§ Her Majesty's Speech having been read,
§ Lord Leveson
rose to move, that an humble address be presented to the Queen, returning to her Majesty the thanks of that House for the gracious Speech which had just been delivered to both Houses of Parliament from the Throne. He trusted that the House would not prove insensible to the difficulties of the charge which he had undertaken; that if he failed in the ability, he hoped they would give him credit for the desire, to do it justice, and he begged to assure them that he said this, not as giving expression to mere formal words of course, but under a strong conviction of the arduous nature of the task which he had undertaken. Although influenced by the feelings which such a conviction could not fail to produce, he ventured to hope that the House would extend to him an indulgence at least equal to that which they had shown him in that place on a former occasion, and that he might, however imperfectly, be permitted to make a few observations having reference to the Speech which they had just heard, and at the same time offer, very briefly, a few of the grounds which ought to lead the House of Commons to an unanimous vote in favour of an address to her Majesty, which address he proposed should echo the sentiments that had been so graciously uttered from the Throne. The Speech was composed in a manner so perfectly conciliatory, that it would ill become him not to follow the example which had been presented to them from the highest quarter; he should, therefore, in the few remarks which he had to offer, avoid anything in the remotest degree, approaching an angry tone of discussion, as that which was not 32 only generally inexpedient but peculiarly unsuited to an occasion like the present. He should, in the first place, congratulate the House on the assurances which Parliament had received from her Majesty of the friendly sentiments and dispositions of all foreign powers towards this country. It was partly on the principle of maintaining peace with foreign powers, that the present Administration came into power, and on that principle they stood at a time when peace was deemed all but impossible; he rejoiced to say, however, that peace had been preserved—that we had been protected from war and all its concomitant evils, without injury to the national honour, or the least detriment to any of the great interests of the country. There was another, and as he conceived it to be a very strong ground of congratulation, and that was the success which had attended the measures adopted for the extension of our commerce. That success was, in part, owing to the improved views with respect to trade which had begun to obtain on the continent; but he nevertheless would contend, that no trifling thanks were due to the Executive Government of the country for these ameliorations, and that the advisers of the Crown were perfectly justified in putting into the mouth of the Sovereign an expression of congratulation at those improved relations with foreign powers to which he referred. He was sure the House would hear with satisfaction that her Majesty had concluded a commercial treaty with the confederation of Peru and Bolivia. He hoped, and confidently expected, that the commercial results arising from that treaty would soon be extensively and beneficially felt, and that its influence on other powers would greatly tend to the advantage of this country. He did not for a moment mean to deny that our trade had experienced a severe shock; occasional events of that nature were inseparable from our condition as a manufacturing and commercial country; and while he ventured to congratulate the Parliament and the nation at large upon our having passed through the main difficulties of the crisis, he could not refrain from expressing the strong and warm admiration which he felt at the conduct of the manufacturing classes, the discretion and the fortitude which they displayed under all their difficulties. Those difficulties were such as no measures of the Administration could have 33 prevented, and the manner in which the working classes of the manufacturing districts had borne up under their sufferings presented a most pleasing contrast to former occasions. This altered and improved state of feeling amongst them was a proof that they reposed a wise and generous confidence in the responsible advisers of the Crown, and it was a proof likewise of that which afforded him still greater pleasure—namely, of their intelligence, morality, and good sense. With respect to the civil conflict now unhappily going forward in Spain, it was a matter which all who heard him must agree in lamenting; but he was sure there was no Member of that House who would not readily and cheerfully concur in enabling the Sovereign of this country to keep her engagements with the Government of Spain. He might now venture to say, that the cause of Don Carlos was hopeless. Induced by the advice of those whom he thought his friends in other countries, he had attempted to march upon Madrid, but that attempt had been marked by signal failure, and the hope might therefore now be entertained that at the instance of, and through the mediation of, this country, peace might be restored. He was confirmed in that expectation by the sentiments they had that day heard from the mouth of the Sovereign. On these, and other grounds, he earnestly wished for the perfect fulfilment of those engagements, affording, as they must, the best guarantee of the future peace of Europe. The next subject to which it was proper he should direct, or rather invite, the attention of the House, was the condition of Canada; he was sure it was one to which Parliament would turn its most serious and anxious attention, and he entertained the most confident expectation that they would enter upon it in a spirit of conciliation and cordiality, and that the good understanding between the mother country and the colony which had hitherto so happily prevailed would in time coming be preserved to the advantage of both. Among the various grounds of congratulation which the present state of affairs presented to all who felt interested in the well-being of the country, and amongst the several gratifying topics in the speech from the throne, the improving prospects of Ireland stood prominently forward. The absence of all outrage—[" Oh! oh!" and Cheers.] 34 He would persevere in using the language with which he intended to close his sentence. The absence of outrage bearing the stamp of political disaffection formed just ground of confidence and congratulation. He would re-assert that opinion, and add, that good feeling and loyalty generally prevailed in Ireland. Even those who formerly might be considered as too warmly advocating the interests of their own country had proved, by dissolving the General Association, that they were determined to avoid even the appearance of agitation. He could not but rejoice at the moderate language used by the Crown on the present occasion in reference to the measures intended to be introduced for the amelioration of the state of Ireland. It was right and fitting that that language should be moderate; but it was at the same time most important to be borne in mind, that no measures could be final and satisfactory which were not calculated to meet the reasonable wishes of the people of Ireland. For example, he felt persuaded that that House would not consent to any enactments on the subject of municipal reform which did not go to place the people of Ireland on a footing of perfect equality with those of England, so far as regarded corporate rights, and indeed in every respect. Those were the principles upon which the last House of Commons had acted, and he trusted that they would find favour in the eyes of the present. With regard to tithes more particularly, he did hope that the Parliament now elected would follow in the steps of its immediate predecessors, and there could not exist a shadow of doubt that those laws required revision and amendment. He next came to a part of her Majesty's Speech which might be considered as especially addressed to the House of Commons, and which related to the Civil-List. It appeared, that the Sovereign had placed completely at the disposal of Parliament the hereditary revenues of the Crown, promising, at the same time, that every means should be furnished for the institution of a full and minute examination into every branch of the subject. He need scarcely remind hon. Members, that on former occasions, most of the inconveniences and embarrassments arising out of the arrangement of the Civil-List, had their origin in misunderstandings which took place in the first instance—misun- 35 derstandings which could be traced solely to the want of proper explanations on the part of the Crown. Happily those difficulties would now be prevented or guarded against beforehand, and that in a manner the best calculated to secure the confidence of the people. On this point, it was to be remembered that her present Majesty stood in rather a peculiar position. She succeeded to no part of the personal property of her immediate predecessor—she possessed no part of the income which her ancestors derived from their foreign possessions. There was no one who less deplored, than he did, the loss of that foreign dominion, and it might be thought that the income thence arising was a matter utterly unworthy of the attention of a great country like England. He concurred in that opinion—he by no means thought that it should occasion the least concern; but it was a circumstance not to be lost sight of in arranging a suitable provision for the Sovereign, and he therefore trusted that the two points to which he had thought it right thus to call the attention of the House, would not be overlooked; he hoped, also, that one truth bearing on the question, would not be lost sight of—namely, that under circumstances such as the present, liberality was the best and wisest economy. There was every reason to believe that the new reign would be of lengthened duration. He hoped and believed that, under Divine Providence, it would be a long and happy reign. Liberality at its commencement would render unnecessary any further applications to Parliament for pecuniary grants; and ha therefore would contend, that a judicious and well-regulated liberality must, in the end, prove the best economy, and therefore the least injurious to the pockets of the people. He could readily quote the opinions of many influential Members to prove the expediency and importance of perfect unanimity on an occasion like the present—on an occasion when, for the first time a new Parliament, being the first called under her Majesty's authority, had assembled to meet the Queen; but he felt unwilling to detain the House with matter which he was sure the sentiments generally entertained would render quite superfluous. There was one topic, however, which he could not conclude without again adverting to, and that was the reference made to the early age at which 36 her Majesty had been called to the Government of these realms, and the reliance which she, on that account, found it necessary to place upon the wisdom of Parliament, and upon the love and affections of her people. No one could have heard the Speech, as it was delivered by her Majesty, without feeling, in the highest degree, that that language accorded with the sentiments of the royal breast; there could not be a doubt either that when her Ministers suggested that portion of the Speech, they were fully borne out by facts. When they advised her visit to the City of London, and attended her thither, they must have seen and heard the hundreds of thousands who gave her such an enthusiastic reception. They must have been deeply sensible of the devotion of a loyal, and, he would say, of a chivalrous nation. It would not, he trusted, on such an occasion, be unbecoming that he should call upon the House to agree with the other branch of the Legislature in a compliment to the Sovereign. Once more, then, he requested them to agree to an Address with unanimity. The noble Lord concluded by moving an Address, which was, as usual, an echo of the Speech.
§ Mr. Gibson Craig
seconded the Address. He observed, that it was the first time he had ever risen to address the House of Commons; that he was not only new to Parliament, but utterly unacquainted with its forms. He therefore hoped, they would excuse any omissions or irregularities of which he might be guilty. The ability and eloquence with which the noble Lord who preceded him had addressed the House, rendered it the less necessary that he (Mr. G. Craig) should detain them at any length in discharging the duty which devolved upon him as seconder of the Motion; in the earlier part of her Majesty's Speech, however, an allusion had been made, which he could not pass over in silence, and that was to the necessity of making adequate provision for the poor of Ireland. In making alterations in the institutions of a country, it was important that the minds of a people should neither be moved by angry feelings nor influenced by prejudice. The hon. Member appeared to have entertained the intention of addressing the House at greater length, and referred to his notes, remaining a few minutes on his legs without speaking; but after some 37 time, he was understood to apologise for so far trespassing upon their indulgence, and sat down.
§ The Speaker read the address.
