HC Deb 06 February 1839 vol 45 cc135-55

Mr. E. Buller and Mr. W. G. Wood brought up the Report on the Address.

On the question that it be agreed to,

Mr. O'Connell

said, that yesterday evening he had taken occasion to make a few observations upon the situation of Belgium, and the manner in which the subject had been, introduced into the Speech. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department had condescended to say something in answer to those observations, but he must state that the noble Lord's reply, was to him far from satisfactory. He understood the noble Lord to say that Luxemburg and Limburg originally belonged to Holland; but he presumed he must have mistaken the noble Lord in so construing what he said, for he believed that there was no one fact in history better known than that since the time of Charles 5th those territories had belonged to Belgium. The first occasion on which they were separated from her was when they were turned into departments of the French republic, but now that the French dominion over them had been abolished, they ought to revert to Belgium. It was said by the noble Lord that the king of the Belgians had assented to the transfer of these provinces to Holland. Now, this statement, though founded upon the king of the Belgians having signed the treaty by which these provinces were ceded, was not correct in substance. The noble Lord must have alluded to the twenty-four articles agreed to on the 15th of October, 1831, and changed into a formal treaty on the 15th of November following. By that treaty the five Powers came to a definite agreement, which it was quite true the king of the Belgians had assented to. But the question was—was it binding with respect to the transfer of Luxemburg and Limburg? The treaty of the 15th of November was expressly made to be ratified within two months, or in case it should not, to be void. The King of Holland refused to sign it, and it never was executed in consequence of his re- fusel. The treaty could have been carried into execution until the 1st of January, 1832; but so far from its being ever executed, the king of Holland, on the 14th December, 1831, solemnly protested against, and refused to sign it. On what ground, then, did the king of Holland now claim the benefit of a treaty to which he had refused his assent? But a good deal more remained to be told. In 1832, the five Powers having agreed that the execution of the treaty should, if necessary, be maintained by force, Belgium applied to them so to give it operation. France and England admitted they were bound to give it effect; but Austria, Prussia, and Russia, refused. And on that occasion, the 2d October, 1832, there was a dissolution of the conference. What had Belgium gained by the treaty? Her object was to avoid the war expenses. She was, nevertheless, obliged to keep up a war establishment ever since the king of Holland refused his assent to the treaty. The king of Holland now found it his interest to assent to it; but the time for his doing so had gone by: he had not signed it within the two months which were prescribed. On the contrary, he had protested against it. It seemed to him, therefore, to be one of the greatest cruelties ever committed, that the five Powers should now come forward and impose conditions on Belgium which were virtually abandoned. The noble Lord seemed to insinuate, that the people of Luxemburg and Limburg were averse to a separation from Holland. Why, surely the noble Lord must shut his eyes to the accounts given in the newspapers, which showed, that they were not only anxious to avoid a junction with Holland, but that they carried their hostility to this extent, that they declared they would arm and die rather than submit to such a transfer. Great Britain had liberated 800,000 negroes, and were they now about to give up 300,000 men as slaves to a sovereign whose rule they justly detested, on account of the manner in which they had been formerly governed? He repeated, that it was his anxious expectation that Belgium would not submit to such treatment. Instead of avoiding by such a course the horrors of war, they would plunge that country, and all Europe, into them. Injustice, however, was spreading along the Rhine, and he wished to advert also to the impropriety of sup- porting the king of Prussia in his present atrocious conduct. He supposed the Gentlemen opposite saw no hardship in sending an archbishop to gaol for two years without accusation or crime, or without the interposition of any tribunal, but by the mere voice of a despot. If hon. Gentlemen opposite thought that such a course was properly taken in the case of a Catholic archbishop, he hoped he should never live to see a like measure of injustice perpetrated