Sir. J. Y. Buller
said, that when he considered the importance of the motion which he was about to introduce to the House, he was afraid, that he, who seldom took part in their debates, might be found guilty of some presumption in rising to claim their attention. He wished that it had devolved upon some more competent person to bring forward this motion, but he hoped that he might be treated with kindness and indulgence by the House, while he laid before them some two or three reasons which had led him to bring forward this motion in the discharge of his duty to his constituents. In submitting these reasons to their notice, he would trespass for as short a period as possible upon the attention of the House. That there was much disturbance and dissatisfaction throughout England was but too notorious. In ordinary times it might be, that that distress and that dissatisfaction might arise from causes over which the Government had no control, and could therefore not be considered responsible; but no one now could help attributing this disturbance to the system which had been pursued by her Majesty's Ministers during the last two years—that system of agitation which they had nurtured and fostered for the sake of carrying their measures, pressing them upon the country, and exciting masses of the people for their own purposes. He was afraid, that that dis- 651 turbance had now proceeded so far, that it was almost impossible for them now to put it down, or even to control it, though they were to put in force all the powers of the Executive. Was a system of this description calculated to obtain the confidence either of that House or of the people at large? Could a system by which the life and property of the subject were both endangered, secure their confidence? Surely it was to be expected that a Government should be found on the side of peace and good order—supporting the law, not exciting the people—appointing discreet, cool-judging men for the local magistrates, who would keep unruly wills in order, instead of those who had been in the habit lately of exciting a restless spirit amongst them; and securing for the people at Large, the great advantages of quiet, security, and domestic peace. Had her Majesty's Ministers followed this wise and judicious course, and avoided the appointment of agitators to situations of great trust, no such riot would have been witnessed as that which had taken place in the Bullring at Birmingham; neither would they have had armed masses of the people marching through Newport, carrying dismay to the peaceful inhabitants, and marshalled and led on by a magistrate of the Ministers' own appointment. With the same view of carrying through political measures, the same system of agitation had been introduced and carried on in Ireland some years before and he could not help reprobating the conduct which had been pursued by Ministers in encouraging and supporting the successful agitator of that country as they had done. They had placed in situations of emolument his family and connexions; and, instead of abating their attentions to the hon. Member for Dublin, in consequence of the violence of his language, they made him a guest at the Lord-lieutenant's table. And this was after one of his most, inflammatory harangues. Let him ask, what was the great object of those harangues at present? He would not say, that he was agitating the repeal question at the present moment, but he stated, that he was ready to raise that cry again upon the first fitting occasion. And yet this was the very subject for which six years ago his conduct had been denounced in a Speech from the Throne, in which all well-disposed and loyal subjects were called on to aid in stopping the progress of an excitement Which was dangerous to the integrity and 652 safety of the empire. He could hardly expect to find a man whose conduct had been so arraigned, afterwards becoming the honoured supporter of that same Government under any circumstances. But it was still more extraordinary to find him occupying that position, while he was again avowing his readiness to renew that very repeal agitation for which he was denounced before, and giving acceptable assistance to a Cabinet containing Gentlemen who had assisted in framing the very speech which had so denounced him. Such a connexion upon the part of the Government, with the instruments of agitation was scarcely to be credited; and it was but natural, that it should have resulted, as it had done, in alienating from them the confidence of the country. In the next place, he thought, that their apparent coalition with those who had pursued an uniform line of hostility to the Established Church of this realm, was calculated to withdraw from them the confidence, not only of all Churchmen, but likewise of those who, though they did not belong to it, felt that a religious establishment was a blessing to a country, and were therefore desirous to see it maintained. But her Majesty's Ministers had, it would appear, done their best to aid the opponents of the Church in their systematic attacks upon her, and in their un wearing efforts to obtain the realization of a plan which would completely separate the Church from the State, and establish in her stead the voluntary system. They had brought forward a measure in which they plainly entered into the views of the party to which he had referred, and of which it was the object to deprive the Church of the funds which were necessary for the maintenance of its fabric. They had proposed at first to provide an equivalent out of the consolidated fund; but as that would have tended to keep up the principle of the State maintaining the Church, they had abandoned that portion of their plan, as unsatisfactory to those of their supporters who were for the entire separation of the Church from the State. Another of their plans was to seize the bishops' lands, and, by what they vaunted as an improved system of management to create a visionary surplus, which was to be applied to the maintenance of the fabric of the Church; and they had followed this up with another blow at the establishment in their education project. They proposed to withdraw the grants which were distri- 653 buted through two societies, by both of which religious instruction was communicated, in proportion to the exertions of the parties, to the children of their respective denominations, by Churchmen and Dissenters. They proposed to stop short a system which was undeniably working well, and through the means of which the clergy were doing great good throughout the country. They introduced this system, and it bad been carried through that House by a very small majority—by exactly two. It was a system of education of which religion was not the basis—which excluded the clergy from the superintendence of the schools, or permitted them merely to communicate a little religious instruction during the hours of relaxation from their other studies. This was a regulation which rendered it nearly, if not altogether, impossible for Churchmen to partake of any of the advantages of that grant. Their plea was to give the people moral instruction, and to lessen the amount of crime throughout the country; but Churchmen could not help regarding it as one of those modes of attack, the object of which was to lower the influence of the Church, and detach the people from her pale, by bringing them up in ignorance of her doctrines. When her Majesty's Ministers first took office, they declared their intention of carrying on the Government without the aid of patronage. From that time pensions and sinecures were to cease. They had often threatened an inquiry into the pension list, and had done their best to bring former Governments into disrepute upon this subject, denouncing their conduct with regard to pensions and sinecures as extravagant and corrupt. They passed a resolution to the effect that 1,200l. per annum was the whole amount which her Majesty could distribute amongst her subjects to encourage literary attainments, improvements in art, and discoveries in science. Professing that they considered patronage of no importance, they have encroached more on the patronage of the various departments than any Government which ever preceded them. They lately granted l,000l. a-year as a pension to a gentleman who had just retired from a sinecure office, in order that they might confer the sinecure office on their retiring Chancellor of the Exchequer. Another ground of complaint which he had against her Majesty's Ministers was the uncertainty attending all their plans. In the last Session of Parliament the noble Lord at the head of her Majesty's Govern- 654 ment in that House argued and voted against the proposition of the hon. Member for London, when he brought forward a plan for introducing the vote by ballot They had heard the noble Lord in his reply to the hon. Member for Edinburgh expressing his regret that that hon. Member should hold such opinions, and that he had not taken more time to consider them before he maintained them in that House. What was the case now? The noble Lord had admitted into his Cabinet the hon. Member for Edinburgh. He had made this distinguished advocate of the ballot Secretary of War, no doubt with a view to raise a hope that the ballot would be carried. Pursuing the same line of uncertain conduct, Government never let the agricultural interest know what their intentions were as to the protection of the corn trade. It was true that the head of the Government in the other House of Parliament had said that,—When he considered the situation in which we stood—when he considered the various and complicated interests which we had to protect—when he considered the peculiar nature of our financial position, and found his noble Friend proposing to leave the whole agricultural interest without protection, he must declare before God that he thought it the wildest and maddest scheme that had ever entered into the mind of man to conceive.But when he found that the Members of the Cabinet, on the motion annually made on that subject, were voting some on one side and some on the other and that the noble Lord at the head of it "was not prepared to pledge himself to say whether the existing corn laws were the best that could be adopted, or whether they ought to be annihilated," he was made to feel that, notwithstanding all that that noble Lord stated, there was no protection for agriculture to be expected from the present Ministry. If, then, the Administration wanted to gain the confidence either of the ballot men, the landed interest, or of the nation at large, they must take a more decided course—they must say whether they would or would not support the ballot—whether they would or would not give protection to agriculture. "There is now growing up," continued the hon. Baronet, "in this country, a society, under the title of National Religionists or Socialists, who are promulgating, by means of lectures, the most baneful disgusting theory through the country. By their own account they are daily gaining ground, they have branches in all the great towns, 655 and are sending missionaries to every quarter to disseminate their pernicious doctrines. At their meetings private property is held up as the origin of all vice, of all crime, and of all misery. Competition, that stimulant to exertion, is denounced as the source of poverty and degradation. The marriage rite is scoffed at, and declared unfitting for social life. Ministers may laugh at such doctrines, may treat the whole as a trivial affair, trusting to the good sense of the nation not to be led away by them, and, therefore, decline to interfere. Now, Sir, we do not call upon the Government to take vigorous measures to disperse this society, but we are surprised, and rendered justly indignant, when we hear of the president of this society, the originator of it and its detestable opinions, openly countenanced by the Prime Minister of the Crown, and by him carried to the foot of the Throne, to present an address praying that his plans may be brought under the serious consideration of Parliament. The introduction to the Sovereign of such a person as Mr. Owen, possessed of such opinions, would be highly censurable at all times; but, when we consider that the occupant of that throne is a young and virgin Queen, just about to enter the holy state of matrimony, it is doubly atrocious, and cannot be looked at as a slight imprudence; and I would ask, how is it possible that any father of a family with daughters, about whose welfare he is anxious, can feel confidence in a Minister who countenances for one single instant the man who teaches that any man may agree to take a wife upon trial, whom he may again discard upon some momentary capricious whim? These, Sir, are some of the reasons which have induced me, as a country gentleman, to bring the motion of want of confidence under the consideration of the House. Doubtless, if I were to detain the House at great length, if I were to enter into that wide field which the hon. Member for Car-low suggested by his question the other evening, causes for want of confidence might be adduced from their foreign policy, their colonial management, and from that management by which our national defence has been dwindled to insignificence, and rendered insufficient to protect our commerce; but I shall not do so, for in confining myself to their acts at home, I have proved enough to justify my motion. I now move the House to resolve—That her Majesty's Government, as at present constituted, does not possess the confidence of this House.
§ Alderman Thompson
rose to second the motion. He would premise his observations by offering his sincere thanks to the hon. Baronet for adopting a course of proceeding by which the country would be able to ascertain to what extent, and in what degree, her Majesty's Ministers possessed the confidence of the House of Commons. He knew not of any period, at least in modern times, when the necessity was more urgent upon an independent Member of Parliament to adopt such a course; for when he considered the state of the general mass of the labouring population, when he considered the financial condition of the country, when he considered the state of several of its more important colonial possessions, as also the state of its foreign trade and navigation, he found that there was cause of alarm and apprehension for the constitution of the country and for the honour and prosperity of the nation. His hon. Friend had alluded in his admirable speech to the general state of the population. His hon. Friend had made reference to that district where the outrages had been the most calamitous—a district with which he was personally connected—he meant the district of South Wales. He hoped, therefore, that he should be excused for making a few observations on the nature and character of those outrages, as he had had the opportunity of observing them personally himself. It was not an uncommon event in the history of England to witness tumultuous meetings and riotous out-breakings and violent breaches of the peace on the part of the population; but hitherto, those unfortunate events had happened when some great branch of our staple manufactures was in a state of depression, and when great bodies of workmen were thrown out of employment, and were consequently involved in great wretchedness. At other times there had been great scarcity and dearness of provisions. But none of these circumstances were present now. There was a peculiarity in the recent outrages in South Wales which must forcibly strike upon the minds of all. Instead of there being a want of employment in that district, he could say from his own knowledge that the demand for labour exceeded the supply, and that wages were at a rate unusually high. To what cause, then, was the recent outbreaking owing? He had no hesitation in declaring that it was for political purposes 657 entirely. He had no hesitation in attributing it, in a great degree, to the continuous tampering of her Majesty's Ministers with the constitution, to their continuous meddling with every subject connected with our social establishments, by which that respect for establishments and that reverence for authority which existed formerly, and which ought always to exist, were almost annihilated. In addition to this, there had been an encouragement from high authority to the people to meet in large bodies, and to form unions and associations for political purposes; all which had produced great discord and dissension. There had also been arrays of force which had led the people to believe that it was better for them to trust to such exhibitions than to the quiet and regular course of the constitution. We had been recently, and we still were, experiencing a state of things which justified him in saying, that though we had a Government, we had not a Government possessing authority. We had not a Government possessing that moral influence over the opinions of the people which it was the duty of a good and efficient Government always to maintain. He would allude, in confirmation of what he had just said, to the manner and the circumstances under which the attack on the town of Newport had been made by the hon. Baronet. [Laughter. Gentlemen might smile at what he had just said, but he could state from his own personal inquiry and examination, that the object and purposes and principles of that tumultuous mob were of the most dangerous character. It was no secret that their object was to remodel the constitution of that House; it was no secret that they required to be entitled to send as their own representatives to that House, men of their own grade in society, without any property qualification, who were to be annually elected; it was no secret that the great object which they wished to attain by such a House of Commons was the equal distribution of every description of property. And who was the great expositor of these their principles? That individual was John Frost, who had received his nomination as a magistrate from the hands of the noble Lord opposite. It might be said, and he had no doubt that the noble Lord would say, that so soon as he discovered that he had appointed an improper person to the magistracy he removed him from the commission. But that, he 658 contended, was not a sufficient excuse Before Mr. Frost received that appointment he had embarked in public meetings, and had been much engaged in exciting the people against the laws and the constitution. He said that that appointment of Mr. Frost to the magistracy gave him an influence over the minds of the people which he would not have otherwise possessed; and he must add, that it wag a fortunate circumstance that it was one of the most tempestuous nights ever known that was fixed by Mr. Frost for his attack upon Newport. If it had not been for the tempestuous state of the weather, he believed that it would not have been 4,000 or 5,000 men, but three or four times that number, that would have marched with Mr. Frost against Newport. But the noble Lord might also say, that in appointing Mr. Frost to the magistracy he did nothing more than adopt the recommendation of the inhabitants of Newport. But not even that was a sufficient apology for the noble Lord. The noble Lord was warned, and timely warned, against Mr. Frost. And by whom? Not by an individual of different politics from the noble Lord, not by an individual actuated, by what the noble Lord might denominate Tory prejudices, but by an individual of honourable mind who entertained the same political opinions with the noble Lord. That individual stated to the noble Lord facts and circumstances of which the noble Lord could easily ascertain the truth by reference to documents in his own office. What those facts and circumstances were he forebore to mention, from a consideration of the unhappy condition in which Mr. Frost was now placed. At the lime of the commission of these outrages the noble Lord was succeeded in his office of Home Secretary by the noble Marquess who had recently been Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He would now draw the attention of the House to an extract of a letter which that noble Marquess had addressed to the mayor and other magistrates of Newport, who were then engaged in the examination of the persons who were implicated in the rebellion and the treasonable acts committed there. He believed that it was an unusual circumstance for her Majesty to convey her thanks to any magistrate for the mere performance of his duty; but this being an extraordinary circumstance, and the magistrates having undergone great fatigue and anxiety, on the 9th of 659 November Lord Normanby wrote the following letter to the Mayor of that town:—The Queen has been pleased to command me to express her Majesty's high approval of year conduct, and of the conduct of the magistrates acting with you, on the occasion of the outrages recently committed in the town of Newport.Would the House believe the fact, that only three days previously to that on which this letter was dated, the magistrates had committed several persons who had been examined before them on the charge of high treason and rebellion? Why was it that the noble Marquess did not then designate things by their right names? Why did he call treason and rebellion an outrage? There was no doubt that treason and rebellion were an outrage; but every outrage was not treason and rebellion; and here, perhaps, he might be permitted to notice an extraordinary coincidence as regarded the Attorney-General, who had done him the honour, he observed, of listening with attention to his remarks. He found that that hon. and learned Gentleman, within a few days of the breaking out of the rebellion at Newport, had received the plaudits of his admiring constituents for having put down Chartism, Without shedding a single drop of blood. How lamentably ignorant must the hon. and learned Gentleman have been of the state of feeling in the country when he ventured upon that boast. That speech of his was calculated to lull into false security those who had been active in suppressing Chartism, whilst it gave encouragement to the Chartists to pursue their plans with resolution on the ground that they were unsuspected by the Government. The only remedy which could be applied to this lamentable state of things was by having the Government placed in the hands of men of firmness, prudence, and wisdom—qualities, which he had not yet found, and which he did not expect to find, in the possession of her Majesty's present advisers. He would close his observations on the deplorable occurrences at Newport with this remark, that twenty-six individuals lost their lives there, and that many others were severely wounded. He might also add, that the unfortunate discontent which occasioned the rebellion at Newport did not exist in the provinces only, but existed also in the very metropolis of the empire; for it was only during the last week that the military were kept 660 under arms all night; that the police was increased and kept on the alert; and that general alarm prevailed among all who had the deposit of merchandise. With respect to the financial situation of the country, he was sorry to observe that it was anything but satisfactory. They had recently seen published under the hands of the Lords of the Treasury a certificate to the Commissioners of the National Debt, that for the year ending the 5th of January, 1840, there was a deficiency of money amounting to nearly 1,000,000l. sterling, or in other words they had an official declaration that our expenditure exceeded our income to that amount; and if they took into consideration, that since that certificate was published the new arrangements of the Post-office had come into operation, they might anticipate a deficiency of at least another million upon the calculation of the most sanguine supporters of that new scheme. Even that was not all the deficiency which the country must be prepared to expect. The trade with China was now stopped; and from China we were in the habit of importing an article which yielded on an average an annual revenue of 3,500,000l.