HC Deb 15 August 1843 vol 71 cc744-60

On the Order of the Day for the House to go into a committee on the Chelsea Pensioners Bill,

Mr. Hume

asked whether the bill was to be limited to two years, and whether it were resolved to call out only 10,000 men. The proceedings on this bill were altogether unusual. In 1819 an estimate was laid on the Table when a similar measure was proposed. If there were only 10,000 men to be employed for six months, the right hon. Gentleman should make an estimate of the amount required, and lay it on the Table. He wished to know the number of men who were to be called out, and how long the bill was to remain in force.

Sir H. Hardinge

could not make an estimate, as the hon. Gentleman wished. The expense would be wholly contingent on the number of men actually employed. The pensioners might not be called out at all, or only a few for two months, and therfore it was impossible for him to lay any estimate on the Table. The practice was, to lay an account of the whole expenses before the House after they had been incurred. He should be sorry if he were not able to realise the expectations he had held out last night, of only employing 10,000 men; and he must say that he had great objections to limiting the number of men to be employed. At the same time, after what had passed, he should not object to state in the bill that the number of pensioners enrolled should not exceed 10,000. He could not make that concession last night, in, consequence of the tone, the offensive tone, of hon. Members. When his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department came, he could answer the hon. Member's question as to the duration of the bill, as that was in his department.

Mr. T. Duncombe

asked whether it were intended to call out the pensioners and drill them? The right hon. Gentleman opposite had no reason to complain of the tone on that side, which was consistent with discussion; the right hon. Gentleman should complain of the tone when the bill was brought in, which caused the opposition it had met with. The bill had caused great alarm, and it would cause still more alarm when it was better known. He wished to ask, however, whether it were intended to insult the people by calling out these 10,000 pensioners to be drilled before their faces when they were perfectly quiet?

Sir H. Hardinge

said, it was not the intention to call out the pensioners for eight days' drill. Nor could he say for how many days they would be called out. It was possible they might be called out for four days before the next meeting of Parliament. If they were called out for four days, at the expense of 2s. 6d. per day, he thought the House could not complain of that sum to provide a force ready to put down any disturbance. As to meeting this expense, he had to say that in 1842 a sum of 10,000l. was granted, to provide for certain contingencies. Of that sum only 4,000l, had been expended. He therefore had no need to come to Parliament for any additional grant till next year. The clothing of these men would be supplied by the Ordnance department, and the Ordnance estimates would be brought before the House in a regular course. If the whole of the men were called out, he did not expect that the cost would be more than 12s. a head; but not expecting the whole to be called out, he thought about 7s. a head on the whole number might cover all the expense.

Mr. Macaulay

not having been present at the discussion last evening, and not being of the opinion of several Gentlemen who spoke on that occasion, wished to state his views of this bill. It was said to be unconstitutional, but he could conscientiously bear witness that he believed the right hon. Gentleman who pro- posed it had no design to invade the Constitution. He could say that he had none, and between two and three years ago, when he was in office, he had discussed a plan and prepared a measure very like the present bill. He believed that the bill now proposed by the right hon. Gentleman was like the bill he proposed then, and he was bound to say that the Government was perfectly justified in proposing the measure. He saw that the Government had a mass of power at its command, which could be made available in cases of exigency. He had reason, however, to think that the pensioners, when called into service without being under the restraint of military discipline, might be mischievous. They could be made effective as a military body, and under military regulations, while they would be most inefficient as a police. He believed that by this measure the Government might call out 10,000 efficient soldiers, while before it had the power of calling out 70,000 bad special constables. He had no fear that the army would be used to subvert liberty. The constitutional checks to the employment of such a force were so great, that for nearly two centuries and a half, ever since the restoration of Charles the 2nd, there had been no single instance of the military force being able to overbear the civil power. Those checks were amply sufficient to guard the public against the employment of the retired soldier in the preservation of the public peace, and from that no bad consequences were to be apprehended. It would be the cheapest force and the best that could be resorted to. In cases of disorders and disturbances, dangerous to peace and property, they must look to and rely upon some force or other, and this body of men were the least liable to public obloquy; it was decidedly the most efficient and the most economical. And on those precicis, when he was in office, he had prepared such a plan as that now proposed, uninfluenced, as he could assure the House, by any such motives as he understood had been attributed to the Government in the course of the debate of the previous evening. Then, it was asked, were they prepared to join in placing additional powers in the hands of Government, while they refused any concession to the wishes of the people? He had voted for every measure of political and of commercial reform that had been proposed by every party in that House for years past; he had voted for the motion of the hon. Member for Wolver-hampton, but he never could admit that because any particular measure of reform was not carried out by the Government, he could refuse that Government the powers necessary to preserve the public peace. Was it the meaning of Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House, that if Government were to concede what they thought a good Corn-law, they would be at liberty to employ troops and to put the people to the sword when there was no necessity for it? Then was it intended that because Government would not agree to a good Corn-law, they were to refuse to grant them the instruments necessary to maintain public order? Were they, as a mode of coercing the Government into adopting a good policy, to grant the people a latitude for riot? This proposition was utterly untenable. If the powers asked for could be safely confided to the Government, he would vote for them though they had a bad commercial system; and if those powers were not necessary, and it was not safe to confide in them, he would vote against the proposal, though they had the best commercial system in the world. If it was necessary for the preservation of public order, he would vote for it, though they had a still worse Corn-law than the present one.