against a Protestant archbishop. It was a weak, and, he thought, a wicked policy, to interfere in the present state of the Belgian question. When they looked at the present situation of France, could any man venture to prophesy, that the elements of anarchy might not be let loose in a few days, or a week? And were such an occurrence to take place, could anything be more tempting to the borderers on Belgium, than to have an opportunity of flying to arms, and supporting that people in their claims to Limburg and Luxembourg? On that part of the Address he should say nothing more. One of the exceedingly well-dressed Gentlemen who had instructed and ornamented the House last night in supporting the Address, declared that Ireland wanted nothing more than corporate reform? Now, however well versed that hon. Gentleman might be in calculations with regard to cotton, he was not so well acquainted with the state of Ireland if he imagined that corporate reform would prove a panacea for all her evils. In sober and melancholy sadness (continued the hon. and learned Gentleman), let me ask, what connexion there is between corporate reform and the agrarian disturbances of that country which have occasionally terminated in such horrible assassinations? Let me adduce as an example the murder of Lord Norbury, though whether it were occasioned by agrarian causes, or not, is not exactly known. Facts are stated one day which are contradicted the next. In one of the Dublin newspapers of the beginning of January, it was stated, that the mark on the spot where the assassin escaped was imprinted not by the shoe of the peasant, but by thin boots, with nicely finished heels; and in one of those papers of the 7th of January it was stated, that a special reporter had been sent down to take a sketch of the place, and that they were ready to show it to any person who pleased to call at their office. From that time up to the 24th or 25th of January this account—that the impress of the assassin was made, not by the shoe of the Irish peasant, but by the boot of a person belonging to a superior order—was circulated without contradiction. At length it was contradicted, not by a Dublin newspaper, but by a London one. The Evening Mail having quoted this contradiction, commented upon it by saying, that neither account was quite correct; for the fact was, that one of the impressions was that of a peasant's shoe, and the other that of a boot, which the editor charitably accounted for in this way, that it was probably the Jesuits lent the assassin the boot. I go into these particulars because this matter has become to me one of personal interest. I understand, that it has been somewhere else observed, that I suggested that it was the son of Lord Norbury who had perpetrated this horrible outrage; and my conduct in this respect has been censured in terms as unmeasured as they would be deserving, if they had any foundation. Now, the fact is, that such a thought never crossed my mind. In a speech of mine delivered in Dublin, after correcting some misrepresentations of the press, I went on to state, that though the Evening Mail (the paper on which I was commenting) was remarkable for atrocious lying, it was the most atrocious and ridiculous he of the five millions of lies which they had already circulated, to say, that it was I who suggested the idea that Lord Norbury fell by the hand of his son. That I said as soon as the calumny appeared. It seems, however, that there are others as capable as the authors of the five millions of lies of casting such an imputation; and I find, that by what may be considered the judicial decision of a grave personage, on the hearing of one side only, and without ever waiting to ascertain whether there were any answer to the charge, judgment is pronounced and execution perpetrated. It is not difficult to conclude that the person (if any such there be) capable of such conduct must be one of the worst judges that ever existed, and though he may combine the ludicrous character of a court-jester with the gravity of a judge, and be so unfit for his situation as to be deprived of it—not by an adverse party, but got rid of as an incumbrance by his own friends. They could not allow him any longer to remain in an office, for the performance of the duties of which he exhibited a total disqualification. They had replaced him by an excellent person, but nothing could diminish the contemptuous notion entertained of him by his own party. A judge of that description must have been the ridicule of the bar and the terror of clients: one who mistook rapidity for the due administration of justice, and who made decrees which served not as examples to be imitated, but as landmarks to be avoided by all future Chancellors.

