at once your political unions, your liberal clubs and committees. Let not one moment be lost. Whoever votes against the Roches, or either of them, is, I tell you, an Orange traitor to Ireland, an enemy to our common Christianity, and really a supporter of the blood-stained tithes. Hurrah, then, for William and David Roche! Hurrah for David and William Roche! No Orange Tories! The Roches and old Ireland for ever!" He (Mr. Sergeant Jackson) did not think that there was much toleration in addresses of this kind. The next passage which he would read was from an address to the electors of New Ross from the same quarter:—"Men of the surrounding parishes about New Ross, who afford a livelihood, aye, and by your industry and money make fortunes for the voters of New Ross meet at once in your respective parishes, appoint a deputation of three or four from every parish—appoint substantial, quiet, honest men; let a deputation from every parish go into New Ross, and canvass the voters from door to door. Let them cheer men who are honest—let them put on the door of every honest voter in large letters, "Talbot for ever, and no tithes, no Orangemen!" "Let them take down and publish in their parishes the names of any of those traitors to Ireland." And the hon. and learned Member said in another passage:—"Let no man deal with them. Let no woman speak to them. Let the children laugh them to scorn. I will not believe that a Tory candidate can have any chance while there is so much honesty and patriotism in New Ross. Then, hurrah for J. H. Talbot, and no Orange Tories; no tithes!" This was a specimen of the influence which prevailed in Ireland. He need not tell the House what had occurred in Kerry. The Knight of Kerry, than whom there was nowhere to be found a more honest, high-minded, or liberal gentleman—he was denounced as an Orangeman and an enemy to Ireland, because he had dared to gainsay the will of the hon. and learned Gentleman. They all remembered the description of intimidation that had been resorted to in Kerry. At the election for the county of Kerry, it was proved in evidence that all the Roman Catholic clergy in the county, except three, had taken the most active part against the Knight of Kerry—that they had 1353 harangued against him from the altars, and used every other influence they possessed. This state of things had gone to such an extent as to render the lives and properties of the Protestants who resisted this influence utterly insecure. But the hon. and learned Member was not content with attacking those merely who did not go along with him; he would allow no neutrality. He did not state anything that he was not ready to prove. At the last meeting which the hon. and learned Gentleman had addressed in Ireland, he had used language that showed he was not satisfied with those who did not go fully along with him. This was his language:—"I would impress on the people of Ireland the fact that no man can now he neutral. Neutrality is a crime at this moment, there must be no neutrals. In Kerry I gave them a name which put an end to half a dozen of them—Cumberlanders. Any neutral must be a Cumberlander. It is a very long and a very ugly word to pronounce, and heaven knows, it is not half so ugly as the man after whom they are called. Now, there is no neutral in Kerry, Every man who does not assist us, encourages the cry for conquest, and adds to the shout for the shedding of blood. We all, then, should rally round the King's Government. Recollect, whilst they are in power we are safe." If they were determined to transfer the power and influence of the Corporation in Ireland to the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, he was of opinion that it was impossible that they could transfer it to any party who would be disposed to make a more intolerant use of it. He had accepted the challenge which had been thrown out, and he thought that he had proved they were about to transfer this power and influence into hands as intolerant as those from whom it was transferred. It was of great importance that he should call the attention of the House to these circumstances. He did not wish to make any statement hurtful to the feelings of any person; but he had a solemn duty to perform, as the Representative of a borough, which would be deeply affected by this Bill. As a Representative from Ireland, anxious to place the facts before the House he had been anxious to call the attention of the House to these circumstances. He had mentioned a few of the in stances of the interference of Catholic clergymen at elections. In one county a Catholic priest named Falvey, threatened "that he would neither baptize, nor christen, nor perform the rites 1354 of the church to a man named Connor, who had promised to vote for the Knight of Kerry." In the county of Carlow, it was stated by Mr. Carrol, a witness before the Committee, that Father Walsh said at Borris chapel, that any one who voted for Bruen and Kavannagh should be refused all religious rites, and so run the risk of everlasting punishment. In Kerry, Father John O'Sullivan said at the altar that any one who would vote for the Knight of Kerry he would not prepare for death; but would let him die like a beast, neither would he baptize his children. At Clonmel one of the priests went to an elector and asked him would he not vote for his priest, who on his death-bed would administer to him the rites of the church. In the county of Waterford, Bishop Abraham encouraged his clergy to promote the opposition to Protestant candidates. At Cashel, the priest threatened Mr. Pennefather's tenants that he would welt them off the face of the earth, and that he would put the sickness on them, and that they should not dare to vote as they liked, but as he liked; and that if they did, the grass should grow at their doors, wiping his boots at the same time. In the county of Carlow, at the hustings, every priest in the county was collected, and as the electors did not know Mr. Wallace, they would point the attention of the people to him, and the witness states, "I have seen many of them in the booths making unseemly gestures towards those who voted against him." Father Maher sent for Mrs. Burgess to the vestry-room in the chapel, and there used all his spiritual power to induce her to work upon her husband, a Protestant, to make him vote for Mr. Vigors. On many occasions, the Deputy Sheriff's threatened to call the attention of the Sheriffs to the priests conduct in the booths. The hon. and learned Gentleman, next proceeded to read some passages from the address of Father Kehoe, in which he says, talking of the landlords, "The Conservative landlords threaten to deprive you of your leases; they cannot do so; they dare not, though they are most anxious to wallow up to their knees in human blood; in your blood, good people, and to bring about again the Rebellion of 1798: and their object is to bring your daughters to prostitution, and your sons to beggary, but they dare not. Why? Because, before the end of next Session of Parliament a body of Poor-laws will be in force, and every tenant that any landlord ejects, that same landlord, will be obliged to support. And 1355 who are these bloody landlords, these tyrannical despots? Why, they are fellows whose names were not known when your ancestors possessed the lands they now possess; but a time will soon come that will oblige them to prove the right and title they have to their possessions." Were the landlords in that House prepared to meet the consequences flowing from such excitement. Were not the powers of the Catholic clergy already sufficiently great for mischief, and would the House increase it by the present Bill? Had not the hon. and learned Member for Dublin sufficient power already? The effect of this measure must be to increase the influence which he had been endeavouring to describe to the House at least a thousand fold. He solemnly warned the House, that if they passed this measure, the connexion of the two countries would be speedily terminated, or it would have to be cemented by much bloodshed. Let the House only mark further the language used by Father Kehoe. "Well, good people, will you be true to your religion, your country, and your God, in spite of the tyranny of your landlords? In spite of Alexander and his son, the two who first obliged their tenants to pay the blood-stained tithes—who, after the last election, because their tenants voted for their conscience and their country, issued latitats, the expense of which amounted to 2l. 5s. 6d., to enforce the payment of sums of money not exceeding 6l. "The men who held this language to an excitable people were very fit persons to exercise toleration and to be invested with the power which they would derive from the measure before the House." Father Kehoe continued: "Good People—You must swear at the election that you vote for fit and discreet men to represent the county of Carlow. Is Bruen a discreet man? What Bruen? Orange Bruen—he who always opposed Catholic Emancipation till it was extorted from the Government, and his opposition could be no longer any injury to you. Is this a fit and proper person to represent the county of Carlow? This hard-hearted and tyrannical landlord? Well, what of Kavannagh? Is he a fit and discreet person to represent you? Why, he is dead! So the Dublin Freeman's Journal and Kilkenny Journal say. But if he's not dead, he's always laid up in the gout. Is this a fit and discreet man to represent you? Oh, boys, take care and do not perjure yourselves. Why, this Bruen always supported tithes, blood-guilty tithes 1356 —tithes that have murdered and bayoneted you. But I tell you, if you gain this election, before the end of the year there will be no such things as tithes; and even now a Rill for the extinction of tithes has passed the second reading of the House of Commons, It only requires a third reading to become the law of the land; for, as Peel himself said, neither the Lords nor the King dare refuse what the House of Commons pass into a law. Well, boys, Bruen and Kavannagh, I think you'll agree with me, are neither fit, decent, nor honest men to represent the county of Carlow. But I'll tell you who are honest men. Vigors is an honest man—but you know him well enough. We tried to get an Irishman, and applied to several gentlemen of