Dr. Bowring

said the right hon. Gentleman, not being in his place last night, had received a false impression of what had taken place. There were no persons more desirous of lending their assistance for the preservation of the public peace than the Gentlemen on his side of the House, or more ready to put down riot. But they believed the character of the bill was unconstitutional. It was giving an additional quantity of despotic power to the Government, and they naturally felt disappointed that such powers should be asked for at this period of the Session. They had resisted the bill as far as they were able, but himself and his friends would not be disposed to oppose its further progress, provided the Government would consent to limit the operation of the act to two years. Last night there had been shown some disposition to meet them on this point.

Sir James Graham

expressed his obligations to the right hon. Member for Edinburgh for his frank avowal of his sentiments, though generally opposed to her Majesty's Government, and his concurrence in the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman. It was indispensably necessary that property and the public peace should be protected against organized plunderers. In the course of last year it was undeniable that property was menaced, and even destroyed in open day, in Staffordshire. It was then the general impression, and experience proved it to be correct, that the ordinary civil power of the country was insufficient to preserve the public peace and to give security to property; and the demands for the assistance of some other force were numerous. He stated last night that no additional power was conferred on the Government by this bill, for it was perfectly competent for them as the law stood to call out these pensioners, to arm them, and to employ them in any way that should be most conducive to the public good, but they conceived that in the employment of these men, without the strong checks of strict military discipline, it would not be expedient to trust them with arms in their hands in aid of the civil force, and that the civil rights of the people were far more endangered by that course than by the measure proposed by the Government. If the measure were defensible at all, it was defensible not only as a temporary expedient, but as a permanent measure. His experience of the working of the special constable system had led him to propose the present bill, and he thought it should be made permanent. The pensioners were now liable to be called out and embodied as veteran battalions, or called out in aid of the civil power as special constables, and being so called out, without military control or discipline, they might be armed. Now, the adoption of the first course, as had been stated on the previous evening by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, would be attended with much inconvenience by bringing the force to a central point instead of making it generally available; and with regard to the second course, the experience of the special constable system would not induce him to propose it. The result of his experience therefore, induced him to propose the measure in its present shape, and the grounds upon which he proposed it were those he had stated. He proposed it as a permanent measure, and he could not assent to the proposition to limit the operation of the bill for two years. His right hon. Friend, the Secretary of War had announced his intention to limit the number of men that were to be enrolled, but he could not consent to the limitation as to time. The provision for the expense of the measure would be annually brought before the House in the estimates, and would be thus placed, in the most constitutional manner, under the control and check of the House. It was sound in principle, and a safe addition to the power of the executive, for the proper exercise of which the executive would be responsible. Looking at all the circumstances of the case—looking at the concession already made—looking at the advantages of having the measure permanent—and looking at the periodical manner in which its consequences would necessarily come under the consideration of the House, he could not consent to limiting the bill to a number of years.

