HC Deb 31 January 1837 vol 36 cc21-58

The Speaker having read the Speech of the Royal Commissioners.

Mr. Ayshford Sanford

rose for the purpose of moving the adoption of an Address to his Majesty in answer to the gracious Speech which they had just heard read. He felt the greatest difficulty in undertaking this duty, as he had for some time been suffering under severe indisposition, and even at that moment continued to feel its effects to an extent which would in a great degree incapacitate him from doing justice to the subject. He trusted, however, that the House would extend to him that forbearance and indulgence which he had seen so many times accorded to other Members under similar circumstances; and in order to merit that indulgence he would endeavour to be as brief as possible in fulfilling that duty which fell upon him of endeavouring to induce the House to agree to that Address which he should have the honour to move, and which, as such addresses usually were, was pretty much in accordance with the Speech of his Majesty. It might be a matter of great congratulation for which the country would be grateful to an over-ruling Providence, that the country had for a period of twenty-two years enjoyed the great blessing of peace. Having seen the misfortunes which bad over whelmed Europe for many years by the war which desolated many countries, the people of this country now knew the great blessing which they enjoyed by having profound peace. It was also a sentiment in which every one who had heard the Speech read must agree, that every succeeding year would add to and cement those bonds which happily now existed between this and foreign countries. The people were now aware, from the increased intelligence which they possessed, that the real happiness of nations, of the great multitude of the people, was to be obtained by the blessings of peace alone. The people now, with their increased intelligence, were aware that the real happiness of the great multitude was to be obtained only by the blessings of peace. Whenever despotic monarchs or crafty ministers should wish to plunge countries into war, they would find that the people would say, that they would better consult their interests and the interests of all countries, by studying and applying their minds to the system of commerce which now pervaded the world; and sovereigns would find it impossible now to plunge any country into such wars as we had seen. But if this was a subject of general congratulation, there was in the next paragraph of the Speech a topic which must be one of regret to all those who wished well to the country to which it referred, a country with which England has been so long allied and so intimately connected. The dreadful state of Spain, plunged as it was into anarchy and confusion, must be greatly deplored. It was more particularly the subject of regret, that Spain should be plunged into such a state of anarchy and confusion considering the fine climate which it enjoyed, the productive soil which it possessed, and the natural facilities for commerce which belonged to it. Upon looking to these things, they would at once see that they proceeded from a system of despotic Government; a sys- tem which invariably led to the anarchy and confusion now complained of. To it might be added the mischiefs which resulted from religious bigotry, and from a people kept in a state of ignorance and subserviency to superstition. He trusted that a new era had arisen, and that by the effective co-operation afforded by his Majesty's forces peace would soon be established. The next subject to which the Speech directed their attention was the state of Portugal. In the case of Spain it was necessary to send to the assistance of the Queen; but in Portugal there was no departure from the principle of non-intervention, and no necessity to interfere between the contending parties, although, acting in conformity with the professions of this country in favour of the Government of Portugal, the British force was made available in case of need, to the protection of the Queen. The condition of Canada was the next topic adverted to in the Royal Speech. Until the report of the Commissioners was placed before them, it would be quite impossible to say what measure of legislation should be introduced; but he hoped that they would be such as to preserve to England those colonies which were so important to the mother country, particularly in the view of encouraging emigration. Many of these questions had been already brought forward, and they must be again introduced; and he trusted they would meet a different fate in the present Session, from what they had met with in the last A recommendation had been made by his Majesty that an alteration should be made in the law of imprisonment for debt, and one for the establishment of local courts throughout the country. He was aware that nothing could be more important than such measures, because he had had opportunity to see the distress arising from the difficulty of collecting small debts throughout the country. Creditors were unable to obtain their just demands under the present system, and some alteration should be made, either by giving a greater power to the magistrates at quarter sessions or by the introduction of local courts. He trusted that the report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be carried into effect before the termination of the present Session, which would have the effect, in his opinion, of confirming one expression in his Majesty's Speech, wherein his Majesty intimates a hope "That such further measures may be introduced as may give increased stability to the Established Church, and promote concord and good will," which he was satisfied it would promote among all classes of his Majesty's subjects. Nothing would tend more to promote this object than the settlement of the question of Church-rates, and he trusted that a measure upon that subject would be speedily prepared. It must be granted that the revenues of the country had greatly increased, notwithstanding the great diminution that had taken place in taxation of late years. This was the strongest proof of the general prosperity of the country. But a further proof of the pleasing fact was given by the present state of prosperity of our commercial and manufacturing interests. He should be happy if he could draw a similarly pleasing picture of the other classes of the community, but he regretted to be obliged to say that, comparatively speaking, the agricultural interest was in a state of embarrassment. He had the honour to belong to that class, and he was bound to say that they had borne their distresses with patience; and he was happy to add that he believed that that honest and industrious class was at this moment in a fair way of improvement. It was most satisfactory to him to know that such was the case, and more particularly so when he considered the state of pressure from which they were, as he hoped, recovering. He begged at the same time to state, and he thought it only fair to those who entertained certain opinions with regard to the agricultural interest to do so, that he did not think that it was in the power of the Legislature to grant them relief, and that their prosperity, which he hoped would soon increase, could not be derived from legislative interference. This, in his opinion, was satisfactorily proved by the examinations that had taken place in the Committee of last Session, of which his hon. Friend (the Member for North Hampshire) was Chairman. His hon. Friend had stated that it was impossible for the Legislature to give relief, and he cordially concurred in the opinion, that the agricultural interest had more to expect from the absence of legislation than from legislative interference. With regard to the subjects mentioned in his Majesty's Speech connected with the sister country, knowing by whom he should have the honour of being followed, he should leave that to the hon. Member, who was more familiar with the matter. But there was one subject, which, of all others, he believed would be the greatest improvement to that country—he meant the establishment of Poor-laws in Ireland. He believed no measure would more conduce to the prosperity of that country. He hoped the Government anticipated a different conclusion to the labours of this Session than the last. A house divided against itself could not stand—still less could a constitution exist torn by dissensions and divisions. The hon. Member having again stated that he found, from the state of his health, that he was unable to do justice to the important topics embraced in the Speech, craved the indulgence of the House, and concluded by moving an Address to his Majesty, which was an echo of the Speech.