the county to side with Vigors, but they all refused. An English gentleman, however, has volunteered. Mr. Raphael, High Sheriff of the City of London, who has plenty of money and plenty of honesty. Vote, then, for Vigors and Raphael, and you'll vote for yourselves, your country, your religion, and your God." "Is there any man," continues the priest, "that will tell me that agitation has done nothing for Ireland? Where are tithes now? Although Catholics are stilt kept out of offices of emolument, still there is no Such things as tithes now—I mean you no longer have to pay tithes, but a pitiful land tax, and we will soon put an end to that too. The Protestant clergy are now very different from what they were; they are no longer the fine gentlemen they were; but are in a sad hobble, and we'll mate them in a greater hobble; for instead of bringing up their sons and daughters to be gentlemen and ladies, they will be glad to bring them up to be farmers and tradesmen, like yourselves, good people. Boys! Vigors and Raphael intend to address you after mass; and I desire that you will not leave the chapel-yard till you have heard them. These Orange Conservatives are very confident, like the devil when he tempted our Saviour in the wilderness; but we'll strike fear and terror into their hearts on Tuesday. I hope it will not; be necessary for us to draw the sword, for I hope the very sight of the scabbard will be enough to frighten them. But I tell you, boys, if the Conservatives gain this election—they can't gain it—but if, by perjury, threats, and violence, they do gain it—if they do trick us out of our representatives on this, as they did at the last election, more blood will flow than there is water in the river Barrow," That was Father Ke- 1357 hoe's language, and the Address was delivered from the altar to his congregation. The rev. Gentleman, it appeared, delighted in agitation, and therefore the hon. and learned Member for Dublin was so anxious for the establishment of normal schools of agitation, which would no doubt be of great advantage to his party. There was a mass of evidence to show that, except in the north of Ireland, the Roman Catholic priesthood wielded the terrors of the other world to influence their follower and the result was imminent peril to the lives and property of those politically opposed to them. If he read this evidence to the House, it would excite their utmost astonishment. He would not, however trespass further on their time, but he trusted he had sufficiently shown that the state of society in Ireland was not such as would warrant the introduction into that country of a municipal plan similar to that adopted in England. The Corporations in Ireland had their origin in remote times. They were, in fact, so many garrisons for the protection of English interests in that country. The Corporations in Wales were established with a similar view. Nobody now would think of erecting such. Why, then, was it intended to establish them anew, except to gratify the will and pleasure of those who, in their reconstruction, saw a great augmentation of the power which, unhappily for Ireland, they already possessed to too great a degree in that country.
§ Mr. Sergeant Woulfe
said, it is not my intention, Sir, in the few observations which I consider it my duty to offer to the House, to follow the hon. and learned Member, who has just sat down, through the minute details which he has been pleased to give of circumstances alleged to have occurred at certain contested elections in Ireland. The facts to which he has alluded have already been laid before the House in the evidence given before the Intimidation Committee. Whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has or has not stated them fully and fairly to the House on the present occasion, I am not (without referring to the voluminous evidence of that Committee) in a condition either to affirm or deny. That the hon. and learned Member has only read to the House what he found in that evidence, I admit; but whether the facts which he has laid before the House have not been contradicted or qualified in other parts of that evidence, or whether what he has taken for granted as positive facts have not been 1358 stated upon mere hearsay, I am not at this moment, without going through that evidence, in a condition either to affirm or deny, This, however, I am in a condition to affirm, and I do most positively affirm, that several of the persons to whom the criminatory charges of the hon. and learned Member applied, had long since publicly and solemnly denied the truth of these charges, and that of such denials the hon. and learned Member could not have been ignorant, although he had not thought fit to state it to the House. With regard to several of the facts alluded to by the hon. and learned Member, they are of such a nature that, if proved to be true, I am not prepared to justify. This is not, however, the time for the trial of such issues, which would distract the House from the investigation of the question before it. I am not going to justify the excesses which are the consequence of excitement during elections. If, however, it be contended that the prevalence of sectarian feelings amongst the Roman Catholics of Ireland incapacitates them from a participation in the benefits of a Municipal Corporation Bill assimilated to that of England, I will take issue upon that point, and I will undertake to prove to the House that no such feelings or motives can be laid to the charge of the Roman Catholic body of Ireland. I say, Sir, that I will take issue upon that point, and leave it to the House to decide. I deny that in any instance since 1829 the Roman Catholics of Ireland have acted as a religious party. I defy any hon. Member to point out a single instance in which they so acted. They never pursued any object of a sectarian character, or in which the Protestants of the empire, or at least the Protestants of Ireland, were not equally concerned with them. If they had been at any time excited, their excitement had been directed to objects of imperial or national concern. They devoted all their energies to the assertion of the principles of civil and religious liberty. They have struggled with the liberal Protestants of Ireland, of England, and of Scotland, to accomplish Parliamentary Reform, and all the great consequences which it involved. It is to their excitement that you are indebted for the attainment of that Reform. I will not deny that they were powerfully excited, but the people of England have no cause to complain of that. They now enjoy the fruits of that excitement. It 1359 was directed to the promotion of purposes not peculiar to the Catholic, but common to him with every Protestant and Dissenter in the empire. Sir, I am not prepared to justify every act that was done under the influence of that excitement; nor is it necessary or material to the purposes of this question that I should. But this much I am prepared to say, and to prove, that the excitement was the result of the unconstitutional claim that was put forward by the holders of property in Ireland to dispose of the suffrages of their tenants as they thought fit. They claimed the votes of their tenants as services incident to their tenure—as part and parcel of their seignorial rights. Against this flagrant usurpation the freeholders of Ireland revolted. All the rights of property were put in force against them to reduce them to subjection. Hence the collision that took place. The excitement was reaction—the necessary and inevitable reaction of the landlords violently to force the people of the country to exercise their constitutional franchise in a manner repugnant to their feelings. How those feelings or opinions were produced is of no moment; but I again deny that there was anything in those feelings or opinions inconsistent with any principle of civil and religious liberty. The very reverse was the fact. Of the two plans before the House I need scarcely say that that proposed on this side of the House is prima facie entitled to the preference. This prima facie right might be sustained upon a great variety of considerations, but I should consider that I derogated from my self respect as an Irishman if I placed it upon any other ground than this. The people of England and Scotland, considering a plan of municipal reform based upon popular principles to be conducive to their interest, or calculated to gratify their local pride, desired the establishment of such a plan among them, and they obtained it. The people of Ireland, considering that it would promote their interests also, and gratify their feelings, desire it likewise. I do not mean to say that the will of any portion of this empire is of necessity to prevail over the judgment of the united legislature of the whole; but I do say, that in matters of local concern it is entitled to paramount attention. I will go farther, and say, that if in any portion of the empire an institution be established which is regarded in the nature of a boon or privilege, and that the extension of it is desired 1360 by another portion of the empire, the bare will of the portion so desiring it does establish a presumptive case for its extension, which nothing short of the clearest and the strongest reason can displace. The common right must be ousted by considerations clear and cogent. These surmises will not suffice. These allegations of unfitness without proof—apprehensions vaguely or vainly entertained will not suffice. The evil apprehended from acknowledging the common right must be great as well as certain. Now, let me ask, what is the evil alleged as likely to result from the Bill of my right hon. Friend, which is to justify that which, unjustified, will be both an injury and an affront. It has been said by all the hon. Members who have spoken on the other side, that the effect of the Bill will be to transfer from the hands of the Protestants into the hands of the Catholics, the power incident to the Corporations. Sir, I maintain that the principle of the Bill is such that it is impossible that it can take the power with which it deals out of the hands of those who ought to have it, or to place it in the hands of those who are not entitled to it. I do not care whether the hands that lose it are Protestant, or whether the hands