Mr. Williams

was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman was departing from the principle that the expense of a military force should be proposed annually to Parliament. The bill was adding a permanent force of 10,000 men to the military power of the Government. There was no occasion for the right hon. Baronet to compliment the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, for that right hon. Gentleman and his friends were never found contending for the cause of liberty, but were ever ready to support the Government against the people. He expected, though the limitation of the bill was now 10,000 men, that next year the whole force of 75,000 would be called out. He considered such a course of proceeding as the present was most dangerous to the Queen and the country. He deplored it as a total departure from the constitution. If the right hon. Gentleman had admitted a limitation to the bill as to time, he would not oppose it, but as that was not the case he meant to oppose it, and he hoped his Friends would oppose it to the utmost of their power.

Colonel T. Wood

said, it was objected to this bill that it was opposed to constitutional principle; now the constitutional principle was, that the soldiers were enlisted for life, and were at all times liable to be called upon to serve, though the estimates were voted annually; and though in this case the bill was permanent, the supplies for the force which would be enrolled under it would be voted annually, there was therefore no constitutional difference between the construction of this force and the construction of the standing army. The bill was brought forward as a constitutional measure and upon constitutional principles, to aid the Government in putting down outrage and in preserving the public peace; and for his own part he could see no reason for the factious opposition with which it was met by the Opposition. He trusted the Government would adhere to the bill, and if Gentlemen opposite persevered in this species of vexatious opposition to a measure which was necessary for the protection of life and property, he was quite sure their conduct would be viewed with feelings of disgust by the people of this country, who would rally round the Government, and support them in their endeavour to conduct the administration of affairs in compliance with the principles of the constitution. The Government had another course. If hon. Gentlemen opposite dared to obstruct her Majesty's servants in their endeavour to carry on the legislative business of the country, let the Government resign, and the country would soon show whether it would submit to be governed by hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Hume

dared the Ministers to resign. The gallant officer forgot that the Government could not maintain a single soldier without the annual assent of the House; but these pensioners were already and permanently paid. So much for the ignorance of the hon. Gentleman. If he were not allowed to speak, he would beg leave to move that the House do adjourn. They did not come there to be driven away by the high words of the gallant Officer. The course which he expected to be pursued had been entirely changed with regard to the bill since last night, probably on account of the support given it the right, hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh.

The Speaker

, interrupting the hon. Member, said the hon. Member had clearly no right to address the House on this to this question, having already addressed it, and sat down. The hon. Member had spoke since the order of the day was moved.

Mr. Hume

moved that the House do adjourn.

Mr. Foster

had no desire to offer any factious opposition to the Government, and he thought, after what had passed, if the right hon. Gentleman would consent to limit the duration of the bill to two years, there need be no further difficulty on the subject. He thought that a fair compromise.

Mr. Stuart Wortley

thought the right hon. Member was right in refusing to comply with the request to limit the duration of the bill. He hoped the Government would consent to no such proposition. He conceived that if the bill were to be limited, there would not be sufficient time to drill the men to make them serviceable. If the bill were only to be continued for two years, there would not be time to make the force effective. The yeomanry were not limited as to time, and why should they lay more restriction on that force than on the yeomanry?

Mr. Bright

was surprised that the hon. Member for Middlesex should speak of a factious opposition, for if he was not mistaken, there was a time when the hon. Member sat on the Opposition side of the House, and the hon. Member, or his friends at least, were extremely factious in their opposition. As to the disgust created by the opposition to the bill, he believed all the large constituencies would view their conduct with approbation. The power asked for was the power of refusing with impunity, any measures of improvement the state of the people might require. He felt that the power asked for was only necessary, because the Government had refused to do justice to the people. The limitation of the bill to two years would not impair its efficiency. If at the end of two years it was still found necessary, Parliament would, as on all similar occasions, continue it. But once such measures were made permanent, it required twenty times the exertion to get rid of them again. They got to be matters of course, and he believed they should be abandoning their duties to their constituents, if they did not take every means the forms of the House afforded to defeat this measure. He owed no allegiance to those on the opposite side of the House; and to his own conscience and to his constituents alone should he look for approbation.

