HC Deb 13 July 1843 vol 70 cc1092-9
Lord Eliot

moved, that the Speaker do leave the Chair' for the House to go into a committee on the Arms (Ireland) Bill.

Viscount Clements

again protested against the bill, and thought it the duty of hon. Members to oppose it. He complained of the system of Government, by which the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland was invariably a party man. Her Majesty had no party, and it was unjust to the Irish people that her Majesty's representative should act only from party motives and feelings. Until such a system was abolished, they could never expect Ireland to be in reality united in her own people, or united with Great Britain.

Mr. Wallace

felt justified in saying, that the entire course of the debate showed that there was no necessity for this bill; and, therefore, every Member attached to Liberal opinions should oppose it to the utmost. Such was his antipathy to this bill, that he should move that the committee on this bill be postponed until this day six months. The Irish in the west of Scotland were fast becoming repealers in consequence of the conduct of the Government.

Mr. Sharman Crawford

seconded the amendment. He had once opposed the agitation for Repeal, as he hoped for justice from the United Legislature; but if this bill received the Royal Assent, he should say that they must either repeal this act, or Repeal the Union. He should offer every opposition to the further progress of this bill.

Mr. Oswald

denied that there was any strong feeling amongst the Irish in the west of Scotland, in favour of Repeal.

Mr. Villiers Stuart

said, that he found he was already suffering from the misapprehension which his constituents were under, from its having been stated to them that he supported the Government Arms Bill, whereas he had only voted for the second reading of the bill, because he considered some Arms Bill necessary, and had voted against all the clauses which his Friends around him had opposed as too stringent. Notwithstanding the misapprehension which he was already suffering under he found himself on this occasion compelled to expose himself to probably further misapprehension, as he was not prepared to stultify his first vote by sup porting the amendment of the hon. Member. He should steadily oppose those clauses in committee which he considered objectionable; and that if he were not successful in that opposition, it would be his duty to vote against the bill on the third reading.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question yes 104; Noes 27: Majority 77.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Hayes, Sir E.
A'Court, Capt. Henley, J. W.
Adare, Visct. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Adderley, C. B. Hervey, Lord A.
Allix, J. P. Hodgson, R.
Antrobus, E. Hope, hon. C.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Hussey, 'T'.
Arkwright, G Ingestre, Visct.
Bailey, J. Inglis, Sir It. H.
Bailey, J. jun. Jermyn, Earl
Baillie, Col. Jolliffe' Sir W. G.
Baillie, H. J. Jones, Capt.
Barrington, Visct. Lefroy, A.
Bernard, Visct. Lockhart, W.
Blackstone, W. S. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Boldero, H. G. Mackenzie, T.
Botfield, B. Martin, C. W.
Broadley, H. Masterman, J.
Bruce, Lord E. Meynell, Capt..
Buck, L. W. Morgan, O.
Buckley, E. O'Brien, A. S.
Bunbury, T. Packe, C. W.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R
Cholmondeley,hn, H. Peel, J.
Clayton, R. R. Pennant, hon. Col.
Clerk, Sir G. Polhill, F,
Clive, Visct. Pollington, Visct.
Cresswell, B. Pollock, Sir F.
Darner, hon. Col. Richards, R.
Dick, Q. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Dodd, G. Russell, Lord J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Sandon, Visct.
Duncombe, hon. O. Sheppard, T.
East, J. B. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Egerton, W. T. Somerset, Lord G.
Eliot, Lord Stuart, W. V.
Escott, B. Sturt, H. C.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Flower, Sir J. Trench, Sir F. W.
Follett, Sir W. W. Trollope, Sir J.
Forester, hon. G.C.W. Trotter, J.
Forman, T. S. Vernon, G. H.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Vesey, hon. T.
Gladstone, rt.hn.W.E. Welby, G. E.
Gladstone, Capt. Wellesley Lord C.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H Wilbraham, hn. R. B.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Wood, Col. T.
Greenall, P. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Greene, T. Young, J.
Hale, R. B.
Halford, H. TELLERS
Hampden, R. Fremantle, Sir T',
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Gordon, hon. Capt.
List of the NOES.
Aglionhy, H. A. Barnard, E. G.
Barron, Sir H. W. Napier, Sir C.
Blewitt, R.J. O'Brien, W. S.
Brotherton, J. O'Connell, M. J.
Chapman, B. Ogle, S. C. H.
Clements, Visct. Plumridge, Capt.
Corbally, M. E. Power, J.
Elphinstone, H. Ross, D. R
Ewart, W. Wall, C. B.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Wawn, J. T.
French, F. Wyse, T.
Gore, hon. R. Yorke, H. R.
Hall, Sir B.
Hatton, Capt. V, TELLERS.
Martin, J. Crawford, S.
Mitcalfe, H. Wallace, R.