that gain it are Catholic; but this I know, that under the operation of this Bill the persons rightfully entitled to it will acquire it. The principle of the Bill is to distribute the power by a civil qualification. Wherever that qualification is, there the power will be. Wherever that qualification is wanting, there the power will not be. The Bill takes no heed as to how many of the qualified shall be found in one church or in the other. It does not attempt to maintain the balance of power between sects, but to break up the classification altogether, and to annex power to that to which by nature it is incident. Sir, this principle was recognised by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, on the first reading of this Bill. He acknowledged that it was neither just nor expedient, nor in modern times practicable, to distribute power on any other principle. In making this acknowledgment, he merely recognised the great principle of the Bill of 1829, which disposed of and scattered among the people all the functions of the state, by annexing them to civil qualifications without reference to creed. This is not only the principle of that great law, but the principle of a law still higher—the 1361 law of nature. Nature has annexed power to the elements which constitute civil qualification. You may do violence to nature, and separate legal power from those elements, but nature will avenge the wrong, and restore the balance. She will more than compensate for the legal power you withhold by the morbid energy of passion. Sir, there is a circumstance in the statistics of Ireland immediately connected with this point, which well deserves attention. The power which this Bill gives is not to be placed in the hands of the country at large. It is to be given to the population of the towns. Now, that population differs from that of the country at large in two material respects. In the first place, the Protestants of Ireland are principally congregated in the towns, and bear a much larger proportion to the Roman Catholic inhabitants than they do in the country at large. In some of the country districts the Roman Catholics are one hundred to one; sixty to one; twenty to one, to the Protestants. In Dublin and other large towns they are scarcely three to one, and these Protestants, again, form a much larger proportion of the householders than the Roman Catholics. Again, it is not only that the Protestants are more numerous, but the Catholics themselves are more intelligent, more independent in private circumstances, more out of the reach of physical intimidation and influences of an undue character than their brethren in the country. The Catholics in the country, to whom you have already intrusted the most important functions in the state, are, generally speaking, Catholic peasants collected in great masses, with the intermixture of few Protestants, and with little intercourse with persons of a different rank from themselves. Their intelligence and their instruction are derived almost exclusively from their own pastor. The Catholics in the towns, on the contrary, are mixed up with their Protestant brethren in all the innumerable relations of social life. They are blended with them as members of the same profession—followers of the same trade—employer and employed—customer and dealer. This, added to the superior information which always prevails in towns over the country, gives to the Roman Catholics of large towns a character which renders impossible the expedients which are alleged to have been resorted to in the country districts. So much we might 1362 arrive at a priori; but I rest upon the fact. Notwithstanding the repeated and vehement contests which have been carried on in the city of Dublin, and the several petitions presented to this House against the return of the popular candidates, it has never even been alleged in any of those petitions that any denunciations from the altar or unseemly exhortations were ever resorted to by the Catholic priests of Dublin. So much for the manner in which the bill distributes the powers which it creates, and I repeat what I before said, that the right hon. Member for Tamworth expressly acknowledged that they could not be distributed in any other way. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin has, indeed, referred to the conduct of James 2nd, who, in remodelling the Corporations of Ireland, took care to provide that a certain proportion of Protestants should be elected into the councils and other municipal bodies. But in the year 1829, when the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, introduced the Catholic Bill, he did actually take into consideration in his speech the principle of such a provision; but he did so for the purpose of showing that it was inapplicable and utterly erroneous. He demonstrated that the only principle upon which the Legislature could confer political power was to attach it to civil qualification. Then, Sir, if it be conceded that this is the true and sound principle upon which the authority incident to the Corporations should be diffused among the people, how can it be made an argument against conferring such authority that the greater share of it will fall into the hands of one religious denomination or of another; in other words, that it will fall into the hands of those who are entitled to it, and ought to have it? Every argument of this kind will apply with an a fortiori force to every power you have ever given to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. But our dissensions, it is said, render us unfit for the discreet exercise of this power. Is it only in that way that the dissensions of Ireland can be brought to bear upon this subject; for there they are, and cannot be the consequence of a measure not yet enacted. But if our dissensions make us unfit for the powers conferred by this Bill, they render us more unfit for the more important powers which you have already given. Our dis- 1363 sensions were not less strong in the year 1829 than they are now. The argument proves nothing, for it proves too much. It goes to prove that the people of Ireland are unworthy of all power It goes to prove that they are fit subjects for a despotism or an absolute monarchy, and not of a Free state. Where has popular power ever existed without dissension? Dissensions are inseparable from the exercise of power, and their existence is the common argument that is used by every enemy of popular rights in every portion of the world. But it is said, that the administration of justice will be rendered subject to the influence of these dissensions by the operation of this Bill, This ban be only urged from a gross misconception of its provisions. The Bill gives the municipal Councils the right of appointing no judicial officer what so ever The only persons at all connected with the administration of justice, whom the Bill gives the Corporations the power of appointing, are the sheriffs in eight towns, and the mayors in the remainder. The nomination of sheriffs in these eight towns is subject to the approbation of the Lord-Lieutenant. If any additional checks are considered necessary to prevent the improper nomination of these officers, they can be suggested in the Committee, and I have no doubt that such is the general anxiety on this side of the House, that everything connected with the administration of justice should be not only pure but unsuspected, such suggestions will be received with every disposition to give them all due consideration. Should it be found impracticable to frame provisions which shall secure beyond all doubt the impartiality of the sheriff, if elected by the town councils, that may be a reason for placing the nomination in the hands of the executive, but is no reason for refusing to establish the corporations themselves. These observations apply with additional force to the provisions of the Bill, which make the mayor a justice of the peace for a single year. It is monstrous to contend that such a power as that placed in the hands of the common council can interfere with the sound administration of justice. The mayor will be a single justice out of many. In moat cases every magistrate of the county will be a justice of the peace in the corporation as well as the mayor. In all cases the mayor will be subject to the 1364 control exercised by the Court of King's Bench over all justices of the peace. In this respect the old corporations possessed a power not continued to the new—they appointed the judicial officers as well as the ministerial. I admit they abused their trust egregiously in the nomination of their sheriffs, but it is contrary to all sound reasoning to infer that, because this was done by an exclusive party who exercised all their powers for the advancement of partial interests, it will be continued by the people at large, to their own detriment, when intrusted with self-government. Sir, I cannot believe that hon. Gentlemen are sincere in their apprehensions for the administration of justice. If they were, they would seek to amend the Bill in that particular, not to reject it altogether; but they feel that the only arguments which, with any show of plausibility, they can urge against the powers of the new Corporations are confined to that single point. As to the other powers to be conferred by the Bill, it is preposterous to allege that there is any thing in the actual condition of the people of Ireland which renders them unfit for their enjoyment. They scarcely exceed the domestic powers of every man over his own household. They enable the inhabitants of the towns to regulate their gas-lights, and to appoint the watchman who is to drive the thief from their door at night, or the police-officer who is to prevent their pockets from being picked; and it is idle to say that Catholics, to whom you have already intrusted all the great powers of the State, are not as competent to appoint persons for these petty functions, as the Protestants, even supposing that the power of appointment were given exclusively to them, and not to the Protestants and Catholics in common. The hon. and learned Gentleman resumed his seat amidst loud cheers.