Colonel Sibthorp

had predicted last night that if the Government conceded anything they would not disarm opposition. What now said the hon. Members? The hon. Member for Montrose said that he would move the adjournment of the House, and stop the business. Formerly the right hon. Member for Edinburgh was quite a favourite of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but now they spoke slightingly of him, and were more his enemies than his friends. He thought the course of that right hon. Gentlemen highly honourable to him, though he probably might repent of it. The right hon. Gentleman had learned a little more precaution. He wished the Ministers should concede nothing. Firmness in Ministers was the greatest virtue. Let them stick to their guns, and they would be sure of success.

Mr. E. B. Roche

did not know why the bill might not be limited to one Session. The hon. Member for Yorkshire stated that it would require time to drill the men, but the gallant officer who brought in the bill said that these pensioners would require no drilling. No reason whatever had been assigned for the bill. The Government said that the exigencies of the present time required the bill. Well, take it, then, for the present time. Did the right hon. Gentleman assume the character of prophet, and tell them that the discontent would be permanent? Did they mean to make it so? What sort of character, then, did they give their own Government? There was more in this bill than met the eye, and till that were stated—till some constitutional reason were given for the bill—he should join his hon. Friends in giving it the utmost opposition in his power.

The House divided on the question that the House do adjourn. Ayes 9; Noes 75: Majority 66.

Mr. Hume

moved, that the next order of the day be read. They were invited last night to state their objections to the measure, and they stated them under the expectation.

The Speaker

decided that the hon. Member was out of order. The House had decided that it would not adjourn, and would have the order of the day read, and the hon. Member had no right to address the House till the order of the day was read.

Mr. Hume

persisted that he was in order. But the Speaker reiterating that the hon. Member had already spoken on the question before the House, the hon. Member sat down.

Order of the day read. On the motion that the Speaker do now leave the chair,

Mr. Hume

said, that he was now in order, and he would proceed to state what he should before have said had he been allowed. He was surprised at the hon. Members on the other side interrupting him, and he then rose to move that the House should go into a committee that day three months. There was great inconsistency amongst the advocates of the bill. bill. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, when he introduced the bill, had not said one word about the disturbances last year; but now the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary spoke of the disturbances last year, and wished to make the bill permanent. The right hon. Baronet had put it entirely on a new footing, and made him dislike the bill more than ever. Last night when the division was 92 to 16, he was inclined to say that he would not oppose the bill any further, and, therefore, he had proposed that it should be limited as to time, and that a limitation should be made as to the number of men to be enrolled. But now matters were changed, and the bill was to be made permanent. He did not know why it should not be subject to revision, as it was an experimental bill. They had limited the Irish Arms Bill, they had limited the Coalwhippers Bill, why should they not limit this, which was only an experimental bill? The income-tax had been limited to three years, because the Government knew that the people would not bear it if it were not limited, and why, he again asked, should not this bill be limited? He had said that if the right hon. Baronet would put down the yeomanry he should be disposed to agree to the bill. He quite agreed with the right hon. Baronet that the employment of the yeomanry, by which the rancorous feelings of different classes were nourished, was much to be deprecated, and he should prefer at all times relying on the military to calling out the yeomanry. If yeomanry were to be put down, and the measure subjected to a periodical revision, he should not object to it. The Government ought to have brought in the bill earlier. The number of pensioners was 73,103, and though they might not all be able to serve, this bill would give a power to the Government to enroll between 30,000 and 40,000 pensioners. It was no recommendation to him to find that this bill had the authority of the whigs, but though it had been prepared by them it had not been brought into the House. It was, therefore, no authority at all that it had been discussed in the Whig cabinet and never been allowed to see daylight in Parliament. The bill was not just to the pensioners. If it only summoned those who were willing to serve he should have less objection to it. But it was compulsory on the pensioners; and those men who were scattered in the most remote parts of the empire, might be suddenly, called on to serve, by a bill brought in at the close of the Session, and passed with out much discussion. It was true the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War stated that those should not be called out who might find it very inconvenient to serve, and that would mitigate in some degree the compulsory part of the bill; but still he contended, out of justice to the pensioners, that such a bill should not be brought in at the close of the Session. He appealed to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government not to hurry forward the bill, The hon. Member concluded by moving that the House do resolve itself into a committee three months hence.