Mr. Wakley, who spoke as follows; Sir, I rise on this occasion to discharge the humble duty of acquainting her Majesty's Ministers that they have some Radical supporters in this House—a circumstance which, I regret to say, they seem to have altogether forgotten. I hare seen several copies of the Speech, but until I heard it read from your lips, Sir, I did not believe it was the speech which her Majesty delivered from the Throne. I am disposed to ask after that Speech a question of the noble Lord himself and of his colleagues. I wish to ask for what purpose her Majesty's present Ministers were so anxious in 1835 to eject the right hon. Baronet opposite from office? I feel bound in honour and candor to ask the question, and I hope that in he course of the night's debate her Majesty's Ministers will answer the question as frankly as I put it to them. I came into the House to support the cause of the people, and not the cause of faction or party. Party and faction have been the curse of this country for centuries, and if we follow the course which her Majesty's Ministers this night have marked out, it is not likely that we shall be relieved from this curse. When the right hon. Baronet opposite produced his speech in 1835, the friends of the present Ministers told him that the speech from the throne dealt in vague generalities—that there was nothing specific in it, and nothing to satisfy them what reforms the right hon. Baronet intended to propose. They have now got their friends in office, and there can be no reason for their not saying what reforms the country needs, and what specific reforms they purpose to effect. But they have omitted everything of the kind from their Speech; they are entirely silent upon these subjects; nor is there a single enunciation of one of their reforms in the whole Speech. [No, no!] I say yes; I have the Speech in my hand, and I must say more, that I never read a speech from any Sovereign of this country more vague, more general, or less precise. I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will not cheer too much. I assure them I have no desire to see them in office: on the
contrary, I hope I am doing a real service to her Majesty's present Ministers. I have always said that I thought they were made of "squeezable" materials; and I still think we may press from them something. But, looking to the other side of the House, I see only the enemies of reform, and therefore of the people. I tell them that they are made of petrified materials, out of which nothing that is good can possibly be moulded. In 1835, the noble Lord now at the head of the Government moved an amendment in the House of Peers; he stated then that he wanted something more specific than what was contained in the Speech. Again, the language used by the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, was nearly similar. He said in the Speech on the Address in February, 1835, "I think it far better that this House, as the organ of the sentiments of the people, should speak in its own language to the Throne, than that we should take the chance of these various subjects being questioned among the people, exciting much discontent here, and far more in Ireland." I will trouble the House with a few more of the noble Lord's opinions: "If this House yield too implicit an acquiescence in every thing which is suggested by the Crown, we may be in danger of losing the essence of reform. I think that if we send up the Address, as proposed to be amended, stating clearly the reforms which are required, we shall do our duty to our constituents and to posterity, so that we shall be reproached neither with pusillanimous weakness on the one hand, nor with inconsiderate rashness on the other." Now, Sir, I wish to know where is this distinct and specific mention of reform in the Speech from the Throne? We all have come fresh from our constituents, then are you not aware that the voters of England require protection? Is the word Ballot in the Speech? The Members on that side of the House may laugh. The Speech is just such a one as you yourselves would have made on a similar occasion. Instead of feeding the people with the crumbs of charity, I claim for them political rights. At the commencement of a new reign, with a young Queen, educated as ours has been, the people are entitled to expect that something more explicit should appear in the Speech. I will ask, Sir, is the elective franchise extended enough? I say no;
and the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland say no. They grind their teeth under the infliction, and I am afraid will never be relieved, unless their grievances be specifically introduced in to the Address. I do not expect that I shall get that done on the present occasion; but I think it right the people should know what is the disposition, what are the feelings of the House, and what there is reason to expect at their hands. We have all just come from the hustings, where even you, Gentlemen (the Tories), were Liberals. Ac Liverpool, and indeed throughout the whole country, the same language was used—all were there the friends of the people, yet as soon as any specific proposal is brought forward, nearly all of us fly from it, a d leave the people at the mercy of thenaristocracy. At Liverpool, at an operative Conservative dinner in October last, the noble Lord whom I do not see now in his place (Lord Sandon) is reported to have said—and the same language has been held by a great number of hon. Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House:—"He was glad to find that the operatives had determined to have their day also; for why should not they who had a great part of the labour also share in the triumph? He was happy that Conservative representatives had it in their power to appeal to the operatives, and to the working classes. Could the Liberal party have had their way it would not have been so." The noble Lord declared himself a friend to the extension of suffrage, and I am disappointed at not seeing him in his place, for I had hoped to have had him for a seconder to my motion. Really I was going to apply to the noble Lord to second the amendment that I intended to propose. "But the Liberals," the noble Lord continued "were beginning to find that even the poorer classes; were not so democratically inclined as they could wish. They thought that the poor would pull all down before them in the hope of catching something in the general scramble; but the poorer classes understood those subjects, and had a deep interest in good government and ancient institutions, &c. The Liberals, therefore, now felt, that persons entertaining such opinions were not worthy to have a voice in the legislation of the country. He was glad, however, that they had learned a proper sense of their true interests and could be trusted with the same security
as any other class of politicians." Such is the language of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool. That noble Lord, therefore, declares himself a friend to the extension of the suffrage. [No, no!] What? is not the noble Lord favourable to an extension of the suffrage when he says, "he is glad that the operatives have learned a proper sense of their true interests, and can be trusted with the same security as any other class of politicians?" If that be the truth, as no doubt it is, I call on the noble Lord to act on the principle he has asserted, and give me his vote to night. And I ask her Majesty's Ministers if they are prepared to see the ground removed from under their feet by their political enemies? The opposing party profess themselves friendly to Reform. I shall test the sincerity of both parties by the amendment I intend to move. That amendment is expressed in general terms; it contemplates merely an extension of the franchise, and I am ready to take the smallest quantity that you will give. The noble Lord having so recently made such a liberal speech to the operatives of Liverpool, I confidently rely on his vote in favour of the amendment. The noble Lord cannot hesitate. But I shall be glad to learn how her Majesty's Ministers intend to maintain themselves in office under the existing circumstances. I shall be glad to know how they expect to command majorities in this House? Where is the majority to come from? I suppose that on the most favourable occasions it will not be above 25 or 30, and on rather untoward occasions it is possible they may find themselves in a minority. But is it intended for the two political parties in this House, who have been opposed for such a length of time, to unite in one friendly embrace? Is it intended to form a coalition? I ask that question, because I should like to hear a distinct disclaimer. It is right the people should know what they have to expect from the contending parties in this House; and if a coalition is to take place, I feel bound to declare that the contests which have taken place during the last three years assume, in my mind, the character of factious. It will then appear to me that there was carried on a factious opposition at the commencement of the Session of 1835. What was the language of the right hon. Baronet opposite on that occasion? I have been amusing my mind of late by looking over
some of those things, and really it is very entertaining work to see the manner in which persons will assert one thing at one time and another at another. The right hon. Baronet, on the 24th of February, said, speaking of the opposition, "They select the questions which are practically decided, which all the world admits to be finally disposed of; but the unsettled questions they dare not advert to. They shrink from a reference to the Ballot, the Septennial Bill, the pension list, and the extension of the suffrage!" I shrink from neither of these questions, but we shall see who does to-night. This was the opportunity of adverting to all those subjects, but not one of them is touched on: on the contrary, the speech exhibits still the same dread of alluding to the Ballot, the same fear of extending the suffrage, and the same horror of the repeal of the Septennial Bill. But what said the right hon. Baronet opposite in February, 1835? He spoke thus:—" I make great offers, which should not lightly be rejected. I offer to you the prospect of continued peace, the restored confidence of powerful States, that are willing to seize the opportunity of reducing great armies, and thus diminishing the chances of hostile collision. I offer to you reduced estimates; improvements in civil jurisprudence; reform of ecclesiastical law; the settlement of the tithe question in Ireland; the commutation of tithe in England; the removal of any real abuse in the church; the redress of those grievances of which the Dissenters complain upon just grounds. I offer to you these specific measures; and I offer also to advance—soberly and cautiously, it is true—in the path of progressive improvement." The right hon. Baronet appears almost a Radical Reformer in comparison with those who prepared this speech. Where are the promises on the present occasion? What is there in the present speech at all resembling what I have just read? I say that there is not a thing in the Speech which should induce a Radical Reformer to vote for it. I fear that in the present Session we are to witness a renewal of those hostile and rancorous proceedings which have been exhibited in this House during the last three Sessions. There have been proceedings during that period which, in my opinion, have greatly contributed to lower the character of this House in the public estimation, and to
take from it the confidence and respect of the people. There have been proceedings such as were calculated to give the impression to the people that all that was operating on the minds of some public men was, how to hold the seals of office—was how to secure the profits, and how to exercise the patronage of office. Surely it is time that such an illusion should be dissipated—surely it is time, if any one believes that the aristocracy have the intention of relieving the people, that the people should know what it is that they have to expect. In 1829 commenced the work of Reform, by the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Bill. When that Bill was brought before the House, the language of the right hon. Baronet opposite was of a most conciliatory nature. Language of a similar description was used in the House of Peers, and it was thought, and wisely thought, that the profession of a particular religious belief in no part of the kingdom would be an obstacle to the enjoyment of civil rights and privileges. I entreat this House to pay attention for a few moments to the observations of the right hon. Baronet opposite to which I have referred, inasmuch as they bear on that part of her Majesty's Speech which alludes to the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill. It will be remembered that Ireland at that time was in a state of turbulence, and it was admitted by the right hon. Baronet that he was compelled to yield to a moral necessity which he could not control—that in fact the passing of that Bill was forced upon him. But when the right hon. Baronet brought the Bill into this House every Member believed in his sincere desire to carry out its principle to the fullest extent; and I think it was generally believed that the language used in the House of Peers was clearly indicative of the utmost sincerity. I will not occupy the time of the House by reading long passages from the speeches to which I shall refer, but I will furnish one or two pithy extracts. "This Bill," said the Duke of Wellington, "is in itself very simple. It concedes to Roman Catholics the power of holding every office in the State, excepting a few connected with the administration of the affairs of the Church; and it also concedes to them the power of becoming Members of Parliament.
* Hansard (New Series), vol. xxi. p. 52.
There is no doubt that after this measure is adopted the Roman Catholics will have no separate interests as a separate sect; for I am sure that neither this House nor the other House of Parliament will be disposed to look either upon Roman Catholics, or upon any thing that respects Ireland, with any other eye than that with which they regard whatever affects the interests f Scotland or of this country."* Lord Lyndhurst spoke as follows on the condition of Ireland and advantage of conciliating the Irish:—" In looking at that country (Ireland), and at the policy which had been pursued towards it, I found that for years past civil disabilities and civil proscription had been practised there; and I found, too, that these had effected no change in the condition of Ireland. No change! My Lords, I considerably understate the argument when I put it so. The condition of Ireland has been growing worse, year after year. During these last two years it has become still worse than it ever was before; and, from what I have heard and know, there is reason to expect that in two years more it would be infinitely worse than it is at present. If, then, I found that such had been the consequence of this course of policy, could I have said 'Persevere in it? Would that have been my duty? Or was it my duty to consider if a different course of policy ought not to be adopted, if conciliation ought not to be tried where severity had failed, and if it would not be wise to make these individuals our friends, by admitting them to the full benefits and privileges of the constitution.† I say do not admit the Catholic gentry and aristocracy if you propose to withhold from them, and from the mass of the people, the enjoyment of all the other fair objects of honourable ambition."‡ I have another extract from the right hon. Baronet's speech, which is more worthy of attention than any that I have yet submitted to the House. The right hon. Baronet said, in introducing the Bill. "This measure will restore the equality of civil rights." "It is known to every one whom I address, that the law affecting the Roman Catholics in each branch of the empire is different; that the Irish Roman
* Hansard (New Series), vol. xx. p. 57.
† Ibid. 193.
‡ Ibid. 207.
Catholics are the most favoured—the Roman Catholics of Scotland the least. I propose to place them all, as to civil privilege, on the same footing—the footing of equality. * * * * This Bill will admit the Roman Catholics to all corporate offices, and the enjoyment of all municipal advantages."† These were the words used by the right hon. Baronet, according to the authorised version of the speech in Hansard's Parliamentary Debates. Now the Roman Catholic Relief Bill has been passed eight years. Are the Roman Catholics of Ireland emancipated? Are they not at this moment debarred from the enjoyment of their corporate and civil rights in consequence of their being Roman Catholics. All must acknowledge this who wish to express honestly and truly what the real facts of the case are. Then it is proposed that a Bill should be introduced into the House for the purpose of conferring upon them their municipal rights, without previously passing a Bill for the extension of the elective franchise, or of giving the vote by ballot. Must not the people of England be first appealed to, and not the Tory aristocracy of the country? Is it, then, in accordance with a sincere desire or intention to pass such a measure to mention it in a speech that otherwise might have been written by one of the most determined and rigorous Tories in the House? It is impossible to carry such a measure in the present state of parties in the House without an extension of the elective franchise. In 1829, the Tories carried the Emancipation Bill, and when the Reform Bill was subsequently passed they became comforters; but they have succeeded in making the Municipal Bill a dead letter, and it is their intention that we shall obtain no fruit from the Reform Bill; it is their determination that no beneficial consequences shall flow from the Act of 1832. That determination is evinced by them in every act; they show it in the amount of money they spent during the recent elections. Their Spottiswoode gang conspiracy proves it. All their acts demonstrate that they have the same object in view, viz., to prevent the people from deriving any one of the advantages that were intended to be conferred on them by the Reform Bill. An
* Hansard (New Series), vol. xx. p. 756.