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, had addressed the House for the first time, in a praiseworthy attempt to remove all impression that certain declared allegations made against the Roman Catholics, on the subject of the exercise of their influence at elections, were unfounded. He was sorry to say, though with the utmost desire to think these allegations untrue, that his experience, as a Member of the Intimidation Committee, could not bear him out in the hope that 1365 the hon. and learned Member's view of the case was correct. On the contrary, that the allegations were well founded he believed; and this fact was to be made out by the volume then before him, which contained the report of the evidence taken before the Intimidation Committee; and he would particularly allude to a special case which had so disgusted the whole of the Protestants—he meant the address of the Roman Catholic Priest, Kehoe, to his congregation. In that case, the gentleman who was brought before the Committee as a witness was named Carter Hall, That gentleman, it appeared, had been for three Sessions of Parliament a Parliamentary Reporter on the New Times and Morning Journal; and he deposed in the most decided manner to the fact of his having taken down, in Father Kehoe's chapel, in short-hand, the whole of the address uttered by the rev. Gentleman to his congregation. He was asked,Have you been in the habit of reporting speeches or debates of any description previous to your taking that address of Father Kehoe?—During three sessions of Parliament I was parliamentary reporter for the New Times and Morning Journal.Then you have had, before you took down Father Kehoe's address, considerable practice in reporting accurately speeches that may be delivered at public meetings?—Yes, I have.Are you persuaded that that address which is now before you; and which you reported, is an accurate version in substance of what Father Kehoe delivered at the altar to his congregation?—I am persuaded that it is an accurate report of certain expressions used by Father Kehoe on that occasion; everything that is there reported is a faithful statement of the substance of the priest's address, the sense of that address, and as near the words, upon the virtue of my [oath, as I believe it possible for any parliamentary reporter to report a speech,With regard to the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary, who was also a Member of that Committee, he (Sir Henry Hardinge) did not know whether the hon. and learned Member was in the room at the time Mr. Carter Hall was examined, but Mr. Hall stated distinctly, upon the virtue of his oath, that his report of the address was accurately given. Mr. Hall was next asked,Would you, if you were put on your oath, state that this was an accurate report?—I would.Now, although you have been asked whether you believe the substance is accurate, do 1366 you mean to say that the priest, to his congregation at the altar, made use of these words:—'There is one wretch that has done so; do you know who I mean? I mean Pat Neil, the hypocritical, proselytising apostate, lickspittle Pat Neil, and. his brother?'—On the virtue of my oath, I took it down on paper the moment he uttered it.That word 'lickspittle' is reported in three or four places, and therefore you are of opinion that you could not have mistaken that word?—Decidedly.He is again called a 'detestable, hypocritical, apostate lickspittle, a ruffian, and a miscreant, to be held up by the finger to scorn and detestation and contempt; I ask you again whether those words 'miscreant, ruffian, lickspittle were again used?—I am sure they were.I understood you to say that the whole of the substance as there reported was delivered by the rev. Gentleman at the altar, and as nearly as possible the very words?—As nearly as possible for a parliamentary reporter to report it.Here are other words which are very important, and on which I beg you will be very cautious in staling whether you are sure those words were used by the priest: 'A body of poor-laws will be in force, and every tenant that every landlord ejects, that same landlord will be obliged to support; and who are these bloody landlords, these tyrannical despots? Why, they are fellows whose names were not known when your ancestors possessed the land they now possess; but a time will soon come that will oblige them to prove what right and. title they have to their possessions. Now, Sir, if you were upon your oath, are you certain that is an accurate version of that part of the address of Father Kehoe?—I am,With this evidence before him he could not doubt, he was sorry to say, that the individual in question had, upon the occasion mentioned, spoken in these atrocious terms from the altar; and he was sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman would have been the first to condemn their use. But he was obliged to say that much of his own feelings with reference to the measure of the Attorney-General for Ireland, depended upon the state in which Ireland was at the time. If he thought that the state of that country was such that they might with safety concede the same measure of Municipal Reform to her which they had given to England, he should not have the slightest hesitation in assenting to the Bill. But when he found, the state of society such as the hon. and learned Gentleman himself declared, it to-be, he must hesitate in giving his assent. The hon. and learned Gentleman's speech went to this—"I admit that the state of 1367 the population in the country is not so good as it is in towns. But I say that in those towns, from the connexion of Roman Catholics with Protestants, you will have such a population as will prevent the evil you apprehend from this Bill. Now, then, he was at issue with the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that after giving the Parliamentary franchise to the counties, why not also give the municipal franchise to the towns? The hon. and learned Gentleman must be aware, that at the time that Parliamentary Reform passed for Ireland, the franchise in England was 40s.; while it was stipulated in the Act of 1829 that the franchise in Ireland should be raised rom 40s. to 10l. And so it was that the same fallacy ran through the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman as through that of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when they declared that it would be an insult to Ireland not to giant to her the same measure of justice that had been conceded to England. Why, in the Reform Bill, they did not give to the people of Ireland that which the English were granted—instead of the 40s. franchise, the Irish were given but the 10l. franchise. [Hear, hear! from Mr. O'Connell.] Was it possible that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin cheered him? Why, if he was not wrong, it was that hon. and learned Gentleman who had originated the disfranchisement of those freeholders. If he were wrong, he should be most happy to be corrected; but he believed that it was the hon. and learned Gentleman who consented to the disfranchisement of not less than 200,000 of the constituency in the various counties in Ireland.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
Was not that previous to the passing of the Emancipation Bill? It had been stated by Mr. Littleton, at present Lord Hatherton, that the clause of the Bill affecting the constituency of Ireland, and raising the 40s. franchise to 10l., that clause was in the handwriting of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had defied them to show that upon any occasion the Roman Catholics had been regulated by Sectarian principles when seeking to carry political objects. He was very unwilling 1368 to be in any way discourteous to the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, but he was bound to appeal to, and should read the evidence contained in the book before him, to show that that hon. and learned Gentleman advocated political objects on the ground of religious and sectarian prejudices. If he were wrong he should wish to be corrected, but willingly, certainly, he would not misinterpret the evidence in this Report. He thought it much fairer, instead of going into evidence in the absence of an individual, that, in the presence of that individual, he should state what the evidence was, and what the result of it appeared to him to be, that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had attempted to convey political objects by sectarian means. He appealed to the House upon this point for the evidence given before the Committee. He wished to state that this was not the evidence of any obscure person; and he, begged to premise, that upon the occasion in question, and before the witness was examined, he requested of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, or some member of his family, to attend the examination, and accordingly the hon. Member for Tralee attended while the evidence was given which he was then going to read. The individual to whom he alluded was Mr. Brownrigg, who held for several years the situation of sub-inspector and magistrate of the county of Kerry. Mr. Brownrigg, on being asked,Do you know whether Mr. O'Connell, in the county of Kerry, at Tralee, from a balcony or platform, in front of the Commercial Reading-rooms, addressed the people on one day, and that he stated in substance, as it has been printed in the Kerry papers, 'That there was not a demon in Hell more base than the Catholic who should vote for the Knight of Kerry?" and then, these words were repeated, 'I will have a death's-head and cross-bones painted or printed on a placard, and posted on the door of any Catholic who votes for him?'"—Mr. Brownrigg, to this question, answered, "I heard these words used in substance by Mr. O'Connell." Mr. Brownrigg was then asked, "Did you hear the first part, 'That there was no demon in Hell more base than the Catholic who should vote for the Knight of Kerry?'" to which he answered, "I did." In conclusion he was asked, "Do not yon think that this speech, taken in connexion with the public speech made in Dublin, was calculated to alarm any Catholic of the lower orders if he voted for the Knight of Kerry?"