Sir R. Peel

said, notwithstanding the vehement declamation of the hon. Member for Montrose, it was pretty clear that his own opinions were strongly in favour of the bill. He thought the hon. Member was the last man in the world to make ill considered concessions to his opponents, and when he said he thought this kind of force was greatly preferable to many others of which the Government had full power of availing itself, when he said these soldiers would be efficient instruments of preserving the public peace, when he said if the Government would give its assurance to the House that it would not call out the yeomanry, he would then waive his objections to the permanent character of the bill, and be prepared to support it—when he heard the hon. Member say this, he could not think that the hon. Member believed the bill to be either dangerous or unconstitutional. A great number of the objections now brought against this bill had been brought against the establishment of the new police force in 1829. He was told that it was an unconstitutional measure, that it did away with the ancient conservators of the public peace, who were submitted to the parochial authorities, and paid by those who had the control of the parochial funds: it was said that it was the beginning of a series of encroachments on the constitution of the country, under the name of establishing a metropolitan police. Perhaps the hon. Member for Coventry was of that opinion still; but he did not apprehend that the hon. Member had found his freedom of speech or action much restricted, though he had to announce to him the perhaps startling fact that there were in the metropolis between 3,000 and 4,000 organized policemen; and if the deliberate opinion of the inhabitants were asked, he believed they would say they felt greater security for both their property and their persons since the establishment of a body that showed the utmost deference for the law, and against whom there was no proof that any person had been by their means impeded in the exercise of any right which the constitution gave them. He must remind the House that nothing could be more dangerous than to resort to the use of privileges which would establish the preponderance, not of the opinion of the majority, but of the minority of that House. That power was given for the protection of the minority against a tyrannical majority: but that power the present abuse of these privileges would tend to impair. He reminded the opposition that the Government had conceded to them their time of going into committee, and remarked on the distinction between enrolling and calling out the pensioners. The conduct of the Government did not give the slightest justification for the exercise of the powers of opposition, granted for the protection of the minority. The Government did not consider this as a measure of coercion, nor one that gave them any new powers. They had at present a great unwieldy instrument at their command, which they might employ without restriction, for they could call out the whole of the pensioners, and they came down to the House of Commons to ask Parliament to regulate the exercise of that power, and to impose restrictions on the power they already possessed. They might call out the force without applying to Parliament; but if they did so, they would get a body of men less efficient for the preservation of the public peace, while it was more dangerous to the civil liberty of the subject. The Government objected to the restriction to two years, because they did not consider it a sufficient time to make a fair experiment of the efficacy of the force. It was proposed at first to limit the metropolitan police to three years; but if a force was to be organized at present, let it be put into an efficient state, and able to perform the trust reposed in it. He thought the Government had some claim to the confidence of the House. The country was last year in a state of great excitement, and in many parts of the country there were very imperfect provisions made for the preservation of the public peace. The attacks of those who were confederated together were not made on the property of the rich, but against the freedom of action of the poor, who were compelled to leave their work when they were contented with their wages. The Government at that time restored tranquillity. They did not demand any new powers from the Legislature; they asked no new powers at the present moment. They had a great and ill-regulated power at their disposal, and they thought it their duty to come to Parliament, and ask Parliament to apply some regulations to it. He denied that the measure was one of coercion. They might call into activity, without inconvenience, the services of those whose service they had a right to require, and they might decline the voluntary aid of those whose services they thought it better to dispense with; but here was an available force, under the control of the magistrates, for the maintenance of the public peace, and all they asked the House was, to enable them to apply that force. That some additional power was necessary, was plain, from the fact stated last night by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne, that in that neighbourhood there were 10,000 men out of employment, and only five persons to preserve the peace. He repeated that the Government only asked the House to regulate the power, the Government already possessed.