The Speaker

, interrupting the hon. and learned Gentleman, said: I must throw myself on the indulgence of the House whilst I put it to the hon. and learned Member whether it is right that he should take the course which he is now pursuing. The hon. and learned Gentleman has the fullest right to go into every statement which can bear upon any part of the Address; but I am sure I need not state the great inconvenience which must arise from having a war carried on between the two Houses—in disguise, it was true, but still very intelligibly. I think it is very reasonable and desirable that the hon. and learned Gentleman should give a correct statement of the facts to which he has referred; but I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman, and the whole House, will feel that we at least should set a good example in our proceedings.

Mr. O'Connell

I am quite willing to agree, Sir, to any decision which you may pronounce. I only regret that you had not the power of preventing the attack. I have known attacks made in that House on much higher persons than the humble individual who now addresses you, without any possibility of reply. As to the attack which has been made on myself, I shall not further refer to it. I despise its malignity. I have demonstrated its falsehood, and, having done both, I may ask myself what right I have to complain when even maiden modesty cannot protect her who holds the highest station in the empire from the obscene slanders of one who has dared to pollute her name by coupling it with an insinuation too base to mention. The sycophant of one monarch and the slanderer of another, is, I admit, so foul and polluted a source, that a charge coming from it is best treated when it is despised. He may call himself the "friend of the people"—he would be the enemy of the Throne. I don't envy him the notoriety which he has acquired in either character.