—Answer: "I think so.Now he begged the House to observe 1369 that in the words attributed by this witness to Mr. O'Connell, it was not put generally, that any voter who should vote for the Knight of Kerry should be considered worse than a demon of Hell, but that the denunciation was directed entirely to any Catholic voter who should so exercise his franchise. The hon. and learned Member's words distinctly were, that if any man of his religion—if, in short, any Catholic voter should dare to vote against his religion, and in favour of the Knight of Kerry, that he was considered for so doing baser than any demon of Hell, and that he was, as a punishment and a mark, to have a death's-head and cross-bones painted upon his door. Now he put it to the House to say, if this was not mixing up sectarian feeling with political objects. If the House entertained any doubt upon this subject, he would beg to direct attention to one other extract from the evidence lying before him. Let the House look at the treatment of that most honourable and upright nobleman, the Lord Kenmare, in the election of Kerry. A witness who had given his evidence before the Committee, was asked this question:—You say, that Lord Kenmare, in the first instance, was inclined to be neutral, and to take no part in the election?—"I said so." "And that the denunciations of Mr. O'Connell in the county caused him to change his mind, and, by his agent, or otherwise, to inform the freeholders, it was his wish they should support the Knight of Kerry?''—"I saw it in Lord Kenmare's own handwriting, that that was his wish." "You saw it in some document of Lord Kenmare's?"—"Yes; I did." "To whom was that addressed?"—"It was addressed to the agent, Mr. Gallwey." "Have you any copy of that letter?''—" I have." "Will you produce it?"—"This is the letter:"—DEAR MR. GALLWEY.—You are aware, as the public must be, that it was my determination to lake no part in the approaching election for the county. We are now arrived at a point beyond which forbearance is no longer possible; it is not now a matter of politics, the question at issue is, whether we are to bow our heads to a system of insolent dictation and intimidation; whether those freeholders who will not submit to be used as mere puppets by Mr. O'Connell, are to be pointed at with impunity as objects of insult and assassination, for what other meaning can be attached to the denunciation, that a death's-head and cross-bones are to be affixed to the doors of those independent individuals who will not obey his mandates! when the mob in Tralee is told, that those who will not vole as he dictates, are to be dragged from the hustings and trampled under foot. Under 1370 these circumstances I am driven to abandon my original intentions, and have to request that you will convey to my friends and tenantry my desire and most earnest intreaty, that they will vole for the Knight of Kerry. I certainly do not think that I require too much from them when I ask for one vote from each.(Signed) "KENMARE.Now he put it to the House to say, whether this letter of Lord Kenmare's, a nobleman not of his way of thinking—a Whig in principles—the constant advocate of liberal institutions, who was appointed by Earl Grey's Government to the Lord Lieutenancy of the county of Kerry—a man of irreproachable character, and one of the best landlords of Ireland, did not fully bear out his position, that in the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman sectarian feelings were mixed up with political considerations. He considered, then, that taking into consideration the circumstances in which Ireland was placed, it was impossible with safety to grant the proposed measure of Reform. The noble Viscount the Secretary for Ireland (Viscount Morpeth) in the course of his speech had stated, he believed, only one argument to show why this Bill should be passed—namely, that they ought to give a vent to certain feelings which might arise hi local matters rather than promote discussions abroad. Safety-valves, the noble Viscount called these; but he begged to observe to the noble Viscount, that there were such things as annual fairs, where the people met the sort of safety-valves desired by the noble Viscount, and where the most disgraceful scenes occurred. Take the case which happened in the year 1834, when 1,000 of the Culleens and of the Lawlers met; one party attacked the other; the women accompanied them carrying stones, whilst 300 farmers stood by and saw sixteen men stoned to death. Could anybody then say, that they could dispense with propriety a municipal government? A people so imbued in factions so intolerable? It appeared that in another case quoted by Mr. Inglis, two score of men were driven into the Shannon, some drowned, and some knocked on the head, like so many dogs. This was as recent as the year 1834. Let the House reflect upon these instances, and let any man say, whether such a system of corporate election as was proposed by this Bill, could with safety be given to the boroughs in the vicinity of the place where this species of brutality and violence had been 1371 so recently perpetrated? Take the borough of Tralee in the county Kerry, which adjoined the town of Cahirsween. [Mr. O'Connell.—It is thirty English miles distant,] At all events, the two places were in the same county; and could anybody say, that the population of a district in which such scenes as those he had described take place, was fit for such a system of municipal election as the Bill in its present shape proposed to establish? Let the House read Mr. Inglis's book, for he was a Whig. Mr. Inglis distinctly said, that from the most accurate observation, he was fully of opinion, that a further extension of democratic privileges could not be granted to the Roman Catholics of that country, without great danger to the welfare and independence of the community at large. Even in the hon. and learned Member for Dublin's county, Protestants were attacked and ill-treated by Roman Catholics on account of their religion. Mr. Brownrigg gave the following evidence:—You made a Report to the Government dated 'Constabulary-Office, Tralee, January 13th, 1835,' in which you said, 'I have the honour to transmit herewith an affidavit, sworn before me this day by a most respectable gentleman, in consequence of which, and in the absence of the High-Sheriff, I have, in conjunction with other Magistrates, made arrangements for the due protection of the freeholders in question.Extract from the deposition:—"So great is the spirit of outrage which prevails in the said town of Cahirsween and its neighbourhood, that on Sunday last, the 11th of January inst, the Protestant congregation of said town, on returning from Divine service, were pelted with filth and dirt; and even before the termination of Divine service, several riotous and ill-disposed persons came to the door of the church, and round it in every direction, and threw gravel and dirt at it; that unless an efficient police or military escort be appointed for the protection of the said freeholders on their way to Tralee, he is convinced they will be deterred by force and terror of their lives from voting at the ensuing election.(Signed)Taken and sworn before me, this 14th day of January, 1835.(Signed) "J. H. BROWNRIGG.I took that deposition.Thus these Protestants could not venture to enter the temple of their God, and worship him after the dictates of their own conscience, without the protection of an armed force. If a people in such a state of civilization were deemed worthy of 1372 more democratic power, he did not know to what lengths the spirit of Reform would carry hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. and learned Member for Tipperary had lately accused him, and the party with whom he acted, of a disposition to raise a "No Popery" cry. For his part, since he first had a seat in that House, he had always voted for Catholic Emancipation, and upon that subject he well knew that he had not made half the sacrifices to which many of his friends near him had submitted; and he could assure the House, that he was far from meaning anything disrespectful either to the Irish people or to the members of the Catholic religion. From his professional experience he was enabled to say, that as far as courage and generous conduct in the various and trying situations in which soldiers were often placed, he knew of none who served their country and their King with more loyalty and devotion than the Irish—no matter whether belonging to the Catholic or Protestant religion. He, therefore, entreated the House not to misunderstand the observations he intended to make, and especially not to suppose that in using the term "Popery," he meant to speak offensively of any portion of his fellow-subjects. The hon. and learned Member for Tipperary accused him and his friends of seeking to raise the "No Popery" cry. He denied it. He maintained, on the contrary, that the Popery cry had been raised by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin and his party. He had only to refer to the volume of evidence before him to prove that in hundreds of instances the Popery cry had been raised for political objects. Could they have better proof of the fact than was to be found in the circumstance of the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary writing to a Protestant clergyman, to whom he was indebted on account of tithes, stating that at the present moment he could not satisfy his demand, as by doing so he would be sure to lose his seat in the event of an election. Could there, he asked, be a stronger proof that the Popery cry had been raised in Ireland than was offered by the fact that a Member of that House, distinguished as much for his political influence and power, as for the eloquence he poured forth upon every question debated within its walls, felt obliged to defer doing an act of justice, an act of honesty, by the 1373 fear that in doing so he would be sacrificing his seat in Parliament? He contended, that it was more than proved by the evidence before the House, that a large portion of Ireland was unfit for such a measure as that proposed; and that it was rendered so, not merely by the very lowest orders of the country, by persons who did not and could not know the possible consequences of their political career, but by men whose situation would justify the supposition that they would be more cautious in lending their aid to the cause of agitation. He called upon the House to refer to the case of Lord de Vesci. A more benevolent, kind-hearted, landlord