§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
moved, that the House do resolve itself into a Committee of Supply.
§ Lord John Russell
addressed the House to the following effect. I take this opportunity of bringing before the notice of the 1390 House the general state of this country. In so doing; I am acting according to the constitutional method adopted in former times, of considering, before the House resolves itself into a committee of supply, anything which in the state of the country may require an explanation from those Ministers who call on us to grant money for certain purposes which they think necessary for the public service. I may be asked, as it has been asked in other cases, why, if I desire to bring forward the present state of the country, I do not make an explicit motion on the subject?why I do not make a motion inculpating the Ministers of the Crown?— why I do not make a motion for a review of their conduct? I believe I should be wasting the time of the House, after the decisions to which they have come, if I asked them to enter upon a regular debate and come to a decision upon a matter upon which, for the present, at least, they seem to have determined—I mean with respect to the confidence which they are prepared to give to the Government. Early in this Session of Parliament my noble Friend, the Member for Sunderland (Viscount Howick), called the attention of this House to the state of distress existing in this country—a state of distress which was admitted in the Speech from the Throne, and h© asked the House to go into committee to consider that distress. The substance of the reply given was, "If you go into committee to consider the state of distress of the country, you imply a want of confidence in the Ministers of the Crown, and the Ministers of the Crown will be, therefore, obliged to quit her Majesty's service." On a late occasion, my hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. W. S. O'Brien) made a motion equally, with that of my noble Friend, devoid of any party statements or party allusions, and he asked you to go into committee to consider the state of I Ireland, with a view to the redress of its existing grievances. The answer was of a similar nature—that if this House should resolve to go into committee they would thereby make it necessary for the Ministers of the Crown to resign their offices, and that, therefore, the House ought not to go into committee on the state of Ireland. Such having been the decision of the House on these two separate occasions, I certainly will not, by any formal motion, call upon the House 1391 to come to any regular decision upon this point; but for myself, undoubtedly, feeling the state of the country in many respects to be very perilous—feeling that advantages have been foregone which might have been taken, and that even now there is an opportunity, a very great opportunity, of doing essential service to the country, if the Ministers of the Crown are prepared to take that line which I think their duty demands. I cannot refrain from taking this opportunity, perhaps, the last occasion of asking for a committee of supply for stating my views on the subject. I am, as I have already intimated, about to state matters which deeply concern the welfare of this country. I am not going to do that which has been done on former occasions by others—which has been done by the present Lord Chancellor, whose speeches were published in a cheap form and circulated throughout the country under a former administration. I am not going, point by point, through the various legislative measures which have been brought under the consideration of this House, nor shall I trace them through their various stages, step by step until they were withdrawn, altered, or abandoned. That, indeed, would be a very easy task. The triumph would not be difficult, for with respect to legislation, the Government with greater means at their command, have not been more successful than their predecessors. It might be asked, what has been the effect of the great majority in this House, and of the overwhelming majority in the other House, of which the present Ministry have the command, and whose confidence they enjoy? We may ask what has been the result of that happy state of things, when the right hon. Gentleman told his constituents at Dorchester, that the Government possessed the confidence of the Crown, the confidence of the majority of the Commons, and of the majority of the Lords, and which was to be touched as an attuned instrument by the skilful hand of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government? If this constitutional instrument in the hand of the right hon. Baronet is in such harmony, what is the character of the music it plays? What are the tunes with which our ears have been delighted in this happy state of musical concord? I think, I may say, it has not been "Rule Britannia;" and the agricultural gentlemen will hardly say, 1392 that it is the" Roast beef of old England." The Irish Members will not agree, that it is "St. Patrick's day in the morning;" and I am not sure that it has always been "God save the Queen." The only tune, which seems to me to have emanated from such an instrument, is that which we occasionally hear from the glee singers at dinners, "We're all noddin." Such is the result of the admirable harmony of this well-attuned instrument which the right hon. Gentleman gave out was to produce such advantages to the country, and from which tunes of such extraordinary melody were to be derived in the course of the right hon. Gentleman's administration. But I am not going to follow the course of the measures which the Government brought forward. I am content to say that they cannot allege that they have had to encounter any thing like factious opposition [Cheers]. Gentlemen cheer !—Why many of their most important measures met with hardly any opposition. Was there any opposition manifested to the education scheme of the Government similar to that which the plan of the late Government had to encounter? I may also ask whether any strong opposition has been manifested to the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, or other measures which they have brought forward, so as to lead to their abandonment? With respect, indeed, to one of their measures, which was much opposed in its progress through this House, I mean the Canada Corn Bill; the opposition to it was chiefly manifested by those who are the habitual supporters of the present Government. But I come to that which it is more important for us to consider, namely, what is the general state of the country, and in what state we shall leave it after the Legislature has been deliberating for six months on matters which we were told at the early part of the Session were of the utmost importance to the nation. There is but one question touching in any way upon our foreign relations to which I shall advert, the war made against the Ameers of Scinde. The Government proposed to produce the papers relative to that subject, but it has not yet laid them on the Table; and if they are not produced till such a late period of the Session, I do not see how the House of Commons can come to any determination as to the policy or justice of this war with Scinde. But there is a singularity on the part of 1393 the Government with respect to it. The general impression is, that the Governor-general of India made repeated demands on the Ameers of Scinde; and after those demands had been complied with, the British army had received orders to advance; then the Ameers of Scinde, in a state of desperation, seeing that no compliance made by them could induce the Governor-general to halt his army, ordered Major Outram to withdraw from the territory. This may or may not be a correct account; but I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government intends to state its views and the result of its judgment on that war. When the right hon. Gentleman was asked to produce the papers on this subject, he said it was not consistent with the public interest, or with his duty, to furnish a copy of the instructions which had been given on this subject, as they had reference to several contingencies which might occur. I can understand this with regard to the future. With regard to what is to be done by the Governor-general, no doubt on the receipt of despatches from the Government at home he would receive directions as to his future conduct, and reserve, therefore, so far would be necessary; but with regard to an important proceeding of this kind, already undertaken and carried out by the individual who represents the Sovereign, it appears to be only in conformity with the usual and constant proceeding, and to be only reasonable, to call upon the Government to declare as to whether or not it justifies his conduct. With respect to papers to which the right hon. Gentleman referred on a former occasion, and which he seemed to consider as justifying him in the course which he has taken, I will only say that, with regard to the war in Affghanistan and China, we did not hesitate in both cases to say that we were prepared to defend the conduct of the Governor-general of India, and the Government at home, and to the instructions given as to the proceedings in those countries. The Government must have entered into communications with Lord Ellenborough from the commencement of the war in Scinde, and her Majesty's Ministers must have expressed their opinion as to the line of policy that had been taken; and it appears to me that there is a wide distinction between any particular instructions to be acted upon when received, and a declaration from the 1394 Ministers as to whether or not they approve of a war already undertaken. Is the Government prepared to say that the war was not undertaken till every means of negotiation was exhausted, and that they had not recourse to force till it appeared that all conciliatory measures were fruitless? Are they prepared to say, that Lord Ellenborough found the Ameers intriguing against him, and that they had attacked the English Government, and that therefore he was justified in opposing force to force? if not, the attack on Scinde is wanton aggression, and contrary to the declaration of Lord Ellenborough himself, who, in his proclamation, protested against enlarging the boundaries of British India; above all, of making any conquest for the sake of territory beyond the Indus, can any person think that if Lord Ellenborough, for the sake of conquest and the obtaining possession of additional territory, have committed wrong and injustice against the Ameers of Scinde, that the matter has not been considered by the Government, and that it is prepared either to justify or repudiate his conduct, and to state what are its views on this subject. This is very different from stating what course the Governor-general had received instructions to pursue; for if the war is unjust which has been undertaken, and in regard to the princes having been made prisoners, the very means of setting matters right might depend upon contingencies which were referred to in those instructions. I, therefore, do not say that the Government should produce the orders which have been sent out to India. With regard, however, to the Government refusing to say whether that war is justifiable or unjustifiable, I confess I cannot understand the propriety of such a course. I have said this, reserving entirely my own opinion on this case, neither giving entire credence to the rumours I have heard, nor being prepared with respect to those distant operations, and with respect to a people so unsettled and irregular in their political conduct, to condemn at once the conduct of the Governor-general; or on the other hand, because we have made an accession of territory, to say at once, be it right or wrong, "I rejoice in that accession of territory, and the distinguished feats of the British army; for whatever be the cause in which they have been engaged, the result must be highly honourable," I reserve my opi 1395 nion entirely on this case; but I think that the Government, who have received, 1 have no doubt, from the Governor-general of India all the papers and the most ample explanations on the subject, and also that they have obtained the fullest information from the chief person concerned, for they have had the opportunity of examining him—I mean Major Outram —and who have, after this, been induced not to communicate to the House of Commons what their opinion is as to the origin of this war, is to me inconceivable; and this, be it remembered, at a time when they call upon the House of Commons to vote money for the service of the Crown. During last year we were told many of the difficulties which had arisen with regard to the state of the finances in India was owing to the expenses which had accrued in consequence of the war which had obtained. But this year we have the expense of the army of reserve, and the costly charge of the marching and maintaining an army in Scinde, where we are carrying on a war with a people who may meet us again and again after defeat, and who will resort to any resource in order to combat the troops that may be sent against them—this year, with respect to all these expenses, because the proceedings are carried on by Lord Ellenborough instead of Lord Auckland, we are not to have a single word of information. But seeing there must be great expenses, and taking into consideration the principle which the right hon. Gentleman laid down, that we should not confine ourselves merely to matters of English finance, but take Indian finance into consideration likewise, it is most extraordinary that we are now called on to go into committee and vote the last supplies of the year, without the Government telling us whether we are engaged in a just or unjust war—whether we are likely to have a continuance of the expense of sending troops to India—or whether, in their opinion, we have accomplished all that is necessary. I have said I should not touch on any foreign question, except that which relates to the affairs of Scinde. I will now then turn to that, which is a most important question, and to which my noble Friend the Member for Sunderland referred in the commencement of the Session, and to whom the answer was given that the discussion of the matter was then premature, and that we should wait and see what the 1396 measures of the Government were. I will now refer to an official statement as to what has been the falling-off in our trade during the last few years. I find that the declared value of our exports in the year 1841 was 44,609,358l.; in 1842 it was 40,738,15l., showing a decrease between those years of 3,871,207l. There have lately been laid before the House, on the motion of my two hon. Friends the Members for Paisley and Wolverhampton, papers to which I shall refer. They relate chiefly to our trade with the United States and the Brazils, and go over a period of 10 years. I have taken, with respect to some of our manufactured articles, the average of five of those years before the last, and compared them with that year. I leave out the year 1836, which was a year of extraordinary export to the United States. I think the exports to the United States in that year exceeded 12,000,000l. I first take cotton and yarn manufactures, and I find the average exports of the five years was in value 1,361,694l., while the exports in 1842 amounted to no more than 487,276l. Of linen yarn the average export of the five years was 1,01.5,038l. In the year 1842 it was 463,645l. Of silks the average export of the five years was 289,838l. In 1842 it was 81,240l. With regard to woollen articles the average export of the five years was 1,353,002l. In the year 1842 it was 842,355l. The total of the exports, not of those articles already named alone, but comprising some others, was 6,700,370l., while in 1842 it was 3,528,807l., being a decrease of 3,171,563l. [Sir R. Peel.—To what countries do those exports refer.]—They relate to the United States only. I shall now take those to the Brazils, of which I take the total without going to separate items, and I find that the average amount of the five years was 2,462,761l., while in the year 1842 it was 1,756,805l., being a decrease of 695,956l., and adding this to the decrease in the exports to the United States, it shows a total decrease in the exports to the two countries of 3,867,819l. This, Sir, is an alarming decrease upon the five years, but it is instructive, as well as alarming, if we look to the countries in which our trade has thus fallen off. It shows you that your own plans of putting a high duty on foreign corn with a sliding-scale, raising that duty at the present time to 40 per cent., and a duty on Brazilian sugar amounting to almost a prohibition, 1397 are now returned to you by the United States in a high tariff, and by the Brazils in preparations for excluding your produce altogether. Look now to the decrease in your exports to only two of the countries with which you were dealing, to the amount of 3,800,000l., in consequence of your almost utter prohibition of their products. This presents a most serious and alarming aspect of affairs; and, let me ask, what have you done in your legislation of the last six months to promote the well-doing and the export of those manufactures upon the prosperity of which depend your prosperity in peace, and your strength in war? Have you passed any measures which could promote the export of your manufactures to the United States? Have you done anything to increase your exports to, and improve your import trade from the Brazils? Of any measures of this kind the Session has been barren, indeed, I may say, worse than barren. Last year the Government proposed a measure with respect to the importation of corn and kine, which had the effect of inducing a large portion of the agriculturists to believe that it was your object to continue the system of protection to the producer. In that expectation they were disappointed. They got a wrong impression from your speeches, though these were often and often delivered; yet it happened somehow or other —your caution was such, that they knew not what you really intended to do—for some of your acts were on the principles of free-trade, and in others you departed from those principles. But you carried some of your measures by the consistency of your opponents, and the inconsistency of your supporters. But having thus proclaimed your principles—having applied them to many articles with respect to which high duties formerly existed—you mainly fail in your plan, unless you are ready to carry them out further, and apply them to the important articles of corn and sugar. Having given that warning last year by declaring your principles, it should have been your object during the present Session to endeavour to relieve the trade and manufactures of the country by admitting many of the articles the produce of the United States and the Brazils free of all, or at least of any high duty. I am aware, and I think it a most fortunate circumstance, that there exists a large tract of country in the United States, 1398 most fertile in the production of wheat, which to the growing population of this country might be made a great blessing if we took a fair advantage of it; and the distance of the place of its growth is so great, and the cost of transit so high, that even with the very lowest duty, I am sure its introduction here could not compete with the British corn-grower, or in any way injure his interests. The climate of the United States of America varies so much in several parts from this country and from many other parts of Europe, that it seems a bounty of Providence that when your harvests are short in those places, there are countries beyond the Atlantic which can supply your deficiency. Have you done any thing to render these circumstances so advantageous to the people of this country as they might be made P Nothing of the sort. But there was another course which, though less beneficial, you might have adopted. You might have said to both parties that you had gone a considerable way in relaxing restrictions on foreign produce, and that yon were disposed to rest during the present year, in order to give the agricultural interest time to consider if there were any fair grounds for those apprehensions which they entertained if corn were to be placed on the same footing as other articles. This was the time to pause and endeavour to meet the enlightened views which the agriculturists were beginning to take upon this subject; but, instead of doing so, what was the course which the Government had pursued? They brought in the Canadian Corn Bill, a measure in itself of little or no benefit to this country as the corn will have to come by a circuitous, a difficult, and an expensive route, rendering but a trifling, if any, advantage, whilst the measure excited the utmost alarm amongst the whole body of the agriculturists, reviving in full force, their prejudices against the principles of free-trade — principles which the hon. Gentleman opposite last year appeared so anxious to advance. This is to be considered a very serious misfortune; but still there is room for the settlement of the great question. Men of eminence in the United States, leading men, by whose opinion the people of that country are influenced, seem inclined to concede the principles of their high protecting tariff of the present and former times, and express themselves ready to abandon it, if we will but af- 1399 ford them a market in Great Britain for their agricultural produce. Sir, it seems to me impossible to conceive anything which would be more advantageous to both countries. We have here in this country a large population, who are obliged to import food for consumption. We have also a power to manufacture to such an extent, that hon. Gentlemen opposite frequently complain of the skill, ability, and productiveness with which it is set in motion. In the United States they have large tracts of land, capable of nearly all sorts of cultivation. They have also manufactories for a coarser sort of goods, which may go on flourishing without any injury to us, and may be imported by this country at a low rate of duty. There are, therefore, between the two countries, the mutual advantages that we might import their agricultural produce to a large amount, without any dangerous competition, owing to the distance from which it has to be brought, and that they might import our manufactures, without any danger to the consumption of their coarser fabrics. They are the two countries, which, of all others, one would suppose ought to be particularly bent on such an interchange, and, who would regard as an enemy, the man who attempted to deprive one of the food, and the other of the manufactures, of which each had such abundance to exchange. Instead of viewing it, however, in this light, one of the cardinal principles of the present Government, is the sliding-scale, which fixes a prohibitory duty upon corn except in certain contingencies, and in those contingencies offering a bounty upon the produce of other countries rather than approach to a course which is so well calculated to prove of the greatest advantage to great Britain and the United States, and to promote cordiality and good-will between two great nations, sprung from one common stock, and speaking one common language. Has not the state of trade materially affected the finances of the country? When we discussed the subject in 1841 we were of opinion, that there would be a deficiency in the revenue which, though it would be of considerable importance, we conceived to be of less consequence than the decline in our trade. We pointed out, as the means of obviating this deficiency the adoption of the principles of free trade. That was the 1400 scheme which we, who were then called miserable financiers, recommended at the time. We did not propose fresh burthens on the people, but to give a new impulse to the industry of the country and to increase its consumption, whilst at the same time we looked forward to the chance of considerable retrenchment when the hostilities in China were brought to a conclusion. From this policy the present Government differed. They repudiated our plan with respect to corn and sugar, though in the article of timber they did something and yet even in that it is doubtful whether the course they pursued were wise or beneficial in proportion to the change. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman cheers. If he had a million or so to spare, he might have given up 600,000l.; but, under the present circumstances of the country, it was so much loss. I shall now refer to the statements of Lord Monteagle and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was stated by Lord Monteagle, that in three years, ending in 1842, the gross amount of falling-off in the Customs was 874,000l. The amount of revenue from the Excise was, in 1840, 14,785,000l.; in 1841, 13,328,000l.; and in 1842, 12,517,000l.; showing, between 1842 and 1840, a decrease on the branch of the revenue of 2,268,000l. I will now show what was the decrease in the Customs and Excise of 1840, 1841, and 1842. In 1840, the amount of Customs and Excise together. was 37,644,000l.; in 1841, it was 36,674,000l.; and in 1842, it was only 34,115,000l.; exhibiting a decrease between 1842 and 1841 of 2,559,000l.; and between 1840 and 1842, a decrease of 3,529,000l. I think such a statement as that, shows in the clearest light, the sufferings under which the country labours; and the House ought to endeavour to introduce some measure to resuscitate the decaying trade of the country. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, when introducing the measure of his new tariff, was very eloquent upon principles of free-trade, but whilst descanting on those principles, he introduced the tariff in conjunction with the Income-tax, from which he calculated 2,700,000l. a year, and in doing so, the right hon. Gentleman calculated upon a surplus of 500,000l. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, in stating the result of his financial measures, instead of showing that there was a surplus of half a million, 1401 proved that there was a deficiency of 2,400,000l. That is the result of the operation of the system adopted and pursued by the right hon. Baronet. [The Chancellor of the Excheqner: Not the result.] The right hon. Gentleman says, it is not the result of the operation of that system. I consider that it is. But the right hon. Gentleman does not deny that instead of the estimated surplus, there is a deficiency of 2,400,000l. If the right hon. Gentleman says, that this deficiency is the consequence of decreased consumption, I quite agree with him; but I must at the same time ask why, in the year 1841, did you refuse to look at the corn duties and sugar duties in order to ascertain whether the deficiencies could be made up from these sources? The House must bear in mind that these are the results of the Administration of Ministers who have been always blaming us on the ground of deficiency, and were ready at all times to throw upon our shoulders censure upon that score. In his statement respecting the future year, the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is usually very plain and clear in his statement, found it so difficult to proceed, that he was obliged to have recourse to an evasion. The deficiency for this year, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own estimate, appears to be 1,300,000l. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman openly say so? Instead of doing that, the right hon. Gentleman said—" There are 2,000,000l. which I put aside, and for which I shall otherwise provide." I suppose the right hon. Gentleman intended to make provision by incurring fresh debts, as he has not stated any other mode by which he proposes to make the provision. The difference between the late and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer is this, —my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth came forward and said, he had a deficiency, and at the same time stated the precise amount, without any recourse to stratagem. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has been obliged to resort to stratagem; but, not being used to it, he could not deceive anybody, when with a deficiency of 1,30,000l. he represented himself as having a surplus of 700,000l. Why, then, such being the financial state of the country, what, I must ask, what means can you resort to? or why not attempt some measure to diminish the deficiency? One course 1402 which you might pursue, and which I have already pointed out, is that of increasing the revenue by carrying out your own principles of free-trade, thereby making an increase in the revenue, so as to meet the expenditure by making use of your resources. It is said, "Magnum vectigal parsimonia;" but I say, "Magnum vectigal sapientia." If you bad only acted on those principles of free-trade so ably explained by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, you might have done something to make up the deficiency; but, notwithstanding your own incomparable skill in financing, and though you call us miserable financiers, you have not been able to surmount the difficulties by which you are beset. There was another course to which I thought Government might have resorted to free them from their present difficulties; I mean, that when the hostilities with China ceased, and when we were in a state of peace, Government would have affected some diminution in our naval and military establishments. Can they do that now? Can they say, that all is quiet now—that there is peace now? Could even the hon. Member for Montrose, with all his zeal for economy, say, that in the present aspect of affairs any great reduction could be effected in our naval or military establishment? He certainly cannot, and the reason is, that Ministers have not adopted the means of producing peace or satisfaction at home, because they have not given effect to that policy which would bind the people in the bonds of duty and render military force unnecessary. Before going further into the main question, I must call the attention of the House to the state of a country which has hitherto been remarkable for peace and industry—I mean Wales. On the state in which Wales now is we have had no explanation, nor have we been told how it is that matters have been allowed to get to such a head there as we now find them. We have no reason assigned for that state of things, nor have we any remedy pro-posed to correct it, except the sending of dragoons, who, it appears, cannot come up with the offenders. How is it, that a people so generally quiet, orderly, and obedient, have been brought to such a state as they now exhibit? and why is it that we have no other remedy proposed than the sending of dragoons into Wales? The main question to which the attention 1403 of Parliament must be directed, and it will be so directed when the question of the hon. Member for Sheffield comes under discussion, is that relating to the state of Ireland. At all events, if left in its present state, it must be the very first subject to be taken into consideration at the commencement of the ensuing Session. The greater part of the population advocate Repeal of the Union; speeches of the most exciting character are addressed to them—speeches not merely insisting upon the advantages which would accrue to the country in being legislated for by persons more conversant with the wants and habits of the people than those who sit in this House, but provoking the strongest national animosities, not alone as against the Government, but as against the entire people of England. When we handed the Government over to you that country was tranquil, and when we told you that the only measure you adopted towards it on coming to the Government was to diminish the magistracy, your answer was, that Mr. O'Connell spoke in harsher terms of Lord Fortescue than he did of Sir Edward Sugden. This is the only point upon which, at your side of the House, Mr. O'Connell is quoted as an authority. Now if I were to quote him as speaking of the Duke of Wellington or Sir Robert Peel, I certainly should not quote him as a sound authority, nor could I do it with the due respect which I entertain for them. I am rather ashamed of the language than inclined to quote it, and yet as regards Lord Fortes-cue, this is the whole of your case, and this is the authority upon which you rely. If Mr. O'Connell prefers your government of Ireland to ours—if, as he boasts, whilst you are in office his power is increased, and the patriotism of the people more strongly excited, we can not wonder at the preference. When we find that the rent has risen from 900l. to 15,000l. within two given periods of three months—when Mr. O'Connell is able to show a better budget than the Chancellor of the Exchequer—when his power throughout Ireland is increasing to an extent far beyond what he possessed under a Whig Administration, it is by no means extraordinary that lie is rejoiced to have to deal with such an Administration as the present. When I had a share in the Administration 1 thought it well that the Government should have the support of a man who possessed so much influence amongst his countrymen.