Mr. Bright

said the right hon. Baronet had shown no reason for the measure; the only argument he advanced against its limitation was, that two years were not long enough for the trying the experiment. Not ten thousand men only, but twice that number might be raised in half that time, and these men did not require training at all, as they were told by the Secretary at War. He had as much respect for the opinion of the majority as any man, and there might be occasions when it would be vexatious for a small majority to interfere. But these privileges were given to be used at some time or other, or why were they given at all? The House was called on in the last week of the Session, when most of the Members had left London, when no notice of such a measure had been given, when there had been no time for any expression of public opinion with regard to it, to pass this bill, when the Government itself said it already possessed all the power the bill professed to give it, and that it even imposed restrictions upon that power. The statement of the right hon. Baronet was not enough to satisfy the House, and they were justified in resisting it.

Mr. T. Duncombe

had entertained last night a sanguine hope that the Government was ready to make some concession with regard to this bill and its duration. Some allusion had been made to the tone adopted last, night by Members on this side of the House towards the right hon. the Secretary at War; he did not hear anything of the kind; but was there not something offensive in the tone of the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex? He "dared" the opposition to persist in opposing the bill; he never heard that "dare" was a parliamentary word, to be applied to any Member, or section of Members. He did dare, and would dare, to oppose it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman advised the Government if the Opposition persisted in "daring," to resign. He did not think the advice was very likely to be taken. He did not think either of the right hon. Baronets were likely to resign; but if that opposition was likely to have that result, that was a premium to them to obstruct the bill. He did not think that the right hon. Baronet, the Paymaster of the Forces, was likely to resign. There he sits, in happy indifference to all that is going on around him, which one would think had something to do with his department, leaving all his battles to be fought by the two right hon. Baronets. If their obstruction would produce such a happy result as the resignation of a ministry so unpopular as the present one, he believed they should have even all the Whig army up to town to join in it. There was only one thing wanted to complete the unpopularity of the present bill, and that it had obtained—it was now announced that it was a Whig measure. It came, it seemed, from the portfolio of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, the late Secretary at War. If it had been kept back so long, let it be kept back a little longer; let it be delayed for six months, and be introduced when it could be discussed. Why was there such indecent haste with it? The right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had called the working people organised plunderers. [Sir J. Graham: That was in allusion to the outrages of last year.] He denied that the charge could apply to the workingmen. When Manchester was in possession of what they called the mob for three days, not so much as a pane of glass was broken. In the speech from the throne, Ministers came down with canting, hypocritical compliments to the conduct of the working classes, and on the fortitude with which they bore their sufferings, and then at the end of a long Session they came forward to call them "organised plunderers," and applied to Parliament for a measure of coercion, unaccompanied by any measures of relief. Why, was not this a measure of coercion? If the putting into motion 600,000 ball cartridge and 10,000 bayonets were not means of coercion, he did not know what was. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh was very indignant against those who opposed the bill, and described them as giving a latitude to riot. They did no such thing. He remembered at the time of the passing of the Reform Bill that the right hon. Gentleman was not then so averse from giving a latitude to riot. He remembered speeches in which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen spoke of the fires of Bristol and the black flag at Glasgow, and then the right hon. Gentleman was not averse from recommending submission to the wishes of the people. In 1830, too, when the whole country was roused and almost in a state of revolt, the right hon. Gentleman was silent. He wished to know why they should now increase the standing army? His hon. Friend, the Member for Montrose, had been misrepresented, for his hon. Friend had only expressed a readiness to support the bill on condition that the yeomanry was superseded. The hon. Member concluded by declaring that it was plain that the object of the Government was to govern the people by brute force, and refuse them all reasonable concessions.

Mr. Forster

hoped that, after what had been said, the hon. Member for Montrose would not press his motion to a division.

Mr. Williams

said, if the force were so good as the right hon. Gentleman described it, why should he be afraid to come before the House and renew the act every year? Of late years the standing army had been increased 10,000 men; but it never was an argument that you must continue that force a considerable time in order to make these men soldiers. The Legislature had been going on, step by step, infringing on the liberties of the people, and all this was made necessary by extortion and taxation to maintain the aristocracy in superfluity and luxury. This was the cause why the Government was becoming wholly military. In 1792 the whole naval and military force of the empire was only 45,000 men, and the expense not above 4,000,000l. Now there were 240,000 effective men, and they cost 16,000,000l. at least. This was the progress of misgovernment. If military power was depended on—if exaction were continued, at last the string would break, and then woe to those who had practised oppression on the people. Those who follow out the course which now required the increase of the military force would, in the end, be the greatest sufferers.

