HC Deb 26 May 1843 vol 69 cc974-81
Viscount 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 correspondence between the Government of that day, and officers of yeomanry relative to the disbanding of the above corps. The Arms Bill at present before the House, and with respect to which he moved for these returns, was unconstitutional and diabolical. The arms of the disbanded yeomanry had been dispersed through the country, and he thought it important that all the orders connected with their disbandment should be laid before the House. He left it to the House and to the country to judge of the animus of a Government which attempted to pass such a measure as the one to which he had alluded.

Lord Eliot

said, that the noble Lord had given a specimen of the temperate manner in which he wished the measure in question to be discussed. He should, however, strictly confine himself in reply to the circumstances under which the motion for these returns was made. He was prepared to give the noble Lord all the returns with reference to arms which he could desire, but what he sought for was a correspondence extending over eleven years, which might contain much matter quite unfit for the public eye, and therefore he thought it his duty not at once to give the House an opportunity of examining that correspondence. He did not wish to withhold any information necessary for the due consideration of the Irish Arms Bill, but he did not think, that the correspondence in question was necessary for that purpose. If, however, the noble Lord would postpone his motion for the present, he would examine the papers referred to, and furnish such extracts as were consistent with his public duty.


said, the House would excuse any little excitement on the part of his noble Friend on the subject of a measure which the noble Lord opposite would not dare to offer to his own country. He thought, upon the whole, that the latter part of the noble Lord's proposition was a fair one, and he would advise his noble Friend to accede to it.

Mr. S. O'Brien

said, that Irish Members were treated with great disrespect by the Government. The way in which the consideration of the Irish Arms Bill had been treated, was a specimen of the way in which Irish Members were used by the present Government. He thought, that the returns which were referred to in the first portion of the motion should at once be ordered.

Viscount Clements:

The noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, knows very well —none better—that personally I have a very great respect for him; but then is it to be supposed that I am to weigh my words, to balance phrases, to smooth down my sentences, when I see the measures that he proposes for Ireland? What would be his feelings, or what his expressions, if I presumed to propose for England a measure such as that which he has dared to suggest should be established in Ireland? What, Sir, are these things to be done, and are we to say that we are satisfied? Sir, we are not satisfied— we are not content— we are dissatisfied— we are very much dissatisfied in Ireland— we have to complain of the treatment that we receive, of the injury that is done, of the wrong that is attempted— we want a Government in Ireland— we have none, we have a Camarilla in Dublin Castle, but we have no Government— we want English legislation in Ireland— we want to have that legislation in this House. If we are not to have it— if that is not to take place, then the sooner we know it in Ireland the better. Let the people of Ireland know what your intentions are— avow them, if you are prepared to act upon them. Inform us, I say, how you intend to govern us; for that which we most dislike is, that you should proceed, as you have done, in the dark. I repeat it, let there be no concealment. What we ask, we ask boldly, plainly, distinctly. We ask you to govern in Ireland as you do in England—we ask for this—we ask for no more. Grant it, or otherwise we shall remain dissatisfied— we shall remain discontented, and in a state of agitation.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that if notice had been given ten days ago, there would have been time for the examination of documents. No one could undertake to determine whether certain papers should be given or not without having an opportunity of consulting the archives of his office. This, in the case of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, could not be done at once, but his noble Friend would take the earliest opportunity of making the necessary inquiries.

Mr. Morgan J. O'Connell

saw nothing to prevent the Government from at once giving up the papers required in the first part of the motion. There was, or ought to be, nothing secret about them. Should they not grant mere official papers without previous inquiry? Had they brought in the Irish Arms Bill without making due inquiry, and obtaining due information? —and if they had done so, was that not indeed a precious excuse for refusing to give to the House papers which they could not legislate with advantage without? The refusal of the returns would be a piece of unfairness—of total injustice.

Viscount Palmerston

observed, that one portion of the motion of the noble Lord, as it appeared to him, related to a matter that must be pf public notoriety. From his own recollections be was disposed to say, that an order to disband a yeomanry corps must be a mere matter of official routine, and to the production of which there could be no possible objection. It might be otherwise with papers that possibly were confidential.

Sir R. Peel

observed, that his presump tion was that of the noble Lord; but what they required was, the opportunity of referring to the documents. If the orders were to be of general operation, they could be produced without any difficulty.

Viscount Clements

felt disposed, after what had occurred, to postpone his motion.

Motion postponed.