HC Deb 25 May 1843 vol 69 cc916-20
Sir V. Blake

moved for leave to bring in " a bill to apportion and regulate the overwhelming labour and business of Parliament in a manner calculated to allay discontent, and to preserve and maintain the inviolability of the united empire upon a satisfactory and permanent foundation." The hon. Member (having read his motion) apologised to the House for presenting to them entire a measure at once so enlarged and comprehensive. The language of this bill, however, would be in strict conformity with the declarations of her Majesty's Ministers, and it would simply have for its object to prevent the Chair of that House from being a stepping-stone to the Peerage or to the grave. He hoped it would tend to allay discontent and to further the ends of the Constitution, and that, without change of the elective franchise, without taking any single Member from the number of which the House was now constituted, he trusted it might be hailed as a safety valve to preserve the rights and pri- vileges of Englishmen. He hoped he did not assume too much when he said that the public men who were most assiduous in their attendance in that House might be remarked as presenting the most attenuated aspects. Two months of the Session were still before them, and if they continued equally assiduous, they would be more attenuated still. As for the duties of the Chair, they were onerous beyond— beyond expression. At that late hour of the night he would not detain them by describing those duties; but his object was to lighten them. He knew the House was reluctant to assent to any reforms, but time, the innovator time, the great preceptor of mankind, would make them adopt reforms in no small variety. He thought that those who had grievances ought to be constitutionally heard. They talked of putting down the cry of repeal, but that cry could not be suppressed except by the use of the means which the Constitution supplied. What had been obtained by fraud could not be kept by force. What was the position of Ireland — the country to which he had the honour to belong? Its situation was extremely peculiar. It would not do for that House to say to Ireland—" You are grumbling about nothing." The individuals who were agitating in that country laughed at the threats of that House. The House might pass its coercion bill, but the only effect of such a measure would be to redouble the agitation in Ireland. If a call of the House were ordered, and if a particular individual, whose name he would not mention, were taken into custody, he would not refuse to attend in his place. No, he would freely come, but he would be attended to the water's edge by millions of his countrymen, and " the rent" would be ten times the amount it was. He had prepared a bill for the removal of those grievances. [The hon. Baronet read his bill, the object of which was to reduce the number of Parliamentary representatives, to enact a restoration of the local Parliaments which existed in Ireland and Scotland, directing that both these Parliaments be again returned from the same places, and in the same manner as before the two unions respectively; but that the right of voting should be the same as that created by the Reform Acts of Scotland and Ireland, and that the Boundary Act be made applicable to all such places as returning Members to the local Parlia- ments, and that the number of Members in each of the three Parliaments be the same as before the unions. There was, also, a special provision that there should still exist an Imperial Legislature, containing the same number of English, Scottish, and Irish Members sitting jointly as at present; but that these Members were to consist, as far as England was concerned, of the knights, citizens, and burgesses as at present elected for places in England and Wales, and that the same number of Scottish and Irish Members who at present sit in Parliament should be chosen by the local legislatures out of their own bodies; that the Imperial Parliament thus constituted should decide upon all questions affecting the empire at large; and everything specially affecting any of the three kingdoms should be ordered and determined by the local Legislature alone.]

There being no seconder to the motion, it was not put.