than Lord de Vesci never breathed; his estate was, in fact, the seat of happiness and prosperity, and yet upon his bringing forward his son to represent the county to which he belonged in Parliament, he became on the moment the object of the most virulent attack and vituperation. It was in evidence that a public meeting, at which the reverend Mr. Fanning was in the chair, adopted this resolution, "That we hold any person who votes for any other candidates than Laler and Cassidy as an enemy to society and his country, and as an abettor of the shedding of blood." Similar instances were unfortunately numerous. No matter how popular among' his tenantry was a landlord, no matter what he did to conciliate their good opinion, if he chanced to displease a particular party in Ireland, he was at once declared unworthy of even the ordinary courtesies of society, and designated as the abettor of every wickedness and crime. He would not delay the House by entering at any length into details; but he could take upon himself to say, that in the volume before him was to be found more than sufficient proof that the measure under consideration ought, if wisdom and policy were consulted, to be delayed until Ireland enjoyed far more internal peace and tranquillity than it did at present. What was the situation in which that country stood? The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, observed, on a former evening, that it would argue a disregard of justice as concerned Ireland, if the same measures which were applied to England were not extended to that country Now this, with all due respect, was a perfect fallacy. In point of fact there was no identity or assimilation of measures between the two 1374 countries. Take the very Bills then before the House—take, for instance, the Constabulary Bill. Could there be in principle anything more monstrous than that in a country which boasted of its freedom, it was found necessary for the protection of the lives of its people to keep up a polices force of 5,000 men, armed with muskets, and continually provided with ball-cartridges. Nay, it was even found necessary to keep these men cooped in barracks, like soldiers, to prevent their mixing too much with the people. These precautions the state of the country particularly required, so that it was quite absurd to talk of identity or assimilation of measures between it and England. Then, again, how stood the case as regarded Assistant-Barristers in Ireland? Why those officers had a power of trying cases without Juries in Ireland which not even the Judges of England possessed. Irish Assistant-Barristers had the power of trying civil causes of ejectment, and, without the aid of a Jury, might assess damages under fifty pounds. In fact, the argument of identity of measures between the two parties was entirely fallacious; for in almost every respect different legislation had been applied to the distinct and separate condition of each. The principal thing which Ireland required was repose and a cessation from agitation. Upon the debate on the question of repeal, some sessions past, the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said, that as long as the trade of agitation was kept up in Ireland, and as long as life was exposed to midnight violence, it was idle to expect that capital would be employed in Ireland, or that, as a consequence, its condition could be improved. This opinion experience had but too truly verified. From a reference to the book of evidence before him, it appeared that upon the occasion of a late election at Clonmel, in the county of Tipperary, a most respectable individual, a Quaker, who, for years previous, had given employment to nearly 1,000 souls, and who paid in wages weekly upwards of 300l. had, for the sole offence of voting for Mr. Bagwell, in opposition to the Liberal candidate, been attacked in the most shameful manner, and obliged for a time to conceal himself from the mob at his house, This was, unfortunately, but one instance out of many. In fact, it was the almost invariable result of an attempt to introduce capital into the country in 1375 the establishment of manufactures. Then, he asked, was this a state of things in which it would be safe to grant a measure of Municipal Reform, similar to that granted to England. He would not go into the details of the Bill, which he should have done had the hour been earlier. But this Bill, he thought, ran no risk from the amendment proposed. He thought that it would be better to place every thing in Commissioners hands, as suggested by his right hon. Friend, The Attorney-General for Ireland ought to show the House that the Bill would work to the advantage of the lower orders in Ireland. But in what way, he asked, would they be benefitted by it? Why, the only advantage they would derive from it, was the getting rid of some few tolls. This would prove of some advantage, it was true, but certainly of far less than was expected. In Connaught, where there was a population of 1,343,000, the number of persons to be incorporated would be under 74,000; and might be not ask whether the property of these Corporations did not amount to 100l. the whole year? Sligo had a corporate property of 93l. It appeared to him that this was the poorest part of Ireland, which, in 1822 and 1831, received the largest portion of assistance; and this part of the country Would receive no benefit whatever from the measure. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by repeating his conviction, that it would be better, for a time;, to defer the measure altogether, but that if it were to be then proceeded with, the instruction moved for by the noble Lord near him, was as necessary as it was expedient.
§ Viscount Howick
was surprised to hear the right hon. and gallant Officer tell the House, that if there were anything in the state of society in Ireland which would render it at all advisable to give to that country the benefits of an improved municipal Corporation, he for one would not be averse from the introduction of a measure for that purpose; but, he was surprised, because the gallant Officer was bound, in making such a communication, at the same time to have made out a case to show that the Bill did itself contain provisions actually inconsistent with the species of Reform which he was willing to grant. The gallant Officer had not shown that the Bill contained anything which it would be unsafe to grant to the people of Ire- 1376 land; and so far from making out any such case, or fortifying the positions he took up with anything like argument, the gallant Officer limited his speech, in a great measure, to matters merely personal, and to a few other points involving party considerations, which had no relation to the present proceeding. For example, instead of really grappling with the matter at issue, he endeavoured to lead the House into a discussion as to whether or not the hon. and learned Member for Dublin was the author of the disfranchisement of the Irish 40s. freeholders, and whether he was the author of all the mischiefs that arose out of the Kerry election. So far from establishing any one of the principles which the right hon. and gallant Officer aimed at establishing, he had not even succeeded in showing that that improved state of society which the authors and promoters of the Bill then before the House anticipated from its working would not arise. The rt. hon. and gallant Officer had, it was perfectly true, adverted to the lamentable height to which party spirit had attained in that unhappy country, imputing it to agitation; admitting, as unhappily all must, the extent of that spirit, he must say that the rt. hon. and gallant Officer had forgotten to show what an essential part of agitation those very Corporations were; he had forgotten to show how their continued existence in their present form must aggravate that party spirit which all admitted and deplored; neither had the rt. hon. and gallant officer taken any pains to show that the promoters of the measure had not done, and were not doing, all that in them lay comparatively to mitigate the evil; and of course the rt. hon. and gallant Officer left to others to show that the learned Sergeant (Jackson) near him had entirely misconceived—he would not say misrepresented—the design and ten our of the Bill then before the House, Nay, even the right hon. and gallant Officer had himself argued again, and repeated his argument, as if the intention of the Bill was, and that its effect would be, to render Magistrates elective, and to throw all the power of choosing them into the hands of those eager partisans who might be found in ail parts of the United Kingdom, and in none more abounding than in Ireland. He readily acknowledged that that statement had not proceeded merely from the right hon. and gallant Officer, but had also been uttered by his noble 1377 Friend whose speech had commenced the business of the evening. It was, as the House might remember, followed by that of the learned Sergeant, and lastly, by that of the right hon. and gallant Officer. He confessed all this did occasion him no small surprise, for the framers of the measure of last year, as well as those who were concerned in preparing the Bill then under consideration, had all of them most studiously and cautiously endeavoured to separate the administration of justice from the political functions which the town-council would be called on to execute. In the present Session the measure of last year was in that respect most carefully imitated. They found that in preparing a measure of regulation for the reform of the Scotch and English Corporations they had in many cases to deal with an exclusive Magistracy; they found there scarcely one of them which did not claim the right of appointing not only its Mayor but its Recorder and Aldermen, no Judge of the Crown, no Magistrate appointed by the Crown, having the least jurisdiction. What course did the promoters of the present measure take in preparing the Bill then before the House? They took the course that tended to produce a state of things precisely opposite to that which they found existing in the English and Scotch boroughs. At the time the former Bill was brought in they gave the appointment of the Recorder and the Police, and the Magistrates, to the Crown. They