† Ibid. p. 761.
hon. Baronet smiles at any allusion to the Spottiswoode conspirators. He much resembles an hon. Baronet who was my representative for Westminster; but he can hardly be the same individual, the remains of that venerable Gentleman were recently buried in Wiltshire. That Gentleman was my political sire. I hope, should there be any desire on the part of those who were the friends of the people to repeal the Act of 1832, that such desire will be boldly stated. There ought not to be any hesitation in avowing opinions in this House that are freely enough avowed out of it. If it be true, as is represented, that we are an incongruous set on this side of the House; if we are an amalgamation of all kinds of opinions, the Gentlemen opposite are not very smoothly combined. In 1818, 1819, and 1820, some of the Gentlemen now on the opposite side were Reformers, whom their friends had great difficulty in restraining, such was the violent ardour and zeal they exhibited in the cause. One Gentleman in particular brought forward resolutions in favour of annual Parliaments, universal suffrage, and vole by ballot. It cannot be possible that any Gentleman on the same side of the House will now bring forward similar resolutions. It augurs ill, however, for the peace and security of life and property in this nation when there is in persons in an exalted station a disregard of public honour and principle. Can it be believed that there is now an individual sitting on the other side of the House who, in 1809, represented the Tories as the greatest monsters in the world, whose only anxiety was to destroy the people? All these things tend to show me that the people have not their due weight and influence in the assembly, and that the Reform Act has failed to realise the object of its framers. If it have failed, why have not Ministers the courage to say so? If it have not, I say their destination is near at hand, for it is impossible for them to retain their position with that Bill still regulating the franchise. Now, it has always been understood that the Radical party has been disposed to speak in support of Ministers; indeed, they have been accused of lending them a servile aid. For myself I can say, that I have often lent them assistance, because I thought them better Ministers than could have been selected from the oppo-
site ranks. I thought them desirous of proposing many useful reforms, but I am not content that the people of England should receive those reforms as donations at the hands of their own representatives. The people have a right to expect just laws, and that all the old feudal distinctions, so disgraceful to civilisation, be abolished. But in the Address that ha3 been read to the House from the chair there is no mention of a repeal of the Corn-laws for which the people are gasping, or a repeal of the law of primogeniture, which they equally desire. [Oh, oh!] I am glad to hear that exclamation. It shows what we have to expect from Gentlemen opposite; and I ask Ministers in mercy—I ask them to save the people from the renewal of the iron grasp of Toryism. I must hope that the noble Lord, in the speech with which he will doubtless favour us to night, will make some manifestations that will tend to relieve us from the deep gloom which all Radical Reformers are under from the reading of the Speech. Sir, hon. Members on that side of the House are disposed, in their addresses to the people, to insinuate much that is liberal, and by that contrivance they have managed to delude an immense mass of the community. I am glad that the hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House are amused at what I have said. Suppose they got into office, how long do they suppose it would be before they would dispel the illusion? If you ask the farmer why he desires the Tories may be returned to office, he will tell you that the Marquess of Chandos will cause the malt-tax to be repealed. Another farmer will tell you that the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) well knowing the horrors resulting from the Cash Bill of 1818, will give them plenty of one-pound notes. I don't think the right hon. Baronet would do so were he at the head of affairs, and we all know the way in which he prevented the malt-tax from being repealed. That was most adroitly managed. But now, from some cause or other, the people expect great things from the return of the Tories to office. I believe if they were in power we should have a speech similar to the one delivered tonight. That is a good Tory speech. It is nothing less. It is not the speech of a Reform Ministry. No Minister disposed to go into the field of Reform with a firm step and determined mind would have
addressed to this House such a speech as that we have heard. Now, believing that we can only be relieved from the operation of faction—believing that the people never can obtain a full restoration of their rights without the alteration of the act of 1832—the amendments which I have to submit to the House are with reference to that alteration, and I shall put them separately. There will be three distinct amendments. I am sincere in proposing these three amendments, because I wish to relieve hon. Gentlemen from the necessity of making excuses for not voting on any particular proposition. When a number of subjects are blended in a single resolution, a man may say, "I would vote for the ballot, but there is another proposition to which I cannot accede." Another might say, "I would vote for an extension of the suffrage, but it is mixed up with two or three other subjects with which I do not agree." Now for each amendment separately. The first is, "That this House embraces the earliest opportunity of respectfully assuring her Majesty that it will, in the present Session of Parliament, take into its consideration the state of the representation of the people in this branch of the Legislature, with a view to ensure by law an equitable extension of the elective franchise." I do not say this shall be household suffrage, or universal suffrage; I merely say that this House shall consider the subject with a view to the extension of the suffrage. If there is any Member who is disposed to extend the suffrage in the slightest degree beyond its present point, I shall obtain his vote on this occasion. If there is any Member anxious for household suffrage, I shall have his vote, of course. If there are any disposed to go still further, it is impossible he can object to my amendment. My next amendment is as follows: "That this House respectfully acquaints her Majesty that it will, in the present Session of Parliament, take into consideration the necessity of protecting the people in the free exercise of their elective franchise, by enacting a law to establish a system of secret voting by means of the ballot." The third amendment is, "That this House take the present opportunity of respectfully stating to her Majesty that it will, in the present Session of Parliament, take into consideration the propriety of repealing the Septennial Act." If these measures should be carried into effect we
shall obtain a good and useful reform; but until this be the case the people can scarcely receive any benefit from the proceedings of this House. In the hope that Ministers will be disposed to look on these questions as essential to their existence—as essential to the progress of the cause of salutary reform in this country—I hope, whatever line of conduct they may pursue with reference to two of the motions, they will not at any rate vote as a party against the ballot. If they do, I am certain they will, in a very short time, sit on the other side of the House. I do not say who will take their places here; but I shall deeply lament that they have lost the opportunity of rendering great services to their countrymen—of immortalising their own names—and conferring the most lasting benefit on the community. As certainly, however, as I exist and am standing here, the fate which I have mentioned awaits them unless they change that policy which they at present seem inclined to pursue. The hon. Member concluded by moving his first amendment.
§ Sir William Molesworth
seconded the amendment. He said, that the speech from the Throne ought to explain fully to the House and to the country the course intended to be pursued by the responsible advisers of her Majesty, and the reasons for that course should be so stated that the Representatives of the people might form a general idea of the intended policy of the Government. Instead, however, of the Queen's speech being what it ought to be, it was a bald, disjointed assemblage of words, in which every phrase was intentionally obscure, from which the framers seemed carefully and successfully to have laboured to exclude all sense and all argument, and to have kept in view but one single idea, namely, to frame a discourse about which all discussion should be impossible, as it should contain no topic for debate. The omissions in the speech which had just been read to the House were most important, and he rejoiced most sincerely that an hon. Gentleman had moved an amendment to the address, for the purpose of supplying those omissions. He trusted, likewise, that her Majesty's Ministers were prepared to supply what had been omitted in the speech by their acts during the Session of Parliament, and that they would make a declaration to that effect that night. The omissions of which he 49 complained were, that no reference had been made to the evils of the present electoral system, or to the necessity of remedying them. The annoyance, the expense, and the vexation caused by the system of registration established under the Reform Act were now apparent to every one, and the system could not long be endured. The elective franchise ought to be viewed as an obligation imposed by the Legislature upon the elector for the advantage of the whole community, and the elector, in properly exercising his franchise, rendered an important service to his country. The Legislature, ought, therefore, to facilitate, by every means in its power, the possession of the elective franchise to those who were entitled to it. As the Legislature required a service, and imposed a moral obligation upon the elector, the elector was justified in demanding in return that the laws should be studiously framed so as to protect him as much as possible in the exercise of his electoral rights; but under the present system every elector was exposed every year to a lawsuit before the revising barrister at the malice of any political enemy. He need not refer to the conduct of the Tories in the registration courts, or to how completely they had followed the advice of the right hon. Baronet. He need not refer to their system of wholesale objections. In some cases they had objected to the majority of a constituency. For instance, in the town which he had the honour of representing, the Tories, at the last registration, objected to more electors than the whole number of those who voted for him at the election which had just taken place, a very small portion of which objections they were enabled to maintain. In every quarter complaints were heard of invidious and vexatious objections and improper claims being made; and the experience of the last few years had convinced the great body of the electors that at least that portion of the Reform Bill must be amended which referred to the registration of voters. The events of the last elections had likewise produced the general conviction that the Reform Bill had not attained its object of securing a real representation of the people, and that it had only re-produced in another shape and in a more aggravated form the evils of the ancient system of representation. The defect of the ancient system which was most loudly complained of was, 50 that individuals were enabled by the accidental possession of certain property to return whomsoever they thought proper to the House, and to empower their nominees to tax the people, to legislate for the people; in short, to act as if they were the Representatives of the nation. To change virtual into real representation was the object of the Reform Bill; in this respect it might be pronounced to be a complete failure. Though the Reform Bill disfranchised many nomination boroughs, many still remained; and the Reform Bill had placed the representation of almost all the English counties, and would place the representation of all of them, in the power of the Tories; so that, if some change did not take place, after another general election, it was probable we might search, but search in vain, in that House for one of that class of respectable and estimable gentlemen who were already becoming so unpleasantly rare, and who were termed Whig county Members. So far, then, the Reform Bill was defective, that it had not eradicated the system of nomination, and that House did not represent that class of the community which it pretended to represent, or whom the framers of the Reform Bill intended that it should represent. It might, however, be contended, by the hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the facts which he could adduce in support of the position, that most of the counties in England had become their nomination boroughs, might equally and more justly be explained under the hypothesis that there had been a reaction in public opinion in favour of Toryism. If this hypothesis were a correct one—if this supposed re-action amongst the people really existed—then its effects would be most apparent in the most populous constituencies, where the exercise of the franchise was freest. It would be most apparent in the contests in the great cities; in Westminster, and the other metropolitan districts; in Leeds, and the other manufacturing towns; but what did the result prove? Not only that there was no re-action in favour of Toryism, but that the masses of the people, the large bodies of electors, held not merely Whig principles, but were inclined to good sound Radicalism: indeed, in every considerable town in which there had been a contest between a Tory and a Radical the latter had been successful, except when the constituency had been polluted by the 51 dregs of the ancient corporations, or when the most shameless bribery, reckless intimidation, and most disgraceful influences had been brought to bear against the liberal candidate. It was true, that to a certain extent, there was a feeling of political apathy amongst the masses, a feeling of indifference towards those who were the leaders of the ministerial ranks; but that apathy and indifference were occasioned, not by any relapse of the people into Toryism, but by their want of confidence in their leaders, by their apprehension that there would be no real efforts made in favour of liberal principles; in short, there was a feeling amongst the people that it was useless to exert themselves, that they were not bound to sacrifice themselves for persons who hesitated to adopt the means of protecting the elector in the possession and exercise of his electoral rights, and who could view with indifference the misery, demoralization, and corruption, consequent upon the present electoral system. Whatever was the amount of demoralization and corruption consequent upon the ancient electoral system, that amount had been increased a hundred-fold under the Reform Bill by the conduct of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. These were the grievances of which the people most justly complained; and now, at the commencement of a new reign, was the most auspicious period for the people to make known their grievances, and to demand their redress; and he repeated, that he sincerely hoped her Majesty's Ministers would, in reply to the hon. Gentleman, declare their intention of speedily bringing in a Bill to amend the representation by reforming the Reform Bill.