Mr. Villiers Stuart

rose to second the motion; however difficult he might find the performance of the task, it never could be otherwise than a grateful one to urge upon that House the propriety of acknowledging its thanks to the King for the personal interest which he took in the affairs of the country, and which had that clay been so conspicuously manifested in the gracious Speech which they had heard from the Throne. Looking at the many important questions that called for immediate settlement, he recognised in this early assembling of the great Council of the nation an earnest desire on the part of his Majesty to bring these questions under the consideration of his Parliament, with a view to their speedy and satisfactory adjustment. To that branch of the Legislature it must be matter of much satisfaction to receive from his Majesty the assurance he had that day given of the anxiety that existed on the part of his Allies to maintain those relations of amity which at present existed between them and ourselves, and also that the peace at present happily existing was likely to be permanent. These assurances must necessarily be satisfactory to the House of Commons, because, whilst they proved that his Majesty looked to peace for the continuance of the national prosperity at home, the anxiety of his Allies to maintain their amicable relations with this country was a further proof that that peace had not been obtained at a sacrifice of honour or breach of compact. In the general peace of Europe there was unfortunately one exception—Spain. He felt confident that that House would respond to the feelings that his Majesty had expressed upon that subject, and would hail with sincere joy the conclusion of that civil warfare which was ravaging the finest j provinces of the Peninsula. For his own part, he hoped that out of the temporary evils under which Spain was at present suffering much permanent good would arise, and that in the end the liberties of her people would be cemented on as secure and firm a basis as our own. Upon that part of his Majesty's Speech which related to commercial affairs it was not his intention to dwell, because he felt that there were many hon. Gentlemen present who could appreciate the sentiments expressed upon that subject much better than he could. Though there were undoubtedly many other topics contained in the Speech to which he might call the attention of the House, he should confine himself exclusively to those which related particularly to the affairs of that country with which he was connected. If he had been gifted with eloquence, it was a topic on which he could have spoken for hours; but not being so, he would only express his hope that now the great Council of the nation was assembled it would adopt a conciliatory policy towards that country, and keep in view that great and first principle upon which they should act, that the prosperity of the United Kingdom must depend upon the prosperity of all its parts. To make an exception to the general policy of the kingdom against one of its parts was, in his opinion, one of the worst things that could possibly be done. If the union were to be a source of strength, it must be one in reality. In the minds of the people of both countries there must be a conviction of a common interest. Until a conviction of that kind were felt there could be no real union. It was for them in their legislative capacity to bring home to the minds of the people of the three countries that they had an interest in being united, and that a complete and binding union between them was necessary to entitle them to the enjoyment of the same rights. To assist them in the execution of that duty his Majesty had that day called their attention to certain measures requiring their most serious consideration. One of these—one to which he confessed he looked with peculiar satisfaction—was the introduction of a system of Poor-laws into Ireland. He had always considered a measure of that description necessary, and he now hailed the prospect of its being carried with the utmost satisfaction, because, although he did not look to it as a panacea for all the evils of Ireland—amongst which the general want of employment was perhaps one of the most prominent—yet he could not help thinking that the introduction of a well-organised system of Poor-laws would remove or mitigate many of the severest hardships under which the great mass of the population were now suffering. The discussion of the subject would be attended with this additional benefit, that it would direct the attention of the Legislature to the necessity of giving employment, either by the establishment of public works or otherwise, to the poor of Ireland. In that part of his Majesty's Speech which called the attention of Parliament to the corporate institutions of Ireland he recognised an earnest desire on the part of the King to confer on his Irish subjects—not less loyal, not less faithful, than those of England—the same rights and liberties as were enjoyed in this country. Ireland, indeed, amidst all her misfortunes—amidst all the obloquy often heaped upon her name—had this source of satisfaction, that his Majesty had never shown any want of confidence in his Irish subjects. Notwithstanding all that had been urged by a particular party in that country, who claimed to themselves a peculiar loyalty, he (Mr. Villiers Stuart) could not detect in the Speech they had that day heard from the Throne any want of confidence on the part of his Majesty in the great mass of his Irish subjects. Who, then, would venture to stand between a confiding Sovereign and the affections of a generous people? True loyalty was uninfluenced by any selfish feeling, and whatever the treatment of his Majesty's Irish subjects might be, it would be a difficult matter to estrange their affections from their Sovereign. The best means, however, of avoiding any estrangement would be the adoption of a policy which would give them the entire confidence of their English fellow-subjects. If that line of policy were adopted Ireland would indeed become happy, and England powerful. If not, he would say indeed farewell, a long farewell, to all their hopes of tranquillity and prosperity. If such a policy were adopted, he saw before him a gradual improvement in her affairs, instead of that feverish excitement which had occupied the inhabitants of that country upon political subjects, and which had rendered Ireland a scene of agitation from end to end, and which had left the mind of every man smarting under the sense of insult and degradation which had been heaped upon them. That moment might be delayed, but it could not be averted: he was quite satisfied that it would speedily arrive. So long as it was delayed, so long would the tranquillity be delayed, so long would her prosperity be delayed, and so long would the power of England be paralysed. For centuries England had treated Ireland like a conquered country; gradually she had relaxed that system, and raised Ireland in point of law to an equality with herself; and he would now ask, would they venture to keep her in a state of degradation in point of practice? He was satisfied that they could not: the moment that the Emancipation Bill was passed they had raised up another nation to an equality with themselves, and that nation was determined to maintain her position. If there were a party still existing in that country who were not satisfied with a fair share of power, but were determined to recur to the old state of things and the old system of ascendancy, he (Mr. Villiers Stuart) would pray his Majesty's Ministers not to be led away by their views, and not to let their policy be their guide in legislating for that country. As an Irishman, deeply interested in her prosperity, and having a deep stake in the country with which he was connected, and by which he must rise or fall, he would entreat them not to be led away by the policy of that party, and not to deprive his poor unhappy country of her fair share of the privileges which other portions of the empire enjoyed. Whatever line of policy might be adopted, much gratitude was, in his opinion, due to his Majesty for the gracious manner in which he had called the attention of Parliament to the state of Ireland; and he felt that in seconding the motion that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, he was but fulfilling his duty as one of the Representatives for that country.