Viscount Palmerston

rose for the purpose of noticing that part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech in which he referred to the Belgian question. The hon. and learned Gentleman had mistaken the grounds on which his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) had rested his statements. His noble Friend did not allude to ancient history in describing the situation of Luxemburg and Limburg, but to arrangements which were comparatively recent. By the treaty of Vienna Belgium was added to the seven united provinces. Luxemburg was constituted a separate sovereignty, as a grand duchy to be held by the same individual who was King of the Netherlands, but by a separate title, and transmissible by a separate line of succession. The kingdom of the Netherlands went to all the heirs of the king. Luxemburg descended only to his heirs male, and in case of their failure to the house of Nassau: The King of the Netherlands, as King of the Netherlands, was not a member of the German confederation, but as King of Luxemburg he was a member, and when the Grand Duchy was formed it became subject to the federal constitution, which created regulations for the members of that confederacy. When the revolution broke out it extended to Luxemburg as well as to Belgium. The King of the Netherlands, finding his own means insufficient, applied to the five Powers to restore order, and these Powers not choosing to employ force, established, at his request, an armistice between the parties, and proceeded by negociation to make arrangements. It was ultimately found that the only practicable arrangement which could be arrived at was a separation between the provinces of Belgium and Holland. But these Powers did not think themselves competent—nor were they so according to the treaties which governed the relations of European states—to deal with the question as to the province of Luxemburg. And the hon. and learned Gentleman would find, if he looked to one of the earliest of the protocals which had been referred to, that the five Powers declared they had no competency to deal with this part of the question, but that the German Confederation had full liberty, if they thought fit, to employ force in order to establish in the Grand Duchy the rights of the Grand Duke. The conference then proceeded to deal simply with the kingdom of the Netherlands, and the principle which they laid down for the separation of the kingdom into two parts was this: that Holland should continue to retain everything to which she was entitled under the treaty relating to the seven united provinces in 1792; and that all the rest of the country which constituted the kingdom of the Netherlands should be annexed to that of Belgium. But that division did not include Luxemburg and Limburg, which continued under the Grand Duke. It was one of the fundamental rules of the confederation, that no territory could be alienated to another state without the consent of the Diet. The five Powers, therefore, had no authority to deal with the question as regarded Luxemburg and Limburg—that belonged to the Diet alone. But in the progress of the negotiation the Belgian government expressed a strong desire that a portion of Luxemburg and Limburg should be added to Belgium, and make a part of that kingdom. The Conference said that they had no objection to such an arrangement, if they obtained the assent of all the parties whose consent was legally required. The Austrian and Prussian ministers in the Conference were requested, therefore, to address the Diet, in order to obtain their authority for negotiating this transfer. The Diet gave the permission which was sought, but subject to this condition, that if part of the duchy of Luxemburg were added to Belgium, there should be given by the King of Belgium in return some equivalent portion of territory. The Diet then agreed to the cession on the condition that there should be a territorial equivalent, but not without it. The Belgian government consented to these terms, and the Conference negotiated an arrangement, by which it was agreed that for the incorporation of Luxemburg, in the kingdom of Belgium, an equivalent should be given by Belgium to that duchy. This arrangement formed part of the twenty-four articles, which the hon. and learned Gentleman had not kept sufficiently distinct from the treaty which was formed afterwards on those articles. It was perfectly true, as stated by him, that the twenty-four articles were accepted by Belgium, and not by Holland; and if, therefore, no other transaction had taken place except the communication between these parties of the twenty-four articles, the hon. Gentleman might have contended that articles accepted on one side, and refused on the other, did not constitute an agreement of sufficient validity to be acted on in future times. But that was not the course which was taken. The Belgian government accepted these articles in October, and in the following November they were converted into a regular and formal treaty, concluded between the King of the Belgians and the five Powers. From that moment the treaty was binding on Belgium on one side, and on the five Powers on the other; and it became a matter of indifference between the contracting parties, whether Holland had or had not accepted the twenty-four articles. The five Powers were entitled to keep Belgium to the terms of the treaty, and Belgium was in turn empowered to claim their observance of it. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, it was very true that the treaty was concluded, but the five Powers did not concur in executing it. He admitted that three Powers declined to be parties to its operation; but they did not do so because they did not assent to the binding nature of the treaty. Their objection was to the mode of operation which was proposed to be given to it, and they said they wished to adopt other modes of coercion before they had recourse to that which the French government deemed necessary under the circumstances. But the Belgian government had at various periods, and at none more strongly than at that to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded, invoked that treaty as the charter of its rights, and the covenant on which it rests its claim to independence. Therefore, it was preposterous and most unjust for the Belgian government, after appealing to that treaty for eight years as the charter for their existence and the record of their rights, now to turn round on Europe and to declare, because they found it convenient and it suited their inclination, that the fundamental articles of that treaty should not be observed, and they were at liberty to treat it as not of a binding nature. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said, that lapse of time should have invalidated that treaty, and that the Belgian government had not enjoyed its advantages, because they were obliged to keep up a large establishment. He admitted the latter part of the statement, the Conference admitted it, and by the treaty which was now proposed and accepted by the King of the Netherlands, in consideration of the war expenses, a sum due as debt by Belgium, amounting to 68,000,000 of florins, or 5,000,000l. was wiped off. The question, then, was this—the Belgian territory having been defined by a treaty to which she owed her existence as an independent power, and every part not included within the limits of that treaty, really not belonging to her, and being admitted not to belong to her by her own solemn and recorded signature, would not any attempt to appropriate to her those territories to which she had no claim be as aggressive an invasion of the rights of other powers, as if we were to march an army into a country for the purpose of making a violent attack upon it? It was quite true, that Belgium continued to occupy this territory since the conclusion of the treaty, but she did so by sufferance only. And so far from its being an injustice in the five Powers to refuse to add Luxembourg to the kingdom of Belgium, it would be an act of the grossest injustice if they agreed to make so violent a seizure of territory, which they had no right to transfer in such a manner. So far, therefore, from the Conference handing over 300,000 men to a sovereign that they did not wish to live under, or making any change in their condition, all the Conference did was to leave them where they found them after the treaty of Vienna, and not to exercise a distribution of territory, which, on the principle assumed by the hon. and learned Gentleman would, he admitted, be unjust. But the case being as he stated, the censure of the hon. and learned Gentleman applied not to what the Conference had done, but to what they refused to do, and what the Belgian chambers at least wished that they should do. With regard to the disposition of the inhabitants of those provinces, that was a matter on which neither the hon. and learned Gentleman, nor the hon. Member for Kilkenny, nor he could speak with authority. But his belief was from the information which he had received, that the mass of the inhabitants of those provinces did not feel very strongly on the subject, but whether they did or not, all the English Government said was—"we found them by the treaty of Vienna subject to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and we are not prepared, by an act of violence, to wrest territories from those States to which, by the treaty of Vienna, they properly belonged." As to the internal government of Prussia, that was a subject on which none, in that House, were entitled to pronounce an opinion. He should not follow the hon. and learned Gentleman into a discussion on that point; but he might at least venture to say, that the conduct of the Prussian government towards its subjects had been marked by liberality—he spoke of its general conduct—and a strong case should be made out of particular hardship before he could convict the Prussian government of a departure from those general principles which had heretofore guided its administration.