§ Mr. Hume
trusted that her Majesty's Ministers would state to the House what were their specific intentions with respect to the points in question. He could have no hesitation in saying, that in much of that which had been expressed by the hon. Members who had just spoken he entirely concurred; and he could not help thinking that her Majesty's Ministers had improperly shrunk from laying before the House that fair and candid explanation of their intended course of proceeding which those who had so long and heartily supported them had a right to expect. This conduct of Ministers must proceed either from an apprehension of hostility on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite, or from a resolution on their own parts not to 52 carry out those questions which they had hitherto expressed their determination of forward. It was due to the country that all doubt as to the intended course of Ministers should be cleared up at once by themselves. He and other Members on that side of the House had supported Government warmly throughout the last Session, in the full confidence that they were earnest in their promises to effect every requisite reform in all our institutions of Church and State the moment they were in the position to do so. In a similar confidence had the people generally also lent the Ministry their support, and it was right that they should understand distinctly whether that Ministry were prepared to do their utmost in behalf of the country. But he was well assured that the people would look with great distrust at the speech which Ministers had drawn up for the opening of the present Parliament, a speech which promised nothing towards abolishing church-rates, and the amendment of the Church itself. The unsatisfactory character of the speech was the more inexplicable to him when he considered how different was the position of matters now from that which existed at the commencement of the last Parliament. When the present Ministers last resumed their position on the treasury benches a monarch was on the Throne whose personal feelings were rightly believed to be unfavourable to them, and then it was, that he (Mr. Hume) and other Gentlemen of his class of political opinions gave their warm support to a Ministry against whom were arrayed not only the Lords and a large minority of the Commons, but a hostile court: this they did in the full persuasion that the ministry they so supported was one resolved upon the completion of every reform which the country called for. It was therefore most unfair to them and to the people, now that perhaps the Sovereign was highly favourable to the principles avowed by the administration, for that administration to withhold from the people a candid, open, and manly declaration of what they were going to do, and a statement whether or not they intended that the Reform Bill should be carried out. In the Speech delivered from the Throne in 1833, there were several most important questions particularly dwelt upon, which appeared to be now lost sight of. But the country would expect of the Government that it should at once openly 53 and specifically state what its intentions were with respect to subjects which, four years ago, it declared to be of such high importance. The right hon. Baronet opposite, when leader of a former administration, in the outset of the Session, openly declared the extent to which he was prepared to go, the measures which he was ready to sanction, and the point at which he was resolved to stop. A similarly explicit and candid statement was expected from the present Government, in order that the country might clearly understand what it was to expect, and how far it was to rely upon the honesty and good will of the existing ministry. The passages in the Speech of 1833, to which he had alluded, were these:—Your attention will also be directed to the state of the church, more particularly as regards its temporalities, and the maintenance of the clergy. The complaints which have arisen from the collection of tithes appear to require a change of system, which, without diminishing the means of maintaining the established clergy in respectability and usefulness, may prevent the collision of interests, and the consequent disagreement and dissatisfaction which have too frequently prevailed between the ministers of the church and their parishioners.It may also be necessary for you to consider what remedies may be applied for the correction of acknowledged abuses, and whether the revenues of the church may not admit of a more equitable and judicious distribution.He would ask the Ministry how it was that, after the lapse of four years from the period at which it was announced from the Throne, that such complaints did exist and such abuses were acknowledged, so little had been done to remedy them? The question of tithes was the only one which had been fairly and properly met, and as so many things remained to be done, the people had a full right to demand from Ministers an unequivocal exposition of their intentions for the future. The people had a right to know whether the noble Lord at the head of the Government in that House intended to proceed with the Bills which he had in former Sessions introduced in furtherance of the other objects set forth in the Speech alluded to. He and many others had, with the greatest forbearance, supported Ministers almost invariably throughout the past Session, and one of their great inducements for so doing was the hope 54 that Ministers would carry out an effective measure for the redress of the Church-rate grievance. Was that measure to be prosecuted this Session, or was it not? To whom was it that the administration looked for support? Was it to hon. Members opposite? If they did, they would find themselves misled and deceived. Their only real support was in the people and the real representatives of the people; and to render themselves worthy of that support, they must manfully carry into effect all the measures which the necessities of the country imperatively demanded—they must carry out the Reform Bill. What was their condition at the present moment? The examples of many of the late elections clearly showed how egregiously that Bill had failed in accomplishing the objects for which it was designed, and of this Ministers ought to be peculiarly well convinced, when they found to how low a rate their former majority of 120 had dwindled. The result of the late elections was a lesson to the administration which it ought not to lose a moment in applying. What, he would ask, was the cause of this great defalcation in the former majority? The defects in the Reform Bill; and he held, that Ministers were bound in consistency with the opinions they avowed when they introduced that measure as an experiment, to enable the people to exercise the privileges it conferred upon them with security, and without hazarding the loss of their property. Hon. Members laughed when he spoke of the measure as only an experiment upon which to found matured reforms, and he was aware that some persons considered the measure as a final one, but it appeared to him that any one who talked of final measures in a legislative assembly, must be a fool. The noble Lord had himself admitted it not to be a final measure in the most unequivocal manner, for he had himself last Session introduced measures for its amendment and extension. How were the Tory successes in the late elections gained? Were they by honest and fair means? No; but by the bribery, intimidation, and corruption which the defects in the Reform Bill still enabled them triumphantly to exercise. He repeated, therefore, that the Reform Act had entirely failed in giving to the people that which the Ministers held out to them, and which they had every right to expect, full protection in 55 the exercise of their Parliamentary franchise. How the Act had worked, the increased numbers on the opposite benches manifested; and this he was certain of, that unless protection to the electors were promptly afforded, the Ministry must abandon all expectation of support from the people. It was essential to their existence as a Ministry, that they should support the ballot, not merely by leaving it an open question, but by zealously making it a cabinet question. One of the promises made in introducing the Reform Bill was, that no constituency should remain less than 300 in number; whereas the fact was, that there were not a few of less than 250 or even 200. It was, therefore, necessary, in connection with the ballot, to extend the suffrage, and he deeply regretted that the Ministers did not see that in furthering these objects they were taking the best, and indeed the only, means of securing their own position. If they took from election after election that which alone could maintain the interests of their supporters, their fall was inevitable. The shortening of the duration of Parliament was also a most essential object. It was his sincere desire to maintain the present Ministers in office that induced him to press the acquiescence in these propositions so earnestly upon them. In the meagre Speech from the Throne, room had been made for a paragraph recommending to the serious attention of Parliament the state of the province of Lower Canada, and he had thought that the mover and seconder of the Address might have shadowed out some means of making known the purpose of her Majesty's Ministers in this respect. He wished they had informed the House what was the nature of the means of conciliation which it was intended to adopt; and he thought that Ministers were bound to be explicit on this point, after the failure of the attempt to carry into effect the resolutions of the last Session. Did they think, by such resolutions, to terrify Canada? They had endeavoured to follow the advice which had been given by the Commissioners. These Commissioners had said, that Canada would yield, if the resolutions were carried in the Parliament of this country by a large majority. But what was the result? They had excited, by these means, a flame in Canada which nothing else could have effected—an excitement 56 which existed to a degree in which it had never existed there before—an excitement which had raised almost the standard of rebellion. He wished, therefore, to know of what nature were the measures which Government held out as the means of conciliating this province, in order that the House might be thus guided in its opinions as to the likelihood that those measures would prove effective. There was another question, in reference to which her Majesty stated, "I place unreservedly at your disposal those hereditary revenues which were transferred to the public by my immediate predecessor; and I have commanded that such papers as may be necessary for the full examination of this subject, shall be prepared and laid before you." All this led him to believe, and he sincerely hoped it was the case, that the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster would be included in the number. He hoped that it was the case; but if from the words used at preceding periods present intentions were to be interpreted, then would these revenues be withheld; and he could not but remind the House, and the Gentlemen who were then present, that when this question was first agitated in the commencement of the reign of William the Fourth, how great was the disappointment when the Government declared that the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster should be reserved. He wished, then, to be informed what was the meaning of the paragraph in her Majesty's Speech which he had quoted? Were these revenues to be retained for the purpose, he would say, of mismanagement and of plunder? For there was no other interpretation which could be given to the tenure of the property as it now stood. With respect to the civil list, he was not one of those who wished to see it swelled with sums of money which were not applied to the Sovereign's own use. He wished to see her Majesty liberally provided for, and, therefore, had not the least objection to that part of the Address which pledged the House to provide liberally for the Queen. Ministers, however, had a most important duty to perform with reference to the future interests of the country. The settlement of the civil list would now rest upon a principle totally different from that on which the civil lists of George the 4th and William the 4th rested. The question arose, by what test should they measure the amount which they ought 57 to give—that Ministers would bear in mind the changes which had taken place in the civil list since it was first formed, owing to the circumstances of the country, and the state of the currency. The whole question required great consideration, involving, as it did, an alteration or addition which might be made in the condition of her Majesty at no distant period. It was essential, that measures should be taken to prevent any recurrence in the new reign of the demands which had been made in the reign of George the 3rd, for the payment of large arrears of debt by Parliament. This had been a practice in every way bad, and tended only to increased extravagance. He would repeat his entire concurrence in the expression, that they should deal liberally with the Crown. In the arrangements to be made, it was desirable that the public establishments of the country generally, should take their scale in proportion with that fixed for the Crown. He had no hesitation in saying, that the reward of public servants generally, though much reduced within the last seven or eight years, had not come down to that level at which they ought to be in comparison with the condition of the country. He had hoped, that in this Speech there would have been some reference to economical plans connected with the military establishments of the country. He had never yet found that any ministry, Whig or Tory, if they had any good measure to propose in the course of the Session, were at all backward in coming forward with it in the Address. The expression was somewhat Irish.—a little bull; but he again wished to know, if there were any hopes of a reduction of taxation—of reduction in the enormous military establishment which preyed upon the country, either as regarded the number of privates or the number of officers? Was there to be any reform in the system of promotion in the army or navy? Those details were essential matters; and to bring them forward was only to act a friendly part towards her Majesty's Ministers. Gentlemen on the other side of the House were no doubt perfectly satisfied with the course which events had taken. They had succeeded admirably so far, but he wanted her Majesty's Ministers to take those steps which should put it out of the power of the Gentlemen opposite ever to resume the reins of power. He fully believed they 58 never could, unless Ministers forgot the power which they possessed, and neglected to employ the very means by which they were to be kept in their position. He doubted the policy of his hon. Friend in taking the sense of the House on his amendment, and he would state his reasons for doing so. At the same time he should vote with his hon. Friend if he persisted. The question of the ballot was one which ought not to be decided by a side-wind. The extension of the suffrage also required much consideration, as did that of triennial Parliaments. From the speech of the noble Lord at Stroud, he augured that a shorter duration of Parliaments might become a mooted question, and he wished the arguments on it to be brought forward as a separate question. Agreeing, therefore, in the sentiments of his hon. Friend, he doubted whether justice would be done to the questions under consideration by the present mode of proceeding. He thought that the notice of the hon. Member for the City of London ought to have satisfied his hon. Friend that the question of the ballot would be fairly considered, and that the notice of the hon. Member for Southwark, who intended bringing forward a conjoint trio of measures, would give ample opportunity of fully discussing the different subjects now under consideration; though he agreed in sentiment with the hon. Member for Finsbury on all the three questions, he doubted much the propriety of bringing them forward on the occasion of moving the address. He would again therefore recommend his hon. Friend not to go to a division.
§ Mr. Grote
said, he wished to say a few words on the subject of the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Finsbury, and though a portion of what he was about to state had been anticipated by the hon. Member for Middlesex—he meant to say, the hon. Member for Kilkenny, Mr. Hume—nevertheless he thought it his duty to make a few observations on the same subject. In the substance of every one of the three amendments which were proposed he heartily concurred, and most assuredly if either or all of them were pressed to a division, he should vote for them; for though he condemned the introduction of them at that moment, as the very reverse of opportune or seasonable, yet he could not so far disavow the principles he had so long entertained as to refuse to support 59 them under whatever circumstances they might be introduced. He did not approve of questions of the importance referred to in the amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury being disposed of incidentally. He considered that, supposing even the Cabinet were inclined to support the extension of the franchise, or measures similar to it, yet they might feel it to be their duty to oppose them under the manner and in the circumstances in which the propositions for entertaining them were now brought forward. With a view to the ultimate success of such measures he requested of his hon. Friend not to adopt means which in his opinion were not calculated to further that success, by pressing either or any of the subjects to which he had referred to a division. It was his opinion that the most important of all the topics to which the attention of her Majesty's Ministers could be drawn, and the most pressing of all grievances, was the state of the representative system, and that it was not only in itself a very great and important grievance, but also because it was a source of weakness, where they ought to have a redress for all other grievances. He said this had been demonstrated by the result of the late elections, and that the ballot was required to sustain a Reform ministry. How did the balance of parties stand in the present House? Was it not notorious that no measure adopted by that House could be passed if not approved of and countersigned by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and the Gentlemen who acted with him? Was it not plain and undeniable that the party opposite had the power of defeating any projects of reform which her Majesty's Ministers might entertain, and that party disapproved of? The result of the present system virtually was, to give to the right hon. Baronet a veto upon any measure which her Majesty's Ministers might propose of a reforming character. This was a painful conclusion. The hon. Gentlemen opposite might laugh; but this he said, was painful to him and all those who held his principles. They could not make a matter better by disguising the painful truth from themselves, nor ought they to picture to themselves a majority which might fail when the moment of trial came. Hon. Gentlemen opposite possessed a negative upon all substantial reform. The Conservative principle was 60 really predominant in Parliament, and when he said Conservative he meant the negation of all substantial reform. It was in that way that he understood that the Conservative was the predominant principle in the present House of Parliament. If this result had arisen under any system of representation which would take the means of collecting the fair consent of the people to it, then he should bow most submissively to it, however little it might coincide with his own opinions. But this he said that there was no pretence for asserting any such thing. He could not consent to take the votes of tenants and tradesmen dictated to by landlords and overawed by customers as the free opinions of willing citizens. He could not consent that any such proceeding should be passed upon him as the expression of the people of England. He said that the public of England were at least a reforming public, and if their sentiments had been fairly collected, the result would have been such as those opponents would have little reason to rejoice in. He knew that hon. Gentlemen opposite might deny this; but if they did so, he invited them to a trial—he challenged them to give him a system which would express the opinions, he did not say of an extended, but of the existing constituency; and if they did that he asserted that the parties in Parliament would be very different from what they were at that moment. Did they doubt his assertion? Then he invited and challenged them to the trial. It would, he thought, be very unjust to charge upon her Majesty's Ministers the defects of the Reform Bill. He, at least, did not intend to be guilty of such injustice; but this he did say, that when they had the experience of the last few years before their eyes, and if they still adopted it as a final, complete, and un-improvable measure, then he must say that they consented to the present distribution of political power, and they acquiesced in that representative system which deprived them of the power of executing their reforming intentions, unless such intentions met with the approbation of the right hon. Member for Tamworth. That was their position at present, and it was impossible to escape from the conclusion that they must understand the exact situation in which the voters were placed, and it was for them to determine whether they would sanction a system by which the aristocracy usurped the electoral power of 61 the kingdom. Though he was far from reproaching them for the defects of the Reform Bill, yet, when they were now acquainted with them, if they resisted improvement in the Bill, no other conclusion could be come to but that they approved of the relative power which was now established between the Tories and between the Liberals. Under present circumstances, however, he felt it to be his duty to request the hon. Member for Finsbury to withdraw his amendment: he did so from the sincere desire to support every measure embodied in the amendment; and he now put forward the request because he was convinced that, if complied with, it would be forwarding the hon. Member's own views. There were many other things to be noticed with respect to the Speech, of which it might be said, that it was more remarkable for its absence from good than for the presence of it. He could not but sympathise in the sentiment of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, that never was there a more unmeaning or unpromising speech delivered from the Throne. There was very little of information in it, and there was more food for their fears than their hopes to be found in it. He had now one remark to make with respect to the Speech which had been delivered by the noble Lord who moved the Address. That noble Lord had said, with reference to the civil list to be provided for her Majesty, that if a liberal provision were not now made for her, Parliament might hereafter be called upon to pay the debts which she had contracted. Against the system of paying debts previously contracted—against the system of Parliament being so called upon to pay them—he formally protested. He never should sanction any such proceeding. It appeared to him to be inconsistent with what was right; it appeared to him not to be consistent with morality. When the country provided for royal personages and did so upon a proper scale, those exalted personages ought to set an example to the community of living within their income, and of not exceeding it by their expenditure. He trusted, then, that neither with reference to royalty itself, or to any relative of royalty, would any proposition for the payment of debts previously contracted be made from the Treasury bench.
