HC Deb 20 June 1843 vol 70 cc176-9
Lord Clements

moved for a, Copy of the orders issued by his Majesty's Government in 1831, and following years, for disbanding the yeomanry corps in Ireland; together with all the correspondence between the Government of that day and officers of yeomanry, relative to the disbanding of the above corps; together with all correspondence between her Majesty's Government and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, respecting the reduction of the yeomanry force in Ireland and the delivery of their arms, The noble Lord stated, that in 1831, in consequence of the atrocious outrages committed by the yeomanry corps, vast numbers of petitions were presented to the House from different parts of Ireland, praying Parliament to disband these corps. A correspondence took place between Government and the Irish authorities, for the purpose of inquiring into their views with respect to a disbandment. Their correspondence was of a public, not a private nature; and it was followed by the withdrawal of the sums previously allowed for the expenditure of the yeomanry corps. In 1833 and in 1834 additional correspondence took place upon the subject, between Lord Melbourne and the Irish authorities and a circular was issued, having for its object, the complete dissolution of these corps. It was a copy of these orders which he was anxious to obtain, as well as a copy of the correspondence with the officers of the yeomanry corps on the subject of the disbanding. He wished to show what yeomanry corps had objected to give up their arms. He could not see upon what ground the Government could refuse to accede to his motion, and should it be opposed he should know what to think of the sincerity of those declarations which had been made respecting the Arms bill. The correspondence was of the utmost importance in order' to show the disposition of those to whom arms had been, and he was afraid would be again intrusted. He was quite convinced, that at present, the yeomanry arms were not in proper hands. He could have no difficulty in establishing that point. No later than last winter there had been a search for arms in the county of Leitrim. The Lord Lieutenant sent down his warrant upon which the magistrates acted honestly and impartially, and took all the arms they could find that were unregistered, without any regard to party. Orders were sent from Dublin; and those belonging to one party were returned —he need scarcely say, that that party was the Orange party. This had given much dissatisfaction to the people, as they considered it not only very partial, but also very improper conduct upon the part of those intrusted with the executive. He knew, that such partiality could not have been sanctioned by the noble Lord opposite; but still it was done by the officials employed by Government. If it were the wish of the Government to disarm all persons who ought not to have arms, it was absolutely necessary, that some understanding should be come to in respect of the proper custody of the yeomanry arms; because, see what a position they had placed those persons in, who, in Leitrim, had again got possession of those arms Why, every one of them was liable to a penalty of 200l. for having possession of arms with the Tower mark. When he saw the the Government pouring more arms into Ireland, he was induced to ask for what party they were intended; were they to be given to the Repealers, the Whigs, or the Orangemen? He would tell the noble Lord that they did not want any arms. All the people of Ireland wanted, was that their wrongs should be redressed. They wanted measures of justice and amelioration not of coercion; they wanted to know whether the yeomanry arms were to remain in improper hands or not; and if yeomanry arms marked with the Tower upon them were to descend as heirlooms from father to son? In conclusion, for he would not at that late hour detain the House longer than to say, that in respect to the statements made by the noble Lord, of the arms that had been taken in the county of Leitrim the noble Lord had been misinformed, and consequently his statements were incorrect. The noble Lord ended by moving as above.

Lord Eliot

thought he had some right to complain of the noble Lord's allusions to the disarming of the yeomanry in Leitrim, of which he had no notice, and on the discussion of which he was not, of course, prepared to enter. With reference to the motion, he could only repeat the assurance which be had given on a former evening, that it was very far from his intention to withhold any information that was necessary to the purpose of the noble Lord, and that he was quite prepared to give copies of all orders for disarming the yeomanry. He did not, however, think it expedient that communications between one department of the Government and the other, in which particular opinions were expressed, should be published. For the first time a restriction was now imposed as to the yeomanry, and their arms were subjected to the same distinctive mark as it was proposed to make applicable to arms of every description. He should move, as an amendment to the noble Lord's motion, that there be laid before the House Copies of any order or orders for the disbanding of the yeomanry in Ireland: of any order or orders in respect to the discontinuance of pay to the staff and non-commissioned officers of yeomanry in Ireland of any order or orders for delivering into store the arms of the yeomanry in Ireland.

Mr. Redington;

Considering that the noble Lord opposite had shown every disposition to give all the information in his power, he hoped his noble Friend would not press his motion for so voluminous a correspondence.

Viscount Clements

said, he should be content with the returns to which the noble Lord consented for the present, but of course he should use his discretion as to moving for a further return.

Returns as moved for by Lord Eliot ordered.

House adjourned at half-past eleven o'clock.