The Address having been read,

Mr. Roebuck

said, that as a silent vote upon the Address might be construed into a general approbation of the conduct and principles of his Majesty's Ministers, he wished to save himself from that misconstruction by stating what were the pressing circumstances that compelled him to give them a very guarded and jealous support, and by explaining why it was that he felt compelled, differing from them as he did on many important questions, nevertheless, to give them, in conjunction with other Gentlemen who sat on that side of the House, such a degree of support as should be sufficient to maintain them in their places, although he did not approve either of their general policy or of the principles upon which their Government was conducted. In doing this, it would be necessary for him to speak in no eulogistic manner of either of the two parties who were endeavouring to gain the ascendant in the country; but it would not become him to shrink from the task which his situation imposed upon him, and in the performance of it he should endeavour not to speak with unnecessary asperity of any party. He would, therefore, with the permission of the House, endeavour shortly to state what he believed to be the exact position of political parties at that moment, and to bring into broad relief the situation of one particular section, namely, the democratic section, to which he belonged. In doing this, he should recommend a policy to the democratic party in that House, which a few timid men might disregard, which the dishonest certainly would not adopt, but which, to those who had judgment to decide what was proper, and courage to follow what their judgment approved—who demanded a frank, fair, open, and uncompromising policy, to those he imagined it would be welcome. It appeared that at the present time there was going on in this country, and not only in this country, but in the world at large, a fearful struggle between two great principles of government, that which endeavoured to make the many dominant, and the other which endeavoured to maintain the domination of the few. In that House those two principles were very unequally represented. The Tory, or aristocratic, party who were ranged in hostile but honest array against the opinions of the democratic party, formed, unfortunately, as he believed, for the general interests and welfare of the country, a very large majority in that House. On the other hand, the party who represented the democracy were, unfortunately, in a small and, to use a phrase that was not disagreeable to the other side of the House, a miserable minority. But though they were thus in numbers weak, yet, being supported by the people at large out of doors, for such was his opinion—hon. Gentlemen might refute him afterwards if they could—supported, as he believed they were, by the mass of the people out of doors, it was not easy for their adversaries to cope with them, nor could they easily be put down as long as they had judgment to understand their position and courage to take advantage of it. Not being enabled distinctly and openly to oppose the democracy, the Tory, or aristocratic party, wise in its generation, deputed its power to a certain go-between party, offsets of the aristocracy, namely, the Whigs. In 1830, the two great principles, of which he had been speaking, came into distinct and hostile array against one another. At that time, it was clearly demonstrated to the people of England, that England was not a monarchy, as was supposed in ancient times, but that ever since the revolution of 1688, she had been nothing more nor less than an aristocratic republic. Once convinced of this fact, the people of England determined no longer to suffer the domination of the aristocracy, and at that time, had the aristocracy dared to continue their opposition to the just demands of the nation, they would have found themselves swept away before the current of popular opinion. In this state of things the Whig party, headed by Earl Grey, offered themselves as mediators between the people and the aristocracy, and by their mediation, the aristocratic party was saved from the destruction with which it was threatened. They proposed and carried the Reform Bill; and although the democrats were glad to receive that Bill at their hands, they were by no means convinced that it was all the people ought to desire. They took it as an instalment of justice—as a means of obtaining more, determined on the very first possible opportunity to make it a stepping stone to further great improvements. As soon as the Reform Bill was passed, a large portion of the Whigs, with Lord Grey at the head, and the noble Lord opposite (Stanley), no very humble partisan, deserted these principles, and stuck to aristocratic government. They wished to stand still, and talked of the finality of the Reform Bill, but it was found that the people of England would not permit that, and then they threw themselves headlong into the aristocratic faction. At this time, it happened that Lord Melbourne began his career as a fresh mediator between the people and the aristocracy. He had a small section of the Whigs with him, and then it was that the democratic section in that House had to determine whether they would make that alliance with the Whig Government which was offered to them. It so happened that the dispute then existing between the people and the aristocracy was a very different one from that which took place upon the Reform Bill. The people believed, although that belief was now fast dwindling away, that the Reform Bill had introduced so many Liberal Members that the will of the community would be made predominant in that House. Under these circumstances, the Representatives of the democratic party were obliged to take into consideration the feelings of the people, and, accordingly, they determined to range themselves beneath the banner of Lord Melbourne, under the general name of Reformers. Of those who thus ranged themselves under Lord Melbourne's banner, there was a party—and he fancied, a pretty strong one, who believed that the Ministry were not sincere; who believed that the Whigs merely came forward for the purpose of saving as much as they could of the aristocracy, and of retaining for themselves, through the medium of a temporary popularity, as much of the proceeds of Government as they were able. That, at all events, was the opinion of one small party. There was another and still smaller party, who said, that the Whigs, they believed, were sincere and ardent patriots. But the larger section were those who said, "We believe with you," addressing themselves to the first section, "that there is not much sincerity amongst the Whigs; but, taking them as a whole, they are better than the Tories, and we can get more out of them." In this manner, acting upon a special understanding of their own peculiar interests; acting upon the belief, that having some influence—some power over the peculiar notions of the Whig party, they should be able to get from them, and for the people, a larger measure of reform; and acting in accordance with the general wish of the people, as at that time expressed, they (the democratic party) did range themselves under the banner of Lord Melbourne. But let the House remember what was their justification in so doing. It was this: that the Whigs then as now made use of large and vague generalities respecting reform; they made no specific declarations, but they promised largely; and, as an indication of their determination to push reform to the utmost, they employed the word to distinguish themselves. They did not call themselves Democrats; they did not call themselves Radicals; they did not call themselves Whigs; they were Reformers; they adopted the name of Reformers, and promised to deserve it. The term "Reformer" might mean anything. He conceived, indeed, after the displays of this very year, little of it as had yet elapsed, that it would almost include the whole of the Tory party. Reformers! why they were all Reformers now-a-days; the hon. Gentlemen opposite were Reformers; they were Reformers, at least, just so far as their own private and personal interest compelled them to be; and that was just the understanding of the term as applied to the large body of reforming Whigs. It was for their interest specially, as persons participating in, or rather, he should say, possessing wholly, the power of Government, which was put into their hands, in consequence of their alliance with the Radicals, to palm themselves upon the public as Reformers; and it was entirely in consequence of the feeling that they could retain a great deal of benefit for themselves, that they called themselves Reformers. When they called themselves Reformers, what did they mean in the ears of the people? It was found, that they agreed with the Radicals in two things—they loved Reformers and hated the Tories. Now it was believed, that the men who hated the Tories, hated also aristocratic domination, irresponsible dominion, bad laws, and everything that could give to that House an improper power, for the benefit of the few against the interest of the many; and it was further believed, that the Whigs coming in under the broad banner of Reform, declaring themselves to be Reformers, were determined to put down all irresponsible power, whether in the hands of themselves or of their enemies. Now I may here openly, calmly, well knowing the consequence of what I am saying, not being hurried, not being confused, but thoroughly aware of what I am doing—I say the Whigs have deceived the people. I say, that whilst their words have been many, their works have been few, and that whilst they promised to be Reformers, they have turned out to be no better than the Tories. Why did he say this? For this reason, that the Whigs wished to maintain a majority in that House. And how did they maintain that majority? Was it by giving laws which enabled the people easily to act according to the dictates of their consciences? No, they did no such thing; they kept the country in a state bordering upon revolution, for the purpose of maintaining themselves in power, compelling a certain number of persons to act in direct opposition to their own private interests at the voting places, at the same time teaching them to believe, that they were going to remove all the grievances of which they had so much reason to complain; and, above all, assuring them that they would prevent for the future the infliction of all those penalties which their landlords or others about them might impose if they ventured to oppose their interests when they came to the poll. He maintained, that this was an exceedingly ungenerous proceeding. The Whigs at this moment were in power solely by the excitement which they managed to keep up in the public mind. Under the Government of the Whigs, the country was obliged to be kept continually on the border of a revolution, in order to prevent an irruption of the Tories. It was well known that this was a part of the system, and that it was practised daily. To amuse the popular mind, they were making reform clubs and associations to look after the registration of votes. They were doing every thing but the right thing—every thing but doing away with the rate-paying clause of the Reform Bill, and giving the people the ballot. The Whigs would never consent to the vote by ballot. And why would they not? Did they expect that, for the purpose of carrying on a Government, the people were to be kept in a state of constant and perpetual excitement? Did they believe, as statesmen, as persons wishing well to their country, that that was a healthful or proper slate for society to be plunged into. Or did they imagine that the excitement which they were enabled to create for a time could be continued for ever? They knew that it would not. They knew that at that very moment the people and the friends of the people were righting foot to foot, and hand to hand with the aristocratic domination, and the Whigs were calling upon the people daily to make great, nay, he would say, fearful, sacrifices for the purpose of maintaining them in power, whilst, at the same time, they refused to give them the means of putting down that troop of direful enemies whom they call upon hourly to combat. If they believed that there would be evil to England in the return of the Tories to power—if they believed that Ireland would suffer from such an event—let them come boldly forward and give the people fairly and honestly the means of expressing their opinions. Let them become real Reformers, and there would be no danger from the Tories. This was his charge against the members of the present Government: that by their machinations—by their imperfect and unsatisfactory mode of their proceeding, preventing the due advance and amelioration of the institutions of the country—they had kept the nation in statu quo; and that, consequently, the sooner they were put out of the position they at present occupied, the better it would be for all classes. But it might be said, that this was a charge wholly without foundation; and it might be said