§ Mr. Liddell, as one of those Conservative Members whom the hon. Member for Fins- 62 bury had charged with having fraudulently deluded the people at the late election by false professions, could not help making a few observations on that hon. Member's speech. He denied his charge. In the first place he had always thought and said that the Ballot was one of the greatest delusions ever practised on the public. As to the extension of the franchise, he and those that agreed with him were ready to stand by the enactment of the Reform Bill. They did not wish to disturb it; and as to annual Parliaments, when they reflected that there had been no less than five Parliaments within seven years he could not consider that it was a change required by the public convenience. With respect to the malt tax and the currency question, the hon. Member was equally at fault; for the decision of the House on a former occasion sufficiently proved what was likely to be the fate of any future measure for the repeal of the malt tax, as it also proved the sentiments of the House on the subject of any attempt to disturb the currency. He thought that the expectations of hon. Gentlemen were rather exorbitant if they hoped for the accomplishment or perfection of any measures from Ministers who had held the reins of power for so long a time without, in fact, doing any thing for the public benefit. They could not but be disappointed if they hoped that the Ministry of her Majesty would pursue any other course than that they had done. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had alluded to the Address which that House sent up in the year 1833, and he also alluded to the Reform Bill. He should allude to that Address, but with a different purpose from that of the hon. and learned Gentleman. In reference to it, he would beg to call the attention of the House to that part of it which pledged them to the maintenance of the Protestant Established Church of Ireland, and to the protection of the Protestant religion in that country. He (Mr. Liddell) did not intend to enter into the wide field of Irish politics, for such was his respect for those who were the conductors of the government of Ireland that he did not think it necessary to expatiate upon those irritating topics, yet he could not refrain from calling the attention of her Majesty's Ministers to the peculiar position which they at that moment occupied. At the late elections in this kingdom, in despite of that influence which 63 was denounced by hon. Gentlemen who supported the ballot, in despite of all the influence on the part of the administration, and in despite of the unconstitutional use of the name of the Sovereign, in despite of the popular topics employed by Gentlemen who professed extreme opinions, such topics as vote by ballot and the extension of the suffrage—in despite of all the circumstances which were brought to bear in favour of Ministers, England had maintained its character in returning to Parliament those who were decidedly favourable to and the supporters of, Conservative principles. As to the Reform Bill, he believed that the main view in passing it was that of beating the Conservatives to the ground, and maintaining the opposite party in their seats upon the treasury benches; that he believed was the object of the Bill, and he did not wonder at the disappointment expressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and they therefore wished to put upon other grounds than what was the real fact the manner in which the feelings of the people had operated in England. Even under the Reform Bill, which was not intended to convey a fair representation of the opinions of the people, means had been found for securing good government; and so it was that, according to the provisions of the Reform Bill, the people were able to exercie the franchise and contribute to the advantage of the country. The result he was happy to perceive in the number of Conservatives to be found on that side of the House. England had upon the returns declared its want of confidence in her Majesty's Ministers. They had, too, been tried in the balance in Scotland and had been found wanting; for there they had not gained. It was, then, in Ireland alone, upon the Irish returns alone, at the head of which was the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Dublin, that her Majesty's Ministers could look for the means of carrying their measures in that House; therefore it was that he wanted much to know what the measures were upon which Ministers depended for that majority. Though the address did not contain anything upon the subject of the Established Church as the address of 1833, yet he was happy to say that, at least, there was nothing in it which threatened the Church with injury. The address of 1833 avowed a determination to afford every security to the Protestant Established Church in Ire- 64 land, and the true interests of her religion; it also declared their anxiety to maintain the Protestant clergy in the full possession of their rights, and to provide for the due maintenance and repair of the ecclesiastical fabrics. The people of England looked with great anxiety to this subject, as they were determined to maintain the united Established Church, and not to suffer that church or its clergy to be deprived of any of its just rights, either by the mischievous machinations of Ministers, or by the open violence of their avowed supporters. An hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. O'Connell) had lately addressed the clergy of Ireland, and he thought proper to refer to them in language which was different from that in which he usually referred to them. He knew not whether the letter of the hon. and learned Gentleman had been put forth as a feeler on the part of her Majesty's Ministers, or if they were prepared to act upon that plan, which he regarded as objectionable in many respects. He did not know how or with what sops the hon. Member had been propitiated; he supposed there was universal patronage given to him—he supposed that the political Cerberus was allowed to keep the key of office in his hand.
§ Mr. Liddell
if he had in any manner trespassed beyond the order of debate, he apologised to the House for having done so. He considered that the support of the hon. Member was secured by some mode or another; but he did not mean to impute anything corrupt. It was to that support the ministry looked, and he now wished to know from them if they intended to throw over the Protestant Church in Ireland, he wished to know if they intended to maintain it in its efficiency and usefulness? It had pleased the hon. and learned Member for Dublin to dissolve his Irish Parliament; he possessed in this more than a royal prerogative. He did not know why the hon. Member had done so; but he had no doubt that it was in consequence of some communication that he should receive a quid pro quo from her Majesty's Government. He wished to know from the Ministry how they meant to carry on the Government with the qualified support of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. Upon the questions that he had asked of them he hoped they would speak out to the satisfaction of the House.
felt called upon, peculiarly called upon, to protest against the terms "domestic tranquility" being applicable to that portion of the empire with which he was connected. He had the honour of representing the county of Sligo, which was the scene of sanguinary tragedies that were almost a matter of daily occurrence. He felt it to be his duty to reserve to himself the power of impugning her Majesty's Government, especially with reference to their "domestic tranquility" in Ireland. He should not disgust that House by entering into details in proof of the protest which he felt it to be his duty to make. He had no intention of withholding his vote from the motion of the noble Lord, the Member for Morpeth, but he felt it to be his duty to protest against the language used in the address being applicable to that portion of the empire which it grieved him to say was a disgrace to any civilised state.
§ Lord John Russell
I fully acknowledge the right of every hon. Member of this House to question her Majesty's Ministers with respect to any explanation which the Speech from the Throne may require. I must at once say, that while I am ready to afford any explanation that may be demanded with respect to the Speech itself, I am willing to admit that the reproach is well founded, if it be a reproach, that the Speech was framed with a view to prevent any adverse discussion; and if it be a fault then the fault is ours, that on this the first day, when Queen Victoria was to meet her Parliament, we were anxious, in the divided, and balanced state of parties, to avoid bringing forward questions upon which it might be necessary for Gentlemen, in vindication of their own consistency, and in justice to their previously recorded opinions, to raise angry discussions, and, further, to carry them to a division. We did think that on such an occasion, it was desirable that the Queen should receive, if not an unanimous, at least a nearly unanimous, address from this House, and that our expressions of loyalty to the Throne, and attachment to her person should not be marred and disfigured by being mingled with questions upon which opinions are known to be divided. If this be a fault—if this be a crime in her Majesty's Ministers—then we are certainly guilty of that crime, and we framed the Speech in accordance with 66 those opinions. I come, now, Sir, to my own personal consistency, which the hon. Member for Finsbury, in moving his amendment, attacked, and more especially with respect to a speech made by me in the year 1835, from which speech he quoted a sentence which I think does not bear him out in that reproach. He said, that I stated at that time, "that by maintaining in our address certain principles and certain measures, we should avoid the reproach of pusillanimous weakness on the one side, and of inconsiderate rashness on the other." And what is the proposition that the hon. Member for Finsbury makes? That we should have put into the Speech from the Throne—the ballot first, next the extension of the suffrage, then the shortening of the duration of Parliament, next the consideration of the Corn-laws, and then an alteration in the laws affecting primogeniture. If, Sir, we had introduced all these topics into the Speech, "inconsiderate rashness" would have been the phrase very properly applied to Ministers by every Member of this House. The circumstances of 1835 were circumstances exceedingly different from the present. The circumstances then, were these:—Lord Melbourne was engaged at the head of the Ministry with plans and measures of reform which were thought by them to be expedient, when he was dismissed from his late Majesty's councils; and on the meeting of the new Parliament we did think it necessary that the measures which we thought were proper for the adoption of Parliament ought to be stated in the Address. Were there any of the measures which we then proposed so exceedingly different from the measures which we afterwards supported? One measure was the Municipal Reform Bill in England. We proposed to introduce popular control amongst the Municipal Corporations in England. Have we not kept that pledge? Is it not now the law of the land? And are we now to have the accusation brought against us of having abandoned that portion of our Address? With respect to another part of our measures, it was said that we ought to remove the grievances of the Protestant Dissenters. Now with respect to the grievances of the Protestant Dissenters, I maintain that the measure of registration and marriages is in part a redemption of that pledge—it is a removal of two out of the five points of which Dissenters 67 complained. With respect to "the removal of the abuses of the Church, impairing its efficiency in Ireland, and lowering its character in both countries;" likewise mentioned in that Address, the first part of the question relates to England; and I must say to Gentlemen, who, like the hon. Member for Kilkenny, entertain the most friendly disposition to her Majesty's Ministers, that in giving us friendly advice they convey it in such a way that it is difficult for us to shape our course so as to meet their peculiar views. He has asked me tonight whether I had any measure to propose like that which was proposed two years ago with respect to pluralities and preferments in cathedral chapters. I am ready to propose such a measure—indeed I might have hoped to have carried it before this time, if it were not for the strong opposition which the hon. Member himself made to it. It is my intention to introduce the measure again; there may be an alteration in some of the details, but with respect to the principle of the measure, I shall adhere to that principle. I consider it to be a very useful and efficient measure of reform, although it may not meet the extended views of my hon. Friend. But what said he with regard to this measure? That it was not sufficient, that it was not right to correct something, and therefore he left the whole uncorrected. There was another measure relating to the Church—the question of Church-rates. We brought forward that question, and supported it to the best of our abilities, in this House. It did satisfy the Dissenters, and I thought it did so fairly; because it did not deprive the Church of revenues which it had reckoned upon previous to the introduction of that measure. It met with very great opposition, with such opposition in this House, that it would have been useless to have thought of its becoming the law. Well, for proposing this measure it was said that we were bad tacticians, that we ought not to have offended the Church; that it was impolitic to do so; and this was the language addressed to us, and which I can show to the hon. Member, not only in newspapers, but in reviews and other publications, speaking the sense of the extreme reformers. Thus they find fault with us, first, because we are moderate, and secondly, because we are imprudently violent. Did we not know that 68 we differed from the heads of the Church before we brought in such a measure? Did we not know that in them we encountered a powerful opposition? We did encounter it; because we thought if the measure were supported by popular opinion, it would have settled the question of Church-rates in a way that would have been satisfactory to the Dissenters, and in a way, too, that we thought would not be injurious to the Church. An hon. Gentleman opposite has asked me a question. He certainly is not long a Member of this House, and I do not know in what part of the country he has been residing; but he has asked whether we mean to support the Established Church? Sir, I have never ceased to say that I am a supporter of the Church Establishment, and I did consider, and still do consider, that if you wish to maintain the great foundations of the Establishment, the more you do to prevent dissensions and bickerings between the Church and those who differ from her doctrines, the more secure will that Church be. And though men may divide from her doctrines and men may differ from her in opinion, yet still they will regard that Church with respect, and almost with affection, as the means of diffusing religion in this country. It is impossible to say that the measure respecting church-rates which I introduced last year can now be brought forward immediately with any prospect of direct success; but the measure which I did propose last year, namely, a Committee on the subject which should look into all its details—which have been, I will not say misrepresented, but upon which there has been much misunderstanding and difference of opinion—a Committee which should look into the whole of the question, and which should enable Parliament and the country finally to decide upon it, and by so deciding it to get rid of those questions which divide Churchmen and Dissenters with more virulence than any other, and which produces injury to the Church itself and the cause of religion in general—such a Committee it is the intention of her Majesty's Government to propose. The hon. Member who moved the amendment has brought forward questions which have also been dwelt upon by other Members, and