Mr. Shaw

thought it of very great importance that the House should be set right with respect to the particulars of the print of the shoe of the assassin on the spot where Lord Norbury was murdered. The facts, he believed, were ascertained to be these: Immediately after the murder, no trace of any boot was discovered, but some time subsequent to it a young boy, who was now at Eaton, a son of Lord Nor. bury, had held a paper whilst a drawing was made of the spot, and of course left the mark of his boot there. But something more remained to be explained; for he must say that it struck him, as it did many others, that the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, though he abstained from mentioning names, still insinuated, and endeavoured to have it spread through the country, that the murder was committed by some member of the family. Now the fact was that, the print of the boot was that of a younger brother. He must state however, that the insinuation which had been sent industriously through the country impressed his mind with the conviction that though the murder was atrocious, wanton, and unprovoked by any motive, which usually influenced the commission of crime, it was exceeded by casting on a family, plunged in the depth of affliction by the bloody outrage, the cruel, inhuman, and unmanly insinuation that the father of the family fell by the hands of one of his children. He owned that this conduct struck him as practised for the purpose of drawing away public attention from the real cause of demoralization, and from the real criminal by whose act the country had been so foully disgraced. He was confirmed in this view by recollecting that very shortly before a Protestant clergyman was shot at, and that when the assassins were pursued, they rushed to a crowd which was collected before the doors, of a chapel, and when these people saw that the murderers had their coats off, they took off theirs, and by that means their escape was effected. He thought it a very natural mistake for the Seconder of the Address to say that corporate reform was the only measure that now remained to be carried in order to pacify Ireland, for a reference to the state of the corporations was the only allusion made in her Majesty's Speech to the affairs of Ireland. He certainly could not but feel that in the present state of the social condition of that unhappy country, where there was no security for person or property, where the law could not be enforced, or liberty or life enjoyed; where within one year there had been 142 attempts at murder, and in a single county in the interval from one assize to the other, twenty-two attempts at murder; where the public mind was filled with the recent attack on Lord Norbury—it did appear to him to be a mockery of the wants and sufferings of Ireland, that her Majesty's Ministers should say that the reform of the Irish corporations, by which a change was to be effected in the municipal Government of eleven cities and towns, containing 200,000 inhabitants, the great majority of whom cared very little for such a change, was the only thing worth mentioning as essential to the interest, welfare, peace, and happiness of that country. [Cheers from Lord John Russell.] The noble Lord (J. Russell) seemed to dissent, but he could not gather any other allusion from the speech. Was the noble Lord prepared now to say that he was about to introduce any measure bearing upon the social condition of that country? If the subject were not taken up by abler hands in this or the other House, he should feel it his duty to make some motion on the subject, and he was extremely anxious to know what course her Majesty's Ministers meant to pursue with respect to the alarming condition of that country.

Mr. O'Connell

hoped he might be permitted just to say that the hon. and learned Recorder had given a very satisfactory explanation of the mark of the boot. But this explanation he heard now for the first time. It had never been published in any paper in Ireland. It was astonishing that somebody did not before give the information which the hon. Recorder now disclosed. The hon. and learned Recorder had also referred to the murder of a clergyman which he heard of now for the first time also. What was the clergyman's name? [Mr Shaw: Mr. Marcus Beresford.] Some months had elapsed since that occurrence had taken place, and there was a controversy as to the facts which were alleged by the hon. and learned Gentleman. As to the number of murders committed in Ireland, they were in the proportion of only one to seven when compared with those perpetrated in England during the last three months.

Mr. Plumptre

expressed his deep regret that her Majesty's Ministers had taken no further notice of the state of Ireland than to intimate the necessity of corporate reform. Concession was much talked of, but for his part he was satisfied that concession had been but the fruitful parent of further demands, and not of satisfaction or of peace, and he much feared that they would yet reap a bitter harvest from the concessions which had been made. That was the view at least, which he entertained of the recent policy adopted with regard to Ireland. For his part he would say, free her from the dominion of priestcraft, and from the selfish demagogues who for their own ends, disturbed by perpetual agitation the tranquillity of the country, and allow the people to have the free and unfettered use of the scriptures. To deprive them of free access to the scriptures was, in his opinion, the cruelest of despotisms, and he was persuaded, that if the people of Ireland were allowed the free use of the scriptures, peace would soon be restored, and the people would soon learn that their pretended friends kept a knowledge of the scriptures from them in order to maintain them in ignorance, that they might thereby accomplish their own selfish purposes. To extend a free knowledge of the scriptures to the people of Ireland was the best measure that could be adopted to restore tranquillity to that country, and to promote the best interests of the people; and the extension of that knowledge to the Irish people was the best hope he had for that country; nor did he despair that in time the Irish people would discover who their real friends were; and he was confident, that in the progress of improvement they would rise up in a body and demand the free use of the scriptures as their dearest right. Much had been said of the confidence to be reposed in Parliament, but for his own part he could feel little satisfaction in expressions of confidence in the wisdom of their deliberations, and in the measures which they adopted. The last paragraph of the Speech from the throne was that which he liked best. In that paragraph her Majesty said, "I confidently commit all these great interests to your wisdom, and I implore Almighty God to assist and prosper your counsels;" and he was not ashamed to say that the only safe refuge of nations, as of individuals, was in Almighty God. In that refuge was his best hope for the safety of the country, and he did trust and believe that throughout the country there was a growing sense of religion, and that sober sense and sound feeling would again actuate the people and prevent them from going far astray, as regarded the best interests of the nation. With regard to the Amendment of last night, he confessed that he did not know whether or not the evils to which he had alluded were attributable to the Reform Bill or whether they could be remedied by an extension of that measure; but if they could, he for one would not be a finality man. Much had last night been said of delegates sent to up to other parliaments than the Imperial Parliament, but while he considered that the people had an undoubted right to meet and to petition that and the other branch of the Legislature, he thought the system of delegates which had been alluded to a novel feature in the history of this nation, and that such a system ought to be discountenanced by the Government. There was another topic which had been introduced into the debate of last night, although it had not been mentioned in the Speech from the Throne—he alluded to the question of the Corn-laws; and so far as the great agricultural county which he had the honour to represent was concerned, he could say that there was but one feeling on the subject, and that feeling was that the existing Corn-laws should not be altered, or a fixed duty substituted for that which was now in operation. He knew that the landlords were reproached as being selfish on this great question, and only studious of their own interest, but he begged totally to deny the charge, and he would say, after mature consideration, it was his conscientious belief that the existing Corn-laws were not only advantageous to the agriculturists, but that they were calculated in an equal degree to promote the welfare of the community at large.