rendered that appointment perfectly independent, giving to the town-council the power of recommendation. That was the course they had adopted with respect to the Municipal Reform Bill in this country, and they proposed to do the same in Ireland; they did not propose to give to the town-councils in Ireland the right of recommendation, as that part of the English Bill had been erased; it was to stand upon grounds wholly independent of their influence or authority, and to be exercised exclusively by the Lord-Lieutenant, or other representative of the Crown. In the Bills for Great Britain, the Mayor, and the person who had filled the office of Mayor during the year preceding, were to be Magistrates, and though it might be convenient for various purposes that they might exercise jurisdiction as comity Magistrates, yet it. was provided that in no case their jurisdiction should be otherwise than merely concurrent with that of the 1378 county Magistrates. Bat he begged to call the attention of the House to this circumstance, that the present Bill, so far from giving such extent to the powers of the town-council, limited them to the choice of one Magistrate—namely, the Mayor; and if upon further examination and discussion in the Committee it should be considered by the House that they were unfit depositaries, even of so much power, he was not reluctant to acknowledge that it would be consistent, or at least not inconsistent, with the principle of the measure, that the appointment of the Mayor should be vested in other hands. Great stress had been laid on the power which the present Bill gave to corporators of appointing Sheriffs. It was said that they were officers of the first importance, an assertion that he for one felt no disposition to deny; but he begged the House to remember how great the distinction was between the appointment of Magistrates and the selection of persons to serve on juries—how much more likely the one trust was to be abused than the other. At the same time he felt disposed to agree with his noble Friend by whom this discussion had been opened, that it might be as well, if not better, to vest the nomination in the Crown. Respecting the Police, there had been on the other side a most extraordinary misconception: he could not suppose it to be anything else. He begged to ask, had the speakers on the other side failed to advert to the practice which for a very long time had prevailed—he believed it was coeval with the Corporations themselves—that of appointing the local police? Surely it was not the promoters of the present Bill that ever thought of giving them such a power for the first time. He desired to know were they not now in possession of that power? Did they not appoint the constables and the nightly watch? Wherever corporate rights had existed, the members of Corporations in almost every instance possessed such a privilege, and it was vain to deny, that for some time past at least, the 5l. householders were likewise in possession of that species of patronage, for they elected the Commissioners by whom all nominations to the police and the nightly watch were made. For these reasons, then, he submitted that there was nothing new, at all events, in giving to the town council the regulation of this class of functionaries; but there 1379 were other reasons of still greater cogency to which he should just briefly advert. The purposes for which local police generally held their situations were in part beneficial to the public, and in part to individuals living in the neighbourhood; accordingly one portion of the expenditure which attended this force was defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund, and the other from charges made on the locality within which the particular force was situated. As he said, one portion of the police was for the executive purposes of the State, the other for the security of private individuals from petty depredations. Now, it would be obviously unjust that any portion of the expense of protecting private individuals in Ireland from petty depredations should fall upon this country, or that the force appointed and paid for that purpose should be appointed by any but persons living in the vicinity. He must say, that he did not think this deserved anything like the importance that had been attached to it, for when hon. Members recollected that the Lord-Lieutenant had the supervision of all the police regulations, and the appointment of all the magistrates, he had every power that was necessary, and every means that could be imagined, to prevent the abuse of any right of choice which might be given with reference to the appointment of the police. Considering this portion of the argument most completely disposed of, he should now endeavour to call the attention of the House to that which formed the real point in the debate—he alluded to the jealousy which was entertained with respect to the appropriation of the corporation property. Every person who had spoken in that House concurred with the advocates of the Bill. in the opinion that the present Corporations in Ireland were not to be trusted with the management of the corporate funds. On what ground had all men come to that conclusion? On the obvious ground, that from their very constitution they were likely to abuse such a trust. But, assuredly, the same common sense and reason which led them to that conclusion would lead them to this also, that all such local matters as paving, lighting, watching, and regulating the ordinary concerns of a country town ought to be vested in those who resided in that town, and were mainly interested in its prosperity and comfort. Again, he was sure the House would agree with him that 1380 there ought to exist in all great towns some well-constituted and stable body suitable to intervene, as it were, between the great bulk of the people and the executive, on any of those various occasions which from time to time would arise,—a body capable of ascertaining and making known the feelings of the people. Was there any one in that House who would get up and gravely assert that the local concerns of large cities like Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Water-ford, or Belfast, required no local regulation, and could be regulated independent of any local government? In the last year the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had professed himself a warm advocate for local organization, and as his speeches and address fully testified, he was of opinion "that the time had arrived when it was of the utmost importance that the attention of his Majesty's Government should be directed to the subject;" and when, at length, the Corporation Inquiry had fully disclosed the enormities of which the old corporations were guilty, the right hon. Baronet again came forward, for the purpose of informing the Legislature and the country that he was "the advocate of a good system, and that the Corporations now in existence ought of be rendered instrumental in bringing about that beneficial change." He begged the House would bear that in mind when they found the right hon. Baronet, as they now did, the advocate of a plan which most certainly would not make the existing Corporations instrumental to any purpose whatever. As for him, he, of course, concurred with the former opinion of the right hon. Baronet, and not with his present views. He thought, as the right hon. Baronet must have thought then, that the corporation of Dublin ought to be reformed and made instrumental in the working of an improved system. Surely there should be in such a city a Corporation founded upon a proper basis, when there remained to be administered a revenue of 24,000l. a year. No doubt it was subject to debt, but there was still that annual sum to be managed. Why should they resort to that novel and unconstitutional experiment of nominating commissioners for the purpose, when the other and the better course was open to them? The present Bill contemplated nothing of the sort, nothing, either, that would interfere with the due administration of justice; on the contrary, the effect of the Bill would 1381 be greatly to promote the purity of that administration, for those by whom the measure was supported thought, and doubtless the House would agree with them, that it was not fitting to have the judgment-seat filled by men who had passed through the rivalry and the sharp encounters by which popular elections were generally distinguished. It was therefore thought, that however fitting it might be to enable towns to tax themselves, it was still due to the administration of justice that the appointment of all Magisrates should be vested in the Crown; and upon these grounds he did anticipate from a measure like that, inestimable benefits to Dublin and other great towns. He made that assertion generally of the great towns, in which he had no doubt that he should be borne out by the facts, but he was not anxious to confine himself to towns of that class; he should, when the Bill went into Committee, willingly go with them one by one through each of the boroughs, and candidly enter upon their respective claims to enjoy corporate rights, consenting, if necessary, to give up any which did not possess fair claims. Having now to pass to a totally different branch of the subject, he found it necessary to complain of the manner in which the Bill had been treated: it had all along been spoken of in a way that he did not scruple to designate as a gross misstatement of the object of the Bill. He begged to affirm, once for all, that the Bill was not meant to give, and would not have the effect of giving, a predominant power to a particular class; it was not framed to invest a particular class, but the many, with power. Amongst various grounds for objecting to the measure was this, that party spirit raged fiercely at this moment in Ireland, and that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin possessed an extent of sway which no subject ought to wield. He by no means denied that party spirit prevailed in that unhappy country to a lamentable extent, and he at the same time admitted, as freely as any man could, the vast extent of power enjoyed by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, but he begged to remind the House that the possession of that power was one of the very