he has asked me whether I will support them. He has mentioned the question of the ballot—he has mentioned 69 the question of the extension of the suffrage, and the question of triennial parliaments. These he has brought forward in three separate amendments, all forming parts of the same measure. He has put his powders into three separate papers, as portions of the same medicine. I am not going now to enter into the reasons and arguments with which each of these measures may be supported or opposed,—I will not enter into the discussions of the question generally, but I am bound to give some explanation of my views with regard to the Reform Act in relation to my present position. I cannot conceal the disadvantages and the injuries to which the Reform Act is subject. I admit that at the late elections corruption and intimidation prevailed to a very lamentable extent. I admit that some parts of the Reform Act are the means of making it a source of great vexation to the real and bonâ fide voter. I admit that with respect to the registration of voters in particular, great amendments may be made. But these are questions upon which I consider Parliament should always feel bound to be alive and attentive to see that the Act suffers no essential injury, and that any errors in the details which might be made in the commencement might be afterwards remedied. But these are questions which are totally different from those now brought forward, such as the question of the ballot, the extension of the suffrage, and triennial parliaments, which are, taken together, nothing else, but a repeal of the Reform Act, and placing the representation on a different footing. Am I then prepared to do this? I say certainly not. With respect to the question of the registration, I am ready to bring forward some measures to amend it, or rather my hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney General, will bring forward such a measure. The matter has been frequently under discussion in this House. I proposed some amendments myself last year, and if any further facilities can be given by me I shall feel it my duty to afford them, and more particularly upon the subject on which I introduced the Bill of last year, namely, the payment of rates. But I do say that having now only five years ago reformed the representation, having placed it on a new basis, it would be a most unwise and unsound experiment now to begin the process again, to form a new suffrage, to make an alteration in the manner 70 of voting, and to look for other and new securities for the representation of the people. I say at least for myself, that I can take no share in such an experiment, though I may be, and indeed must be, liable to the somewhat harsh term of the hon. Member for Kilkenny. I must explain, however, in what sense I consider myself bound with regard to the Reform Act. When I brought forward that measure it will be recollected that the cry was that it was too large, that it was too extensive; and those who were Radical Reformers were upon the whole much better pleased with it than those who were moderate Reformers. But it was the opinion of Earl Grey, an opinion stated by him in the House of Lords, and an opinion stated repeatedly by Lord Althorp in the House of Commons, that it was safer to make a large and extensive measure of reform, than a small measure of reform, for this reason, that in bringing forward the extensive measure we might be assured that we were bringing forward one which might have a prospect of being a final measure. Do I then say that the measure is in all respects final? I say no such nonsense. Do I say that the people of England are deprived of the right of re-considering the provisions of that Act? I say no such folly. I maintain that the people of England are fully entitled to do so, if to the people of England it shall so seem fit. But I am not myself going to do so. I think that the entering again into this question of the construction of the representation so soon would destroy the stability of our institutions. It is quite impossible for me, having been one who brought forward the measure of reform, who feel bound by the declarations then made, to take any part in these large measures of re-construction, or to consent to the repeal of the Reform Act, without being guilty of what I think would be a breach of faith towards those with whom I was then acting. If the people of England are not of that mind they may reject me. They can prevent me from taking part either in the Legislature or in the councils of the Sovereign; they can place others there who may have wider and more extended, more enlarged, and enlightened views, but they must not expect me to entertain these views. They may place others in my situation, but they must not call upon me to do that which I not only consider unwise, but which I should not feel myself 71 justified, without a breach of faith and honour, in proposing. The hon. Member who moved the amendment has asked, among other questions, whether a coalition is intended? I am sure I can only say I know nothing of such a coalition; I have no such intention, and I know nothing of any such being intended. This is the only answer I can give. The hon. Member for Kilkenny has asked some questions not having reference so much to the amendment but to the Speech which has been delivered from the Throne, with regard, for instance, to the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. I think it is clear, from the words of the Speech, that the surrender made by her Majesty is precisely the same as the surrender made by his late Majesty, and it goes that length and no farther. I do not deny that evils have arisen consequent upon the annexation of these Duchies to the Crown. One of these evils is that it has given rise to an unfounded notion as to the extent of the revenue derived by the Crown from these Duchies; and, in the second place, to their being less open to public inspection, less open to the knowledge of Parliament, than other branches of the Crown revenue, and because also probably the expenses of their administration have been greater than those expenses ought to be under a well-conducted management. I propose to get rid of both these evils by producing accounts, properly audited, relative to these revenues and their management, by producing them periodically to Parliament, and thus supplying information both as to the amount of the revenue of which the Crown is seised, and of the management to which it is subject. I think, if we had proposed a total surrender of these Duchies, hardly any advantage would be derived from it, because I take it for granted that a majority of this House, a very great majority, seeing that her present Majesty upon ascending the Throne has not inherited that, personal property which nearly all her predecessors have derived from the time of George the Second down to her accession—that she has lost those revenues derived from the Kingdom of Hanover, which have been enjoyed by our Sovereigns for 120 years, would not wish to take the revenues of these Duchies, even by surrender, without providing a fair and honourable compensation. I do not think it is the wish of 72 the House to place her Majesty in a much worse position than any Sovereign who has gone before her; and I think that when my right hon. Friend brings forward the question, that it will be found rather better to keep to the ancient settlement of these Duchies than to give a sum of money in lieu of them, by which the public would not be gainers, and an unnecessary innovation would be made. With respect still further to the Civil List, it is the intention of my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of which, indeed, he has already given notice, as early as Thursday next, to propose to refer all papers on this subject to a Select Committee. Before that Committee the whole question of the Civil List will come, and they will be put in possession of all the information which it is in the power of Government to give them. I have no doubt but that a Committee of this House will treat the subject with perfect fairness; that there will be no disposition on any hand to withhold what is due to the honour and dignity of the Crown; and I trust it will be anticipated on all sides that we should not propose any unnecessary expenditure, or anything that we cannot justify by reasons adduced before the Committee. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last referred to some undue influence which had been exercised at the late elections by her Majesty's Government. As I am without any particulars on the subject I can only give a general denial to his general assertion. I hope the hon. Gentleman, on the other hand, is fully prepared to deny all those rumours which have appeared in the public papers that he was the bearer of a certain letter addressed by a landlord to him, in which he was desired to report the conduct of the tenants, and to see whether or not they had complied with their landlord's wish on the subject of the election. The hon. Member I am sure is too well conversant with the constitution of this country and the resolutions of this House not to know that such interference is extremely unwarrantable; and I am persuaded, and more particularly from what the hon. Member has said this evening, that he never was the bearer of such a letter. The hon. Gentleman has made another allusion to the present Ministry: he said he was not surprised that there was nothing in the Speech, because the present Ministers had done nothing. I 73 am not going to detain the House; indeed it would be very offensive in me if I detained the House, with recounting the measures which I consider entitled to some approbation on the ground of being useful; but I will refer him to a better authority as to what Parliament has done—I will refer him to the very eloquent Speech made at Glasgow by the Lord Rector of the University there, to a numerous body of hearers, detailing the very important measures which within these few years have passed through Parliament. Within the last few years all these measures have been passed under the auspices of a liberal administration, and therefore, I hope that in future the hon. Member, before he throws out taunts to this side of the House, will learn the language of his leader, and will consult the much wiser and better opinions of his chief, instead of giving us his own. By representing us as having done nothing, he will, at the same time that he contradicts us, totally contradict the assertion of him whom he wishes to follow in this House. There was one other particular subject mentioned in the course of the debate, into which, however, I will not now enter—I allude to the subject of Canada. I do not consider it necessary to state the course which I mean to pro- pose, as I think the attention of Parliament is called to the subject in a manner from which no hon. Member can dissent. I will only say that it is a subject which deserves the best consideration of Parliament, and which must always possess a deep interest. I thank the House for the attention which has been shown me on this occasion. I feel bound to give my decided opposition to the amendment of the hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will listen to the advice which has been given, and not divide the House. I do not think that any large number will vote with him; but I hope that on this occasion we shall carry to her Majesty the unanimous expression of our gratitude.
§ Sir Robert Peel
Sir, I have frequently, on an opportunity like the present, taken an occasion to express my opinion, both when in office and when in opposition to the Government, that it was not convenient on the first day of Session to call upon Parliament to give pledges upon any subject. I have expressed that opinion because I think it unfair, Government being naturally and necessarily in 74 possession of the measures which they mean to propose, to invite Parliament, which had not the same cognizance of those measures, after, probably, only a debate of two or three hours, to express an opinion upon subjects of the deepest public interest. The opinion thus expressed on former occasions I still retain. Had the Throne been filled by our late Sovereign, a Sovereign advanced in years, I should have maintained the same opinion. Had it been thought desirable to call upon Parliament for pledges on any particular question, I should have urged the absolute necessity, in point of justice, of reverting to the ancient practice, and of giving to the House, so called upon to express an opinion, at least an opportunity of deliberating for forty-eight hours. But I think, considering the multiplicity of measures necessarily alluded to in the Speech from the Throne, that it is infinitely better for the Crown to content itself with indicating the general measures which it means to propose, and so to word the Address that we should be enabled on the first day of the Session to concur in the Address without any com. promise of opinion. If I should have felt the force of this opinion under ordinary circumstances, I do feel, considering the circumstances of the present time, considering that this is the first occasion on which a Queen of so early an age has addressed her Parliament, that the opinion to which I have referred acquires extraordinary and peculiar force. I cannot refer to the concluding paragraph of that Speech, in which her Majesty states that the early age at which her Majesty is called to the sovereignty of this kingdom lenders it a more imperative duty that, under Divine Providence, her Majesty should place her reliance upon our cordial co-operation—I cannot hear those expressions fall from the lips of the Queen of this great empire, addressing Parliament for the first time, without anxiously availing myself of the means of concurring in the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, and of tendering to her Majesty an assurance of loyalty, and of my desire to afford the co-operation which she asks. I give to that Address, therefore, my acquiescence, my entire and unqualified acquiescence, because I must say, independently of my desire on this occasion to avoid the appearance of a contentious debate, and still less the necessity 75 of dissent, certainly the Address itself is so worded that he must be very critical and captious indeed who could find occasion to object to it. But at the same time it is right to say that I reserve my opinion on every measure to which the Address makes allusion. I cautiously abstain from expressing or implying any pledge upon any measure noticed in the Speech from the Throne. I disclaim any acquiescence in the facts there stated, and I disclaim any necessary implication that because I concur in the Address I concur in the opinions which it may be presumed to express. I shall, therefore, acting upon the principles I have avowed, and looking at the terms in which the Address is proposed, feel the greatest satisfaction in giving my acquiescence, an acquiescence which but for the speech of the hon. Member for Finsbury would probably be unanimous. Apart from the considerations to which I have referred, it would clearly be quite impossible, with any beneficial effect, to enter upon a discussion of the various measures which are noticed in the Speech from the Throne. The affairs of Canada, the question of the Civil List, the state of Ireland, and the questions connected with it are so different, that it would be ill-advised and ineffectual to attempt to include in one discussion those various and important measures. As far as the Civil List is concerned, and I will refer to no other subjects than those to which the noble Lord referred, I do not feel called upon to express any positive opinion; but I do not hesitate to say that I have heard with satisfaction that it is not meant to abandon the revenues derived from the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. The noble Lord classed these two Duchies together; but I apprehend that in point of law there is a material distinction. The revenues and privileges of the Duchy of Cornwall are held by the Crown as trustee, whereas over those of the Duchy of Lancaster there is a more direct and immediate control. I do not notice this distinction for the purpose of establishing any