1404 I did not think it advisable that any man in the country should possess more authority than the Lord-lieutenant, who stood there as the representative of the Queen. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, when we were in office, were constantly talking of the influence of Mr. O'Connell in Ireland. I thought at the time that he would have less influence whilst we held the Government than under a Tory Government, and the events which have since taken place sufficiently prove the soundness of that opinion. Lord Fortescue and Lord Morpeth exhibited a sympathy with the people; they went amongst them, and the latter began to recant their opinions on Repeal. During the late Administration the Irish Executive possessed great power over public opinion. The power of Mr. O'Connell was less dangerous, and even if he were inclined at that time to excite the people, he could not have exercised the uncontrolled dominion over their hearts which he now appears to possess. It is now admitted on all hands that the power of Mr. O'Connell in Ireland is increasing. Compare the different positions of your Executive in Ireland with ours. Your Executive in that country sits inactive and inefficient. It is assailed on both sides. On one side it is taunted with a want of vigour, and on the other it is blamed because it will not make concessions. It is unresistingly carried away by wind and wave, and exhibits no authority. Can I believe that there is no remedy for the state of things in Ireland? I see no reason why a Parliament sitting in London cannot as well provide measures to obviate the grievances of that country as any legislative body sitting in College-green. I cannot see why this Parliament should not be able to enter fairly into the consideration, and provide for the settlement of all the grievances of Ireland. After the debate which has lately taken place on this subject, and as the question will come on again next week, I shall not enter into the topic of Irish grievances, but content myself with calling your attention to the present state of that country, and ask what are likely to be the results? We see vast meetings congregated together. When I look at these meetings I cannot make up my mind to say that they are not illegal. After the opinion given by the judges as to the meeting at Manchester, at which Mr. Hunt presided, I cannot come to the conclusion that the 1405 meetings in Ireland, at which such inflammatory language and such menaces are used, are not illegal. It is difficult, however, to say what course ought to be pursued. If an attempt were made to bring any of the parties to justice and to procure a conviction, who, in the present state of Ireland, would not entertain a doubt whether the Government would succeed? and it would therefore, be unwise to make the attempt considering all the difficulties. What is the state of Ireland? It is a state in which the peaceful pursuits of those who are not disposed to take part in political contentions are daily disturbed, in which capital is withheld, and in which there is, not a fear of immediate outrage—not a fear, as the Lord Chancellor said, of an inevitable tendency to outrage in the meetings themselves—but a fear that a disturbance of the peace may one day or other follow from a repetition of these meetings. Then these meetings are to go on; and the mere dismissal of magistrates only serves to excite, disturb, and provoke. Is this satisfactory? Under these circum- stances there are two consequences, of which the House ought not to lose sight. One is such as happened before in Ireland when, after political excitement and meetings, those who attended the meetings began some local resistance to the payment of some legal dues, and thereby disturbed the peace of the country, creating a necessity for the intervention of the police and military force, which again tended to increase outrage and crime; and this state of things spreading over a large portion of the country, produced a kind of anarchy in parts of Ireland. There is another consequence, and it is that with which Mr. O'Connell has threatened the Government and Parliament of this country, namely, that he will summon a convention in Dublin, which shall escape the penalties of the Convention Act—which shall curiously and cautiously evade the law, but which, sitting in Dublin, shall exercise the power of representing the people of Ireland. Is the Government prepared for such a case? If, as is very likely, Mr. O'Connell does succeed, with his acuteness and ability, in evading the letter of the law, will you allow this convention to go on, and the whole power of the Government to be wrested from the Lord-Lieutenant, sitting helpless in the Castle at Dublin? Are you prepared to allow the Government to 1406 be taken from you, and to see in any emergency suddenly start up, beyond the regular order of things, the name and title, as well as the authority and power of Government? Are you prepared for this contingency or for the other? Are you prepared to introduce into this House, in such a case, simply measures of coercion and repression, refusing all redress of grievances? I point out this danger, because I think it very great, and almost imminent, and I should not do my duty in this House as a Member of the Legislature, if I did not point it out, before it comes on suddenly, to all appearance, during the recess of Parliament. I say, then, when you come forward with such measures, even if you should succeed in carrying them against any opposition you might meet with in this House, do you think you would then have reduced Ire- land to a state of peace, tranquillity, and obedience? Will not these wounds bleed inwardly, and will not discontent remain, though under the surface? Will not the opinion of the people, that they have been wronged, and that the English Parliament, the representatives of the English nation, are the doers of that wrong, in. stead of diminishing, grow stronger and stronger in consequence of your measures of coercion? 1 do hope that the Government will consider deeply this question; and that this House will not enter on so fatal a course, but will adopt such measures as may satisfy the minds of the Irish people, and assure them that we in this House are really and truly their representatives. In adopting measures of this kind, you will be enabled in future years, as you have been in past, to withdraw or diminish your military force in Ireland as may suit your convenience or arrangements, without any fear of outbreaks and disturbance in that country. If you do not adopt such measures, the consequence will certainly be what I have pointed out; it may be worse, and scenes of lamentable conflict may take place; but at best you will have the mind of the Irish people altogether alienated from you, and their feelings embittered towards the people of this country; then, in speaking to foreign countries, and holding up your head to the world, Ireland will not be your source of strength, but the cause of your weakness. I will refer again to what I alluded to at the commencement of my remarks. It may be said, as a good an- 1407 swer to alls that 1 have stated, that it is in your power to make some motion, even before the House separates, which will bring the question to a test whether some other course should not be taken in reference to the commercial and financial policy of the country, and whether in respect to Ireland, the Government ought not to alter its course, and endeavour to conciliate the affections of the people of that country? Now, I cannot see that there would be any peculiar advantage in my proposing any such motion, after the discussions which have already taken place. The right hon. Baronet opposite is in possession (no one doubts it) of the confidence of the majority of this House. The right hon. Gentleman will be able to conclude the session without any vote from that majority at all disturbing his tenure of power. But there remains a serious question for him and his colleagues to consider. If I am at all well founded in the observations I have made, then I say it is in your (the Ministers') power by a large, liberal, and comprehensive policy, to increase the means of the country, to add to its material wealth, to augment its commerce, and to make it still more powerful as a commercial nation. It is in your power, if my observations are well founded, to wean the people of Ireland from their attachment to the cause of Repeal, and to induce them to believe that in this House we, their representatives, would do them full justice with respect to any cause of complaint, and would adopt any well-considered measures of relief. If you take this course, the power of this country instead of being diminished, will be immensely strengthened for any purpose of foreign or home policy which you may contemplate; but, if you resolve to take the other course—if, representing, as I think you do, two opinions (one opinion being that you ought to stand still and resist every change, and the other opinion being that you ought to go on in measures of improvement and conciliation)—if, representing these two opinions, you dare to take no vigorous measure in support of either one or other opinion, depend on it this country will long lament that in the hands of such men the destinies of so great and powerful a nation as this were ever placed.
§ Sir R. Peel
spoke as follows:—It is not my intention to find fault with the noble Lord for the course he has thought fit to 1408 pursue on the present occasion. I admit, that it is perfectly open to him, in the discharge of his constitutional duty, on a motion for a committee of supply, to deliver his sentiments with respect to the conduct of the Government and the position of public affairs, without being under the necessity of testing the opinion of the House by any distinct proposition implying censure on, or a want of confidence in the Government. At the same time, I think, if the Government deserve the character which the noble Lord has attempted to give them, that the noble Lord might in that case with perfect success have adopted the more direct and open course of calling on the Members of this House, as the representatives of the country, to imply a want of confidence in the Government; and if we did deserve the character which the noble Lord has given us, not only the House of Commons but the country also would be content to respond to that call. The noble Lord has abstained from taking such a course on the present occasion, following the advice which was given him by the noble Lord sitting on his right hand (Lord Palmerston), or at least adopting that noble Lord's suggestion, which implied that even if the present Government were voluntarily to retire from power, there was such a distrust in the country of those who had proceeded them, that the present Government, contrary to their own inclinations for retirement, would be forced by the public voice again to assume the direction of affairs. This is the opinion of the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) who sits on the right hand of the other noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), as to the claims of the probable successors of the present Government on the public confidence; and therefore it is, I presume, that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) acted not only on the suggestions of his own mind, but also on the suggestions afforded by the practical experience of the other noble Lord, and his modest estimate of his claims on public confidence. I was rather surprised, considering the very gloomy view which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) has taken of public affairs, that he should have indulged in that preliminary levity which prefaced the very doleful account lie had to give of the condition of the country, and in the course of which he referred to the tunes which he thought "the harmonious instrument" might have been expected to play. I think that the noble Lord, if lie really entertained so 1409 gloomy an opinion of the condition of this country, would have hardly condescended to indulge in what, I should deem, would in such case, have been misplaced and not very successful irony. The noble Lord alluded, in the first place, to the progress made in legislation; and he said that nothing would be more easy than to draw up an account of the measures with which we (the Government) commenced the Session, and in respect to which no progress had been made in bringing them to maturity. It is quite true, that in the execution of our public duty we were desirous, in conformity with the recommendation contained in the Speech from the Throne, to suggest to the consideration of the House measures connected with the improvement of the law and the domestic condition of the people. It is equally true, that we have been compelled to relinquish the hope that those measures would be brought to a successful result. We proposed measures for facilitating the recovery of small debts, for improving the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the country, and for the purpose of extending throughout the country—at least in the manufacturing districts of the country—the advantage of moral and religious education. Is it our fault that, with respect to these measures, we have been unable to make any progress? Have we shown any unwillingness to devote our time to the consideration of measures in the Legislature? The noble Lord says, that we command a great majority in the House. Does that circumstance enable us to prevent the discussions which have taken place in this House, or to control the opposition by which some of the measures of the Government have been met? Is it our fault that a practice has grown up of continuing, from night to night by adjournment, debates on public affairs? If at any time we suggest that the time has arrived for closing the discussion, and even if our suggestion be in conformity with the general sense of the House, has it not been the practice to meet that suggestion by motions of adjournment? Is it not notorious that it is not in the power of a majority, however united, to control these discussions if a small party be determined to force on motions of adjournments? On three several occasions, in the course of the Session, each debate has continued for five nights; and I ask, whatever the majority of the Government might be, what measure could be had recourse to in order to pre- 1410 vent those discussions? The noble Lord knows, that though the Government were desirous of bringing forward their own measures, to which they attached great importance, they nevertheless did not attempt to interrupt the progress of the debates to which I have alluded, by preventing them from coming on on days appropriated to Government business. Those debates might have been justifiable, and might have been important, and a discussion of five nights each might not have been more than sufficient to legitimately exhaust the subject. But granting all this, do not these debates oppose impediments to the progress of public business? And can any Minister, whatever majority he may command, so control the deliberations of this House as to prevent the occupation of time by debates? On the motion of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Howick), on the motion respecting the Corn-law, and on another motion relative to the policy of the Government towards Ireland, five nights were occupied on each of these occasions in the debate. Then there was the debate relative to the conduct of a noble Friend of mine, Lord Ellenborough, which occupied three nights, I think. We brought forward, in the discharge of our public duty, the Irish Arms Bill. We brought it forward because we felt that to be our duty. Ten nights have been occupied in that bill alone in committee, and seventeen nights upon the bill altogether. On two several nights, there had not been less than twenty-two or twenty-three divisions taken in reference to that bill—no doubt from conscientious motives. I presume that no man who originated any of these divisions, several of them on verbal questions rather than on questions of very great importance, acted otherwise than from a sense of public duty. But could we control these divisions? If divisions in one night, each division occupying ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, would consume a considerable portion of time. Thus, then, I have mentioned that there were fifteen nights consumed in debates on three questions of public importance; and seventeen nights occupied by the Arms Bill. LA Cheer.] The hon. Gentleman who cheers may not have thought that bill necessary, but if the Government felt it necessary, viewing the outrages which took place from the possession of fire-arms, to take security for the maintenance of the public peace, we could not 1411 shrink from the discharge of that duty, and from asking for the sense of Parliament with respect to the measure which we proposed. Parliament had a perfect right to subject the measure to the ordeal of discussion, but after having clone so, do not blame us because we have been in consequence unable to proceed with those measures which we thought important, calculated to improve the administration of justice, and introduce useful reforms in other matters connected with the domestic condition of this country. The noble Lord spoke with a taunt of our abandonment of the education plan. At any rate, we brought it forward not for the purpose of increasing our own power, or of giving undue power to the Church, but as the result of a careful revision of the condition of the manufacturing population, and of a deep impression that other measures than coercion and force were necessary for laying the foundations of good order. We had a sincere and earnest hope, that there was a wide-spread conviction throughout the country, that a measure of this kind was necessary, and we entertained the expectation, that some scheme of combined education, founded on religion, and inculcating the great truths of Christianity, might be proposed to Parliament, and that the Church and Dissenters would be content to acquiesce in its execution. This was the motive alone which induced us to prepare and propose the measure to Parliament. It met with very general consent in the House of Commons. I think, speaking generally, the majority of the House of Commons was in favour of that measure, that is to say, on its abstract merits; but as there was no hope of the successful working of that measure, even if the majority of the House consented to it, unless we carried with us the cordial co-operation of those who dissented from the Church, we thought it a wiser course, and one less likely to continue religious animosities, to abandon the measure, than trust to the mere force of a majority for carrying it. This measure differed from others in this respect—that after a majority consented to it, its success depended on the cordial co-operation of all parties. Supposing the Houses of Commons and Lords, and the Crown consented to the measure, and supposing it passed into law, yet, unless men. were content to abate something of their own prejudices and to bury in oblivion some of their animosities, there was little chance that ultimate good 1412 would have resulted. A determination to persevere with the measure without the cordial co-operation of those who dissented from the Church might not only have precluded the success of the measure itself, but might have laid the foundation for new and still bitter religious animosities. But were we not justified in making the attempt to prevail upon the Church to relinquish and surrender some of its feelings and prejudices on the subject of a combined system of education? and were we not equally justified when, despairing of cordial concert and harmonious co-operation, we, like prudent men, did not persist in forcing a measure against the will of those classes without whose co-operation and concert and assistance we could not hope for a successful working of the measure? With the opinions expressed by the noble Lord opposite upon the first statement of that measure, looking at the amendments which the noble Lord gave notice of his intention to propose, and after the approbation which I understood the noble Lord to express upon the ultimate relinquishment of the measure, I own I am somewhat surprised at the tone in which the noble Lord has spoken of the course which her Majesty's Government has taken with reference to the relinquishment of the bill. The noble Lord next proceeded to discuss our foreign policy, and the single charge which the noble Lord has brought forward against us, connected with our foreign policy, is not the course which we have thought it right to take with regard to Scinde, but our unwillingness to present to the House at this moment the instructions which we have felt it our duty to give with respect to the affairs of Scinde. I know not how it has happened that the noble Lord has glanced so lightly over our foreign policy. I should have supposed, that the noble Lord, in dealing with that part of the question which he himself has raised, would have contrasted the position of this country now with the position in which the present Government had found the foreign policy on their accession to office, not merely with regard to the United States of America, but with reference to the feelings prevalent in France as to this country. As, however, the noble Lord has included Scinde and the transactions there, he might, on looking at the map of Scinde, have cast his eve a little to the north-east of that district of country, and have alluded to the position in which her Majesty's present advisers found British power 1413 in Affghanistan. For this position the noble Lord has omitted the slightest commiseration. I apprehend, however, that at no very remote period it is intended to bring the whole of that question before the House, and in two or three days those documents which, consistently with their sense of duty, the Government can produce, will be presented and laid upon the Table. The noble Lord asked,—Why not lay before the House the instructions you have given, and enable us to judge of the course you mean to pursue?
§ Lord. J. Russell,
I said I think there may be good reasons for postponing the production of your instructions, but not for withholding the expression of your opinions upon the subject.
§ Sir R. Peel.