Mr. Langdale

remarked, that in the estimation of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and of some others whose opinions coincided with his, the distribution of the scriptures in Ireland was to be a panacea for all the evils which afflicted that country. That was a doctrine which he (Mr. Langdale) would never hear advanced without rising to enter his protest against it. In no county hi the kingdom had the scriptures, it was to be presumed, been so widely diffused, as in the county (Kent) which the hon. Gentleman represented, and yet there was no county in the kingdom so deeply disgraced, as recent unhappy events proved, by ignorance of scriptural truths.

Mr. Hume

, amidst general cries of "Spoke," expressed a wish to ask one question with respect to Belgium. He wished to know whether he understood the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) correctly, that Belgium had invoked the five great Powers to carry into effect the treaty of November, 1831? Again, the noble Lord had remarked, that the affairs of Holland and Belgium were to be settled by the laws of Europe, as those laws were defined and laid down in the treaty of Vienna. If that were so, he wished to know whether the laws of Europe were to be applied to Poland, and whether the constitution of that country was to be restored?

Viscount Palmerston

, replied, that when he said, that the Belgian government had invoked the five great Powers to carry out the provisions of the treaty, he referred to a period antecedent to the capture of Antwerp. When the hon. Gentleman asked when the conference separated and when it was reunited, he (Lord Palmerston) could only remark, that it was never dissolved. It ceased to sit after the expedition to Antwerp, which took place in November, 1832; but it resumed its sitting in the following June or July after Antwerp had been taken, and after the Dutch government had pledged itself to negociate a renewal of the treaty of peace. If the Dutch government should now accept the terms proposed, and Belgium should refuse to do so, then the five Powers would give to Holland the support to which she would have acquired a right.

Sir R. Peel

had two questions to ask the Government. The first had reference to the proceedings of the Governor-General of India, to which allusion had been made in the Speech from the Throne. In that Speech there was a reference to certain "engagements" into which, it was stated, the Governor-General had entered for the protection of British interests in that quarter of the world, and it was added, that the fulfilment of those engagements "might render military operations necessary." He wished, therefore, to know, whether any papers were to be laid upon the table of the House containing an explanation of those engagements, whether their nature and objects would be fully developed, and whether they would enable the House to form a correct judgement of the actual condition of the whole north-west coast of India?

Sir J. Hobhouse

said, it was the intention of the Government to lay those engagements themselves upon the table of the House, and he should be ready to give any explanation of their object, or to produce any other papers which might be considered essential for enabling the House to arrive at a correct judgment as to the actual position of our Indian possessions.

Sir R. Peel

said, his other question related to Canada, and the subject to which it had reference was also alluded to in the Speech from the Throne. In that Speech her Majesty had invited them to take into their serious consideration the present state of the Canadian provinces, and he begged, therefore, to ask the noble Lord, what course her Majesty's Ministers intended to pursue on this important question? He understood, that certain papers and documents were to be laid upon the table of the House, having reference to the state of Canada, and when those papers were before the House, he wished to know whether the paragraph in her Majesty's Speech meant to convey an intimation that the Government would on their own responsibility, as the confidential advisers of the Crown, submit to Parliament any measure or measures relating to the constitution of Lower Canada, and to our other North American possessions?