—an article which he might almost call an article of general consumption among the labouring classes—he meant the article of tea. The price of tea had already increased to an enormous extent; and therefore the labouring classes would be less able to purchase other exciseable articles, Here he might be permitted to allude to certain claims now made on the British Government—claims certified by the superintendent at Canton, a public servant of that Government, by whom certain goods had been demanded, and to whom certain goods had been delivered in her Majesty's name, to the amount of 3,000,000l. sterling, for which bills of exchange had been regularly drawn on the British Treasury. He did not know the legal position of those claims, but as a commercial man he should say, that when an acknowledged agent purchased goods for his principal and gave a certificate or bill of exchange in return for them, his principle was liable for such certificate or such bill of exchange. Further into this question he would not now enter, as its importance must of necessity occupy the attention of the House and the country. He had shown a probable deficiency of 8,000,000l. in the 661 finances; was there any circumstance which could lead the House to expect that a diminution of the expenditure could be effected? Was the state of our foreign relations such as would enable us to reduce either army or navy, the two great sources of our expenditure? He thought it would be admitted that there was no prospect of such a reduction. For three years past, and particularly since the accession of her present Majesty, the expenditure had from year to year exceeded the income—a state of things which had no parallel in the history of our finances since the national debt had commenced. He boldly asserted that there had been no similar period in which for three years consecutively, the expenditure had exceeded the income. The only case he could find that was at all analogous was in the time of Sir R. Walpole. That Minister had reduced taxes to a great extent, and probably with the same view which had induced her Majesty's present Ministers to do so, that of gaining popularity in the Government. Sir R. Walpole resisted a resolution which was proposed in the House of Commons to the effect that it was expedient that the supplies of the year should be raised within the year. Sir R. Walpole resisted that resolution, and what was the consequence? A consequence ensued such as was likely enough to happen in the present case; the country was involved in a war with another power when it was least prepared for war. If they looked at the state of domestic affairs, it would be found that during the last twelve months the market had been flooded with Exchequer bills; was that a state of things honourable to the financial management of the country? The hon. Baronet who preceded him had spoken of an unjustifiable act of extravagance on the part of Government in respect to the Controllership of the Exchequer; he (Alderman Thompson) would mention another, which, he thought, was hardly inferior to that—he meant the appointment of the Governor of Greenwich Hospital. That had always been considered to be an office which should be held by some Admiral who had performed great services, who was no longer able from age and infirmities for active service, who for some fifty years "had braved the battle and the breeze." How had it been filled up in this instance? It had been politically filled up, for the first time. A few years 662 back who would have expected that such a man as Admiral Fleming should be the successor of the illustrious Hardy? The present Government had claimed to themselves the credit of acting for all parties, without reference to patronage; but he would assert, that in filling up this appointment Ministers had been, and it was the first time such a circumstance had occurred, actuated by party considerations. He wished to be understood as casting no reflection on the gallant Officer who now filled the situation; his objection was to that officer's standing and rank in the navy, and not to his personal character. He would now beg the attention of the House while he glanced at the foreign relations of the country, particularly those with the South American States. He would remind them, that last session the subject of the French blockade of Mexico had been brought under their consideration; that a flagrant attack on the British flag had been made, and a manifest neglect had been proved on the part of Government in not according prompt protection to the persons and property of British subjects. He believed that the discussion to which he referred had in a great degree contributed to the raising of that blockade, and the restoration of affairs in that quarter of the globe to their former condition. But what was the aspect of our relations with other powers on the same continent? The House was aware, or at least ought to be aware, that for the last two years British commerce had been entirely excluded from the ports of Buenos Ayres, and that under the most frivolous pretexts the French Government were gaining military occupation of the territory, and were landing troops, having taken part with one of the factions that divided that unhappy country, with the apparent object, and as he thought, the clearly apparent object, of ultimately establishing their own authority. It was even admitted that a commission had already been appointed to manage the terms on which those states were to come under the protection of the French Government. He contended that the conduct of that Government throughout the blockade had been the reverse of fair and impartial. It had recently happened that two American vessels had forced their way into the Rio Plata, landed their cargoes, reloaded, and passed out on their homeward voyage. They were stopped by the French block- 663 ading squadron, but the American commodore having remonstrated and demanded their release, they were delivered up again. He by no means wished her Majesty's Government to show any bad feeling, or interrupt the friendly relations which subsisted between this country and France, but he required of a Government professing to administer the affairs of the country, that when injustice and outrage were offered to British subjects they should in a bold and firm manner demand reparation. In another instance, the seizure of the British ships on the coast of Africa, justice had been delayed or denied. Six years ago, in 1834, the French Government, under the frivolous pretext of a quarrel with some native tribe, destroyed British property to the amount of more than 100,000l at Portendic, as was admitted by the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Yet up to the present moment not the shadow of reparation had been made for this aggression. He said, that the Government of this country ought to demand redress for the injuries of its subjects as well as that of France. So long, however, had this question been allowed to remain in abeyance, that, as he had received information, the French were still pursuing their course of annoyance to that most important and valuable branch of commerce, the gum trade, which was of such vital consequence to many of our most considerable manufactures. With respect to Chinn, hon. Members might have some notion of the importance of our trade with that empire, when he mentioned that our exports thither of British manufactures and colonial produce amounted to 7,000,000l. Why, he would ask, had Government not taken care to procure redress for the insult offered to her Majesty's representative at Canton, and the British merchants resident at that port? Though that outrage had occurred so far back as the month of April last, and was well known in this country in July and August, yet no preparation was made for avenging the insult offered to the Crown, and the wrongs done to the merchants till the month of January, when Parliament was about to meet. It appeared from the answer made by the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the question put by his hon. Friend, the Member for the University of Oxford, that her Majesty's Government disavowed the conduct and proceedings of the superintendent of trade at Canton. 664 Why, then, had not Ministers superseded that officer, and sent out some person in whose judgment and discretion they could repose more confidence? He hoped the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs would explain this extraordinary and anomalous conduct. He should offer only one or two observations on the condition of affairs in Canada. Thanks to Lord Seaton, by his firmness and perseverance, rebellion and treason had been put down. Rebellion, however, in his opinion, would never have broken out if her Majesty's Ministers, in the early part of 1837, had given proper encouragement and support to Lord Gosford, in suppressing the tumultuous assemblies by which the democratic party then agitated the province. But it would have been inconvenient for her Majesty's Government, at that time to increase the army. The country was then on the eve of a general election; and, in consequence of this necessary measure being delayed for another twelvemonth, the safety of this valuable possession was put in jeopardy. With respect to Jamaica, the circumstances of that colony, and the proceedings instituted in consequence, must be fresh in the recollection of the House. Hon. Members would recollect that a difference had arisen between the Governor and the Legislative Assembly. The Governor, by repeated dissolutions, excited a feeling of discontent and hostility, which obliged him to appeal to the Home Government for protection. And what protection had Government; wished to extend to the Queen's subjects in Jamaica? Why, the suspension of their constitution for a period of five years, and the substitution of arbitrary power instead of a government under which the inhabitants had lived happily for 200 years. Through the wisdom and firmness of the right hon. Member for Tamworth that attempt had been defeated, and the constitution of Jamaica had been preserved to its inhabitants, who now enjoyed perfect tranquillity under the government of Sir Charles Metcalfe, a man of judgment, experience, and capacity. What followed the rejection of this measure? The noble Secretary for the Colonies came down to the House and announced that he and his colleagues had resigned on the ground that they had lost the confidence of the representatives of the people. What circumstances had since occurred which could induce the House to restore to the Administration the confidence which they had. 665 forfeited? That was a question which the noble Lord or some of his colleagues must answer before this debate came to an end. He found it recorded, that Lord Melbourne, in another place, which, according lo the orders of the House, he must not more particularly describe, had made, on the 31st of May last, the following observations:—Unquestionably, the worst Ministry was that which did not possess sufficient of the confidence of Parliament and the country to carry those measures they thought necessary for the well-being of the country.Now, he would ask the noble Lord opposite whether he thought he possessed enough of the confidence of that House to enable him to carry his measures? Why, what had been the fate of the first measure her Majesty's Government had introduced in the present session? It had been rejected. Therefore, if the opinions of Lord Melbourne himself were to be regarded, his Administration must come to a speedy end. He would not say much respecting the many changes among the great officers of state that had lately occurred—the marches and countermarches from one place to another. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh had replaced in her Majesty's councils the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland, but he must confess that that change had not increased his confidence at least. Mr. Burke had observed, and he fully concurred in the remark, that the standard of a statesman was a disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, the institutions of the country. Now, he believed that there was no disposition on the part of the present Government to preserve the institutions of the country, nor had he any confidence in their ability to improve them; therefore, he gave his support to the motion of his hon. Friend. Before he sat down, he hoped he might be permitted to express to the House his acknowledgments for the forbearance they had shown to him throughout the observations he had made. This was the first time during a Parliamentary life of more than 20 years, that he had taken a prominent part in any great political question, and he should have shrunk from appearing in that character on the present occasion if he had not felt impelled, as an independent Member of that House, to do so, and if he had not felt that he was acting in accordance with what the honour and the best interests of the country demanded.
§ Sir G. Grey
in rising to oppose a direct negative to the motion just read from the chair, it will be my gratifying duty, in the first instance to express my heartfelt and cordial concurrence in one sentiment which has fallen from the worthy Alderman who seconded the motion. The worthy Alderman expressed his satisfaction—a satisfaction in which I cordially concur in common, I am sure, with my hon. Friends whom I see around me, that this motion has been submitted to the House, f sincerely rejoice, that hon. Gentlemen opposite have at last mustered courage sufficient to abandon the course of policy which they have pursued during the last five years and to substitute for a perpetual warfare of detail—for a perpetual obstruction of the measures which her Majesty's Government in discharge of its duty has submitted to Parliament, accompanied by a somewhat vain-glorious boast at the close of each Session over the nullity of the deliberations of Parliament—to substitute for a series of attacks upon individual branches of the administration and detached questions of policy—the more manly, open, and decided course of bringing under review the whole policy of the Government, legislative and administrative, and of asking the representatives of the nation for their verdict, aye or no, whether the present Government, looking at the general policy which it has pursued, does or does not possess the confidence of this House. I rejoice that this question has at last been fairly submitted to the decision of the House of Commons. The question involved in the present motion in fact, is, whether the House is prepared to transfer its confidence from her Majesty's present Government to hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side. The principal difficulty, I confess, in dealing with this motion consists in the absence of anything to grapple with. I look in vain to the speeches of the hon. Baronet, or of the worthy Alderman, for any charges which can afford ground for such a motion, which has been justly described as one of an important and momentous character. I look in vain in those speeches for any topic, with one single exception, to which I shall presently refer, which might not have been brought forward as the justification for such a motion at any period during the last fire years, as well as at the present time, I confess I had expected to have heard the hon. Baronet bring forward such alarming descriptions of the state of the country. 667 and charge the Government with such a dereliction of duty, subsequent to what the worthy Alderman has termed the marches and counter-marches in Ministerial offices at the close of the last Session as if these would have rendered it imperative on the House at the very commencement of the present Session, and with the least possible delay, to transfer the administration of affairs from the hands of the present Government to those who, as their opponents, claim for themselves the confidence of the House. No adequate motive, however, has been assigned by either of the hon. Members who have addressed the House for bringing forward, at the present time, a motion justly described as momentous in its import, and momentous in its consequences to the country. Has any fact been stated sufficient to justify such a proceeding? Has any sufficient reason been assigned for it? I confess, I feel some satisfaction at not being the only person ignorant of the motives which have prompted the present motion. In the absence of any more authentic source of information, I have had recourse to the daily organs of the Conservative party in the hope, that some light might be thrown by them on those motives, but I have found them quite as much at a loss as myself to divine what those motives were. At first, indeed, and while the recent elections were yet undecided, there were confident predictions, that Ministers would be in a minority on a question which was to decide their continued existence as a Government, but this note of anticipated triumph was subsequently changed, and we were told, on better information, I suppose, that all that could be expected to result from it was the moral effect of a minority. Again, we were informed, that the motion was necessary to test the opinions of hon. Members, and to ascertain their political place in this House. Is it, then, come to this, that a motion of this nature is submitted to Parliament, because there are some Gentlemen hovering on the outskirts of Conservatism, wavering in their allegiance—uncertain in their adhesion—whom, in the certain prospect of defeat, it was considered expedient to fix for a renewal of the petty warfare of detail throughout the Session, by committing them to a vote of direct hostility to the Government at its commencement? However this may be, whatever may have been the motives for the present motion, I pass on from this in- 668 quiry as immaterial, as no motion could have been submitted to the House which we should meet more cheerfully, or one which the true friends of a liberal policy have more reason to desire. [Cheers.] I am convinced—those cheers assure me, that the result of this motion will be a decided expression of opinion on the part of this House in favour of the continuance of a system of liberal policy, and that the strengthening of the hands of the Government in the course of progressive improvement. To come now to the charges which have been preferred against the Government, the first which has been mentioned is the encouragement of Chartism. The hon. Baronet has ascribed Chartism to the agitation promoted by the Government, with a view to carry their measures, and to appeals made by the Government to the passions of the people. If, Sir, there is anything in this charge, it refers to a period antecedent to Lord Melbourne's Administration. It is impossible to forget, that this charge was brought against the Government of Lord Grey at the time of the Reform Bill; and as the House is well aware of the zeal and energy with which the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Pembroke, whom I see opposite to me, as Members of that Government, advocated the Reform Bill, and agitated on the subject, it would ill become me, with my inferior experience and talents, to undertake their defence, or to say a word in exculpation of the Government of which they formed a part. I will only say, that while the charge of agitating the people, and exciting their passions, was loudly urged against that Government, I do not believe in the justice of the allegation, as such agitation was altogether unnecessary, the people having risen, as one man, and demanded the reform which was offered them. But when the hon. Gentleman brings forward this charge against Lord Melbourne's Government, let me ask him to name any one single measure of that Government which has been carried by stimulating and agitating the people? But if the hon. Baronet is so sensitive as to any appeal to the passions of the people, I must be permitted to ask him whether his own Friends are altogether free from the charge? Has there been no appeal to the passions of the people on the subject of the Poor-law? Has he read no speeches made during the last general election by candidates opposed to the Govern- 669 ment, containing appeals to the passions and prejudices of the people on this matter, and does he not know that the feeling which engendered Chartism had its origin in opposition to the Poor-law? I ask whether there has not been on this subject an unhallowed alliance between Tories, (for the term Conservatives is here wholly inapplicable,) and Chartists, and Destructives, the avowed object of which has been the repeal of that law? Why, is it not a notorious fact, that at an election which took place within these few days, for a great metropolitan district, the borough of Southwark, the champion of Conservatism invited and received the aid of the incendiary Oastler.
§ Mr. W. Duncombe
Sir, I rise to order. I wish to ask you whether the right hon. Baronet is justified in calling Mr. Oastler "the incendiary Oastler?"
§ Sir G. Grey
Sir, I at once retract the expression; and leave Mr. Oastler to the protection of his party. It has been charged against the Government that they have fomented Chartism, and the late insurrection at Newport has been adduced in proof of it. This, indeed, seems to have been a God-send to hon. Gentlemen opposite, for it constitutes the only recent circumstance which gives a shadow of foundation for the motion. But is it attempted to be said, that the late insurrection in Wales is chargeable on the Government? and is any imputation suggested as to the mode in which they have dealt with it? Is there no ground for suspecting that the real cause of complaint is, that while her Majesty, in the Speech from the Throne, has lamented the existence of insubordination, and the acts of violence which have been committed, and while, in our Address to the Crown, we have unanimously expressed our concern at these events, the Government have not felt it necessary to propose to Parliament, as former Governments have done, to increase the severity of the laws, or to commit to them any extraordinary powers, for the purpose of repressing or punishing insurrection? No, the Government have relied on the efficiency of the existing laws, which it was their duty to administer, and I ask any hon. Gentleman opposite whether those laws have not been firmly, strictly, and, at the same time, mercifully enforced? The Government have submitted the question of guilty or not guilty, as to the parties taken in insurrection, to the ordinary tribunals of the country—to juries chosen 670 impartially, without even the suspicion of an undue bias, and the result has justified their conduct. Is it for this that the House of Commons is called upon to condemn her Majesty's Government, and to declare them unworthy of its confidence? With these facts and these results, is the worthy Alderman justified in asserting that they have been slack in the administration of the law? I understood the worthy Alderman to say, that the Government had not been sufficiently energetic in the administration of the law.
§ Mr. Alderman Thompson
I beg, Sir, to be allowed to explain. I made no observation that the Government was slack in the administration of the law. What I said was, that there was a disposition to designate things by wrong names.