What is the difference between communicating the instructions and stating the views and intentions of the Government? Are the operations in the field yet concluded? In one despatch it is true, it was stated that not another shot would be fired? I am not so sanguine, and I cannot undertake to say, that the military operations in that district are entirely concluded, but I can undertake to say, that it is not consistent with the duty of the Government, while military operations arc proceeding, to lay before the House, in the shape of their instructions, their views as to the course to be pursued in the future Government of that country. I can believe that a premature disclosure of those views and intentions might seriously compromise British interests in that part of the globe. The time will come when her Majesty's Government will state the course they have taken, but until I know, that the military operations have been concluded, that peace has been restored, and that tranquillity has been established, it is our duty to withhold the production of the instructions we have issued, and which the noble Lord seemed so anxious to peruse. I do not apprehend that the noble Lord himself will think that while operations are going on in Affghanistan, or in any other part of the globe, that we ought to encounter any risk by laying before Parliament the instructions we have issued to our naval and military forces. It is difficult to lay down any rule or precedent, you must place confidence in the Government with respect to the instructions they issue, and while there remains a chance of British arms being engaged in warfare, or the risk that British interests will be com- 1414 promised, I trust the House will not call upon the Government for a premature disclosure of its views and intentions. The noble Lord then proceeded to take a review of the commercial policy of the country, and alluded in particular to the nature of the commercial transactions between this country and the United States, and between this country and the Brazils. No doubt it is greatly to be lamented that our commercial 1Í tercourse with the United States has greatly diminished. However, at various periods, that inter. course has been subject to great and considerable fluctuations. The noble Lord referred to several years in succession, and took the average of those years as exhibiting our commercial intercourse with the United States. Now, from the papers which the noble Lord has quoted, I will read some of the instances in which very great changes have taken place with regard to our commercial intercourse with the United States. In 183G, the declared value of our exports to the United States, amounted to 12,427,000l. In the next year it fell to 4,695,000l. In the year following, it was 7,585,000l.; and in the year after, 8,839,000l. In the year following, the declared value of our exports suddenly fell to 5,200,000l. In the next year they rose to 7,098,000l.; and in the last year, 1842, they were unfortunately reduced to 3,528,000l. Here were striking proofs of the fluctuations which had taken place in this trade. But the noble Lord says, that it is the immediate duty of the Government to take steps for increasing our commercial intercourse. The noble Lord says that it is to be done through the operation of commercial treaties, or by means of reducing the import duties on articles the produce of the United States. I should not consider it at all prudent on a question like the present, to express any positive opinion with respect to commercial treaties; but I must say, the experience of recent attempts has not been very favourable to the noble Lord's views. The conclusion does not depend on the will of one party. You enter into negotiations; hopes of a successful issue are continually entertained, and as continually postponed; new proposals are made, there is a natural indisposition to terminate the negotiation, and in the mean time the trade greatly suffers. In experiencing difficulty and failure in negotiating commercial treaties this country has not been singular. Other countries, from similar motives, have de- 1415 sired to receive in return for concessions similar concessions from those countries, with which they have negotiated. A similar policy has been pursued with regard to the treaties with Portugal and France, On entering office we found negotiations pending with those two countries, and sanguine hopes entertained that they would be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. I will not attempt to lay down any abstract rule with regard to commercial treaties, nor to pronounce any positive opinion on the subject. There may be circumstances which justify us in making reductions on the produce of foreign countries, though you cannot gain a corresponding concession. No doubt if that foreign country will at the same time re duce the import duties on your productions, you gain a greater advantage than if you merely make a unilateral reduction, by reducing your own import duties only. I shall, therefore, abstain from laying down any abstract dictum on this subject, but I must observe that the course which was pursued with regard to America—as to the reduction of duties on American produce, was not so immediately followed by any reduction on the part of the United States, as we had every right to expect. And when the noble Lord confidently predicts, that if we make further reductions, we shall be met in a corresponding spirit by the United States, all I say is, that past experience hardly justifies the noble Lord in uttering that confident expectation. We made last year in the tariff a material reduction in the duties of articles introduced into this country by the United States. We gave the United States great facilities in carrying on an increased intercourse with our colonies. That tariff included many articles, the produce of the United States, on which a material reduction was made. But what was the course which the United States pursued? The Government of the United States was aware that these reductions were proposed to Parliament, and that they would probably meet with the assent of Parliament, and yet in the month of July last—in July, 1842—notwithstanding the example of liberality which we set, without calling for any corresponding concessions, that Government imposed the high tariff against our productions, to which high tariff must be attributed the diminished value of our exports to the United States. I do not say that we are to abstain from reducing our duties on American productions, be- 1416 cause America does not reduce her duties upon ours. I do not maintain that doctrine, but it does not follow that the example which we set will be followed by the United States in an equally liberal spirit, and to its having not been, the failure of our commerce with the United States, must be greatly attributed. This, however, be it remembered, was not the act of the British Government but that of the United States. It was they who imposed prohibitory duties on our produce, a few months after we had made the most important reductions on theirs. I cannot deny the value and amount of the traffic between this country and the United States; but, at the same time, I cannot admit that the noble Lord's view of the state of our commercial relations generally is correct, and if it were, it is a condemnation of the very policy which he recommends. But it is to me a satisfaction to find, that within the last six months there have been striking indications of improvement in some of the great branches of the commerce and manufactures of this country. I hold in my hand a return of the exports of British produce and manufactures from all the ports of the empire for the six months ending the 5th of July, 1842, and on comparing the declared value of the exports of these six months with the declared value of the exports for a similar period of the present year, though there is not the improvement we could wish, there is at least a material improvement in some of the great branches of manufactures. The declared value of the exports for the first six months respectively of the years 1842 and 1843, ending July 5, each year, was of—
|Cottons, First six months||1842||£7,087,000|
|Of Linens, First six months||1842||1,294,000|
§ In the linen there is but a slight increase, but still there is an increase. In the woollen exports, a trade which was in the course of the last year so greatly depressed, the increase is much more marked;
|Woollens, First six months||1842||2,226,000|
§ That is the case with respect to the woollen manufacture, which was so materially depressed last year. I speak not of the exports to the United States and Brazil alone, but of the exports to all countries, including Brazil and the United States; and comparing the first six months 1417 of last year with the six months of this, 1 find a considerable increase. The improvement is still more marked, if you compare the st month, ending July 5, 1843, with that ending July 5, 1842. The declared value of the exports of
|Cotton, was in the Month ending July 5,||1842||1,084,000|
|Of Linens —Mouth ending July 5,||1842||201,000|
|Of Woollens x2014;Month ending July 5,||1842||408,000|
This latter item gave a most remarkable indication of improvement, anti that in a trade which was most depressed. Therefore, on the whole, comparing the six mouths of the present year with the past year, there are cheering indications, although I admit that, from a single month, no confident expectations of permanent improvement can be gathered. It was, however, certainly stated that, bad as the cotton manufacture was last year, the depression would be greater this year. That prediction, fortunately, has not been realised. The extent of the cotton manufacture during the first six months of the present year has greatly exceeded that of 1842. The total consumption for the six months of this year was 688,000 bags, a greater quantity than was ever known. [An Hon. Member: " It is re-exported."] I admit that the price of the raw material is low, and as the hon. Member says, there may be an export; still there must be a great demand for the article, and the amount of raw material consumed is very remarkable. The years 1835, 1836, and 1837 were years of great prosperity in the cotton manufacture. What was the consumption in the first six months of those years. From the return which I hold in my hand, I find that in 1835, there were 451,984 bags of cotton taken for consumption; in 1836, 474,902; in 1837, 497,302, and in the present year, 1843, the number was 688,584 bags. This is a most remarkable increase, comparing the first six months of the present year with the first six months of those most prosperous years. But, to pursue the comparison further, I will take some of the other ex- ports Of cotton. The cotton yarn exported in the first six months of 1842 was 58,000,0001bs., in the first six months of 1843, 62,000,0001bs.; cotton thread exported in the first six months of 1842,
935,00016s., in 1843, 1,324,0001bs.; printed calicoes, first six months of 1842, 123,781,000 yards, in 1843, 145,295,000 yards; plain calicoes, first six months of 1842, 152,827,000 yards, in 1843, 253,318,000 yards. In this latter item the increase was enormous, but in them all you find indications of an improved and more healthy condition of our manufactures. How, then, can it be said with justice that the measures taken by her Majesty's Government in the course of last Session, either with respect to the Corn-laws or the Tariff, have been so fatal to the great branches of our manufacturing industry as was confidently predicted? The noble Lord complains that, in the course of the present year, we have not brought forward extensive measures for the alteration of the Corn-laws. If we had done so, I doubt whether the noble Lord himself would not have been the first to tell us that we ought not 10 have opened the question of the Corn-laws last year, unless we had then determined what relaxations we were prepared to bring forward, and that to propose a new law, year after year, was destructive of all confidence and injurious to the country. But the noble Lord says it was inconsistent with that course to bring forward the Canada Corn Bill. The noble Lord, however, knows that her Majesty's Government (lid not bring forward that measure as a spontaneous act, or on an abstract consideration of policy, but to redeem a pledge made last Session, when the Corn-laws were under consideration, and whets it was held out to the Canadas, that if they passed certain measures, further facilities for the importation of their corn into this country would be given. It was not in the contemplation of her Majesty's Government to disturb the existing law but merely to fulfill the expectations which had been held out to the Canadas. The noble Lord also referred to our financial policy. I wish the noble Lord had referred also to the condition of this country in that respect, when we succeeded the last Government. The noble Lord now says the measures which he proposed with reference to sugar and corn, would have supplied that deficiency, but I think it capable of demonstration that, on his own showing, they would have been insufficient. We thought more decided means were necessary, and that a vigorous effort should be wade to equalise the expenditure with the
revenue. The noble Lord says, that we have equally failed, and that in the April of the present year, there was a great deficiency. No doubt there was, but the whole of the property tax had not then been collected, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that circumstance to the House. Sir, we not only introduced a measure imposing a taxation upon property, rather than a measure imposing a tax upon consumption; but we at the same time removed many of those duties which imposed restrictions upon the commerce of the country, as well as some of those duties which pressed upon articles of consumption. In many essential respects the tariff of last year has not as vet come into effectual operation; and considering the nature of some of the articles affected by it, I do not think the House is at present in a position to pronounce a positive opinion as to its success. But, so far as the experiment has gone, and as far as its effects are known I think it is satisfactory. My firm opinion is, that the vigorous measure we resorted to for replenishing the public coffers—the levying of a tax upon property, was absolutely necessary for the public credit of the country. My belief also is, that the reductions of duties upon articles of manufacture, and upon some of those of consumption, have had a salutary effect. Further experience will prove the policy and wisdom of the course so pursued. The noble Lord complains of the reduction of the duty upon timber. We have had that subject frequently under consideration. He compares our measure with that which he contemplated, which was a very considerable increase of the duty upon colonial timber, and a very small decrease of the duty upon foreign timber. We thought it advisable to remove that upon colonial, and make a considerable reduction with regard to foreign timber. The noble Lord condemns that policy. 1 greatly doubt whether experience will not prove our policy to have been the best. It was the observation of Mr. Hume, that England possesses iron and coal, and that all she wants to give her an unlimited power over manufactures, is a free access to wood. [Mr. Hume: And food.] I was, Sir, quoting the opinions of Mr. Deacon Hume, and not of the hon. Gentleman. "It is," said Mr. Deacon Hume, "therefore, the true policy of the country to facilitate the importation of timber." In pursuing that policy, Sir, we differed practically from the noble Lord; but though a reduction in the amount of reve-
nue derived from the article of timber has been one of the consequences of the course we took on that occasion, I firmly believe that it will be ultimately and permanently for the advantage and benefit of the country. The noble Lord then adverted to the domestic circumstances of the country in connexion with our Government, and first he spoke of the present unfortunate disposition to insurrection which pervades Wales. The noble Lord says, that a sufficient explanation of the causes which led to that state of things has not been furnished; and lie inquires whether or not we mean to suppress it by force of arms. Sir, we do not propose to pass over the causes of the present movement in the investigation which we are making. The noble Lord knows perfectly well that it is quite unconnected with politics, and that these causes, whatever they may be, imply no blame on her Majesty's Government. But, Sir, when the noble Lord casts blame upon the Government for their conduct in regard to the suppression of the insurrection in South Wales, he might have recollected what had taken place in the same part of the country when he was a Minister of the Crown, and what course the Government of which he was then a member took to suppress the rebellion that then existed in the principality. The noble Lord might have remembered the cordial aid he received, without reference to political or party distinctions, for the purpose of strengthening the hands of the Government. Does the noble Lord recollect what took place at Newport? Does the noble Lord forget tile loss of life which happened ' upon that occasion? Does tile noble Lord recollect the attack upon that town which was led on by Mr. Frost? Does the noble Lord recollect his own proposition for an increase of the military force to the extent of 5,000 additional men, in the year 1839, for the purpose of suppressing the disturbances in Wales at that time? The noble Lord made a proposition to increase the army by 5,000 men, and he dwelt, in making that proposition, chiefly upon the disturbances that had recently taken place in Wales. The noble Lord then stated, that the Government had been taunted with apathy and remissness in the execution of their duty; the noble Lord went very fully into the difficulties which there were in immediately suppressing those disturbances by the force of arms. The noble Lord said:—
There were numerous meetings at which
the most inflammatory language was used, and where treasonable and seditious words were spoken.
And the noble Lord said:—
He was most unwilling to resort to new measures of force; he thought that every effort ought to be made by the exertion and vigilance of the Government, and by the application of the ordinary powers of the law to suppress those disturbances.
And the noble Lord added:—
But while I always held these opinions, I at the same time, thought, before I had myself any experience with regard to this subject, that there was a power in the ordinary law of the country which might be easily resorted to, in order to put down such mischievous projects and such injurious proceedings. I must say, that the experience I have had teaches me, that although the laws are themselves strong, and apparently efficient, yet that there is great difficulty in putting those laws into operation. With regard to one instance, with respect to which I have seen many observations made—and at various times violent speeches were made on various occasions—every one has seen in the newspapers the strongest excitement to violence, rebellion, and alarm of every kind; and it has naturally been observed, with regard to such language, that it was seditious, if not treasonable, and that the law ought to he put in force to suppress it. That was my own feeling likewise; but, when I came to any particular instance of such language, the obtaining of evidence and procuring a conviction was not a matter of so much facility as it appeared.
Well, then, the noble Lord having acquired that experience in office, he should not be too forward in blaming those who have succeeded him, if when newspapers report violent and seditious language the Government may not find it so easy at once to punish those who are alleged to hold that language, or to suppress such meetings. [Lord J. Russell: I did not confine my observations to Wales, I referred to Ireland also.] The noble Lord has spoken not of Ireland only, but of Wales. The noble Lord did seem to imply that because there had been violent proceedings in Wales, there had been great apathy and indifference on the part of the Government towards their suppression. The noble Lord asks, "How can these things be? How is it that the Government have permitted them to arrive at such a degree of violence?" I will tell the noble Lord that the Government have neglected no measure of precaution; they have determined to enforce the law; they have taken every means at their command for the purpose
of maintaining the public peace; and they are determined to persevere in that course, and they do hope that the readiness which they evinced when the public peace was before in danger to strengthen the hands of the Government will be shown by those who now act in opposition to them. The noble Lord received support not merely by the consent given to an increase of the military force when he proposed his 5,000 men, but by the ready and cordial concurrence in the oblivion of all political differences, and the determination to uphold the authority of the law, which added still more to the strength and influence of the executive Government. And, Sir, whatever may have been the original causes which led to these outrages in Wales, they were apparently slight; but a slight cause often leads to considerable excitement, which spreads with great rapidity. It is greatly to be deplored that excesses have been committed, and that such a bad spirit exists. As I said before, they are not traceable to discontent with the Government—to political discontent. But, at the same time, there cannot be a question that it is the duty of Government, even for the preservation of those who are now concerned in these outrages, and in the promotion of these excesses,—it is, I say, true policy and true humanity with respect to them, to use the most vigorous efforts to restrain those parties, to support the law, and to suppress those outrages. I trust that her Majesty's Government will not be exposed to quibbling censures upon their conduct with reference to matters of this kind; but that there will be a general and marked disposition en the part of this House to aid the Government in the maintenance of the public peace and in the suppression of insurrection. And I hope that no false impression will go forth that any party who is disturbing the public peace will receive any encouragement or sympathy from any quarter of that House. With respect to Ireland, Sir, I must also say that the course which her Majesty's Government have taken with regard to that country has been the subject of discussion to a great extent and that very recently; and we are told that in the course of next week the state of Ireland is again to be brought under the consideration of this House. Why, Sir, the Ministers of the Crown have already explained to the House the course they have pursued and intend to pursue. They have explained that it is their determination to
leave no effort untried for the maintenance of the legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland. They have also stated that they would not be impelled by remonstrances, or by threats, or by apprehensions, or by alarms, beyond their sense of duty, to resort to unusual measures of force; that they would, as far as possible, trust to the efficacy of the ordinary powers of the law, and would take every precaution against disturbing the public peace; that they would make every preparation for the maintenance of tranquillity; but that they would reserve to themselves the unbiased judgment as to the time and circumstances in which it might become necessary to appeal to force and arms. I believe that the course they have pursued in that country has met with general approbation. Sir, I regret to hear the noble Lord censure the Government for the course they have pursued for the purpose of marking their disapprobation of the efforts that have been made to destroy the legislative union, by the exercise of the prerogatives vested in the Government. We have not asked for fresh powers; we have acted with forbearance in the application of those that we possess. We have shown our confidence in the powers of the law; we have not sought to irritate by a premature and hasty application of force; but we have felt it our duty, at the same time, to advise the Crown to exercise its prerogative for the purpose of marking its disapprobation of the conduct of those who have joined in the attempts which have been made to promote the repeal of the union. We have noticed the multitudinous assemblies that have been held, and the inflammatory language used at them; we cannot blind our eyes to the danger to the public peace which they excite. Therefore, we have felt it our duty to advise the Crown to withhold its confidence from those who take an active part in the promotion of those meetings, and we did recommend her Majesty to remove from the commission of the peace those who held such language, or were present at those proceedings. And what course would the noble Lord advise the Government to take? He says—" Do not apply force hastily." When the noble Lord was a Minister, he advised the Crown to declare that "the severance of the union would be fatal to the integrity of the empire, and to the existence of this country as a powerful state." We concurred in that view, but the noble Lord quarrels with the exer-
cise of the same prerogative of the Crown; now we give a practical proof that we bold the same opinion, by advising the Crown to remove from the commission of the peace those who exercise that commission in giving countenance to those proceedings. I shall not upon this occasion anticipate the debate which is to take place in the course of next week, upon the motion which I conclude it is the intention of the hon. Gentleman opposite to proceed with. The noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman opposite had a full opportunity of stating their views in the late debate, and I think it unnecessary to enter into the discussion of them again. But, I must say, that we have governed and are prepared to govern Ireland in a spirit of justice and impartiality, We have tried to govern it, not through the exclusive agency of a party, but we have tried to govern it upon the principles of justice and impartiality. We know what has been the consequence of that. We know your taunts in some respects to be just, namely, that we have not conciliated the goodwill of one party, and we have lost the confidence of some of the other. We know we might have gained the confidence of one by governing exclusively through its agency. We have not attempted to govern exclusively through a party, but upon more enlarged and more comprehensive principles; and the consequence has been that which was predicted and with which we are now taunted, —that if we had governed Ireland exclusively upon the principles of party, although we might have exasperated one party, we should preserve the confidence of the other. Still I shall not despair, nor will those who are united with me in the Government, that when our intentions are manifested—when it is seen what is the course we have pursued, and that which we are pursuing—we do not despair that there will be a general confidence in the justice and impartiality of our Government, and that the applause of rational men, attached to the interests of the country and desirous of its peace and tranquillity, will be the reward of the conduct which we have pursued and are determined to pursue. Sir, I trust, the House has not forgotten the position in which we found the Government when we were called to office; I trust that they have not forgotten the position of affairs in Canada, the position of affairs in India, the state of the finances, the unfinished war in China, and the state of our trade, I trust they
not forgotten all the difficulties which encompassed the Government at the time we assumed the direction of public affairs. I trust they will have seen that the military force in Canada has been materially reduced. I trust that they will have seen that the causes of the differences with the United States—those at least which even threatened us with hostility—have been removed; that those feelings of hostility towards this country which prevailed in France have, I think, been greatly abated, that many of the causes of the differences which obstructed a good understanding with that country no longer exist, and that some of the disputed points between this country and France either have been adjusted, or are in a train to be satisfactorily adjusted; and I trust the House will not overlook, that though the present amount of the revenue may not be sufficient to meet the whole of the demands upon it, yet that the great financial effort made by the country last year has laid the foundation, in my opinion at least, for equalizing the expenditure and the revenue. It is true that trade is still depressed, but I think I have given some proofs that with respect to the great articles of manufacture, there are at least indications of a revival of trade. Trade is depressed, chiefly, in my opinion, in consequence of the succession of those unfavourable seasons which, for years preceding the last, had of course a material effect upon the capital and industry of this country. The hostile tariff of America, and the deranged state of the circulation of America, no doubt, has contributed still further to increase our commercial difficulties. But still the measures taken in the course of last year and the improvement in the tariff will, I trust, lay the foundation for the repair of the evils that have been felt, and for the increase of the commercial prosperity of this country. I trust the House will not consider that we have been unfaithful to the trust reposed in us; nor that we have forfeited any claim to that confidence which was given to us when we accepted office and entered upon the administration of affairs. By the course we have pursued, we have occasionally in the execution of our public duty, disappointed the expectation of our friends. They may not have realized the hopes which they were led, as the noble Lord says, to entertain, that protection would be carried to the extremest point, or that the agricultural produce of this country would be favoured
by still higher duties; but, whatever expectations have been entertained, there was no declaration made either by my colleagues or by myself which could justify our friends in supposing that we would sacrifice our public duty to their expectations. We have exercised the trust reposed by the country in our hands in such a way, I trust, as not to have forfeited the confidence which our friends were disposed to place in us when we came into office. In our endeavours to retain that confidence, we will apply ourselves to the discharge of our public duty with a firm belief, that whatever may be the threatening aspect of public affairs in particular quarters, there is that energy and public spirit in this country that will enable us to surmount them all, and to place this country, in reference to its domestic affairs, and with reference to its foreign relations, in that proud position which it ought to maintain. Sir, if the noble Lord had upon this occasion proposed any vote for testing the confidence of this House in her Majesty's Government, we feel that that confidence would not have been withheld from us; that no partial dissatisfaction—no partial disappointment—has alienated from us the approbation and support of our friends, and so long as they are continued, we shall persevere in the discharge of our duty.