by the Gentlemen from Ireland, particularly by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, "You know nothing of Ireland—nothing of what the administration has done for Ireland." Now that was just the question that he wished to put He wanted to know what the Government had done for Ireland. He was not about to say anything against the administration of Lord Mulgrave. He believed, that if anybody were called upon to point out a redeeming part of the conduct of the present Administration, it would be found in the conduct of Lord Mulgrave, for in Ireland it so happened that an honest governor was a species of miracle. Such a miracle had occurred in the 19th century, when Lord Mulgrave became Viceroy of Ireland. Lord Mulgrave, however, was but a lucky accident—he might be removed to-morrow by death, by a freak of fortune, by the whim of a disordered imagination, by a thousand chances; and | then what was there for Ireland? Had! there been any change in the laws or the institutions of that country which could secure to her peace and tranquillity? No; there had been no such thing. And why not? Because the sole means of accomplishing these ends was to be found in a change of the law; and a change of the law could only be effected either by controlling the opinion of the Lords, by an actual alteration in the formation of that House, or by so imposing upon them by a majority of the House of Commons, that they should not dare to resist its demands. How was it that they resisted the demands of the House of Commons last year? Because the majority of the House of Commons was so small as to carry with it little or no weight in the other branch of the Legislature. But if there were a large majority in the House of Commons, did anybody believe that the Lords would long continue their resistance to a measure of corporate reform for Ireland? If there were a majority of 200 in the House of Commons, was it likely that the Irish Corporation Bill of last year would have been defeated in the Lords? What had Ministers done to secure a majority in that House, or to alter the composition of the other? Nothing; and whilst the House of Lords remained unreformed, and no protection was given to electors, so as to enable them to give honest and conscientious votes in the election of Members to serve in the House of Commons, no Government could pretend to the name of friends to Ireland. Whilst upon the subject of Ireland he might be allowed to remark, that Gentlemen from that country sometimes talked of the English Radicals as enemies to Ireland. It seemed to him that the evils of Ireland were of two different and distinct kinds: first, the evils falling on the Catholic gentry, moral evils, evils placing them in an inferior position in society; and, second, the evils falling on the peasantry—physical evils, placing them in a state of wretchedness and misery. Now he maintained that the Catholic gentry were using the second class of evils, as a lever to get rid of the first; that they were using the physical misery of the peasantry, as a means to get rid of their own social degradation. He, for one, was an enemy to the idea of placing one body of citizens in an inferior position on account of any difference of creed; and he therefore sympathised with the Irish Catholic gentry. He believed, that their condition was an unfair and an unholy one, and he would do every thing in his power to get rid of the evils under which they suffered; but he was not one of those who would use the miseries of the people as a means to get rid of any such evils as those. If he were to point out a case in which the Catholic gentry of Ireland had employed the misery of the people as a means to get rid of their own peculiar evils, he should point to the feeling which they had created upon the subject of tithes. The tithe of Ireland was sure to fall upon the poor peasantry, and they had pathetic narrations and declamations without end, of how the potatoes of the peasant were taken from him by the Protestant parson. But the persons who gave the House these horrible descriptions—who painted these harrowing pictures from their own vivid imagination—never mentioned the fact, that there was a class of persons in Ireland called landlords, who exacted from the tenant for rent all that remained of the produce of the land beyond what was necessary for the immediate means of sustenance, and that, consequently, if tithes were done away with tomorrow, the condition of the Irish peasant would remain the same. And into whose pocket would the tithes be put? Into the pocket of the Irish landlord. And he was one who, believing that tithes were public property, would never consent to confiscate them to any private purse. He believed that tithes in Ireland were public property, to be employed for public purposes, a sacred property belonging to the people, and not to be given up to any landlord, whether Protestant or Catholic. If the tithes were to be paid to the landlord instead of to the parson, it was worse than criminal (he might use a much stronger phrase) for the landlords to hound on the poor peasant to resist the tithe-proctor, and to bring himself within the lash of the law. It was said that the tithes were paid by the Irish landlord; but the peasant was the medium of payment: but the landlord took away the means of paying, in order to bend him to his own immediate purpose, that purpose being; to raise the whole Catholic peasantry, to put down what they believe to be an unholy impost, and which they were taught to consider as pressing peculiarly upon themselves, not knowing that in their violent resistance, of which all the consequences fell upon themselves, they were fighting the cause of their landlords, and of no one else. Seeing these things done, would anybody tell him that he ought to be silent upon Irish matters, or that he should not express to the House what were the opinions of the real friends of Ireland in England? He would tell those parties, whomsoever they might be, that the real friends of Ireland demanded to see something like an adequate provision made for the support of the Irish poor; and that if the tithes of Ireland were given up, it should be upon the distinct understanding, that the poor-rates should come out of the very same pockets into which the tithes were put. He (Mr. Roebuck) said, combine two good things; if you abolish tithes, establish poor-laws; but, under all and any circumstances, provide for the poor, and obtain justice for all classes. This was what the English Radicals demanded for Ireland. He knew not whether for making these demands they might be nicknamed or not—that, of course, would depend upon the taste or pleasure of those who thought differently from them; but of this he was convinced, that the thinking, well-conducted, and honest people of England well knew how to distinguish between him who made the misery of the people a fulcrum for his own private purposes, and him who, thoroughly carrying out the principles he had laid down from one country to the other, demanded equal justice for England and Ireland, a responsible Government for both, and equal laws for all. These were the views and wishes of the English Radicals with respect to Ireland. As to the measures of the present Ministry, he believed that the Irish would have got as much of good from the most fierce and Tory administration that ever existed; and, indeed, the same observation might apply to all the relations of the kingdom. If he looked abroad—if he cast his eye for a moment on the foreign relations of the country—did he find anything there for congratulation to England? Did he not find interference at once undignified and useless in Spain? Did he not find an interference that was worse than useless—that was positively mischievous—in Portugal—an interference to put down that which these Whig Ministers pretended to advance, namely, liberal opinions. If he quitted Europe, and looked to the colonies, was there anything there to raise the reputation of the Ministry? The usual way in which the Whigs were described in all the colonies was, they were just the same as the Tories. At home, it was true, they had been compelled to do something in obedience to the public will; but it unfortunately happened that public control did not extend to the colonies, and they, therefore, had been as grossly neglected under the government of the Whigs as they had ever been under the worst ad- ministration of the Tories. When the present Ministry came into power they were popular. They rode in on the backs of the people, in spite of an adverse court, and in spite of a strong minority in that House. But now, their popularity was gone, and they were daily losing ground. They were not losing ground for any other reason than that they were too much like the hon. Gentlemen opposite who cheered. They lost ground because they were like the Tories; because they did nothing for good government. The only means by which the Ministers could maintain themselves against the large party arrayed in front of them, was, by establishing for Ireland a good Poor-law system, by altering the whole system of the administration of the law; by instituting equal laws for all parts of the empire; by giving no fostering care to the Irish Church; by causing the votes at elections to be taken by ballot; and by repealing the rate-paying clauses of the Reform Bill. Having done all this at home, let them turn their attention to the colonies, and govern them in the same spirit of justice. Nothing having been done by the Whigs to give the people responsible government, it now behoved the Radicals to consider what course they ought to pursue. The first and foremost thing which in his opinion, they ought to do, as soon as it became manifest that the Whigs would not redeem the pledge they made on coming into power, was to separate from that party, to force the Whigs into the ranks of the Tories, and to compel them to form a distinct alliance with the Gentlemen opposite. The people would then know by whom they were really represented in that House; and would perceive that their advocates were in a minority there, and must remain so until the electors received due protection in the exercise of their franchise. The Radicals were asked, if, by the course of policy of which he was the advocate, it was their intention to drive the Whigs into the arms of the Tories? Now, mark the morality of these interrogations. The Radicals were told, "if you attempt to carry out your own principles, if you think of acting conscientiously, the moment you do anything by which you make it manifest that you have the good of the country at heart, the Whigs will no longer hold up the standard of reform, but will range themselves on the opposite side." Now, only conceive the morality of this course. Perhaps the Radicals might appear to the Whigs to be strongly prejudiced, to be wrong-headed, impracticable persons, but would it not be better to yield a little to them rather than throw themselves into the arras of the Tories? To place them in office was what the Radicals did for the Whigs, and why should not the Whigs do something for the Radicals? If the Whigs really believed that their retirement from office would lead to such mischief as they described, namely, the irruption—for that was the word always employed—of the Tories into power, why did they not do something to please the Radicals? They had never made any pretensions to office; they had never asked anything for themselves; their objects were well understood; the Radicals looked to the interests of the people, and the Whigs considered their own. The Radical party in that House were determined to promote the interests of the people, and to follow their own course. He spoke for himself only, and did not pretend to speak the sentiments of any Gentleman behind him, but, so far as he was concerned, he was determined to pursue a just and independent course. He was not to be cajoled by fair promises, but he should look to the acts of his Majesty's Ministers, and unless these were intrinsically good, he would not give them his support. In all their good measures he was willing to support them, but he could not give his support to the principle of the Irish Church Bill, because he believed that tithes were not dealt with in that measure in the only manner which would lead to a final settlement of the question. The Church of Ireland must be put down entirely, and the tithes must be considered public property. The Irish Church was a nuisance which must be pulled down and abated at once, and the golden temple must be pulled down by the democratic party in the State, for it never would be by his Majesty's Ministers; and till it was laid low there would be no peace for Ireland. He should pursue the course which he had prescribed for himself, careless whether his Majesty's Minis-were put out of office to-morrow, and an irruption of Tories into power was the consequence, because he knew very well that if this course were generally adopted, it would be the means of obtaining justice for England, justice for Ireland, and justice for the colonies and the empire.