bad symptoms which Ireland betrayed; no one for a single moment could deny, that the possession of so much influence by one individual, that power in any hand so little checked or controlled, was evidence of a 1382 state of society which a wise and beneficent Legislature would use every effort to ameliorate. The mere existence of that power was the most irresistible argument that could be adduced in favour of the measure then before the House; for in what did the influence and ascendancy of the hon. and learned Gentleman consist? Did he derive it from any Act of Parliament, or from any authority of the State? No. It was conferred on and secured to him by the free will and pleasure of the people; and if hon. Gentlemen opposite made that deference which the people of Ireland thought proper to pay the hon. and learned Member a reason for refusing to the Irish people the power of managing their own, concerns, then they were bound, in common sense and reason, to carry their principle much further. They ought in that case to proceed to legislate against every principle of popular government altogether. They must deprive the Irish people of all the political power they now possessed. Now, he could understand how formerly such views might possibly have been entertained. He reprobated, indeed, and condemned, but at all events he could comprehend such policy formerly being adopted with regard to the great bulk of the people of Ireland, who were considered to have been created only to administer to the wants and pleasures of the dominant few—of those who treated them as hewers of wood and drawers of water, and excluded them from all political and civil rights. That policy, far removed from true wisdom, was nevertheless the result of a stern and cruel necessity—the necessity of maintaining a stern and cruel system of government. But the very first relaxation of the penal code was fettered with a consequence that could not possibly be avoided. That first step necessarily led by degrees to those measures of further amelioration which had followed. The whole argument of the hon. and learned Sergeant, the Member for Bandon, was directed not against allowing the people the management of their own local affairs, but against allowing them to choose Members to represent them in the House of Commons. He actually told the House that the commissioners for paving and lighting the town of Youghal were appointed and acted with a total absence of party spirit, until the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire, reformed the Irish boroughs. But if they would 1383 loot at the consequences of refusing to pass this Bill, they would see that instead of preventing the danger hon. Gentlemen opposite apprehended from its adoption, they would increase the danger tenfold. What was it that enabled the hon. and learned Member for Dublin to wield at his pleasure the popular will of Ireland? Let them look back to the history of the last few years, and they would have no difficulty in answering that question. They had created in the minds of the people of Ireland an opinion that he alone was their advocate, protector, and friend, and that the British Legislature refused to do them justice. It was their having created this impression that gave the hon. and learned Member the power he possessed. As they could not take from the people of Ireland those political powers the Legislature had given them, the only safe policy they could now pursue was to endeavour to diminish the temptation to abuse those powers, and to diminish the influence of the hon. and learned Gentleman, by gaining back to the Government and to the Imperial Legislature that respect and those affections which never ought to be taught to direct themselves to any other quarter. This was the mistake which hon. Gentlemen opposite made: they looked only to one side of the question. They regarded the evils to be apprehended, and forgot the advantages to be obtained by the proposed change. By giving the Irish people confidence in the Government and the Legislature, they would wean their affections from other quarters. They would do more. They would teach them how to exercise with safety to the country and advantage to themselves those political powers which they already possessed. The right hen. Baronet had asked whether the House were prepared to make these towns so many "normal schools of peaceful agitation?" The right hon. Baronet was ever ready to take advantage of any careless expression which might drop from an opponent. But there was great truth in what had been stated by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin as to these towns becoming "normal schools;" and in his (Lord Howick's) opinion, instead of that being a reason for voting against this Bill, it was a reason for passing it into a law. He believed that the Irish Corporations would be "normal schools," not of agitation, but for teaching the people of Ireland the right use of the powers of self- 1384 government. He believed that they, by degrees, would create the elements of an enlightened and independent public opinion, in which only there was hope, in which only there was safety for this country. While the people of Ireland remained in their present feverish and excited state, there was no permanent safety for this country; but when by the exercise of their political powers they became accustomed to their use, and when an independent public opinion should be created, then this country would have no cause to fear the influence of the hon. and learned Member, or of any other individual. That hon. and learned Member had stated that he was willing to co-operate with the Government and the Legislature to bring to pass that which would effectually sap the foundation of his power. He (Lord Howick) perceived by the countenance of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that he disbelieved that assertion. But were that assertion true, or were it false, the policy this House ought to pursue was one and the same. Let them take advantage of the interval of freedom from agitation that now prevailed to do real and complete justice to Ireland—let them hold a firm hand between contending parties, and he doubted not that by degrees an enlightened public opinion would be created, in which they alone could hope to find real and permanent security. Why, said the hon. Gentleman opposite, substitute one system of exclusion for that of another system of exclusion? Did hon. Gentlemen understand the meaning of exclusion? The exclusion of an insignificant minority from the municipal body was one of the necessary consequences of a constitutional form of self-government. It was a thing they could not avoid. But the exclusion of which he and his friends complained, was an exclusion resting upon the principle of self-election, which enabled parties to exercise their power for their own benefit. But how could such a principle be applied to a body consisting- of a majority who were themselves interested to prevent jobbing? He should sincerely regret, if on account of religion either in the Protestant cities of the north, or the Catholic cities of the south, those who differed from the majority should be permanently excluded from the Corporations. Nor, in spite of all the attempts to excite religious animosity, did he believe that feelings of animosity had risen to such a 1385 state. But he could not help remarking, that hon. Gentlemen who put forward this objection, ought to be cautious how they revived and inflamed that religious spirit of animosity. He heard almost with disgust—certainly with a feeling of the most painful kind—the questions which in the beginning of the evening were addressed to an hon. and learned Friend near him (Lord Howick) by the hon. and learned Sergeant, the Member for Bandon. Did the House mark the emphasis, and hear the way in which that hon. and learned Member inquired whether he had appointed this Roman Catholic barrister and that Roman Catholic barrister to different situations? He was almost sorry his hon. and learned Friend answered the question. Had the question been addressed to him, he should have said—that a question addressed in that offensive manner he would not answer. He would say in this House, and everywhere else, that in matters of appointment to public situations he knew not the Roman Catholic or the Protestant. He was glad to hear the right hon. and gallant Officer who spoke last disclaim having been a party to the getting up of that most odious cry of "No Popery." But could all the hon. Members on that side hold the same language? He wished to know, had no encouragement been given by Gentlemen sitting opposite to him, to those reverend itinerants who during the recess had been going about the country preaching religious intolerance in the name of Protestantism, which rested upon the right of 1386 private judgment, and hatred and religious animosity in the name of Christianity, which was the religion of peace and charity? But he did hope that the efforts of those missionaries of mischief to fan the flame of religious animosity had not so far succeeded, as, if the House should pass this Bill, would make the election of the town-councils an instrument of rejecting the Protestant minority from all corporate offices. But if they did reject the Bill in fear that that would be the result—and on the ground that Catholic and Protestant could not mutually concur in the management of those interests which were common to them all, they would do more than those most mischievous individuals to perpetuate that most fatal and injurious feeling. He did, therefore, hope the House would consider well before it should agree to adopt the measure which had been proposed by the right hon. Baronet. He trusted, before they determined to do so, they would coolly and impartially view what would be the real and substantial difference between the two projects. He was convinced that if they would give their attention to that question they would see nothing whatever in the Bill now on the table which justified those imputations which had been cast upon it, and that by rejecting it they would, without any real or intelligible object to them, both gratuitously and wantonly inflict a deep, and, he was afraid, almost an irreparable insult, on the Irish people.
§ The debate was adjourned.