§ Sir G. Grey
I was coming to that; that was another charge. I was quite aware that one ground on which the worthy Alderman asked the House to withdraw its confidence from the Government was, that Lord Normanby had designated as an "outbreak," what the worthy Alderman thinks should at once have been termed "treason." But I ask whether it would have been decent, whether it would have been just towards the prisoners about to be placed upon their trial, if the Secretary of State had, in a public letter, prejudged their case, and stamped their offence as treason? Is not the worthy Alderman aware of the long and patient investigation which, on the subsequent trial of the prisoners, took place into the character of their crime, and that grave doubts were suggested as to its treasonable nature? Would the hon. Member for Huntingdon and Ipswich, who so ably defended the prisoners at Monmouth, concur with the worthy Alderman in censuring Lord Normanby for the course which he took in this instance? Would they not justly have complained, if he had acted according to the opinion of the worthy Alderman? But, Sir, the hon. Gentleman, in connection with this subject, has complained that Front, who has now been convicted of treason by a jury of his countrymen, should have been appointed by my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) to the office of magistrate in the borough of Newport. A great deal has been said upon this subject out of the House, and it now forms one of the counts of the indictment against the Government. The charge is simply this, that my noble Friend several years ago, soon after the passing of the English Municipal 671 Corporation Act, appointed an individual to the office of magistrate, who has since been guilty of an act of treason. I ask the worthy Alderman whether, before he brought forward the charge, he took any pains to ascestain the real facts of the case.—[Yes, from Alderman Thompson.]—Then, I must say, he has grievously misstated them. The obvious inference from the statement of the worthy Alderman, in the case of any person unacquainted with the facts, would have been, that my noble Friend, knowing at the time Mr. Frost to be, if not a traitor, yet a disaffected person, and wholly unfit to be trusted with the magistracy, had yet gone out of his way to appoint him to that office. Now, does not the hon. Gentleman recollect that, at the time when the Municipal Corporation Bill was before Parliament, my noble Friend openly stated the rule by which he should be guided in the appointment of borough magistrates?—that he stated in the face of this House and of the country,; that it was his intention to give attention to, though not absolutely to adopt, the recommendations of the town-councils on this subject? The noble Lord opposite cheers that observation, but why did he not at the time object to the rule stated by my noble Friend? That was the time to have brought forward this motion, if that rule was considered so dangerous and; objectionable, and not now, on the mere ground that a person recommended and appointed some years ago, in pursuance of that rule, has recently been convicted of treason. But what are the facts of this case? The town-council of Newport recommended an addition to the magistracy of the borough. The names of two persons were forwarded by them for this purpose to the Secretary of Stale. They were a Mr. Brewer and Mr. Frost. Mr. Brewer was a gentleman whose political opinions 'were in direct opposition to those of her Majesty's Government, and in accordance with those of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Mr. Frost, in common with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Pembroke, and the noble Lord the Member for Lancashire, had been a warm advocate for the Reform Bill. They both at the time possessed the confidence of their fellow-townsmen, and were both recommended to my noble Friend by the town-council. To that recommendation my noble Friend attended, but he did not adopt it until he had first communicated with the Lord-lieutenant of the county; and it was not until 672 he had ascertained that there was not, in the opinion of the Lord-lieutenant, any valid objection to either, that my noble Friend, adhering to the rule which he had openly laid down, appointed Mr. Brewer and Mr. Frost. For his adherence to that rule, you are now invited to condemn the Government, and to withdraw your confidence from it, because Mr. Frost has subsequently been guilty of open and undisguised treason. The next topic which was adverted to by the hon. Baronet was one which I confess I thought would have occupied a more prominent place in his speech. It seems, however, that hon. Gentlemen opposite are wearied with discussions on Irish questions and Irish policy, and are disposed to waive the consideration of them on the present occasion. The subject, indeed, was glanced at by the hon. Baronet, but the whole amount of his charges against the Government, as it respects Ireland, was, that a son of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin has been appointed to a place connected with the courts of law in that city, and that the hon. and learned Member himself has dined at the table of the Lord-lieutenant. I confess that I have not taken the trouble of inquiring who are the ordinary, or the extra-ordinary, guests of my noble Friend, the Lord lieutenant of Ireland—but I must say, that it appears to me almost ludicrous to invite the House of Commons, on this momentous occasion, to avow their want of confidence in the Government on the mere ground that the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for the city of Dublin, an influential Member of this House, and an avowed supporter of the Administration, had dined in Dublin with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Is this a ground on which the House is dis. posed to withhold its confidence from the Government? But is this the first time that such a circumstance has occurred? Is it only since Parliament was last assembled that this important event has taken place? And, if not, why was not this motion made before? And why was not the opinion of the House previously taken upon the momentous question of where the hon. and learned Gentleman should dine? Was this, then, all that hon. Gentlemen opposite could find to say on the subject of Ireland? Although, however they may find it convenient to pass over in silence all matters relating to the present condition of that country, I cannot believe that Parliament—the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland— 673 would be justified in excluding this topic from consideration, or dismissing it with so slight a notice. The reason for the silence observed on the opposite side of the House is obvious It is known—it is obvious that the present Government enjoy the confidence of the people of Ireland—it is well known that the Government has been enabled to withdraw whole regiments from that country for the protection of other parts of the Empire, and that, without any risk to the security of life and property in Ireland itself. The security of Ireland has not been hazarded, while that of England has been strengthened. If this were not so, the hon. Baronet and the worthy Alderman would not have been slow in accusing the Government of withholding protection where it was required, and in asking the House to condemn them for exposing that part of the empire to danger. No, Sir; it is because the Government has the confidence of the people of Ireland that the House is asked to withdraw its confidence from the present Administration. The next topic adverted to by the hon. Baronet was the Church. He stated, but here again be failed to produce any facts on which the assertion was founded, that her Majesty's Government were the enemies of the Church; that they patronised the voluntary system; and that the Church was not safe so long as they retained office. Now, I ask, what shadow of evidence is there to support this assertion? I ask the hon. Baronet to state any single measure by which the Church has been injured since the accession of the present Government to office. Will he instance the English Tithe Bill? Is it pretended in any quarter that this act is injurious to the interests of the Church? Do his clerical constituents, or even his own diocesan, tell him that they desire the repeal of that act, or that their condition has been in any degree deteriorated by it? Where are the petitions for its repeal? Well, then, this measure of the present Government has at all events worked no harm to the Church. But, then, says the hon. Baronet, there was a motion brought forward by the Government two or three years ago respecting Church rates. Why did he not then ask the House of Commons to assent to his present motion? There was a proposal for the application of a portion of the property of the Church, but in which the Church had no beneficial interest, to the maintenance of the fabrics of the Church. That measure was proposed with a view to 674 strengthen the Church by removing a fruitful source of discord between Churchmen, and Dissenters, which has unhappily disturbed this country from one end to the other, and has arrayed one class of the population in direct opposition to another. If this object could have been accomplished, I for one should sincerely have rejoiced at it. I should have been glad to have enumerated the accomplishment of that object among the circumstances entitling the Government so the confidence of this House, but this not being the case, I will only ask whether the House is prepared to condemn the Government for having attempted to attain this end; whether it will withdraw from them its confidence because they have been foiled in their endeavour to settle this much agitated question. Then as to the steps which have been taken by the Government with respect to education. The hon. Gentleman has denounced the scheme of education proposed and carried into effect by the Government. The present is not an occasion on which it is possible to enter fully into that question, but I will undertake to prove that great misapprehension has existed on this subject, and that the opinion of the hon. Gentleman is not well founded, if he will afford me a more fitting opportunity of meeting the objections which have been urged to it. In the mean time, I cannot believe that the House will be induced to withdraw its 'confidence from the Government, because, looking at the ignorance which unhappily prevails among so large a portion of the community, and at the lamentable effects of that ignorance, the Government has endeavoured to adopt a measure of a comprehensive nature, which, without in the slightest degree affecting the right of the Church to impart instruction to members of its own communion, was calculated to extend the blessings of education to all classes of the people, without any interference with the rights of conscience. But why, in speaking of education, did not the hon. Baronet allude to Ireland? Was it because the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, approved of and supported the Government system of education in Ireland? Was it because the right hon. Baronet, when himself at the head of the Government in 1835, actually proposed in the estimates framed under his direction an increase to the Parliamentary vote for this object? The hon. Gentleman asks for a vote of censure on the 675 Government, on account of their plan for the extension of education: and yet this is a question, one I may say, of the many questions, on which hon. Gentlemen opposite, to whom your confidence is to be transferred, are avowedly disagreed and disunited among themselves. And here I am reminded of what was forcibly impressed upon me during the speeches of the hon. Mover and Seconder of this motion, that in asking you to transfer your confidence from the known and undisguised principles of her Majesty's Government, to those professed on the other side of the House, they were totally silent as to the policy to be expected from the future Administration; and upon no one of the many questions on which hon. Gentlemen opposite are divided into what I may almost term contending factions, did they afford the smallest clue by which we can judge what policy is to be predominant. Much might be said on this subject, but it may be better first to follow the hon. Baronet and the worthy Alderman through the topics which they had selected as grounds of attack, although it is necessary to touch them only briefly, since where little has been alleged in accusation, little can be expected in reply to it. The next ground, then, of accusation against the Government was the exercise of their patronage. Now on this point I have little else to do than to refer to a principle which has been openly avowed on former occasions, not only by the Members of the present Government but by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and which I have reason to believe was not objected to by the House, that in the disposition of the patronage of the Government, it was a common rule and a sensible one, to bestow that patronage on the friends and not on the opponents of an Administration. I cannot but think that if Admiral Fleming, whose appointment has been objected to, had during his parliamentary career advocated the principles of the opposition instead of those of the Government, we should have heard only of his merits, and that not the slightest hint would have been given of his unfitness for the office to which he has been nominated. In that case we should have been told that the appointment was eminently due to his worth, his rank, his station, and his services. The worthy Alderman indeed seems to think that no services are now to be expected from him, and that the appointment should therefore have been conferred on a worn-out veteran. No doubt a worn- 676 out veteran is fully entitled to his reward, and this House has cordially sanctioned the bestowal of rewards and distinction to those who had grown old in their country's service. But this is a post which requires to be filled by an officer of energy and activity, and the distinguished officers by whom it has of late years been held, have not been of the class of worn out veterans. Again, as to the charge that a pension has been granted to Sir John Newport, once a distinguished Member of this House, I will only ask whether, after the many years which he devoted to the public service, the House will withdraw its confidence from the Government for recommending him as a fit person for this reward, especially when, as I understand, no additional charge has been occasioned by it to the public. I can scarcely imagine why this has been brought forward as an accusation, unless it be that hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot refrain from expressing their disappointment at seeing the ptaronage of the Government still in the hands of their political opponents. But, in the absence of the slightest imputation of corruption, I cannot think this topic worthy of having been introduced as an item in this formidable indictment against her Majesty's Government. The next point of attack was the ballot; and here we have some explanation of the alteration made in the terms of the hon. Baronet's motion since he first gave notice of it to the House. It was at first a notice of a motion declaratory of a want of confidence in the Government generally. Within these few days the words "as at present constituted" have been introduced, and we are told that after the open and manly opposition sincerely offered by my noble Friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, to the ballot, the Government is undeserving of the confidence of this House, because that question has been made an open one, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh has been admitted into the Cabinet. Now, if any justification were required for making the ballot an open question, I have no hesitation in saying that it would be found in this, that the refusal to have done so would have excluded from all share in the administration of public affairs, menlike my rt. hon. Friend, of the most distinguished talents and the most commanding eloquence. I cannot admit that a difference of opinion on this question ought to be considered a bar to the cordial cooperation in the same Government, of men entirely agreed upon all great constitutional 677 principles. I was at one time myself opposed to the ballot, but now I stand a reluctant convert to it. I cannot indeed say that I am convinced of its efficacy, but I have no other remedy to offer for an admitted evil. I have stood on a popular hustings and have refused to support the ballot, though earnestly pressed to do so by men who were anxious to vote for me, and who asked me in return to afford them protection against the consequences of that vote, I long felt a confidence in the force of public opinion, as a check to those practices. which were resorted to in order by indirect, since it could not be effected by direct means, to bring back the representation to the state in which it was before the Reform Bill. But I have seen the evil increasing at every successive election, and I have seen those men most highly esteemed as electioneering agents who were most skilful in the arts of bribery and intimidation. I moved myself for a Select Committee of this House on the subject, and it was not till I was compelled to abandon the hope of suggesting any effectual remedy for the evil, that in deference to the opinions of many of my constituents to whom I could offer no alternative, I was willing that the experiment of the ballot should be tried, and the ballot being made an open question, I can give my vote in favour of it. But is the House now prepared to declare the Government unworthy of its confidence, because there being a great division of opinion upon this question among their supporters in this House, and public opinion out of doors being much divided upon it, they have admitted into their ranks, men who advocate the ballot from a conviction that no other remedy could be devised to arrest evils threatening us with a return to a system from which we have recently been delivered? The worthy Alderman next alluded to the finances of the country; and although he had touched the subject but slightly, he could not forego the opportunity of making some invidious remarks on the recent reduction of the postage. It was with some surprise that I heard the worthy Alderman select this topic as a point of attack on the Government. I thought that I recollected that the worthy Alderman had himself voted for that very reduction of the postage; and on referring to that authentic record of the votes of hon. Members, for which we are indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, I found the name of the worthy Alderman in the majority, which in the 678 course of the last session, voted for the adoption of an uniform system of Penny Postage. But this is not all. The Government did not recklessly propose the the adoption of this system, altogether regardless, of the finances of the country for which the worthy Alderman professes so much anxiety. They felt that it was a great experiment, and one which might seriously affect the revenue, and they asked for a pledge from the House of Commons to make up any deficiency which might be occasioned by it. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, was entitled to ridicule that proposition if he pleased. He was at east consistent. He had opposed the adoption of the uniform system of Penny postage; but the worthy Alderman supported that system in deference, no doubt, to the wishes of his constituents. The worthy Alderman had no confidence then in the right hon. Baronet; he was not convinced by his arguments against the measure, and such was then his confidence in the Government, that he voted unconditionally for the adoption of Penny Postage, and opposed the resolution by which the House pledged itself to secure the revenue against loss, and after this he actually comes forward to condemn the Government for having adopted this hazardous experiment, and that without giving any opportunity to my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to state the results of it to the House, or to enter into any explanation as to the finances of the country. He condemns the Government for what he himself recommended and concurred in, and with almost ludicrous anxiety about the finances of the country, proclaims that they are seriously endangered by a measure which he but a short time since supported. I should be wasting the time of the House if I were to dwell longer on this topic. I should almost insult them if I were to ask whether they agree in the censure of the worthy Alderman, and whether they are prepared with him to condemn the Government for having honestly, faithfully redeemed the pledges which they gave to the House and to the country with regard to the Penny Post? Ii is not possible the House can agree in that condemnation. As long as it was possible to impute bad faith to the Government in this matter it had been done. While the four-penny rate of postage was in operation, although it was distinctly stated to be merely temporary, and introductory to the complete adoption of 679 Mr. Rowland Hill's plan, it was day after day industriously asserted that the Government had abandoned that plan, and had permanently substituted the four-penny for the penny rate; and now, when that charge has been refuted, one of the original supporters of the system of Penny Postage, invites the House to condemn the Government for having carried that system fully and fairly into effect. The hon. Baronet expressed a hope that the lauded interest in the country might know what were the intentions of the Government. I suppose the hon. Baronet to have referred to the question of the Corn-laws. I should have thought that the opinions of the Members of the Government on this subject had been sufficiently expressed in the course of the last Session. It has, however, been made a subject of complaint that this was an open question. But I would ask, are hon. Gentlemen opposite, all agreed upon this subject? Are they all prepared to vote against a repeal or alteration of the present Corn-law? Has the hon. Gentleman ascertained whether the Government, which will be formed in the event of this motion being successful, will concur in resisting an alteration in the present Corn-law? I have a right to ask, and the House ought to know what course is to be adopted with regard to the Corn-laws if the right hon. Baronet should again be at the head of the Government? This question is a most important one, and one on which a deep feeling exists throughout the country. It is the more necessary that the House should receive some explicit assurance from the right hon. Baronet on this subject, on account of certain opinions which have been recently proclaimed by a near connection of the right hon. Baronet while engaged in the canvass of the borough which I myself have the honour to represent. It is scarcely possible that the hon. Baronet, the Member for South Devon, can be ignorant of those opinions, delivered as they have been in a part of the country with which he is intimately connected. I will read to the House what the right hon. Gentleman, to whom I have referred, is reported to have addressed to his friends in the borough of Devonport, with reference to this subject, and I will read it from a newspaper, in which it is not at all likely that the opinions of the right hon. candidate would have been misrepresented, namely, the "West of England Conservative." Mr. Dawson is reported in that Paper to have said:— 680But the most important subject of all was undoubtedly the Corn-laws, and he had found in the progress of his canvass, that his opponents had endeavoured to injure him with the electors, by misrepresenting his opinions on that subject. It had been said, that he had come here prepared only to look after his own interest as a landed proprietor; he certainly thought such a mode of opposition was not creditable to those who had set it up. This much he could say—it was far from the truth; for whatever might be his individual interests, he was prepared to sacrifice them if he found they were opposed to the general good. He had gone into houses where he had seen swarms of children, and the mother had anxiously asked him how she could feed them? That the father toiled from morning till night, but could not sufficiently supply their wants. He had found this in a great many instances, and if he had any previous indisposition to the modification of the Corn-laws, such a state of feeling would remove it. Why it would be useless for him to attempt to contest the borough under such a stale of things, and if he won it, it would be like Richard won Lady Anne—'Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?'Was ever woman in this humour won?'Why, it would be what Shakspeare called All the world to nothing.' He begged to say that on the call of the constituency, he could not refuse to help them to get a cheap loaf.This is not the first occasion on which an important change of opinion in the mind of the right hon. Member for Tamworth has been first intimated through the medium of his right hon. relative. The right hon. Baronet seems now lo deny that there has been any vacillation in his mind on this subject, or that he is prepared to assent to a modification of the existing Corn-law; if this is the case, I shall deeply regret it, in common, I am sure, with my constituents, who were led to indulge the hope that he concurred with his right hon. relative; that hope was in some measure founded on the circumstance that Mr. Dawson, fairly and legitimately I admit, availed himself of his connexion with the right hon. Baronet in order to assist his canvass. He stated shortly after the speech upon the Corn-laws, to which I have referred, that he was in communication with the right hon. Baronet on the subject of the election, and that he had just received a letter from him, expressing the deep interest which he felt in the result of the election, and his satisfaction at the success which had attended his canvass. [Sir R. Peel enquired for the authority for that statement.] I have not the 681 document with me, I speak of it only from memory, but I am confident I am correct as to the substance of what was stated by the right hon. Gentleman. It is true there was nothing in that statement respecting the Corn-laws, but can it be supposed that when the right hon. Gentleman had reported to the right hon. Baronet the progress of his canvass, he had abstained from communicating to him, at the same time, the means which had obtained that success? Is it possible that he should not have informed him, that but for the opinions which he had avowed on the Corn-laws, the canvass would have been altogether hopeless? It is moreover, remarkable that the communication from the right hon. Baronet, the substance of which was publicly made to the right hon. Gentleman's friends, at Devonport, contained a prediction of this very motion, or at least that there would be a great conflict between the opposing parties, in this House, immediately on the meeting of Parliament. These circumstances render it. I think, incumbent on the right hon. Baronet to state explicitly what his views are upon the Corn-laws, and holding the opinions which I do upon that subject, and anxious as I am to see a material modification of the present law, 1 should be extremely sorry if the right hon. Baronet should disappoint the expectations which have been excited by his right hon. relative, canvassing for a seat in Parliament, at once as a candidate for office under the future government of the right hon. Baronet, but as an opponent of the existing Corn-law. Another subject which has been referred to is the state of affairs in China. Now, much as the events which have recently occurred there, are to be regretted, I ask whether those events can be imputed to her Majesty's Government? And whether the Government has not done everything which could be done for the protection of the British interest, and for maintaining the honour of the British flag? Papers containing the fullest information as to these events have been laid on the table, and we have been told that the subject is one which must occupy the attention of the House. Is the House, under these circumstances, prepared, before those papers can be read or examined, and without the attempt to bring a specified charge against the Government, to condemn the Government unheard, on the mere ground that disputes have arisen between the Chinese and the British authorities at Canton, and that 682 a great sacrifice of property has unhappily-taken place. With regard to our Colonial possessions, I am glad to be relieved from the necessity of addressing the House at any length on the present occasion, owing to the very trifling space which they have occupied in the speeches of the hon. Mover and Seconder of this motion, and which is the best proof that in that portion of our empire but little could be found on which to prefer an accusation. The worthy-Alderman is, I believe, connected in his commercial transactions with our North American possessions, and I will therefore ask him, whether his accounts from those provinces do not lead him to believe that there is now a prospect of a settlement of the affairs of the Canadas on terms satisfactory at once to the inhabitants and to the people of this country; if, indeed, the House of Commons will support the Government in carrying into effect the measures about to be proposed for this object. The administration of my right hon. Friend, the Governor-general of the Canadas, against whose appointment by the way, though much has been said out of doors, not a word has been uttered here, has hitherto been attended with the most cheering prospects; and I believe that nothing is likely to mar those prospects, or to frustrate his complete success in the arduous task in which he is engaged, but an intimation to the Colonies that the House of Commons is about to withdraw its confidence from the Government, and to refuse its support to them in the settlement of this important question. With respect to Jamaica, I may be allowed, as a supporter of the Bill orignally submitted to Parliament by her Majesty's Government last Session as to this colony, to express my sincere satisfaction at the results, so far as they have been ascertained, of the proceedings ultimately adopted, and I earnestly hope that the warning given to the Assembly, will not be without a permanent effect, and that they will prove themselves fit to be entrusted with the legislation for the Colony, by evincing a spirit of fairness and impartiality towards all classes of the inhabitants. But when the credit of the course actually adopted last Session is claimed for the right hon. Baronet, I must express my doubts as to whether this claim is well founded. When accounts were received in this country of the disposition of the House of Assembly, on the arrival of Sir C. Metcalf to proceed to business, there appeared in the columns 683 of the Times newspaper a statement purporting to be from a correspondent, which was evidently written by one intimately acquainted with the feelings and opinions of the Assembly, and whom I can believe to be no other than the agent for the Colony; after expressing in that statement his satisfaction at the prospect of affairs in Jamaica, he proceeds: that this desirable result was attributable to the tone and character of the discussion in the House of Lords; adding that this result would not have been produced by the mere rejection of the first clauses of the Bill, if there had been no other discussion but that which took place in the House of Commons. "It was felt (he adds) in Jamaica, that the Course taken by the Conservative party in that House, on the second Jamaica Bill, in connection with some of the speeches, indicated too great a distrust of the Assembly—too great a readiness to believe what had been unjustly urged against that body, and too little desire to ascertain its truth." Sir, this is only one of the indications that the views and policy of the right hon. Baronet do not go far enough for his supporters. I wish to speak of the right hon. Baronet with that respect which is so justly due to his high character, great attainments, and distinguished talents; but it is impossible not to perceive that his tendency to liberal views, and his deference to public opinion make him obnoxious to many of those who sit around him. Before I quit the subject of our Colonies, I cannot help expressing my astonishment that we have not one word, on the present occasion, with regard to that great and important portion of the British empire—India. Does this afford no ground of charge against her Majesty's Government? When the operations which have been attended with such complete success in that quarter of the globe, were first announced, the Government was threatened with attack. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Pembroke, in the course of the last Session, was so anxious to impugn the policy of the Government, that he gave notice of a motion on the subject, for an impossible day, in the middle of the Easter recess, evidently wishing to intimate that he had taken the very earliest opportunity of bringing it before the House. This promised motion, however, has never, from that time to this, been brought on; the policy of Lord Auckland has been attended with signal success; and the House, I have no doubt, 684 in the course of a few days, will concur in an unanimous vote of thanks to the British forces, by whom a glorious triumph has been achieved. Is it, then, on account of the state of Indian affairs, that the motion now proposed is to be adopted; and is the House to withdraw its confidence from the Government, because in India new lustre had been reflected on the British arms, and new fields opened for commercial enterprise? This at least must form an important item in the accumulated charges against her Majesty's Government.