House went, into committee.

On Clause 13, setting forth the exemptions from the penalties for possessing arms not duly marked,

Viscount Clements

protested against having the arms of the Irish people marked or branded at all. He, for one, would never submit to the disgrace. He should divide the committee against the proposition for either marking or branding arms. He moved that the clause be omitted.

Lord Eliot

took the opportunity of defending Mr. Warburton from an imputation cast on him on a former occasion by the noble Lord who had just spoken, and quoted a letter justifying Mr. Warburton's conduct.

Lord Clements

denied the correctness of the statement. The treatment he had received from Captain Warburton was unjustifiable, and he had found it his duty to complain to the high sheriff.

Sir R. Peel

really thought that after the ample discussion which had been taken upon the principle of this measure, it was rather unfair to delay the progress of the measure before them, by offering opposition to a clause, as though it were a branding clause, whereas it was one which gave exemptions from branding. He trusted the committee would allow the remaining clauses to be discussed in the same spirit of moderation in which those already agreed to had been considered, and that no unfair obstruction would be offered.

Viscount Clements

was of opinion that every course which that side of the House could take for the purpose of impeding this most nefarious measure would be perfectly fair, He, for one, was determined to oppose this bill, stage after stage, in every possible manner.

Sir R. Peel

admitted, that the bill had been considered with fairness and moderation, and all he asked was that it should throughout be discussed in the same spirit.

Lord J. Russell

concurred that as far as the debate had hitherto gone, it had been conducted with the greatest temper and fairness by the Gentlemen connected with the country to which the measure referred, and by the House generally. He would beg to remind his noble Friend, who seemed desirous of renewing the debate upon branding, because, in the clause before the House, the word branding happened to occur, that there had already been two divisions on the subject, and, at all events, the clause was not one inflicting branding, but exempting from it. He denied that the Gentlemen from Ireland had resolved, either at the meetings they had held, or in the House, to obstruct the measure; but this question having been already decided, he recommended his noble Friend to withdraw his opposition.

Amendment withdrawn.

A conversation then arose on the necessity of defining the word "arms."

Mr. T. B. Smith

stated, that the word had hitherto been interpreted to mean guns, pistols, swords, and bayonets.

Sir D. Norreys

showed that sword-canes, halberts, and spears had been registered as arms.

Lord Eliot

promised to define the arms to be branded, and if it were possible the word should be confined to fire-arms.

Mr. Tennyson D'Eyncourt,

did not expect that an Attorney-general would have proposed an Arms Bill, and yet not be able to tell them what "arms" were, and this too, in a penal act. He thought the Attorney-general should tell them what the word arms meant.

Mr. T. B. Smith

admitted that halberts were arms. Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not discover this difficulty till they got into opposition. The hon. Gentleman who made this objection was himself Clerk of the Ordnance under the late Government, and ought therefore to know something of what arms were.

Mr. Jervis

asked the Attorney-general for England what was the meaning of the word arms? No English lawyer could have any doubt on the subject. What was the meaning of the passage, "appearing in arms against the Government?" Was not being "in arms" the carrying of any offensive weapon?

Mr. M. O'Ferrall

suggested that if the noble Lord would declare that arms meant fire-arms, it would at once get rid of all the difficulty.