§ Viscount Howick
said, that he was not aware until that morning that it was the object of his noble Friend to raise the present discussion, and he had not intended to take any part in the debate; but after the speech which had been just delivered by the right hon. Baronet, lie could not refrain, from a sense of duty, from expressing, and it should be very shortly, the great disappointment he felt in listening to that right hon. Gentleman, and the great regret he felt, when he found that her Majesty's Government still appeared to entertain the opinion that the situation of this country might safely be left as it was, without any interference on their part. That the situation of the country was very serious—that there were difficulties, not to say dangers, sufficient to excite anxiety ill the mind of every man capable of taking a calm view of the circumstances around him, was, lie thought, a fact that must be universally admitted. What did they see in Ireland? What was it, according to the description of one of the highest servants of the Crown, and who, he trusted, in this, went far beyond the truth, but who still affirmed that it was 1427 to be regarded as "a smothered rebellion?" What did they see in Wales? There the disturbances were daily assuming a more serious character; and in Scotland, they saw the Church of that country, which for upwards of a century and a half had flourished, and with the blessing of God had been the means of bringing up a population more orderly, more moral, and more religious, than he believed, was to be found in any other country in the world—they found that institution torn by a schism, which menaced its continuance, and its usefulness. Such, then, were the public circumstances of the country: and if they then turned to their financial and commercial affairs, they found, as to their finances, that there was an admittedly large deficiency of income to meet the expenditure —a deficiency which, if they properly interpreted the phrases used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they could not expect to see covered for another year. They found, too, all their great branches of industry grievously suffering; that the iron trade, which was one of the most important of them, had, as it appeared by the public papers, been brought under the serious consideration of the right hon. Gentleman. All the great mining interests were suffering—particularly that of coal—all were experiencing severe pressure and labouring under great difficulties. And yet, amidst all these difficulties, the right hon. Gentleman appeared to console himself with the prospect afforded by the wool and cot. ton manufactures. He could not, remembering the statement that had been made a few evenings ago by his hon. Friend the Member for Halifax—he could not anticipate so favourably as to the prosperity of the wool trade: and then, as to the cotton manufacture, they had no ground for believing in its permanent improvement. There was no reason why they should rely upon the anticipations of the right hon. Gentleman. At the beginning of the Session the right hon. Gentleman had told them of his hopes of improvement—he had consoled them with hopes; but, as in times past, his hopes had proved deceptive, and he feared they had now but too much reason to fear that in what they had heard they would be equally disappointed for the future. While, then, trade was suffering, agriculture was beginning to share in the general difficulties. They all knew, that in every part of the country the farming interests were exposed to the greatest pressure and 1428 distress. Such, then, was the state of the country, and he believed he did not exaggerate it in any respect. Surely, then, under these circumstances, it was a matter deeply to be lamented, that, as it appeared now to be the case, they were about to close a long and laborious Session without having brought to a successful termination one single, large, important measure of legislation, calculated to improve the condition of the people, and to mitigate the pressure of the evils which had so long. weighed upon the country. It was deplorable, that under such circumstances, the Session should come to a fruitless conclusion. He believed, that there was not any Gentleman on either side of the House who gave a calm and dispassionate opinion, who would not tell them that the circumstances and situation of the country required the energetic exertion of all the power of the Government and Parliament, and who would not add that it was not a sufficient reason because nothing had been done that nothing was to be done. Hon. Gentlemen might differ as to the mode of meeting those difficulties. Of course in a numerous assembly like that, there must be differences of opinion as to the manner in which difficulties were to be met; but he believed, that off the Treasury Bench, they could hardly meet with one Gentleman who would not give it as his opinion, that the active and decided interposition of the Government and of Parliament was imperatively required in the existing state of the country. He himself had upon more than one occasion declared his opinion as to what ought to be the direction in which that interposition should take place. The right hon. Baronet, when he was out of office, was very cautious in stating his views as to what ought to be done. If it were his object, or the object of those with whom he acted, merely to return to the Ministerial Benches again, they would do well to imitate the caution of the right hon. Gentleman. He must say that he had no desire that the present Government should relinquish the helm of affairs. That which he desired was, that good measures should be adopted, and he cared not who were their authors. He wanted measures, which should meet the growing difficulties of the country; and he therefore had no desire to conceal his opinions as to the measures that ought to be adopted, and which he believed would meet those difficulties. What was required was, to relieve the industrious classes from 1429 the embarrassments which still fettered ' and chained them down. With respect to Ireland, he said they ought to apply their consideration and see what that people had a right to expect from them. He need not now repeat what he had said lately to the House, as to Ireland, and which Parliament had the power to effect. It was to such measures that he should look for the gradual improvement in the situation of that country. But whether those measures were adopted or not; or whether there might not be other measures calculated for its improvement, still he said that it was the duty of gentlemen occupying the benches opposite to come forward, and with their advice to guide and assist the House in taking that course which under the circumstances was requisite. They were bound to advise and to counsel that House as to what ought to be done. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, now made a speech, which was hardly worthy of the situation he held, or the time at which it was delivered. It was a speech full of statistical details — harping upon small points, and of doubts as to whether measures suggested by others would answer. This was not the part to be acted by one holding the situation of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman, after mentioning the various plans proposed, invariably came to the same conclusion—the right hon. Gentleman doubted whether it would succeed. The right hon., Gentleman would express no positive opinion on any subject. In the situation of the right hon. Gentleman he would tell him the country expected something more than doubts. The country expected that a positive opinion would be given by the right hon. Gentleman, but the right hon. Gentleman declined giving a positive opinion. The people expected la vigorous energetic course of action from those entrusted with the destinies of the country. But the right hon. Gentleman made excuses for the Government having failed in carrying measures calculated to improve the condition of the country, and what did his excuses come to? The right hon. Gentleman told them something of two measures, and what were they? One was a measure for the recovery of small debts, and the other was the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill. The right hon. Gentleman complained that those bills had been interfered with and interrupted, in consequence of the discussions which had taken place in that House. If those two propo- 1430 sitions had been carried, they would have fallen very short of those measures which the country had a right to expect, but let him next say, that the excuse on which the Government rested for not passing those measures would not bear one moment's consideration. What were the facts? The only really important measure of the Government was that relating to the employment of children in factories, and the education of that class of the population. That this measure had failed was owing to no factious opposition in that House. The right hon. Gentleman pushed the point rather further than lie was warranted when he affirmed that his noble Friend was prepared to assent to that measure. He thought that his noble Friend and hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House acted well in avoiding a premature discussion on the measure; and it had not failed because they had endeavoured to excite public opinion against it. His noble Friend had truly said that considering the state of public opinion, her Majesty's Government had exercised a sound discretion in withdrawing the measure, and lie could not help here saying that it was unfortunate such opinions prevailed on the subject, which were not creditable to either of the great parties of the State. With that public opinion be did not sympathise, because he thought that the evil of having a large portion of the poor uneducated was so great as to overbalance other considerations, and he would make a great sacrifice of his own opinions to meet that evil. He was prepared to stretch to its uttermost the principle of religion, for the purpose of having a measure that would facilitate public education. He did not think that the opinion which prevailed was creditable to the Church on the one side, or to Dissenters on the other. For that which had now taken place he was not disposed to blame her Majesty's Government; but still he could not help thinking that when they calmly looked back upon by-gone events—when they looked back to what had been done and said on this subject, and how the passions had been raised, and bigotry stimulated, when they looked back and considered these things, they could not be surprised that there should be that state of public feeling which rendered nugatory the efforts of the existing Government to improve education. Gentlemen who occupied the opposite Benches could hardly forget—the country did not forget—the 1431 pains that had been taken to misrepresent and create a prejudice against the measures that were in contemplation by the late Government, on the great question of education. It was the party contests that were then excited that still prevailed, and the- course then pursued went far to explain the existence of those unfortunate and bitter feelings on both sides, which left no other course to the Government but to abstain from legislation on the subject. But what were the other measures which the right hon. Gentleman had failed in carrying? The right hon. Gentleman was not unable to carry them from the want of a sufficient majority in that House. The excuse of the right hon. Gentleman was, that he failed from the impossibility of finding sufficient time for the discussion of various measures. The right hon. Gentleman told them that fifteen nights were occupied in questions of great importance, on which the debates had been adjourned; and then that seventeen nights had been taken up with discussions on the Irish Arms Bill. Now, with respect to the three adjourned debates. One was a motion which he had the honour to propose at an early part of the Session. Then there was a debate upon the Corn-law, and on the state of Ireland. All those adjourned debates were upon questions which he ventured to submit were questions that ought to be brought under the consideration of the House, and to which the House could not, without shrinking from its duty, refuse to give its deliberate consideration. All were questions which, considering the circumstances of the time, it was highly proper and fitting should be discussed; and not one of them occupied an unreasonable or unnecessary length of time. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to adjourned debates, but adjourned debates in former Sessions, he believed, were quite as long; and they should, in considering the greater frequency of adjourned debates now than formerly, not forget the fact referred to by the hon. Member for Salford, more than once, that formerly, when petitions were presented, there was an opportunity for raising, over and over again, incidental debates upon all subjects of great public interest, which occupied men's minds and attention. When those who then represented large constituencies naturally thought, that their sentiments should be brought under the consideration of the House, they had on such occasions the opportunity of expressing their sentiments, 1432 and were exempted from the necessity of taking part in the great debates. The House had now, and as he thought, most wisely, put an end to debates on petitions; but the necessary consequence was, that this increased the length of the debates when they came to the consideration of the subject to which the petitions related. That accounted for the frequency of adjourned debates. He certainly was of opinion, considering it as a question of time, that the appropriation of time to public business, that the substituting of protracted debates upon measures of great public importance, was a great saving of that time, instead of its being unduly wasted upon debates caused by the presentation of petitions. Here he might observe to the right hon. Gentleman, that for many years past there never bad been a Session in which Gentlemen occupying the opposition Benches had shown so remarkable a degree of forbearance to the Government to which they were opposed. He remembered when hon. Gentlemen opposite were out of office they frequently had debates upon going into committees of supply, more frequently certainly than it had happened of late. It had not occurred in more than one or two instances. Once, lie confessed, he brought forward a question in that way, but that was to suit the convenience of her Majesty's Government. It was with their assent and approbation he had taken that course. He believed there was no Session in which there was so little interference with a Government as the present. In the same manner her Majesty's Government were allowed to obtain all the estimates, literally almost without discussion. No obstruction was presented to any portion of the public business. Then what was the difficulty, that the Government had experienced as to time, as compared to former Sessions? Simply the opposition offered to the passing of the Arms Bill. He spoke on this subject impartially, because he had taken no part in that opposition. He was far from approving of the conduct of her Majesty's Government in introducing that bill; but, under all the circumstances of Ireland, he was unwilling to deprive the executive Government of that power which formerly they had enjoyed, and he was unwilling to take the responsibility of re. fusing them those new powers which they declared to be necessary. He, therefore, took no part in the opposition to the measure, and he could, therefore, impartially 1433 declare his opinion as to that opposition. He was bound to say, that perhaps that opposition was carried further than he would have advised, still he could not impute blame to gentlemen connected with Ireland for the course they had taken. They might, perhaps, have gone rather further than he thought necessary in their opposition. But at the same time, he thought that this opposition had been owing in great part to the conduct which the Government had pursued in regard to this question. Looking at the state of feeling in Ireland on this subject, he should have thought that the commonest prudence — the commonest forethought — on the part of her Majesty's Ministers, would have induced them to forbear from introducing unnecessarily any points which might become the grounds of debate and opposition. Indeed, the supporters of her Majesty's Government—the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin in particular—but he believed, one and all had said the same—all concurred in the opinion, that, under the present circumstances of Ireland, a Continuance bill would have been a far better course than the changes which they had made, and which were not worth the discussions which they had led to. But if her Majesty's Government thought otherwise—if they thought that some new power was absolutely necessary for the efficient administration of the law in Ireland—surely in that case they had, at all events, a right to take care that the bill, in its details—in its mechanical part, if he might use the term, was carefully drawn up—so well framed, and expressed so clearly as to carry into effect the object which the Government aimed at, and at the same time to satisfy all those who read it, that nothing more was demanded than was absolutely necessary. But was such the character of the bill which her Majesty's Government had introduced? So far from it, several clauses were found to be totally inadequate to the object which the Government had in view — several clauses were admitted by them to require amendment, whilst at the same time they said they were not prepared to amend them at the moment, and yet refused to postpone them. He thought, therefore, that any responsibility for the delay which had occurred in the passing of this measure rested at least equally between her Majesty's Government and those who had been most active in opposition. Yet, whatever the cause, wherever the blame rested, 1434 such was the position of affairs that the Session was about to conclude and nothing had been accomplished. Her Majesty's Government, when they were called upon to state their views upon the condition of the country, seemed to admit that something in the way of apology was due for their having accomplished so little; but the apology which they had just beard from the right hon. Baronet, he must say, appeared to him to be altogether inadequate and unsatisfactory. He feared that the real truth was, that her Majesty's Government had not properly viewed the difficulties in which they and the country were placed. He did not wish to treat this subject in a party manner. Far from it. He thought that the dangers by which they were at present surrounded were such as ought to induce Members on both sides to consider what ought now to be done in order to put the affairs of the country in a right position, instead of occupying them. selves by throwing the blame of past errors from one side to the other. But at the same time he thought it right to express his opinion, amounting indeed to conviction, that the present difficulties of the Government had been brought on in consequence of their not acting consistently upon any well-considered system of policy. Their measures, instead of all forming parts of one definite system adopted after a calm survey of the whole condition of the country, seem merely to have been adopted on the spur of the moment, to meet the difficulties of the day, which they encountered in this House or elsewhere. He could see in their conduct no traces of energy or decision which the present state of affairs rendered highly necessary. On the contrary, he could see obvious proofs, that, though they had partially adopted some great principles of polity, which, if true, ought to be acted upon to the fullest extent, they hesitated to carry them out. Though they had made some slight advance, in the way of an improved tariff, they still hesitated between the great principles of free-trade and a close monopoly. Again in the affairs of the country, they would neither stem the discontents of the people, nor make any attempt to remove the causes of those discontents. Hesitating between conflicting views and opinions, the whole conduct, both in the executive department and in the management of the business of Parliament, bore the stamp of hesitation, uncertainty, and irresolution. This appeared to him to be 1435 the real secret of the unproductive Session which was now about to close; and he hoped, that, before Parliament again assembled, her Majesty's Government would be prepared to take a different and a bolder line of conduct; that they would look the difficulties of the country fairly in the face, without reference to particular expressed opinions either of themselves or their adversaries, unbiassed by party connections or ties, or party interests; he hoped, that, totally unfettered by considerations of this kind, they would then come forward and propose to the House such measures as might be calculated to meet the difficulties and dangers with which they were surrounded. This was what the country had a right to expect from them; and he hoped, also, that the magnitude of the pending danger would induce all persons, in the House and out of it, to concur in the opinion that such a line of conduct on the part of the Government was essential to the interests of the country.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that whilst he approved in most of what had fallen from the noble Lord who had just sat down, he did not think that either the noble Lord who had opened this discussion, nor the right hon. Baronet who had replied to him, had fairly placed the subject upon its true and proper basis. He thought at the same time that the right hon. Baronet had entirely failed of stating any satisfactory reason for the total want of activity which had prevailed during the present Session. The right hon. Baronet had come into power, backed by a majority apparently sufficient to enable him to carry any measures which he might think fit to propose; indeed, the right hon. Baronet had declared that he would not hold office unless such were his position. Yet he had heard to-night, with great regret, a speech from the right hon. Baronet, in which there was not one single reason stated, which could be satisfactory to the country, however it might be to the House, for doing nothing. He could only think that the Cabinet were not of one mind, and on that account they did nothing. He had expected that the noble Lord would have called the attention of the House to what really was the great point for their consideration—namely, a comparison between the state of the country at the present time, and that in September, 1841. There was not a single interest in the country that he knew of, which was not in a worse 1436 situation now than it was when the right hon. Baronet took office. The value of property, of every kind, was on the decline; profits decreasing, wages falling, and want of employment increasing. Judging by his own observation alone, he should say that almost every class of industry in the country was in greater difficulties than it was two years ago. He would ask any individual, who had the slightest opportunities of judging of the fact, whether such a state of circumstances ever existed in England, at any period of her history, as prevailed at the present moment? Was the complaint now what it had been in former years—a want of bullion and money? No; the complaint was no longer confined to that cause. Our capitalists had more capital than they could put to use, and the industry of the country was unemployed. The right hon. Baronet had said, on opening his career in office, that his object would be to increase the resources and application of industry. It was now for the right hon. Baronet to explain to the country why with the power of doing good, which he undoubtedly possessed, he had failed to effect any scheme of utility. On the contrary, every department of industry was in a more depressed state than when the right hon. Baronet took the affairs of the country in hand. He would refer to the cotton trade, he could refer to the woollen trade, and he would ask any Gentleman from Yorkshire, whether that trade was ever in such a state of distress. In this as in other departments of industry, labour was thrown out of employ, and the establishments themselves were not worth one-half their former value, whilst the proprietors of many of them, much to the credit of their good feeling, had actually kept them going at a positive loss, rather than turn out their hands to starve. Then what was the case with the shipping interest? He recollected the time when a Chancellor of the Exchequer never rose to describe the flourishing state of the country without pointing to the increase and prosperity of this most important feature in our commercial resources. It was remarkable that the right hon. Baronet had this evening not said one word on the subject of our shipping. The right hon. Baronet had spoken in glowing language of the power and greatness of England. But where was that greatness—where that power? He feared very much that they 1437 were escaping from us, and that they would continue to forsake us under the auspices of such a Government as that which now presided over our destinies. The right hon. Baronet had charged the noble Lord who opened this discussion, with indulging in gloomy views of the state of affairs; but in his opinion the noble Lord had not over charged the picture. The noble Lord had spoken of the decrease in the revenue, and what was this but an evidence of a decrease in the comforts and enjoyments of the people, and an increase of the general distress of the country? The right hon. Baronet bad commenced his career of office in a very praiseworthy manner. He began by propounding views in which the large portion of the country concurred. He, for one, regretted that the right hon. Baronet had begun by applying the principle to trifling articles instead of more important ones; but the country complained that he had stopped short, and neglected to carry those principles further. And now in the present Session, instead of taking the opportunity to carry those measures which were necessary in the distressed circumstances of the country, he and his unfortunate colleagues brought in that unfortunate bill, the Irish Arms Bill, and then alleged it as an excuse for their doing nothing else. What he contended was, that want of cheap food was at the bottom of all the distresses of the country, by preventing our artizans from competing upon equal terms with those of other countries. The principles of free-trade must be applied to the general articles of consumption before we could hope for any material improvement. The right hon. Baronet had pointed to America, and said, "whilst we have been setting the example of relaxed commercial restrictions, see what the United States, by their tariff, have been doing in return." But the fact was, that at the time referred to the affairs of the United States were much in the same condition of those of this country, namely, at a dead lock. Parties were so equally balanced that neither could carry out its views; until, at last, one Gentleman who had always previously voted against the tariff, voted for it in order to put an end to this state of things. The Americans wanted us to take their corn, which was the only thing they could give us in exchange for our goods. We refused. And under these circumstances, he thought that 1438 we had no right to accuse the United States of not acting fairly by us. All our commercial regulations seemed to be treated in the same unsatisfactory manner. With regard to the negotiation with Portugal he certainly did not think, considering all that England had done for Portugal, that we had been very well treated by her. But the fact was, England should not wait for Portugal in a matter of this kind. We ought not to keep up the duties upon Portugal wines, nor upon French spirits. We should adopt a system which should be fair to all, leaving to each country the opportunity of acting with equal fairness towards us. He hoped, sincerely, that it would not be long before the Government of this country would resolve to act upon the principle he had described, and which he considered to be the only one which would substantially relieve the growing distresses under which we laboured. As it was, the country was over-taxed; the resources of the country were diminishing; and yet we were keeping up a war establishment in a time of peace. Taxation could not be reduced, unless the expenditure was reduced in an equal proportion. The right hon. Baronet had made a good beginning towards alleviating the distress which pressed upon the industrious classes, when he brought in his income-tax, by which he had raised five millions towards the expenses of the country. He, for one, would not object, if the right hon. Baronet should propose to raise fifteen millions by that means, provided, at the same time, lie took off an equivalent amount from the other taxes. What he objected to in the financial measures of the right bon. Baronet was, that whilst lie proposed the income-tax, he left all the other taxes unmitigated. He did not forget the new tariff, in which, doubtlessly, many items of duty had been reduced. But, with regard to that measure, he would observe that although the right hon. Baronet had calculated that it would effect a reduction of income of about 170,000l., the reduction actually effected by it, amounted to nothing like that sum. It was remarkable also that the proportion of loss to the revenue in the last year was in many cases greater upon those articles on which the duty had not been reduced, than on those on which the duty had been reduced. He objected to many of the principal duties, 1439 both on account of the enormous amount, and the indiscriminating manner in which they were applied. The duty on tobacco amounting to 800 per cent., was so severe, that to say nothing of other grounds of complaint, it operated as an incentive to smuggling, by which the revenue was defrauded, and the honest trader injured. In the duties upon tea and wine, and some other articles, he complained that the same scale of duty was applied to the highest as the lowest qualities of those articles. Looking at all these considerations, and reflecting upon the general circumstances of the country, he was obliged to find fault with the course which her Majesty's Government had pursued. The Session was about to close; nothing had been done; and he very much feared that next year they would meet under no better circumstances. He could not forget that at the close of last year, and also at the close of the year before, the right hon. Baronet had said that they should do better next year; but it had not turned out so. If the right hon. Baronet did not feel himself able to grapple with the difficulties of the country let him retire. If, however, he was resolved to do what the state of the country required, he could do so, for none of his supporters dare say "nay" to anything he proposed, and even if they did, the right hon. Baronet might depend upon it, that he would gain more supporters from his opponents, than he would lose from amongst his followers. All he feared was, that the necessary remedies for the present distresses would be delayed till the power and resources of the country were so far undermined that it would be impossible to restore them. He earnestly entreated the Government and the House to take the matter seriously in hand before so deplorable a crisis arrived.
§ Sir Benjamin Hall
rose to say a few words with respect to the allusions which had been made to the disturbances in Wales. The subject had been introduced by his noble Friend near him, who had stated that the inhabitants of that portion of the country were generally peaceful, loyal, and anxious to submit to the laws to the best of their power. It was, therefore, natural for them to suppose that when they found disturbances breaking out, as they had done, not in a manufacturing, but in a purely agricultural district, that there must be some serious evil the bottom of these outrages. The 1440 right hon. Baronet opposite had said that they had arisen from slight causes, and he could assure him that the causes were merely local, that they were not connected with political matters, nor had they reference to any act of Government, and that they were confined to the district in which they were taking place. As the Government had sent down a commission to Wales, he hoped that they would find it necessary to inquire into the roots of the evil, with a view to remedy it, instead of taking the course which the magistrates had proposed to follow. It was with regret that he blamed the magistrates as among them were some personal friends of his own, but he believed that the magistrates were the persons most to blame in this matter, and he felt it to be his duty to state here what he believed to be the case; that great oppression had been practised by these persons towards the people, by allowing charges to be exacted which charges were illegal. And he would tell the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government this, that some of the magistrates and trustees had been instrumental in levying tolls from the poor in a district over the roads of which their powers under the act of Parliament had expired. He stated this upon the authority of a person in whose information he had every reason to place confidence. If such were the case, he thought that persons acting thus deserved great censure. In order to show that the panegyric passed upon the Welsh by his noble Friend was not unfounded, he might state that when the outrageous doings of the Rebeccaites first began to be carried into execution, they issued a proclamation, stating that no bars or gates would be pulled down, which they in their single-mindedness or simple-mindedness, termed "Queen's gates," but that they would confine their operations to side-bars, and to those districts where they conscientiously believed that no tolls ought to be levied. What they called "Queen's bars" were the gates through which the mail coach passed, and it was not until they were afterwards informed that these were not the Queen's gates, but the gates of their enemies, as they considered them, that they determined on breaking them down. He thought that the course pursued by the magistrates was most unwise. Instead of attempting to remedy the grievances which were loudly and justly 1441 complained of, and which were now producing great dissatisfaction in the adjoining counties, as well as those in which the peace had been at first disturbed: instead of remedying these grievances, the only course which the magistrates thought of adopting was that of the establishment of a rural police. He hoped that the commissioner who had been sent down would examine into the grievances complained of, and not aid the magistrates in carrying out a coercive policy, which would be most injurious in every point of view.