On one point I must express my satisfaction; I rejoice that, if I am to judge from the speeches of the hon. Baronet and the worthy Alderman, the House is not, on the present occasion, to be drawn into a discussion on those religious topics, on which so much has been said out of doors against the Government. Nothing has been said on the subject; and I presume, therefore, that it is not to be made a charge here against the Government, that they have not suffered the Roman Catholic Relief Act to remain a dead letter; but that a few Roman Catholic gentlemen, of high attainments, hold office under the Government. I am sure that the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, did not intend that that Act should be inoperative, and that he does not sanction exclusion from office contrary to the letter and the spirit of that Act; and I should deeply regret that countenance should be given in this House to the principle of such exclusion. I am not aware that there is any other point in the speeches of the hon. Baronet and the worthy Alderman, to which it is necessary for me to reply. It has, indeed, been alleged that the Government is perpetually tampering with the institutions of the country. I should have thought that against any danger from this source, the formidable array on the benches opposite, and in the other House of Parliament, would afford a tolerable protection. But this is not the opinion entertained by all the Members of the party opposed to the Government. I find one of the most eminent leaders of the Conservative party in the other House, I mean Lord Lyndhurst, in a speech made at the close of last Session, and widely circulated through the country, entitled 'the Labours of the Session," complaining, not that the Government had been tampering with the institutions of the country, but that they had done nothing, and were unable to do anything. His great 685 boast was, that the Government could effect nothing without the consent of those opposed; and that there was an absence of legislation on those subjects on which the Government entertained opinions differing from his, but agreeing with the majority in this House. But to what cause does the noble and learned Lord attribute this absence of legislation? This is a most important point for consideration before the House comes to a vote on the present motion. I refer to it as evidence, that the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, is connected with a party, some of the leaders of which are opposed to his views. The talents and the opinions of the right hon. Baronet, may recommend him to this House as a popular leader; but looking at the party by which he is surrounded and encumbered, the House must form its judgment of the policy of the future Government, not by the standard of the right hon. Gentleman, but by the views of hon. Gentlemen on whose support he must rely, and whose opinions must influence his Cabinet. Now, what does Lord Lyndhurst say in the speech to which I have referred? After alluding to the absence of legislation till a late period of the Session, he says—This is a striking illustration of a statement made by anticipation by my noble Friend the noble Duke below, when he asked at a former period"—that was when the Reform Bill was under discussion—" with reference to a House of Commons composed as the present is, 'How is the King's Government to be carried on?' The anticipation of the noble Duke has been amply verified by the result, for so long as the House of Commons continues to be a House of Commons, or the form of the representation of the country what it is, the Queen's Government cannot be carried on; and it is not until it ceases to assume that shape, that anything like legislation can be conducted through the House by her Majesty's Ministers."*Such is the description given of the reformed House of Commons by a distinguished leader of the Conservative party in another place. If at present, in this House, there is one point more than another on which hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to pride themselves, it is their adherence to the Reform Act. One can hardly help smiling at this new-born zeal for Reform, and at the warm professions of attachment to the Reform Act which are so frequently heard from the other side of*Hansard (Third Series) vol. l. p. 497686 the House. The attachment, however, is evidently to the defects of that Act; to whatever in it impedes its successful operation, and tends to deprive the people of some portion of the benefits which they anticipated from it. If any proposal is made for the improvement of that Act, not merely for an extension of the suffrage, which I am not prepared to advocate, but for the removal of any defect in its machinery, hon. Gentlemen opposite rise up in large numbers to declare their determination to maintain the Act in all its integrity. Now, however, in direct opposition to their avowed adherence to the Reform Act, we have the declaration of one of the chief Conservative leaders, made, it is true, in a different atmosphere from that of this House, that the Reform Act is the great impediment to the progress of legislation, and that until this House ceases to assume its present shape, no remedy can be applied to the evil. The question then is, are the opinions of the right hon. Baronet or those of Lord Lyndhurst to prevail in the future Cabinet? The House has a right to inquire whether, in the event of the present motion being carried, and a new Government formed, it will be conducted on the policy of the right hon. Baronet or of that noble and learned Lord. I do not doubt the sincerity of the right hon. Baronet in his wish to adhere to the Reform Act, but the House should require some security for his being able to act upon his own views. There is another subject which these observations suggest. We have recently been engaged in an embarrassing conflict for the maintenance of our privileges, and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth has taken a part in these proceedings which entitles him to the highest praise, and has justly secured to him the warm admiration of the greater portion of those who sit on this side of the House. Single-handed on that side of the House, with the exception of one speech from the noble Lord, the Member for Marylebone, he has fought the battle for our privileges, and the House and the country owe him a debt of gratitude for his conduct. But how did his own party regard the conduct of their leader? What degree of support did they give him in that course which he stated he believed to be essential to the due exercise of the functions of this House? It was amidst the cold looks and averted regards, if not the open opposition of those who profess to follow him as their leader, and are pre- 687 pared to vote with him on the present occasion, that he contended for the maintenance of privileges, the abandonment of which he declared would induce him to abdicate his seat as a Member of that House. What would be the result if this motion should be successful and if, according to the sanguine predictions of some hon. Gentlemen, though perhaps qualified by the recent elections, he should appear in this House at the head of the Government, surrounded by a large majority of supporters. Where would be the security for our privileges in that majority? No; his own followers will not trust him with a House of Commons that is not shorn of its privileges, and deprived of the effectual power of exposing abuses, and influencing public opinion by that exposure. Let me only refer to the language of the hon. Recorder of London on this subject. In one of those impassioned declamations with which he favoured the House in the course of those discussions, he imputed all the blame, as he conceived it, of the course adopted by the majority, to the Government, and when reminded that he was in error, he made it a matter of boast that but a "small fraction of the Conservative party" had been found in that majority. A small fraction of the Conservative party! Is this the estimate formed of the right hon. Baronet by those who profess to support him? by those who cordially unite with him on the present occasion, but who will not support him in any measure of a liberal character, when he prefers good to evil, and light to darkness? Of whom, let me ask, did this small fraction of the Conservative party consist? It comprised, besides the right hon. Baronet himself, the noble Lord the Member for Lancashire, although he gave but silent support; the right hon. Baronet the Member for Pembroke; the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge; and the right hon. and gallant General, the Member for Launceston. Now, the House will remember that in the course of the explanations made of the transactions which took place last May as to a change of Government, the right hon. Baronet stated to the House the names of those noblemen and gentlemen with whom he had conferred, and who, it may be assumed, would have been Members of his his Cabinet. Four of them were Members of the other House; the remaining four were those whom I have just named, and who were all comprised in the contempti- 688 ble "fraction" of the Conservative party. In alluding to this neglect, I have certainly no wish to wound the feelings of the right hon. Baronet. I trust that he will receive the approbation, not only of the House, but of the country, for the course which he has taken in the vindication of our privileges, but it is an essential matter for the consideration of the House how far the liberality—the just and enlightened views of policy entertained by the right hon. Baronet will be controlled by his own party, and how far he will be able to command their support in the liberal measures which he may deem it necessary to bring forward as essential to the interests of the country. The present is not a question of party, but of principle; and I ask the House, before they consent to transfer their confidence from the present Government to hon. Gentlemen opposite, to consider well the principles by which each are guided. Try the principles of one side or of the other by whatever test you please, and you will find that the one are the principles of progressive improvement—the other either lead men to a retrogade movement, or compel them to be stationery, and to oppose all further progress. Look at their results. The principles which have hitherto been maintained by the majority of this House are identified with every great improvement which during the present century, has taken place in our laws and institutions. It is to the steady assertion of these principles, that we owe the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, carried on the motion of my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell), when out of office, against an opposing Government, and removal of the restrictions and disabilities under which our Protestant dissenting brethren had long laboured. It is to the firm adherence to the same principles that we are indebted for the great act for Catholic Emancipation and the repeal of the laws which had doomed a large portion of our countrymen to political degradation. I will not indeed, detract from the merit justly due to the right hon. Baronet for manfully avowing his change of opinion on this question, and at once acting on that avowal, but I must regret that the necessity for this measure was not sooner foreseen, and that notwithstanding the repeated warnings of those who maintained the principles I now advocate, it was postponed until, I will not say, the grace of the concession was lost, but, until, to use the striking 689 language of Mr. Burke, it was a late reformation, and partook, therefore, not so much of the character of an arrangement made with a friend in power, as of terms imposed on a conquered enemy; and many of the advantages which were expected from it, were consequently lost. These principles have opened to us the commerce of the East, and in the West have raised 800,000 of our fellow-subjects from a base and degrading slavery to the rank and the privileges of freemen. These principles have subjected municipal corporations in England and Scotland to popular control, and have won from reluctant opponents a concession of the same principle as it respects Ireland. It is to a strenuous adherence to these principles in the face of a determined opposition, that we owe it, that we sit here, not as the nominees of individuals, but as the representatives of the people. This is but an imperfect catalogue of the measures which have resulted from the principles professed by her Majesty's Government and hitherto supported by a majority of this House. I leave it to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who shall follow me in this debate, to bring forward their catalogue of measures which have resulted from the principles which they ask you to adopt. The measures which I have enumerated are some of the memorials, which when the party conflicts of the day shall cease to be remembered, and the passions which now agitate us, shall be stilled for ever, these, I say, are the memorials which, handed down to posterity, interwoven in our institutions, will be felt and appreciated by our latest descendants, and will secure from them a veneration for the principles which achieved these trinmphs. These principles you are now invited by hon. Gentlemen opposite to abandon; but it is with the most intimate conviction, that to such an appeal and from such a quarter, one response only can be given, that without the slightest apprehension as to the issue, I offer a direct negative to the motion of the hon. Baronet.
§ Lord Granville Somerset
had no wish to occupy the attention of the House at that period of the debate, but after some of the observations which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, he should consider that he was not discharging his duty if he did not offer some comment on the statement which the House had just heard. The right hon. Baronet had alluded to the late lamentable events in Monmouthshire in a tone which utterly 690 astonished him. Was the right hon. Baronet aware that the events which had occurred there had been the destruction of all social intercourse and comfort—that they had paralyzed industry—that they had thrown thousand of persons out of employment, and that large amounts of capital were now producing no advantage to the owners? He should have thought that these were circumstances that might have led to the adoption of anything else than a tone resembling one of levity; and he certainly could not have conceived that any comments upon these events, as had been the case of those of the right hon. Baronet, would have been received by the House with laughter. Was there anything so trifling in these proceedings which led to the loss of the lives of twenty-six men? Was there nothing to be regarded in the wounding and maiming of so many more persons? And in the alarm which was consequent on the march of so large a body of armed men into Newport? Was there nothing to be regarded in the appointment of the special commission—the result of which was to leave the lives of three men as it were in a balance? He did not see any ground for laughter at these proceedings; and he confessed that he thought they would have been treated in a very different manner by any Member of her Majesty's Government. But the right hon. Baronet might depend upon it that the line of argument he had thought proper to adopt would not receive the approbation of the British public. In the first place, the nomination of that unfortunate man, Mr. Frost, to the magistracy, was in conformity with a general rule laid down by the noble Lord opposite with regard to the appointment of magistrates under the Municipal Corporation Bill. He had never approved of that rule—he had always said it was faulty in principle, and would be so in practice, and the result had fully justified his prediction. But so far from this principle, however faulty, having been fairly carried out, he could mention several instances in which it had been departed from, and should only now remind the noble Lord of the instance of the city of Bristol where the recommendation of the Town-council to appoint certain gentlemen as magistrates had not been attended to. With reference, however, to the appointment of the unhappy individual to whom he bad just referred to the magis- 691 tracy of Newport, he would appeal to any man who was at all connected with the county of Monmouth, be he Whig or Tory, whether it was not to the circumstance of giving this individual so much power and influence, that had led to his resorting to those proceedings which had had such an unhappy termination. This was the opinion of nine-tenths of the inhabitants of the county of Monmouth. He bad made up his mind not to have said a word with respect to this person until the present investigation, in which he was so deeply concerned, had been decided; and he should have adhered to that resolution but for the tone adopted by the right hon. Gentleman. The political opinions entertained by that unfortunate man were not stronger at the period of the recent disturbance than they were in 1826, or before that period. But in addition to the opinions which he entertained, was it not notorious that he had upon two occasions previously incurred the most severe censure of the Chief Justice of England? Was the noble Lord not aware of this when he appointed him to the magistracy? And was he not told, in a communication which was made to him, that if he wanted any evidence or confirmation of this, it should be furnished to him?
§ Lord John Russell
observed across the table that he had communicated with the lord-lieutenant of the county on the subject.
§ Lord Granville Somerset
Would the noble Lord consent to produce the communication which had been sent to him in the first instance? But was the lord-lieutenant made acquainted with the charges which had been brought against Mr. Frost? And did he, after a communication on the subject with the noble Lord, sanction his appointment to the magistracy? If the Lord-lieutenant did so, the gentleman who had made the charge was ready to come to the bar and make good the statement that he had made to the noble Lord on this subject; at any rate, the letter which the gentleman had written to the noble Lord on this subject was in his possession, and he trusted he would not hesitate to produce it. But he believed the noble Lord was fully aware of these proceedings, for a late honourable Friend of his had brought the subject before the House, and Mr. Frost was not dismissed from the magistracy until after that period, and 692 that person had made many of his most violent speeches before January 1839. He believed that a great deal of the mischief that had arisen in the district with which he was connected, was attributable to the seditious and incendiary publications which were distributed there, and no steps whatever had been taken for their suppression. If the noble Lord had done anything to suppress them, he was not aware of it; but at any rate, whatever he did was at too late a period to produce any good effect. The newspaper to which he alluded continued to be published and circulated amongst this large and dense population; and it was the opinion of the local magistrates that if the disturbance were attributable to any one thing more than another, it was to this seditious newspaper. Because he did not wish, directly or indirectly, to influence the fate of any individual; but he would not allow the right hon. Baronet to suppose that he had a right to triumph in the mode in which these prosecutions had been conducted. The hon. Alderman who spoke second in the present debate had made many observations with respect to the condition of Monmouth, in which he fully concurred. He agreed with him, that the population of that part of the country were in the enjoyment of comparative comfort, that they had been a fine and an honest population, and that recent events strongly proved how true that statement was. In a winter's march of eighteen or twenty miles, their conduct was marked by extraordinary honesty; they were guilty of no violence—no thieving; they took nothing without paying for it. The half-dozen exceptions to this general character which might have occurred, did not materially affect the position for which he contended—namely, that the people of Monmouth had behaved with extraordinary honesty, and had in their late progress, when moving in a great body, and under very peculiar circumstances, been distinguished for a remarkable abstinence from violence, or any species of crime, excepting that which had immediate and direct reference to the object they had proposed to themselves. He had regarded that circumstance as most alarming. During the whole progress of that vast mob, they never betrayed the least disposition to abandon the main object with which they first set out. There could be no question that they were during their march guilty 693 of this species of violence—they pressed individuals into their service—men were forced to join their ranks; but, with the exception of that, their forbearance was quite extraordinary; there was nothing of tumult, nothing of riot. He regretted to be under the necessity of troubling the House with these few words, but he must be permitted to repeat his conviction that such a state of popular feeling formed very just ground for alarm, and he lamented to say that the evil which prevailed in that part of the country had not been put down; immense irritation still continued—irritation which, he feared, would mar the prosperity of that district for many years yet to come. There was hardly a portion of the country in a more happy and prosperous condition, but he feared that for a long time it would have to endure a sad reverse. Let him not, however, be understood as recommending any application of the law more severe than had yet been resorted to. He did not give any such advice, but this he did not hesitate to say, that unless some means were adopted to prevent the spread of blasphemous publications amongst the inhabitants of the mining districts, the Government must look for a periodical recurrence of the scenes which had recently taken place; the Crown might issue special commissions, and there might be numerous executions; the law might be carried into effect with the utmost rigour, but the existing sentiment would not be put down, and no material change would by such means be effected in the feelings of the people. No man could shut his eyes to the fact that there existed in that part of the country a strong conviction that popular agitation was a thing which her Majesty's Government felt no inclination to discourage. Without meaning to prefer any personal accusation against the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, he wished to take the liberty of observing, that the people in the disturbed districts of Wales were not slow to perceive that that hon. and learned Gentleman was generally supposed to influence the judicial appointments in Ireland; hence they inferred that agitation met with no disfavour in the eyes of the Queen's Ministers, and next they proceeded to draw this other inference, that agitation on one side of the water was quite as lawful as on the other. They could not understand why there should be one rule for Ireland and another 694 for Wales. They perceived that the population at one side of the channel agitated to obtain redress of what they conceived to be their grievances, and there appeared to them no valid reason why Englishmen and Welchmen might not pursue a course which the Government did not appear to discountenance in their Irish fellow-subjects, and which, to some extent, might be considered successful. The Irish agitated for a repeal of the union; that was an engagement not more binding or solemn than the legal provisions under which the elective franchise in this country was exercised. If the one could lawfully agitate for a repeal of the legislative union, why could not the other for an alteration in the legislative system? If the patronage of the judicial bench were dispensed by the leading agitator, what had they to fear, and had they not everything to hope, front following in his footsteps? He had not risen with the intention of entering into a detailed discussion of the various points in the speech of the right hon. Baronet, but before he sat down he might be allowed to say, that if all topics were justifiable in an election harangue, it would appear from the speech which the House had just heard, that all sorts of logic might be used in a parliamentary speech; otherwise he could not understand with what propriety the corn laws could be connected with the late speech at Devonport.