Lord J. Russell

said, that the papers to be laid before Parliament having reference to Canada were of two kinds. The one class of papers embraced the despatches relative to Canadian affairs, which had been received since the termination of the last Session of Parliament, and those he hoped to be able to lay on the table tomorrow or on Friday. There was, however, another paper, a most important one, which the Government had only received within the last few days. He alluded to the report which Lord Durham had made to the Government in his capacity of Lord High Commissioner; not the communications which the noble Lord had made as Governor, but the report which he had made as the head of the Commission which had been issued. That report was a most comprehensive one, embracing the whole question in regard to the constitution of the Canadas, and the whole of those important topics which had reference to the moral, social, and political condition of the colony. That report was, from its very nature, of considerable length, and as the Government had not yet had time to give it that attention to which its importance entitled it, it was impossible for him to say at that moment what course her Majesty's Ministers would adopt in regard to it—whether they would or would not introduce any measure to Parliament founded upon it. If, on mature consideration, the report was considered a proper foundation for measures regarding Canada, then it would at once be laid upon the Table of the House, and those measures would be submitted to Parliament by the Government. But in the course of a few days he should be able to state more fully the intentions of Ministers, and he trusted the right hon. Baronet would not think that it was incumbent on him (Lord J. Russell) to express a more decisive opinion on the subject of the report at that moment, or that the delay of a few days was not required for the consideration of so important a document.

Sir R. Peel

had no wish to press the noble Lord too closely, or to precipitate the introduction of those measures which her Majesty's Ministers might have in contemplation. But as they were called upon by the Address to assure her Majesty that they would take the present state of the Canadian provinces into their most serious consideration, without delay, and as her Majesty in the Speech from the Throne had said, in reference to Canada, "I rely upon you to support my firm determination to maintain the authority of my Crown, and I trust that your wisdom will adopt such measures as will secure to those parts of my empire the benefit of internal tranquility, and the full advantages of their own great natural resources," and as they were called upon to assure her Majesty of their support, he did infer from the paragraph of the Royal Speech which he had quoted, as well as from the address in reply, that Ministers did intend in the present Session of Parliament to introduce some measure relative to Canada. He had no wish to press the noble Lord to state the day on which the measures of the Government would be brought forward, but he thought it was but fair and reasonable that they should understand whether any measure having reference to Canada would be introduced by the Government during the present Session.

Lord Russell

had no hesitation in saying, that it was the intention of her Majesty's Government to submit to Parliament in the course of the present Session a measure for the settlement of the affairs of Canada.

Mr. Leader

hoped, it was not the intention of the Government to refuse the production of the report made by the Earl of Durham.

Lord J. Russell

had never said that it would be withheld.

Colonel Sibthorp

took the opportunity of giving notice, that on Tuesday, the 19th instant, he would move for a return of all the expenses attending the unfortunate commission of which Lord Durham was the head. Last year, a return was made in which it was stated that the expense of fitting out the Hastings, the ship in which Lord Durham was to sail, would not exceed 525l. He believed, that in point of fact, the mere French polishing of the ship had considerably exceeded that sum. He further believed, that large sums had been expended for fur cloaks and champagne. If that were so, every cloak and every cork ought to be accounted for.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

remarked, that the House and the public were already aware, that the circumstances under which Lord Durham entered upon his mission, were the ordinary circumstances under which any other nobleman or gentleman would enter upon a similar undertaking. Lord Durham received no salary whatever during his stay in Canada; but his expenses were paid in precisely the same manner as the expenses of individuals employed in foreign missions were always paid, and precisely the same information would be given to the House with respect to them. He did not think, that either the public or the House of Commons would be disposed to judge of the services of Lord Durham by a reference to the number of fur cloaks worn by himself or his suite, or to the number of corks drawn at his table. The subject was, undoubtedly, worthy the attention of the House; but it would be approached and discussed upon principles totally different from those laid down by the hon. and gallant Member.