§ Mr. Brotherton
agreed with the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Montrose. As that hon. Member had stated, the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government must not flatter himself, from the increased demand for cotton, that the cotton trade was in a flourishing condition—that trade was really in anything but a satisfactory condition. As for the increased demand, it would be recollected that that might be partially accounted for by the fact of an enormous quantity having been burned in Liverpool. Upwards of 800,000l. worth of property, and 100,000 bags of cotton had been thus consumed within eight months. He was convinced that if the Government did not alter their policy, that this country would go fast to ruin. For his own part he would support any man who would carry out those doctrines of free-trade which he believed could alone sustain the commerce of the country. He called upon the Government to practice the principles which they preached. It has been always the practice and the misfortune of this country, to do right too late. He wished, therefore, that in the present instance, this practice should be departed from, and that they should do that which was right, at a right time and in a right way.
§ Mr. Milner Gibson
wished to put a question to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, upon a subject which he thought might properly be introduced during the present discussion, he meant our commercial relations with the Brazils. He was informed that the executive government in the Brazils possessed the power of increasing the customs' duties by decree of the emperor to the extent of 6O per cent., and lie also understood that a decree had been issued by the emperor authorising the executive government to prepare a new tariff upon 1442 the basis of a considerable increase in the import duties. He wanted to know whether the right hon. Baronet opposite had any information that such was the intention of the Brazilian government; and also to know whether the right hon. Baronet thought there was anything in the existing treaty between Brazil and this country to prevent the Brazilian government from increasing their import duties. He knew that the firm impression had been that that government could not add to the duties now payable upon our goods imported into Brazil, until the expiration of the commercial treaty; but he had lately heard doubts expressed upon the subject, and he should like to hear what were the views of Government respecting it.
§ Sir Robert Peel:
My impression has I always been, that until the year 1844 no such power as that alluded to can be exercised by the Brazilian government.
Mr. Vernon Smith
wished to make a few observations upon the speech of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have mistaken some of the charges which his noble Friend the Member for the City of London had brought against him. In the commencment of his speech the right hon. Baronet had told them that he was not answerable for the delay which had occurred in carrying through the measures proposed by Government. Now, no such accusation, he conceived, had ever been brought against him. What his noble Friend complained of, as he conceived, was, that deficiency in the administration of business talents which had caused the right hon. Baronet to neglect to ensure the passing of his measures by consulting in their introduction the feelings of the House, at least those of his own supporters in it, and what was of even more consequence than them — the feelings of the country. At the opening of the present Session, the right hon. Baronet had put words into the Queen's mouth expressing her desire for the introduction of certain law reforms. These were not measures of a character which were likely to raise political or party feelings in the House. If the right hon. Baronet had been really wishful to pass them, he might have introduced them into the Upper House, and from thence brought them here. But lie adopted no such course, and the measures 1443 of law reform which he did bring forward, he brought forward in that House, and then allowed them to linger on until an opposition arose towards them upon the part of his own friends behind him. The Ecclesiastical Courts Bill was thrown out by the right hon. Baronet's own supporters — by Gentlemen, whose feelings towards it he should have ascertained. The County Courts Bill was still lingering on. Now, these were measures which were much wanted, and which had been brought forward over and over again in the course of his Parliamentary experience, and which had yet been always allowed to slumber again. His noble and hon. Friends near him, when they were in power, had often been told, that as the were too weak to carry their measures, their existence, as a Government was positively disadvantageous to their party, as many persons, who would have otherwise joined them, declined doing so, on account of their weakness, and joined the party of the right hon. Baronet opposite, because they thought that he would, on his accession to power, be at the head of a Government strong enough to carry through the measures which it would propose. But never, he believed, was there an instance within the memory of man of a Government so powerful in numbers as the present, sinking so fast in public estimation, as was that of the right hon. Baronet. That was a point, he believed, he might say, universally allowed; acknowledged by some with surprise, by the friends of the Government with regret, and by its enemies with rejoicing and congratulation. They had supposed, upon his accession to power, that the right hon. Baronet would not be bound by those peculiar obligations and ties which hampered a weaker Government; that he would be able, with the majority which he possessed, to back him, to triumph over the scruples and unreasonable objections of individuals of his party. But instead of bringing forward great measures for the benefit of the country, the right hon Baronet had confined himself to passing two measures, neither of which, he was sure, the country thought were imperatively required. There was, first, the Canada Corn Bill; and he would ask, now that that measure had passed, whether the time which its discussion had taken had been profitably expended? The same observation applied to the Irish 1444 Arms Bill: would any one affirm, that it would not have been a wiser and a more expeditious course for the Government to have taken, had they brought in a measure simply continuing the present law. By the new law, as it was modified in its progress through committee, the noble Lord opposite had confessed they hardly possessed the power which the old law would have given them. He believed that a bill introduced with greater haste and less prudence was never brought before the House; and he thought that a Government who introduced a bill of this sort, pronouncing it to be absolutely necessary for public safety and security, and yet who afterwards, gave up not only many of the details, but much of the principle involved in it, had acted in a manner most unbecoming a Government. When a measure, allowed to be severe and unconstitutional in its enactments, was brought forward, every clause and provision contained in it should be duly weighed and carefully discussed, so that they might not take one single step more severe than was absolutely necessary. How had Government acted on this point? He thought their conduct had been as blameable in yielding, as it had been at first in introducing the bill. The right hon. Baronet had said that the felt no alarm as to the energies of the country not being able to rally in the struggle to which they were now exposed, In this he quite agreed with the right hon. Baronet. What he felt alarm for was, that the energies of the administration would not prove sufficient for the crisis to which it would be exposed. Whether or not the Government was fluctuating between two opinions he knew not; but this he did know, that in the whole tone of the measures which they had introduced—in the speech made by the right hon. Baronet this night, and on the occasion of the debate on the Arms Bill—lie could perceive a want of energy and decision—a want of those qualities which, after all, governed the world more than the talents so amply possessed by the right hon. Baronet. What was the state of matters now that they were about to close the labours of the Session? His noble Friend had said that he would not allude to Scinde. He thought that question was in abeyance until next Session, because the persons engaged in preparing the papers upon the subject had so delayed their production, that lie defied any person 1445 profitably to peruse them before the end of the Session. The right hon. Baronet had stated, that he did not know whether OF not there were still battles to he fought, and, for his own part, he believed that it would be years before they could know, for Scinde would, probably, be a scene of warfare as long as they continued to hold it. But this was no reason why they should not be made acquainted with what had been hitherto done. At all events they should have laid before them such information as would enable them to form their own opinions upon the subject, whether they were to be favoured with those of the right hon. Baronet or not. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had, indeed, put upon the books of the House a notice of motion upon the subject. He did not know how the hon. and learned Gentleman intended to proceed, but the period of the Session for which it was fixed was so late that he supposed the right hon. Baronet opposite would make that fact an excuse for not discussing it. In the recess, they were to leave the conduct of the affairs of India to the Government, although, indeed, that was hardly the case—he wished it was the Government alone to which they were to leave it—they were to leave it in the hands of one of the most indiscreet men who had ever been trusted with such a charge. He believed, that this was the conviction of the right hon. Baronet opposite himself; and upon this point he would press upon him the vacillating and undecided nature of his policy. With a Government so powerful as his, could he be afraid to recall Lord Ellenborough? Who was he afraid of quarrelling with for not having such a man as Lord Ellenborough, Governor-General of India'? He carried with him, he thought, the opinion of every sound-thinking man in this country, when he said, that the administration of the affairs in India was not safe in the hands of Lord Ellenborough. Why, then, should the right hon. Baronet be afraid of recalling him? Was he afraid of Lord Ellenborough attacking him and his Government upon his return home? Did he scruple to recall him because he had found him an unwelcome Member of his Cabinet, or because he saw that it would be impossible to unite more hot temperaments than he had to deal with already in his Ministry? If these were the considerations which animated the right hon. Baronet, all the advantages which they had 1446 expected to gain from a strong Government were null and void. Then let them look to Ireland. He would ask, as illustrating his position of the want of energy of the present Government, what had been their conduct with respect to this important subject? He would appeal to the late debate, and beg to know from any impartial person—from any bye-stander —what he thought of the speeches of the Members of Government upon that occasion? The liberal Irish Members had upon that occasion no less distinguished themselves by their generous liberality than by their moderation. He would particularly allude to the speeches of the hon. Members for Kildare, Drogheda, and Mallow. How, then, did the right hon. Baronet opposite mean to govern Ireland? As he said and showed that he did not mean to throw himself into the arms and govern Ireland by means of a small party of ultra Orangemen, he should have paid the utmost attention and deference to the sentiments of the moderate liberal party in that country. Bat no such attention had been ever shown to their representations in that House. At the conclusion of the debate upon the Irish Arms Bill, they had a spirited speech from the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies. In that speech the noble Lord had stated that, as had been said by the hon. Member for Kildare, one of the greatest grievances of which the Irish had to complain was the relation subsisting in that country between landlord and tenant. And the noble Lord went on to say, that if that subject had been brought forward early in the Session, and if a committee had been asked for to inquire into it, he, for one, would have been inclined to assent to the appointment of that committee. Was that language fit to be held by an administration governing Ireland at a great crisis? Why, if this question of landlord and tenant was the great question of Ireland, it was surely still not too late to consider it—no day was too hot, or no Session too long, but that they should have immediately entered upon its discussion; and yet the noble Lord said, that if we had thought of this subject, or if anybody else had thought of it at an earlier period, we would have discussed it. In the same manner, any other measure which could be considered useful or advantageous, had been delayed. The amended Poor-law, for instance, which the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of 1447 State for the Home Department, had promised to bring forward. He himself had advocated that law, but he saw many things in its management that might be improved—many modifications and corrections which might be made. At the close of the last Session, the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department, when he withdrew a great portion of the bill, said that he would introduce a fresh one during this Session, and this had not been done. Early in February, the right hon. Baronet said that he could not promise to introduce this bill within a fortnight. He had kept his promise, but the fortnight had now been protracted over six months. In like manner had all measures of useful legislation been postponed, and the country had derived no advantage from the doings of a strong Government. Indeed, the country at this moment appeared to be placed in this situation, that having insisted upon retaining the right hon. Baronet and his Colleagues, it was in the position of a man who had played his last card, and which had not come up trumps. They could find no one to take the right hon. Baronet's place, and therefore all they could do was to implore the right hon. Baronet and his Colleagues to remain, and work out their own principles. As matters now stood, he thought that the business of the House was becoming so multiplied, that if the right hon. Baronet opposite went on in the course which he had been lately pursuing, he would shortly find that he could not pass any measures unless they could change the forms of the House, and enable them in a succeeding Session to continue measures which had been passed up to a certain stage in the Session before. Unless the right hon. Baronet determined to take that step, or to apply himself in the recess to consider some measures for expediting and promoting the progress of business, he did not see how they were to carry on legislation in that House henceforward.
§ Mr. E. B. Roche
said, that he had not intended to take any part in the debate; but from the speeches of the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord, he felt bound to do what in him lay to extricate from the degrading and injurious consequences of a mere party melée, a cause which had been stamped as genuine by the concurrence and union of an entire nation. It was pretty clear that he alluded to the le- 1448 gislative independence of Ireland. He must protest, as one committed to that question, and as one enjoying to some extent the confidence of the Irish people, against Ireland and the Irish question being drawn into mere party dissensions in that House. The people of Ireland did not care one pin about the differences between Whig and Tory. They looked mutely on whilst they in that House were differing upon party questions. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government complained that the Government business had been greatly obstructed by the Irish Members in their opposition to the Irish Arms Bill. He, for one, had no part in the opposition to that bill, but he must be allowed to ask the right hon. Baronet why, when he saw that the whole of the Irish Liberal Members, representing as they did the immense majority of the people of that country, more united in their opposition to this measure, he would ask why had he not come forward and withdrawn it? Why force on the country a measure inimical to the feelings of the mass of the community? Why rouse the passions of a people on account of a bill pronounced useless by all sides for the prevention of crime? A bill which, as it had been well said, disarmed the innocent and left the guilty to act with perfect impunity. A bill which was unsupported by a single rational argument on the part of its authors. Why were they not satisfied with passing what was called a Continuance Bill? Heaven knew the Whig Arms Bill was bad enough, and ought to have satisfied the Government. He wished here to allude to a remark which was made by the noble Lord who introduced this subject, as to the legality or illegality of the meetings in Ireland. He must admit that the noble Lord had a right to his opinion; but that noble Lord must be conscious when he came down ' with all the authority of a leader of the Opposition, and pronounced those meetings illegal, his opinion carried with it much force. How was the question to be decided, whether they were illegal or not? None of the responsible members of the Crown said they were illegal. The legal advisers of the Crown gave no opinion on the subject, though now and then, in the heat of debate, the word "rebellion" was applied to those who attended such meetings; and in another place they were I talked of as traitors. Had the Govern 1449 ment, however, pronounced them in a formal manner illegal, they could not stop there, but must take measures for their suppression. But he must say it struck him as rather strange, that the leader of the Whigs should throw the weight of his influence into the scale, and give a sort of gentle hint that the Government ought to go on and declare the meetings in Ireland illegal. But, whether illegal or legal, he knew not to what meetings that took place in our history they might be compared. In later times there were none that he could compare them to, either in point of numbers, or of united feeling, except some great meetings on the Reform Bill. He recollected there was a great meeting at Birmingham, an immense aggregate assembly; and the language used there was quite as strong (in the vocabulary of the noble Lord, strong meant violent) as that of the meetings of the Repeaters. Now he believed the noble Lord was in power at that time. But he wished to know whether the noble Lord, acting under the responsibilities of Government—whieh he supposed was as strong as those of opposition—stigmatised that meeting as illegal? Not a bit of it. Why? Was it because the meeting was composed of Englishmen?—or was it because it emanated from that strong agitation which had put the noble Lord into office, and which kept him there? Now let this be perfectly understood by that House, and by the people of England: "We Repeaters don't' wish to be mixed up with your party squabbles. You, the Whigs, don't possess the confidence or sympathy of the Irish people, for you have forfeited them. And you, the Tories, don't enjoy them, for you never possessed them." He had always remarked a certain self-sufficiency about the Whigs on Irish measures, which circumstances did not warrant. There was nothing in Whig administration which made the Irish people anticipate any advantage from their return to power. Let them look back. What recollections did Whig government call up? The Irish people could never forget the Coercion Bill. It was to such measures the Whig Government resorted when they had 400 Members at their command in that House, and it was not until such proposals caused dissension among their ranks, and their immense majority began to dwindle, that they thought of the grievances of the Irish people. They talked about the Church, 1450 and they rested the question on the appropriation clause. Their majority, which was then small, became still smaller, and they ended by entering into a disgraceful compromise with their opponents. Therefore let the Whigs be sure of this —that there was nothing particularly pleasing in Whig government to the people of Ireland; and if they wished to win the affections of that people, they must undo much that they had done, and be prepared to do much more than they ever proposed. We were in this position—the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government spoke in reply as if it were intended to do nothing for Ireland. Now he thought the right hon. Baronet quite right if, by doing nothing," he meant not using his large military force, or resorting to strong measures of coercion. But if by doing nothing the right hon. Baronet meant pursuing a negative course, and waiting on the bank until the stream flowed by, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was wrong. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman fancied that because he had military possession of the country, the agitation of the repeal question would subside. Depend on it this was a great mistake. A noble Duke, in alluding to the question of repeal, said in another place, "We are prepared." He was a very humble leader in the agitation; he would, however say, on the part of the Repeaters of Ireland, "We also are prepared." If a deaf ear were turned to their grievances, which had been stated many a time and oft, and always treated with a studied neglect; if their meetings were suppressed by brute force (which he certainly did not anticipate after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government), the leaders of the Irish people, backed by the united opinions and sympathy of that people, acting within the bounds of the constitution, and only using the rights thereby guaranteed, would place England in such a state of political and financial embarrassment that she would be obliged to yield, not to force, but to the distress of the country, what for years each party in that House had refused to grant to the humble and suppliant petitions of the people.
§ Lord J. Russell:
I beg to say a word in explanation. I did not say that the meetings generally were illegal. I stated that after consulting with some friends of mine (and many of them very learned 1451 lawyers), some of those meetings were, in my estimation illegal. The hon. Gentle- man says that he finds fault with that declaration; but I think I am fully entitled' to give such an opinion. Perhaps the' House will allow me also to say a word with respect to the appropriation clause. The hon. Gentleman says that the late Government "entered into a disgraceful compromise." Now, I beg to say that the late Government entered into no compromise, disgraceful or otherwise. They took the course they thought it their duty to pursue, without entering into any compromise with their opponents or any other persons.
said, he rose to offer a few observations on the state of Wales, in which he felt deeply interested, connected as he was by property with that part of the country. If the Government only conducted a conciliatory course towards the people of that part of the country, if they acted as any just man would say, they ought—he was sure there would be no difficulty in restoring tranquillity. The Government had taken a wise course in sending a commissioner to investigate the grievances of the people, though he thought it would be better if the gentlemen were not connected with the police. if the people had any confidence in the representative of Government he was sure they would openly and frankly state their grievances; and, from all he had heard, he was convinced that the people would be satisfied to abide by any decision of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, if founded on sufficiently impartial information. There was no more peaceable and religious people than the Welsh. When the country was invaded by the French at Fisguard, the Welsh instantly took up arms in defence of their Sovereign. He was sorry to see that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham) thought it a laughing matter that so loyal a people should be driven to outrage.
§ Sir J. Graham:
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I could not exhibit so improper a feeling as to laugh at such statements as the hon. Gentleman made. It was the remark of an hon. Member behind me that occasioned the interruption.
continued. He understood that twelve prisoners were taken up at Carmarthen. He hoped that they 1452 would be tried in their own county. if they were brought from it and punished they could not put down the movement without a military force in every village and in every farmhouse. The people of Wales were incensed against those whom they conceived to be their persecutors; but he was sure if their grievances were redressed they would resume their usually peaceful habits.