§ Mr. Hawes
said, it had been laid down that a great country cannot carry on a little war; but after the debate he had heard that night, he was sure that a great party could carry on a very great war with very little speeches; for of all the speeches he had ever heard delivered on so important an occasion as the attempt to change the policy of the Government of a great country, he had never heard any made up of such slight materials, or, especially in the case of the last speech, of matter so irrelevant to the subject. The noble Lord had not said a single word on the general policy of the Government. This was a debate of the very highest importance to the empire. It was an appeal, not to parties in that House, but to the people out of doors, and no party, he fully believed, ever made that appeal with more just confidence than did the Liberal party on this occasion. It was incumbent upon the party on the opposite benches now to express openly, honestly, and distinctly, what were their opinions their principles, and their views, and he 695 challenged them, in the name of the British nation, to do so. They must not now put the House or the country off with vague generalities; but they must explicitly declare what were the principles on which they proposed to carry on the government of the country. The Government and its opponents were now appealing to the country—appealing to the country as a jury: he most admit, that the jury appealed to had evinced a rather decided indication of a bias in favour of Government, by returning to that House, from all parts of the country, Gentlemen who were the declared supporters of the policy of the Government. Whether the metropolis of Scotland was appealed to, or the metropolis of England—whether a seaport was contested, or the great inland and central town of Birmingham, all alike returned Members to this House to confirm the policy of the Ministers. He was prepared to show by figures and details that under the present administration, the material condition of the people had improved. That none of the main elements of our prosperity had diminished during the period of Whig Government, he would repeat the main elements of our prosperity, so far from having undergone deterioration, had made advances, and if this were so, it would be for hon. Gentlemen opposite to show what course of policy they were prepared to pursue, which should either heighten that prosperity, or avert the distress under which circumstances now placed the country. Hon. Gentlemen, since the accession of the Whigs to power, had twice had an opportunity of taking the Government. Once they tried the tone and temper of the country, and were driven from their very brief possession of power by the vote of this House, and on a recent occasion they were forced to drop the reins of power almost as soon as they had taken them in their hands. In 1835, when the great object of the right hon. Baronet opposite was to form an administration, calculated to obtain the respect and esteem of the people, he discarded his old Tory principles, and did not think of attempting to form an administration on the legitimate principles of his old party. The two first Gentlemen to whom he applied for aid and support were the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire and the right hon. Member for Pembroke, both of whom had since joined his yanks, though they declared that in chang- 696 ing their places they -had not changed their opinions. Thus it was clear that the right hon. Gentleman was obliged to abandon the principles of Iris old party, and to form his government on those of the Whigs—on those Whig principles which were described as so destructive of the best interests of the country. When, therefore, hon. Gentlemen opposite called upon the House and upon the country to sanction them in removing the present Whig-administration, and in altering the policy which had hitherto been adopted by that Administration, it was at least incumbent upon them to make out a more than ordinary case to justify the change. He would repeat that there was no material element of our national prosperity which had been injured by she policy of her Majesty's Ministers. In order to show this, he would state to the Mouse the facts which he had obtained from a reference to the various statistical tables before the House. It was perfectly fair to infer the condition of the people from the consumption of the principal exciseable commodities, and he found a marked increase in all the main articles of consumption. He would first call the attention of the House to the increased consumption of some articles which had been alluded to, in 1832, by Mr. Poulett Thomson, at that time President of the Board of trade, and the accounts of which he had brought down to the present time. The hon. Gentleman then read the following table:—
|CONSUMPTION IN UNITED KINGDOM.|
|Soap||129,853,705 lbs.||172,123,946 lbs.||33p'ct.|
|Plate||76,322£dut pd.||76,872£ dut. pd.||28p'ct.|
§ The increase in all these great articles of consumption, was a clear proof that, so far, at least, the condition of the people had not deteriorated under the present Government. As regarded cotton wool, the facts were also most satisfactory. The increase in this article stood thus.:
|Cotton wool||259,412,463||455, 036,755||76½per ct.|
|Sheep's wool||27,666,350||55,319,597||100 per ct.|
|IMPORTED TIMBER—UNITED KINGDOM.|
|1838–647.061||72.737–45 per cent.|
§ As regarded steam-vessels, the case stood thus:
|Number of Vessels||315||600||810|
§ These two accounts, showing as they did, large investments of capital in solid undertakings, was a clear proof that the policy of the Government had been met with no want of confidence of the commercial part of the community. As regarded the shipping of the country, the statement he had prepared showed she following results:—
|ENTERED INWARDS IN THE FOREIGN TRADE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.|
|COASTING TRADE OF UNITED KINGDOM.|
It was to be recollected, that in 1814, the time of the general peace, we were the carriers of the whole world, without competitors in the carrying trade, whereas we had now rivals in every maritime country; yet, despite this circumstance, and despite the further circumstance, that the Registry Act of 1827 struck a large amount of our tonnage out of the official accounts, those official accounts showed, that it had only taken us twenty-five years to regain the position we had occupied when we were without competitors in the carrying trade of the world, and not only regain that position, but to advance beyond it. This was a striking fact in proof of the progress of our commercial prosperity under the government of the present Administration. Then, again, look at the immense investment of capital in railways which has taken place during the period of the present Administration—another striking illustration of the confidence of the commercial part of the country in the stability of the country. He found, that up to 1830, there had been sixty-one railway acts passed, while, since 1830, there had been 103, making altogether 164. The number passed in 1830 was eight; in 1831, nine; in 1832, eight; in 1833, eleven; in 1834, fourteen; in 1835,
eighteen; in 1836, thirty-five. The case as regarded, the net revenue paid into the Exchequer stood thus:—in 1830, the amount paid was 50,556,616l.; the amount paid, in 1838, was 47,333,459l.; and taking into consideration, that between these periods, upwards of six millions of taxation had been repealed, this showed that there had been a solid increase of three millions and a quarter. Coupled with the repeal of taxes to so large an amount, this was proof of solid and growing prosperity. But there were other proofs which showed the improved condition of the people, and how far the alarms propagated by hon. Gentlemen opposite were warranted. In 1830, the net amount of the balances in savings banks was 13,507,565l.; in 1838, the amount was 21,398,312l,; in 1839, the amount invented was 23,500,000l.; the number of depositors was increased in 1839, by 40,000, and the amount of their deposits 1,200,000l. Besides, under the act which passed a few years ago, to enable parties to invest their savings in the purchase of small annuities, the amount of annuities purchased was already 12,000l., and the building societies, authorised by the same act, for the purpose of enabling those parties who preferred it to club together their savings for the purpose of building small houses, already exceeded 300 in number. Again, with respect to the poor-laws, the enormous saving accruing to the country, and the improved condition of the people arising out of that measure, afforded the most striking evidence of the wisdom of those who had been in office since 1830. For he knew not how many years previous to that period the House was deluged with petitions calling on them to amend the condition of the people and the laws relating to the relief of the poor, but nothing was done. No Conservative statesman came forward to amend those laws. Nostrums were suggested, remedies proposed, but no Government took part in the great question until the present Ministers acceded to office, and in return never had any measure been assailed with more misrepresentation and abuse. And let it be borne in mind, that the great de-claimers against that measure, though they had never dared to face its supporters in a fair discussion of the subject, had been found in the ranks of the party opposite. The reduction of expense since
made by this measure, as compared with 1834, were not less than 3,300,000l. Let him now turn to the foreign policy of Ministers. Here, he believed, they had given as much satisfaction to the country as in their home administration. Take the Austrian treaty, for instance. He had taken some pains to ascertain from high mercantile authorities what the effect produced by that measure had been, and he would read to the House the opinion which he had elicited from an authority on which he had the fullest reliance. It was as follows:—
The results of the Austrian treaty, and the modifications in the Austrian tariff, as well as in the quarantine laws which were made contingently with that treaty, have, ns far as our accounts come down, shown a great increase of freights to British ships, by the privilege secured of admitting them direct, with their cargoes from all countries, into Austrian ports. Since the ratification of the treaty, about 250 British ships have arrived in the ports of Trieste and Venice from ports not British, chiefly from Cuba, Porto Rico, and South America, with coffee, sugar, &c, which coffee and sugar they could not bring to an English market for consumption, on account of our high prohibitive differential duties on foreign sugar, to favour those of our own colonies. Most of these ships sailed in the first instance from London, Liverpool, and Glasgow, with British manufactures, or from Newfoundland with fish, for Cuba and South America, where they found freights and markets for their cargoes, and then freights to, and markets again in Austrian ports; from whence they have invariably found freights for the United Kingdom. Lately no less than four ships have arrived in London from Trieste, laden with tobacco; others with grain, flax seed, cotton, timber, &c. Freights with merchandise, especially in iron, coals, earthenware, herrings, pilchards, &c, as will appear when the returns are laid before Parliament, have greatly increased since the alterations in the commercial relations with Austria; and the commerce in the products of Hungary by the Danube, opens a most extensive new trade for England. The value of goods sent by the Rhine and the Elbe in transit to the Austrian dominions are slated at the sales, especially those made at Leipsig, lo have increased very greatly. This will be evident when it will be seen, that notwithstanding the Germanic Union of Customs having raised the duties on many British articles, as woollens and cotton manufactures, yet the amount exported will appear by the official returns as having considerably increased.
§ In his opinion, this treaty might stand as an example to all future statesmen; it was impossible to point out a measure 700 more immediately productive of the most beneficial results. Never had there been a period of five years in which more had been done for the trade and commerce of this country than had been effected by the administration, whom gentlemen opposite thought proper to describe as weak and inefficient. He had referred lo several of the larger articles of consumption in which an increase had taken place, and before he quitted this subject he would read to the House a list of smaller articles, a reduction of the duty on which had led to increased consumption.
|Vermicelli and Macaroni||41,012||79,864|
§ Thus was proved the wisdom of a judicious reduction of taxation.
§ The general account of imports and exports since the Whig Ministry came into office was as follows:—
|Imports. Official||Exports. Official, Brit, and For.||Exports declared value.|
But perhaps it would be said, "Oh, it is not so much the commercial as the political policy of the ministry, that we object to." Yes, no doubt the present state of Spain filled these Gentlemen with dismay and dissatisfaction; the chance of that country being governed in a peaceable and steady manner, on constitutional principles, was doubtless exceedingly disagreeable to the feelings of hon. Gentlemen opposite. A Government based on popular support was not the sort of government which met the approbation of those Gentlemen. But one objection stated by the hon. Gentleman opposite was founded on the agitation which he ascribed to the ministry, and their supporters, in carrying out the measures which they thought desirable. The agitation on the Poor-law question had been already disposed of by the right hon. Baronet near him, in his admirable speech, in a manner which rendered it highly improbable that the hon. Gentleman opposite would again touch upon the subject. But if ever the country were agitated, or had been at-
tempted to be agitated, it was on the subject of education—a subject than which there was none more important, and he need not say whence this agitation had proceeded. Never had there been a question brought before the House with greater caution, with greater care; indeed, as he thought, it had been brought forward with too much care—with a great deal too much regard to the prejudices and opinions of hon. Gentlemen opposite; but, however, it was brought forward with the utmost caution; yet never was there a measure which had met with more fierce, more bitter hostility. He had no right to complain, and he never should complain, of fair, and open, and honest opposition; but when he found an appeal made to all the passions and prejudices of men—when he found a strenuous effort made to awaken all the old religious animosities—he could not but think it disgraceful to a great party to stoop to such means for the purpose of gaining supporters amongst the people of England. It was not to exaggeration and misrepresentation that it became men to resort, however earnest they might be in their views, and however they might feel the intrinsic weakness of their case. The misrepresentations on this subject could only be not considered wilful at the expense of the understandings of those who resorted to them. The intentions of the Government in reference to the character of the instruction of public schools had been most unequivocal. The decision of the committee of the Privy Council had been expressly declared. Their Lordships said one of their minutes,
Are, however, strongly of opinion that no plan of education ought to be encouraged in which intellectual instruction is not subordinate to the regulation of the thoughts and habits of the children by the doctrines and precepts of revealed religion.
Their Lordships declared it to be a sine qua non that every school which received a portion of the grant should be in connection with the National or with the British and Foreign Society; that the Bible should be read in all such schools; and that all the essential doctrines of Christianity should be taught in them. It was distinctly and in every shape stated, that religion was the basis, the only basis of that education which the Government intended to support; yet the National Society, in their circular marked "private
and confidential," and which was not intended to fall into the hands of the infidels, atheists, and socinians, who alone, of course, supported the Government plan; the National Society, in this precious circular, signed by a noble Member of that House, and sent round to all the clergy of England, invited them to subscribe in aid of the cause of church education as contradistinguished to purely secular education. The words of this document ran thus:—
It is obvious, however, that without some adequate support from the public, the society, which now maintains the cause of church education as contradistinguished from that imparted on purely secular or latitudinarian principles, will be unable to resist those managers of schools whose conscientious opinions coincide with their own.
§ This document was drawn up in the face of the clearest facts, and it appeared to him one of the most degrading characteristics of the present day, that attempts should be made to excite a popular prejudice against education by means so utterly unworthy. He must protest, too, against the National Society assuming itself to be the representative of the Church; it was an assumption for which this body of gentlemen meeting, in a corner of Westminster, had no authority whatever. He would repeat, that whatever agitation had been ever carried on by any party, on any subject, never had agitation been carried on in so unscrupulous a manner as that against education which had been resorted to by Members of the party opposite. As to the appeal which hon. Gentlemen opposite made to the support and sympathy of the country, his firm conviction was, that the more the principles of the present Government became known to the people, the more these principles were discussed, the more their measures were canvassed, the more would the public find reason to feel grateful to those who had maintained those principles, and effected those measures in the teeth of opposition, unequalled for force and fierceness. Nothing could be more vague than the resolution proposed; nothing more idle than to propose a resolution so worded, but as it was proposed, he presumed that the debate would not close without the House hearing from hon. Gentlemen opposite, what was the course of policy which they contemplated the introduction of, if they came into power. Whether they 703 meant to get rid of the Reform Act, of the Municipal Act, of the Poor-law Act; whether they intended to refuse all education to the people, except on exclusive principle; to refuse admission to the children of the poor because they declined to repeat the Church catechism—or did they mean to propose a more liberal policy? Perhaps there might be some Gentlemen on that side of the House who might be disposed to support them in such a case; but hon. Gentlemen opposite must no longer skulk behind vague declamation and generalities, nor content themselves with bringing forward, from time to time, indefinite and factious motions. Let them distinctly stale what it was they proposed to do. The interests of the country required a steady executive. Experience and skill in the government of the country were of great importance considering the vast extent of our colonial possessions, and the extent of our commerce which was so largely conducted on credit. The interests of the country required, above all things, to possess a steady executive, [Opposition cheers.] Seeing the hon. Gentlemen opposite assented to his view of the question, as he might infer from that cheer, he thought the country would have a right to claim from them—if the decision of the House on this motion should be adverse to their views—some cessation in their constant assaults upon the government of the country; in their constant obstruction to useful legislation; in their constantly placing in peril the colonial interests of the country, which resulted from the incessant conflict of two great parties; a conflict which, while it produced instability in the Government, encouraged the growth of another party at the bottom of all, who were opposed not to this or that Ministry, but to all principles of Government, whether social or political. If, from time to time, or from year to year, that House was to be made the arena of party contest—one day after another—he must say, the country would be exposed to great peril. He thought, after such an appeal to the people of England, which was now to be made by motion, and after such a declaration of public opinion as the decision of that House would imply, that the Government of the country would have a strong claim on the hon. Gentlemen opposite to put their shoulders to the wheel and help forward the work of useful legislation. There were 704 a great many subjects which claimed the attention of Parliament, but which could not be attended to while these conflicts of party were continued. There was no possibility, at present, of attending properly to many questions relating to trade—to many great improvements in the law—to the great question of the currency—and many minor questions relating to our internal administration. Assuming that the House would come to a decision in favour of the present Ministers, and that the public had ratified that decision, as bethought he had a tight to infer from the recent elections. He repeated, he had a right to appeal to those elections as indicative of the opinion of the country; if the decision of the House should be in harmony with the opinion so expressed, he thought the country would have a light to demand that party contest should cease; and that useful measures, in which all parties could join, should alone occupy the attention of 0the Legislature. He had to apologise for having so long occupied the attention of the House. He had endeavoured to be as brief as possible. He hoped he had shown that a real improvement had taken place in the condition of the country, and that the public interest required, that after the decision of this question all parties should agree to work together for the promotion of common objects, and the improvement of their common country.
