HC Deb 03 February 1837 vol 36 cc91-5

The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply,

The Chairman having read part of his Majesty's Speech relating to the estimates, put the question, "That a supply be granted to his Majesty,"

Mr. Sergeant Goulburn

would ask the noble Lord one question concerning Ireland. He (Mr. Sergeant Goulburn) deeply deplored—and he wished to know if the noble Lord had any objection to state a similar opinion—the existence of an association in that country, called the National Association; he wished to know if the noble Lord concurred in that opinion. He had witnessed with great regret the existence and the control of an association in that country that was incompatible with the rights of that House, which was adverse to the administration of justice in Ireland, and of which, on many accounts, he cordially disapproved. He thought the noble Lord, connected as he was by office with Ireland, would feel obliged by his thus giving him the opportunity of telling the House and the country what was his opinion on this subject.

Lord J. Russell

said, he did not think it was convenient to state whether he concurred or not in the opinion expressed by the hon. and learned Gentleman on the National Association in Ireland. He did not conceive that this was a fit opportunity for the discussion; but he would give the hon. and learned Gentleman an opportunity of hearing his opinion on Tuesday night, when he brought in the Municipal Corporations Bill for Ireland. He would then state to the hon. and learned Gentleman his opinion, for which he was responsible; but he could not now state how far that opinion might coincide with that which the hon. and learned Gentleman had just expressed.

Mr. Sergeant Goulburn

was strictly in order, on a motion for supply, to ask any Member of the Government if he concurred in any opinion which had been expressed by the Prime Minister respecting the Association—to ask if the noble Lord were bound by the opinion of the head of the Administration of which he was a part, who cordially disapproved of the National Association. He thought also that it was worthy the consideration of the House if he had, in asking this question, transgressed any of its rules. With deference to the noble Lord, he must say, that the answer he had received was no answer, but had rather (he appearance of an evasion.

Mr. Hume

said, that he thought the hon. Gentleman had got as good an answer as he had a right to expect. He had never before heard such a question asked. He did not know if the Prime Minister had ever expressed such an opinion; if he had, he could only say it was an indiscreet one. He did not know of what the hon. and learned Member disapproved; but, judging by the public and ordinary channels, he highly approved of the Association. He could tell the hon. and learned Gentleman, that Ireland had never before been so quiet under any other Government; and no credit was due to anything except the moral influence that had been exercised: it had been the moral influence of the Viceroy, and the people had rallied round, and were prepared to stand by him. Whenever the hon. and learned Member should bring the question before the House, he would not find himself in a majority. He would find individuals of exalted rank joining the Association; and he would never believe but that the people of Ireland would see the necessity of uniting, and of rallying round the association in its efforts for their welfare.

Mr. O'Connell

not only highly approved of what had been done by the Association, but he had heartily joined in it. He did not know whether the opinion alluded to by the hon. and learned Gentleman had been delivered or not by the Prime Minister—nor did he much care. He rather feared that it had been exaggerated. At all events, he was highly delighted with the proceedings of the Association; and when any specific charge was brought against it, he would be prepared to satisfy the country that it was not only legal, but had been most useful. The Association had this feature about it, that, whereas the Catholic Association had not one-fourteenth of its number Protestant, this association, on the contrary, had more than one-third of its members Protestant, and those, too, men of rank, property, and intelligence; and the number was increasing every day. This afforded a hope that Ireland would at length become one country, instead of being divided into a faction on the one hand, and the people on the other. The proceedings in that association were open as day—they courted publicity in every discussion—and he would say, that he believed the utmost possible facility was given to every person to know what was done amongst them. That association had sprung from a just sense of wrong, aggravated by insult. There had been found men audacious enough to assert that Irishmen were aliens in religion, in language, and in blood. There had been found a party atrocious enough to join with the individual who had dared to make use of that insult; and though the blood of Irishmen boiled, yet they had learned in the school of adversity to control and regulate their feelings. That association was determined to obtain justice. They were determined to obtain an equalisation in the privileges enjoyed by Scotchmen and by Englishmen; and if they could not obtain justice otherwise, they were determined to have it by a domestic Legislature. The Union should not be a mere paper and parchment union—it should not be a union of insult and degradation. The people of Ireland hoped for justice in a complete union; and if they could not obtain a complete union, he would never despair of the exertions of seven millions of men in obtaining justice for themselves.

Mr. Shaw

said, that although it was an inconvenient practice to indulge in incidental discussion, yet he could not allow any person to suppose, by his silence, that he acquiesced in the sentiments of the hon. and learned Gentleman. It appeared to him, that the existence of the Association was inconsistent with the peace of Ireland. The Association assumed to itself the functions of Parliament, and was inconsistent with the rights of that House. The hon. and learned Gentleman charged others with using insulting language; he had himself repeatedly called the English Saxons, sassenachs and strangers. And with regard to the hon. and learned Member's observations on the union, had he not said, over and over again—he could show, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had written the same thing—that, under any circumstances, he would not be content without the Repeal of the Union? He could produce the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman, in which he said, that he neither could nor would be content with any other measure than the Repeal of the Union. In his conscience he believed, that the object of the Association was to impede the union between the two countries, and to overthrow the established religion.

Mr. O'Connell

said, he did not stand in the same situation as the hon. and learned Recorder. He was merely a political agitator, but the hon. and learned Recorder was a political judge; he combined the functions of judge and partisan. When the hon. and learned Member again quoted him, he begged that the quotation might be accurate. At different periods he might have said, that he no longer looked to this country for justice; since then he had entertained some remnant of hope; and even if this country did not grant them justice, he would not despair.

Lord John Russell

did not rise to reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. He wished to state again, and he thought it was incumbent on him, in justice to Lord Mulgrave's Government, to do so, particularly as no notice of censure on Lord Mulgrave had been given which would bring the question before the House, that on Tuesday next, when he introduced the Municipal Corporations' Bill, he would state the whole case of the Irish government; he would now only add, that for every act of that government he held himself fully responsible.

Mr. O'Brien

felt the inconvenience of discussing this subject at present, but he should not be doing justice if he did not refer to the policy that had been pursued last year by the party opposite. If the same policy were now pursued, it would go far to unite all Irishmen; and the question would then be considered whether the rights of Ireland should not be granted even by a Repeal of the Union. He called upon the party opposite not to repeat the fatal policy by which Catholic Emancipation was wrung from them.

Resolution agreed to. House resumed.

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