separation, because it is unnecessary, and I will only add, that I rejoice that all those ancient titles should be preserved. Upon the particular matters of detail to which the noble Lord has referred, with respect to the administration and management of the revenues of these Duchies, I shall reserve my opinion upon those points until I 76 hear further explanations and reasons for the course proposed to be pursued. I am, then, under these circumstances, called upon to decide whether I shall vote for the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Finsbury. That amendment appears to have been proposed under the impression that her Majesty's Government was composed of what the hon. Gentleman calls "squeezable materials," and I have not the slightest doubt that this is the object of the amendment. The hon. Member did not hope that the House would be induced to acquiesce in that amendment, but he did hope that by the pressure of the conjoint trio by whom the amendment was supported, the noble Lord, who was the immediate representative of the squeezable materials, might be induced to give some satisfaction on the points on which the hon. Member for Finsbury was particularly anxious. I certainly rejoice that the noble Lord has defeated the expectations of his hon. supporters; for with respect to the Reform Bill, which the hon. Member for Finsbury considered of such vital importance, the noble Lord has not shewn himself to be composed of such squeezable materials as the hon. Gentleman anticipated. The noble Lord objected to take any one of the powders which the hon. Member for Finsbury had prepared for him. Indeed the noble Lord had altogether rejected what had been so kindly offered to him, and the hon. Member for Finsbury, as far as the noble Lord was concerned, had entirely failed in producing what he might naturally infer would be the result of his powders. But the hon. Member for Finsbury will, I apprehend, persist in his amendment, and take the sense of the House. I know perfectly well that the hon. Member for Finsbury considers that the country ought to be aware of the opinions of their Representatives. The hon. Member, therefore, acting in consistency with his own opinions, will of course compel the House to declare, whether it concurs with him or not. I am certainly surprised, at the same time, that the amendment falls so far short of the hon. Member's intention. It is an incomplete amendment, because the hon. Member says the country is gasping with impatience to hear of an alteration in the Corn-laws, and of the amendment of the law of Primogeniture. And yet the hon. Gentleman disappoints the country of 77 these reasonable expectations; for though he has three separate amendments, in no one of them does he touch these two important points, with respect to which he tells us that the country is gasping with impatience. How the hon. Member for Kilkenny could advise the withdrawal of those amendments I cannot conceive; for he states, that in the whole course of his experience, he never heard of any good measure being brought forward, unless it were included in the Speech from the Throne. There was, indeed, one exception, and that was in the year 1822, when we had an unreformed Parliament. The hon. Member for Kilkenny stated, that, with this single exception, he did not recollect another instance in which, unless it were expressed in the Address, a good measure was proposed. The hon. Member for Kilkenny will, therefore, see the necessity for pressing on his hon. Friend, the Member for Finsbury, who had already shown himself, with respect to the law of Primogeniture and the Corn-laws, to be backward in coming forward; and now the hon. Member for Kilkenny, whose words I have borrowed, is putting himself forward to keep the hon. Member for Finsbury backward. The hon. Member for Finsbury looked round him, and asked how it could be accounted for that the Reform majority had dwindled from 150 to 30? I will tell him how I account for it. Do not believe that intimidation or corruption has done it. Do not believe that intimidation and corruption, in the present constituent body, can produce any such effect. What! is that the opinion you entertain of the Reform Bill? Do I hear, in 1837, after all the predictions with respect to the satisfaction the Reform Bill was to produce, and the public confidence it was to create and maintain—do I hear now declarations that of all the grievances under which this country labours, the representative system is the worst? Do I hear it gravely asserted that the country is groaning, for that was the expression that was used? No less expressive a term would satisfy the hon. Gentleman to express the degree of dissatisfaction which the country felt. This is the language which has changed the public mind. The public is alarmed with the menaces of a new revolution. What was the expression of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell)—the author of the Reform Bill? 78 —He said, that the country could "not afford to have a revolution once a-year." What then must the people think? What must an intelligent people think of these changes and alarms of change which amount almost to a revolution once a year? They see an enormous change in the representative system, which they have reason to believe, from the declarations of the parties themselves, would be accepted, not as a final measure, because no measure can be said to be final and irrevocable; but that it was to be considered, as far as the declarations of public men of all parties could make it, a settlement of the question of Reform. We heard it said, that that experiment was made on an extensive scale, in order that it might be final. These were the arguments addressed to our anxieties and apprehensions. When we said that the change was too extensive, it was said, "We make the change extensive, in order to prevent new demands and changes." Five years only have elapsed, and you tell us that the people are not merely not satisfied, but that the great curse under which they labour is the present representative system. This is the language which has caused anxiety and alarm in the public mind—which, more than the acts of despotic sovereigns, has a tendency to prevent the development of free principles. Thus the people argue: "If England consented to part with that ancient system of representation which had at least the advantage of long prescription and established order; if England consented to part with this, and the chief advantage from it is, that within five years of the birth of the new system, it is seen to be an absolute failure—that it is declared to be a just cause of complaint and indignation, and the source of injustice; shall we again run the risk of making an alteration in the established order of things?" These are the inferences which the people draw from declarations of this kind with respect to the failure of this measure, which it was anticipated would be pregnant with satisfaction to the constituency, and of advantage to the country. It is this language—the threat one day to destroy the integrity and independence of the House of Lords, another to put down the Established Church which has alarmed the people, and produced the effects of which you complain. It was the assumption 79 which is the foundation of all persecution, "I am right, you are wrong;" the assumption that because I do not agree with the hon. Member for Kilkenny, therefore I am to be denounced as unfit to be a representative; it is the fear that we are undermining the foundations of all other institutions in Church and State; it is not corruption and intimidation, but it is that rational, manly feeling of the people, that knows how to draw a just distinction between the sober correction of proved abuses, and the constant tampering with the institutions of the country—it is the resolution not to live in a constant state of political agitation, not to be made the tools of those who are dissatisfied with the result of their own measures, eliciting different expressions of opinion from their own supporters—these are the circumstances, since you apply to me for information, which have caused this change in public opinion, and which have made the majority of 150 dwindle down to an uncertain one of thirty or forty. I feel confident, not permitting the hon. Gentleman to put his construction on the reasons on which rests that confidence—I feel confident, notwithstanding the menaces of the hon. Gentleman, that we may trust to the sound deliberate judgment of the people of England to assist the most powerful minority which now sits ranged on the benches behind me in resisting the further progress of democratic change,—not the progress of rational, well considered, improvement, but the progress of democratic change, which is avowed as having for its object the altering the ratio of political power, and enabling one class of political opinions to acquire an overwhelming predominance. Was there ever such a reason given for change? "We find (says the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Finsbury) we have failed; the constituent body has deserted us; we fear, that another election or two will render that desertion complete; and, therefore, we call upon you, in order to recover and maintain our predominance, to cut and carve the constituent body to answer our purposes." I, for one, after the changes which were effected in the principle of representation in 1832, will not give my consent to any further change of the kind; but I feel perfectly satisfied, that if I were to give the hon. Mover a carte blanche to cut 80 and carve the constituency as he pleased, my confidence in the good sense of the people of England is such that with whatever constituency he may form, he would still be in a minority. They may widen the constituency or shorten it—they may increase it as they please, but they will never be able to modify it so as to render it more in unison with their opinions. This is my opinion. I may be right, or I may be wrong; but, be that as it may, I am not prepared again to incur all those evils which must inevitably arise from the constant agitation of constitutional principles. I shall, therefore, feel it to be absolutely necessary to oppose the proposition of the hon. Gentleman opposite; and whenever any particular measure may be brought forward, whether of ballot or for the extension of the suffrage, I shall be prepared to discuss it in detail, and assign my reasons for not acquiescing in it. I entertain a perfect confidence, a confidence increased by the declaration of the noble Lord, that reason will prevail, and particularly with the experience of the last election in my recollection—that the institutions of the country are perfectly safe in the hands of the intelligent and enlightened people of this country, in whose hearts they are rooted, not more on account of their venerable antiquity, than their intrinsic merit.
§ Mr. Ward
came down to the House intending to oppose, and, if called upon, to vote against the motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury; but he now felt bound to say, that if the motion were pressed to a division, he should vote in favour of it. He was induced to adopt this course, partly by the speech of the hon. Baronet opposite, but chiefly, he grieved to say, by certain observations which had fallen from the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, in the course of his speech. The noble Lord would find that he had disappointed the hopes of his best and fairest supporters, when he said that the ballot would be a repeal of the Reform Bill. By that declaration, the noble Lord had signed his death-warrant. For as election succeeded election it would be found impossible to carry on the representation of the country, limited by the propositions now laid down by the noble Lord, and then the term of his political career would be determined. He regretted that the noble Lord had advanced 81 such a declaration on the present occasion, as he could assure him that there was a very strong inclination amongst all parties to carry the Address to-night without any division or amendment.
§ The House divided on Mr. Wakley's first amendment to the effect, "That this House embraces the earliest opportunity of respectfully assuring her Majesty, that it will in the present Session of Parliament take into consideration the state of the representation of the people in this branch of the Legislature, with a view to ensure by law an equitable extension of the elective franchise." Ayes 20; Noes 509: Majority 489.
§ We subjoin the List of the Ayes. The Noes being the bulk of the House need not be given.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Hallyburton, Lord|
|Brabazon, Sir W.||Hume, J.|
|Browne, R. D.||Leader, J. T.|
|Bryan, G.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Butler, hon. Col.||Ward, H. G.|
|Collins, W.||White, A.|
|Dennistoun, J.||White, S.|
|Duncombe, T.||Williams, W.|
|Finch, F.||Wakley, T.|
|Grote, G.||Molesworth, Sir W,|
§ Mr. Wakley
said, it was not his intention to press his two other resolutions to a division. He was persuaded that the course which he had taken was not unproductive of benefit. Notwithstanding the declaration of the noble Lord that his three powders had produced no effect on him, he must be allowed to declare his opinion, that the first of them had operated most beneficially. The noble Lord should be the last person to complain of them if they were as beneficial to his constitution as they were favourable to the object with reference to which they were submitted. He was aware that the dose was a bitter one; but the noble Lord had managed to swallow it, and had in a manly spirit avowed his intentions with respect to the Reform Bill. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had also made known his views on the same subject, and they certainly warranted the presumption which he had expressed at an early part of the debate, and proved that if a coalition had not in person taken place, there had been one at any rate in point of principle. His motion had certainly elicited this fact, that the 82 leaders of the two aristocratic parties of the country, co-operated in principle on the subject of the Reform Bill. Now it would tend to place all parties in a more just position that those sentiments which they had heard should be divulged, for they demonstrated to the intelligent and right-minded people of this country that they should fight their own battle and advocate their own cause. They would see that they could place no reliance on that Assembly; and he would advise the people, instead of presenting petitions to that House, to submit them directly to the Queen. Whatever Gentlemen opposite might think of such a course, he hoped the people would lay their grievances immediately under the cognizance of the Crown, with such a disposition to prosecute their own business, as must ultimately secure their success. He could assure the noble Lord, as well as the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, that the Radical party, for whom he might, he believed, be allowed to answer—were not desirous of destroying the institutions of the country. Yes, he repeated, the party to which he was attached had no desire to destroy the monarchy or the Established Church. On the contrary, they had at all times shown every disposition to preserve them. [Cries of "Oh! oh!"] Gentlemen might shout at that observation; their doing so was of a piece with their proceedings at meetings out of doors. It had been stated, and stated falsely, that the Radicals were desirous to destroy the Church Establishment. This was known not to be true. It was known that the measure of Ministers with respect to the Church Establishment was a purely Conservative measure, and was calculated to strengthen instead of injuring it. It was not his object to go into any discussion of that subject, or to discuss the resolution. He should submit it to the House, and the House would deal with the resolution as it pleased. It was not necessary to discuss it, for the people could not justly expect that House to support a proposition for extending the suffrage, seeing that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the leader of the Tory party, were in the same boat on this subject, and would sink or swim together.