said, that his hen. Friend who had just sat down was rather a dangerous supporter of her Majesty's Government, He had fixed on one topic as a subject for praise which was somewhat remarkable. He had said that the interests of our commerce required a steady Government. Could he claim the credit of a steady Government for the right hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords opposite, of whom there was scarcely one principle, from that memorable one on which they got into office, down to their colonial and foreign policy, which had not undergone changes the most remarkable? His hon. Friend had attempted to show improvements in the trade and commerce of the country, but he was prepared to show that these great interests had declined under the administration of our Foreign Affairs by the noble Lord now at the head of the Foreign Department. His hon. Friend seemed to be afraid that he would introduce religious questions; but he would carefully abstain from doing so, and con- 705 fine himself to questions intimately affecting the mercantile and manufacturing communities of this country. If he could make it clear, that during the polity and in consequence of the policy of the noble Lord at the head of our Foreign Affairs, the channels of our foreign trade had been obstructed—that our manufactures had not the free scope which, under wiser management, they might have had—he thought he might fairly call upon the House to say, that her Majesty's Government were systematically deficient in their attention to the great branches of our commerce, and did not deserve the confidence of the House, He had no access to the sources from which his hon. Friend, the Member for Lambeth, had drawn his information, but he had access to the parliamentary tables, which were in the hands of every one. He found from these tables, that during the period in which the noble Lord had held the seals of the Foreign Office, the progress of our trade as compared with the progress of the trade of France, and the trade of the United States showed some curious results. It appeared, that the French trade between 1830 and 1835 had advanced forty-five per cent. The trade of the United States had advanced sixty-four per cent. The trade of Great Britain had advanced only twenty-four per cent.; and during the last year, to the accounts of which he had access, British trade had fallen ten per cent. There was another fact move remarkable, and nearly connected with the foreign policy of the noble Lord. It appeared, that our trade with the continent of America had increased from 1833 to 1837, and it might fairly be expected to have increased with the continent of Europe. With the United States it had risen twenty-two per cent. With South America and the West Indies it had risen eleven per cent. With British North America and the British West Indies it had risen twenty-two per cent. But he would now call the attention of the House to the state of our trade with Europe. He was perfectly aware what construction hon. Gentlemen opposite would put upon the facts, but it would be well that they should be agreed as to the facts in the first place. Afterwards he hoped to be able to draw a conclusion from them which would support that for which he was contending. Our trade with Europe had decreased twenty-two percent during 706 that period. Whilst during the five years to winch he had referred, there had been an increase of trade with other countries, there had been a decrease of exports to the continent of Europe of four millions. Referring to the tonnage, it would be found, that whilst our trade on the whole had increased twenty-eight per cent., there had been n decrease in the trade of Europe of from forty-eight to sixty-five per cent. Looking into the items, it appeared, that there had been a decrease in the trade with Spain, with Portugal, with Germany, and with Prussia. He had no wish to enter on questions purely of foreign policy, but looking at our foreign policy as connected with trade, it was a very curious fact, that those countries which had enjoyed the advantage of the noble Lord's special and active diplomacy, and where of course our commerce might have been expected to spread, namely Spain Portugal and Germany were the places in which there had been a most remarkable decrease. He was quite aware that hon Gentlemen opposite would say, that disturbances existed in Spain; but if in that country the British arms had been tarnished; if they had sullied the character of the British force, on the ground which had witnessed their proudest triumphs, at least it might have been expected that they would gain commercial advantages, but the commercial restrictions of Spain had become heavier under the noble Lord's negotiations. The noble Lord's policy had not been able to save the trade of this country with Spain from the most stringent restrictions. The proof was, that although that trade had been doubled between the years 1828 and 1830, it had now fallen lower than it was in 1828. With regard to Portugal, the noble Lord's attention had been called in 1834 to most formidable changes in the commercial treaty with that country, by Mr. Robinson, then Member for Worcester. The noble Lord assured him, that negotiations on the subject were in progress. Unfortunately, in April, 1837, notwithstanding all that the noble Lord had promised and hoped to perform, a restrictive tariff had been imposed on our trade with Portugal, and it now stood in a worse position than before. With regard to Germany during the diplomacy of the noble Lord, a commercial league had been formed in Germany, shutting up a population of twenty-five millions 707 from a free trade with this country, and leaving them exposed to all the restrictions which the influence of Prussia might impose. The effect of this was, that the exports to Prussia declined from 189,000l., which they were in 1829, to 131,000l; which was the amount in 1837. Then look to France. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, had confessed last Session that our trade with France had been laid under severe restrictions which had been imposed during the diplomatic negotiations of the noble Lord opposite. Hon. Gentlemen might say, that these were mere unfortunate results of his diplomacy. He proceeded to bring some charges of a more specific character. In 1830, what was the state of trade with the centre of Europe? A population of twenty-one millions in Poland had free access to British manufactures, and the Congress of Vienna had declared, that that trade should remain free. He did not now speak of the measures by which Poland had been blotted from the face of the earth as an independent nation—but the trade of Poland had been secured by treaty, but it had been suffered to be destroyed by the Russian tariff. There was another point worth observing. An hon. Gentleman had, in the year 1836, called attention to the position and the trade of Cracow, and had pointed out eloquently and truly, that Cracow was a depot of the utmost possible importance, as a central point from which the manufactures of England might radiate and distribute themselves through Austria and various other parts of central and southern Europe. The independence of Cracow as a state, and the freedom of its trade, were secured by the treaty of Vienna, to which we and the other powers of Europe were parties. In 1836, however, the independence of Cracow had been entirely violated, and that important depot of our trade had been since swept from all contact or communication with British manufactures. It was natural that British trade, not finding free vent in these its old channels, should nave been directed to remoter countries. The enterprise of British merchants was turned, amongst other directions, to the countries about the mouth of the Danube, which by treaty was to remain at all times free. In 1836 the Danube was free to British commerce; but at this moment Russia had stepped from one side of the river, which by treaty and the law of 708 nations she had a right to, to the other side of a most important tract to which she had no right. And she had allowed the sand to accumulate at the mouth of the river, contrary to the stipulations of treaties. He would ask the noble Lord what had his diplomacy effected whilst British trade was suffering from these causes? The most serious injury had been sustained by British trade. The Dardanelles was another point of the greatest importance. In 1830, the Dardanelles was absolutely free to British merchants. There was then no intervention of any other power with the progress of British trade in the Black Sea. But a change took place in British affairs in that part of the world in 1833. On this subject he might quote the authority of the hon. and learned Gentleman the vice-president of the Board of Trade (Mr. Sheil), to show what services had been done to British trade by the proceeding of the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The hon. and learned Gentleman had called the Dardanelles the key of the Black Sea, and attributed the fact that it was, or might be, closed against England by the command or dictation of Russia, to the absence of Lord Ponsonby from his place at Constantinople, and to the presence of the noble Lord in the office of Foreign Affairs. The fact was undoubtedly so. The Dardanelles were now closed when Russia pleased to command it. In 1836 and 1838, the merchants of Glasgow, of Newcastle, and Hull, came before the House with a petition, imploring the House to take into consideration the unprotected state of British trade in that quarter, and the serious danger to which it was exposed in consequence of the unfortunate changes which had taken place. Those changes had been owing to the ineffective policy of the noble Lord; and at present the eastern shores of the Black Sea, which were ready to receive English manufactures, were shut out from all contact with British trade by quarantine regulations, which were contrary to the law of nations, but against which the noble Lord's diplomacy was of no avail. When he also found the British merchants of Trebizond, a most important depot of Asiatic trade, declaring that they could not safely invest their capital in trade with those countries with which we ought to have perfectly free intercouse, he must 709 say, that justice had not been done to the trade of the country by the noble Lord. Reference had been made to India. He had no wish to detract from the lustre of British arms, or from the fame of the late achievements. He was willing to admit, that the proceedings in that part of the world, had been distinguished by vigour and accompanied by great success. But let them look in connection with that subject, to another result of the noble Lord's diplomacy. In 1833 and 1834, Persia was an independent and powerful state, and a strong barrier against the encroachments of Russia. The noble Lord boasted, that in conjunction with Russia, he had brought about internal peace with Persia. But Persia, settled and in peace in 1836, became estranged in 1837, and hostile in 1838, and instead of this strong obstacle to the encroachments of Russia, we are obliged to set up a precarious barrier by the position of our forces in Afghanistan, a country unquestionably hostile. Another point of great importance was the trade with Java. That trade was of extraordinary importance to our manufactures; 2,000,000l. worth of property was invested in it. Java was the fourth most important port of our trade in that part of the world. Well, by our treaties we had fixed the rate of duties there, which were never to extend beyond six per cent., and yet, contrary to all these treaties, those duties had been raised to no less than twenty-five per cent, on our imports, and they had been raised under the diplomatic negotiations of the noble Lord; and although the noble Lord had been questioned in the House upon the subject—although it had been brought before him in 1836, and again in 1837 and 1838, his answer had ever been hope and delay, but no alteration. The consequence was, that the value of the Dutch cotton imported thither, which in 1834 and 1835 was 330,000l. had now reached 1,293,000l. and that the amount of foreign manufactured goods, in which British productions were included, had fallen from 4,119,000l. to 2,462,000l. Again, before the noble Lord came to the Foreign-office, Great Britain had a most important trade with the east coast of Africa—the country which, in modern language, was called Algeria. It possessed no less than 10,000,000 of inhabitants, and, at the period he spoke of, we enjoyed the right of importing, at a duty of five per cent. What was the 710 case now? Notwithstanding our friendly relations with France, an ordinance had been passed excluding all British manufactures, and almost destroying, in consequence, all British trade in that part of the world. Then came the question of the trade with Portendic. Serious injury had been done by the French to British trade there. The subject was brought before the House, not by an hon. Member of the Opposition, but by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, one of the most steady supporters of Government. The hon. and learned Member had, again and again, called the attention of the House to the injuries which were un-redressed, and to the encroachments on our trade which were unchecked. On those occasions, the noble Lord had promised much; had he done any thing? Was the gum trade now open? 100,000l. had been lost by British merchants there; had redress been obtained? That loss was sustained in July, 1834; the port was blockaded by the French in February 1835—a measure contrary, he believed, to all law, and to the usage of nations, and most seriously detrimental to our trade. Had anything been done? The noble Lord had come down session after session with promises; but that was all. No redress had been obtained—to this hour the merchants had no redress. The French see that no redress is exacted for the affront which had been offered to the British flag, nor any for the stoppage of our trade, and the consequence was, that they had stepped across Senegal to the river Gambia, and interfered with the commerce of their British ally—stopped its progress there by their favourite policy of declaring a blockade. But if the policy of the noble Lord had been unfortunate in its results, as regarded Portugal, Spain, and other countries of the old world, what was his policy in the new? The French had carried to South America the report of the noble Lord's policy, and the same course was pursued there as at Portendic and elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman cited the hon. Members for London and Tower Hamlets in the course of his speech, but they had both told the noble Lord, that a grievous wrong was done by the blockade on the coast of Mexico, and that the injury to British trade was most serious. Such, then, was the success of the noble Lord's negotiations, and the consequence of his leaving this depot of our 711 trade without any adequate force opposed to French encroachment or blockade. Another case of a similar kind was that of the Rio Plata. The noble Lord was aware, he was sure, of its importance, and that the British carried on much trade with that port; and that the countries around teemed with raw produce, and had a large population, most willing and able to receive British goods. That they did, in fact, receive a large amount of British goods, there was a proof in the large British population of Buenos Ayres, consisting of some thousands of agents and others engaged in trade. They very naturally feared that what was done in Africa and Mexico would be done in South America, and that with equal pusillanimity, the noble Lord would leave British trade in South America to be trampled on in any blockade that it might please the French to establish. These fears were justified; a blockade was established, and carried as far as Monte Video, and our trade there was much reduced. Next with respect to the United States of North America. Our trade with that country had risen most unprecedentedly, and it was well known that both commercially and politically, it was most important that undisturbed harmony should reign between the two countries. Our trade bore a most promising aspect in 1830, when the award of the King of Holland was pronounced on the boundary question. How, then, he asked, by what sinister policy was it that the question was more unsettled at the present moment, than when the noble Lord took office? How was it that the noble Lord had allowed, for nine long years, these feeble negotiations to proceed without any result? The right hon. Gentleman had told them, that they had said nothing upon the colonial question. He certainly would avoid touching upon colonial matters, except so far as related to trade. Our trade with the colonies employed one-third of our commercial capital in 1834, one-sixth of our exports being sent thither. It seemed, therefore, that the colonial trade was of no little importance. Had it not, however, been proved that the state of the Canadas was most detrimental to its trade and commerce? It had been proved by the fact, that when the Earl of Durham reached Canada, the noble Lord reported to her Majesty's Government, that the trade and commerce had been seriously injured, and that emigration had fallen 712 from 52,000 to 5,000 persons per annum. Had it not again been proved by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, who had told the House and the country last year, that such was the state of the colony, that no capital could be there safely invested, and that lives and property were not secure? With such evidence before the Government, he begged to ask his right hon. Friend opposite (Sir George Grey), why the question of Canada had been allowed to remain so long unsettled? In 1834, the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire proposed a measure which would at least have brought about some settlement; again, when the Earl of Aberdeen sent out Lord Amherst to Canada, Lord Aberdeen had pointed out in his instructions to that governor, what grievances he admitted required redress, and what points he must refuse to accede to, and thus, under Lord Aberdeen's policy, the question of Canada would have been brought to a speedy settlement. But the policy of her Majesty's present Government, since 1835, seemed to be delay; they sent out a commission, not to act, but to inquire where inquiry was superfluous, and to report upon matters which were palpable, and when differences took place between the House of Assembly and the Executive Government of the colony, the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) held that those vital questions ought to be kept out of view, in order that the noble Lord and the administration to which he belonged, might continue to carry on their favourite system of procrastination and delay. There had been delay in 1832, there had been delay again in 1836, and at last, in 1837, the noble Lord, now the Secretary for the colonies, addressed himself to the production of some measure, and proposed to the house ten resolutions; but the bills founded on them fell from the hands of the noble Lord, who did not wish, it would seem, to tarnish the commencement of a new reign with any act of vigour, and thus the year 1837 had been allowed to pass without the adoption of any measure to secure the peace and tranquillity of those provinces. Looking at the delay which had taken place—looking at the system of procrastination which had been practised, he must say the policy of her Majesty's Government, in respect to Canada, had neither been favourable to the peace nor the connexion of those pro- 713 vinces with this country. But there was another subject matter which completely illustrated every part of the policy of her Majesty's Government. He alluded to the position of the small but important colony of Newfoundland—a colony which afforded a specimen of the policy of the Government which was well worthy of consideration. He (Mr. Colquhoun) would not speak of the proceedings of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, which were contrary not only to all law, but to the best interests of the colony,—he would not speak of the encouragement which that House of Assembly received from the Government, nor of the release of prisoners, nor of the concession to them of important rights of the Crown, but there was just one case which he particularly desired to bring before the House, as a curious specimen. There had been upon the judicial bench at New. Found land a chief justice—he meant Chief Justice Boulton—who had discharged his functions and administered the law with vigour and impartiality. He, however, had the misfortune to be a conservative, sincerely attached to the maintenance of the connexion of the colony with the mother country, and in his political character, as a member of the Legislative Council, took every step in his power to maintain the integrity of that connexion. Chief Justice Boulton had consequently been arraigned by that party in Newfoundland who had assailed and endangered its peace and tranquillity. Chief Justice Boulton, so arraigned before the Privy Council, had sentence passed upon him by that body, a sentence which entirely acquitted him of all partiality or neglect in the discharge of his official duties, but alleging that he was too strong a politician, and too firm in his adherence to his political views. Chief Justice Boulton had been dismissed from the judicial bench by her Majesty's Government, because it was held that he was too strong a politician to remain on the bench. Her Majesty's Government, he believed, had not always been so cautious in their judicial appointments, neither had they, in other cases, seemed to think political indiscretion should be a reason why an individual ought not to be raised to the bench; for her Majesty's Government, which could not tolerate Chief Justice Boulton in Newfoundland, had, f the country had not been greatly mis- 714 informed, offered a seat on the judicial bench of a country comprising, not 7.5,000, but 8,000,000 of population, to a Gentleman who could not be said to be free from political partiality, and of whom his warmest friends would hardly say—if they considered that Chief Justice Boulton was too strong a politician to remain on the bench of Newfoundland—the hon. and learned Member for Dublin ought to be raised to the judicial bench in Ireland. There still remained another ground on which he should join in the vote proposed by the hon. Baronet, the Member for Devonshire. His right hon. Friend opposite (Sir G. Grey) had taunted hon. Members opposed to him with their silence on the case of Ireland. He should leave to hon. Members more conversant with the affairs of that country than himself, to justify the votes they should give on the present occasion in that respect; but he for one must say, that as long as he found it avowed by her Majesty's Government in that House last session—a vowed in another place by the present Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland (whom, as a public character he greatly respected), that the principles of the Marquess of Normanby's Government formed the rule by which that country was to be governed; and, remembering what those principles were, he could not concur in the opinion that the present Administration deserved the confidence of Ireland, or of that House. He should not, he repeated, enter upon the question of Ireland, but when he recollected that one of the principles of the Marquess of Normanby was to release from prison, as had been proved, upwards of 2,000 of the greatest malefactors, without reason, justice, or inquiry, to send them loose in Ireland, and that another principle was to select juries on a plan entirely novel, and, according to his own law officers, fatal to the due administration of justice; when he found also another principle to be, that in defiance of the law, the noble Marquess had opposed the appointment of the high sheriffs by the judges, and had taken the selection of those high functionaries on himself—when he remembered that the noble Marquess had exercised this authority so assumed in such a manner as to place over one county as high sheriff, an individual who was a known and acknowledged Repealer; over another an individual of violent political sentiments—when be saw the same course 715 pursued in the borough of Carlow—when be saw all these things, he could not augur well of the future administration of affairs in Ireland conducted on the same principles. When he remembered further, that the noble Marquess had shut his eyes to the conspiracy which pervaded many parts of Ireland, and was formidable in no less than twenty-four counties, and that the Chief Secretary for Ireland thought it trifling, despite the evidence to the contrary of Crown solicitors and other witnesses, and that Lord Normanby in his place in the other House had stated he knew