Colonel Perceval

complained, that the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had not screened the rev. Mr. Beresford from the doubt which had been raised as to whether he had actually been fired at or not. The noble Lord was perfectly aware of the fact, that Mr. Beresford had been shot at, and that large rewards had been offered by the law-officers of the Crown for the apprehension of the offenders. He (Colonel Perceval) must also express his surprise, that Ministers, in framing the Queen's Speech, should wholly have neglected to advert to the state in which her Majesty's loyal subjects in Ireland were placed by continual incitements to insurrection and murder, coming from those to whom, he was sorry to say, Government mainly looked for support.

Lord John Russell

, adverting to the complaint made by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), that no allusion was made in her Majesty's Speech to the social condition of Ireland, observed that it was not usual in Speeches from the Throne to enter into any remarks upon the condition of the country unless it were the intention of Government to call for some specific measure in reference to that condition. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman meant to ask whether it were intended to introduce any measure, the specific object of which should be to amend the social condition of the people of Ireland, he must say that he had no measure of that kind to propose. He had always considered that the general principles which had been thought useful and conducive to the prosperity of other countries, would be conducive to the prosperity of Ireland. He believed that the general extension of freedom and of political equality, the diffusion of education, the endeavour to relieve destitution and to afford employment to the people—all these which were the usual and ordinary resources applied by governments to improve the condition of other countries, he believed were likewise measures that would he conducive to the welfare of Ireland. If, however, the right hon. and learned Gentleman should think proper to bring forward my specific measure relating to the social condition of the country, he should be ready to enter into the debate upon the subject, and be prepared to show the means by which the social condition of Ireland had been made to exhibit some features which it was painful to behold. Or, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman was not prepared to bring forward any specific measure, by which the results he desired might be brought about, he must say, that he thought there was nothing which the right hon. Gentleman could do, or that others belonging to both parties in Ireland could do, that would be better for the social condition of the country than the endeavouring somewhat to temper the rancorous hostility of either party, and to restrain the violent and intemperate language held by both. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who last sat down had not only repeated what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw) had said, and which he thought was said by him very unjustly, that the law-officers in Ireland had neglected to enforce the law; but the hon. and gallant Gentleman had said that there were in Ireland excitements and incitements to murder and violence by persons who were the supporters of her Majesty's Government. He knew of no incitement or excitement to murder by any such persons. He utterly denied the imputation, and must say, on the part of the Government, that if they saw any such incitement or excitement, instead of looking on tranquilly or with indifference they would feel it their bounden duty, not only to suppress it, but to pursue by all the means of justice the persons guilty of any such conduct.

Captain Boldero

said, that in her Majesty's Address to the House of Commons, there was the following paragraph:—I fully rely on your loyalty and patriotism to maintain the efficiency of these establisments which are essential to the strength and security of the country." He pre- sumed that alluded to the army and navy. The security of the country was assailed on many sides. There was war in Canada, he believed there was war in India, and there was a display of warlike intentions on the coast of Spain, besides the supposed intentions of Russia. He hoped that when the estimates of the army and navy were laid on the table, they would be placed on such a footing that England would be prepared for danger, from whatever quarter it might come. He maintained that our armaments at this moment were not adequate to the danger that threatened us.

Viscount Morpeth

said, that as the gallant Member opposite (Colonel Perceval) had complained that he had not given any contradiction to the statement of the hon. and gallant Member for Dublin respecting the Rev. Mr. Beresford, he owed it to the rev. gentleman to state that he knew of no circumstance, and was in possession of no evidence, that should raise any doubt as to the reality of the facts stated be the rev. gentleman in any point.

Mr. Hume

could not refrain from calling the attention of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to the melancholly business that was now going on in Canada, and which was not calculated to do any good to this country, in the public mind either of America or Canada. He saw by the Gazette which he held in his hand that on the 4th of January last, four more executions took place in Canada. He wished to submit to the noble Lord whether these executions, in cold blood, should be allowed to go on, now that it was thought that everything there was in a state of quiet, and had been so for some months past.

Lord John Russell

replied that when the papers to which he had already alluded should be laid before the House, they would afford hon. Members that information which was necessary, in order to enable them to consider the subject. If the hon. Member alluded to the executions which had taken place in Lower Canada. [Mr. Hume: Upper Canada.] The papers will relate to them, and he did hot believe that the Governors of either Upper or Lower Canada had carried the law into execution further than was absolutely necessary.

Report agreed to, and the Address ordered to be presented to her Majesty in the usual form.