§ The other amendments moved by the hon. Gentleman were negatived without a division. On the main question, that the Address be agreed to,83
§ Mr. Harvey
rose and said, be was well aware how tempting a royal speech was to Members of that House in availing themselves of the occasion to speak upon almost every conceivable subject, and perhaps, if it had been his fortune to have arrested the Speaker's attention earlier in the evening, he might have been led to make some remarks beyond those which were warranted by the amendment he was about to propose. But he hoped still that it would be unnecessary to enter at any length into a statement in support of that amendment; because to a certain extent, the statement made by the noble Lord in answer to an inquiry from his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, had anticipated the introductory part of his amendment; and he would first read it to the House with a view to elicit from the noble Lord an answer to the passage with which it concluded; and if he found that answer, in one particular, as satisfactory, as in a great degree it was in another, he should not trespass upon the attention of the House, already so much exhausted, by a debate which could give little satisfaction; or upon its time, so much of which had been consumed, in a division which could give none. The amendment which he had to propose, was to the effect, "that whilst that House was desirous of making the most liberal provision for the support of the becoming splendor and the just dignity of the Crown, they felt that the same ought to be derived from obvious and direct sources, and that each and every branch of the hereditary revenues of the Crown ought to be placed, without reserve or exception, under the direct control of Parliament, as a sure means of protecting the Crown against exaggerated impressions as to their amount, and as a security against their misapplication—that in the arrangement of the Civil List, that House confidently relied upon her Majesty, for promoting a strict inquiry into the pensions connected with the recipients of state favours, that House feeling itself under the obligation of applying to such persons a test, similar to one recently adopted, and now in force amongst a less fortunate portion of her Majesty's subjects." The first portion of this amendment went obviously to carry into effect sincerely, and without reserve, the declarations of the Members of the present Government, when they were in opposition, with respect to the intentions of those whom they supplanted. The in- 84 tentions of the late Sovereign, on this point, have been expressed in nearly the same words as the present, intimating the royal intention to forego all claims to the hereditary revenues of the crown entirely and without reserve. It could not have escaped the observation of that portion of the House who were present on that occasion, with what eagerness an hon. and learned Member, now a noble Lord, had insisted upon the construction of those words as being meant to comprehend the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. It was impossible to have heard what fell from that hon. Gentleman, and from the right hon. Gentleman then at the head of the Government, and to doubt what was the interpretation that was put upon the speech of the Sovereign. It would be recollected, also, that Lord Althorp, being then in opposition, interpreted the words in the same manner; and it would be recollected that it was the fervour of their zeal to establish economy and an efficient control over the public expenditure which mainly contributed to the triumph that placed those gentlemen in the position which they now occupied. It was very true that at a subsequent period when those individuals had changed places, and had made their professions of economy their passport to office, they found that they had placed a wrong interpretation upon the words—not that the words admitted of any other interpretation, but that, on inquiry, they found that a different meaning was intended to be conveyed. It was important that there should not now be any misunderstanding in this respect, for let it be remembered that this was the first reign in the memory of any living politician, in which the Sovereign had not reached mature years. In former instances, if any mismanagement were committed, there was a prospect that it might, at no distant period, be corrected; but now, as was probable, and if the feelings of the people could give effect to probability, it would be so—they were about an arrangement which no living person among them would live to see remodelled. It was of importance, therefore, that there should be no misunderstanding, and if he understood what the noble Lord had said, it was to this effect—that it was the intention of the Government to bring the revenues of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster under the cognizance of that House, to be occasionally submitted to its 85 inspection and control. If this were so, it would, to a great extent, meet the preliminary part of this amendment; but at the same time he thought the full amount of those revenues ought to be understood before the House was invited to enter upon the consideration of the civil list, because those words must mean—if they meant any thing—that the revenues of those duchies should be brought in aid of the civil list, and in diminution of the grant. He should like it to be distinctly understood, that before Parliament was called upon to give its definitive sanction to the civil list, it should have a full knowledge of that of which the House was at present placed in utter ignorance because there was no species of property of which the Crown was in the receipt, with respect to which the public was so much in the dark as upon this. It was represented at various times in various ways; but he had never heard the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall placed at an amount not short of 40,000l. a-year; while the frequent fines attending upon dealings with property connected with them were of enormous extent. It was within his own knowledge, that within the last three years for one small portion of property connected with the Duchy of Cornwall, the Crown had demanded and received for the introduction of one life no less than 70,000l; and the party who was applied to to estimate the value of this leasehold property, said that if the other two lives were to fall it would be equal to 140,000l. more. It was obvious that if this source of revenue was to be brought before the House, with a view to its being brought in aid of the civil list, Parliament must thoroughly understand it, and be in possession of every particular that belonged to its nature, character, and extent. If he was to understand the noble Lord to mean what he said, then the introductory part of his amendment might be foregone. He also wished to know whether, in the committee for which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to move, and to which were to be referred the various documents connected with the burdens of the civil list, it was the intention that the pension list should be fully and fairly considered? If that were so he had nothing more to say, and had no desire to trouble the House further; but if he was not to flatter himself that such was the intention of the Government, then, it ap- 86 peared to him that this was an appropriate time for the House to declare its opinion on the subject. If it were inconvenient that the opinion of the House should be thus taken upon subjects of considerable importance, it should be borne in mind that the blame was not attachable to those who took this course. He never recollected to have heard any Speech from the Throne upon which the Members of the present Government, when in opposition, had not prefaced their remarks by expressions of regret, and caution against misunderstanding. They regretted the departure from the good old custom of having the Speech read at the Cockpit the day before it was delivered to the House, so that its purport might be known, and with a view that any necessary amendments might be prepared; and they desired to guard against the construction of anything they might say of the Speech as intending the slightest disrespect to the person of the Sovereign. The latter protestation was hardly necessary in the present instance, for there was no human being, however little conversant with such matters, who could suspect that her Majesty was the author of this speech. It was one of the most old-fashioned productions that could possibly be brought forth. The framers of it had nought to do but to look back to any royal speech for the last century, and they would find nearly the same words. To fancy that her Majesty, with her young and fervd imagination, had any thing to do with such a matronly composition as this, would be of all notions the most preposterous. Still it was desirable that that House should guard her Majesty against any ungracious construction which might possibly be put upon the proceedings of that House in inquiring into this subject. Of this Speech, as he had said before, in the ordinary sense, her Majesty could know nothing. She could know nothing of the Duchy of Cornwall, and the Duchy of Lancaster, nor of that scandalous pension list which had been exhibited to the country to its universal discontent and dissatisfaction. He would appeal to Gentlemen who had appeared on the hustings and were now present, and had not paid the penalty for their conduct by the loss of their seats, whether there was any question upon which the public mind so strongly expressed itself, as upon the necessity of revising the pension list. And 87 the necessity had become the more apparent and the more obvious, from the arrangements which had been made, with little regard either to the comforts or the wants of those who had been made the objects of inquiry under the operation of the New Poor-law Act. Many Gentlemen whom he was now addressing were guardians under the Poor-law Act, and he was sure they could call to mind many instances in which persons who, from their advanced age, had been for years the recipients of small sums of money as parochial aid, which allowance had been entirely withdrawn, or considerably reduced, unless they yielded to the hard necessity of an abode in a union workhouse, and many were obliged to take refuge there, or to forego the little pittance they had been accustomed to receive, rather than submit to this revolting degradation. He knew there were some who would be disposed to draw a distinction between an aged and miserable pauper without connexions and without friends, scarcely known beyond the hut in which he was perishing, or the parish in which he was born, and those whose names, although they ought to be considered in no other light than statepaupers of the worst kind, were found emblazoned in the pauper pension list, with the denominations of honourable and right honourable, and other distinctions connected with the peerage and the property of the country. But although some might be studious of upholding those who were connected with rank and property, and insulting the poorer classes, he maintained, that let the connexions and designations of title be what they might, yet having rendered no service to the country, and many of whom were known to have opulent and proud connexions, perfectly competent to support them in affluence, whatever apology might be thrown around them under the pretence of family alliances, such apology insulted the lowly fortunes of the poor. He called upon the House to support his amendment and to express to her Majesty their determination not to tolerate the pension list until it had undergone a searching revision, which under the Poor-law was so rigidly enforced. If it were said, that this was not an appropriate time for such a motion—that there were many Gentlemen who would wish to support it, and whom a sense of humanity and kindly feeling would prompt to do so, but who felt the 88 desirableness of unanimity in this, the first address to the Throne, at the commencement of a new reign—if he found that on either side of the House this sentiment was really and sincerely entertained, he should think he was not consulting those interests which he desired to protect and promote, by attaching this amendment to the address. All he wished was to have a proper thing done in a proper manner. At the same time, having on a former occasion taken a prominent part on the subject of his amendment, he felt that he could not consistently avoid taking the first opportunity of calling the attention of the House and the Government to it. He still hoped it was the intention of the Government to submit the pension list to a rigid revision. Let Ministers allow him to tell them that they had no popularity to throw away, and to warn them that the confession the House had heard to-night—the manly, yet mortal confession of the noble Lord, would operate as fatally to them, and in as short a period, as the declaration of a noble Duke on the subject of the representation. Where was the difference between the noble Duke saying, before the Reform Act, that the representation, as it then stood, could not be improved, and the noble Lord, with the evidences he had before him of the intimidation and corruption which had recently been practised, declaring, as the head of the Government in that House, that he was not prepared to alter the Reform Act, either as regarded the ballot, the extension of the suffrage, or the duration of Parliament? If the Government were not prepared to hazard the last remnant of popularity they possessed, they would enlist the good feeling of the people in their favour, by supporting the object of his amendment. In order, however, that any Gentleman, who considered the pension list a disgrace to the country, and who was prepared to assent to its revision at a proper period, but who, feeling that at the present moment unanimity was beyond all value, was not prepared to disturb it by giving his sanction to a motion which he considered untimely—in order, he said, that any hon. Gentleman who entertained these sentiments might have an opportunity of acting upon them, he should wait first to hear from the Government whether it was their intention that the pension list should undergo a revision, and next, he should listen to the suggestions of any Gentle- 89 men who, while they were disposed to cherish the general spirit of the amendment, were disinclined to support it at this moment, considering it untimely and inopportune.
§ Lord John Russell
said, that as the hon. Gentleman had not stated his wish to divide the House on the subject, he should refrain, as much as possible, from entering into any opposition to his arguments, and should rather confine himself to those points upon which the hon. Gentlemen had asked for explanation. With regard to the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, he did not think, he must say, that what he had stated, exactly met the words of the hon. Gentleman at the beginning of his speech. At the same time, he thought that, when his right hon. Friend should state the whole matter in detail, it would at once do away with the objections of the hon. Gentleman as regarded any mystery with respect to the amount of the revenues or the misappropriation to which he alluded. His right hon. Friend would state what was the usual and average receipt from these duchies, and would take care that provisions should be made by which accounts, with respect to them, should be regularly laid before Parliament. There was, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite justly remarked, a distinction between the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, the duchy of Lancaster being absolutely in the possession of the Crown, and the duchy of Cornwall being now in the possession of the Crown, but descending to the heir when there shall be an heir apparent. With respect to the other point to which the hon. Gentleman referred—a revision of the Pension-list—he could only say, that the Government meant to propose a reference generally of the papers respecting the Pension-list to the Committee. It had been the custom for some years to give to Parliament, not only the general amount, but the names on the list and the sums distributed amongst them. That was the practice up to the present time, and the list containing former pensions, as well as those granted by the late Sovereign, would be referred, with other papers, to a Select Committee. The Committee would have these papers before them in the same manner as the Committee of 1830. At the same time, he should not make a due return for the candid argument of the hon. Gentleman, if he did not tell him his impression with 90 respect to those pensions. The whole of them would go, as he had said, with other papers to the Committee, and he held that on an occasion like the present, when there was a compact between the Sovereign and Parliament, the Parliament had a right to take such measures with respect to the Pension-list as Parliament should see fit, but, at the same time, he thought the course which had been generally pursued—the course recommended by Mr. Burke, when in opposition, in his scheme of economical reform, and the course adopted by the Committee of 1831, and in the Report with respect to the Pension-list, was the correct one. There were serious arguments of state policy and general expediency, which made the Government think it far wiser to lay down prospective provisions against abuse, rather than adopt measures for saving the pensions of persons to whom they had been already granted, and with whom, according to former precedents, they were to remain for their lives. He stated this, in order that the hon. Gentleman might not suppose, that if either he or his right hon. Friend should be Members of the Committee, they would propose any measures with a view of cutting off these pensions. He stated their general view of the subject. At the same time, he thought it was perfectly the right of Parliament to state a different view of it from them, and to take the whole subject into consideration.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, he gathered from the statement of the noble Lord that, so far as his opinion went, it was not the intention of the Government of their own accord to institute any revision of the Pension-list, but that if the House thought fit to instruct them so to do, it was the right of the House; and the Government would listen, if not yield to such instruction. With this understanding, and much regretting the statement of the noble Lord, when the Committee should be appointed, as there was too much reason to fear it would be little likely to afford a guarantee for the expectation that any voluntary inquiry would be instituted into the Pension-list, he should feel it his duty to move a special instruction to the Committee to inquire seriatim into the pensions therein contained, and should take the sense of the House on the question. He should do so in the belief, that he should receive as much sincere support from the 91 Gentlemen at the other side of the House a from those on his own side.
§ Amendment negatived, and Address agreed to.