nothing of that conspiracy in 1839, he could not but augur ill of the principles on which henceforth that country was to be governed. Allusion had been made in the course of the debate by his right hon. Friend opposite to the existence of Chartism, into that subject he would not enter, but he must say, that as the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) had issued a Royal proclamation in the spring of 1839 to put down certain meetings which he characterized as illegal—nay, had addressed a letter to the Lord-lieutenants and magistrates of counties to prosecute parties for the sale of arms, he could not but express his regret, that the noble Lord, if he thought these measures necessary in the spring and summer of 1839, had not resorted to them a little sooner. These were the noble Lord's own acts justified by the state of the country. Why had not the noble Lord adopted them at an earlier period? He asked that question, because in the autumn of 1838 it was well known that in Lancashire, and in the west of Scotland, Chartism was organizing, and yet then the noble Lord issued a proclamation of a very different character—his own proclamation at the Liverpool dinner. That proclamation he (Mr. Colquhoun) well remembered, for he was in Ayrshire—where Chartism to some extent prevailed—at the time, and in a speech to his constituents he had predicted the affect which the noble Lord's declaration at Liverpool would have, viz., a direct tendency to encourage and influence Chartist organization. After the experience of past years, he could not but entertain the same opinion, that the noble Lord did not act promptly to repress the evils which, if to be met at all, ought to hate been met with promptitude. His right hon. Friend had expressed a hope, that no objections would be made by any 716 hon. Member on his side of the House to the promotion of certain distinguished individuals to high offices in the Government, on the ground of the religious tenets of the individuals so promoted. He certainly should not make any distinction on that ground, for he had ever held and avowed, that he did not think religious opinions, honestly and sincerely professed, ought to disqualify any man for filling high offices in the state. Such being his opinion, he should on all fitting occasions avow them, and therefore from him, at least, his right hon. Friend need not anticipate the slightest objection upon that ground. Although differing from Government in regard to their policy, he, as a personal friend and admirer of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, could not but rejoice at his promotion to an office which he thought he would adorn. As long as the Government continued to that change, he (Mr. Colquhoun) could have no possible objection. Neither had he heard any objection stated in or out of the House to the elevation of the right hon. Member for Portsmouth to the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the contrary, every one bore testimony that the Crown did not possess a more zealous and unwearied public servant. He, therefore, made no objection to that part of the reconstruction of the Cabinet. Nor had he heard any general objection made to the promotion of another Gentleman to the office of Secretary to the Admiralty, though his private regard for the hon. Member for Halifax would have induced him to wish that the latter Gentleman had retained that office. But there was one appointment which had been viewed by the country with great dissatisfaction, there was one appointment in the reconstruction of the Government which he thought calculated, not on religious, but on political grounds, to deepen distrust, and to extinguish confidence—that was the appointment of the right hon. Gentleman who now filled the office of Vice-President of the Board of Trade. He (Mr. Colquhoun) admired, as much as he was sure everybody admired, the talent and eloquence of that right hon. Gentleman, but when he remembered, that no later than the year 1834, that right hon. and learned Gentleman took a most active part in that House in mooting the question of the repeal of the union—when he found him teller on the division 717 after that debate along with Mr. Feargus O'Connor—when he found him declaring on another occasion, that he scarcely knew any point of difference between himself and his hon. Friend—when he found him avowing himself the disciple and follower of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin—when he saw the recorded public opinion at no remote period, but so lately as 1834, and found that right hon. and learned Gentleman, entertaining such opinions, transplanted to the Privy Council, he owned he viewed the reconstruction of the Government in that respect with increased mistrust. He had only to point to the last election for Tipperary. Who was the person selected by the right hon. and learned Gentleman either to move or second his nomination? Why, the person selected was one of the most turbulent agitators of that turbulent county—Archdeacon Laffan, who had been concerned in all the associations—whether Precursors or whatever name they were called—by which the country had been agitated. That person the right hon. and learned Gentleman had selected as the type and index of his political opinions, and yet he found the right hon. and learned Gentleman still in the enjoyment of the confidence of the advisers of the Crown. Seeing such principles among them, he begged to know if the present could be called an united Cabinet? His right hon. Friend had said, that hon. Members on this side of the House were not united in their views of the policy of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. On what ground? On the solitary question of privilege! The question of privilege was not a very felicitous instance of disunion, or a very happy ground of charge that the Cabinet of the right hon. Baronet would be a divided and discordant Cabinet, inasmuch as all the supposed Members of his Cabinet, as enumerated by his right hon. Friend opposite, had agreed on the question of privilege. Now, he (Mr. Colquhoun) should like to ask upon what questions her Majesty's present Cabinet were agreed 1 What, too, were the points of agreement between the Government and the party who supported them? Were they agreed on the question of the ballot? Was the Cabinet itself agreed upon the Corn-laws? Some of the Members of it spoke last Session in favour of an alteration, while the head of the Administration declared 718 such a proceeding to be actual folly. [Sir G. Grey (interposing)—Actual madness.] Oh! only madness. His right hon. Friend had taken refuge under the cloak of insanity, and declared that some of the present Cabinet were fit for places in a lunatic asylum. Was the Cabinet, he repeated, agreed upon the ballot? His right hon. Friend himself doubted its efficacy, and yet had declared he would vote for it. It had been said, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, must be guided by his party, and that if it was discovered, that the opinions of his party were extreme and violent, those opinions must be taken as the rudder which was to guide the course of the right hon. Baronet. Would his right hon. Friend opposite allow him to apply that principle to him? If it was true on one side of the House, it was equally true on the other. The noble Lord opposite had some time since laid down as a great political axiom, that political bodies were guided by the tail, and that axiom could not be applied more characteristically than to the party opposite. What were the opinions, not of a small fraction, but of a large portion of the supporters of the present Government? His right hon. Friend had said, that he was opposed to an extension of the suffrage. Did he not know, that a large portion of the party by whom he was surrounded insisted on, nay demanded, an extension of the suffrage? Was he not aware, that all the new reconstructions—all the fresh additions to the Cabinet and Privy Council—had been drawn from those extreme sections which, had resolved in the cold "Nova Zembla" of extension of the suffrage, and vote by ballot? The people were weary of continual changes, they wish for a firm Government, and knowing there is no chance of a firm Government on this open question system, they long for a different Government, and the noble Lord perfectly well knew it; and if he knew it, why did he not give them the chance of trying to form one? There was a time when the noble Lord, and right hon. Gentleman opposite, advocated the popular control in everything—the will of the people was everything. Did they think, that they held their present offices by the will of the constituent body of this country? If they did, would they act on his right hon. Friend's suggestion, and on this one occasion borrow a hint from the advocates of 719 triennial Parliaments, and give them a dissolution? They would then be able to discover whether the polity of her Majesty's Government, which might be supported and propped up by a vote of that House, which might, by the scanty majority of two, perhaps, receive a sentence of re mission of penalties for a short period longer, really had the confidence of the country, for he was perfectly sure, that the principles now pursued and acted on by them more and more every day, and which were openly professed by the particular party who guided their movements were not the principles which the people of this country approved of.
§ Mr. Gisborne
commenced by saying "Behold! what a blessed thing it is to brethren to dwell together in unity." The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was so far from disapproving of the recent appointments, that he appeared to approve of them. He was sure, that there must be a perfect unanimity amongst the hon. Gentleman's party, but still he doubted that the sentiment thus expressed must be universal on the other side of the House. But he took the unanimity to be that which it had been represented. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of great political bodies being driven forward by their tails, and whether the present motion emanated from the head of the concern, or had been driven forward by the agitation of a less noble organ, might admit of considerable doubt. He was not surprised at the introduction of this motion, because he had before remarked, that there was a great lashing of the tail, and the whole of that lashing had reference to one particular object. There had been one prevailing subject for the consideration of her Majesty's Government, and that subject was a religious subject. What! was that subject to be tabooed in that House? Was no other Gentleman except himself surprised that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down should have addressed them in a speech of an hour's length, and yet not have introduced "religion "or" education," nor allowed them to form a single part in his address. He believed, that in the recess the hon. Gentleman had been in the habit of addressing large bodies of the people. He knew that he was in the habit of seeing in the newspapers the name of the hon. Gentleman, followed by speeches to large bodies and public assemblies, but did the hon. 720 Gentleman make such statements there as he now made here? Had the hon. Gentleman told the people in these assemblies, that he had any notion of making it a charge in his bill of indictment against the Government, that the commerce with America was injured, that the trade of Cracow was lost, and that the sands were blocking up the mouth of the Danube! for these were the hon. Gentleman's charges against her Majesty's Government. It was not his province to defend the foreign policy of the Government. He was sure that the noble Lord who presided over that department was quite equal to the task. Nor was it his business to defend the colonial policy of the Government, but as an independent Member of that House ["Oh, oh!."], he believed he was an independent Member of that House, and he believed that he had a right to canvass how it was, that the motion introduced by the hon. Baronet addressed itself to him. He did not quarrel with the motion of the hon. Baronet—he was not surprised at it. He admitted, that it was an open and a manly motion, but then he believed it would be a very barren motion. He wished to know, whether it were to have issue or not. He wished to know what the nature of that issue was to be. He supposed that if the hon. Baronet should carry his motion, it would be followed up by an address to the Crown to remove her Majesty's Ministers. He wanted to know whether that address would assist her Majesty according to the constitutional privileges of the House, as to who were to be the Ministers' successors. There was one ground upon which he felt peculiar respect for the motion of the hon. Baronet; it was this—that it was the most democratic form of motion that could be adopted for the removal of her Majesty's Ministers. It did not declare that the principles of the Ministry were not good, but it said this, if it said anything, that the Ministers of the Crown ought to possess the confidence of that House. That was a principle for which he had always contended, and that was a principle which, until now, was always opposed by the other side. He was a Member of that House in the year 1835. The right hon. Baronet opposite was then Prime Minister. What did they do? They met him upon he first day of the Session; and having rejected his Speaker, they next amended 721 his address, and then they dismissed his ambassador. They did not suffer the right hon. Baronet to be in more than one majority in the course of the two months that he was in office. [Sir R. Peel said he did not remember it.] And now the right hon. Baronet did not remember even that one majority. They gave to him abundant opportunity of being aware that he did not possess their confidence; but, for all that, the right hon. Baronet did not resign. The right hon. Baronet said, "How unfair this is! Because you are Reformers, and I have been an anti-Reformer, I do not possess your confidence." "Why," said the right hon. Baronet, "I am going to pass all your measures—I am for acting upon your foreign policy—I am going to pass your Tithe Bill." He believed that every Gentleman was aware that the right hon. Baronet admitted that he would pass the same Tithe Bill that he had before rejected. The right hon. Baronet had said, too, on the question of corporate reform, that he held office in the corporation of Tamworth—that it was a pure corporation and he had then no intention of offering opposition to corporate reform; and yet because they would not vote for him, how did the right hon. Baronet act? He then called them "a tyrannical majority." He rejoiced that they were then coming back to proper principles in that House. No Minister, he said, ought to accept office, who did not possess the confidence of that House; that he had always maintained, but until the present moment he was not aware that it was adopted on the other side of the House. Now, as to the time when the motion was brought forward, he believed it was well to speak plainly. Her Majesty had given notice that she was about to be married, and he believed that it was well known that it was likely that some promotions would take place—that there would be some peerages and baronetcies, and some other offices of no emolument. It seemed to him that on the other side of the House there was an extreme, perhaps a legitimate, desire that they should have the conduct or" the affairs of the country, in order that they should have these nominations. He confessed, if he were on the opposite side, he should avow such a desire at once. He did not think that the side on which he sat had any advantage of the other side in this respect, for although 722 their appetite and craving was not so much whetted by abstinence as it was on the other side, yet he believed that they would have a pretty substantial appetite left for these pickings. He had no doubt of it, and therefore he did not make any charge against Gentlemen opposite on this ground, but he understood that when the Address was moved in the beginning of the Session, the chivalrous delicacy of feeling of the Gentlemen opposite would not allow them to interrupt the harmony which they wished to exhibit to her Majesty on so interesting an occasion. He recollected that they did not even put in the word Protestant, although he had a great authority, an authority which he was sure the Gentlemen on the other side would pay great deference to, for saying, that it was highly important that the public should have the satisfaction of knowing the fact of the Prince Albert being officially declared a Protestant by the Government. The same authority (the Duke of Wellington), after stating that such an announcement was not unworthy of mention in the Address in answer to the Royal Speech, went on to state, that he had heard something of this marriage from another part of the United Kingdom, and it seemed to him that something had passed in that country on the subject, since the declaration in Council, which showed to him clearly why the word "Protestant" had been omitted; and the illustrious authority went on to state, that he intreated their Lordships not to omit the first opportunity on which they were called upon to express any thing beyond mere congratulation, to insert such words in their Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne as would be sufficient to remove from the public mind all doubts on this most important subject. But all this was forgotten in the House of Commons; for although the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Inglis) brought the subject most specifically before the House, yet in their chivalrous feeling not to disturb her Majesty's mind by any appearance of want of unanimity, they had omitted this very important word, and thus declined the advice which in the other House of Parliament it was known had been tendered to the hon. Gentlemen opposite. Perhaps some of the older Members of the House would recollect what happened in that House when Mr. Martin's Act for preventing Cruelty to Animals was in the course of 723 passing. He remembered, although he was not then a Member of the House, that when the chairman of the committee was reading the enumeration of the different animals to be protected by the bill, which concluded with all other beasts, an hon. Member stopped the reading of the Bill, exclaiming, "Stop there, Sir, if you please; I move that before the word 'ox' there be inserted the word 'ass.'" It was not because the ass was not amply protected, it was not because there was any danger of that particular animal suffering from the omission, not the least of it, the ass being a beast, but the hon. Member thought the ass was so important an animal, that he was quite worthy of mention in the Bill. This was the very ground on which the insertion of the word "Protestant" was recommended in the House of Lords. It was not that there was any doubt of the Prince being a Protestant, it was not that the public did not know that the Prince was a Protestant, and that he was sprung from Protestant ancestors; no, it was on the ground that it was absolutely necessary on so important a subject that no doubts should be left on the public mind that the Protestantism of the Prince was announced in the answer to the speech from the Throne. He said, then, to Gentlemen opposite, that they must relinquish one of two positions; they must relinquish the character for chivalrous devotion, and a desire not to disturb her Majesty in her present interesting circumstances, or else they must relinquish all hopes of any advantage that might fall to their share from displacing the Government on the present occasion. As to that part of the motion which related to the administration of the public affairs of the country, that would be more properly and successfully replied to by the Members of the Government who administered those affairs. He would, however, make one or two observations on that part of the motion which was applicable to himself. In 1803, Mr. Buller—perhaps an ancestor of the hon. Baronet—introduced a motion relative to the conduct of Ministers. That motion was for a vote of censure, and on that occasion Mr. Fox opposed the motion. That great statesman said, he could not agree to a vote of censure, because he did not know whether the successors of the then ministry might not be more objectionable than 724 they were. That was a sentiment which he would recommend to Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. Before they agreed to vole for the hon. Baronet's motion, he would advise them to consider whether they could expect that the present ministry could be succeeded by a ministry less objectionable. He hoped they would act upon the practical good sense contained in the advice of Mr. Fox. He was one of those who were not ashamed to confess a warm attachment to liberal principles. It had been said, that this was a degenerate House of Commons, that the character of inferiority was stamped upon them, and that they were unworthy of their ancestors. He subscribed to no such opinions; on the contrary, he denied that any inferiority or deterioration had been evinced on either side of the House. At an earlier period of his life, when impressions on the mind were most vivid, he was a frequent attendant upon the debates of that House, and he had a perfect recollection of the great men whose names were now in every body's mouth as ornaments of the British House of Commons—the names of Pitt, Fox, Sheridan, Tierney: but he must say that when the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel) rose on some great occasion, and more particularly upon any occasion when he was freed from the trammels of party objects and considerations, he must express his doubts whether he had ever seen a man more qualified in all respects to take a leading part in the deliberations of an assembly like that. In his opinion, the right hon. Baronet was greater in the reformed than he ever was, or ever would have been, in an unreformed House of Commons; and he said this the more willingly, because he came into that House with inadequate sentiments of the right hon. Baronet's powers, which sentiments he had maintained for a very considerable period, and it was only by a close observation of the right hon. Baronet that he had arrived at a different conclusion. He must also be allowed to say, that the leaders on that (the ministerial) side of the House, and more particularly the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, were equally deserving of the highest praise. That noble Lord came into that House young, and at an early period of his Parliamentary career, he announced those great principles and projects from, which he had never swerved. The noble. 725 Lord had not accomplished his projects to the extent that he (Mr. Gisborne) wished, but he believed that the noble Lord had accomplished them to as great a degree as he had himself ever contemplated, and, perhaps, in nothing was the noble Lord's wisdom more apparent than in knowing how far reform could be introduced without shaking the established frame-work of society. When he considered those things, he must say, he saw no reason for believing that this generation did not possess men as well qualified to conduct the business of this great empire as at any former period. It was not, therefore, for any want of confidence in the ability of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that he intended to vote against this motion, but he took his stand upon the Reform Bill, and he could not forget that that right hon. Baronet was an opponent of that Bill. In his opinion, and in that of a large body on his side of the House, the machinery of the Reform Bill wanted some very important amendments. The machinery of that Bill, as it stood at present, would inevitably replace the representation of the country in the hands of those who had for a long time abused it. It was of the most vital importance that that Bill should be amended, and the question he had to ask himself was, should he trust the amendment of that Bill to its opponents? He certainly had more confidence in those who passed that Bill, and to them he was more willing to trust its amendment. He regretted to say, that he was labouring under physical inability to address the House at any greater length, but he believed he had stated those arguments which mainly influenced him to oppose this motion, and to refuse to remove the administration of affairs from the party with whom he agreed in principle, into the hands of those to whom he was politically opposed. He believed that the possession of the confidence of the House commons was the only safe foundation on which any Government could stand, and that confidence he, for one, was not prepared to transfer to the Gentlemen opposite. Feeling and acting thus, he would most cordially and decisively vote against the motion.