The Attorney General

having been ap- pealed to, said, that he bad no doubt that' the legal meaning of the word "arms," as referred to in acts of Parliament, as, for instance, "bearing arms against her Majesty," would include every offensive weapon. The law had been in operation for forty years, and the question had never been yet raised; but lie thought that the moment any doubt appeared to exist upon the point, a definition of the meaning of the word "arms" should be adopted. In the present clause, however, the definition was not of importance, but if in the future progress of the bill it should be found to be so, he should be prepared to introduce a clause on the subject.

Mr. G. A. Hamilton

thought it would be quite sufficient for all the purposes of the act, that the meaning of the word "arms' should be restricted to fire arms and air guns.

Mr. Philip Howard

rose to support the recommendation of the hon. Member for the county of Dublin (Mr. Hamilton) as to the propriety of confining the operation of the branding clause to "Fire Arms"—it would greatly simplify the measure (supposing Ministers persisted in what would be deemed an obnoxious law) that it should be enforced only in the case of "fire-arms," and perhaps also in the case of "air-guns," which were among the most insidious of weapons. The unhappy declaration of Government made during the preceding debates, that the angry feelings which the "Arms Bill" might excite, were not to be softened and assuaged by any measures of conciliation, made him (Mr. Howard) doubly anxious to divest the bill under consideration of all that was irritating in its tendency. It was remarkable, that under the rule of Austria, even in her newly acquired Italian dominions, no regulation, so far as he knew, required the registration of arms, and in the Tyrol most certainly, the rifle was the daily companion of that hardy peasantry; dearer to them than the sound of music was the twang of their riles he would not advert to Switzerland, because there liberty bad taken its highest soar, but lie would ask, why was England the constitutional monarchy of England, to display a jealousy of those under her sway which seemed unfelt by many despotic powers? But leaving the more general question, he would again press upon the confining the operation of the bill, as much as possible to "fire-arms."

Lord Eliot

was willing to accede to the proposition for restricting the meaning of "arms" to fire-arms.

The Attorney General

suggested that air-guns should be included in the same category as fire-arms.

Mr. Muntz

thought the whole bill a ridiculous one. If people wished to kill each other, none of its provisions would prevent them. They first made bad laws for Ireland, and then punished the people for the effect produced by bad laws. As to what was to be considered arms, why, he could make a bow and arrow in five minutes, which would kill any of them.

Clause amended was agreed to.

On clause 14, persons carrying arms to be apprehended, if they refuse to produce their licence and tell their names.

Mr. Wyse

objected to the clause, as being one of the most stringent and despotic of the bill. It gave power to mere policemen to examine arms, and interrogate their possessors, at any hour of the four-and-twenty. Peace-officers might intrude into private houses for these purposes at any hour of the night, and bring whom they conceive to be offenders before a justice of the peace, the clause would produce a great increase of that excitement and bad feeling which it was the declared object of the bill to control. The committee could judge of what would probably be the consequences of the powers given to the police and the justices of the peace by this clause, when they remembered the bad state of feeling between those functionaries and the people. He trusted that Government would not press the clause in all its stringency. He proposed to restrict the power on the part of the police of making inquiries to the hours between sunset and sunrise.

Mr. Bernal

would ask, if Government were prepared to say, that a respectable, or even for that matter a disreputable yeoman, or a gentleman out shooting, should be stopped at any time during the day that a person in the garb of a police or peace officer chose, and compelled to give up his name and place of residence. Such a provision would be insufferable.

Lord Eliot

admitted that individuals might be subjected to inconvenience by the clause, which was only to be justified by stern necessity. He could assure the committee, that if they omitted or essentially modified the clause, the remainder of the bill would be good for nothing; the greatest number of murders against which the bill was intended to provide, took place during the day time. He contended, that by the English game laws and the Irish Fishery Act, similar powers were given to bailiffs, &c., as that proposed to be now conferred upon peace officers.

After a protracted conversation, the committee divided on the question that the words proposed by Mr. Wyse be inserted in the clause: — Ayes 63; Noes 124: Majority 61.

Clause agreed to.

House resumed. Committee to sit again.

House adjourned at one o'clock.

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