Mr. Beaumont

said, that though un- prepared to speak, he had no reluctance to rise in reply to the hon. Member for Bath before he should propose an amendment to the Address. He essentially differed with that hon. Member when he assumed that the Radicals in that House were the sole representatives of the people. He did not differ much from the hon. Member in regard to the fact when he said that the Whigs had lost much of their popularity; but he did differ from him entirely when he attributed the cause of it to their disinclination to a closer coalition with the Radicals. He believed that the contrary was the case; and he therefore thought that the diminution in their popularity arose from their greater approximation to the Radicals in latter times. The Radicals required organic changes; but he (Mr. Beaumont) was disposed to resist any further measures of that nature for England. There had been quite enough of them for the benefit of that country; and it was his belief that Parliament should now apply itself solely to real Reforms, and the work of practical legislation. It was on this ground and for these reasons, that he intended to propose an amendment on that part of the Address which related to the improvement of Ireland. He did so, after having duly considered all the modes in which that country could be most essentially benefitted. The object of his amendment was for the equalisation of the two religions which prevailed in that country, and to place the inhabitants of both countries in a state of entire equality with regard to religious opinions. Before Poor-laws could be introduced with any prospect of benefit to Ireland the religious dissentions which now distracted that country should be healed by equality of legislation. He would never consent to the establishment of the voluntary principle, because it was his opinion that Protestants should have the arrangement of the affairs of their own Church, as well as the Catholics. He should propose his amendment pro forma only, as he perceived that the House seemed disposed rather to treat the question of Irish tithes generally at some future period than to entertain it partially then. Whenever the Government proposed a measure on the subject of tithes in Ireland he should be prepared to state his reasons for opposing all attempts at an adjustment of them, and to prove to the House that the only safe way of pacifying that country was to abolish them altogether. Not, he would add, to fill the pockets of the landlord, but to apply them to the purposes of the poor. The hon. Member concluded by reading his amendment. It was to the effect—"That no measures which should be introduced for the tranquillity of Ireland could be effectual to that end unless they were accompanied by measures which had for their tendency the abolition of all religious distinctions in that country."

This amendment was withdrawn, at the desire of the House.

Mr. James

was not of opinion with the hon. Member for Bath that the Whigs were worse than the Tories. The hon. Member said, that the Whigs would not give us the ballot, and therefore that they were worse than the Tories. But he should like to know whether the Tories would give the voter the protection of the ballot? The fact was, that the Whigs were placed in very great difficulties during the last Session of Parliament, and not the least of those difficulties arose from the obstinacy of men who ought to have been among their warmest supporters. He did not, with reference to the notice of motion given by the hon. Baronet, the Member for East Cornwall, believe that there was any wish for an organic change by the people of England, which would lead to the destruction of the other House of Parliament, and for his part he entertained no such wish; but it was his desire to reform that body by modifying their hereditary privileges. The Lords ought to be elected by, and be responsible to, at least some portion of the people, for good legislation was most likely to be ensured when they who had the making of laws were aware that they would have to render an account to others of what they had done. He believed that there existed a desire on the part of the people of this country to secure a system by which laws might be well, fairly, and impartially considered before they were made, and that measures might not be disposed of, not with a reference to their own merits, but under the influence of a paltry and petty spite against the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny. He did not believe that the people of this country wished to deprive the House of Lords of their honours or their titles, their stars or their garters. But if they would not legislate wisely, they would endeavour to break their power. The Lords might as well give way to the moral influence of the people, or they might rely upon it the people would compel them at no distant period to reform their House. It was impossible that both Houses of Parliament should remain opposed to each other much longer; one of them must give way. The House of Commons had been reformed, and why not the House of Lords? They might say it would be destroying the Constitution; but the same argument would have applied against the transfer of the elective franchise from East Retford to Birmingham or Manchester. What was the object of the constitution but to promote and secure for the country good government? He knew it had been said that the House of Lords was incurable and incorrigible; but for his own part, he gave them credit for sufficient good sense to suppose that they would be ready to act in harmony with the House of Commons this Session. He hoped they would learn before it was too late; but if they were incapable of receiving instruction—if they would shut their eyes to what was passing around them—if they stood upon their own rights rather than the wishes and wants of the people, the downfall of their order would be the natural consequence. If so humble an individual as himself might presume to give their high mightinesses a word of advice, he would call on them, before it was too late, and urge upon them the necessity of keeping pace with the growing spirit of improvement, and of conceding; such measures of reform as, in his humble judgment, it was no longer prudent or safe to oppose.

Mr. Curteis

, as an independent supporter of his Majesty's Government, begged particularly to remark, that the speech of the hon. Member for Bath did not receive a single cheer from any person in the House when he made his attack upon the Government. He wished that fact to be proclaimed abroad, that the nation might know that the sentiments of that House were not in accordance with the opinions expressed by the hon. Member for Bath, any more than those opinions were in unison with the sentiments entertained by the nation at large. He was bound to say, and he said it boldly, because he did not seek a favour from that or from any Government, that he considered himself and the nation at large under very great obligations to his Majesty's present Government. He should not have intruded himself upon the atten- tion of the House if he had not thought that the Ministers had been most unjustly treated. The hon. Member for Bath seemed to imagine that the happiness of the country depended upon the concession or the refusal of the ballot. Now, he believed that the majority of the nation was not at this moment prepared to support the vote by ballot, and in the county which he had the honour to represent the great majority was certainly opposed to the ballot. He had himself said on the hustings, that if he conceived that the majority of his constituents approved of the vote by ballot, he would give the measure his support, but he was quite sure that they preferred an open system of voting. He must bear testimony on this occasion to the very great benefits which the country had received from a Whig Administration, and he would tell the hon. Member for Bath, that if many persons followed his example, the only result would be to drive the Whigs, not perhaps into a junction with the Tories, but from the position which they held in his Majesty's councils. In his opinion the hon. Member for Bath had made a most mischievous speech, and he believed that the great body of Reformers in this country responded to what he was then saying, rather than to the sentiments expressed to night by the hon. Member. He would tell that hon. Gentleman, that if he had his choice between him as his political leader and the right hon. Baronet opposite, he should have no hesitation in following the right hon. Baronet. At the same time he felt it his duty to declare, that his Majesty's Ministers, who sat on that side of the House, had his entire confidence, and he was prepared to sacrifice his own theoretical opinions in favour of those propounded by the noble Lord who was the leader of the Ministerial side of the House. He considered that the admission of the Tories to power at this time would be a national calamity. Let the Radicals take a lesson from that venerable reformer whom he had in his eye. (Mr. Hume.) That hon. Member strenuously exhorted all Reformers to stand united together, and he begged to impress that advice upon the Members of that House. He did, in his conscience, believe that the present Government enjoyed very considerable popularity; and if they had lost any, the Gentlemen opposite could not gain it in an equal degree, because they would not go so far as even the present Government had done.

Mr. Gisborne

merely rose for the purpose of stating that there was a single passage in his Majesty's Speech which had occasioned him considerable distrust—it was that relating to Joint-stock Banks. He must say, that he thought this a small matter on which a recommendation should be delivered from the Throne, and if it were not impertinent in him to form conjectures as to the authors of the different paragraphs, he should be inclined to attribute the passage in question to the pen of his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade. For a free trade philosopher his right hon. Friend was the greatest regulator he ever knew. He first tried to regulate railways, but they proved too strong for him. Now he tried to regulate Joint-stock Banks. He could not allow this paragraph in the Speech to pass without stating his opinion that it wore a suspicious aspect. He did not think that any persons could be told with advantage how they were to conduct their banking business. He never knew any case in which regulations of this description did not injure the parties whom they professed to protect. He had no intention of moving an amendment, but he distrusted the expressions employed, and he should watch with the utmost wariness any measures which might be introduced in reference to the subject.