did sincerely believe that neither of the great parties into which that House was divided was influenced at all in the present struggle by any such miserable considerations as a participation in the 726 bestowal of honours at the ensuing ceremony. That insinuation he not only repudiated on the part of those with whom he acted, but he most sincerely believed that the noble Lord and the hon. Gentlemen opposite would not be induced to accept the responsibility that attached to them from the idea that it would give them an opportunity of creating one or two Peers, and calling into being a few additional Baronets. Nor would he stop to congratulate the hon. Member on the felicitous parallel he had drawn between a Protestant and an ass. That, he supposed was a specimen of the religious tolerance of the other side of the House. He must confess he felt some difficulty in replying to the observations of the hon. Gentleman. That speech abounded with compliments to the right hon. Baronet whom he (Mr. D'Israeli) was proud to follow, and for a moment he indulged in the hope that the hon. Gentleman was about to give in his adhesion to those who were supporting the motion of the night. Then the hon. Gentleman said that he was prepared to take his stand upon the Reform Bill; but then this Reform Bill was to be amended. He selected the ground upon which he was to stand, but declared, at the same time, that it must be propped up. The hon. Gentleman, also, appeared to think that no Government ought to be supported that had not the confidence of the House of Commons, and especially of the present House. Why, whether they possessed a Government that had the confidence of the House was the problem they were about to solve. The Government had, indeed, admitted, and that upon an occasion rather recent, that they did not possess that confidence. Perhaps some members of the cabinet would let them clearly and definitively understand what had transpired and occurred, what change had taken place in the prospects of the country, that induced them now to believe that they were entitled to the confidence of that House? But difficult as it was for him to conceive why the Government now possessed that confidence, still more difficult did he believe it to be for some hon. Gentlemen in the House to account for the reason why they would now entrust with confidence those from whom a few months ago they withdrew it. The question before the House was, whether the country was in a satisfactory state, and if it were in a state the very contrary of satisfactory, the question was, had the present administration not merely the inclina 727 tion, but the means and power to right the vessel of the state in this moment of peril and danger? The hon. Gentlemen opposite had evaded that question. They had answered in detail petty parts of the objections that had been urged, but they had not addressed themselves to the great question before the House—namely, whether the state of the British empire was satisfactory, and whether the persons who possessed, or nominally possessed, power, had the means of so managing the state as to bring it into that salutary condition in which it ought to be found. When he listened, and he regretted that he had only been able to do so partially, to what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey), he might have been inclined to suppose for a moment the country was in a state of domestic order, and that the empire, so far as its extrinsic relations were concerned, enjoyed the confidence of foreign powers, and was treated with that honour which had almost always awaited her flag and authority, and he might have supposed that its financial condition was one not dissimilar from that which for nearly a century had been associated with the credit of Great Britain. Were these facts? Would any one venture to rise in his place, and pretend that the state of the country was such that no man had a right to question the propriety of the conduct of Government? He said, that it was the duty of the House of Commons, without regard to any feeling of party, not to allow the session to pass without inquiring into the cause of the present domestic disorder that prevailed—into the cause of our being embroiled with foreign powers—and into the cause of our disordered commercial relations. He apprehended that no right hon. Gentleman or Member of the cabinet would dare to rise and tell the House that the domestic condition of the country was satisfactory. As to Ireland, he did not shrink from the discussion, but he must say that he did not think it was a fair repartee, when they talked of Chartists, to refer them to Dublin. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey) had told the House that there was an alliance between that side and the Chartists. He was not ashamed or afraid to say, that he wished more sympathy had been shown on both sides towards the Chartists (loud cries of "Hear, hear" from the Ministerial benches). He would repeat, notwithstanding the cheers of the Gentlemen opposite, that he was not ashamed to jay, that he sympathised with millions Of his fellow-subjects; and if those who ad- 728 vocated liberal principles—the leaders of the reform administration—did not agree with this sentiment, he was perfectly willing to leave them to the verdict of public opinion. When they saw large masses of the population discontented, was it the duty of Parliament to inquire into the cause; or was it quietly to remain satisfied with the authority of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonial department, as to what was the origin of those discontents? He recollected that, at the latter part of the last session, the noble Lord came down, evidently in much disquietude, and calling for a levy of troops, and the assembling of the constitutional forces of the country, at the same time describing his view of the causes of the circumstances which rendered these preparations necessary. The noble Lord then ascribed those occurrences to a gentleman who had been this evening described as the incendiary Oastler. The Attorney-general, who was the prime colleague of the noble Lord in these proceedings, afterwards went down to Edinburgh, and fancying himself the Pericles of the modern Athens, told his constituents that he had put down insurrection without shedding a drop of blood. A journal, also, which was the oracle of the party, and to which cabinet Ministers sometimes contributed, told its readers that Chartism was dying. But, notwithstanding these flaming announcements, before Parliament had again assembled, the country had burst out into new insurrection. And to what cause was this new insurrection to be attributed? Not to the agitation of the Poor Law question; no, this was not, to use the expression of an hon. Member representing a manufacturing town, an expression which had given much satisfaction to Ministers at the time—it was not now "a knife and fork question," for the insurrection had broken out in a district where labour commanded not only comfort but even affluence. How, then, in regard to their actual knowledge of the state of affairs in this country, could they place confidence in the present Government? What opinion could they form of the prescience of the noble Lord opposite who was then the Secretary of State for the Home Department? The noble Lord would, indeed, tell us that the insurrection was in a moment quelled; he would dilate on the cool courage of the mayor, and the presence of a handful of troops, who put down a popular tumult; but the time would come when Chartists would. 729 discover that in a country so aristocratic as England, even treason to be successful must be patrician. They would discover that great truth, and when they found some desperate noble to lead them, they might, perhaps, achieve greater results. When Wat Tyler failed, Henry Bolin-broke changed a dynasty, and although Jack Straw was hanged, a Lord John Straw might become a Secretary of State. Many things at which the noble Lord had sneered, had turned out to be true. The noble Lord had been warned repeatedly of these events. He had been warned last year, and though he disregarded those warnings, how many of those predictions which he sneered at had turned out to be fact. This was a question which could not be easily laid aside; it could not but be debated; and before the Government could call upon this House for an expression of confidence, they must show, that they were possessed of a great deal more prescience of events, and more power to control them, than they exhibited at pre- sent. They had been told, tonight, that the great want of this country was a steady executive. He admitted; that that was the great want of Britain at present. They required a strong government. Were they to find a strong Government on the Treasury bench, whose chief recommendation, in their own opinion, was, that they were a middle party? A middle party governing a state was in the position of the gentleman in the fable, who taking the oyster, extended a shell to each of the contending adversaries. He maintained that a strong Government was essentially necessary. No one would maintain, that a weak Government was desirable, all that could be urged against Gentlemen on his side the House, was, that they could not form a strong Government. Upon them lay the responsibility, they did not shrink from it. In the acceptation of hon. Gentlemen opposite, a strong Government was a Government of strong measures. But no mistake was more common than that which confounds strong measures with a strong Government. Strong measures, on the contrary, were indicative of a weak Government. A Government had recourse to special coin-missions; a weak Government levied troops at the end of the Session, when there were not sixty Members in the House: it was only a weak Government which, in haste, was obliged to abolish the constitutional guardians of the peace, to erect a new police force in their stead, A strong 730 Government was one, which, feeling itself firmly established in public esteem, was enabled to carry its measures through the ardent co-operation of all the influential classes in the realm, and to whom the great body of the people looked up with confidence, because they saw that the subordinate authorities of the state willingly and readily gave them their aid in what they undertook. But this was not the case with the present Ministry. All the support which they had to look to, was in new boroughs and new corporations of their own creating; all their hope in the destruction of the ancient bulwarks of the country which had supported previous administrations. This was not a state of things which could last long; and though hon. Gentlemen opposite might see no great difference between a majority of two and a minority of 104, so long as they could cling to the fruits of office, the time would one day come when they would be most unpleasantly awakened to their true position in the country. He repeated it, that before Ministers could meet with success, a vote of this kind, they must be prepared with much stronger proofs of the happy position of the country over whose affairs they presided. Did the Government expect a vote of confidence on the ground of any real confidence placed in them by their supporters? On the contrary, those supporters reminded him by their tone of a celebrated and recent verdict; they found the Government guilty, but recommended them to mercy. Of the party now in power it might be said, what could not be said of any other Government that ever existed, that not twelve months ever elapsed without some considerable Member of the Cabinet escaping from their toils, or shrinking from their responsibility. Let the advocates of the present Government look to those who had left their ranks, and then tell the country that the successive resignations of a Prime Minister, a Lord Chancellor, three Secretaries of State, a President of the Board/)f Trade, a Lord Privy Seal, a Postmaster General, a first Lord of the Admiralty, a Secretary at War, a President of the Board of Control, are emblems and evidences of a steady Government—an efficient executive. In one sense, indeed, he admitted they were entitled to the style of a steady executive—they were steady in their determination to retain their places, and the defence which was set up for them by one of their supporters, the hon. Member who piqued himself on his independence was one which he, their opponent, shrank 731 from imputing to them; namely, that they were only desirous of retaining office, to make a peer and create a Baronet.
§ Sir H. Verney
remarked that the Judge Advocate-General had, amongst other topics ably urged in defence of her Majesty's Ministers, challenged the hon. 13a-lonet, the Mover, and his supporters of the motion, upon the attempts made by the present Government to introduce a system of national education, and emphatically put it to the House-and the country, whether the provision made, and made with difficulty, and not without violent opposition, for so desirable an object, did not call for the gratitude and entitle them to the confidence of the people's representatives. With respect to the subject of education, the Judge Advocate had challenged hon. Gentlemen opposite to enter upon the merits of that great question, but not one of them had yet responded to that call. He would ask, was this a question which the Government ought to have left untouched? He thought that question could only be answered in the negative; and then he was also firmly persuaded that the more the system now adopted was persevered in, the more it would be found that the principles upon which it was founded were the only principles upon which a scheme of education could be carried on either by the present Government or any other. Again, would it be denied that the measure of poor laws for Ireland was a subject of proud congratulation to the present Government? He believed that there was no act in which a Government might take more honest pride than in passing a measure of relief for a large suffering people, persevering in spite of the opposition of the aristocracy of that country, and of an hon. and learned Member who was here even more powerful than that aristocracy, being well convinced in their own minds that the measure was Called for and justified by necessity. Now, what grounds were there for the present motion? He felt very certain that upon none of the grounds alleged by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock could the rest of the party opposite join in this vote of censure. In this House they were all independent members; and the welfare of the country was of more importance to them than the triumph of any party. All that he or other well-wishers of his country desired at the hands of Government was to have the country well governed. This was and should be the main and the important 732 point with all. It had been almost admitted that the only objection against the Government was that it was weak. Now, as he knew their intentions to be good, their weakness appeared to him to be a strong reason why he should support her Majesty's Ministers. Could the hon. Mover make a stronger Government? Where could he find the materials within those walls? He could only say of the present Government that they had passed many measures of the greatest public utility and advantage during the last ten years. Would any one deny that the measures of the last ten years were more honorable to the Government and Parliament of the country, and more conducive to the good of the country, than those which had been passed in any previous ten years in our history? He did not think that it would be denied for a single moment. He could not blind himself to the fact that this motion was supported, and that if it were to be carried, the present Government would probably be succeeded in office by that very party which had most strongly opposed the passing of those measures; and therefore it was that he should have no hesitation in giving his most firm and decided negative to that motion.
§ Mr. Ewart
had heard nothing that night which justified the present motion, which had been brought forward with such a formidable array of opposition. He would not refer to the unhappy events which had taken place in some parts of the country, except to express his regret that they should have been made the theme of party animosity; nor should he say any thing in reference to those baccanalian exhibitions which certain parties had indulged in. He should be contented in the first place with laying down the principles which he considered to be connected with the vital interests of the country; and in the second place, with inquiring which of the several great parties in that House were most likely to carry those principles into effect. He humbly ventured to think that the prosperity and safely of the country were mainly based on these two great principles;—first, freedom of trade; and, secondly, national education. Upon these great principles, political speaking, he based his faith; and to the ulterior consequences of those principles, duly carried out, he looked for the happiness and security of the nation. Freedom of trade—whether applied to develop the gigantic enterprise of commerce or the minute manufacture of the needle— 733 whether applied to the interests of the opulent merchant or to the necessities of the labouring artisan—to freedom of trade he looked as he best source of prosperity; to the extension of education he looked as the real source of order and of safety; for, till the poorest man should be taught by education how much he was interested in maintaining order, in obeying the laws, and extending the general prosperity of the country, there could be no solid defence against occasional turbulence and disquiet. He now came to inquire how far it was likely that those great principles would be carried out by the powerful party opposed to the Government. In the first place, he would ask whether that which was commonly called the Conservative party had shown any inclination or tendency to carry out the principles either of free trade or of national education? Involved in the principle of free trade was the question of the repeal of the corn-laws—a question daily growing into a gigantic interest—soon to be met by every one who pretended to the name of a statesman, and soon, perhaps, to shake the fabric of society to the foundation. To that question, whether through the medium of illustrious dukes or humble country esquires, the response of the Conservative party had still been fatal to the commercial prosperity of the country. Then, upon the next point. Had the Conservative party evinced any disposition to sustain the cause of national education? Whilst every other nation in Europe had of late years advanced with such unexampled rapidity in the march of education, it was lamentable in England to perceive that though millions were annually voted for the support of the army, the navy, and the ordnance, our estimates presented only the paltry sum of 30,000l. for the advancement of national education. He ventured respectfully to think, and to tell the hon. Gentleman opposite, that the day would come when they, in common with those who now sat on the ministerial benches, would look with wonder and regret at the course they had pursued upon the subject of education. He came next to another party in the House, and inquired whether that party was likely to concede the great principles to which he had alluded. He did not mean the high Conservative party, but that offset from it—that moderate, he might call it that Liberal Conservative party, which he considered to be led by the right hon. 734 Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel). It was impossible for any one to look at the conduct of that right hon. Baronet, and not to know, or at least not to suspect, that his views were far beyond those of many of his followers and supporters. He gave the right hon. Baronet credit for thinking that he saw before him much farther than many of his follower did. But the difficulty seemed to be how he could induce them to follow him. It seemed to be questionable whether the extended views which the right hon. Baronet took, would not place him in a solitary and isolated position, from which it would be equally difficult for him to retire with honour or advance with safety. The right hon. Baronet showed, in many of the propositions which emanated from him, a tendency to coincide with the views of the Liberal Members of the House; but whilst he would fain advance with them—whilst he cast his eyes forward to the same objects that they desired to attain, the loitering and reluctant party to which he was attached compelled his steps to be retrogressive. In this respect the right hon. Baronet resembles the fair fugitive in the lines of Pope, of whom the poet said—Whilst a kind look at her pursuer flies, How much at variance are her feet and eyes!He therefore concluded that the right hon. Baronet, even if he had the will, had not the power to carry out the important measures which he desired to see accomplished. From neither of the Conservative parties, then, could he hope for a concession of the great principles to which he had adverted; therefore, upon neither could he repose any confidence. Lastly, he came to the Members of the Government who now sat before him—the third party in the House of Commons—and he asked how far they could meet the views of Members who, like himself, had laid down the two great axioms of free trade and national education as the bases of future legislation. He could have hoped indeed that it would have been in the power of the ministry to have proceeded with those great principles at a more accelerated pace; and he could have been well pleased with any ministry which would have stated boldly, "we take our stand upon these two vital questions, and by these questions we will stand or fall." He meant not to blame those who had not taken so open nor so bold a course. Perhaps it required more than 735 ordinary energy to pursue it—an energy equal to that of the elder or the younger Pitt; but whether the Members of the present Administration were or were not able to proceed with such rapidity and promptness as the friends of free trade and national education desired, they had at all events gone forward in the right course, and still evinced a disposition to pursue it. Therefore, as compared with the other parties in the House, he gave them a strong and decided preference. But apart from the great principles to which he had alluded, he would turn for a moment to other subjects on which the interests of the community were much concerned, and would inquire whether upon those subjects the Ministry deserved the support of the Liberal Members of the House. In the first place, as far as they had carried out to its final accomplishment the great measure of negro emancipation, he thought they were entitled to the approbation of the Liberal party. In their colonial policy, also, he thought they had earned a meed of confidence. And although the change lately made in the colonial secretaryship did not enable the House to do more than augur with respect to the future, he hoped that the noble Lord who now held that important office, having filled others with the highest credit to himself, would steadily persevere in an onward course in that path which had been so ably pointed out to him by Lord Durham, in the masterly and statesmanlike report which he had laid before the Government; and that hereafter the colonial policy of the ministry would be worthy of a liberal and enlightened administration, which, whilst it kept up the communication between the old country and the new, would yet encourage freedom in the latter; and whilst it would not allow the colonies to be separated from the parent state, still looked forward to the probability of their final emancipation. He wished, he confessed, that the alterations which had been made in the police of the country had been a little more based upon the representative system, and he trusted that some amendments would be made in the measures which were last year hastily adopted upon that subject. Upon an occasion like the present, it was impossible not to advert to the conduct of Ministers with respect to Ireland. Upon that point their policy had unquestionably been one of soundness and success. Even the hon. Member for Kilmarnock did not 736 dispute the fitness of the present Lord-lieutenant of Irelad. The hon. Member did indeed condemn the administration of Lord Normanby; but he gave his approbation to the administration of Lord Ebrington. Considering that the administrations of both had been conducted upon the same principle, he thought that the approbation given in the one case furnished an answer to the disapprobation expressed in the other; and that, as the same policy had governed both, both were entitled to the same degree of praise. He confessed that, during the recess, he had heard, with great regret, the imputations that had been cast, not only upon the Liberal party, but upon an illustrious personage, who might be regarded as the head of the Liberal party in this country; and he must be allowed to express the gratitude that every Liberal Member must feel to the Sovereign of these realms, who, for the first time since the days of William 3d., had maintained the principles of liberty against the prejudices of a great portion of her subjects. Considering that the principles upon which the Ministry and the Sovereign proceeded were sound, considering that they approximated more nearly to those which were the basis of his own opinions, and of a great portion of the Liberal party in that House—considering that the two other parties were either not disposed or not able to carry those principles into execution, he felt bound to meet the motion now before the House with a decided negative, hoping and believing that, in supporting the Government on the present occasion, he was supporting the two great principles of free trade and national education.
§ Mr Andrew White
was understood to express his confidence in a ministry which, within a few years, had reduced the taxation of the country by 4,000,000l., and extended to the utmost of its power the principles of free trade, and of national education.
§ Debate adjourned.