§ Viscount Palmerston:
I wish, Sir, before this discussion closes, to make a few observations on the speech of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. That right hon. Gentleman began by complaining of the course pursued by my noble Friend, and he made the sam complaint with regard to him that he urged with respect to me on a former occasion, namely, that my noble Friend, if he found fault with the conduct of the Government ought not have contented himself with making a speech explaining the reasons for condemning their conduct, but was bound to come to an issue, and propose a vote of want of confidence. The right hon. Baronet stated that no doubt my noble Friend was deterred from pursuing that course, from an opinion that I had pronounced in a former debate, that if the present Government were inclined to resign power, the opinion of the country was such as to induce them to resume it. I did undoubtedly express such an opinion on one evening; but the right hon. Baronet very conveniently for his argument, but I must say very unjustly towards me, neglected to add that I afterwards retracted that opinion; that I said I had grown wiser by the experience of the intervening month — that I cautioned the hon. Gentleman opposite against acting precipitately on that opinion, and that I warned them that I at least should not be responsible for the consequences if they did. But I must say, the argument of the right hon. Baronet is wholly inconsistent with the course of proceeding in this House and with the nature of our debates. It is very ' convenient no doubt for the right hon. Baronet, having such a majority as he has, to propound the opinion that the minority should not express any dissatisfaction at the conduct of the Government unless they are prepared to come to a vote which the Government know full well will be rejected by a majority, of which they have an arithmetical account. It is very well 1453 for the Government so circumstanced to hold that doctrine, but the Opposition are as well entitled, knowing they are small in numbers but believing they are strong in argument, to avail themselves of that in which they are strong, namely, debate; and not to accept the invitation of their opponents, and meet them on such a ground of decision that their adversaries are sure to be the predominant party. I must, at the same time, admit that the experience of the Session tempts us to follow the course of debate instead of that of division, because though everybody who has impartially viewed the composition of the two sides—those who sit here and those who sit there—must be convinced that we were far superior in powers of debate; no man, 1 think, could have expected that the preponderance on our side and the inferiority on theirs could have been so strongly manifested as it has been in the course of this Session. Why, Sir, the complaint of the right hon. Baronet is, that our superiority in debate prevented the Government from carrying through the measures they proposed for the benefit of the country. It is to the debate the right hon. Gentleman refers as the cause why such a little progress has been made in the course of legislation. But that complaint is not confined to the right hon. Gentleman. I have heard that in the course of this evening the conduct of this House had been arraigned in another place, for having by a prolongation of debates, impeded the progress of the public business. I must say that a more unfounded complaint never fell from the lips of any man. The right hon. Gentleman says that there has been too much speaking—that we found too much fault with the measures which were proposed. I say that is a tyrannical and overbearing complaint. It was said by a very witty writer that there was no tyranny so great as that of one who eminently ridiculous himself, should complain of others laughing at him; and in the same way, when the Government bring in measures so ill-defined, so ill-framed, so useless for the purposes for which they were intended, that every clause, and every word of a clause, are open to a criticism. I say it is a tyrannical pretension to find fault with those opposed to them, if they dissent any measures so introduced. Therefore, in regard to the Irish Arms Bill, I say the complaint is totally unjust. If 1454 there has been any delay in regard to it, that is the fault of the executive Government in pressing forward a measure which was not supported by the authority even of their own supporters. Without any necessity whatever, and against the wishes of their principal friends and supporters in Ireland, they have chosen to bring in a new and extended measure, embodying various fresh clauses instead of confining themselves to a simple Continuance Bill. I say, then, it is not owing to the debates in this House that more progress has not been made in legislation. In the first place I should like to know, when told of the frequent adjourned debates, what number of days there were on which this House did not meet for a non-attendance, which the Government might have avoided if they chose, and also the number of days on which the House adjourned at a very early hour. I hold in my hand a list of the days in every month at which the House adjourned at a very early hour, and in which, therefore, the Government measures, (if they had any, which was not the case), might have been pushed on, instead of being postponed to that period of the season when there was no hope of passing any bill. I find in March "No House;" "no House;" "adjourned at a quarter after eight;" "no House." In April I find "Adjourned at five o'clock;" "at nine;" "at seven;" "at seven;" "no House." In June, "Adjourned at eight;" "adjourned at eight;" "no House;" "adjourned at seven." Here in every month there were a number of evenings on which there was either no House, or on which the business was concluded very early; and the Government threw away that time which they might have applied in urging forward their measures. But not only do I contend that the length of the debates was perfectly justified, but I am persuaded that on the scanty account which the Government will have to give of the failure of some most important measures, they must admit that the failure was not owing to the discussions in this House, but to opposition out of it by the classes in the country who are affected by them; and I do say, that if Government cannot frame measures on public matters to meet the assent of the great masses in the country affected by them, they have no right to attribute to our debates the deficiency of those measures which it was their duty to submit 1455 in as perfect a shape as they could. Take the great measure relating to education—a most important measure, and one which I deeply regret should have been prevented, by any circumstances, from being passed into a law in the course of the present Session. But was the failure of that measure owing to the prolongation of the debates in this House? No; it was owing to the strong resistance and opposition with which it was met by many classes of the community; and so unable does the Government appear to have been to form an estimate of the feelings of these large bodies of persons on the subject of the bill, that after having postponed the measure, and, as they imagined, relieved it from all objectionable clauses, they found their amended bill was objected to almost as strongly as the original bill, and in consequence of its imperfections they have been compelled to abandon this important measure. Then, what had been the case with respect to the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill—a measure which, together with the County Courts Bill, was specifically announced in the Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the last Session of Parliament? What has become of those measures? Is it in consequence of any prolonged or vexatious debates in this House that those measures have not been carried? It arises from this circumstance—that the Government is unable to frame measures which ale acceptable to the country. It was resistance out of the House—not opposition in the House—which induced the postponement of those measures—measures which the Government thought of so much importance that they were mentioned in the Speech from the Throne last year. I say, then, that it is unfair to charge hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, who have only discharged their duty, with impeding the progress of these measures, which the Government, although they admit their importance, have shown their inability to carry into law. Then, have her Majesty's Ministers resorted to all the means they had at their command for accelerating the dispatch of public business? Why were not the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill and the County Courts Bill introduced, in the first instance, into the House of Lords? That course might, I think, have been adopted most advantageously. The House of Lords, at an early period of the Session, have little to do. Have they 1456 sent us down any measure of great importance? There is, it is true, a measure come down to us, which 1 cannot help thinking was brought in somewhat after its time. I am alluding to the Scotch Church Bill—a bill for healing divisions pronounced to he beyond cure, and retaining in the Church those who do not mean to leave it. The House of Lords sent us down twelve or thirteen hills, but when I come to look at the subjects of them, I cannot say they are sufficient to occupy the attention of that learned House for four or five months. There is the Law of Evidence Bill, the Attorneys and Solicitors Bill, the Copyhold and Customs Bill, the Queens Bench Prison Bill. There is another called the Appeal to the Privy Council Bill, which contains a clause which the Government, being totally unable to maintain, the right hon. Baronet got rid of the subject with his usual dexterity, throwing over on a committee the responsibility of rejecting a clause resisted by a Member of the Government elsewhere. There are other bills, the Apprehension of Offenders Bill, and the Limitation of Actions Bill, and the Moveable Bill, which, as connected with the schism in the Scotch Church may have something to do with those ministers removed from it. These bills are all of them measures of value, but I cannot say that they are of sufficient weight to have occupied the House of Lords exclusively during the early period of the Session. Nor do they afford a sufficient reason why the House of Lords might not have been occupied in the earlier part of the Session, in relieving this House from some portion of that business which, in consequence of the protracted debates in this House, the Government were unable to get through here. The excuse for having done so little in this House, founded upon the multitude of speeches which have been delivered, and the lengthened debates which have occurred, is one which I think the country will not be disposed to accept. The right hon. Baronet opposite, in going through the speech of my noble Friend, defended himself against the charge of not having improved the financial position of the country since he has succeeded to office. It will be remembered that one of the great charges which the present Government made against us, when they were in opposition, was founded upon our financial deficiency. They held it to be 1457 quite impossible that any Government, feeling the responsibility of its duties, could carry on the affairs of the country, and yet allow such a deficiency to exist. We had a deficiency no doubt; very sorry for it we were. It was stated by the hon. Gentleman opposite, then in opposition, that that deficiency arose from the extensive operations we were carrying on in China and in India, and from the necessity of maintaining a large force in Canada. That was their allegation; and I beg that the House will bear it in remembrance. They said, — "You carry on these wars in every part of the world with a peace establishment. No wonder you have a deficiency." But what is the state of affairs under the management of the present Government? Those wars have ceased. The Chinese war has been crowned with complete success, notwithstanding all the predictions of hon. Gentlemen opposite. When they were telling us that no man could foresee the termination of the war, our plenipotentiary was—about that very time —dictating the terms of a satisfactory peace. That war has ceased; but is this all? It has brought you (addressing Ministers) a good round sum of money. You have got from China about 1,000,000l. sterling during the year, ending in April last, as the result of that war, and therefore, as far as the Chinese war is concerned, though there might be a deficiency while we were in office, such is not the case with you. It is admitted, that the war in India is not an element to be taken into consideration, because it involves no charge upon the revenues of this country; and it is only in the event of the East India Company raising a loan, arid calling upon the Government to guarantee it, that this war can affect the national finances. In Canada, also, there is no longer any necessity for the retention of the numerous forces which were maintained in that colony when we quitted office; but still her Majesty's present Ministers find a deficieney—a deficiency, I believe, rather greater than that which existed when we left office. I believe the deficiency is 200,000l. more. I won't dispute about trifles, for the deficiency is admitted. But her Majesty's present advisers have got the 1,000,000l. of money from China, which we had not, and they have also got their income-tax which we had not; and, therefore, adding 1458 to their deficiency the money received from China on the one hand, and the produce of the income-tax on the other, the deficiency upon the revenue is too appalling for me to mention. If, then, it is the duty of a Government to provide that its revenue shall be equal to its expenditure, the present Administration must admit that, owing either to their fault or misfortune, they have not discharged that duty. "But," says the right hon. Baronet, "this is attributable to the commercial embarrassments of the country, and those commercial embarrassments are owing to the hostile tariffs adopted by other states." Now, what was it that led to the termination of our political existence? Was it not the proposal of measures which, in our opinion—and I think by the general acknowledgment of men of all parties in the country—were calculated to extend our commerce, and to relieve us from those financial difficulties in which we are now involved? If the present Government had adopted the measures we proposed with respect to the articles of corn, and sugar, and timber, my belief is, that instead of a diminished, they would have had a progressively increasing revenue. But when hon. Gentlemen opposite assert, that the tariffs adopted by other states, have occasioned the distress in which our commerce is involved, I must beg to ask them, "Who caused the adoption of those tariffs?" The right hon. Baronet has mentioned the tariff of the United States, but he has forgotten five or six other tariffs which, since his Government came into power, have been rendered more unfavourable than they before were to British commerce. Was it not natural that, when foreigners saw coming into power a party who support the principle of domestic protection, whose war-cry as a party has almost invariably been "prohibition," and who turned out their predecessors specifically upon the ground that they wished to break down the monopolies of the country—was it surprising, under such circumstances, that foreign Governments should raise the amount of their duties upon British commodities? I think it was most natural that they should pursue that course; and if, therefore, the commerce of this country has suffered to a greater extent during the administration of hon. Gentlemen opposite than it did during the time we held office, from the augmentation of the duties imposed by foreign 1459 states upon our manufactures, the fault lies with the party, and in the language used, and the doctrines maintained by the party by whom the right hon. Gentlemen were borne into office. It is very true, as has been said by the right hon. Baronet, that it is expedient that these commercial treaties with foreign countries should be founded on a mutual adjustment of, or engagement to adjust, the tariffs of both countries. We tried to negotiate arrangements of this nature with France, and with one or two other powers —and we succeeded in effecting such an arrangement with Austria. These arrangements are undoubtedly attended with great advantages; but the negotiation of such arrangements ought not to be continued beyond a certain time, because the public knowledge that such arrangements are in progress, tends to paralyse those branches of commerce to which the tariffs under discussion particularly relate. I must confess, I think it was not very discreet on the part of the Government to announce, in the Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the last Session, that they were engaged in negotiations with several powers, with the view to effect an alteration of the tariffs, for that announcement excited expectations which, unhappily, have not been realized. At the same time, I have no doubt that, when the Government made this announcement, they thought nothing was so easy as to obtain anything they asked from any foreign power. I have no doubt they entertained a notion that a few civil phrases in this House, and a few conciliatory messages to the sovereigns and representatives of the countries with which they were desirous of negotiating would lead to any concession for which they might ask; and they imagined it was merely owing to the clumsy and awkward management of their predecessors that such arrangements had not been concluded before. But the experience of the two years during which they have held office, has shown them—as the right hon. Baronet has frankly stated to-night —that in commercial treaties there are two parties to the bargain, and that local prejudices and trifling differences frequently prevent arrangements which might be beneficial to both parties. I therefore must say, that I consider her Majesty's present advisers answerable, to a great extent, for that portion of the commercial, 1460 distress of this country which arises from the hostile tariffs adopted by other powers. So much has been said upon the internal state of this country, and especially upon that most important subject, the state of Ireland, that I will confine what I have to say on that point to one remark, which fell from the right hon. Baronet opposite. He touched, upon the dismissal of the magistrates for having attended repeal meetings, and defended the course which the Government have adopted. Now I must confess that I have never heard 'any defence (1 do not allude particularly to the speech of the right hon. Baronet tonight, but to the defence which has been put formed by the Government on every occasion on which this question has been mooted)—I never heard a defence which I thought more entirely destitute of a solid and just foundation. It has been said, "the object of repeal was one to which the Government had declared their opposition—one which had been discountenanced by the principal Members on both sides of the House; and the Government were, therefore, justified in withdrawing their confidence from any official personage who might sanction the repeal agitation." It has been argued in another place, "How could we allow individuals to remain in the commission of the peace who had attended meetings which might lead to illegal acts, and who might be called upon as magistrates to suppress those movements of which they had themselves been the promoters? "I will admit the possibility of the result; but I deny the logic of the argument. I hold, first, that if au object is legal, one which may be accomplished by a law which Parliament can consider and debate upon, and may carry into effect if it will, it is an unsound doctrine that the advocacy of such an object is a crime in a magistrate, merely because the executive Government may entertain a different opinion, and think that such a measure, if carried, would be destructive even to the existence of the empire. A magistrate is entitled to entertain his own individual opinion; and if he does not express that opinion in a manner inconsistent with the law, it is an abuse to deprive him of his commission merely because he advocates a certain object. But it is said, "This magistrate might have been called upon in the performance of his duty to suppress illegal acts, which 1461 had arisen from the proceedings at these repeal meetings." But the Lord Chancellor of Ireland himself asserts that these meetings are not illegal. My noble Friend has quoted several legal opinions, in which doubt is expressed as to whether some of these meetings are not open to legal objections; but the Lord Chancellor of Ireland says he does not admit them to be illegal. There was, then, no ground for interference with the magistrates who have been dismissed, so far as these meetings were concerned. If illegal meetings had taken place and the magistrates had not done their duty in respect of them, I say then would have been the time to have dismissed them; then would have been the time to have withdrawn from such magistrates the confidence of the Crown; and if those magistrates had then been dismissed, the Government would have had with them the opinion of every thinking man in the country, and not even those who had been visited by the displeasure of the Government would have had a pretence to saying that they had suffered any injustice. I say, then, it was an unwise and impolitic exercise of the power of Government to dismiss these magistrates, without waiting for a fit opportunity for doing it. But, passing this topic, if we look to the situation of the country and compare it with what it was when the present Government acceded to power, I think there is much ground for regret and uneasiness, and no ground for triumph or congratulation on the part of the Government; and though they no doubt will still have a majority of votes in this House, yet I think it very probable, that at no distant period that majority may have intimations which may somewhat abate the triumph of the Government in their divisions in this House; and if another year should pass as this has done, having for its results to exhibit to the country the want of those qualities in the Government which the time requires, and so much debate should again take place as to have the effect of retarding and defeating their measures, we on this side of the House may not be so unable by that time to cope with them in the lobby as we hitherto have been. Sir, I will not advert to the unfortunate disturbances in Wales, as it seems they are to be the subject of inquiry on the part of the Government. I will not talk of the nature of the schism which has arisen in Scotland. I will not 1462 say whether that is a result which the Government could or could not have avoided; but I will refer to the mutual feelings of jealousy which, in consequence of their management, have grown up between different sects in this country. There is also the striking fact of the Dissenters and the Church feeling a distrust of one another, and an hostility which did not exist two years ago. The Government may say they are unfortunate in these respects, but we all know the words of the Latin poet who tells us that fortune has no existence except from want of prudence on the part of man. So much, Sir, for the state of this country. Now a word or two on the foreign relations of the country. When we left power, and the Gentlemen opposite succeeded us, it was in every man's mouth, "What is England going to do?" and for the answer to that question they looked to London and to Downing-street; but now in every part of Europe, when any person asks, "What is England going to do?" the answer is, "We cannot exactly tell; but if you ask in Paris or St. Peters-burgh or Vienna, I have no doubt you will immediately learn." Sir, the fact is, in foreign as in domestic affairs, the Government do nothing of their own. The only principle they act upon there, is, the one which they ought to adopt at home, namely, that of concession. Sir, a wise Government in its home policy considers the reasonable wants of the people; in its foreign policy, it is prepared to resist the unjust demands and the unreasonable views of foreign powers. The present Government inverts this method; it is all resistance at home, all concession abroad. Sir, my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) adverted to one point relative to the affairs of Scinde, but the right hon. Baronet, with his usual dexterity in Parliamentary fencing, parried the thrust, and replied by adverting to something totally inapplicable. The complaint of my noble Friend was, that there was a war going on in Scinde of which we have had knowledge for some months, and yet the Government have not yet told Parliament whether they think the war just or unjust, whether they are prepared to sanction or repudiate the conduct of their Govenor-general in relation to it. That was the complaint of my noble Friend. My noble Friend did not say what they should have done, he spoke of what the Government had done; but the right hon. Baronet, by way of answer 1463 said, "You could not expect the papers sooner, they will be ready by Monday. Still, our instructions cannot be produced; we cannot tell what is going to be done." But, Sir, my noble Friend did not ask to be told what was going to be done; his complaint was, as to what had been done, he asked whether the Government were of opinion that the steps taken with regard to the Ameers were just or unjust? To that question no answer has been given; no answer will be given. Instead of an answer we are to have a large bluebook; and by the time, perhaps, that the most assiduous Member of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose himself—by the time when even his unlimited industry has got through the book, the Usher of the Black Rod will summon us to the other House to attend the prorogation. There can be no time this Session to enter upon the subject. But the right hon. Baronet took ground on our conduct in similar circumstances, when we were in office. Sir, I think our conduct was not such as bears the right hon. Gentleman out. Of all the Governments that have ruled this country for a long time, we were the most ready to impart diplomatic information. Why, we were even taunted with the volumes which we produced. What did we do in the case of Affghanistan? Important events took place there in the latter end of 1838. In March, 1839, as early as possible we laid on the Table full information on the subject. We did not say, "We cannot tell whether we approve or not of what has been done." We did not found our approbation of the proceedings of our Governor-general on the fact whether he was successful or not. We fairly told the House and the country our opinion, and we laid on the Table the whole of the papers connected with the subject. Are we to be told next Monday by the right hon. Baronet," We approve of the policy of Lord Ellenborough in regard to Scinde here are the papers relative to that policy?" If that turns out to be the case, of course my objection falls to the ground; but if the right hon. Baronet does not make such a statement, but only produces the papers, and says that next year he will tell us all about it, I think that he will not be discharging the duty which every Government owes to the Parliament of Great Britain. I think that Parliament has a right to know before the Session is 1464 over what are the views of her Majesty's Government relative to this matter, and whether this unfortunate proceeding of the Governor - general with regard to Scinde has or has not the approbation of that Government? Sir, I have not any information; the Government has; I think they are bound to give their information to the House. Sir, with regard to Scinde, there is one most important point, most important because the policy that has been adopted was condemned by the Governor-general when he attacked our course of policy—most important because it must be in every one's recollection, that this very Governor-general declared some time ago, that the natural boundary of our Indian empire was the Sutlej, and yet he next month is anxious to annex to our territories a country even beyond the Indus—most important because it is remarkable that the Governor-general, who condemned the measures which were undertaken by us against a danger which was known to all the world, and not for the purpose of permanently annexing any territory to England, but only with a view of placing our Indian possessions in a position of safety—I mean the measures with respect to Affghanistan—because it is most remarkable, I say, that the Governor-general, who condemned that policy, should proceed to annex permanently to the British dominions in India a territory which, up to that time, had belonged to a people who were our friends. I do not say whether there may be, or may not be, reasons for Lord Ellenborough's conduct, but I do say, that such conduct is remarkable on the part of an individual who condemned us on those grounds, and [think an explanation of it is due to the House. Sir, in other parts of the world the position of affairs is not very consolatory to those who think it is the duty of a Government to pay attention to the interests of their country. With regard to Turkey, if I can find an opportunity, I intend to bring that question before the House, and shall endeavour to ellicit some expression of opinion from the Government; but as at present advised it appears to me that whereas we induced Russia by our representations to forego all claim to interfere in the concerns of the Turkish empire, recent events seem to show that an interference on the part of Russia has taken place in the internal affairs of Turkey, which it remains 1465 to be proved is founded on just grounds. Sir, the independence of Turkey is one point which, with reference to the balance of power in Europe, it is necessary for a Government of this country to watch over. Sir, the independence of Spain too is of great importance to the political and commercial relations of this country. We there had laid the foundations of national independence; we had placed that independence on real foundations. What has lately taken place in that country? I only judge by those means of information which are open to all; therefore, I will not state what I think will be the consequences; but I think I may say that a military revolution has taken place in Spain, directed to the subversion of the Regent, who had been constitutionally appointed by the Cortes of Spain. Sir, all Europe believe that revolution to have been brought about by instigations and money coming from Paris. This at any rate is not concealed by the French newspapers—that when the account came of the recent events, the Minister for Foreign Affairs rushed to the palace of Queen Christina to congratulate her on the triumph which she and France had obtained. We were told also how a French prince attended on that occasion, and with the utmost affability conversed in Spanish with those about him ! Hon. Gentlemen opposite will tell us whether we are to see a French prince seated on the Spanish throne, and whether that which has been the policy of England for centuries shall be destroyed by the measures which have been allowed to be taken by the supineness and want of energy and decision of the British Government? Sir, this is a most important consideration. I am aware, and I admit, that the Government have always professed all that every Englishman would feel on such an occasion. I do not doubt their sincerity; I doubt their capacity to carry out what they wish. The right hon. Baronet said the other day, that if the regent were forced to abdicate he would abdicate surrounded by the good wishes of good men, and comforted by the approval of his own conscience. Now, Sir, these may be civil expressions, but expressions of that sort do not direct or guide great affairs. Sir, the right hon. Baronet drew a comparison between the financial state of the country when lie acceded to office and the position in 1466 which it now stands. Sir, I confess I thought that comparison somewhat bold. Nevertheless, I thought he did not appear to follow it out into all the details of which it is susceptible. He may say, that finding a financial deficiency after two years, he had succeeded in somewhat increasing it; he may say, that finding monopolies in existence, which had the effect of obstructing financial improvements, he found also measures which had been offered by us to Parliament, and which tended to remove those obstructions; and that after two years, though he himself has laid down principles which would go far to accomplish what we asked for, if carried out fairly, he has succeeded in effectually obstructing the progress of those principles; he may say that he found Ireland perfectly tranquil—not, indeed, placing unlimited confidence in the late Government, if we are to take the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. E. B. Roche) as the exponent of the feelings of the people, but appearing at least to be tranquil; and that, whatever might be the inward dissatisfaction, the country was really tranquil. What is its state now it is not for me to say—it is an unfortunate topic. The right hon. Baronet may also say that when he came into power he found a general unanimity—all classes combined—to promote education, but that he has now succeeded in raising a flame of jealousy between the sects which seems to render any combination for the purpose of education almost hopeless. He found the principality of Wales in tranquillity—I hope he will restore it to tranquillity. He found, he says, a great disaster in Affghanistan, and when my noble Friend spoke of our foreign affairs, he forgot (the right hon. Baronet said) Affghanistan and the greatest disaster that had ever befallen the British arms. But, Sir, the right hon. Baronet forgets that that disaster was confined to Cabul, and that our force at Candahar was not touched. I think, if I am not mistaken, I have read that the general who commanded at Candahar said he would have undertaken to restore affairs at Cabul if he had been permitted to march thither. Let it be admitted, then, that we sustained a great disaster in a part of Affghanistan, but I say that the result showed that our Governor-general had made the preparations which retrieved that disaster; and I think I may say without reflecting on those that are gone, 1467 that if Sir Robert Sale, or General Pollock, or General England, or General Nott, or Sir C. Napier, had been at Cabul when the disturbances broke out, that disaster would not have happened. Sir, I will not admit that that incident does show that the general system of our policy in regard to that great undertaking has been attended with failures, but the right hon. Baronet might have said that whereas we were triumphant in arms in that country, he withdrew from it, leaving it, as the Governor-general expressed himself, to the punishment of its own anarchy. Now I do not exactly know what right the Governor-general had to leave a country to the punishment of an anarchy of his own creating, but he at least, with whatever right, has annexed to the British dominions a very considerable territory belonging to parties who were heretofore our allies. The right hon. Baronet says that he has concluded a treaty with the United States, which has got rid of all the questions at issue, and which will lead to a permanent good feeling and good understanding between the two countries. Why, to be sure, when you are prepared to give up all, or very nearly all, for which you have been contending, it is very easy to come to a conclusion and arrange a treaty, but how far the good feeling which he talks of has been secured, that tariff, to which he alluded, may in some measure be taken as the exponent. The right hon. Baronet says the Government, has substituted a good understanding with France for the irritation that existed when we retired. Undoubtedly there was a temporary irritation, arising from our having carried into effect measures which we thought essential in order to prevent the existence of an undue and possibly hostile influence of France in Syria and Egypt. The right hon. Baronet has certainly allayed that irritation by surrendering to France every British interest in Spain. Sir, I say the present Government are chargeable for what has happened there. They began, in the first place, by counselling the Regent to submit to the undue pretensions of France, on the occasion of the mission of Count Salvandy. He assumed the right to pass the Regent by, to hold direct communication with the Queen, to deliver to her letters unread by the Regent. Why the Government took that course is still a problem to be solved—because the Minis- 1468 ter of France told the Chambers that France was right; the Minister of Spain declared that Spain was right; and the answer of Ministers, when asked here who were right? only showed that they were wrong. It is clear, Sir, that they did counsel the Regent to abate from the just rights which, as Regent, he was entitled to uphold; and that was a blow to his authority as Regent. Then came the affair of Barcelona. No man in Europe doubts that the French consul took a part on that occasion which would have justified the Spanish government in withdrawing his exequatur, and putting an end to his functions; but her Majesty's Ministers counselled the Regent to do no such thing, but rather to temporise and to submit. That was another blow at the authority of the Regent. The only power in Europe to which the Regent had to look was England. Austria, Russia, and Prussia have not renewed any diplomatic relations with the Queen of Spain. We endeavoured to persuade them to do so, and we thought we had nearly succeeded. The present Government boasted they enjoyed more eminently than we did the confidence of those powers; but they have not yet succeeded in inducing them to acknowledge the government in Spain. Towards France the Regent could not look. France was avowedly unfavourable to him. It was only from the moral support of England he could look for any success; that support has not been given him, and the consequence is he has fallen. I say then it appears to me that there is nothing in the position of the present Government, as contrasted with the state in which they stood when they came into power two years ago, that can be a source of any congratulation to them. They were carried into office by a greater acclamation of public opinion than perhaps has ever yet, or at least often, greeted the accession to office of any government. They came in with an overwhelming majority that majority they still retain. But if I ask them if they still retain the personal confidence of those who give them their political support?—if I ask them if they retain the confidence of those portions of the people of this country by whose votes at elections that majority was returned which placed the present Government in power?—if I ask them whether in public or in private they retain the good word of those who are their political ad- 1469 herents? — they must confess, that in that respect their condition is lamentably changed. Sir, I really almost feel, that common generosity ought to prevent us from pressing too hard upon a fallen foe. I might almost say, their state now, as compared with what it was, might "point a moral and adorn a tale." But, Sir, there are topics far too serious now to be discussed, and too important to the public, to allow us to dwell on personal considerations applying to the individuals who may happen to be in the Government. It is impossible for any one to look at the state of the country in all its domestic relations, and in its foreign relations without the greatest possible anxiety—a certain degree of anxiety with regard to foreign countries, but a more intense degree of anxiety with regard to what is passing at home. I agree with the right hon. Baronet, that there is nothing in the present state of things which ought to lead any man to despair—there is nothing in any degree alarming in the symptoms which have shown themselves anywhere, that should lead us to think that a wise and enlightened Government having views of its own—not like the present Government, inA mighty maze, and without a planThere is nothing that a wise and enlightened Government having views of its own, being united in those views, and having energy enough to follow them out, could not surmount, and by surmounting restore the country to tranquillity and prosperity. It is not, therefore, so much the condition of the country which inspires me with uneasiness and alarm as the condition of the Government itself. It is, because I see a government composed of Ministers evidently disunited in their own opinions, who have no views of any measures calculated to meet the difficulties and the exigencies of affairs, and who are now preparing to let a long Session of Parliament draw to its close without giving even the most distant intimations, that between this and the next meeting of Parliament they shall be able to devise or intend to consider any measures calculated to appease and soften the discontents of the country; therefore, it is, that I look upon the present as a most alarming state of things. I think it is alarming to find, that either from differences among themselves, or distrust of 1470 their supporters, or a want of views of their own, a government, which is supported by a majority which renders their continuance in office certain, are in a time of great public and national difficulty, unprepared with even an intimation that they will consider what is fitting to be done. That, Sir, I do think is a very disquieting state of affairs. I can only hope that the Government have acted with even more than their usual caution in these debates. I should hope especially that the speech of the right hon. Baronet this evening is not to be taken as a real indication of what are his feelings and intentions on these great subjects. Anybody who has been in office must know that governments are very reluctant, and properly so, to announce beforehand, especially at a great interval of time, measures they may not have matured, and which have bearings of the utmost national importance, and, therefore, I am willing to hope that the meagreness of the statements we have heard from the Government may not be the real indication of the meagreness of their intentions. But I do entreat them to turn their most anxious and serious thoughts to these subjects; I do entreat them not to let Parliament separate without saying something on which at feast better expectations for the future may be founded; and I will say, with those who have already spoken on this side of the House, that if they will take a bold course of policy—not bold in the way of coercion, but of conciliation— if they will do that—if they will look fairly in the face the difficulties with which we are surrounded—if they will fairly, impartially, and with kind intentions, examine the various grievances, a sense of which has led to the present disquieted state of mind in Ireland, I am quite satisfied, they will find that their supporters will not resist the measures they may be induced to propose, at least, not so great a body of them as would be sufficient to prevent them from acting—the example of what took place on the tariff ought to inspire them with confidence, but, at all events, of this they may be sure—if they bring forward such measures as Government ought to propose in the present critical state of public affairs, if not on that side, at least on this, they will receive such support—ay, disinterested support—as will enable them to do their duly, and to restore the country to that 1471 state of tranquillity in which they received it two years ago.