Mr. Hume

said he would endeavour to bring back the House to the question really before it, the Address in reply to the speech from the throne. In the speech of the hon. Member for Bath, there was much which was true. The hon. Member was very sanguine in his views, in all of which he (Mr. H.) could not go along with him, though he agreed with him on several points. It was the duty of the House, however, to look at the speech, and to agree to the address, either entirely, in part, or not at all. Some persons said they could draw no distinction between the Whigs and the Tories; he, however, could draw a very great one, and for the very best reason—that many reforms which, after many years of struggling, had been refused by the Tories they had got from the Whigs. He agreed that they had not got all they could desire, but they had obtained much, and he would therefore press the present Ministers forward, to use a common but strong expression, he would pat them on the back and urge them on. He believed, that he spoke the sentiments of a very large body of the people. The only question was, what those who wished to witness the progress of the Reform Bill ought to do to obtain their object. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) had too much honesty not to acknowledge that the Reform Bill was calculated to be beneficial to the country, and even he could not refuse to the people those measures which were calculated to carry it into effect. He was as anxious as any man that the reform party should keep united. The right hon. Baronet had been disappointed on former occasions, for the reformers had kept united as one man, and it was not to be supposed that they would now separate, for by separation they would lose all, and by keeping together they would gain, at least, something. This was his firm opinion. He looked, as a venerable Reformer, to the practical means of obtaining the most he could for the interest of the public. He was persuaded, that although his hon. Friend, the Member for Bath, had the same objects in view, the way he pointed out was not the best to attain them. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck) undoubtedly went far beyond the country in his opinions. "With regard to the ballot, he (Mr. Hume) believed that a very great majority of the people of the country were in favour of it; and every day's experience added to the proofs already in existence, that under the present system of voting there was no protection in the exercise of the elective franchise." He anticipated, therefore, a minority in favour of this measure when next it should be brought forward by the hon. Member for London. In his opinion Ministers had been too backward; while Government, on the other hand, said, that he and many of his friends were too much inclined to press forwards. The general opinion, however, he thought was, that Government ought to have done more. "With respect to his Majesty's speech, he wished that many expressions in it had been omitted. As mention was made of a surplus revenue, he thought the means ought to have been pointed out by which that surplus might have been applied to lessen taxation. There were many taxes so enormous and so troublesome, in the collection, that it was become absolutely necessary they should be reduced. Another part of the speech in which he could not agree, was that which related to Portugal; it seemed to convey a recogni- tion of the principle that this country had a right to send out a fleet, and make the people adopt what measures we chose. Let the noble Lord take warning as to his course on this point from the History of India of his (Mr. Hume's) late friend, James Mill, where the noble Lord would find, and he could confirm the statement by his own knowledge, that the very worst native governments of India were those which were upheld by British power, and in which the chief was removed from the fear of popular resistance to bad laws by the presence of an overwhelming force. An illustration of this had been witnessed in Lisbon, and he only put the question, why should not England treat Portugal as an entirely independent state. He would express his dissent from the principle upon which England interfered in the affairs of Portugal. At the same time he was anxious to see a representative government well established in Portugal and Spain, and he was friendly to the giving of every assistance to the establishing of this object: but if the people of those countries were determined to take another course, it was not wise or just that England should interfere, and it was contrary to all true policy to pursue such a course. Against all parts of the speech that alluded to this subject he entered his protest. There was another important point to which he wished to call the attention of the House, he alluded to the Dissenters, and he need scarcely say, that there was not one word of the speech which held out to the Dissenters any hope of their being relieved from the inequalities of the law under which they now laboured. He hoped, although the subject was not mentioned, that nothing could be further from the intention of his Majesty's Ministers, than not to give the Dissenters the most complete liberty. He had heard a notice of motion given to the noble Lord upon the subject of the Church-Rates, and he could only say, that he wished that so important a subject had not been omitted from the speech. In his opinion, the very best way of supporting the Established Church was to remove all the sources of discord and discontent from Dissenters, and he did sincerely regret that this subject had not been introduced into the speech, and he hoped, that before the House separated, the noble Lord, or some other individual, would give to the country that explanation which the speech unfortunately did not contain. He was also sorry to find from the speech, that there was no ground on which the people of England could hope for the speedy reduction of the present enormous naval and military establishments of the country. The proceedings of the last month made it seem likely that those establishments would be kept up at their present amount. Within that period we had had shoals of generals added to the Army List, in number sufficient to command and officer all the armies in Europe. Why had that been done? To maintain the aristocracy in its present influence. That was an improper measure. It was against the voice of the people at large; and, what was no less extraordinary, it was against a specific recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons. He was anxious to hear an explanation from Ministers of this part of their conduct. To no other part of the address, as far as it went, had he any objection. As to Canada, the real situation of that country was now well known, and we ought to hold out the right hand of fellowship and union to her, and no longer withhold, or attempt to withhold, those rights which were her due, otherwise evil must necessarily follow; and his Majesty's Ministers would, therefore, he hoped, be willing to concede the privileges and rights to which that colony was entitled. If, however, they disappointed the wishes of the people on this point, he must, greatly as he should regret it, give them his warm opposition.

