HC Deb 19 May 1843 vol 69 cc574-7
Mr. Blewitt

rose pursuant to notice, to " call the attention of the House to the irregular manner in which certain royal declarations or messages relating to Ireland were lately communicated to this House by the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, and to take the opinion of Mr. Speaker and the House thereon." If a due observance of the rules and regulations of this House had any value in the estimation of hon. Members, they would not be disposed to find fault with him for bringing under their notice a very great irregularity on the part of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. He wished to call the serious attention of the House to the subject.

The Speaker,

interrupting the hon, Member, said, the hon. Member had a right to put a question, but not to make a speech when there was no motion before the House.

Mr. Blewitt:

If he put a question he must first explain what he had to complain of, and he could not do that unless he was allowed to state the circumstances. [" Order, order," and Laughter.] He was sure that he had given no offence to any hon. Members on either side of the House, therefore he did not think he had fair play. [Cries of " Order."] Well, then, he wished to know whether he were at liberty to explain the subject upon which he wished to put his question.

The Speaker

The hon. Member had undoubtedly a right to give such explanation as might make his question intelligible to the House.

Mr. Blewitt:

On the 10th of May last, the noble Lord the Member for Lynn Regis, had put a question to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government as to whether Government was aware that terrible excitement prevailed in Ireland, and whether they were prepared to take measures with a view to its suppression. The right hon. Baronet might have given to that question the species of answer which he was so fond of giving to Gentlemen on his side of the House. He might have given one of those replies which communicated nothing; and which were so gratifying from their facetiousness to hon. Members near the right hon. Baronet. Well, the right hon. Baronet, in answer to the question, mixed up with his reply the name of her Majesty, in a manner in which he (Mr. Blewitt) considered the right hon. Baronet was not entitled to use it by the rules of the House; and he had the right hon. Baronet's own authority for so stating. In a debate upon the Reform Bill, in the year 1831, the right hon. Baronet had alluded to a declaration of a noble Lord connected with the then Ministry, to the effect that the King approved of the bill then in the course of discussion. The right hon. Baronet said:— He would ask why the name of the King should be introduced into this discussion When a measure like this was introduced, to?which it was to be presumed that the King's consent had been given—when that fact was not called in question—was it necessary, day after day, to stale, both in the House and through the public press, that the measure possessed the approbation of his Majesty? But he regretted that such a course had been pursued upon other grounds. He would not then discuss the merits of the main question, but it was a measure of great harshness towards incorporated bodies, who had often proved their loyalty, to call upon them to sacrifice the privileges which they possessed, and why—he would ask them—why needlessly hold out to these bodies the consideration that the King approved of the plan by which their privileges were to be abolished? Such conduct, he thought, showed that the Ministry shrunk from their proper share of the responsibility and odium of the measure. Such conduct was neither proper nor decent. If it was not decent then upon the part of the noble Lord alluded to, to endeavour to transfer to the Sovereign the odium and suspicion of disfranchisement, how much more unbecoming was it on the part of the right hon. Baronet to attempt to transfer to her Majesty the odium of the threats which he had uttered against the Irish people. [Loud Cries of " Order, order."]

The Speaker:

The hon. Member must be aware that in making such observations he was himself quite out of order.

Mr. Blewitt

submitted to the Chair. He wished to ask the Speaker and the House whether the conduct of the right hon. Baronet opposite, in mixing up unnecessarily and gratuitously the name of the Sovereign with his answer to a question put to him, was or was not irregular, and whether it was or was not consistent with the practice and usages of the House.

The Speaker

The hon. Member himself was irregular in the course he had pursued, in referring to words spoken in debate on a former evening. If the hon. Member was of opinion that anything said by the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury was irregular, he ought to have taken exception to it at the time, and not allowed many days to elapse before calling the attention of the House to it. His opinion was, that there was nothing inconsistent with the practice of the House in using the name of the Sovereign in the manner in which the right hon. Baronet had used it. It was quite true that it would be highly out of order to use the name of the Sovereign in that House so as to endeavour to influence its decision, or that of any of its Members, upon any question under its consideration; but he apprehended that no expression which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman could be supposed to bear such a construction.

Sir R. Peel

said, that he had merely stated that the late King had declared that he would maintain, with the utmost power of the Sovereign, the connection between the two countries. He had stated also, that her Majesty approved of, and would abide by that resolution; but with respect to any special announcement upon the part of her Majesty he had never dared to make any.

Lord John Russell

said, that what the right hon. Baronet meant with respect to the royal declaration relative to the repeal of the union was, that the declaration of the Sovereign was made by the right hon. Baronet's advice, because any personal act or declaration of the Sovereign ought not to be introduced into that place. With respect to the repeal of the Union, the subject was open to amendment or question, like any other act of the Legislature.

Sir Robert Peel

had merely confirmed, on the part of her Majesty, by the advice of the Government, the declaration made by the former Sovereign.

Mr. Morgan J. O'Connell

observed, that the declaration made by the late King was made in a perfectly constitutional shape, in answer to an address of the House, or by means of a message brought down to Parliament, and not in the shape in which the late announcement had been made— an announcement which, under all the circumstances of the case, coming from a Minister of the Crown in his place in Parliament, he considered as being not merely irregular, but more than ordinarily so.

Matter at an end.