among the numerous extraordinary misrepresentations of the state of affairs which have been made by the noble Lord who has just sat down, there is hardly any one more remarkable than that with which the noble Lord commenced his speech, namely, that my right hon. Friend, in the beginning of his address, had complained of the conduct of the noble Lord the Member for London in not moving directly, as was his bounden duty a vote of want of confidence in her Majesty's Government, whereas the very first sentence that fell from my right hon. Friend, was directly and diametrically the reverse of what the noble Lord has represented. So far from complaining of the course pursued by the noble Lord, my right hon. Friend commenced his observations by stating, that he did not complain of the course which had been taken by the noble Lord. He admitted, that the course taken was entirely within the noble Lord's constitutional right and privilege, and that he did think there was a fair and legitimate ground on the present occasion for not taking that course which the noble Lord, in his first sentence, said my right hon. Friend, in the outset of his speech, complained that the noble Lord had not adopted. But I confess that with whatever satisfaction I may have listened to the speech of the noble Lord, seeing the number of wasted days, I cannot but be of opinion that the public may somewhat think the business of the country has not been very materially advanced, or the time of the House very valuably occupied by the course which has been taken tonight. I do not complain of the course which the noble Lord has pursued, prudent, as no doubt it has been, in making such a statement, while he made it impossible that the sense of the House should be taken on any practical question. This debate has served as an opportunity for hon. Gentlemen on the other side to pay each other reciprocal compliments on their own vast superiority in debate, of assuming that there never were such speeches delivered as those which have been delivered on the other side during the present session, and of contending, that if my right hon. Friend has complained that the business of the session has been impeded, it has been so impeded in consequence of the acknowledged superiority in debate of our oppo- 1472 nents. I do not exactly know what the noble Lord means by superiority; but if he mean in point of quantity, there certainly cannot be a doubt of the decided superiority of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The noble Lord tells us of the vast number of days during the present session in which the House has not sat, or when it was adjourned at six, seven, or eight o'clock in the evening; he read a long list of these occurrences. I have not had the opportunity of looking back to the facts, but I cannot fail to form a strong conjecture that the great majority of the days to which he refers were days which were not devoted to the Government business. Admitting for the sake of the thing the superiority of hon. Gentlemen opposite in debate, I cannot help thinking that there is in the noble Lord's statement pregnant evidence that it was generally on those days devoted to notices of motion, and not to orders of the day; that at about seven or half-past seven the House was counted out, because at that hour hon. Members found occupations more agreeable than motions and discussions that would lead to no practical conclusion. But the noble Lord tells us that the measures of the Government introduced this session were badly framed, and that it is on that account, and not on account of any obstruction, that so little business has been done. He instances the County Courts Bill and the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, and he says that they were framed so badly that on discussion it was found impossible to carry them through the House. Now, with regard to the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, it is well known that that is a measure of the greatest complication—one by which different interests are arrayed against each other—that although it was not a measure involving party principles, and exciting violent animosities, it had features that were equally formidable for any Government in the endeavour to carry it into effect. That measure affected vast private and individual interests—interests that would be much damaged by the passing of such a bill, though it is at the same time admitted to be a measure of substantial reform. The failure to pass an Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, too, is not peculiar to the present Government. The Government of which the noble Lord himself was a Member, did in more than one session of Parliament try their hand upon such a measure, but, from whatever cause, whether 1473 from their bills being badly framed or otherwise—they did not succeed. [Dr. Nicholl: "They were never read a second time."] But the noble Lord says, that the County Courts Bill was so badly framed, that we were obliged to abandon it. I was not aware that the bill was ever given up by the Government, but it happens to be one which has never had the opportunity of having its merits discussed, inasmuch as that when my right hon. Friend introduced it, it was at the commencement of the session, at a time when there were very protracted debates in this House. It may be that more Members desired to utter their opinions than their used to be, or it may be that we cannot make the day longer than twenty-four hours, or induce people to devote more than eighteen of those hours to assiduous labour. But, from whatever cause, the County Courts Bill has not received the full discussion it merits; and notwithstanding all that vast majority in this House of which the noble Lord has spoken, my right hon. Friend has certainly never had the opportunity of taking the second reading of the bill. Yet the noble Lord tells us, that the bad construction of our measures is the reason why we have not been able to pass them. The noble Lord passed on to the education question. I admit that I deeply regret the failure of the endeavour of her Majesty's Government to heal religious animosities, and that they should have not been able to press forward a measure which the noble Lord, the Member for London, admitted he agreed to with one exception; for it was on one single point that the noble Lord disagreed with the measure, the point embodied in his resolutions —I mean the appointment of masters in the schools. [Ironicalcheers] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may imply by that cheer that the difference was a most important one, but it was still a single point at issue. [Lord J. Russell: " There was also the question of the constitution of the boards of trustees."] If I remember rightly, the noble Lord in the first instance intimated no opinion as to the boards of trustees, and in the main, the principles recommended by the noble Lord had been, before the proposition was made, practically adopted by my right hon. Friend. However, I will not go into the details of that measure. I deeply regret that those details were not discussed in this House with that temper and fairness with which the measure was 1474 first received here, and which, I believe, if not for the strong pressure of popular feeling without, however excited, would have been so discussed, and fairly discussed. I believe also, that if the measure had been so discussed, it was of such deep importance to the best interests of the country, that it would have been adopted. But then the noble Lord talks of our financial deficiency. The noble Lord has an easy mode of passing over the proceedings of his own Government. Says he, "We had a deficiency, and we were very sorry for it." Yes, but being very sorry for it, is not precisely the mode to deal with it. They had a deficiency that was annually augmenting during three, four, or five years. What did they do? Why, they were "very sorry for it." They took no steps to stop it, but permitted it year after year to accumulate, till the deficiency of each year exceeded the former. By this system we were left with something like 7,000,000l. of accumulated deficiencies by the energetic policy of the noble Lord. All he can say is, that he is very sorry for it; but then he adds, "Only see what we would have done with our measures respecting corn, timber, and sugar." The House and the country, however, it seems, were not exactly of the noble Lord's opinion. If the noble Lord and his Colleagues were of that opinion, I must say it was very lately formed—it looked something very like a death-bed repentance, as if they had only resolved on it at the time when their fate as a Government was practically sealed. Then it was that they introduced financial measures which they knew would be rejected, and they cried, "See what we would have done if you would have allowed us." Sir, this energy of the late Government at the close of their existence does, I confess, appear to me somewhat too much like the galvanic energy that is seen sometimes in the last moments of a dying person. The noble Lord then goes on to tell us that the present Government have at the end of two years increased the deficiency. Now, when the noble Lord complains of a want of energy in the present Government, he surely is hardly prepared to say, that the step taken by the Government on their accesion to office, for the purpose of putting an end to the financial difficulties left by their predecessors, was not one of the boldest and most straightforward measures I of finance ever resorted to, especially when 1475 it was a measure known to be unpopular. I will say, Sir, that there never was a bolder attempt to remedy the disordered finances of a country than the Income-tax proposed by the present Government. And the noble Lord, when telling us of our deficiency, has not taken into account the half-year's Income-tax that was not collected when he made his calculation. "But," says the noble Lord, "we left you not only a deficiency, but also some wars on hand." Yes, you did, and a very pleasant position those wars were in. Does the noble Lord think he left us in a satisfactory state with regard to the war in India? The noble Lord asked with some complacency whether my noble Friend (Sir R. Peel) had not availed himself of the preparations which the preceding Government had made in India? I admit we did, but the noble Lord had much underrated the difficulties in which we were placed with respect to Affghanistan, and touched very lightly upon what he was pleased to call the "incident of Cabul." I believe the noble Lord considered the "incident" a more serious matter at one time than, now that it is overcome, he is likely to admit. The noble Lord said, "I do not blame you because in the Affghan war you availed yourselves of the skilful means and preparations provided by us." The means and preparations provided by you? You said, that notwithstanding the "incident" you were prepared with means to set matters all right again; yes, as right as you were prepared to set the finances. The "incident," however, was such as to induce Lord Auckland to abandon the enterprise, and the only preparation made was a corps of reserve held in readiness to cover the retreat of the troops when they were about to abandon the country in their ill-fated condition. For months after Lord Ellen-borough's arrival in India, the army was in such a state in Affghanistan as not to be able to move backward or forward, but was compelled to remain in a position of inactivity and indolence. Was our Candahar force—I do not mean to say anything against the army, to whom no blame could attach—but was our Candahar force in an efficient condition to proceed to Cabul? [Viscount Palmerston: " General Nott offered to go."] Is it asserted that it was? I'll call a witness. I'll call Sir William Nott. In a letter dated April, 1842, that gentleman says, 1476Had he been reinforced with a single regiment of cavalry he felt convinced he should have been able to repress all the rebellious feeling in Candahar; and that if the assistance of a few troops were afforded him he would be enabled to march to Ghuznee and Cabul; but, though six months had elapsed since the outbreak in Candahar, no aid of any kind had been sent to him; and he was obliged still to confine himself to that point and its vicinity.Such was the statement made by Sir W. Nott. [Viscount Palmerston: "Read General England's letter.] The noble Lord, or any Gentleman on that side of the House is of course at liberty to refer to any document he may choose. Then, with regard to China. The noble Lord had said that he did not blame the present Government with respect to the course which had been pursued in China; and added that, notwithstanding the taunts which had been levelled at the late Government for not adopting more vigorous measures, at the very time those taunts were used the plenipotentiary was dictating the terms of peace to the Chinese Government. The noble Lord accuses us for having availed ourselves of the services of that plenipotentiary. We did so, and I am glad of it. I am glad my right hon. Friend availed himself of the services of one so discreet and able to conduct the business in China, and that no feeling of party or rivalry interfered with his carrying it out successfully. The noble Lord said, the success in China was owing to our having followed the plan of the preceding Government. It was not achieved alone by that means, but by adding largely to the military and naval force in China. When it is remembered that. in 1842 the forces in China were nearly double what they had been in the previous year—that no steps were taken at that time to increase our naval and military force in China by a single ship, by a single battalion, by a single man, by a single arm, I must say that the war in China was brought to a close by the present Government, not in consequence of following the plan of our predecessors but by following up the active course which we adopted during the first six weeks of our holding office. There was no document left by the late Government to show that they had intended to adopt any larger or more ample means with respect to China than they had at their command in the previous year. There was no docu- 1477 ment to show that any increase of force was intended either for China or India, for Lord Auckland in consenting to take the responsibility of the government wrote to know what forces could be placed at his disposal, stating that the existing force was insufficient for anything but predatory incursions. Is that what you call following your plan, which appeared to have closed all further preparation for warlike operations? We, when we saw that vigorous proceedings were necessary, proposed a strong measure with respect to the financial difficulties of the country. The noble Lord said, look at the financial difficulties of the country, and animadverted on the observations of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Goulburn). My right hon. Friend did not say that the distress of the country—which the noble Lord will give me leave to say has been much exaggerated—was owing to a hostile tariff, He did not make this statement, though the noble Lord had founded an argument upon it, and asked, "Upon whom lay the responsibility of a hostile tariff if not upon those whose war cry was protection?" The noble Lord and those on his side talk a great deal more of free trade principles than they act upon them; and I will fearlessly say, that they never, during their administrative existence, brought forward, and much less carried, any measure of commercial relaxation so large as that which my right hon. Friend so successfully carried through in the first year of his Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton finds fault with the Government for not breaking through what he was pleased to call the trammels of party; and in the next sentence he says, that with such a majority as we possess, we ought to be able so to frame our measures before laying them before Parliament as to insure the concurrence of our majority. There is something curiously inconsistent in this advice. We must first, according to the right hon. Gentleman, break through the trammels of party, and, at the same time, consult that party in framing our measures so as to secure a majority. But, to return to the tariff, I will again assert, that it was a measure of great commercial relaxation. You say, that we are neither for the principles of free trade nor the principles of protection to their fullest extent. We reply that we are not; and any person who considers calmly the state of this 1478 country, and takes into account its various and complex interests, will clearly perceive that carrying out either the principles of free trade or those of protection to what Gentlemen opposite call their legitimate conclusion, would be wholly impracticable without a very material alteration in the circumstances of the country. Such a notion might fit the theory of a schoolboy theme, but would not be undertaken by a practical man of business, who would feel that the adoption of such a course would throw the affairs of the country into in extricable confusion. The noble Lord says that our war cry is protection. So far from protection being our war cry we have carried out the principle of removing restrictions, but we have done so with due caution, and yet at the same time have carried out the principle to a greater extent than our predecessors ever carried or attempted to carry it. The noble Lord, in referring to domestic politics, spoke of the state of Wales of the mining districts, of the Church of Ireland, and of the Church of Scotland. I shall not follow him through all these; but when the noble Lord charges the present Government with the existing state of ! things in the Scottish Church, he is singularly forgetful of the fact that when he himself was in office, when the dissensions which led to the unfortunate schism in that Church first broke out, that he upon principle folded his arms and sat quiescent, neither saying or doing anything. The Government do not interfere; then the noble Lord is not satisfied, but says, "You interfere for the purpose of healing a division which does not exist." [Viscount Palmerston—" No, no;a division which could not be healed."] Well, then, a division which cannot be healed, and of keeping in the Church those who signify their determination not to leave it. I very deeply regret the secession from the Church of Scotland of a very large number of able, pious, and learned ministers. I think it is a great misfortune, not to Scotland only, but on account of the effect it has upon the principle of establishments generally. But when the noble Lord says that the Government interfered at an improper period, I say that the Government felt it their duty not to interpose to reconcile irreconcileable differences,—not to interfere so long as the Church stood in a position in which she repudiated the authority of the law, but 1479 as soon as the Church placed herself in due submission to the law, then, and not till then, it was the duty of the Government to endeavour by legislative measures to solve the difficulty and heal the dissension which had so long existed in that Church. And whatever the result of that measure may be I do not regret either having postponed it so long, nor having brought it forward at the earliest period it was possible to make such an attempt consistent with our duty. I will not enter into the question of the state of Ireland, a question which has been very fully discussed in a late debate. I very studiously abstained from taking part in the discussion on the subject of the Arms Bill, and I will not enter upon the discussion of those clauses which have occupied so long a time, nor will I follow hon. Gentlemen into any remedies they may propose for the disturbed state of Ireland, some of which are about to be brought under the full consideration of this House. Having had the opportunity of stating the general course of policy which it was the intention of the Government to pursue on former occasions I will not go over the same ground again; but in spite of Canada, in spite of America, in spite of Affghanistan, in spite of China, the noble Lord's foreign policy is what he peculiarly piques himself upon. He says, "We admit, that there were great difficulties in the finances when we left, that the commercial restrictions were very great; but," says the noble Lord "you have not remedied the one, nor have you relaxed the other, and when we went out" said the noble Lord "Ireland, if not tranquil appeared to be so "; and I believe the noble Lord's definition is more correct now than on a former occasion. But, first of all, his foreign policy is the great thing upon which the noble Lord piques himself, and what great result has the noble Lord to show upon the subject, that should lead the Government to follow his footsteps? He says, "If there were any quarrel between two great states of Europe, the first question was, What is England going to do? '" and why? As soon as wars or rumours of wars arose in any quarter of the globe, then, said the noble Lord,—and he takes peculiar credit to himself for saying so—the first question asked was, "What is England going to do?" No, not what is England going to do. but what is Downing-street going to do? Or 1480 rather he might have said, what is Lord Palmerston going to do? That was the first question; for it is notorious that Downing-street, or rather the noble Lord with whom I had the honour of serving under Lord Grey's Government, on the principle of non-interference, whenever anything arose in the pettiest state in any quarter of the globe, must say, something. That was the case so long as the noble Lord was at the head of Foreign Affairs: and, therefore, says the noble Lord —" the first question always was,' what is England going to do?' "But you left Foreign Affairs with France I suppose on a very satisfactory footing?" No "says the noble Lord," it is true, there was a little temporary irritation—just at that moment everything was wrong; but if we had remained in three months longer, everything would have been right." It may be so, but the noble Lord must allow me to doubt whether that would have been the case, when I see the effect of the noble Lord's policy for some time before. Then with respect to Spain. But there again, the noble Lord spoke of France; France is in fact his bugbear—his tête noire—he is always suspicious that France is interfering from jealousy of England. I speak of the affairs of Spain with very great pain, because I believe, that in the maintenance of the administration of Espartero there was the best chance of a steady government, and of the returning tranquillity and improving prosperity of that magnificent country. I do not hesitate, for one, and on the part of the Government, to say, that we witnessed with pain the recent events in Spain, and the fall of Espartero, whose talents, ability and judgment, had earned for him a high and deserved reputation. When the noble Lord tells me, that from the want of energy of this country, Espartero has fallen and the independence of Spain is gone, the noble Lord seems to have a strange opinion of the independence of a foreign country. The noble Lord brings forward some questions of court etiquette, in which he says we weakened Espartero's authority by sending him some advice on court etiquette, and, thereby, lowered him in the estimation of the people. But can the noble Lord assert, that so far as was consistent with the interests of a friendly country, every support—every moral support which the Court of England could give to the Government of Spain, has not 1481 been fairly, frankly, and freely given? When the noble Lord supports, and rather strongly for one whose doctrine was non-interference, the authority of Espartero—but perhaps, the noble Lord recanted that doctrine—[Viscount Palmerston:—" My doctrine was, peace, retrenchment, and reform."] The noble Lord sent to the court of Spain, a Minister, in whom he had full confidence, to whom he stated his desire to maintain the existing state of things, but did we alter that arrangement? Did we recal Mr. Aston? Did we not, as a mark of the intention of the British Government to adhere to those friendly relations established with the Government of Spain, continue at that court a Minister selected by the noble Lord? "But," says the noble Lord, "your want of energy destroyed the independence of Spain." I take it, that the independence of Spain or of any other country, is not promoted by maintaining this or that party in the country by the aid or assistance of foreign power, and that the Government which cannot stand by itself—which requires the interference of British troops which the noble Lord is ready to give to uphold Spanish independence, is not in a condition which can be called an independent country. A Government upheld by foreign force can hardly be said to be independent. The noble Lord always speaks with very great candour of his own political feelings, hopes, and prospects; and in the present Session he has kept a very accurate barometer for measuring the votes of the noble Lord. In the early part of the Session, that noble Lord told us, that if we were not driven out, it was not from any love to us, but from the extraordinary distrust which the public had of the noble Lord and hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches. "But then," says the noble Lord, "that was at a very early period of the Session. I have had several months' experience since that time,—I have recanted that opinion, and I am therefore no longer bound to what I said." But to-night the noble Lord speaks in a different tone, "We are immeasurably superior to you in argument —in debate you can't hold a candle to us. There has been nothing so eloquent as the speech of my noble Friend on this side, and though our numbers are somewhat scanty and we cannot hope to beat you in the present Session, yet I think we can contrive to sow dissension between 1482 you and your supporters in this House by only telling them that if they introduce certain measures you shall have the candid support of gentlemen on this side of the House, and I do not despair that by the end of next Session we shall be almost equal to you in the lobby," and that is the way in which the noble Lord winds up his Parliamentary campaign. I am sorry to say anything to damp the aspiring hopes or youthful fancies of the noble Lord; but rumours of discords and dissensions appear to have reached him, and to have raised his hopes even to their present moderate height. I am unaware of any foundation for such hopes. If he bases them on dissensions in the cabinet, I am afraid I cannot hold out to him any prospect of that change taking place which he told the House some time ago the country would have stopped. I believe that by pursuing a straightforward course, not by pretending to believe that the evils of the country are at once to be remedied by some great clap-trap measure, to be introduced or not as the case might be, and only intended to make a noise for a time and never to be brought into operation; but by a steady and persevering and assiduous attention to the interests of the country, by neglecting no opportunity of obtaining small advantages. I mean small advantages in the way of legislation, and not small in respect of useful measures, though those measures might not be so showy as some which hon. Gentlemen opposite might suggest. I do believe, I say, that possessing, as I trust we do, the confidence of this country, and steering our own steady and determined course, we shall be enabled to administer the affairs of the country, even to the disappointment of the new-raised hopes of the noble Lord.