Dr. Bowring

fully agreed with the hon. Member for Middlesex, that instead of opposition his Majesty's Ministers were deserving of the honest support of every Member who wished well to the principles of good government and the cause of humanity. He was one who approved of a close union of interests between France and this country, as the means best calculated to preserve the peace of Europe; but he regretted to say, that the Government of France had not behaved as it ought towards foreign nations in their struggle for liberty. He need only refer to the conduct of France towards the Swiss cantons. He regretted that there was no allusion to this subject in the speech that had that day been delivered from the Throne, because he was anxious to know whether or no the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, had been a party to the note that had been sent by the French Government to the Diet of Switzerland. Would the French Government have acted at Berlin as they acted at Berne? Would they have used to the despots of Europe the language they held to Switzerland? Would they have ventured to employ in Russia or in Prussia those incendiaries they sent into that country? It was most important that it should go forth to the world, that our hands were quite pure from such interference. The observations which he had thus thought proper to make with respect to the conduct of the French Government towards Switzerland, were equally applicable to the course it had pursued toward Spain. It was a fact, that the Spanish insurgents had received great assistance from within the French boundaries; and he felt that the French Government had not been acting either honestly or honourably towards Spain. Notwithstanding the well-known difficulties attending the introduction of any articles from France into Spain without detection by the French Custom-house officers, yet it was an established fact that the army of Don Carlos had received from France great quantities of provisions and a large supply of arms, contrary to the terms of the quadruple treaty, by which the Government of France engaged cordially to assist the Queen and the popular cause. But that cause would eventually triumph. It was now triumphant; and supported by the universal opinion of Spain, and associated with human improvements and the advancement of the happiness of man, he felt persuaded it would succeed there as it ultimately would in every other country. He was rejoiced to believe that the policy of this country towards other countries had for its object to unite more and more closely, the people of all nations. The cause of English Reform was associated with European civilisation and happiness, and anything opposed to that cause was naturally repugnant to British feelings; he, therefore, feared that the retrograde policy of the French Government would alienate, if indeed it had not already alienated, the people of England from France. It was greatly desirable that our policy should proceed in the same course as hitherto, and for the same objects. By supporting popular rights and liberties, the Government of this country would strengthen itself and attach to it the feelings and affections of the whole world. It was with sorrow that he spoke of the conduct of the Monarch of France, towards whom he was bound to entertain feelings of the greatest respect and affection—but if he spoke of the politics of the French Government, it was because they were so closely connected with the interests of this country, and he was compelled to declare that the policy of which the King of the French was pursuing he feared would ultimately prove dangerous to his person, dangerous to his dynasty, and dangerous to the peace of Europe. It would be delightful if in our union with France we could see that country moving, as we were moving, in the march of good Government, in confirming and establishing public rights, in recognizing more and more the power of the people, in making the press more free, instead of enslaving it more, in giving new guarantees to public liberty, and, in short, doing what all Governments were bound to do that wished to live in the affection of the people, and to be supported by them. It had been said by an eminent historian and a great man that it was the destiny of a good Government to be hated. As far as he had read history, it appeared 1o him that, whatever might be the fate of a good Government, it was unquestionably the fate of a bad Government to be hated. It was a truth warranted by experience, that in order that evil humours might escape they must be allowed to find vent. It appeared, however, that the French Government was making the experiment to carry on its affairs, in the midst of evil humours, without giving them any vent by which they might escape. He hoped that the observations which he had made on the policy of the French Government would not be considered intrusive or improper. He sincerely trusted that the policy of that Government would become more paternal and more patriotic, because by that course it would obtain the good opinion and the affections of the people of this country; and he considered the affections and good opinion of the British people to be as essential to the Government of France as it was to the Government of England itself. He had dwelt upon this subject the more earnestly because in France there were no newspapers through the medium of which the sentiments of the French people, as to the policy of their Government, could be communicated. If any public writer there ventured openly to express his opinions, he was immediately made amenable to some arbitrary tribunal, a tribunal consisting of a packed jury, which echoed only the sentiments of the Government, whose wish was to suppress the publication of all opinions that were adverse to their own line of policy. Whenever therefore the public opinion of France could not find expression through its own press, it was the duty of the friends of liberty in this country to give it expression here, and not in England only, but throughout the world. He had read, with great sorrow, an opinion expressed that the blood of Frenchmen belonged to France. The blood of free nations belonged to humanity, and he hoped the people of England would never shrink from shedding their blood when the cause of freedom called upon them to do so, and when the happiness of mankind was thereby likely to be advanced. He was happy in believing that the foreign policy of England was becoming daily more and snore the object of love and of hope to the world. It became this country to take up a high and noble position, to be looked upon, as it had aforetime been, as the representative of great and generous principles, and to prove to other nations that the real well-being of any Government or of any country was to be found only in the general well-being of mankind. Our commerce was spreading in all directions, and our foreign communications were increasing to a wonderful degree. No less than 100,000 letters more had passed between England and France during the last year than in any preceding year in the history of those nations. Every such fact as that was a mark by which to trace the progress of a generous and enlightened policy. He hoped that policy would continue; so long as it did he would give his earnest, though humble support, to his Majesty's Government. Let that Government give the country an assurance that they would pursue the course, and promote the great cause to which the hon. and learned Member for Bath had alluded; let them walk in that career, and step forward in the path of public improvement, and they would continue to receive the cordial support of the House of Commons, while that House would be equally supported by the opinion of the country.