Mr. Cobden

said, that the minority of that House had power given to them to obstruct measures under certain circumstances, in opposition to measures supported by a majority. This was a case of the kind. The bill ought not to have been brought in at that period of the Session, and it ought not now to be enforced. They ought to wait till it was known what the public would think of such a measure. Supposed that they had pursued this course on the education scheme, and the majority had backed the ministers in carrying that bill through, would not the education scheme have become a law before the people had time to consider? If the country understood this bill he was sure the country would oppose it as they had opposed the Education Bill. Where, he asked, were the Members of the great northern constituencies, and of the manufacturing towns? Where were the Members for Manchester? ["They are absent."] Where was the Member for Glasgow? ["Here."] Yes, but the other Members of the great manufacturing constituencies were not present. He asked hon. Gentlemen who represented, perhaps, rural constituencies, and who had remained to make up the majority, whether it were customary to bring in bills of this kind at the end of the Session, and whether it were not customary to give notice of them? No notice whatever had been given of this bill. The Government knew that the House always thinned at the end of August; they knew what the state of the House would be; yet they had given no notice of their intention to bring in such a measure, and these Members had no reason to suppose that such a bill was contemplated. He was not amenable to the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, and he hoped in future he would not speak in his name. He agreed with the hon. Member for Finsbury, that it was no recommendation of the measure, that it was concocted by the Whigs.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question: Ayes 74; Noes 10: Majority 64.

List of the AYES.
Allix, J. P. Kemble, H.
Baring, hn. W. B. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E
Bentinck, Lord G. Lincoln, Earl of
Bodkin, W H. Lowther, J. H.
Boldero, H. G. Lyall, G.
Broadley, H. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Bruce, Lord E. Masterman, J.
Buller, C. Maxwell, hon. J.P.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Meynell, Capt.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Milnes, R. M.
Clerk, Sir G. Newdegate, C. N.
Clive, Visct Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Cochrane, A. Northland, Visct.
Corry, rt. hon. H. O'Brien, A. S.
Cripps, W Oswald, A.
Damer, hon. Col. Palmer, G.
Darby, G. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Dick, Q. Peel, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Polhill, F.
Duncombe, hon. A. Pringle, A.
Duncombe, hon. O. Round, J.
Flower, Sir J. Scott, hn. F.
Forman, T. S. Sibthorp, Col.
Forster, M. Smith, rt. hn. T.B.C.
Fuller, A. E. Somerset, Lord G.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Sutton, hon. H. M.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Tomline, G.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Trench, Sir F. W.
Gore, M. Trotter, J.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Wall, C. B.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Wood, Col.
Greene, T. Wood, Col. T.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Wood, G. W.
Hawes, B. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Henley, J. W. Young, J.
Hope, hn. C.
Hornby, J. TELLERS.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Freemantle, Sir T.
Jones, Capt. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Bright, J. *Scholefield, J.
*Clements, Visct. Wawn, J. T.
Cobden, R. Williams, W.
Collett, J.
Pechell, Capt. TELLERS.
Plumridge, Capt. Hume, J.
Roche, E. B. Duncombe, T.

Main question again put.

Mr. T. Duncombe

moved, that the House do adjourn till five O'clock.

Sir Robert Peel

, considering that this was the day on which motions had precedence, consented to resume the committee in the evening.

Mr. Hume

had understood last night that the Government had consented to limit the bill, and if that were done his hon. Friends, he understood, would not oppose it. He hoped before the next meeting of the House, the Government would be ready to come into such an arrangement.

Colonel Sibthorp

hoped the Government would adhere to its determination. The Gentleman opposite only wanted to bully the Government. If Government gave way, he would not support the Ministers, humble as he was.

Debate adjourned till the evening sitting.

The House adjourned, and resumed at five o'clock.