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, he should not have risen, were it not that he felt himself called on to take notice of the extraordinary mistake into which the noble Lord opposite had fallen, in his statement of the condition in which he found the naval and military preparations of this country in reference to China. The noble Lord had stated that the late Government had made no preparations to carry on the China war with efficiency, and that they had not intended to augment the forces on that coast. Now, he took on himself to assert, in contradiction to the noble Lord, that if the late Government had 1483 continued in office there would have been on the coast of China, not only the same Plenipotentiary, Admiral, and General, but also, with the exception of a single frigate, the same amount of naval force, and the same five regiments, as had been sent there by the present Government. The noble Lord might, strictly speaking, say he did not, when he entered office, find these instructions given. But what was the case? The late Government mainly left the consideration of the force to be employed to the Governor-general of India, who was nearer the spot, and in whom they had the greatest confidence, and they directed Lord Auckland to prepare and send from India whatever force might be deemed necessary. But had the late Government made no preparation in England in the meantime? They had prepared, manned, and commissioned ships to be ready to start from the coast of this country as soon as a letter, which was expected, should arrive from Lord Auckland. The noble Lord knew that positive orders were not given to ships, though manned and commissioned, until sailing orders were issued, and, therefore, it was true that no orders were given to the ships to sail for China, but the impression which the noble Lord attempted to produce on the House was false and erroneous. The ships were prepared and would have sailed. Lord Auckland's letter was waited for, which letter arrived very shortly after the change of Administration, and on the receipt of that letter those ships which were in readiness would have sailed, as they did in fact very properly sail, to the coast of China. The only change which was made was not material. Lord Auckland recommended that four native regiments and one European regiment should be sent from India, and in fact four native regiments were sent from India, and one European regiment front this country. It is true that two more native regiments were sent afterwards; but they did not arrive in China until after the treaty was signed and the war brought to an end. He did, therefore, think that the noble Lord's mistake was so extraordinary and of so unusual and unprecedented a kind in the debates of that House that he could only attribute it to that sweeping and slashing mode of argument into which the noble Lord was sometimes betrayed, and which made him not very scrupulous in the assertions he 1484 made. So grave a charge having been made on such slight foundation, he (Mr. Labouchere), having had the honour of being connected with the late Government, should have been ashamed of himself if he had not risen in his place and declared in the face of the House and the country that, to the best of his belief, the charge made by the noble Lord, and the assertions on which he founded that charge, were perfectly unjust and unfounded. The noble Lord had alluded to the foreign policy of the late Government, and said that he thought the policy of Lord Grey's government was that of non-interference. If by non-interference the noble Lord meant not rashly or wantonly meddling with every petty quarrel in every point of the world, that was certainly the principle of Lord Grey's government; and he was sure it was the principle of Lord Melbourne's government, as it ought to be the principle of every government administering the affairs of this country. But if by non-interference the noble Lord meant that this country, with its vast commercial and political relations, was to isolate itself from all concern as to what was going on in the world, he (Mr. Labouchere) held that the minister who adopted such a course would degrade this country from the position she ought to hold, and this pusillanimous conduct, so far from being attended with security, would bring danger to our own shores. Such was not the principle of non-interference of Lord Grey's or Lord Melbourne's Government. He was told that the noble Lord, the Member for Tiverton, was such an enemy of France, that the very name of that country frightened him from his propriety and perverted all his political feelings. Since the noble Lord had been Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs very opposite accusations had been made against him with reference to France. At the time when the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) were sitting on the same bench with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, the Government was considered so favourable to France that it was said they were losing the friendship of all the world for the love of France. He had heard accusations against the noble Lord of a different character. The fact was, that his noble Friend was neither a friend nor an enemy of France; he had I always desired to keep on good terms 1485 with France as well as with other powers, but what lie looked to mainly was the interest of this country. His noble Friend had not been disposed to sacrifice that interest for the purpose of being called a friend of France; and thus, when he thought that France was taking a line, and putting forward pretensions which this country could not submit to with propriety, he firmly resisted, opposed, and successfully thwarted her designs. He remembered the time when his noble Friend was accused of being most hostile to France, and that was at a period when he was engaged in an attempt to conclude a commercial treaty with France. Nothing could exceed his anxiety to conclude that treaty, which would not only have been an advantage in a commercial point of view, but would have strengthened the feeling of union between the two countries, which feeling his noble Friend and every Member of the late Government were most anxious to cultivate as affording the most important security for the peace of the world. He should not attempt at that hour of the night to trespass upon the attention of the House. He had listened to the party warfare which had taken place in the course of the present debate, and, notwithstanding all that had been said, he believed that at this moment the country was in circumstances of the greatest difficulty and distress. The proceeding of the right hon. Baronet had been productive of feelings of great disappointment, which would sink deeply into the hearts and minds of the people, and he feared that the language which he had heard used by the Ministers of the Crown in the course of that debate, would do anything rather than mitigate and abate those feelings. He had listened to the speeches of the right hon. Baronet opposite, and of the noble Lord who had last spoken, with the greatest attention, with a view of ascertaining what hopes they held out of well-digested measures to be introduced in the course of the next Session of Parliament; and he was bound to say that if he was to take their declarations as affording an indication of their intentions, there was little prospect of their adopting any course different from that which they had hitherto pursued. What said the noble Lord? He said" We do not propose to bring forward any showy measures." For his own part, he said, let them be as plain as they would, 1486 but let them have such measures as were calculated to remedy the existing grievances. It was admitted that the financial and commercial state of this country was one of great alarm—that a great portion of the people were in great distress. No measure had been brought forward calculated to relieve that distress, and it appeared utterly hopeless that they should have any measure to improve the condition of the trade and industry of the country. He had heard the language of the right hon. Baronet with extreme disappointment and regret, on account of the contrast presented by it to that held during the last Session of Parliament. It had then been supposed that measures were to be introduced of a vigorous character, and calculated to improve the condition of the industrious classes, and to confer great benefits on this country. But what had now been said? The right hon. Baronet had gone back to the arguments which he had thrown over long ago. He had complained that hostile tariffs had been lately passed by foreign countries. He had been very much struck with art observation of the right hon. Baronet on the timber duties on this point. The right hon. Baronet had declared that his mere proposal of the timber duties had had such an effect, that the Germanic Confederation had been prevented from legislating in a hostile manner towards this country. That was the opinion which had been then expressed by the right hon. Baronet. He wished that the right hon. Gentleman would now act upon that principle which he had then stated to be just and wise. He trusted that the silence which the Government had observed, did not indicate that they were not prepared to consider this subject, and that they would not bring forward, to be discussed, those important measures which were so essential for the public welfare. He feared that delay would be productive of great evil; but at the same time he hoped that the Government would be prepared to act on their own principles on this most important point, at the early part of the next Session. The same observations applied with respect to Ireland which arose in the case of the trade of the country. He believed that no one could look to the existing state of things in that country, whether his views were those of coercion or conciliation, and could believe it possible that the Government should be car- 1487 ried on any longer, as it was now carried ' on by any Ministers without betraying their duty to the Crown, the Parliament, and the people. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) had taken credit for that he had not had recourse to any measures of coercion. He was not disposed to refuse to the right hon. Baronet credit for the course which he had pursued. He was sure of one thing, that the right hon. Baronet had followed the conviction of his own judgment, and his own sense of right; but he felt bound to express his opinion, that, in the existing state of affairs, that was not sufficient. He believed that there might have been a time when the mere attempt to govern Ireland in a conciliatory manner would have been sufficient; but he was afraid, that that time was now past—that the storm was rising, and that the period for activity had arrived. What was the state of Ireland at this moment? It was this, that the Government in that country was absolutely without any supporters, or any friends whatever; he believed, that the Lord-lieutenant and the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland sat in the castle of Dublin without supporters, without information, and knowing as little of what was going on in Ireland as in Japan. The Government would have to choose between two courses, between measures of conciliation and concession, and measures of repression. Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House were not disposed to sanction proceedings likely to lead to anarchy and confusion; but while they felt that the law must be supported, they could not but think that the grievances of the people must be considered, and that a wise measure of conciliation and concession must be adopted.
begged to explain. He should be exceedingly sorry if, even in the heat of debate, he had brought forward any charge against the late Government, or against any persons which he believed to be true in words but not in substance. All he could say with regard to the preparations for the Chinese war was this; that if the right hon. Gentleman would move for any papers which would show by whom and at what time instructions were given, and supplies furnished for the war with that country, they should be given without reservation, and the House would then be able to judge whether or not he had made an unfounded charge,
§ Mr. Muntz
observed, that he, for one, cared nothing about the party debates which took place in that House, and he was sure the same feeling pervaded the majority of the country. The people were perfectly careless as to what had been done in past years by either party, for they said, and they said truly, that nothing had been done for them, and therefore they called the present the do-nothing parliament; but they were very anxious as to what measures were to be introduced for their relief in future, and had lost almost all hope. He wished from his heart that the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire was as largely engaged in commercial affairs as he was, and then he would not say that Gentlemen on this side of the House exaggerated the commercial distress; yet the last time he had the honour to address that House, when he recommended Ministers not only to inquire into the distress of Ireland, but also of England, Scotland, and the colonies, the noble Lord in reply, added the world, and made him (Mr. Muntz) to say that the whole world was going to rack and ruin. He did not pretend to compete with the noble Lord in experience in that House, nor in ability as a debater; but he knew as well as the noble Lord, or any man in that House, what he said then—and he was quite confident that he never said any thing about the world; and if the noble Lord, or any other Member chose to tack words to his remarks, they should be responsible for them, for he (Mr. Muntz) would not. He now repeated his recommendation to Ministers to inquire fully into the causes of distress in England, Scotland, Ireland, and the colonies, for in all parts that distress was great and increasing; and he called upon them to inquire before it was too late. As to Wales, he feared the:disturbance there might become a very serious affair. Could the Government shut their eyes to the state of the districts in Wales? Ought they to forget the condition of the people in that portion of her Majesty's dominions? The upper classes there treated the lower with every kind of tyranny and oppression. And the House would see that the people had grave cause for discontent, when he assured them that a load of lime, used for manure, the first cost of which was 2s. was frequently raised by tolls, even when carried a comparatively short distance, to the enormous cost of 6s. 6d, Another cause 1489 of the discontent of the people of Wales was the great reduction in the value of their stock. They were small and poor farmers; and within the last two years, whether from the operation of the tariff of the right hon. Baronet opposite, or from the general distress of the country, was unimportant, the value of their stock of cattle and produce had been reduced to about one third, whilst their rents and expenses remained as before. Their discontent, then, was not to be wondered at, nor was it surprising that it broke out somewhere or other. This motion was said to be one upon the state of the country; but though the Prime Minister, and other Ministers, and ex-Ministers had spoken, and a great deal had been said, about an improvement in trade and commerce, no remedy was proposed for the evils under which the nation suffered, and its real condition was yet undescribed. Would it be believed by the people of this country that in a debate of eight hours duration upon the state of the nation, in which all the experienced men in the House had taken part, not one word had been said respecting the state of the home trade, although it was well known that it was of nearly treble the amount and importance of the foreign trade? The quantities of articles imported or exported were no proofs of the thriving of the home trade, or of the better condition of the people. What evidence was there to show that whilst there appeared an increase in the quantity of exports, that such increase had not been much more than counterbalanced by a reduction in the quantity of the home trade? It was of no use to bring forward a vast number of statistics to prove to a hungry man that he was very comfortable. That was the old trick over again. In vain did the miserable people complain—in vain did all classes and all interests agree, that distress was great and increasing. They were answered, that they must be all wrong, for statistics could not err. He should like to know in what trade there was any improvement. There was none at all. It was nothing but a mere idea. He was quite sure it would be found so. The right hon. Baronet had made a comparison with the most unfortunate, unprofitable, and most distressing year in the annals of our commerce; and because he found an increase in some articles he assumed that there was an improvement. That was a fallacious notion. Not one 1490 word had been said about prices, profits, or wages, without information upon which who could judge? What was the object of trade? Profit. Nobody would trade for mere play's sake. They wanted profit —and without profit trade was useless. If things went on as they were going, there would be neither trade nor profit. The taxes would not be paid—the rents would not be paid—and the dividends would not be paid—and nothing would be paid long. The House knew his remedy, which when he mentioned was always laughed at, and therefore he would not repeat it. But if they would not adopt his remedy, there was but one more, and for that they must prepare. If they would maintain two laws one of which raised the necessaries of subsistence fifty per cent. higher than the rest of Europe, and the other which prevented wages from rising in due and just ratio, thereby taking from the poor artisan at least one third of his earnings, be they much or little, and giving it to the rich; they must have a third law by which to give it back again. They must take from the rich and give to the poor. Under the present system one-half of the produce of the poor man's labour was taken from him and given to the rich man. That system must be reversed. He still believed his own remedy the best: but unless that was adopted, the only resource was a large increase in the property-tax, and a repeal of the indirect taxes, which would produce much the same result. The right hon. Baronet had conceded the principle in his property-tax, in which he (Mr. Muntz) had supported him upon principle, and would support him again. Unless something was done to relieve the working classes, they would be compelled by and by to raise a property-tax of fifteen or twenty per cent. at the least; and he called upon ' them at once to prepare for it, as come it must. Why was not something done for the people? Why was not the cause of their permanent miseries inquired into, instead of mere hopes and expectations being held out to them? The misfortune was that something was always to come—Man never is, but always to be, blestWhen he thought of the manner in which the people were treated—when he recollected how often during the last two years the right hon. Baronet opposite had expressed his hopes and expectations of reaction and improvement, he was reminded of the boy who was sent to a baker's oven 1491 to fetch a rice pudding; he ate the skin, but as the pudding cooled another skin formed, and he escaped detection. He was then sent for a sucking pig, and stopped by the way to eat the skin of that too. As he did not return, he was sought for, and found sitting by the road side with the skinned pig before him; on being questioned, he replied—" The skin won't grow over the pig again." So it was with regard to legislation for the benefit of the people. The right hon. Baronet, like the boy, expects re-action and improvement, because he has formerly witnessed them after periods of distress; but he also, like him, forgets that the circumstances are not the same—that the former causes of reaction do not exist, and, therefore, without ' a total change in his measures, there would be no material or permanent improvement. The pig's skin would never come on. There never would be any improvement. There was a good deal of talk about national faith. He admired keeping faith as much as any man, and he trusted he practised it as much as most men did; but he thought that faith should not be partially kept. Why did they not keep faith with the people? What could be expected so long as laws were made of a partial nature —laws which pressed unjustly upon the labouring classes? How could they expect prosperity? If they would alter their policy, they would find the difference directly. Then, the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) said Ministers possessed the confidence of the country; but he was entirely in error. They only possessed the confidence of that House—of a House principally packed for a special purpose. Let them dare to throw themselves upon the country, and they would soon find how little they had the confidence of the country. But the Government might have the confidence of the people, by promoting their comfort and welfare. if every honest and sober man could get a living, and not be compelled to go to the workhouse for a beggarly subsistence, and to be separated from his wife and family, though most desirous to earn an honest livelihood—if such men had the opportunity of supporting themselves by their own industry, the Government would soon have the support of the whole nation. Let them look well into the state of the country. Let them search out the causes of the difficulties now besetting it, and make up their minds honestly to provide a remedy, and when they had remedied them, they would, he promised 1492 them, possess the confidence of the country.
said he had not intended to take a part in this debate; but the right hon. Baronet had done him the honour to lecture him on the course he had taken in respect to the Arms bill. Had the lecture been applicable to himself only he would have received it with the utmost resignation. As it came from the right hon. Baronet, he regarded it rather as a compliment than otherwise. He had heard the manner in which the right hon. Baronet had spoken of his policy in Ireland with great regret; nothing could be more unfortunate than that policy. He was in hopes that he should have been able to tell his countrymen that the measures affecting them had been drawn up with great deliberation and consideration for their interests; but he was deprived of even that consolation. The right hon. Baronet seemed to complain of too much time having been spent upon Irish matters, and that the result was the delay of measures for the amelioration of the people. If the right hon. Baronet would bring forward such measures, he (Lord Clements) was ready to attend the House until Christmas. He felt bound as a Member of that House to consider the interests of the empire, but more particularly those of that country which he came to represent. He would not trouble the House at that late hour, except to warn it, that if it placed chains upon the Irish people it must expect to hear them clank.
§ Mr. Morris,
as a magistrate for the county of Carmarthen, could not allow the assertion of his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham to go forth without observation. He felt sure that his hon. Friend's reflection upon the magistrates was unjust, and that if complaints had been properly made, either with respect to the turnpike tolls, or any other grievance, they would have received every attention and redress. With respect to the people of Carmarthen generally, their loyalty and peaceful disposition were undoubted, and he, therefore, anxiously hoped and believed that by the efforts of the magistrates, aided by her Majesty's Government, peace and order would be speedily restored.
§ Order of the Day read. Committee postponed.