Sir Robert Peel

I think I am justified in inferring that it was the intention of his Majesty's Speech, or rather of the ad- dress, to avoid provoking on the first day of the session any lengthened, at least any acrimonious, discussion on the matters to which it refers. Various topics are alluded to,—topics which must demand our attention; but I observe in the address an avoidance, I think a studious avoidance, of any pledge with respect to that course which we shall take in regard to those topics. I rejoice, therefore, in being able to give my assent to the address—at least to give so far my assent to the address as not to feel myself under the least obligation to move any amendment to it. I think that is the proper course to be pursued on the first day of the session. I think, considering the short opportunity that there is for those who are in opposition to the King's Government, or who have not access to the speech before it is delivered, to know what are the topics introduced into it, that it is infinitely fairer to indicate the topics to which our attention will be called during the session, without calling upon us for any premature pledge as to the course we shall pursue, and which we are not prepared to give. If the practice which has been adhered to for the last twenty or thirty years should be departed from, and if on the first day of the session we should be invited to enter into any acrimonious discussion, or be called upon to assent to any premature propositions, then that custom which formerly simultaneously prevailed of making known the King's Speech and the nature of its propositions two or three days before it was delivered, ought certainly to be adhered to also. As it is not necessary for me to move an amendment, and as it appears to me to be the prevailing wish of hon. Members—judging from the conversation which has been going on amongst them during the many speeches that have been delivered, and which conversation I am sorry to say, notwithstanding the reform that has been made in our edifice, has been to me as audible as in former days—believing, I say, that it is the wish of the House to avoid a lengthened discussion, I shall, in conformity to that wish, and seeing no advantage in any preliminary or partial discussions upon important matters which are shortly to occupy our attention, imitate the reserve of the Speech itself, and follow the example of those who have preceded me—claiming for myself the right of hereafter discussing unfettered, and without any pledge, all the topics alluded to in the speech—and shall avoid saying anything which can provoke discussion on the present occasion. The only amendment which has been offered to our notice, relating to a matter which must have provoked much discussion, has been withdrawn; and the only comments which have been made on the speech are those which fell from the hon. Member for Derbyshire (Mr. Gisborne), who was surprised that so much of the speech was occupied with what referred to joint-stock banks. That observation convinced me that the hon. Gentleman had never been in a Cabinet Council, because when a Cabinet Council was held to draw up a King's Speech, which must occupy a certain time in the delivery, but which at the same time must be so framed as to avoid discussion, the question of joint-stock banks was one of the most prominent that could be selected. But if the hon. Gentleman will look at the terms in which that subject is treated of, all anxiety on his part, I think, would be removed, for he may safely rest on this announcement, that "the best security against mismanagement of banking affairs must ever be found in the capacity and integrity of those who are intrusted with the administration of them." I suppose this does not refer to the mental capacity, but to the solvency of the parties; or the term "capacity" may be taken in a double sense, and include the substantial as well as the intellectual vigour of the parties. The pledge, however, which the hon. Gentleman shrinks from is this—"But no legislative regulation should be omitted which can increase and ensure the stability of establishments upon which commercial credit so much depends." If he therefore thinks, that no legislative regulation can increase and ensure the stability of establishments upon which commercial credit depends, he may feel himself safe as far as concerns the pledges contained in that part of the address. The only topic to which I shall refer is that which relates to our foreign policy, and this not with a view of provoking any discussion—not with a view (as I wish to avoid discussion) of condemning it, but only to reserve to myself the same power with respect to our foreign policy as I have already done with reference to our domestic policy, namely, that of being unfettered by any pledge to what may in a future discussion seem to me to be open to objection. The expression I allude to in the speech is this:—"His Majesty laments that the civil contest which has agitated the Spanish Monarchy has not yet been brought to a close; but his Majesty has continued to afford to the Queen of Spain that aid which, by the Treaty of Quadruple Alliance of 1834, his Majesty engaged to give if it should become necessary: and his Majesty rejoices that his co-operating force has rendered useful assistance to the troops of her Catholic Majesty." I recognise the fair claim of the Queen of Spain to the sympathies of this country. The Queen of Spain is the ally of this country. She was recognised by the Government of this country with which I was connected, as the legitimate Queen of Spain, before the Quadruple Alliance. I reserve the expression of my opinion with respect to the policy of that quadruple alliance. But there are two questions perfectly distinct; first, whether the engagement which we have entered into ought or ought not to have been entered into; and next, whether that engagement being entered into, and the national faith pledged to it, ought that treaty to be faithfully and honourably fulfilled? I say it ought. I say that the question as to the original policy of this country entering into that Treaty is entirely distinct from the question as to the practical execution of it. It is true, as the noble Lord opposite on a former occasion stated, that the Duke of Wellington and myself, during the short period the administration of the country was in our hands, while expressing serious doubts as to the policy of the original engagement entered into by that treaty, yet felt ourselves bound, not merely technically to adhere to the letter of the treaty, but earnestly to see it executed in the spirit in which it was conceived. His Majesty informs us that he "has continued to afford to the Queen of Spain that aid which, by the Treaty of Quadruple Alliance of 1834, his Majesty engaged to give if it should become necessary." I can say, with perfect truth, that I heard with satisfaction that the King had given that aid to the Queen of Spain, which he had stipulated to give her if it should become necessary. I must also say, if this country, in the execution of a treaty, the original policy of which I may condemn, does afford aid, that when that aid, whether of British seamen or British soldiers, is given, I never can refuse my sympathy to those gallant men, nor fail to rejoice in their success. But the expression of the address is, "we rejoice that his Majesty's co-operating force has rendered useful assistance to the troops of her Catholic Majesty." Now, I take it for granted that the object of the King's Speech was to state to us this—"I stipulated to give a certain force; I have given that force, and that force has been successful." The force we stipulated to give was a naval force. The granting the assistance of a naval force, evidently does not admit us to interfere with respect to any civil dissentions, or any internal constitutional questions, which a stipulation to grant a military force would seem to imply. And, therefore, I take it for granted that this part of the Speech is literally correct, and that the aid given has been in conformity with the treaty, and nothing more; that it has been that naval force which we stipulated to give. Because, although I agree that that treaty ought to be executed in a generous spirit, yet I still shall on the strongest grounds protest against any construction being given to that treaty which the terms of it do not warrant, and against our being involved, beyond the obligations of that treaty, in the internal dissentions of the Spanish nation. I think that is the prevailing opinion of the majority of this House; and that we ought to watch with the utmost care and circumspection—whatever our opinions may be about monarchical or democratic Governments—that a dangerous principle and precedent be not established; but which must be the result, if we once begin to adopt a system of interference with the internal quarrels and dissentions of other countries. Who can undertake to limit the application of that principle to a question of constitutional government, if we establish a precedent of which despotic countries may avail themselves? They may say they have as much right to interfere with the civil dissentions of Spain for the purpose of maintaining arbitrary government, as we have for maintaining constitutional government; and then there would be an end to the peace and repose of Europe. Such may be the consequence of our setting a bad example, by extending the limits of the treaty for the purpose of involving ourselves in these internal dissentions. Therefore I give my assent to that portion of the address, assuming that the statements of it are in strict conformity with the treaty, and that the co- operating force referred to may merely be considered that naval force which we undertook to give. It is impossible to look to the very next paragraph of the Speech without deriving a useful lesson as to the danger of our interfering with the civil matters of other countries. The paragraph I allude to refers to Portugal. In 1837 we express our regret that "events have happened in Portugal which for a time threatened to disturb the internal peace of that country." In 1834 (three years previous), after our influence, or, as it was called, moral influence, had been completely successful in effecting a revolution and establishing the present dynasty in Portugal, what were the terms in which his present Majesty addressed this House?—"I have derived the most sincere and lively satisfaction from the termination of the civil war which had so long distracted the kingdom of Portugal; and I rejoice to think that the treaty which the state of affairs in Spain and in Portugal induced me to conclude with the King of the French, the Queen Regent of Spain, and the Regent of Portugal, and which has already been laid before you, contributed materially to produce this happy result." That happy result! But in 1837 we are aware of the fact that we have, I believe, six sail of the line in the Tagus, after that happy result has been produced, for the purpose of what?—for the purpose of defending the Queen of that country from possible personal attack on the part of her own subjects; and also for the very laudable object of doing what?—of rescuing the English residing there from the dangers with which they are threatened. Now is that the happy result of our interference? Six sail of the line is a considerable force; either, therefore, that country is unsettled, or English life and property are in danger. Either one or the other or both is the case. I take the simple facts, and then I ask, is not that a conclusive proof that, after all our interference, we have not obtained a single object—neither that of establishing the government of the Queen, nor of increasing English influence in Portugal. But I will put aside the question of principle altogether, and ask you to look only as a matter of experience to what this ought to teach us as to our future policy. What is the advantage we have gained in Portugal? How ought we to reason from the result of our policy with respect to that country, as to the probable issue of our conduct with regard to Spain, when we consider that some three or four years after his Majesty's Government had pronounced eulogiums on the happy result of our policy in establishing the government of the Queen of Portugal through the influence of our arms, she is unable to command the affections of her subjects, while England has no alternative but that of again resorting to force, and of, in fact, becoming responsible for the civil government of that country? One main object we had hoped to realise from the quadruple treaty was, to be on terms of good understanding with France, But if what the hon. Gentleman (Dr. Bowring) has stated be true, it is evident that the object of that treaty—namely, the formation of an intimate union with France—has not been realised. I will not longer detain the House, but reserving to myself the right of considering hereafter the whole policy, domestic and foreign, alluded to in the Speech, I again say that I give my assent to those paragraphs in the address which I have particularly mentioned. I do so because I think the Queen of Spain—I avow it—is fairly and fully entitled to our sympathy, and to an honourable performance of the engagement which we have entered into with her; and as this honourable engagement has called for the active interference of a British force, I cannot withhold my expression of admiration at the gallantry of my countrymen, and that as they have interfered, I rejoice that their interference has been successful.

Viscount Palmerston

I shall certainly so far follow the example of the right hon. Baronet as not to trespass upon the attention of the House for above a very few minutes. I am bound, in the first place, to say, that the interpretation which the right hon. Baronet has given of that part of the address which relates to our foreign relations is perfectly warranted, and consistent with the intentions of those who proposed it. But as, in agreeing to the address on the grounds which the right hon. Baronet has stated, and which I am ready to say are most honourable to himself, he is not pledged on those questions to which he has alluded, it will be perfectly open to him at any future period to impugn the foreign policy of his Majesty's Government. If I had any remark to make upon what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet, it would be, that while he professed not to object to the address, yet he did contrive incidentally to convey to the House opinions somewhat stronger, and to a greater extent than that which he announced it to be his intention to express when he began. I shall be prepared, however, when the right hon. Baronet or any other hon. Member shall enter into this question, to show that the co-operation which has been afforded to the Queen of Spain is, as the right hon. Baronet has stated—though, judging from his manner, not as he implied—consistent and in strict conformity with the engagements of the quadruple treaty. The right hon. Baronet, with reference to the affairs of Portugal, said, that those events to which the speech alluded, as having recently taken place in that country, ought to be a warning to us not to interfere hastily with the internal affairs of other nations; for that whereas in 1834 we congratulated ourselves on the effectual stop we had put to the disputes then prevailing in Portugal, yet now, in 1837, other disputes have arisen, and three years after those congratulations we have been obliged to send ships to Lisbon in order to protect British subjects from any injury they may sustain from popular resistance to the Government of the Queen. Now, I cannot see any inconsistency between the result which was then alluded to, as having taken place in Portugal, and what is now stated in the address, because, when we stated that the effect of the treaty in 1834 had been at once to put an end to the civil war which was then raging in Portugal, we did not take upon ourselves the responsibility of the Government of Portugal in all future times, or undertake to guarantee that Portugal should for ever after be free from all liability to those disturbances which every country, whatever its government may be, must always be subject to. But if we thought it was likely a disturbance would take place in Portugal, which might be attended with popular commotion, I think it was right and proper, and our bounden duty, having ships at our disposal, to send them to the Tagus, in order, to protect our own fellow-subjects from suffering in consequence of that disturbance. But I shall be prepared to show that that is true which is stated in the Speech, and that those ships were sent out for the purposes there stated, and that, being there, they did not interfere with the constitutional questions which divided the conflicting parties in that country. I shall only say, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet is perfectly warranted in concurring in this address, notwithstanding the opinion which he entertains of the impolicy of the quadruple treaty; and that it is perfectly open to him, after having so concurred in it, without an amendment, to impugn and dispute hereafter the policy of that treaty.

The motion for the Address was then agreed to, and a Committee appointed to prepare and draw up the same.